The Silent Wife

The Silent Wife
The Silent Wife

This book review was originally published on The Wordy Nerd Books on November 12, 2014.

Jodi and Todd have been a couple for more than twenty years.  They have created a beautiful life together full of luxuries.  Todd isn’t satisfied though and begins to stray.  Jodi, aware of Todd’s affairs, remains silent and allows him to do as he wishes in order to maintain their comfortable lives and relationship. Everything is going smoothly for Jodi until Todd decides to leave her and move in with his mistress.  Todd turns Jodi’s world upside down, evicting her from their home and cancelling their credit cards.  Jodi is distraught and makes a decision that will haunt her.

I actually found this book on a list of book recommendations to read after Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  It sounded interesting and I decided to put it on my “to-read” list.  It probably would have stayed there for quite a while but I ran into it in the clearance section at a local bookstore.  For only three dollars, I had to get it.

I found this book to be a relatively quick read.  It is fairly fast-paced but at the same time there isn’t a lot of action in most of the book.  A significant portion of the book is the internal dialogue of Todd and Jodi.  Harrison does leave enough intrigue in the book to keep the reader engaged.

At times, I thought that this book was predictable but then a twist would show up that I couldn’t always see coming.  The writing is well done and the characters are intriguing.  I found myself empathizing with both Todd and Jodi at times.  Harrison’s writing was smooth and allowed me to become very involved in the story.  It was definitely one of those that I had a hard time putting down.

Overall, I rated this book four out of five stars.  If you like tales that are a bit dark at times or hard to predict, pick this one up.

4 Star Rating

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).

Best Baby Products for the First Six Months

Our youngest set of twins (babies number 4 and 5!)  turned six months old this past Saturday!  The past six months have flown by.  They are growing so quickly and it breaks my momma heart a little bit.  I am just not ready for these babies to grow up so fast!

I have reached the point in my motherhood journey that I have become the one giving advice instead of asking for it.  It feels weird to be giving the young women who are becoming moms for the first time advice.  I’m happy to share my experiences with them though.  One of the things I am often asked about is which baby products have I used the most.  So, in honor of my babies’ half birthday I am going to share the list of must-have baby products that I have compiled after having five children.

Best Baby Products for the First Six Months According to a Mom of 5

  1. Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play Sleeper

    Seriously guys, this thing is a lifesaver!!  Unfortunately, these didn’t exist when my oldest three kids were infants.  Our oldest three hated their bassinets so I knew I didn’t want to spend more money on a bassinet with these newest babies.  So many people recommended that we try a Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play.  I’m so glad that we decided to get two of them!  Both of the babies love them and sleep in them every night.  They are slightly elevated which seems to help our little guys sleep and the seat cradles them perfectly in a way that mimics being held. I really recommend getting the more expensive version that has the automatic rock feature.  Just plug it in and let the soothing, rocking motion work its magic.  Several people told me that their babies only fit in a Rock ‘N Play until about four months old but our babies are still sleeping in them every night at six months old.  This has also replaced a swing for us.  We really don’t need  a swing or something similar because this does a wonderful job soothing our babies.

  2. NoseFrida

    I know, I know.  This is kind of gross…or at least my husband, Daniel, thinks so.  He is convinced that this is the most disgusting thing on the face of this planet and absolutely refuses to use it.  I, however, LOVE it. I have given birth to babies in August, September, and October which means I have suffered with tiny babies during cold and flu seasons a few times.  When babies are small, there isn’t much you can do to help them when they have a cold except run a humidifier, use saline nose drops, and suction as much snot out as you can.  With our three oldest, we used the suction bulb the hospital gives you but I never felt satisfied with it.  I always felt like there was still so much snot left in their little noses and it wasn’t helping at all.  Then, I discovered the NoseFrida.  This thing is AMAZING.  You essentially put the tip of the tube on their nose and use the red mouth piece to suction the snot out.  It is so much gentler on their noses and it gets so much more snot out!  Like I said, Daniel thinks it is nasty but it saved us this past winter.  It was a huge help in January when both babies had RSV.

  3. Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat

    We were given two of these last summer before the babies were born.  I love them so much!  When the older kids were babies, we used Bumbo seats but I think these are so much better.  They are more secure than a Bumbo and provide more support since the back of the seat is higher.  We still have Bumbo seats with these new babies but rarely use them.  We prefer these Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seats and I think the babies prefer them as well.  Because of the added support, we were able to use these at an earlier age compared to the Bumbo seats.  You do really need to wait until your baby can support his or her own head to use these but they are wonderful.  I often put the babies in their floor seats and bring them with me in the kitchen when I’m cooking or cleaning.  I also use them when I’m doing laundry. These make getting household tasks while taking care of babies so much easier!

  4. Boppy Pillow

    A Boppy Pillow is one of those items that I have used with all five kids and still love it!  If you are planning to breastfeed, it is a must have!  This pillow has saved my back during my breastfeeding days. It allows you to support baby and bring him or her closer to the breast without bending down and straining your back.  My husband also uses the Boppy when he gives the babies a bottle.  It is just a great way to get some support and help holding baby during those feeding sessions.

  5. Munchkin Dishwasher Basket

    We have four Munchkin Dishwasher Baskets and with twins at least one of them has become a permanent addition to our dishwasher.  These are the perfect little contraptions to wash all those babies things.  It has two compartments.  The top compartment is perfect for bottle nipples and pacifiers. I use to bottom bigger compartment for lids and nipple rings from baby bottles.  When the babies get older and begin using sippy cups, these baskets are great for washing the stoppers that prevent leaks from from sippies.  These are also really great to throw small kitchen gadgets, plastic straws, breast pump parts, and medicine dosing cups in as well.  We’ve been using these since our oldest, Emily, was a baby (almost ten years ago!).

  6. Moby Wrap

    The Moby Wrap is another one of those products I have been using for the past ten years.  I have bought a new one with every pregnancy.  Babywearing with the Moby Wrap gives me a chance to get some stuff done around the house while still keeping my babies happy.  I like the Moby Wrap because it is so versatile.  Since it is a long piece of fabric there are numerous ways to tie it and to hold baby.  It grows with baby and you can use it from the newborn stage well into the toddler years. I absolutely love that it lasts so long.  It does have a learning curve and I highly suggest watching several YouTube videos to learn all the different holds and ways to tie it. Once you get the hang of it, it is super easy.

 

This is certainly not a comprehensive list.  There are definitely other products you will need the first six months of your baby’s life. These are certainly ones that have made our lives so much easier.  There are a number of other products that I have found particularly useful in the second half of our children’s first year and I hope to compile that list and share it with you this summer as we approach the twins’ first birthday!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).

February Recap

It’s the last weekend in February. I wanted to give a little February Recap and let everyone know what we’ve been up to this month!

Bye, Bye Illness

Our February wasn’t totally illness free but it was so much better than January.  The first two weeks of February saw the babies still recovering with the bout of RSV that they caught at the end of January.  Our oldest daughter, Emily, also tested positive for the flu that week.  Jackson, our oldest son, was diagnosed with the flu four days after Emily so we did have a little bit of a rough start to the month.

We finally all made it back to work and school on the thirteenth, just in times for Valentine’s parties.  It was our first full week of work and school after several weeks of illness.  Everyone seems to be feeling so much better and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.  The babies are still a little stuffy but nothing too terrible.

Growing Up and Growing Teeth

Harrison and Katherine are six months old today! I can’t believe how quickly the past six months have flown by.  It seems like just yesterday we found out that we were expecting our second set of twins.  They are both growing like weeds.  Both can sit up but aren’t very good at it. They’re still pretty wobbly. They aren’t getting nearly enough time practicing independent sitting.  With three older siblings, they are always being held and carried around.

Harrison and Katherine are doing great at rolling over.  Katherine isn’t really interested in rolling over like Harrison is.  We can no longer keep him on his back.  He rolls all over the place.  He scoots around the floor when we put him down for tummy time.  We’re anticipate him figuring out the crawling thing soon.

Harrison and Katherine had their first bite of baby food this past Thursday.  We started with pears.  Katherine loved them! We can’t get baby food into Katherine’s mouth quick enough! Harrison had a little bit of trouble warming up to them.  He does seem to be enjoying them a bit more by today.  Harrison also cut his first tooth this week.  He had been fussing for a while so I knew one was coming.  I’m just happy that it finally broke through.  No teeth for Katherine yet but I’m sure she won’t be far behind him.

School and Activities

We’re all still hanging in there.  I don’t know about the kids but I am so, so ready for summer break.  I’m just not feeling this semester for whatever reason.  I am really looking forward to some down time and summer activities.  Snow cones and swimming, any one? Graduate school is probably part of the problem. It’s my last semester and I have just really lost all motivation.  I’m finding it more and more difficult to get all the things done that I need to do.  76 days until graduation!  I can make it!

The kids are keeping us busy as usual.  Dance practice is still taking up three nights of our week.  Soccer sign ups are next week and I have two kids that are planning to play.  Baseball sign ups start in just a few weeks so we will be adding that to our schedule in late March or early April.

Looking to the Future

We have a lot of things coming up that I am really looking forward to.  I’ll be spending my spring break in Italy and I can’t wait.  I leave in 18 days!  The kids will be staying home with Daniel.  I’m a little nervous about that since we have little ones this year but if anyone can handle it, it is Daniel!  He is so fabulous with the kids.  He always has been!  I am looking forward to the break though…and cheese…and pasta…and gelato.  I honestly plan to eat my weight in gelato.

Like I said earlier, I graduate with my master’s degree in 76 days.  I can’t wait.  Daniel and I have been married eleven and a half years and it seems like at least one of us has been in school the entire time between us both getting bachelor’s and master’s.  I’m not sure we are going to know how to function without one of us being in school but I’m looking forward to this new chapter in our lives.

I’m really looking forward to spring and summer sports and activities.  Soccer, baseball, dance recitals, and swim team are some of my favorite parts of this time of the year!  Bring it on!    What are you looking forward to this spring?

This Is Where I Leave You

This Is Where I Leave You
This Is Where I Leave You

This book review was originally published on The Wordy Nerd Books on November 20, 2014.

Judd Foxman’s wife is sleeping with his boss and his dad just died.  Judd, stressed and beaten down, returns to his childhood home to mourn his father with his two brothers, his sister, and mother.  The siblings are shocked to find out that their non-religious father’s dying request was that they would sit shiva as a family.  The Foxman siblings are less than thrilled to sit in mourning for seven days as a family but oblige for their mother’s sake.  Jonathan Tropper brings to life the dysfunctional Foxman family as they navigate awkward family dynamics and rehash the past with each other in The is Where I Leave You.

I really just want to gush about this book.  I absolutely loved it.  I was able to relate to each character and I really appreciated each of the different, personal issues that the characters were dealing with.  The book was well-written and I had a really hard time putting it down.  Tropper did an amazing job of instilling humor into some really tough situations in the book.  Even though the topics were not the most positive, Tropper kept me laughing throughout the book.

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a good laugh and a family to fall in love with.  This book was also made into a movie this year.  I have not seen it yet but, after finishing the book, I can’t wait for the movie to come out on DVD.  I rated this book four stars.  I gave it four stars instead of five because, quite frankly, I just wanted more of the Foxman family.  Finishing this book made me a little bit sad. You can grab a copy here!

4 Star Rating

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).

Sharp Objects

Sharp ObjectsThis book review was originally published on The Wordy Nerd Books on October 27, 2014.

Gillian Flynn is known for writing the hit novel Gone Girl but she actually has several other books that are just as dark and enthralling.  Sharp Objects is one of those novels.  This novel follows reporter Camille Preaker as she travels back to her hometown to cover the gruesome murder of two young girls for the newspaper for which she works. It has been years since Camille has visited her childhood home and it is an understatement to say that her relationship with her mother is strained.  As she tries to uncover who is behind the murders, Camille begins to find skeletons from her own past. Dark things about her mother and family begin to come to the surface and it forces Camille to reconsider her own memories of those dark times growing up in her mother’s house.

While all of the books that I have read by Gillian Flynn often have dark subject matters, this one is probably the darkest and most disturbing for me.  The main character was mentally fragile and often makes terrible decisions, such as drinking and taking drugs with her thirteen year old sister.  Some of the things the main character thought and did made me cringe a bit.  However, while I was frustrated with Camille and her decisions, Flynn does a fantastic job of writing a character that is very well-developed.  Flynn is a fantastic writer and has an amazing ability to weave quite the web of deception and darkness in her novels.

My only complaint about this book was that I found it to be a bit more predictable than Flynn’s other books.  I had this book figured out about half way through it for the most part.  Seeing the details play out, however, was still engaging.  If you are okay with dark subject matter and mental illness, then pick this book up.  It’s fast-paced and interesting.  Overall, I rated this book three stars.

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).

Every Day

Every Day
Every Day

This book review was originally published on The Wordy Nerd Books on September 24, 2014.

Every Day by David Levithan follows A, a being that inhabits bodies. Every day A wakes up in a new body and becomes part of someone else’s life. There is no family, no friends, and no routine for A. And then, A meets Rhiannon and A’s reality becomes something painful. A is in love and desperately wants to stay in the same body to be with Rhiannon. But, how can Rhiannon love A if she never knows who A is going to be each day?

I enjoyed this story for the most part. The concept is interesting and the story moved quickly enough to hold my attention. However, I did often find myself frustrated with the story. A is a wonderful protagonist and I was constantly rooting for A but things just never seemed to go the way that I wanted them to. While that doesn’t make for a bad book, I just had trouble getting really into the book because I was so frustrated at times.

As typical for David Levithan, Every Day is very well-written. Levithan does an excellent job of including necessary details and tying all the ends of the story together. I think he also did an excellent job of creating a wide variety of characters for A to inhabit. Each one was different yet believable. Levithan managed to represent an entire spectrum of teenagers with different background stories that clearly influenced the lives that A experienced.

Overall, I rated this book three stars. It is well-written and has a very interesting plot. The first fifty pages or so were very slow for me but I slowly found myself more involved and interested in the story. Check it out if you are looking for a quick, interesting read.

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).

Valentine Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

It isn’t technically spring yet but it sure feels like it here in Arkansas.  We’ve enjoyed springlike weather with temperatures in the 70s and 80s all week.  I’ve absolutely loved it and it has kindled my desire to make spring treats and fire up the grill.

Every spring there is a little, local store run by a farm that opens in our town.  They have fields and fields of strawberries and the kids and I love to load up on fresh strawberries from this store.  We typically by a couple of huge boxes of those sweet berries and make all kinds of yummy treats in addition to just enjoying some fresh berries.  We usually make fresh strawberry jam and strawberry muffins but my favorite treat to make with the kids is chocolate-covered strawberries!  Our little, local farm store won’t open until April so we had to settle for strawberries from the grocery store but the girls and I got a head start on strawberry treats this afternoon.

 

Since this spring weather has put us in the mood for spring treats and it is the weekend before Valentine’s Day, Emily, Lauren, and I headed to the kitchen to add a Valentine’s spin to chocolate-covered strawberries.  Chocolate-covered strawberries are the perfect thing to satisfy my sweet tooth and one of the easiest, kid-friendly things to make in the kitchen.

We began by washing our strawberries off.  The girls do a great job at rinsing the berries and then using a paper towel to gently dry them off.  The chocolate becomes watered down and doesn’t stick to the berries if you don’t make sure they are dry.

Since this is a treat that I tend to make with the kids every year, I definitely try to make it as easy as possible.  One way I do that is by using Bakers Heat and Dip Dipping Chocolate.  Guys, I love this stuff!  It is so easy and it tastes sooooo good!  Open the package and stick it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir the chips around with a spoon and then stick is back in the microwave for another 30 seconds.  Repeat until it is all melted.

Once your chocolate is melted, gently grab a clean, dry strawberry by the stem and dip it into the melted chocolate.  Set the dipped strawberries on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and let them sit until the chocolate had hardened.  Since it is so close to Valentine’s Day, my girls and I decided to get creative and add some Valentine’s sprinkles but the plain chocolate ones are still my favorite.  For the white chocolate ones, we used Ghiradelli White Chocolate Baking Chips.  We used these the same way that we used the Bakers Heat and Dip Dipping Chocolate.  We put some of the white chocolate in a small, deep bowl and melted them for thirty seconds at a time in the microwave.  We then dipped the strawberries in the white chocolate just like we did in the Bakers Chocolate.  If you want to add sprinkles, then make sure you sprinkle them on the strawberries immediately after you dip them and before the chocolate dries.

Bakers Heat and Dip Dipping Chocolate provides such a wonderful, smooth coat of chocolate and isn’t too hard when it dries.  It is so smooth and creamy once it dries on the strawberries!  One container usually does a pint of strawberries, give or take.  For the five of us in the house that can eat them, we usually make two pints of strawberries and use two of these dipping chocolate containers.

This treat literally took less than twenty minutes for my girls and I to make.  Even allowing the chocolate time to dry, these strawberries were ready to eat in under an hour.  You can pop your cookie sheet with strawberries in the refrigerator for a few minutes to make the chocolate harden quicker.  Also, they will keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

During the spring and summer months, we usually make these a couple of times a month.  They are a quick and easy treat.  I would much rather my kids eat fruit with a bit of chocolate than having something like a brownie or cookie for a snack so I consider it a win on the healthy eating front as well.  We don’t generally add sprinkles to our strawberries but we thought it would be fun for Valentine’s Day.  You can omit them though or add different colors for different holidays.  Green for St. Patrick’s day or pretty pastels for Easter would be cute!  Give it a try!  The next time you are creating your grocery order for your Walmart grocery pickup (best thing ever!) throw some Bakers Heat and Dip Dipping Chocolate and some strawberries in your cart for a quick, sweet treat!  Happy dipping!

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a small commission.

2017 Reading List

Making Plans and Setting Goals

I am obsessed with setting goals.  Always have been.  So every year I make a New Year’s resolution to read a certain number of books.  I set my yearly reading goal in January and track it throughout the year.  I typically aim to read a book a week so I usually set my goal around fifty books per year.  My reading goal has been much lower the last couple of years thanks to grad school.  My graduate studies require me to read a great deal but I usually don’t count those books towards my yearly reading goal since I almost always don’t finish the required books or I skim a large portion of the book.

I graduate in May and I am so excited to be finished with required reading for college.  I am looking forward to being able to read the books that I want to read instead of what needs to be read for class.  As I do every year, I have set a yearly reading goal.  My goal for 2017 is to read fifty books.  That is roughly a book a week and I am already behind.  I have faith that I will easily catch up once I graduate in May.

I had intended to share this list in January but life got in the way. This list is in no way comprehensive.  I will undoubtedly pick up random books at bookstores and grab new releases throughout the year.  Also, many of the books on my list for this year are not recent releases.  While there are some current and new releases that I am looking forward to, grad school has kept me from reading the past two years so I plan to catch up on some older books this summer.

2017 Reading List

So, without further ado, the beginning of my 2017 reading list:

  1. The first book on my list is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne.  I bought a hard copy of this book when it came out last summer and then the babies arrived.  It sat on my nightstand patiently waiting for me to pay attention to it.  I included it on this list since this is a list of books that I plan to read in 2017 but I actually ended up reading this book in January. (Review coming soon!!)
  2. I have jumped on The Fixer Upper bandwagon.  Chip and Joanna Gaines seem to be so genuine so their book The Magnolia Story is on my list. My husband bought this book for me for Christmas since he knew it was one that I wanted to read this year.  I started it right before my spring graduate classes started but I haven’t had time to finish it.  I’m hoping I will get to finish before the end of February.
  3. Wonder by R. J. Palacio is about a young boy who was born with a facial deformity and how that deformity affects his experience as the new kid at school.  This book is geared towards young readers.  My nine year old daughter recently read this and has been begging me to read it as well.  My daughter is quite a reader and she enjoys it when I read the same books as her.  I think she is starting to appreciate having someone who can discuss books with her.  I think this book may also work for some of my students who have lower reading levels.  I’m sticking it on my list to read this year so I can discuss it with Emily and make genuine recommendations to students who I think it could work for.
  4. The fourth book on my list is one that I’m not sure how I feel about.  A couple of years ago, the school I work for hosted a program for our students called Rachel’s Challenge based on one of the victims of the Columbine shooting.  The program was geared towards encouraging students to be kind to one another and help end bullying.  As I was sitting in this program, I realized that I really don’t know that much about the events that happened at Columbine.  I was only 12 when the shooting occurred and I’m sure the adults in my life sheltered me from that event.  However, now that I am an educator at a high school, I often feel consumed with the possibility of a school shooting.  On a weekly basis, I find myself running through my own personal plan of action and how I would react to help my students if something were to happen.  As a historian, I believe that some of the best preparation is studying what happened in the past.  I bought Columbine by Dave Cullen after that program was held at our high school and it has sat on my bookshelf for two years.  This year I am finally going to read it.  I’m hoping that, while it may be a difficult read, it may make me more aware of my students and my own kids.
  5. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb is next on my list.  I intend to read this one shortly after I read Columbine.  The subject matters of the two books are related.  While Columbine is nonfiction, The Hour I First Believed is a fictional account of one of the school nurses at Columbine High School that fateful day.  I have heard good things about this book and about Wally Lamb as an author.  I have never read any of Lamb’s work so I am excited to check his writing out.
  6. My mom text me a few days ago and told me that I needed to read The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck.  I had honestly never heard of this book until I received that text but it was published in 2012 and has TONS of positive reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads.  The book summary compares this book to To Kill a Mockingbird and The Help, two books that I love so I’m hoping that I will love this one as well.  Sometimes, you just have to trust your momma!
  7. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Yance is a memoir of the author’s experience growing up in a middle-class, white, working family that started out poor.  I have heard many people discussing how this book relates to America’s current political climate and provides insight to how the current president won the election.  I’ve heard and read rave reviews on this book so I’m looking forward to digging into this one.
  8.   Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone is about a junior high school suffering from mental disorders that she hides from those around her.  Samantha’s mental struggles are intensified by the social struggles that many high school girls often face until Caroline befriends her and introduces her to a group of misfits that help Sam to begin to feel more “normal.”  I think mental health is such an important topic in our culture right now.  I’m excited to read this book.  I have several students who have read or are reading this book and I think it resonates with so many of them.  I’m hoping that by reading it myself I will better be able to identify students who might need a book like this in their lives.
  9. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney was published last year and I’ve heard quite a lot of chatter about this one.  This book is about four adult siblings who share an inheritance.  Even though all four are at different places in their lives and have different goals, they must work together to decide what to do with their shared inheritance.  This seems like an interesting story about a dysfunctional family which has been the premise of some of my favorite books.
  10. Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent trilogy, is at it again.  The first book of her newest series, Carve the Mark, was released in January.  I honestly haven’t heard much about this book but I really liked the Divergent series so I’m excited to see what else Veronica Roth has to offer.

 

What are some of the books that you are hoping to get your hands on this year?  What does your 2017 reading list look like?  Drop me a comment and give me some more ideas and suggestions to fill out the other forty books I need to read in order to reach my goal of 50 books in 2017!

Happy reading!

 

Reconstructing Amelia

Reconstructing Amelia
Reconstructing Amelia

This book review was originally published on The Wordy Nerd Books on September 13, 2014.

When fifteen year old Amelia Baron dies after falling from the roof of her prestigious Brooklyn private school, everyone assumes it is a suicide.  Just a few weeks after her death, her mother, Kate, receives an anonymous text message suggesting that Amelia didn’t jump.  It wasn’t a suicide.  This revelation sends grieving, single-mother Kate on a whirlwind journey to reconstruct the last few weeks of Amelia’s life and find out what really happened to her daughter in Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight.

This book had some tough subjects in it, including suicide, bullying, and homosexuality.  However, I really enjoyed this book.  While these are difficult subjects to talk about sometimes, it is reality for many of today’s youth.  As a high school teacher, I see much of this play out in the lives of my students so I think this is a really relate-able book, especially for the young adult age group.  Not only were the characters easy to relate to, the book was also very well written.  The author does a fabulous job of engaging the reader in the story.  It is fast-paced with lots of plot twists throughout the book.  The author also does a great job of tying up all the loose ends in the book as well.  The ending left me feeling satisfied rather than still asking questions.

Overall, I gave this book four stars.  It was a book that kept me interested and gave me a lot to think about.  If you like fast-paced mysteries, check this book out.

4 Star Rating

I Am The Messenger

I Am The Messenger
I Am The Messenger

This book review was originally published on The Wordy Nerd Books on September 5, 2014.

Ed Kennedy is an underage cab driver who doesn’t have a whole lot going for him.  He is in love with his best friend, Audrey, but she doesn’t seem to feel the same way.  His mother can’t stand him and he lives alone with his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman.  Everything changes for him when the bank he just happens to be in becomes the site of a robbery.  Ed acts heroically and foils the robbery.  His name is in every paper and the would-be bank robber is not happy.  At the trial, the robber tells Ed to watch out and vows to seek revenge after he completes his jail sentence.  Ed just wants things to go back to normal.  However, some one else has other plans for him.  Shortly after the trial, Ed receives the first ace in the mail.  A simple playing card with a cryptic message.  Ed has been chosen to figure out the message and carry out his new duty.

This novel follows Ed as he discovers each message that he is supposed to deliver.  This story kept me guessing the whole time.  It is far from predictable and I really enjoyed each of the twists and turns.  I also enjoyed the messages that Ed had to carry out.  Essentially he was challenged to care about those in his community which is something the world, as a whole, could use a little more of.

Markus Zusak is probably most well-known for The Book Thief.  If you have read and enjoyed that, then I would definitely suggest picking up I Am The Messenger.  It felt a bit more fast-paced than The Book Thief but just as well written. One of my eleventh grade students actually recommended this book (and let me borrow it).  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started reading it.  I hadn’t heard anything about this book but it grabbed my attention quickly and drew me in.  It ended up being one of those books that I couldn’t stop reading and was a little disappointed that it was over when I finished it. Overall, I rated this book with four stars.

4 Star Rating