Books Bandwagon

The new year started and I noticed a trend I’ll call the Books Bandwagon. It’s a listing of all the books someone’s read in the past year, and I decided to hop on. Looking back at the books I read in 2019, I realized I enjoy a variety of genres: middle grade, fiction, memoir, non-fiction, and self-help. Not listed, but even more important to me, are the picture books I read and studied.

Hon, have you read any of these books? Do you have any favorites?

Planet Earth is Blue by  Nicole Panteleakos

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Big Magic:  Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Tatooist of Auschwitz:  A Novel by Heather Morris

Dopesick by Beth Macy

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Educated:  A Memoir  by Tara Westover

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

The Joke Machine by Theresa Julian

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine:  A Novel by Gail Honeyman

Eat, Pray, Love:  One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love by Dani Shapiro

The Path Made Clear:  Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose by Oprah Winfrey

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Everyone’s Got Something: My First Year with Celiac Disease, Authors’ Interview, Part 2

Interview with the authors of
Everyone’s Got Something:  My First Year With Celiac Disease!

High-schoolers Hallie and Rayna, along with their mom Lori, answer questions about Everyone’s Got Something: My First Year with Celiac Disease, a fictional story about a girl diagnosed with Celiac Disease. In addition to the story, there are extras:  “what to look for on ingredient labels, ‘BIG’ word definitions, questions to ask at a restaurant, the best brownie recipe ever, insight from a mom, and the chance to start your own journal!” Check out the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. Portions of the proceeds will be donated to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

NG:  How old were you when you were diagnosed with Celiac Disease? What grade?
H&R:  We just turned 13 years old, and in 7th grade. 
NG:  How did you feel when you found out?
R:  Shocked, confused and determined to deal with it in the best way I could.
NG:  How did you explain it to your friends?
R:  We told our friends we had a huge announcement, to which they replied, “Oh my gosh, we’ll be the bridesmaids!” which was comic relief that we didn’t know we needed. When we told them we had celiac disease we didn’t even fully know how to explain. A couple of our friends assumed they knew what gluten was (incorrectly) and at the time we didn’t know how to correct them, which is now something we have since learned and mastered how to do.
NG:  What was the biggest change you had to make?
H:  The most drastic change was converting our entire kitchen into a 100% gluten free space. This required getting rid of many kitchen items and running many loads of other items in the dishwasher. The most difficult change was eating outside of our house. It was hard to find restaurants that could prepare food safely. A lot of restaurants offer gluten free options, but they do not all prepare the food safely and without cross contamination. Another change involved having to bring food with us when we went out to eat or eat something before.
NG:  Why did you decide to write the book?
H:  The idea for the book started after we began writing down our thoughts and experiences as a way to process the changes that were occurring. We decided that it might actually benefit others to read it so we thought about how to organize our thoughts, our feelings and our experiences into a book format. When we were diagnosed, we looked for books on celiac disease for tween/ teenagers and we mostly found picture books for younger kids and heavy research, scientific books more geared for adults. We wanted to create a book that suited the tween/teen age group.
NG:  Did you want the book to be fiction, non-fiction, or both?
R:  We wanted it to be a bit of both! We created a fictional character to tell about many of our real life experiences. The main character is a mix of both of us with a few fictional aspects, but her experiences are completely based off of ours.
L:  Our goal was to create a relatable character that inspires hope and optimism in the face of a major life change.
NG:  How long did it take you to write the book?
L:  The [girls] were diagnosed in spring 2014. The initial draft was completed by the summer/fall 2015. However, we went on to more than double the book the following year or so. We started the publishing process the summer of 2018 and it finally became available for purchase this past March. It is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites in paperback and it will be available as an e-book by May (for Celiac Awareness Month). People can start their own journal at the end of the book which lends itself more to the paperback version, but a lot of people enjoy e-books, so we wanted to make sure it would have that option as well. 
NG:  How did you two and your mom collaborate?
R:  We wrote a lot of it together, but also some separately. We each read every section to ensure we were happy with the end result and that the voice of Lexi stayed consistent throughout the book! Writing it was all teamwork! 
NG:  Did you work with an editor?
L:  Yes, we worked with a local editor from Westfield, Lillian Duggan. She was referred to us by Eva Natiello. Eva spoke with us in the very beginning of the publishing process to give us a guideline and some suggestions of how to proceed. Lillian was meticulous in her editing and really helped ensure there was consistency in the character’s voice as well as making sure it was grammatically correct, yet vibrant and true to how a 13-year-old might speak and write in her own journal.We worked with the staff at Jera Publishing who helped with all things publishing: formatting, the cover design and interior images that are throughout the book. There are a couple of original drawings by Rayna and Hallie that are in the book.
NG:  Did you have to do a lot of research?
L:  We did research to back up any facts that were included and particularly the “big” words that were used. We include a glossary in the back of the book called Big Word Definitions to explain the more complicated words associated with celiac disease. For example, cross contamination, endoscopy and villi are defined in the book. It was important to us to use the accurate vocabulary to describe celiac disease, but also break the “big” words down to increase understanding for readers of all ages. 
NG:  Are you planning on writing any other books?
R:  Who knows?! We’re not opposed to it and would be willing to sometime in the future. We might already have some ideas in the works :). For now our hope is to be able to get this book into the hands of people who could really benefit from it. 
NG:  Any other comments you’d like to add?
H&R:  Celiac disease is something that is part of us, but does not define us. We are grateful that we were diagnosed when we were, that we now know what is healthy for our bodies and that we have had to opportunity to meet really good people that we otherwise would have likely never met. 
Also, the title seems to strike a chord with a lot of people whether they have celiac disease or not – we did feel that it is true that “Everyone’s Got Something” – sometimes you can see it, sometimes you can’t, and sometimes you have more than one thing – we hope the book serves as a resource to both empower and reassure people that they can do this!  

Everyone’s Got Something: My First Year with Celiac Disease, Part 1

Darcy, Hallie, Rayna, and friends volunteering at Habitat for Humanity.
Darcy’s friends have published a book!

Along with their mom Lori (shout out to the most wonderful Girl Scout  leader ever!), Hallie and Rayna Katzman have written a book about a very personal experience–Celiac Disease. I remember when Darcy’s friends received the diagnosis  as middle-schoolers. Now, as high school seniors, they can add authors to their lists of accomplishments.

Everyone’s Got Something: My First Year with Celiac Disease is geared toward tweens, teens, and parents, as well as people who’d like to understand more about Celiac Disease. It’s available on Amazon and portions of the proceeds will be donated to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

Lori says, “It has been a meaningful journey translating Hallie and Rayna’s longtime love for reading into writing a book that they hope can help others feel understood and less alone.”

I can’t wait to read it, hon!

Synopsis of Everyone’s Got Something: My First Year with Celiac Disease

Thirteen-year-old Lexi hasn’t been growing as well as expected. In fact, she basically fell off her growth chart over the course of a year! Blood tests revealed “ABNORMAL, VERY ABNORMAL” results. As far as Lexi was concerned, there wasn’t much normal in her life already–par for the course for a newly minted teenager! Learning she had celiac disease gave her a whole new perspective on what’s normal and what’s not. After some ups and downs, Lexi learns how to make lifelong changes and realizes that although celiac disease is something she has, it does not define who she is. With supportive family and friends, Lexi comes to believe that she can “do this,” and she knows that you can, too!

This book is written by teen sisters, Rayna and Hallie Katzman, and their mother, Lori. They created the fictional character Lexi to describe what life was like for them that first year after being diagnosed with celiac disease. In journal entry form, Rayna and Hallie describe how Lexi handles the many “firsts” she encountered in the doctor’s office and with friends and family. The authors’ intention is that readers feel understood, less alone, and more confident in managing this life change.

Be sure to check out some of the “extras” the book has to offer: what to look for on ingredient labels, “BIG” word definitions, questions to ask at a restaurant, the best brownie recipe ever, insight from a mom, and the chance to start your own journal!
Coming up:  Q & A with Hallie and Rayna.

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak, Book Review

I gravitate toward books where the main characters are children or teens, even if the genre is adult and not middle grade or young adult. I find children’s innocence, loss of innocence, and coming-of-age deep, beautiful, and truthful. I had read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak’s , an exquisite, devastating story that has taken permanent residence in my thoughts, and looked forward to reading his new novel, Bridge of Clay. In both books, Zusak takes his time building worlds, alternating points of view, time and place. Patience pays off, because the second I finished Bridge of Clay, I vowed to read it again so that I can study and savor the way Zusak uses language.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

The breathtaking story of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run by their own rules. As the Dunbar boys love and fight and learn to reckon with the adult world, they discover the moving secret behind their father’s disappearance.

At the center of the Dunbar family is Clay, a boy who will build a bridge—for his family, for his past, for greatness, for his sins, for a miracle.

The question is, how far is Clay willing to go? And how much can he overcome? (Goodreads)

Quotes from Bridge of Clay:

Once, in the tide of Dunbar past – long before kitchens and boys, and murderers and mules – there was a many-named woman. And what a woman she was.
First, of course, the name she was born with: Penelope Lesciuszko.
Then the one christened at her piano: the Mistake Maker.
Her factory name was Penny Lessing.
Her unfortunate, self-proclaimed nickname was the Broken-Nosed Bride.
And last, the name she died with: Penny Dunbar.
Quite fittingly, she had travelled from a place that was best described by a certain phrase in the books she was raised on.
She came from a watery wilderness.

“At the building and glasswork were them — Michael and Penny Dunbar — and at the bottom of the Opera House stairway, five boys had appeared, and stood standing…and soon they came down to meet us. And we walked back out — through the crowds and words of people, and a city all swollen with sun. And death came walking with us.”

Let me tell you about our brother.
The fourth Dunbar boy named Clay.
Everything happened to him.
We were all of us changed through him.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell, Book Review

My daughter and her friend met Rainbow Rowell at Book Con in Manhattan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not often that my daughter recommends a book to me, but my youngest really wanted me to read Landline by Rainbow Rowell. She had read it and, because it’s about a mom who tries to juggle her work, home life and marriage, she thought I could relate. Familiar were–dare I say it?–the time before cellphones, the mom needing to write, and the questions that plague a marriage. All normal. All relatable. I wasn’t as emotional about the story and characters as I was about Eleanor and Park, but Rainbow Rowell hit the whole doubts-about-where-my-life-is right out of the ballpark.

Quotes from Landline:

You don’t know when you’re twenty-three.
You don’t know what it really means to crawl into someone else’s life and stay there. You can’t see all the ways you’re going to get tangled, how you’re going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten – in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems.

She didn’t know at twenty-three.”

“She thought of … the way he never made made her feel crazy, even when she was acting crazy, and never made her feel like a failure, even when she was failing.”

“Having kids sent a tornado through your marriage, then made you happy for the devastation. Even if you could rebuild everything just the way it was before, you’d never want to.”

Summary of Landline on  Goodreads:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Have you read this book, hon? What did you think?

The Girl With All The Gifts, Book Review

Looking for an “emotionally charged and gripping book from beginning to end?” 

A month ago, if you asked me whether I liked post-apocalyptic zombie stories, my answer would have been, “Definitely not!” Then I read The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey (pub. 2014). This adult novel could easily be YA since it’s told mainly from the perspective of the ten-year old main character. The story gets more and more interesting as it progresses, and the ending blew me away.

Not every gift is a blessing. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh. Melanie is a very special girl. Amazon 

Quotes from the book:

“Melanie thinks: when your dreams come true, your true has moved. You’ve already stopped being the person who had the dreams, so it feels more like a weird echo of something that already happened to you a long time ago.”

 

“Growing up and growing old. Playing. Exploring. Like Pooh and Piglet. And then like the Famous Five. And then like Heidi and Anne of Green Gables. And then like Pandora, opening the great big box of the world and not being afraid, not even caring whether what’s inside is good or bad. Because it’s both. Everything is always both.
But you have to open it to find that out.”

 

“It doesn’t matter,” she explains to Miss J. “I want to be where you are. And I don’t know the way back to wherever I was before, anyway. I don’t even remember it. All I remember is the block, and you. You’re…” Now it’s Melanie’s turn to hesitate. She doesn’t know the words for this. “You’re my bread,” she says at last. “When I’m hungry. I don’t mean that I want to eat you, Miss Justineau! I really don’t! I’d rather die than do that. I just mean… you fill me up the way the bread does to the man in the song. You make me feel like I don’t need anything else.”

 

“Melanie finds this interesting in spite of herself — that you can use words to hide things, or not to touch them, or to pretend that they’re something different than they are.” Goodreads.

 

Related Info:

Click here to see an interview with M.R.Carey on You Tube. A movie based on the book came out in 2017. A prequel titled, The Boy On The Bridge was published in 2017.

Have you read the book? Seen the movie? What did you think?

The Inquisitor’s Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, Book Review

Box of books found at The Book Shed.

On a recent visit to my brother and his family, my daughter and I discovered a hidden gem, a great idea, and the reason we’d been receiving random gifts of books…The Book Shed. In Newton, Massachusetts’ Recycling Depot, gently used books organized by genre and author are stored in a shed, and you know what? You can take as many books as you want!

So many stories. So many worlds to explore. Not enough hours in a day!

I didn’t pick up The Inquisitor’s Tale Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog at The Book Shed, but I did listen to it on Audible. This middle grade novel, written by Adam Gidwitz and illustrated by Hatem Aly, is a 2017 Newbery Honor Book and Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

The story is outrageous, hilarious, fascinating, engrossing, and excellently written. This book may be for 8 – 12 year-olds but, hon, its a must-read for any age. I loved it!

The bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm takes on medieval times in an exciting and hilarious new adventure about history, religion . . . and farting dragons.

1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children: William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead.

As the narrator collects their tales, the story of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

Their adventures take them on a chase through France to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned. They’re taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. And as their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

Beloved bestselling author Adam Gidwitz makes his long awaited return with his first new world since his hilarious and critically acclaimed Grimm series. Featuring manuscript illuminations throughout by illustrator Hatem Aly and filled with Adam’s trademark style and humor, The Inquisitor’s Tale is bold storytelling that’s richly researched and adventure-packed.

Goodreads.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

 

The Nightingale, Book Review,

I’m addicted.

I love words, sentences, and stories, but my compulsion to work until I drop doesn’t allow much time for reading novels. Books I intend to read pile up while books I’ve started sit on my nightstand barely touched. Last year, I had a revelation–audio books! Sure, I’ve borrowed audio books from the library (think long car trips) and listened to a few podcasts, but it was a once-in-awhile-thing. Enter Audible. Last year, when I started taking the train regularly from New Jersey to Baltimore, I subscribed to Audible and became addicted to listening to books while I ride a train, drive, cook, knit, walk Lucy…hon, you get the idea.

Now that I am reading–umm, I mean listening–to books, I want to share the ones I like with you. Welcome to a new category on the Bmore Energy…Book Reviews. I’d love to hear if you’ve read or listened to= these books, too. What did you think?

Exquisite is the word that came to mind when I finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I wiped away tears at the unexpected ending. Breathtaking writing combined with  a gripping story puts The Nightingale on the list of my favorite books ever!

Summary from Goodreads:

Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

Quotes from the book:

“Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”

“Today’s young people want to know everything about everyone. They think talking about a problem will solve it. I come from a quieter generation. We understand the value of forgetting, the lure of reinvention.”

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”

“But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.”

― Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale

Hop Along Blog Hop

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Blog Hop
Do you love children’s books?  I’m passionate about them!  Let me introduce you to several children’s book writers and answer questions posed to each of us as we Hop Along.
Linda Bozzo
Linda Bozzo

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Meet Linda Bozzo.  Linda tagged me on her blog, Writerlinda.blogspot.com.   She is the author of over 50 non-fiction books for the school and library market. She enjoys writing fiction as well as non-fiction for children.  Many of her fiction stories are inspired by her love of dance.  Linda is  member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She enjoys presenting her writing journey to both children and adults. Linda lives in New Jersey with her family where she can visit the Jersey shore and enjoy the culture of New York City. You can find Linda online at http://www.lindabozzo.com.

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Step Up To the Microphone
It's my turn to answer the Blog Hop questions.
It’s my turn to answer the Blog Hop questions.
Picture Book Idea Month
Picture Book Idea Month
Bulletin board with book ideas.
Bulletin board with picture book ideas.
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What are you working on now?
I’m participating in PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month, which means every day in November I think of a new picture book idea.  My brain is like a window and once I open it, the ideas flow through like fresh air!  My newest manuscript is about two brothers, sibling rivalry and superheroes.
How does it differ from other works in the genre?
My story grabs you from the first line!  It’s different because it gives boys ages 3-6 a story filled with supereheroes, spaceships, tests of will wrapped around funny and realistic brothers, and comic book action words.  Lightening Logan and his big brother Hawk are poised to take on the world.  “Pshht!  Pow!  Activtate!”
Why do you do what you do?
Story ideas, rhyming phrases, settings and characters pop in my head constantly.  I write to give them a place to grow.  To me, picture books are magical.  Picture books have resonance each time they’re read, the words are musical, and adults and children build bonds while reading together.  I strive to create that magic when I write.
What is the hardest part about writing?
When I write, I am transported to another world where I exist with my characters.  The hardest thing is finding a publisher who sees the potential for them to come alive, and is willing to take a chance on a new author.  I continue writing because I truly believe in my characters, stories and the magic that is ready to spring off the page and into the imagination of a child.
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Tag, You’re it!
Lin Vitale
Linda Vitale
Penelope, Linda's muse.
Penelope, Linda’s muse.

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Linda Vitale is an award-winning advertising copywriter and creative director who has worked at top New York City agencies. She has created TV and radio spots, ads and promotions for Chase bank, Max Factor, Campbell’s Soups, American Airlines, Volkswagen/Porsche-Audi, to name a few. The only thing she didn’t write is Mad Men. And she should have, because this was and is her world.  In addition to advertising, Linda has written articles for New Jersey parenting publications. Currently she writes children’s books and humorous dog stories for her blog, muttshappeningnow@wordpress.com. Linda lives in Convent Station, New Jersey, and can be found pounding the keys of her laptop at her local Starbucks.
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Nicole Snitslear
Nicole Snitselaar
written by Nicole Snitselaar
written by Nicole Snitselaar
written by Nicole Snitselaar
written by Nicole Snitselaar

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I’m excited to introduce you to French children’s book author, Nicole Snitselaar.  We met through PiBoIdMo.  Here’s what Nicole says about her writing journey.

Writing, I’ve always loved writing!
But writing is so more rewarding when it can be shared.
I am lucky to have had  many picture-books published these last years.
Most of my books are in French.

But you will never guess how happy I was when Top That published two of my English stories!

Why do I write in English?

In fact, English was my first language as a little girl, and it just rings so familiar to my ear. My parents read to us many picture books who came from Great Britain. I would even say, they only read English books!

It was so much easier for my mother! She is Scottish. She married a Dutch man (my father) and they lived in Belgium, and later in France. And my first language was English… It took time for my mother to learn French !

And I got to speak French once I went to school at the age of 4.

Today I am the mother of five young adults.
I have been wririn songs and nursery rhymes for… as far as I can remember! I have several CD’s released.  (one about English nursery rhymes in French and English )

One day, I decided it was time for me to start writing more than just songs.

I really enjoy this activity and hope that you will enjoy discovering my stories!
If you want  to learn more about me, my life, my books, you may visit my English blog or French blog.