Sucked right into Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, I gripped the pages like a vampire sinks its teeth into its victim. A strong sense of a southern community filled with housewives made a perfect setting for a vampire to sneak into the house next door. The mystery and drama led me through a delightful escape as I grew more interested in the heroine Patricia. It reminded me of Fright Night with an age adjustment and less gore and language. I felt reluctant to return to the real world and continue to yearn to turn these pages again. There will be regular rereads of this in the future.
This BP Hope article highlights foods to fight inflammation. Eating these can boost your physical and mental health.
Cameron Crowe’s classic movie Almost Famous is one of my favorites. As it celebrated its ten year anniversary this fall, the director did an interview with Variety that shares behind the scenes insight.
As a teacher and a writer, I reap the benefits of writing longhand on a daily basis. I’m all for making deeper connections in our brains and using that for personal and professional growth. This especially applies for learning and creative processes.
This New York Times article shares additional creative benefits from exercise. I know I’m thankful for my active life and active imagination. Both keep my spirits up to lead a healthy and meaningful life.
This Book Riot dive into the Twilight soundtracks reminds us of the best part of the series. They have some great music. They don’t mention Collective Soul, but I’d like to remind you of the band and their presence on the first album.
I absolutely adore Valentine’s Day and soak in love in all its angst, glory, and fun through movies, books, and music throughout the season. To give you a cathartic angst release, I present to you my favorite song to sing. I was pretty excited to realize my physical proximity to Chris Carrabba at the beginning of the pandemic.
Though Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic tale about the beloved Anne Shirley cannot be replaced, Sarah McCoy’s Marilla of Green Gables offers a comforting visit to Prince Edward Island. In this story, we see Marilla’s young adult life before she and her brother Matthew take over Green Gables. It reads like sipping a cup of hot tea while chatting with a best friend as well as while comforting each other during tough times. Each circumstance offers a flavor that makes me want more. As with Montomery’s series, I find myself wishing I could meet the characters.
If you would like your own copy of Marilla of Green Gables, the link takes you to my Bookshop affiliate page. I get a small commission, and we support independent bookstores and authors.
So far I have adored every Kate DiCamillo story I’ve read, and her Newbery Honor book Because of Winn-Dixie tops my list. Young Opal rescues her new dog Winn-Dixie, but the canine saves Opal as much as Opal saves her. Together, they embark on a journey to find a place to belong. The courage Opal finds with a friend by her side warms my heart, reminding me of the importance of support. Those brave steps forward lead to new friends and shares hope with readers as they sympathize and laugh with Opal. The characters give the story a perfect flair.
*Link is to my Bookshop affiliate page.
After hearing numerous students gush about Shannon Messenger’s middle grade series The Keeper of the Lost Cities, I finally have read the first book myself. It lives up to their hype. Sophie makes a likable, admirable, and relatable protagonist. An encounter at a museum leads her to discover her identity as an elf, and the story follows her adjustment to a new world, family, and friends. Though she feels like an outsider at her new school as much as she did at her human one, she embraces her abilities and explores their potential. Vaguely reminiscent of Harry Potter, I find this a brighter alternative. Messenger achieves a great balance between world building and character development, and I find myself tearing through the pages. I’ve acquired the next installment already and happily reported to my students I enjoyed it (and thanked them for the recommendation).
Kate Clayborn’s recent Love Lettering invites readers to stroll New York City streets with a hopeful new friend. Meg and Reid met as Meg designed Reid’s wedding program, and he finds his way back to her office a year later because he discovers that she successfully guessed his relationship’s demise. Both at potential turning points in their life, they connect over their new goals. Clayborn utilizes the signs on the streets to give insight into the characters as they progress through their journeys on foot and in their hearts. They get their opportunities to step forward rather than stagnate, leaving readers with a reminder they too can face their obstacles to reach new heights. The signs point the way when they recognize the directives and follow.
Diana Biller’s debut novel The Widow of Rose House invites you into an atmospheric read perfect for the fall season. Though it takes place in a Gothic mansion in Gilded Age New York, it reads more like a modern love story. A possible ghost in a house Alva Webster moves into to restore serves as a vehicle for plot and character development. The setting details provide an escape, and the evolving love story invites reader engagement. Be warned neither the ghost nor the intimate scenes care to close doors. Yet also know Alva holds much more strength than may first meet the eye. This spooky tale has a hopeful outlook and demonstration of love.
Click here to get your own copy from my Bookshop affiliate page.
Jasmine Guillory’s latest romance Party of Two surpassed my expectations. With more substance and maturity than her previous stories, these characters had me not only rooting for their relationship but celebrating their personal growth. Lawyer Olivia Monroe and junior senator Max Powell have more age and career experience under their belts than the leads from The Wedding Date and The Proposal, and this serves to their advantage. They have a sense of their values and goals and take the time to consider how their next steps might or might not progress them. The communication and reflection may seem like they would slow down the story, but it allows the readers to savor the romance as well as contemplate healthy relationship adjustments.
Quick and Dirty offers tips for selecting sunscreen. Summer brings sunny times of fun that still require care, and this applies to all seasons.
These healthy foods can prevent clogged arteries. It makes me feel empowered to know I can avoid some damage. The bigger picture of heart health consists of numerous small choices.
Almost Famous turns 20 this month. I’m having an anniversary celebration weekend. Check out this Entertainment Weekly article for some fun set photos and memories of Cameron Crowe’s masterpiece.
I regularly send and receive letters, and that number has increased during the last several months. It feels good to know I can trust someone enough to share what I write and that they trust me in return. My steady pen pal and best friend has kept me company through supportive letters. This Washington Post article articulates the mental health benefits of letter writing.
In case you needed more enticement to watch Almost Famous, I present to you the trailer.
I read Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein with a friend as a fun way to connect while we don’t get to see each other. The story follows a predictable but fun romance plot when would have been Olympic gymnast Avery reconnects with another former athlete when she moves back to their hometown and they start working together. Their shared goal to get a talented gymnast into the 2020 Olympics makes a good central point for discussion points like the abuse scandal, career and purpose, healthy relationship dynamics, and more. While these issues don’t get detailed responses on the pages, the characters, particularly the women, make positive models for how empathy and empowerment can grow when people reflect and adjust. I would have loved to see more character development there but appreciate the strong frame. Overall, it makes a quick but fun and motivating read.