Sunday, January 22, 2017

@BookSparks #FCR2016 The Marriage Lie by @KimberlySBelle #MMBBR #FirstLine

December 13, 2016 – The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle
Course Title: Secrets and Lies
Department: Women’s Fiction Studies
Description: Iris and Will have been married for seven years when Will flies out of town for a business trip to Florida. When a plane bound for Seattle crashes, killing everyone on board, the manifest shows Will was one of the passengers. Iris sets off on a desperate quest for the truth, the answers she finds shock her to the core.
Kimberly BelleKimberly Belle worked in marketing and nonprofit fundraising before turning to writing fiction. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and currently divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. She is the author of three novels: The Last Breath, The Ones We Trust, and The Marriage Lie.

Keep up with Kimberly on Facebook (, Twitter (@KimberlySBelle), Instagram (@KimberlySBelle) or via her website at

This is my last book of the Fall Reading Challenge through Book Sparks.  I may have saved the best for last.  This book was intense, well plotted and a damn good read.  It was one of those reads that you instantly want to be made into a movie, like right away.  This would be brilliant on the big screen.  I think that Belle has a true sense of storytelling, with layers and depth of story, dynamic characters and a book you cannot stop reading.  I cannot wait to dive into Belle's other reads.

#FirstLine ~ I awaken when a hand winds around my wrist, pulling me head to heel against skin heated from sleep. 


Saturday, January 21, 2017

#MMBBR #ReviewRoundUp

Two parents challenge one another to find balance between work and family life. Their stories are both uproarious and poignant as they raise children and strive to leave their mark on the wider world. Filled with tender moments and plenty of laughs, Here Be Dragons recounts the adventures of a family trying to stay afloat, and offers a life raft to the rest of us in choppy waters.

Such an important read for parents because all parents struggle from time to time, but if you do so with an open heart, some humor and good intentions we will all make it out with kids who had a great childhood.  I am a strong believer in trying to do better, to be better for myself and my kids.  This book has helped me do just that.  I highly recommend this read for any parent.   

A candid, practical, and defiantly funny guide to embracing neurological differences--from a bitingly witty autistic mute and her dyslexic, ADHD-wired, lesbian therapist.
Shattering the conventional notion of disability, Neurodiversity sheds light on autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit disorders (ADD/ADHD), dyslexia, and other neurological differences as natural human variations with their own challenges and strengths. While backed by brain science, the authors write from personal experience. Speechless (literally) due to severe autism, Barb Rentenbach communicates by typing one letter at a type. (Though "disguised as a poor thinker," she's imaginative, dedicated, and exceptionally patient.) Her therapist and friend, Lois Prislovsky, Ph.D., is an educational psychologist whose distinctive traits include dyslexia and ADHD. (She's also married to a woman, a mom to a teenage son, and enjoys any new challenge - the wackier the better.) In alternating chapters, Barb and Lois share real-life stories, mind-opening insights, and down-to-earth advice to encourage everyone to see beyond labels, treat others with respect, and help each unique person become his or her highest self.       
Written with honesty, compassion, and ribald humor, Neurodiversity offers reassurance and practical tips for parents, educators, employers, LGBT families, and anyone who loves someone who is different. Readers will discover:
* The payoff of presuming competence and listening well (even to non-verbal people).
* Do's and don'ts for managing anxiety. (Do facilitate optimism. Don't overprotect.)
* Ways to help ADHD children excel, without medication. (Tips: Limit access to video games but don't make unrealistic restrictions on movement.)...and much more.
"Autism is my prism, not my prison," Barb Rentenbach declares. A fun take on serious issues, Neurodiversity presents two wonderfully different perspectives on understanding how different brains think and maximizing our collective human potential.  

"This book is filled with hilarious, refreshing, and touching stories about using differences in ways you would never imagine and are not always PC...The key is acknowledging and working to understand what makes up your neurologically diverse brain and THRIVING in its complexities." --Emma Willmann, Comedian 

The brain is very complicated and there are so many things we still don't know about how it functions.  This book is filled with different ways to look at differences, which is both refreshing and, at times, funny.  It was a great read and I focused mostly on the chapter about dyslexia, as my son is dyslexic.


#MMBBR #Highlight The Echo of Twilight by @judithkinghorn #FirstLine @_PenguinGroup

"An enchanting, atmospheric work of historical fiction that is a rich blend of Downton Abbey and Jane EyreThe Echo ofTwilight is a wonderful novel to curl up with this winter."--BooklistFrom the acclaimed author of The Last Summer, a captivating and moving story of the unlikely relationship between a lady and her maid on the eve of World War I.

As I watched him—his long legs striding the narrow path through the heather, his golden hair catching the sun—I had a hideous feeling in the pit of my stomach. For it seemed as though he was already marching away from me.

In 1914, despite the clouds of war threatening Europe, Pearl Gibson’s future is bright. She has secured a position as a lady’s maid to a wealthy Northumberland aristocrat, a job that will win her not only respect but an opportunity to travel and live in luxury. Her new life at Lady Ottoline Campbell’s Scottish summer estate is a whirlwind of intrigue and glamour, scandals and confidences—and surprisingly, a strange but intimate friendship with her employer. 

But when violence erupts in Europe, Pearl and Ottoline’s world is irrevocably changed. As the men in their lives are called to the front lines, leaving them behind to anxiously brace for bad news, Pearl realizes she must share one final secret with her mistress—a secret that will bind them together forever...

#FirstLine ~ Memory is a cruel thing. 

Judith Kinghorn

Judith Kinghorn's internationally bestselling début novel THE LAST SUMMER was first published in the UK in April 2012. Her novels are published in the UK, USA, Canada and British Commonwealth countries, and have been translated to Spanish, German, Italian and French.

For more, please visit Judith at 
Facebook: authorjudithkinghorn 
Twitter: @judithkinghorn

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The work of Donna Shea and Nadine Briggs #anxiety #kids #sociachallenges #mad #worried

How to Make & Keep Friends: Tips for Kids to Overcome 50 Common SociaThumb2l Challenges

This book is a handy reference guides that provides kids with friendship tips and social skills advice presented in a top ten list format. Simple tips for the most common social challenges are included, such as:
    • How to Make New Friends at School
    • How to Safely Handle Angry Feelings
    • Attending Parties
    • How to Share Fairly
    • Being a Good Play Date Guest and Host
    • Working in a Group
    • … and much more!

Review Box 2 - Website

How to Make & Keep Friends: Helping Your Child Achieve Social SuccessHelping Your Child Thumbnail(1)

Our second book is a how-to manual to support your child in attaining, maintaining and sustaining improved social skills and lasting friendships.  The easy-to-read format clearly outlines common barriers that may be hindering your child’s social success with actionable coaching tips and suggested language for you as a parent to use to provide support to your child and improve his or her success at social interactions.
Parents play a key role in the formation of friendships and How to Make & Keep Friends: Helping Your Child Achieve Social Success explains how to guide your child toward finding true and meaningful connections.

Review Box - Website

I Feel Mad: Tips for Kids on Managing Angry FeelingsI feel mad image facing left

by Donna Shea and Nadine Briggs
The How to Make and Keep Friends books are known for providing quick, easy tips for kids that help them with managing their feelings as well as developing friendships.   I Feel Mad: Tips for Kids on Managing Angry Feelings is based on the one-of-a-kind “Getting the Mads Out” skill-based workshop that has helped many children learn to manage their angry feelings over the last decade.
I Feel Mad: Tips for Kids on Managing Angry Feelings contains full color illustrations by artist Ryan Flynn.  The beautiful images further enhance the effective tips and make the workbook a must-have for kids who struggle with anger issues.
In the new anger workbook, children will learn:
  • the anger rule to follow and what they may or may not do when they are feeling angry;
  • that anger is a normal emotion we all have and that managing anger appropriately is a critical life skill;
  • how to identify the physical sensations of anger and implement strategies before it becomes too hot to handle;
  • a menu of safe strategies to choose from when angry situations arise; and
  • effective problem solving skills and specific reactions to replace an angry response.

  • Donna Shea, Director of the Peter Pan Center, and Nadine Briggs, Director of Simply Social Kids, are passionate about helping kids make and keep friends. They have dedicated themselves to working with children who experience mild to moderate social difficulties to foster positive social skills and interactions.

I Feel Worried! Tips for Kids on Overcoming Anxiety

By Nadine Briggs and Donna Sheaworry anxiety stress kids
The I Feel Worried workbook provides simple, actionable and proven tips to help kids manage anxious feelings. In this workbook, your child will learn: • that anxiety is a normal and sometimes necessary emotion we all experience; • how to understand and label feelings; • how to identify the physical sensations of anxiety and implement strategies before the fear becomes too strong; • calming exercises to choose when anxiety-provoking situations arise; • effective coping skills and specific strategies to manage anxiety; • that he or she has the power to overcome anxious thoughts and become an expert worry ninja. How to Make & Keep Friends, LLC provides the following resources • The How to Make & Keep Friends Books and Workbooks • Bullying Prevention, Facilitated Recess Programs and School Observations • Professional Development Seminars • Workshops for Children and Parents Shea and Briggs consult with families, school systems, and community organizations to improve the social and emotional lives of children everywhere. The important thing is, you really should not let the worries win. You may not feel as though you are stronger than your worries, but you really and truly are!

I think these books are amazing.  They are very important and relevant.  With all the stresses that kids face it is important to have resources to help them work through all the emotions and social challenges that cause them stress.  One of my sons struggles with anxiety and the other with maintaining emotions.  These books have been great in bridging communication and as an aide to help my kids work through their struggles.  They are filled with ideas, activities and talking points.  I think these are a must for all parents.

How to Help Your Anxious Child
Donna Shea & Nadine Briggs

As a parent, if you understand what causes stress in kids and the signs of anxiety in your own child, you can help him or her manage the emotion rather than feeling forced to discipline in those moments when your child locks down, has a need for control and when the urge to yell and threaten comes to the forefront.
What does stress look like in children? Increased anxiety in children can present as:
Increased bouts of anger or lower frustration tolerance;
Misbehavior, meltdowns and difficulties in school;
Refusal to do what we have asked of them and refusing to go to school;
Seeking more adult reassurance and being overly shy;
Physical ailments such as stomachaches and headaches or insomnia;
Increased whining, tearfulness and irritability; and
Increased sibling issues and fights.

What things can be stressors for children? There are many, but here are a few:

Routines that are disrupted or a lack of routine;
Food choices and meal times;
Crowded, noisy environments;
Having to wear uncomfortable clothes or other sensory based challenges;
School, tests and other academic pressures;
Social situations, communication and conversation and peer relationships

Here is how you can help support your anxious child.
Identify & Strategize - What are your child’s anxiety triggers? Help your child understand what he or she is feeling and why. Once children know how to identify what stress feels like for them, they can begin to strategize on how to overcome the anxiety.
Acknowledge – Empathize with and explain to your child what he or she is experiencing. Put a name to what is causing the stress. Say things to your child such as, “I think that the crowds at the mall might be too much today” or “I know it’s tough to sit through such a long test.”

Accommodate – What can be let go of or changed? Can you have a mom’s helper stay with the child while you shop? Can you talk to the teacher about planned movement breaks during the test?
AdaptHelp your child develop coping strategies for when things can’t be changed. Our book, I Feel Worried! Tips for Kids on Overcoming Anxiety contains many different tips and ideas. Create a plan for what to do if a child starts to feel overwhelmed.
If your child is struggling, you cannot hurt anything by using the assumption that he or she is experiencing increased stress or anxiety. Putting a name on what your child is experiencing, developing strategies to address the root of the problem and making accommodations where and when they make sense, can help you help your child learn positive coping skills and become an expert “worry ninja.”
Donna & Nadine - March 2013 - cropped
Donna Shea, Founder of the Peter Pan Center for Social and Emotional Growth and Nadine Briggs, Director of Simply Social Kids are authors of the How to Make and Keep Friends book and workbook series. Briggs and Shea specialize in coaching and creating simple tips and language for kids with social and emotional learning challenges.
Connect with Briggs and Shea on, Twitter, and Facebook.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

@BookSparks #FRC2016 The Madwoman Upstairs by #CatherineLowell

December 27, 2016 – The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell
Catherine Lowell is writer of novels, letters, and the occasional limerick. She received her degree in English literature from Stanford University, where her academic interests were inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson's observation: "There is creative reading as well as creative writing." The Madwoman Upstairs owes its existence to a fierce love of the Brontës, a terrible bout of insomnia, and the kind hospitality of many Manhattan coffee shops. 
Catherine’s passions include reading obscure books about Ancient Greece and testing out hot chocolates. She's a great believer in the power of stories to change history and if you have a few hours she will happily tell you far too much on the subject. She tries her best to live by the following two quotes:
" We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly." (Aristotle) 
"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." (Robin Williams)

Course Title: Family Secrets
Department: Debut Novels
Description: In Catherine Lowell’s smart and original debut novel—hailed by Deborah Harkness as a “charming and memorable read”—the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt, using only the clues her eccentric father left behind, and the Brontës’ own novels.
A fun and charming story that made me love being able to be in inside the book.  It was a delight of a read.  So original and engaging, with characters that I cared about.  I am so grateful to be part of the #FRC2016 because I was exposed to this book and I may not have without the challenge.  I highly recommend the book.

#MMBBR #Showcase Clear Seeing Place: Studio Visits by @brianrutenberg

Blurb: From the salt marshes and moss-draped live oaks of the South Carolina Lowcountry to the New York art world, Clear Seeing Place takes the reader behind the studio door to explore the making of a painter in intimate detail. Brimming with the joy of process and a love of art history, Brian Rutenberg reveals the places, people, and experiences that led to the paintings for which he is well known today. This book is packed with ideas, observations, techniques, and career advice all thoughtfully arranged into six sections designed to inspire artists of all levels, as well as anyone interested in creativity. 

Clear Seeing Place is a companion to the artist's popular YouTube series "Brian Rutenberg Studio Visits" and is a love letter to painting written by a painter. 

Brian RutenbergBio: Widely considered to be one of the finest American painters of his generation, Brian Rutenberg has spent forty years honing a distinctive method of compressing the rich color and form of his native coastal South Carolina into complex landscape paintings that imbue material reality with a deep sense of place. He is a Fulbright Scholar, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, a Basil Alkazzi USA Award recipient, an Irish Museum of Modern Art residency programme participant, and he has had over two hundred exhibitions throughout North America and in Europe. Rutenberg's paintings are in private collections all over the world and are included in such museum collections as the Butler Institute of American Art, Yale University Art Gallery, the Bronx Museum of Arts, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Peabody Essex Museum of Art, Greenville County Museum of Art, and many others. His popular YouTube series "Brian Rutenberg Studio Visits" is viewed daily by people all over the world. He lives and works in New York with his wife Kathryn, and their two children. 

Q.  What inspires your writing?

A.   I believe that the purpose of art, all art, is to create an excuse for us to stare at one another. By glimpsing into someone else’s heart, we gain a greater purchase on our own. Writing is an act of empathy, a prayer, and a love song. A well-crafted sentence is a shared experience because it begins in the writer’s imagination and finishes in the readers. A good book hums with the four most comforting words in the English language: You Are Not Alone.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

A.  The limitations of language.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being a writer?

A.  The limitations of language.

Q.  If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?

A.  A magician.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

A.  See-Saw

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

A.   To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?

A. The Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Q.  What character from all of your book are you most like?

A.  Me. My book is a memoir, and a love letter to painting.

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?

A. The Three-Cornered World by Natsume Soseki.

Q.  What is your favorite season?

A.   Autumn

Q.  What inspired your book cover?

A.   My cover is one of my paintings.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.

A.  A woman kept calling me “Bruce” at a reading/signing. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I became Bruce. I was raised a Southern gentleman. We are polite to a fault.

Q.  Are you working on something new?

A.   I am writing a follow-up to Clear Seeing Place.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

A.  Support the dreamers among us by buying their work and telling others about them. Thank them for devoting their precious time on earth to teaching us how to see and think slowly, for it is in slowness that we see beauty.

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