Young Adult Books for Summer

A Middle Eastern woman lying down reading

 

Brooklyn Girls 

Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess is the first novel in her series about five twenty-something friends: Pia, Angie, Julia, Coco and Madeleine. They share a brownstone in hip Brooklyn. The first story tells the tale of stylish Pia, who finds herself completely unemployed and broke. So what is a recent grad with an art history degree and a history of Facebook revealing photos to do? Start a food truck business! Pia takes on the cutthroat Brooklyn world of unique food producers to start SkinnyWheels. Add her roomates problems to the daily drama and it keeps you entertained. The author captures the confusion and excitement of the post-graduate years living in New York City life, with compassion.

Famous Last Words

Sixteen-year-old Samantha D’Angelo has an interesting summer job at the local newspaper writing obituaries instead of having fun on the beach. Between Shelby, Sam’s best friend; her boss Harry, a true-blue newspaper man; and AJ, her fellow “intern scum,“ Sam has her hands full.  As Sam learns her way around both the news room and the real world, she starts to make some momentous realizations about politics, ethics, her family, romance, and herself.

Truly Madly Deadly 

Sawyer Dodd has it all. She’s a star track athlete, choir soloist, and A-student. Her boyfriend is the handsome all-star, Kevin Anderson. But behind the medals, prom pictures, and perfect smiles, Sawyer finds herself trapped in a controlling, abusive relationship with Kevin. When he dies in a drunk-driving accident, Sawyer is secretly relieved. She’s free. Until she opens her locker and finds a mysterious letter signed by “an admirer” and printed with two simple words: “You’re welcome.” This story will capture you into the high school drama like you have never known.

LuLu in LaLaland

This is a fun read about Lulu, a soon-to-be 11-year-old living in Los Angeles. She prefers gardening to primping, and homemade guacamole to five-star restaurants. You’d never know that Lulu is the daughter of a Hollywood’s A-List power couple. This year, Lulu is determined to throw the kind of birthday party her glamorous parents might actually attend. But it’s so not Lulu. Should she morph into the Tween Queen of Tinseltown, or stay true to her relaxed self?

For more great ideas to add to your list please check out the lovely Bookalicious’s roundup. I had an opportunity to share some of these reads as well.

Books for the Motherless Mom

books

After searching for years I have found these four books a great help to fill the void since my mom died.

Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman

This book explores the many ways that losing a mother can affect almost every aspect and passage of a woman’s life. Hope built the book on interviews with hundreds of mother-loss survivors. This life-affirming book is now newly expanded to reflect the author’s personal experience. Now married and a mother of young children herself, Edelman better understands how the effects of mother loss can change over time, and in light of new relationships.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

At 26, Cheryl thought she had lost everything. Her mother’s devastating death, her family scattered, and her own marriage was soon destroyed. With nothing more to lose, she made the impulsive decision of her life: Hike the Pacific Crest trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State, alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker. This is the vivid story of a young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Motherless Mothers by Hope Edelman

Now the mother of two young girls, Edelman set out to learn how the loss of a mother to death or abandonment can affect the ways women raise their own children. From a survey of more than one thousand women comes, “Motherless Mothers”, the enlightening and inspiring next step in the motherless journey.

Hope opens up and reveals the unique anxieties and desires these mothers experience as they raise their children without the help of a living maternal guide.   She brings to light how the experience of loss directly impacts the ways in which these women parent their own children.

Paris in Love by Eloisa James

After her mother’s death and her own battle with cancer, bestselling author Eloisa James took a leap that many people dream about by selling her house, taking a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moving her family to Paris. Thisis a play-by-play of her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Without the Western domestic tasks to do, Eloisa revels in the ordinary pleasures of life—discovering corner museums that tourists overlook to walking from one end of Paris to another. She copes with her Italian husband’s notions of quality time, her two hilarious teenage children and her mother-in-law Marina’s raised eyebrow in the kitchen.

Here is a list I found on Goodreads that may help you find a book this season:

http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/motherless

Did I miss on? What would you recommend?

A Thought Provoking Summer Read

A Thought Provoking Summer Read

The Search Angel by Tish Cohen

The Search Angel

By Tish Cohen

Eleanor Sweet is a 35 year old who runs a swank baby store. Her husband and herself have tried for years to get pregnant. After being on a long waitlist with an adoption agency, they get the call that they have a baby girl ready to be adopted by them.

Sylvie’s room is painted and furnished ready when Jonathan gets cold feet. Suddenly Eleanor is consumed with having to face her own adoption and finding her past. She has always been reluctant to search for her birth mother out of respect to her parents who adopted her. It explained when Eleanor was dating Jonathan that she was afraid to get close, in case he left. However, with her daughter’s impending arrival she meets with a Search Angel, Isabelle.

Just when Eleanor feels isolated and alone, many people show up to lend support for her and Sylvie: her depressed Great Dane, Noel from next door, or her feisty pregnant staffer.  She learns how her present desires are intertwined with her own history.

The book is out now. I highly recommend it for a weekend read.  It was hard to put down. If you are looking for a more raw, humorous and a page-turning story, this is it.  This book ties in nicely with what I have written about infertility, adoption and other motherhood topics this year.  I use my space to support moms of all shapes and sizes. Also, the best kind of mom is one who just wants to be one, no matter how.

My Instant Interview with Nia Vardalos

My Instant Interview with Nia Vardalos

Insant_Mom

I had the opportunity to sit down and read an advanced copy of Nia Vardalos’s book, Instant Mom, before interviewing her about her book, daughter, movies and writing.

Yes, I was both enamored and nervous by the experience of a writer’s, and former foster kid’s dream. I remained as cool as I could until the end of my prepared questionnaire, when she turned the tables on me. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did talking with her.

I loved the book. I am a former foster kid. It really needed to be out there.

Thank you Danielle. I am terrified that it is getting out there. I love meeting kids like you that are living completely fulfilled lives. This stigma has got to be erased now.

Agreed. When did you feel the need to be a mom?

 I have felt that need from the time I got married. It’s a quiet voice that got louder and louder as each attempt was unsuccessful. The analogy of the sound of the fan over your stove that is whirring in your ear and driving you nuts, that you don’t even realize its there until you turn it off. That’s what it was like when I found my daughter.

Before you got married, you told Ian that you wanted to adopt. Why?

It is a strange thing that I have often encountered with parents, who have adopted, that they had said it early on that they were going to adopt. I don’t think it’s some mystical calling.  It’s larger than us, and I knew it from the minute I met my daughter. My first thought was, “ Oh, I found you.”

How has your relationship changed since meeting your daughter?

At the beginning, it was fantastic. She called me Mommy very quickly. Then once she came to live with us, that transition was challenging. So daunting. I realized that this is not a book about adoption; this is a book about how all mothers feel at the beginning. You are so overwhelmed. You’re so afraid.  My mom just very calmly said, “All moms feel this way.” It was so calming. Those little few words made me go-okay. And now, all my daughter and I do is laugh. It’s a great relationship. It’s positive and we are open about her history. I acknowledge her DNA so that she understands that it is a graft that formed for our family. You don’t try to envelop the child in any way that cuts off their past.

If you knew about the fos-adopt route ten years ago, would you have gone through less IVF treatments?

Yes, I would have. I know myself. I am so stubborn that I think that I would have still had to see it through for the knowledge that it brought me. The feeling of just saying,  ‘this is when I am done.’ So I don’t discourage anyone who says, ‘ I am going to do it. I know there are children out there but I want to have my own biological child.’ I say ‘That is your God-given right.’ Don’t try it. Do it. I offer this information as an option. For people who say, ‘No way am I putting my body through IVF.’ Or ‘No way am I doing an adoption, or trying to go overseas.’

When did you have time to write the book while being a mom? Because I know it was done in real time and present tense. Did you write as you went through the experiences, or did you go back?

That is an excellent question. I kept a tiny lined journal.  I would write little moments like not sleeping 20 minutes. Things like that because I wanted to tell her story one day. I thought it would be good for her to know for when did I start to trust you? When did I let you kiss me? Just like with My Big Fat Greek Wedding, we would be out at a party and someone would say, ‘ I hear you are a mom now. Where did you get the baby from?  I would say, ‘Actually she’s not a baby, ‘ and I started to tell the story. Within 10 minutes there would be 20 women standing around me weeping. I can’t be the person telling my stories while making people weepy I thought so I started to talk to my agent. She was new at my agency and she said, “Hey, you have become a mom under unconvential means, I think this might be a book. Let’s take it out and see. “ I said, No way.’ I am way to private. And when my daughter started school, I realize in that moment as she was walking away that is such a full circle. So that’s when I decided to get brave and sit down and write. Just compile all the notes. It took me a year. I don’t think I’ve ever cried more, but it was cathartic.

It really showed in the way you presented it. It was like we were having coffee as you told it. Thank you. It made it a very readable story, and emotional too.

I’m glad to hear it. I toyed with making it funny because it is what I’m known for. But I just thought it would do it a disservice to the truth. So, I decided to be honest with my daughter, and just tell her the truth. It’s quite liberating to say, ‘ Hey this happened.’

Do you have any advice for moms who want to write their own story? Or other mother writers who want to start a blog or book or something?

Yes, I do say this all the time when I teach screenwriting.’ Don’t look at the whole, just look at it one word at a time. If you set up trying to write a screenplay or a book, it’s so overwhelming you might stop.’ It would be like saying I’m going to run a marathon; as opposed to I’m going to walk around the block.

It’s almost like a scene.

Exactly! It’s like a scene at a time. It’s actually how I wrote My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I took all the stories and put them together into one story at a time, then threaded them together in the span of the year.

That is great advice.

Yes it’s simple, and I do think that women are natural storytellers. I think that we are all communicators. We have the ability to write, way more than we think we can.

What is the take-away for potential parents to know about the fos-adopt programs? The resources at the back of the book are great.

Sometimes people think you have to be heroic to do something, to take on more than you can handle. That’s why I wanted to talk about the parents I have met.

Everything that is offered to you I think should come to all parents.

A reader, Kathy, asks, “What do you think is the difference between growing up in Winnipeg and raising your daughter in LA?”

It’s a very big difference, and that’s why we are so strict with toys, treats and things like that. We are appalled by the entitled attitude of a lot of Los Angeles people. I remember being in Neiman Marcus in the children’s department. My daughter was in the corner playing with the display that they have set up, probably wrecking it. A woman was returning an item and didn’t have a receipt, she was reaming out the clerk in front of her own nine-year-old daughter. It was so disgusting to me that this was happening, I had to step in.’ I just have to say this is a terrible life lesson that you are teaching your daughter right now. Please, can you watch your language?’ The customer huffed out of there. By the way, I have that pepper spray on my keychain I always carry around. The shop clerk looked down and saw that and said ‘ Can I borrow that?’

I worked in retail for over 15 years. I would have loved more customers like you.

Well thank you. It’s the Winnipeg, and for me, it’s the Canadian way. We are taught manners. The whole time I was growing up I never heard my mother tell anybody off. She always dealt with situations with diplomacy.

 Love of your mom, that’s what got me. Yes, my mom died when I was 10. Anytime I hear daughters appreciate moms, especially when you become a mom, just makes my heart swell.  She is such an amazing mom, grandma to your girl.

Thank you. The Core, my group of friends, surrounds me; we all have that appreciation of our parents. Recently, they told me, “Tell your friends, thanks for spending time with the old fogies.’ Mom, you are fascinating. We love having you around. We have such appreciation, every day, especially at this age. Every day with our parents is a gift.

Question from Twitter. You may have already seen the tweet.

Anthony Field from The Wiggles would like to know, “ Do you know how good My Big Fat Greek Wedding is?”

Wait a minute; Anthony from The Wiggles, and I Retweteed that?

Yes.

Oh my, I love it! Oh, I am so excited. Ok. First of all, love The Wiggles.

They are amazing. We got to meet them.

So tell him, the appreciation and admiration is mutual. Do you know how great The Wiggles are?

I will!

I know I have to wrap up as time is moving on. I would like to get personal. A few years ago when you joined Twitter, you and I chatted a few times. I sent my children’s book to you for your daughter called, Harley.

That’s it Danielle. I knew it. I knew it was you! I love your book. Ok. Now, I remember.

I still have the kind thank you note that you wrote me back. You hand wrote a note. How cool are you?

How cool are you to send me your book. Yes, I remember everything. Wow, that’s a blur of time too.

I wanted to write it for my kids. I did not care for a publisher to change anything, so we did it our way.

Which I loved, I think I said that. I think I referenced your book to somebody who was talking about doing a blog with pictures, and I said someone sent me a book with pictures of her cat for her kid. This is crazy. I have it. It’s still in my daughter’s room. We have it. We love it.

I am blushing.

I am so glad we reconnected.

Me too.

See my review of her book. Buy her book here.

Thank you Nia and Harper Collins for the book and this opportunity.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

tangled web

When this book arrived in my mailbox, I opened it with curiosity about a potential love story. It was February, the month of love after all. I always held Valentine’s Day at arms length. Growing up I was never the ‘pretty one’ who got lots of heart-shaped boxes and cards. As a teenager, I stayed home from school dances and parties. I was broken-up with once on Valentines’ Day.

When I met my husband we agreed that Valentine’s Day wasn’t for us but Hallmark. Once in a blue moon he would surprise me on the day.

Days before Valentines’ Day this year, I cracked open Me Before You looking for a different kind of love story. And I found it.

Louisa lives at home and worked at a local café. She divides her time between family and her long-time boyfriend, Patrick. Then, her beloved café is closed. Living in a seasonal tourist town, jobs are scarce. She reluctantly takes an interview to help a man who recently was in a terrible accident, which left him in a wheelchair. Will is bossy and moody.  He once was a worldwide traveller and extreme sports enthusiast. Louisa refuses to treat him like his mother.

Soon she loves her job with passion. Louisa brings Will out of his bitter shell. She shows him that life is worth living despite his forecast. These two are from different worlds, yet come together under difficult challenges.

I quickly became enraptured in this heart-wrenching and romantic story. I know you will become addicted to see what happens next.

I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8-Step Guide to Giving Your Family the “Business”

I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8-Step Guide to Giving Your Family the “Business”

I am so the boss of youI Am So The Boss Of You

An 8-Step Guide to Giving Your Family the “Business”

By Kathy Buckworth

Helicopter Parenting? Ferber Kids? Free-Range Parenting? Tiger Mom? Are you tired of all the parenting options and just want to be the boss? When you want to learn how to play tennis you go to a pro, when you want to learn how to run a fine-tuned-household you ask a mom of many. CEO of her family, Kathy Buckworth, has laid it all out in 8-step business plan.

“ You are not the boss of me.” Do those seven words sound familiar? While Kathy was in the middle of a business meeting, it dawned on her how to intergrate the business structure into her own household. Why do parents work so hard to find that perfect way to parent when the perfect model is right in front of us? It operates efficiently, effectively and yes, financially.

She asks the question, “ So why are some of us willing to hand over the reins of power to an Infant? A Toddler? A Preschooler? Public schooler, Tween or Teen?”

This is especially true as now the products of the original Democratic and Helicopter parents are entering the workforce. They can do no wrong. They get trophies and medals for simply ‘showing up.’

“It’s instructive to contrast the idea of Democratic Parenting with what I like to call, with some authority I might add, Autocratic Parenting. The kids still have some rights”

Kathy writes out the advantages of Autocratic Parenting, which includes: expectations are clearly laid out and consequences need to be followed through.  The book goes into depth about this way of parenting.

She takes you through an 8-step guide for being the boss of your family. From figuring out your family brand to structure charts to keep you organized, think of this as a management textbook for your family.

Kathy walks you through the Social Media world by breaking some of the popular platforms down and shows you how to make it work for you. It is simple.

With all the Parenting books out there, it can seem overwhelming on what to do for you and your kids. This approach is very easily attainable. There is something for everyone in the book to learn about. In particular, my sore neglect is putting ‘ME’ into the goal plan. Now off to do just that, with a glass of Chardonnay and a locked bathroom door.

Buy her book for you and any mom who needs help. This would also make a great Mother’s Day gift.

A Heartfelt Journey to Motherhood: Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

A Heartfelt Journey to Motherhood: Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

Insant_MomWhen I saw the call-out for parent bloggers to review Nia Vardalos’s book, Instant Mom, I jumped at the chance. Sure, I am a fan of her writing her way to Hollywood. And yes, I love that she is a Canadian girl. The real reason I wanted to read her book on finding her daughter was because her and husband, Ian, adopted through the US Foster Care system. As a former foster kid myself, I was intrigued.

Being very tenacious and assertive in all aspects of her life, Nia writes, “ I just never accepted the word “no.” The fact that I’m a working actress and writer is simply because I am incredibly stubborn.”

This memoir about her 10-year path to her daughter is raw and honest with a hint of her genuine humour. Before she was known for her role as the Greek Bride, Nia wanted to be a mom.  While her career soared, at home the treatments to get pregnant and the multiple miscarriages became roadblocks to motherhood. Her search for her child is similar to many moms-to-be around the world. While going through the experience of adopting, Nia pondered whether to be an adoption spokesperson or a blabbermouth. A social worker told her point blank, “We’ve been waiting for a longtime for someone like you.”

Nia reveals so many vivid moments, like finding out about her Oscar nomination for My Big Fat Greek Wedding while on route to the fertility clinic for yet another treatment. Her body was bloated with all the fertility drugs that were needed for the course.  Within the pages, she breaks the wall of infertility silence that many women hide. “Infertility has taken my confidence, drained the joy from me.” She reveals.

After attempting the various ways to have a baby, Nia learned about adopting through Foster Care in the US. By way of a connection through Rosie O’Donnell, she found out that there are as many prospective parents out there as there are adoptable children.  In fact, there are over 500,00 kids in Foster Care in the US., and over 129,000 of them are legally ready to be adopted.  The book gives many answers to tough questions about fos-adopt. The sobering fact is that there are many kids who eventually age out of the foster care system without a family to call their own.

Instant is such a poignant title as you read this book. The decade path to being a mom,then, whammo, she has 14 hours to prepare for her daughter to come home. In the first chapter, titled ‘Birth’, she writes about the moment she felt her heart beating with her daughter’s.

Nia talks about her marriage to Ian Gomez and how the Hollywood life and fatherhood has been for him. Not having family in LA made it challenging for her until she built her Core of friends. As her best friend, Kathy Greenwood, told her on the phone, “Giving birth is not what makes you a mom.” For Ian, after their daughter being home for a few days, had the realization that she is exactly who the two of them would of made.

Nia writes in the present tense, which makes the new mom moments very real and relatable. They are rich in detail, from sleep-deprived days, co-sleeping, weaning bottles and raising a daughter in LA. She does not like the term ‘adoptive mom’ because,  ‘once you’ve wiped a butt, you’re a mom.’ Every child comes with it’s own take on the world and challenges. An innocent child just needs love.

“ The fear of the unknown can be a powerful deterrent from anyone adopting.  Again, I am not suggesting parenthood is for everyone, so if you feel it’s not for you, I agree your life will also be wonderful without kids. But if fear is stopping you, please don’t let it.” Says Nia.

She also includes an informative resource section at the back of the book on how to adopt.

As a former foster kid, I can go on and on about this book. Proceeds from this book will go to charities who help kids get adopted.  It is a fascinating read as a gift to yourself, or anyone, regardless of being a parent or not. Nia does write about that one time John Corbett walks into a bar…

BUY THE BOOK HERE! SEE THE TRAILER!

Stay tuned to this blog next week when I share my interview with Nia. We chatted about kids, Hollywood and more!