GALENTINE’S GIFT GUIDE: FOODIES

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Galentine’s Day is a great tradition that allows us ladies to proudly share our love for one another. As a proud vina I get excited about this opportunity to show my my friends that I really do appreciate them and their place in my life. One way to show those special women that they really do matter to you is to find them a gift that honors a hobby they love. I consider myself an amateur foodie, in that I love cooking, failing at cooking, and then eating delicious things. If you happen to love a foodie vina, here are a few nifty gifts ideas.

FOR THE SWEET TOOTH FOODIE: TAFFY

 

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(Photo courtesy of Dewarscandy.com)

This one is a personal favorite of mine. My Grandpa Billy loved taffy of all kinds, and this is the tried and true family favorite. Located in Bakersfield, California, Dewar’s has been making amazing taffy since 1909. I could easily eat my body weight in their taffy filled with-sit down for this one-peanut butter. For that candy loving vina, order some of Dewar’s famous taffy and help her find new levels of food love. Unique and fabulous taffy is a tasty twist on those boring old boxes of superstore chocolates.

FOR THE BAKING FOODIE: BEER BREAD 

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(Photo courtesy of Williams-sonoma.com)

As a mediocre home baker and bread lover I find my heart growing three sizes whenever I get a chance to try a new bread product. If you have a vina in your life is enjoys being covered in flour, has no problem with gluten, and would never turn down a decent beer,  this set from Williams-Sonoma is perfect! Bake and then break bread together, all while enjoying the remaining beer as the loaf rises. Not to mention that the bowl that comes with the set is a really lovely ceramic keeper-and any baker worth their snuff knows you can never have too many bowls!

FOR THE BOTTLE POPPING FOODIE: MASK BOTTLE OPENER 

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(Photo courtesy of Katespade.com)

Let’s be honest, it is really hard to get gifts for someone who really knows their wine. I’ve bought bottles of things that I like for friends that I know turned into cooking wine (or at worst, drain cleaner). If your galentine has great taste in beer, wine, or other spirits and you’re just too unsure about what to buy, snap up this super cute Kate Spade bottle opener in the shape of a mask. It is adorable, wonderfully unique, and will surely see plenty of use during your ladies-nights-in. Alcohol is temporary, but this is forever!

FOR THE FERMENTED FOODIE: DIY FERMENTATION CROCK 

42526_1_640px.jpgPickled anything-YUM. Fermented foods are delicious and crazy healthy. Plus Gwyneth Paltrow, patron saint of new age-y foodie stuff, is totally in love with them, so there’s that. In college a friend and I went through a pickled garlic phrase, and as a kid my mom had a bumper crop of cucumbers that resulted in too many jars of homemade pickles. Anyone who pickles and ferments does know that it can take time and be a little more labor intensive than the average week may allow. Enter this fermentation crock that lets you make things in larger batches and takes a lot of the guess work out of the process. And who knows, your vina may gift you some treats in return. I wouldn’t say no to a jar of homemade pickled snacks!

FOR THE TEA LOVING FOODIE: DESSERT TEA 

011071418_teaofhearts_2.jpgSoothing tea and amazing dessert in one toasty mug. Sign me up! This sampler from Teavana includes Tiramisu, Chocolate Chai, Caramel Truffle, and Vanilla Crème teas, some caffeinated and some not. Each pouch is also made up for 1 oz of tea, which according to Teavana is about 7-10 cups of tea each. This will last way longer than that chocolate sampler box, and your vina may be more willing to share it with you on a rainy afternoon (no promises!). To top it off  it’s labeled Tea of Hearts! It’s cute without being mushy, making it a great galentine’s day present.

Do you have any ideas for the foodie loving vina in your life? Comment below.

(Feature image source)

Originally seen on Vinazine

Poem for an Inaguration

There should be words today,

not these words,

not pussy not fear

we shouldn’t know

so much about emoluments,

or taxes other than our own.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong

we didn’t believe we still needed

these word, this voice

to debate if no always

means no safe means

home means equal

means fair means

the same in Ohio as

in New York as on

your street my street.

 

Trucker hats for buttons

for slogans for meaning

for a path without a map.

Is the road not taken

any better, it’s not our

only road. We can stand

together a thousand

causes single file forward

some shared belief maybe

to be a man be a woman

to check any box on any

form matters less than

the flesh we share the

earth we stand upon

the words we share.

 

A Letter to 13-Year-Old Me About Friendship

Dear Lindsey,

Hi, this is you. I’m writing you from 2016. We are almost 32 years old and we are basically awesome. We’ve got a house, a nice man, and a really cute kid. Sometimes we write, we almost always read, and we regularly fail at baking. Wine and coffee are our friends and we’ve moved across country twice. We’re mostly happy and we have quite a few things figured out, which is good. But enough about me, let’s talk about you. Thirteen is not easy, no matter who you are. Look up pictures of famous people at 13, you’ll see what I mean. I know you’re 13 and not keen on taking advice from other people, but just hear me out, please.

FIND GOOD PEOPLE BY BEING YOURSELF

This might seem frivolous, but just go for it in the make up department. Embrace that purple lipstick you keep hidden in your locker, even if you feel like you need to wash it off before mom picks you up. In the same vein, don’t shave your legs just because the other kids laugh at you. Yes, mom will make you wear the optional school uniforms (seriously, who has optional school uniforms?), and yes the other kids will laugh at you in your polos and khaki shorts. Here’s the upper, you will learn how to weed the bad people out of your life this way. The kids who comment on your hairy legs, creased blue slacks, and purple lipstick? Yup, trust your heart and cut them loose. You will always read people well, keep trusting that instinct. If shaving your legs makes you happy, go for it (but don’t steal Dad’s razor, get your own), if not, don’t do it. Dye your hair if you want, get neon bands on your braces, draw on your sneakers; you’re 13, it’s ok. Find people who like you for you. That’s the most important thing.

IT’S OKAY TO LET GO

On that note, it’s okay to let go of toxic friends, especially when you’re young. You’re in 7th grade and between this year and next some of your friends are going to be pretty mean. Take the advice from above and trust your gut – let them go. I know saying that doesn’t make it any easier, but it is the best you can do. The girl who finds “cooler” friends to eat lunch with won’t be as happy. The girl who calls your mom and lies and says that you’re self-destructive is doing so as a cry for help. You’ll have a bigger heart later and you’ll want to help her. For now pull an Elsa (that will make sense in about 20 years) and let it go. Embrace the new friends you make and be thankful that you’ve learned to how to be independent. It may be hard to learn in junior high, but independence will be a valuable skill when you’re grown up.

BE SMART ON THE WEB

The internet’s a brand new thing when you’re in junior high. You’ll spend way too long logging on to AOL, listening to that horrifying sound that is reminiscent to a monster living in your CPU, but stick with it. The internet is here to stay, and yes, it will get faster. I must be serious when I say stop talking to boys in chatrooms, though. They don’t like you like you think they do, and those flower doodles they make out of symbols mean nothing. You’re on there because you’re shy, naive, and those guys say nice things. You would be better served to try chatting with real boys, in person. Except Matt, he’s never going to like you. Just being real. Better yet, make online friends with other girls! The internet is great; it will play a big part in life later on.

DON’T BACK DOWN. EVER.

Yes, that first week of school you will correct your English teacher’s spelling error on the white board. He will never forget it, and he will yell at you when your Tamagotchi dies in class and you cry that you need to save it. That spirit though, that never back down thing you’ve got going, hang on to it. Go ahead and stand up for yourself against that boy who will make fun of you at soccer try outs, and tell that gym teacher where she can shove her scale when she wants to weigh you in front of the class (true story). Your biggest cheerleader in life will always be you, stick up for yourself. And on that note – stand up for your friends. Don’t let anyone bully your girls, and don’t bully others. Girls standing up for each other will get you through school and will be a valuable skill to have later in life. Try to live by this motto – community over competition. Always.

Teenage Lindsey just remember this: plenty of people love you. Some of them even like you. Be kind to yourself, and just as kind to those around you. This made sound cliché, but everyone is fighting a hard battle out there and a little kindness goes a long way. Don’t be afraid to be happy, or silly, or odd. Don’t be afraid to be tough.

Oh, and stop eating Funyuns at lunch. I love you, and I know they taste good, but they’re not making things any easier for you.

Love Always,

2016 Lindsey

What would you tell your 13-year-old self if you could? Tell us in the comments!

(Feature image via Free People)

Originally Seen on Vinazine

Hey! Holidays: Geek Out Over These Awesome Nerdy Gifts

Welcome back to Hey! Holidays. We’re comin’ atcha all month with AH-MAZING gift ideas for all types of vinas. No matter who you’re shopping for, you’ll find a perfect gift on one of these lists. Have more suggestions for gifts? Tell us by using the hashtag #HeyHolidays and tagging us @ilikevina.

Everyone has an amazing nerdy friend, that vina who is super comfortable talking math, Star Wars, or who knows all about the PH of their garden soil. To help make your shopping easier this season here are a few suggestions that won’t end up in the re-gift cycle.

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COFFEE-OBSESSED SCIENCE GEEK

For that vina in your life who loves science, coffee, and a warm neck, this gift is screaming her name! In a neutral white with a black caffeine molecule pattern, this scarf looks like abstract art at a distance but up close it shows you’ve got an impressive set of smarts and an addiction to coffee. Bundle this package with a gift card for methylated xanthine (AKA coffee) and everyone will have a happy holiday.

Screen Shot 2016-12-14 at 9.11.43 AM.pngMATH MAVEN

Dessert and math may not seem like the perfect mix at first, but one look at these bowlsand you’ll have to resist buying them for yourself. The classic looking set of four medium-sized bowls has a theorem written on the outside in a nice script and the proof is written on the bottom. The proof is literally in the pudding…if you’re eating pudding, that is.

42389_1_640pxTHE PHOTOG

If you vina group has a paparazzo who loves to document your outings, get her this projector to help share the memories. This nifty projector will work with any smart phone and it looks like an adorable old fashion camera. At a reasonable price you can treat your photo savvy bestie to something super cool without breaking the bank.

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-9-12-22-amOUT OF THIS WORLD GAL

This is just the best. The absolute best. A set of nine bath bombs to match the planets and our sun, each with their own unique formula. Any vina can relax and contemplate the stars. My personal favorite might just be Mercury, with Moroccan Spices with Activated Charcoal. Put these in a basket with a bottle of red and some wine glasses and you might be the best gift-giver in the office Secret Santa.

Screen Shot 2016-12-14 at 9.12.42 AM.pngBOTANIST BABE

Dog lovers, peace seekers, and garden aficionados alike will all want to add this little guy to their yards. His peaceful presence will work on a deck or hiding under the shade of a tree. Is your vina more of a cat gal? Elephant? Michael Gentilucci has quite a large selection of other yard statues and zen critters that would look adorable with a bow under the tree. The frog is pretty lovable too, just a hint to all my vinas who still have some shopping to do.

What do you plan on getting your nerdy vinas? Tell us in the comments!

(Featured image via Today’s Creative Life)

Originally published on Vinazine

Women From History We’d Swipe Right On (Part 2!)

Now more than ever, we need to look to our historical sisters for comfort and encouragement. Below are some of my favorite vinas from history (my dream BFF list, if you will). If any of these ladies faces could appear on my matches I would swipe right on them- twice for good measure! Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of this series here.

FOR VINAS WHO NEED A SYMPATHETIC EAR: SYLVIA PLATH

Sylvia, or Syl as she used to sign herself in her letters, is that emotional friend every vina needs. This author from the 1960s penned classics like “Daddy” and “Lady Lazarus” along with the must read novel The Bell Jar.

She struggled with a public and messy marriage, but she was always in touch with what she thought and felt. On those rough weeks when you just need a pal to commiserate with over a drink, or you need a friend to put things in perspective, Sylvia would be the vina of choice. For those of us that are work at home moms, she would also be a must need connection –  we could maybe swap child care for a day, get some advice on some writing, or borrow a good book from her. I’d swipe right on my girl Sylvia any day of the week.

FOR VINAS WHO KNOW HOW TO RULE THE ROOST: ABIGAIL ADAMS

If you want to talk about an ambitious, intelligent, and unmatched behind these scenes operator, then Abigail Adams is your woman. In so many cases, she literally brought home the bacon (running the family farm, of course) and fried it up to feed the family’s five children.

And then, you know, in her free time, she advised her husband, second President John Adams, in some of the most amazing letters in history on all things political. Pick up a copy of her letters to her husband and you’ll be in awe, seriously. During the Continental Congress John Adams would ask her advice on everything from political bargaining to the plight of soldiers on the home front. She ran in the most influential circles overseas, and was such an active First Lady that she was often called Mrs. President.

You need a vina to help you get your life together, advise you on that promotion, or give you pointers on your next speech before the town council? You need to swipe right on Abigail.

FOR VINAS WHO WANT TO GET OUT AND EXPLORE: SACAJAWEA

This vital and impressive member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Sacajawe, a is a woman like few others. Having been captured, traded, and enslaved she became a valued and crucial member of the expedition that traveled across the American West.

I’m stoked when all my laundry gets put away while my toddler naps – she traveled the county on foot. With her knowledge and experience in the wilderness, along with a keen sense for trade and diplomacy, she helped keep the expedition alive and on track. Andshe did all of this with a newborn on her back. Yeah.

Her accomplishments were so impressive that she was taken on as a symbol for the National American Woman Suffrage Association, had her portrait put on coins, and probably has more statues in her honor than any other American woman.

FOR VINAS WHO WANT TO GRAB SOMETHING TO EAT: JULIA CHILD

Julia was a woman who knew how to cook, eat, and love. On an afternoon out with her you might find yourself in the kitchen, eating the best tasting cheese in town, or wrapped up in her L’école des trois gourmandes with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck.

These three did what few others had done: make French cooking accessible to American women. Then Julia pioneered cooking on TV, something so many of us and our vinas are addicted to right now. Oh, and she traveled the world working for the government (her kitchen is on display at the Smithsonian!). Basically, Julia is a B.A. and I would drop everything to hang out with her if she swiped right on me in return.

Now get swiping! Who knows, maybe you’ll connect with the next Sylvia Plath…

(Feature image via @alpha.whiskey_)

Originally Published on Vinazine!

HEY MAMA! 3 EASY STEPS TO MAKE THAT OTHER MOM YOUR BESTIE

One afternoon your kid declares they’ve met the one-that perfect best friend who shares their snack, is awesome on the swing, and has the coolest back pack ever. In your future you now see birthday parties, camping trips, and plenty of other shared adventures. Like lightening striking, your kid’s new friendship has just started a chain reaction in your life that you can’t predict. So what do you do now? You take it and run of course!

STEP 1

The most dicey part of this operation is that very first meeting.From personal experience, save intros for the afternoon pick-up instead of the morning drop-off.  I, for one, am a hot mess until at least 10am (or 3 cups of coffee, whichever comes first) and would rather not chat up someone while battling caffeine deprivation. So if you both pick up your kids in the afternoon, keep your eyes peeled for your counter part. A quick howdy and an exchange of names will get you on chatting terms fast.

If your kids are regulars on the bus have your kiddo pass along a note with a friendly hi and a cell number. Once you get to know each other, you both may find you’re morning people (or not!) and you can try to plan accordingly. The bottom line here – don’t be too over eager, but don’t hesitate to make the first move either.

STEP 2

Since your darling kids initiated this, keep them at the center the first few times you and your new vina mom meet. Make a plan to meet at the park after school so they can play together while you two chat, or catch a movie all together one Saturday. Or, hang out at home and put out some simple snacks for everyone. My fave is a nacho bar – everyone makes what they like. No kids – or adults – can complain about that!

Choose low key activities that keep the kids happy and will let you two get comfortable together. The easy camaraderie that kids often have is contagious, just give it a try. Chat about their school, their shared obsession with all things Zootopia, and swap ideas for upcoming birthdays. Having kids who are friends means you have a go to topic of conversation. You’ll be surprised how quickly the conversation turns from the kids to everything else.

STEP 3

You’re friendly now. You text occasionally. You’ve probably been to each other’s house at least one. Here’s the big one – that leap into real friendship. You and this new-ish vina need to share a grownups only adventure, stat! If your both gym rats, meet for a workout sesh while the kiddos are in school. Zumba or Jazzercise are absolutely addicting and a great way to spend an hour or two together.

Or hop over to that new brewery in town, or rent Bad Moms and leave the kids with your significant others. If you both find you want to make a difference in your kids’ school, join the PTA or sign up as parent volunteers. Even better, go big and do all of the above! Follow what you both love and a happy vina-ship will appear.

What makes a real friendship is the quality time you spend together. Of course you’re not always going to agree on stuff, and of course your kids may bicker at times, but the more shared experiences you have together the more you’ll want to hang out. Before long you’ll be mama BFFs for life.

Share in the comments how you and your other mom friends became besties!

(Feature image via @disastersofathirtysomething)

RECONNECTING WITH FRIENDS OVER THANKSGIVING BREAK

 

You’re taking a break from studying, globe trotting, grocery shopping, toddler chasing, and project managing to revisit your high school stomping grounds. With nothing to fill your hours but eating and catching up (and if you’re me, reading!) it only makes sense that you may want to track down some of your old squad. To make reclaiming your high school turf easier, here are a few tips worth filing away, just in case your rise to the throne proves a little bumpy.

GET UP TO DATE ON CURRENT EVENTS – THE FUN KIND

As a role model for all impeccable behavior look no farther than Queen Emily Gilmore. From season 7 (hear me out! I know you’re feelings about season 7) episode 3 Emily reminds us that “when the conversation lags, a good guest ought to be prepared to introduce a new topic. Keep it light — no politics, no religion. My little trick? Think of things in the middle three sections of the Sunday New York Times — travel, arts & leisure, Sunday styles — and forget the rest of the paper exists.”

Today we can sub in something from TMZ, Bustle, or of course chatter from your favorite VINAZINE article, but the idea is still the same. Those first few minutes of chat when you bump into each other at Starbucks may be dicey, so come with your game face on. What’s up with Brad and Angelia today? Have you tried an apple cider mimosa? Did you read Natashia Deón’s book Grace yet?

Keeping up today on random articles, books you’ve loved, and some reality TV gossip will save you both from conversation lags. And please, save the political talk for those extended family dinners.

MEET SOMEWHERE FAMILIAR

There is a lot of comfort in familiarity. Did you and your vinas hang out at a local indie coffee shop? Is there a one of a kind restaurant in your home town that everyone has always, always, always loved? I remember coming home one summer to find that the chairs at our coffee shop had been replaced. Sure, we were a bit sad they were gone, but we also spent a lot of that afternoon reminiscing and laughing about all the goofy teenage things we used to do while sitting in those chairs. This one silly change, these new chairs, also propelled us into talking about other new things in our lives- our kids and our jobs and the escapades of our families. With your besties, no matter how long you’ve been apart, a small thing like a familiar setting can quickly bring back some amazing memories.

DO SOMETHING WORTHY OF A #TBT

Selfies and #tbt’s are two things most vinas all have in common. If you’re scrambling around for plans with those old pals, trying something a little old school. Go see a movie together and sneak in snacks like some serious OGs. My BFFs and I saw every Harry Potter movie when they originally came out, so it would be amazing to see the newest film from JK Rowling together again.

Grab a selfie with a poster and it will seem like no time has passed at all. Brave enough to take this even farther? See if there is a high school football game on the calendar and don your letterman’s jackets like the lady bosses you’ve always been.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Do a run down of the whole graduating class. Where is that star football player now (last I heard he’s playing for the Raiders, FYI)? Or how about what’s her name, the girl who always had the best jeans in the world? Odds are with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram you have all kept up with someone. Not only will time fly by remembering so many people, you might also find yourself learning new stories about old friends. Time and perspective can open new doors you never knew existed. You may even find that someone you’ve lost contact with lives not too far from your new home- hello! Extra vina for a wine date! In the converse, don’t hesitate to be introduced to someone new. Everyone makes new pals, so open yourself up to your old friend’s new friend!  A trip back in time may just propel you in the future.

No matter who you want to connect with this Thanksgiving, be it favorite family members or old high school friends, just enjoy it. You’re only in town for a few days, so instead of stressing enjoy the opportunity!

Tell us in the comments who you’re most excited to see when you go home for the holidays!

(Feature image via Urban Outfitters)

Posted First on VINAZINE

Dog Eared Review: i be, but i ain’t by Aziza Barnes

Pages: 80
Publisher: YesYes Books
Released: 2016
Dog Eared Review 
In a sidestep from my usual reviews, this time around I am featuring a full length collection of poetry instead of a chapbook. Now, you may think that reviewing either length would be the same, but that would be a sad misunderstanding of each form. In a chapbook most poets explore a single theme, or style, or image, using their roughly 25 pages to put a spotlight on one thing. A full book, much like a novel compared to a short story, can dip its toes in many forms, emotions, and images. For me personally I find chapbooks to be a more intellectual experience while a full length collection to be an emotional one. But that, again, is just me.
Aziza Barnes has demonstrated many forms, ranging from blocky prose poems like “the mutt debates what it might come down to:” to the slim and streamlined left justified pieces, such as “descendants.” I’d go out on a limb and say the the signature style is the breathless free verse that is peppered throughout to great effect. On this train of thought the poem “a good deed is done for no good reason” is a wonderful example of the form and the key substance of the collection as a whole. There are many shades of the political within, be it the government pushing in, or society horning in, but in the end the reader needs to remember that “industry of human hands/you are just/ yourself & no one has made you.”
The personal and sexual sides of politics, how the world as a whole and the individuals specifically, are incessantly pressing their ideals and expectations onto us, trying to shape us, is so key to this collection. Another key theme, one that shapes almost all discussion, is race. No poem better encapsulates racial politics better than “brown noise;” the pieces travels over stereotypes and realities so deftly, and with such a restrained hand, making it all the more effective and devastating. There are also visual moments that support the content, with the poem “down like a shot” coming to mind. The physical structure of the poem matches the content, with the lines quickly diminishing like a shot. The lines also mimic that wordless slip into passion and the abrupt stop out of it with the second to the longest line “don’t start something you can’t finish is maybe the worst advice” coming after the shortest. It is all these careful content and style choices, this blurring between the art and the reality, that allows many of the poems to transcend the words on the page.
Dog Eared Pages:

14, 15, 18, 19, 25, 27, 29, 30, 33, 34, 36, 39, 40, 43, 44, 49, 50, 61, 62, 64, 65, 70

Check out more reviews and other awesome stuff at The Next Best Book Club

Summer Must Read: Grace by Natashia Deon

Grace, Natashia Deon’s debut novel from Counterpoint Press, is an emotional tour de force and an absolute must read. That may seem like a bold statement, but when a book balances the Civil War, racism, abuse, and a ghost story with almost effortless beauty, it is an accurate one. The novel is told from the point of view main character Naomi as she navigates her terrifying life as a child living in slaves quarters, a runaway teenager working in a whore house, and an ever watchful mother. Her daughter Josie is both blessed and cursed because of her parentage, as she too finds herself straddling two different worlds. Despite being separated by Naomi’s death, and the collapse of the South, their two lives intersect in the most unexpected, meaningful ways.

Deon creates a rich and diverse world in the South both before and after the Civil War. There are no stereotypes here: not in the woman who comes to own Josie, not in the madam a who runs the whore house, not in the blacksmith, not in the piano player. Each character is far more than their race, their religion, or the job that they hold. Even the most passing character feels like a flesh and blood person, weighed down with their own past and their own failings. The issues in Grace reach right down to what it means to be good, to be human, and to overcome. Considering the fact that the story spans two lifetimes, two states, and a whole host of tumultuous events, it is quite an achievement to craft the many multidimensional characters that populate this novel.

Without giving away too much of the plot, the bulk of the story is told by Naomi after she has died, and it jumps between her actual life and her spirit life. Allowing readers to see Naomi’s life, her death, and her ability to reflect on both of them is part of what makes this story unique. Everything is convincing; it seems right and logical and necessary to see both Naomi’s life and to watch her watch Josie’s life. This is a tall order to juggle as a reader, and a writer, but once you get into the rhythm of the book, it sweeps you away. The story encompasses many small details — who lives where, who knows whom, who passes who else in the forest — all of which eventually build into a startling climax. I finished Grace in almost one night because toward the end, it was nearly impossible to stop reading.

Hearing the story from Naomi’s perspective allows readers to encounter a lot of period language and slang, which helps you get into the setting and the mindset of the time. She is a self taught woman, having had only life and the Bible to guide her, so her speech and thoughts evolve in an organic way as the story progresses. It may take some readers a few pages to nail that voice in their heads, but I found that it made the book even more immersive. The attention to detail, from the way cellars and floor boards creak, to the minutia of doing laundry and cleaning, help remind readers of the way so many of us used to live. With thoughtful use of historical facts and details, along with vivid descriptions of the landscapes, I was always surprised and engaged.

I was able to get a hold of an advance ebook copy, but I plan on heading out to add the hard cover to my shelves at home. You should probably do the same, since soon enough everyone should be talking about Grace.

Grace is available in stores and online now.

6 Awesome Middle Grade Dads

In honor of Father’s Day, lets celebrate our favorite middle grade dads, whether they be biological, adoptive, or living only in our memories. Many of us have a special bond with or memory of our dads, which has forever shaped us. My own Dad takes a lot of pride in doing things himself, and as I’ve grown older I find myself appreciating those same traits. He is also really great at backing a motorhome into any size campsite. These middle grade novels all feature special relationships with fathers, be they god, mortal or somewhere in between. No matter who they are, or what they do, let’s just all agree that we’re pretty lucky to have these guys in our lives.

The Hidden Oracle (B&N Exclusive Edition) (The Trials of Apollo Series #1), by Rick Riordan
Zeus is the father of Apollo, who just happens to now be trapped in the body of a regular New York City kid. That, on its own, is amazing and inspiring and everything that a dad/son story should be. Parents aren’t always easy people to get along with, I admit it, but when your dad happens to be the head honcho of all Greek gods, the stakes are that much higher. In another wonderful series from Rick Riordan (you’ve heard of Percy Jackson, perhaps? Magnus Chase, maybe?) kids pull out all the stops to save the world, prove their worth, and earns some serious brownie points for their otherworldly parents. Zeus is no one to mess with, and he knows it! Plus, he gives Dad Bods a good name.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I & II, by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
This whole series is jam packed with awesome dads, and The Cursed Child is set to be another great addition. Fans get reintroduced to Harry and Ron, this time as fathers to young Albus and Rose, who are embarking on their first year at Hogwarts. With their own awesome examples of fatherhood (Arthur Weasley and James Potter), as well the slightly reckless influences of Sirius Black and Remus Lupin over their childhoods, it will be fun for fans to see what kind of fathers these two have become. The even more pressing question may be: what kind of father is Draco, and does Scorpius follow in the Malfoy family footsteps.

Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
In this classic story, Pinocchio lets his mischievous ways lead him astray from his loving adopted father, Geppetto (with more rule breaking and adventures than the movie, and also more heart and more love between Pinocchio and Geppetto). Readers also get a chance to think on what makes a family: is it birth, or is it unreserved love, or some combination? Pinocchio eventually learns to behave, attains some much needed-bravery, and finds that the one person who has always been true to him is his very own father.

The Little House series (9-Book Boxed Set), by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Garth Williams
Pa, father to Laura Ingalls, is the perfect example of a pioneer days dad. He works his tail off all day in the the fields, or goes hunting, or sugaring, but he still has the time to teach his kids the life skills they need to survive on the frontier. Laura lovingly remembers all the nights he played the fiddle, the careful way he did his farm work, and the bravery he showed even when things got tough. Whether they are out riding horses, taking their first train ride, or raising the walls of a new home, Pa is absolutely a guy who should be celebrated on Father’s Day—but he definitely doesn’t need a tie, or a mug with golf jokes on it.

Song of the Deep, by Brian Hastings
In this soon to be released book (and video game!) twelve-year-old Merryn lives with her father, who is a deep sea fisherman. After a terrible storm, Merryn worries that he is lost at sea. Thanks to the courage and imagination that her father fostered in her, she builds her own submarine to find him. While traveling the ocean, she learns that her father’s many deep-sea legends just might be true, and also that she is stronger, braver, and smarter than she ever believed. Sometimes a father’s love, support, and encouragement can send us out on the most amazing journeys.

Captain of the Ship (American Girl Beforever Series: Caroline #1), by Kathleen Ernst, Juliana Kolesova, and Michael Dworkin
The American Girl books always have great, multidimensional relationships between their parents and their kids. Whether it is Molly’s dad being deployed during the war, Kit’s dad trying to work through the Depression, or Addy worrying about her dad as he escapes slavery, there is no shortage of important fathers. One of the most standout dads has to be Caroline’s father, the proud ship builder who is taken hostage in 1812. Caroline is so inspired by her father’s love of sailing and his ship building business that she can’t help by stray back to Lake Ontario at every opportunity. She braves the lake, and the British, in an attempt to rescue him, all because of their strong, reciprocal love.

What stories do you love to share with your dads?

Originally Published with Barnes and Noble