Confessions of a Capital Mother: Feeling American

On this day, September 11th, 2015, I am feeling particularly “American,” which, maybe oddly, isn’t a feeling I get very often. I’m not even one to feel very patriotic on the classic bank holidays: Labor Day, Independence Day, not even Memorial Day–the day I should feel the most “American.”

Today is a day that I feel like a Capital mother again–a mother so used to not even noticing just how privileged my children are to live in a nice home with well-made clothes and access to Netflix at the touch of a button.

No one, besides my grandfather and my husband’s grandfather, from our immediate family is in the military and I feel like I am the classic American case of the soft, fat-and-happy citizen that is completely disconnected from the sacrifices that our military men, women, and families make every single day. I know that they make so many of them: spouses not seeing each other for months at the time, the very real and present truth that each time they speak may be their last time, one parent raising children by themselves, many not even being present at their children’s births, moving every few years and uprooting from friends and schools, living where they have no grandparents or other family to help raise kids. They do this all so I can sit here in my comfortable house and type this. So I can choose the schools my kids attend. So much. I can’t even begin to imagine being a military spouse, much less military personnel.

Today is different, though, and oddly, this year hit me harder in the gut than any of the past anniversaries of 9/11.

Jason and I flew to New York in January 2012, just two months after the attack. We went to ground zero, which, at that point, looked like a construction site with mounds and mounds of flowers, notes, tributes and photographs tacked to the plywood barriers. Even standing there, in the same place that so many people had fled, I felt disconnected. The ground on which I stood had been worn under feet that were panicked, scared, frozen–quite probably the sidewalk where many, many, many people had stepped not even two full months earlier in what would be their last steps on a New York sidewalk–that ground was like another planet to me and I was an outsider looking in.

It’s taken me this long (and a marriage and two kids later) to even begin to grasp what that day was like for so many. I’ve recounted my “Where Was I” story every year, but this year, as I was telling my 8-year old about the day, I couldn’t finish because tears were running down my cheeks. I suddenly felt very connected to everyone around me–not as human, not as Southern, not as any particular group except “American.”

I’ve only felt this way once before that I can really remember, and it was in a completely different capacity. Of course, it was after reading a book–because isn’t that the point of reading? To evoke strong emotion and reaction?

This book, which I read in eighth grade, is titled Nothing but the Truth: A Documentary Novel, written in 1992 by Avi (pen name of Edward Irving Wortis).

Nothing_But_the_Truth_(Avi_novel)_coverShort synopsis: A boy hums during the National Anthem during the pledge break in his 9th grade homeroom class. He’s asked to stop; he doesn’t. He is suspended. The media goes CRAZY. He changes schools. He’s asked to lead the National Anthem (because hello, he was suspended for being super patriotic, right?) in his new class. He can’t. He doesn’t know the words.

The book is written in a documentary style by using diary entries, press memos, newspaper articles, etc. surrounding the event. Can you guess what the take-away lesson was? The media doesn’t always tell the whole truth. Get the whole story. Look at things from every angle.

It was while reading this book that I felt suddenly and intensely “patriotic.” “American.” How dare this boy take something so far by using our American symbol? Of course, I was in eighth grade, so I couldn’t even name the emotions that this book evoked, but it was strong.

I’d like to see this book updated to employ a modern approach to the same story. This version would include emails, texts, snapchats, Instagram, and especially Facebook posts. I’m sure the outcome would be no different, but it would certainly be something that would resonate well with students.

Have you read this book, Nothing but the Truth: A Documentary Novel? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

For now, on this somber day that even the weather is feeling, I wish everyone the power and courage to recount their own “Where Was I” story. To tell it with tears running down your cheeks. To never, ever, ever forget that deep, horrible feeling in your gut when, as you were watching the same new I was watching, you saw the second plane approach the towers.

I will never forget. I will continue to try to thank our first responders and our brave military personnel and their families for their sacrifices and contributions to our great country. For even though we complain about our first-world problems, we would have it much worse without those that defend our rights to the death.

Read Up.

Book Review: I’m Nobody, The Lost Pages by Alex Marestaing

I'm Nobody: The Lost Pages Cover Art

Alex Marestaing is one of the many, many (very many) authors that contact me daily through the blog. I may not have hundreds of followers, but I have hundreds of authors, publishers, agents, etc. contact me about reviewing their books. This, obviously, is an awesome thing and a not-so-awesome thing. You see…I love books. I love reading. I especially love reading good books. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to read every single book that is offered to me, but I try to let every author/publisher/agent/etc. know up front whether or not I’ll be able to read their book.

This little green book arrived in the mail a few weeks ago (like…June) and it’s been riding around with me ever since, just waiting for me to get around to it. The cover was intriguing, so it was going to get read…eventually.

The green book, being an actual book and not a digital copy (props to the author for sending that to me) got pushed to the top of the list.

I finished it in one day and it was PHENOMENAL. Here it goes:

Targeted to middle grades and possible early high school grades, I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages is about a teenage boy, Caleb, who hasn’t stepped outside his house for seven years. He’s haunted by the house across the street. A seemingly magical event occurs (or rather, course of events); Caleb makes a friend, Iris, who is a teen indie-filmmaker. Parents try to institutionalize him; back-story is revealed; Emily Dickinson is still writing; magic is real. The End.

Emily Dickenson's House was the inspiration for the "house across the street"...Now, imagine a basket coming down from the window ; )

Emily Dickinson’s House was the inspiration for the “house across the street”…Now, imagine a basket coming down from the window ; )

Did I love it? YES!

I’m Nobody: The Lost Pages was such a refreshing read. It covered topics that most middle grades books don’t touch, including mental illness in youth, open-mindedness, and bravery. I cheered for Caleb throughout his story, celebrating every little step and each small achievement as he built up the courage to rebound to normalcy, despite his parents absent support. This, actually, was the most sad part of Caleb’s story: he didn’t know anything was “wrong” with him until his parents started trying to make him “better.”

The characters, Caleb and Iris, are teenagers, but young enough that a crush is a new experience for both of them. I was very happy that a romance was not the center of this story, but instead, a budding friendship. Both sides must overcome adversity to see each other as friends, and it’s written in a charming and beautiful way.

Emily Dickinson and her poetry play a pivotal role in this story; one that is more original than anything else you’ve read recently, I’m sure. The history of Dickinson and her writings were incorporated in a wondrous way, such that they were as inspiring to me as they were to Caleb.

An example of Dickenson's writing, this is what Caleb found as each of his notes arrived. The descriptions of her writing, even down to the stationary, are phenomenal.

An example of Dickinson’s writing, this is what Caleb found as each of his notes arrived. The descriptions of her writing, even down to the stationary, are phenomenal.

As many of you know, I have a knack for figuring out story lines, but I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I had a general idea, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for the revelation of the basis of Caleb’s mental illness and the unhappiness inside his home. Overall, the story was heartbreaking. I was really hoping for a happy ending…I’ll let you read it to find out if I got it or not ; )

This book was published in December, 2013, so it’s available for you to pick up now. A copy of the book was sent to me for review, and, being a wonderfully honest person, I provided an honest review at no charge (because who wants to charge authors to send them books?!).

Have you read any good middle grades books lately? Let me know in the comment box what you thought.

Read Up!

 

 

Decatur Book Festival: Day 2

Out final day at DBF was quite busy, but we made it to all the authors on our list. We had a good bit of morning to fill before the festival began, so we stopped by our cousin’s restaurant, Highland Bakery, for a fantastic breakfast. If you’ve never been to HB, definitely try it out. I highly suggest the Fried Chicken Benedict. You won’t regret it!

After breakfast, we headed up to Decatur and got a great parking spot (which we later forgot and walked an extra four miles at the end of the day to find…) near the Children’s Stage. W wanted her face painted yesterday, so we went there first (still had to wait for-freakin’-ever) so she could fulfill this dream. She got an arm tatt like her Uncle Hal. He’s such a great influence…

Unicorn Rainbow Tattoo for W

After the tattoo experience, we waited at the Children’s Stage for the anti-climatic Wizard of Oz parade and then tried our best to sit through the Wizard of Oz performance. We didn’t make it. We couldn’t hear it at all and there were five point two million small children there also trying to watch. We left to walk around for a bit and explore the tents. Here’s what we found:

1) A giant sock puppet

2) A marionette that we weren’t sure was a horse or a camel. We were later told it was a horse named Camel.

3) A performance company based in Atlanta solely performing Celtic works (so, naturally, I signed up)

4) The cooking stage, which Mom was excited about, but then bummed because, again, we couldn’t hear anything.

5) The Atlanta Ballet

6) A little W that needed to take a creative break

7) A bunch of very large Waldos. Why aren’t they this big for our local search?!

 

A few hours later, we were back on schedule. Authors galore! Woo hoo! 

For me: Mary E. Pearson (Kiss of Deception), Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy), Katherine Howe (Conversion), Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14 trilogy),and Vicky Alvear Shecter (Curses and Smoke)

For W: her very favorite, Eric Litwin (the first 4 Pete the Cat books and now, The Nut Family: Bedtime at the Nut House) and Tony DiTerlizzi (WondLa series and Kenny and the Dragon)

 

W loves Eric Litwin! He visited her school last year and absolutely stole her heart. We’ve been singing Four Groovy Buttons forever and ever amen at our house. He lives near my brother’s Glenwood Park coffee shop, Drip, and is a very regular customer. He told W that her Uncle Hal has the best coffee in the world! 

That’s a wrap for the Decatur Book Festival 2014, but tomorrow, that Big Books bag you’ve seen in the photos is going to be given away on Instagram! Be sure to follow ReadingUpWiththeJoneses for your chance to win it! 

W leaving with a bag full of books!

Speaking of the bag, it’s also signed by an emerging author that I met while sitting in line waiting for Leigh Bardugo. She was a new mom with a darling little baby boy. We waited a long time beside each other and, as is custom, struck up a conversation about, what else? Books. She asked if I’d read either of the books that were being signed. I had not. I told her I’d gotten ARC’s of both, though, but since I get so many, I just didn’t have time to read a lot of them. Then she revealed that she, herself, was an author and had a book released earlier this year. How cool, I thought. Naturally, I asked what her book was titled. And, naturally, it was one of the ARC’s I’d received and…not read. So, then I felt like the world’s worst blogger. Ever. But she was really, really nice about it and now, of course, I need to dig up that ARC and read it! Better yet, I should just buy the book so she gets a cut of it ; ) Here’s her book so you can check it out, too. I promised I’d give her a shoutout! Check out 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen.

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

I hope you enjoyed following us around DBF 2014! What was your favorite part? Are you looking forward to winning that Big Books bag? I sure hope so! 

Read Up!

Win this bag! Follow Reading Up with the Joneses on Instagram!

Decatur Book Festival: Day 1

Little W and I have been counting down the days to DBF and it’s finally arrived!

Decatur Book Festival 2014We came up yesterday to see Adi Alsaid and Jennifer E. Smith at a pre-festival book signing, and I’m so glad we did. Their signing line (which also included Stephanie Perkins…so…) was crazy long. I did get to hear them speak though, during their panel discussion, which was right before my main event: Maggie Stiefvater. But I’ll come back to that later.

We started the day at the Audi dealership, much to W’s dismay, to let them finish up a few things with my car and to get an estimate on repairing the damages from the Publix incident. We made it over to Decatur on time, though, to see Amy Krouse Rosenthal, one of W’s favorite authors, speak in her panel. 

If you’re not a mom or a teacher or librarian, you probably aren’t familiar with Rosenthal’s books, but we certainly are. Little Pea has helped us get through some “I’d rather have candy” moments in the Jones home and Little Oink has helped get a few more toys picked up than usual. She has many, many great books available and today we were here for her newest addition, Uni the Unicorn. 

W got to meet her and had her sign the new book for her, as well as another of her books, Exclamation Point, for her class at school. She thought it was pretty cool, even though she didn’t say much besides, “I like Little Pea.” The end. It’s probably best that she didn’t fangirl out on her favorite author…kind of like I did later in the day…but I digress.

After waiting in the (very long) line for Amy, we headed over to the vendor tents to find lunch. And find lunch we did. Eight dollar-but-not-worth-four gyros. With no posted prices. Ah, festivals.

My mom went with us (yay!) and I’m so glad she did. She’s always loved the festival atmosphere, so she took W to the children’s area while I went to the Teen Stage. 

I caught the tail end of Stephanie, Adi, Isabelle Gilles, and Stephanie Perkins panel and also Jennifer L. Armentrout’s signing, then waited for the lady of the day. While waiting, the Marching A’s or whatever the band is called (I feel like they have a different name when they’re marching through the Mart) came through to play a little halftime show. I imagine they’d probably just left DragonCon.

Then she arrived; the wonderful author of my favorite series and my favorite standalone. 

Maggie Stiefvater...eeep!!!!

Two things you may not know (or care) about Maggie Stiefvater:

1) She sounds EXACTLY like my friend Heather when she’s speaking. I could’ve closed my mind and I would’ve immediately thought it was Heather on stage. 

2) She’s a comedienne. 

She even made a joke about people mispronouncing her name (It’s Steve-Otter, in case you’re wandering). 

Now, I really, really, really, wanted to sit and hang onto her every word, but I also had a 7-year old who would be hot and ready to go home soon, so I had to do the family thing and scoot out a few minutes after Maggie started fielding questions. I went to hop in line, hoping to be close to the front so I could get the signing done and get W and my mom and go. 

Well…I still ended up waiting for almost and hour and a half. In the sun. Yes, I have burns. But for Maggie, I will scorch. W…not so much. She found a misting fountain to sit atop.

The Children's Misting Sculpture (I don't know the actual name, so I made one up)

In the meantime, I got a few more signatures on the Big Books bag for our Labor Day giveaway!

Eventually, I got to Maggie and well, let’s just say, I made a total fool of myself. She signed my copy of Sinner (I’m lame and totally left all of my other books at home), one of the awesome book wraps that she drew, and I also snagged a pair of Sinner sunglasses. I may or may not have told her that it was a dream come true to meet her. It was like meeting Madonna. Only better. Because Maggie wrote The Scorpio Races.

Check back tomorrow night for a wrap-up of our visit to the Decatur Book Festival and look for the Big Books signed bag giveaway starting on Monday!

Did you go to the Festival today? What was your main event? Let me know!

Read Up!

Book Swag, DBF Schedule plus One Very Sad Audi.

DBF is so close!

Little Jones W is so excited about going to meet authors, which in turn, of course, makes me even more excited!

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to hang around the Teen Stage all day Saturday and Sunday. This means I’ll be missing quite a few fantastic authors who are going to be speaking. On the bright side, my budding author of a daughter is going to meet some “real-life” writers and perhaps gain a little perspective on what it’s like in the profession. She’s the kid that, when asked what she wants to be when she grows up, quickly answers, “author.” 

Before we hit the Decatur Book Festival, though, we’ve been invited by Harlequin Teen to a book signing at The Book Worm in Powder Springs (basically Atlanta…just like Decatur is also basically Atlanta) for Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Geography of You and Me, and a new author, Adi Alsaid, author of Let’s Get Lost.

 

 

Harlequin sent over a pack of swag pre-event, so I’m hoping to get a few things (like the awesome tote bag) to give away here after the Festival! Thanks Harlequin Teen!

Let's Get Lost Book Swag courtesy of Harlequin Teen

Both authors will be at DBF, but by going to the signing the night before, I’ll be free to visit a few other authors.

I’ve been working diligently on my schedule. It may be my first time at DBF, but it’s not my first time at an action packed convention. Try scheduling a cake show! That bad boy takes weeks to iron out…but I digress.

Here is my current list of the authors I plan to see, and hopefully get a signed copy from:

Children’s Authors: Mac Barnett (Telephone), Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Uni the Unicorn), Molly Idle (Flora and the Penguin), Eric Litwin (Bedtime at the Nut House)

Teen/YA Authors: Maggie Stiefvater (Sinner), Maya Van Wegnan (Popular), Jennifer Armentrout (Don’t Look Back), Katherine Howe (Conversion), Mary E. Pearson (Kiss of Deception)

We’re also hoping to have some fun in the Maker’s Tent and catch a few performing arts exhibitions on the Bandstand (namely Atlanta Ballet).

Not only is W going with me to DBF, but my mom, an avid reader of anything I download onto her Nook, will be attending, too. It’s going to be a fun road trip! We’ll be staying with my older brother, Hal, who has a coffee shop, Drip, not all too far from the Festival! Check it out here.

I’m also making the drive to ATL for another reason. Cue sad face.

My wonderful, beautiful, new (to me) Audi Q7, which I haven’t even gotten around to posting for you to see…was backed into in the Publix parking lot last week. I’m so sad. It’s the curse of the new car. I can’t go three weeks without having an accident in a new car. At least this one wasn’t my fault.

audi dent

 

We’re going to visit the Audi deanship for a nice detail to make her feel better and to see if they can get an estimate for me to repair the big ‘ole dent over the wheel well. It sure isn’t pretty!

Are you heading to DBF this weekend or any other bookish event? Which authors are you going to see or wish you could meet? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget…

Read Up!

Book Review: Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts

It’s The Fault in our Stars for those of us who don’t want to read (right now) The Fault in our Stars.

It’s Eleanor and Park for those of you who haven’t been introduced to the fabness (I totally made that word up) that is Rainbow Rowell.

It’s cancer, teenage angst, and a friendship that would’ve never happened otherwise and it’s pretty great.

Set in Australia (bonus points for letting me read with an accent!) and flitting between the cancer ward, where Zac and Mia meet with a very unwelcome 18 repeats of Lady Gaga, to the family olive farm and petting zoo (think Sweet Grass Dairy or anywhere else on the Farm Tour for New Leaf Market), this novel is one of friendship and caring under terrible circumstances. It isn’t romantic, in the common sense of the word, but rather a deep, caring relationship between characters who have an understanding of what each other is going through.

I really enjoyed the book. I’ve also already cast the movie:

 

Dena Kaplan (played Abigail on Dance Academy) for Mia and

Tom Green (played Sammy Lieberman on Dance Academy) for Zac

Obviously, Dance Academy is the only Australian show I’ve ever watched, but I think they’d be perfect for the roles.

So, there it is! Go out and pre-order today (comes out September 2nd) and grab this book from The Bookshelf  downtown Tville or pre-order online, preferably through our Amazon Book Store (link on the right) so I get a little kickback : )

Do you like reading books with themes of terminal illness or terrible circumstances? It’s kind of new to me…what are your favorites?

Read Up!

 

‘The Giver’ or Why We Should Give B2F Adaptations a Chance

The Giver

Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that there were some MAJOR differences between The Giver book and film.

Let’s accept, just for the moment, that every single book-to-film adaptation is going to have some discrepancies for the sake of condensing the storyline, plot, etc. to fit into 190 minutes.

Now, let’s consider this weekend’s release of the b2f adaptation of The Giver. And the feels. Oh. My. Goodness. It was amazing. And…Gabe, I love you.

That is all. Read up.

Bookish Fashion: Summer Reading “Everything Leads To You”

Bookish Fashion: Summer Reading "Everything Leads To You"
A favorite of mine from this summer, this look is all vintage, romantic Hollywood. T-strap flats for a nod to the stage, a turquoise ring to the great Westerns, lovely flutters and tones, and green and gold to finish the look. Of course, we can’t forget the pivotal green velvet couch. This book has inspired quite a few looks for me this summer! What’s been your favorite book this summer?

Seascape Statement Ring
chloeandisabel.com

Le Rococo Clip-On Earrings
chloeandisabel.com NOW ON SALE FOR JUST $14!

Bookish Fashion: Summer Reading TFIOS

Bookish Fashion: Summer Reading TFIOS
For this installment of Summer Reading inspired fashion, we’ll look at an outfit just right for trying to lighten your mood after reading the world’s most depressing book to date, The Fault in our Stars. No, you’ll never know happiness again once you put this book down, but these super cute chambray Chucks with white skinny jeans will make it somewhat better.  A cute bracelet combo with a quote from the book plus one to match the cover, and a TFIOS tank, a la easy, really rock out your Bookish Nerd side and a simple feather necklace (let’s skip the infinity necklaces, shall we? A little much…) with a tan moto jacket make it great for the transition from summer to fall…or when the tears just start falling when thoughts of Augustus Waters come to mind. Okay? Okay.

Star tank top
etsy.com

Chloé blue bracelet

chloeandisabel.com