All posts by Mo Jayroe

Spring Cleaning: Ridding Yourself of the March Mess

It might still be snowing and below freezing but March is here and soon spring will be around the corner! This is the time when we can open our windows and let fresh air replace the stale winter chill as well as take time to tidy up our spaces as well as ourselves. We’ve compiled a list of 5 books to help you along!

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson
In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning, meaning “death” and städning meaning “cleaning.” This surprising and invigorating process of clearing out unnecessary belongings can be undertaken at any age or life stage but should be done sooner than later, before others have to do it for you. In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, artist Margareta Magnusson, with Scandinavian humor and wisdom, instructs readers to embrace minimalism. Her radical and joyous method for putting things in order helps families broach sensitive conversations, and makes the process uplifting rather than overwhelming.

My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha by Jolie Kerr
Jolie Kerr has both staggering cleaning knowledge and a sense of humor. With signature sass and straight talk, Jolie takes on questions ranging from the basic—how do I use a mop? —to the esoteric—what should I do when bottles of homebrewed ginger beer explode in my kitchen? My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag proves that even the most nightmarish cleaning conundrums can be solved with a smile, the right supplies, and a little music.

Life’s Too Short to Fold Fitted Sheets by Lisa Quinn
Life’s Too Short to Fold Fitted Sheets is a crash course in Slacker Chic 101 that will have over-extended women everywhere laughing out loud and throwing in the towel, the dishtowel, that is. Full of shortcuts and tricks for cleaning, decor, and entertaining,such as: the top 10 things you have to clean if you have company coming in 30 minutes; interior finishes that hide the most dirt; 17 meals made from a deli chicken; and much more, this wickedly funny guide helps women create the life they want without all the hard labor and without compromising style.

Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess by Rachel Hoffman
Finally, a housekeeping and organizational system developed for those of us who’d describe our current living situation as a “f*cking mess” that we’re desperate to fix. Interspersed with lists and challenges, this practical, no-nonsense advice relies on a 20/10 system (20 minutes of cleaning followed by a 10-minute break; no marathon cleaning allowed) to help you develop lifelong habits. It motivates you to embrace a new lifestyle in manageable sections so you can actually start applying the tactics as you progress.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
Last but not least, Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international best seller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home – and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

Let us know if any of these helped you out or let us know some of YOUR tips and tricks! Happy Reading!

Binge Worthy Book to Netflix Adaptations!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Series by Jenny Han
This YA series turned Netflix movie tells the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters. Fans of the book series will be excited for the accuracy of casting and enjoy the subtle moments they were able to translate from book to screen. 
Book to Netflix Rating: 7/10

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
An unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. This episodic adaptation just finished it’s third and final season which was overwhelmingly a success. The showrunners translated the wit of Lemony Snicket almost perfectly and the episodes were funny, exciting, and just a little bit macabre!
Book to Netflix Rating: 9/10

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”) making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen. Season two is slated to premiere sometime this year and we can only hope it will be as fantastic as the first season!
Book to Netflix Rating: 8.5/10

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. While the book and Netflix series create a discussion about mental health/suicide I’ve found the series does a lackluster job in bringing up suicide prevention and understanding warning signs. Jay Asher’s is a little more versed on the subject but unfortunately it’s one of those stories that’s started to become obsolete under newer and more educated stories about the same topic. 
Book to Netflix Rating: 4/10 (I’d also like to add a Trigger Warning for suicidal ideation and mentions of self-harm, depression, and suicide.)

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
#GIRLBOSS” proves that being successful isn’t about how popular you were in high school or where you went to college (if you went to college). Rather, success is about trusting your instincts and following your gut, knowing which rules to follow and which to break. The Netflix adaptation is wickedly funny if not a little over the top at points. Sophia is quirky and abrasive but as the show progresses you see her true personality shine through!
Book to Netflix Rating: 7.5/10

Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Last but not least is the huge hit Bird Box! In a post-apocalyptic world, Malorie Hayes advises two young, unnamed children that they will be going downstream on a river in a boat. She strictly instructs them to not remove their blindfolds, or else they will die. Interweaving past and present, this story is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page or scene.  Netflix reported that Bird Box had the biggest seven-day viewership for any of its original films to date, with over 45 million accounts, with views defined by the company as the film streaming for over 70 percent of its time! From page to screen the adaptation if decently faithful even though the story type has been done to death. The ratings are lower than you would expect for the amount of hype it attracted.
Book to Netflix Rating: 6.5/10

Happy Reading and Watching!

The Rally Against All That Is Lovey-Dovey

February is in full swing and all the shops have put their Valentine’s products on the shelves and couples are as “couple-y” as ever. I think I’d rather have a good date with a book instead! Not a romantic as well? Would you rather throw candy hearts in the trash than send them to a special someone? Well here’s the book list you anti-valentines have been waiting for. Get ready for the cynical, the silly, and the downright angst!

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill
Powerful stories of dislocation, longing and desire which depict a disenchanted and rebellious urban fringe generation that is groping for human connection. (Or, more simply put, the angst of people-who-wear-black.)

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity. Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies.

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History—without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodríguez McRobbie
You think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But the lives of real princesses couldn’t be more different.  A fascinating read for history buffs, feminists, and anyone seeking a different kind of bedtime story.

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses.

Steampunk: Science Fiction’s Up and Coming Star!

The term steampunk was coined in the late 80’s by author K.W. Jeter in a letter to Locus Magazine. “Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like ‘steam-punks’, perhaps.” With more steampunk stories becoming mainstream and movies being created with similar themes it seems like this is going to be the next big thing in the science fiction world!

But what is “steampunk” really? The genre usually consists of Victorian era alternative fashion, steam powered machinery, and magic intermingling with science! Steampunk stories almost always have an adventure driven plot with quirky and interesting main characters to help move the plot. Some of these traits can be found in early works such as H.G. Wells’ Time Machine and Edward Ellis’ The Steam Man of the Prairies.

Want to continue exploring the exciting world of steampunk? Here are some great reads to get you started!

Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices Series) by Cassandra Clare
The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

The Mortal Engines (The Hungry City Chronicles) by Philip Reeve
London is hunting again. Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands. Soon, London will feed. In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wreckage–and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world.

Leviathan (Leviathan Series) by Scott Westerfeld
It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet. Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever.

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman
Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal–including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world. Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want–but what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other.

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century Series) by Cherie Priest
In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born. After the devastating failure of the machine sixteen years later, a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires) by Jim Butcher
Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace. Captain Grimm, who commands the merchant ship, Predator is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory. During this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come.

Happy Reading!

Suspend Disbelief! Magical Realism!

Today we jump into on of my favorite genres of fiction and that is Magical Realism! So what is it you ask? Well, magical realism is defined by a style of fiction that paints a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements. Essentially this genre is a matter-of-fact inclusion of fantastical or mythical elements that suspends our disbelief from the “norm”!

Originating from Latin America, this genre was spearheaded as a genre of political subversion. Authors used the fantastic and magical elements to portray an alternative to reality which can be used against oppressive political climates. Italian author Massimo Bontampelli used his writings to create a “collective consciousness” and inspire an Italian nation under a fascist ruler!

If you’re pulled in by any of that then here are some titles to start you off on your magical journey into the genre of Magical Realism!

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Arguably the most famous out of the genre, One Hundred Years of Solitude is novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as “magical realism.”

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, but after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its owner might suggest.

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. Unfortunately, he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fukœ—the curse that has haunted the Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love.

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Kafka on The Shore by Haruki Murakami
This story is a tour de force of metaphysical reality, is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons unknown. Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events.

Happy Reading!

Teen Takeover! Cozy Stories and Hot Chocolate: The Perfect Pair!

One of the best things to do during the winter months is snuggling up with your favorite blanket, a cup of cocoa, and a good book. Lucky for you we’ve got the best reads picked out matched with a complimentary cup of cocoa!

Trapped by Michael Northrop

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive. Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. For a chilling adventure we recommend pairing with a hot cup of peppermint hot chocolate!

The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her, and his name is Xander. When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. This story is full of sweet fluff and a beautiful message of acceptance, moving on, and creating new relationships. Pair with a BIG mug of dark chocolate hot cocoa with an extra scooping of marshmallows!

Let It Snow by John Green & Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. For stories this sweet and bright we recommend warming up with a orange flavored hot cocoa for a cozy atmosphere.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions? For a whirlwind of excitement and adventure pair this exciting read with some sweet white chocolate hot cocoa topped with whipped cream and sprinkles!

My True Love Gave to Me by Various Authors

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year’s there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love. With this book we recommend one of the best things you can do during the holidays…invite over friends and family! Get yourself together with friends, set out a hot chocolate bar for guests, and read aloud with each other!

Happy Holidays lovely readers!

 

To find recipes for the hot cocoas and a video on how to make the ultimate hot chocolate bar check out the links below!

The Ultimate Hot Chocolate Bar

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa

Orange Hot Cocoa

Funfetti Hot Chocolate

 

TEEN TAKEOVER: Scary Stories for Terrified Teens!

Love all things horror? Looking for a good story to scare your pants off? We’ve got our top 5 picked out for you right here!

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
A chilling mix of the paranormal and a psychological thriller! You will follow the diaries of Carly Johnson and her alter Kaitlyn Johnson as well as re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, and transcripts of video footage to find out what really happened in the Elmbridge High fire. Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano
Similar to The Dead House this story is told in diary entries, letters, and photographs that the main character Paige left behind. Paige has moved into a particularly spooky house after her parents divorce and starts to notice that strange happenings are going on during the night. Things only get creepier when she learns about the sinister cult that conducted experimental rituals in the house almost a hundred years earlier. The more Paige investigates, and the deeper she digs, the clearer it all becomes: whatever is in the house, whatever is causing all the strange occurrences, has no intention of backing down without a fight.

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude
Rowan’s Glen is a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks with only three rules: Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night. Ivy Templeton knows that it’s old superstition and that kids at school think them weird, but she doesn’t care, she has her best friend Heather by her side. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn’t far behind. Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets. A new take on the age-old “call is coming from inside the house” trope!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. A haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined!

Happy Reading! Hope we scared you!