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Welcome to my blog. One Busy Momma is my space to rant about my life and the things that happen in it. I have a crazy life - and instead of focusing on the crazy - I like to focus on the funny. Because if I focused on the craziness - well, I'd have been shipped off to an institution long, long ago. And while, I'll admit, there are some days when being institutionalized sounds PRETTY GOOD compared to making ANOTHER diorama at 1am - I'd rather be right where I am - in my messy house with my not so perfect kids making crooked dioramas in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Busy Momma's Ten Books of 2013

Hi my Peeps! So - how ready are YOU for the holidays? All shopped and wrapped and baked? Good- me neither! I'm NEVER ready this early. However, I will say that these 2 unexpected snow days have helped me get a few things done. The cards are ordered, the annual holiday calendar is created and ordered, I am about 95% done shopping for Bella and while I have nothing for Jack - I KNOW what he wants and where to get it. So that's half the battle. I have a few things to order online and then I will be done. I think. Of course, I will probably be wrapping up until December 24th...but that's all part of the fun - right? Right?????

So - what's a Busy Momma to do with herself when she finishes up with all of the holiday madness? Well - curl up by the fire with a great book of course! So, I thought I'd give you some suggestions for your post-holiday reading pleasure. As many of you know- reading is my favorite thing to do, and I have read a few good books this year...so without further ado,,,,

Busy Momma's Top 10 Books of 2013

Note: These books might not have been new in 2013 - but they were new to me.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer was my FAVORITE book of 2013 and quite possible in my top ten of all time. If you like stories that span a few decades and follow characters as they grow and change- then this one is for you! The Interestings is a story about a group of people who meet at a summer camp for artsy kids and the story follows them from adolescence through middle-age. We watch as they grow together and apart and weather the challenges that we all face as we age. If you only read one book in 2014 - make it this one!
And the Mountains Echoed is the latest from Khaled Hosseini - beloved author of The Kite Runner. This amazing story brings us back to Hosseini's beloved Afghanistan, but this novel also brings us to the streets of Paris and the United States as well. It is another sweeping saga that follows his unforgettable characters across decades and continents. This is a "can't put it down" book - so reader be warned...set aside a few hours for this page-turner - you will need it! (This is a one-tissue box story!)
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is a lovely, lovely story about a woman so broken by her past that she can only communicate - truly communicate with others through the archaic Victorian "language of flowers". In the Victorian era - every flower had a precise meaning. So by presenting someone with a bouquet, depending on the flowers contained within, you could be asking them to marry you or telling them to drop dead! This was a quick read and truly enjoyable and satisfying.
Now, if you know me at ALL, you KNOW that I am a HUGE J.K. Rowling fan. That being said - I did NOT like her first foray into adult fiction - The Casual Vacancy. In fact, I disliked it SO very much that I did something I almost NEVER do - I put it down midway through and NEVER picked it up again. And I was hugely disappointed in myself and my literary girl-crush. Therefore, you can imagine my curiosity when it was revealed that Rowling had been publishing AGAIN - but this time under a PEN NAME: Robert Galbraith. The Cuckoo's Calling is a wonderful who-dunnit that centers around a washed up PI and his trusty, more-than-capable sidekick. Her intention is to create a series around these two and I cannot wait for the next novel. If you like a good mystery, fleshed out with complex characters and an ending that you do not see coming - get thee to a book store! You will recognize Rowling's voice as clear as a bell even without any of the magical language that so many of us love. 

Ah - Jodi Picoult has done it again. In The Storyteller, Picoult creates an  unforgettable, multi-dimensional cast of characters that you can't help caring about and thinking about into the night, long after you have safely enclosed them between the covers of their literary world. The Storyteller is a brilliant masterpiece that takes us back to the horrors of Nazi Germany and examines universal themes of love, loss, grief and forgiveness. Should we truly forgive everyone? Even those who have perpetrated the most heinous acts upon humanity? What does it mean to truly forgive? Is it easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves? If you are a Picoult fan, don't miss this one. 
If you are not familiar with Brene Brown - I highly suggest picking up this book AND watching her groundbreaking TED talk. Daring Greatly takes a look at vulnerability and the power we gain when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. It is a life changing book - full of those "A-Ha" moments. This is one that I downloaded and listened to and now I am going to buy a paper copy so that I can highlight and tab my favorite passages...yep - I'm THAT gal. 
My friend, and Educational Guru, National Treasure, Goddess Among Humans and all-around AMAZING lady - Dr. Vicki Gibson- suggested that I pick this one up and try it on for size. And WOW is all that I can say. In The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains Nicholas Carr discusses how our use of and dependence on technology is actually CHANGING the structure of our brains. It is a fascinating, albeit somewhat frightening read. Carr actually starts his examination of how technology affects our brains by looking at the history of reading - from the invention of paper and ink all the way up to the advent of the Kindle and iPad. If your kids are addicted to their i-devices and spend more time reading from a screen than a page..and you've wondered: "Is this good for them? Is there a downside to all of this technology? Do we REALLY NEED iPads in every school?" you need this book.
Now I know what you are thinking: "Oh Busy Momma - I read this one in high school. Why must I read it again? I JUST saw the movie - no need to read it again." Oh - but there IS a need dear,darling reader! While I must admit that Leo was a pretty good Jay Gatsby and Tobey was acceptable as Nick, the moral compass and steadfast narrator of this film - the movie just cannot compare to the book. While Michelle Williams was a lovely Daisy Buchannan - she didn't quite embody what I believe Fitzgerald had in mind for his "heroine"...if that's what we should call her. Williams did a nice job conveying Daisy's feelings of help and hope-lessness in her marriage and her life. But the Daisy in the novel is way more complex than how Williams portrays her. She has a core of icy cold steel and while she plays the victim quite well, she is INDEED no victim. And THAT is what no film adaptation of this beautiful story has ever come close to capturing. 
My second favorite book of 2013 was Wonder by R.J. Polacio. It is a YA novel that I truly believe EVERYONE should read. Polacio brings us an unforgettable tale of a boy, who suffers from a rare facial deformity, and how his life and the lives of his parents, sister and friends are effected by  his decision to attend school for the very first time.It is a quick, yet unforgettable read that will touch your heart and stay with you forever.
If you are a fan of historical fiction, then you are undoubtedly familiar with Philippa Gregory's work. In The White Queen, Gregory takes us back in time to England before the Tudors, during the time of the Cousin's War. We meet Elizabeth who marries the newly crowned king of England in secret and their life and epic love story unfolds amid bloody battles and heart-wrenching sacrifice. If you like strong female characters and royal intrigue - you'll love this page turner!

Well Peeps - that's it. My favorite books of 2013. I'd LOVE to hear from YOU - what were YOUR favorite page turners this year? My next post will focus on the titles in the que of the Kindle for 2014!
Happy reading!

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