Book Review: AND SHE WAS by Alison Gaylin


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On a summer afternoon in 1998, six-year-old Iris Neff walked away from a barbecue in her small suburban town . . . and vanished.

Missing persons investigator Brenna Spector has a rare neurological disorder that enables her to recall every detail of every day of her life. A blessing and a curse, it began in childhood, when her older sister stepped into a strange car never to be seen again, and it’s proven invaluable in her work. But it hasn’t helped her solve the mystery that haunts her above all others—and it didn’t lead her to little Iris. When a local woman, Carol Wentz, disappears eleven years later, Brenna uncovers bizarre connections between the missing woman, the long-gone little girl . . . and herself.

(Story synopsis and cover image from

I finally managed to take a break from my nonfiction reading kick to read one of the books that I received through a giveaway in December. (See my post New Books Thank You.) One of the two books I received was And She Was by Alison Gaylin, and I was so happy to step into the mystery genre for a little while. Continue reading

Book Review: BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott


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“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said. ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.

(Condensed synopsis and cover image from

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott was recommended and loaned to me by a fellow teacher. She thought that I would find it interesting, not only for possible use in my classroom, but also just for my own personal use. I was really interested in reading Bird by Bird, especially after having read On Writing by Stephen King. Continue reading

New Books Thank You


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I must admit that I am late in making this post and for that I apologize. :(

I recently received two new books to add to my TBR list (And She Was by Alison Gaylin and Killing Trail by Maragaret Mizushima) and I owe a huge thank you to Kim at Reflections of a Book Addict. Continue reading

Just Write


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FullSizeRenderMany times when writers sit down at their desk or in front of their journals or blank computer screens, there’s a pressure to produce something wonderful. There’s an invisible weight that sits on the shoulders, that presses on the mind, daring you to attempt to create…it just dares you to prove it wrong, to prove that you can overcome that first hurdle and start writing.

However, that pressure just doesn’t lay on the minds of those who write for work or the fun of it – it also heavily rests on the minds and shoulders of students. Continue reading

Book Review: THE DEAD BEAT by Marilyn Johnson


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Marilyn Johnson was enthralled by the remarkable lives that were marching out of this world–so she sought out the best obits in the English language and the people who spent their lives writing about the dead. She surveyed the darkest corners of Internet chat rooms, and made a pilgrimage to London to savor the most caustic and literate obits of all. Now she leads us on a compelling journey into the cult and culture behind the obituary page and the unusual lives we don’t quite appreciate until they’re gone.

(Synopsis from Harper Perennial edition; Cover image from

I’m sure if someone had seen me walking around with a book whose full title reads The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries, they might have been a little confused, and possibly a little concerned. However, after reading Marilyn Johnson‘s Lives in Ruins in November, I found myself wanting to read more of her work. (My review can be found here.) So, to achieve this goal, I used a gift card from my “baby” brother from Christmas to order books, including The Dead Beat. Continue reading


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