READ THIS! {The Flame Alphabet}

Good Morning! Today, as we end the blur of this month that was May, I want to share with you my review of May's READ THIS! novel, The Flame Alphabet, by Ben Marcus.

Amazon describes the novel as this:

"In The Flame Alphabet, the most maniacally gifted writer of our generation delivers a work of heartbreak and horror, a novel about how far we will go, and the sorrows we will endure, in order to protect our families. A terrible epidemic has struck the country and the sound of children’s speech has become lethal. Radio transmissions from strange sources indicate that people are going into hiding. All Sam and Claire need to do is look around the neighborhood: In the park, parents wither beneath the powerful screams of their children. At night, suburban side streets become routes of shameful escape for fathers trying to get outside the radius of affliction. With Claire nearing collapse, it seems their only means of survival is to flee from their daughter, Esther, who laughs at her parents’ sickness, unaware that in just a few years she, too, will be susceptible to the language toxicity. But Sam and Claire find it isn’t so easy to leave the daughter they still love, even as they waste away from her malevolent speech. On the eve of their departure, Claire mysteriously disappears, and Sam, determined to find a cure for this new toxic language, presses on alone into a world beyond recognition. The Flame Alphabet invites the question: What is left of civilization when we lose the ability to communicate with those we love? Both morally engaged and wickedly entertaining, a gripping page-turner as strange as it is moving, this intellectual horror story ensures Ben Marcus’s position in the first rank of American novelists."

I want to be completely honest with you in my review and the truth is that I didn't really love this book.  I didn't think it was one of the worst books ever written or anything, I believe that honor resides with another book, but I'm just not quiet sure that Marcus takes command of this story like he should. Much of the story seems confused - as if he wanted to write more about one aspect of the story than another, and then sporadically remembered that he needed to include more of another aspect. (Note: Sporadically is your Clueless throwback word of the day.)

Marcus is certainly a talented writer, but this particular subject - language as a killer beginning in an obscure (mostly fictional, as far as I can tell) sect of Judaism with anti-semitic undertones - is an uncomfortable one and unfortunately, Marcus's storytelling here seems to indicate that he is as uncomfortable telling this story as the reader is reading it. I get the feeling that Marcus is a bit taken aback with this world he's created and his personal disgust comes through too much in the writing, limiting the success of the story. While it may be his point to create this uncomfortable scenario, I find that he had too much difficulty navigating it. That being said, Marcus weaves an interesting plot, albeit one that is littered with convoluted storytelling, randomly placed cursing and a bizarre sexual plot line in certain chapters. 

Did you read The Flame Alphabet? What was your take on the story? What do you feel is left of civilization when we lose the ability to communicate? How did you feel about the Jewish and anti-semitic undertones in parts of the novel? I'd love to hear your opinions!

And now, I would like to introduce June's READ THIS! novel, The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver.


Amazon describes this novel as this:

"The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it -- from garden seeds to Scripture -- is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa."

This novel was originally published in 1998 and while it has somehow eluded me for over a decade, it has come highly recommended from my friends Rebecca and Stephanie. Since they have yet to steer me wrong and always have my best literary interests at heart, I decided to make this the READ THIS! book of the month to give everyone a chance to read this epic story. Will you join me and read along as I delve into The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver?


DIY: Summer Soiree Coasters

So, in case you haven't noticed, lately I've been all about getting ready for summer. One of my favorite seasons (next to Fall, because let's be serious, nothing beats Fall), I love the relaxing atmosphere and the dream filled days. I love that summer is all about effortlessness and letting things fall into place as they are. Today, I have a simply elegant DIY for you - the perfect coasters for your summer soiree.

I bought these tiles a little while ago, and I was trying to decide on the best way to turn them into coasters. After much deliberation, and a little bit of Pinspiration, I decided to create some fun designs with painter's tape. 

First, I primed all of the coasters, going over them twice for a more solid white look.

After the primer had dried, I taped off sections with painter's tape. I made the "dipped" golden coasters by taping off one half of each tile, and the silver patterned coasters by placing the painter's tape at random.

Then, I took them outside to be sprayed! 


After I waited a bit for them to dry to the touch, I brought them back inside, set them up in our second bedroom, and allowed them to complete their drying. After they were dry, I removed the painter's tape and I sprayed them with a clear acrylic coating. 

And now I have my new favorite summer coasters! I love the contrast and the hint of effortless and simple elegance. 

Do you have favorite summer entertaining accessories? Do you like the metallic look? And have you been up to any fun DIY entertaining projects these days? I'd love to hear about it!


P.S. I'm linking up to parties at DIY by Design, Handy Man Crafty Woman, How to Nest For Less, Someday Crafts, Ivy and Elephants, Passionately Artistic, The Sasse Life, Giggles Glitz & Glam and The Johanson Journey! Check out these parties for other awesome projects!

Recipe: Sweet Summer Corn

Good Morning! Happy Tuesday! Did you all have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend? Josh and I spent the weekend enjoying some quality time with one another and the pup! On Saturday and Sunday we had the opportunity to take him to parks - Stodder's Neck in Hingham where everyone lets their dogs run offleash and Nash got to swim for the first time! and World's End Park, also in Hingham, which we loved until we left and discovered so many ticks on Nash that we're never going back (for those of you with tall dogs, your results may be different). We also got to enjoy some delicious meals, got stuff done around the apartment and I finally got to a yoga class for the first time in ages - this weekend was amazing. And, the best part is that summer is finally here! And (segway into today's blog post) with summer comes delicious summer veggies - from farmer's markets to road side stalls - this is a perfect time to buy local and to enjoy the best that summer has to offer. 

This weekend, Josh and I got to enjoy some delicious summer corn and I want to share this delicious recipe with you. The best part? You don't need a grill! I cooked this right in the oven and it was just as wonderful. This recipe is perfect for 3 small to medium ears, which was a good amount for 2 people.

First, partially melt a 1/4 stick of butter in the microwave.

Next, add a dusting of salt, pepper and cajun spice. If you're looking to make a spicier butter mixture, you can add more cajun spice.

Mix this all together and brush onto the corn.

Then, wrap each ear in tin foil and bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes (or grill for same time). Sometimes the butter can leak through the tin foil and so I think it's best to place a small cookie sheet, or piece of tin foil, underneath the corn to catch anything.

When done, remove from the oven, unwrap and serve!

Ah, perfectly golden! We served ours with marinated chicken breasts and broccoli, making for a delicious summer dinner! I'm looking forward to a slew of different corn on the cob recipes this summer and making the most of our local farmer's markets - especially the Dewey Square one on Tuesday and Thursday nights (for all of you Boston folks!). 

What's your favorite way to prepare corn on the cob? Do you love to buy local? Have a favorite summer product? Or a favorite farmer's market? I'd love to hear about it!


P.S. I'm linking up to parties at A Bowl Full of Lemons, Chef-in-Training, Flour Me with Love and Serendipity and Spice. Head over to these link parties to check out some other great blogs!

Sunday Drive {Beach Homes}

Good Afternoon! I hope you are having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Have you been able to kick off the start to summer by going to the beach this weekend? Yesterday, we took Nash to an off-leash area on the beach near us and he went swimming for the first time! He behaved so well and we were so proud of our adorable pup! He is just as excited as we are for the warm weather and we are all looking forward to a lot of great weather this summer. In keeping with the summer spirit, please join me for this Sunday Drive past some gorgeous beach homes. 

                                                                                  Source: via Sara on Pinterest

                                                                        Source: via Sara on Pinterest

                                                                                  Source: via Sara on Pinterest

                                                                                 Source: via Sara on Pinterest

                                                                             Source: via Sara on Pinterest

These houses all make me swoon! My favorite is definitely the second one - with those porches, how could it not be? Which one is your favorite?

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend!


Happy {Memorial Day} Weekend!

Memorial Day Flag by Judy Mackey
Happy Weekend! Memorial Day is one of my favorite weekends of the year - the unofficial kick-off of summer, extra time to spend with Josh and the promise of another wonderful season. It, of course, also serves tremendous value as a memorial to all those brave men and women who have fought for our country. As we celebrate this weekend, it is important to remember them and every freedom that they have fought for in order to allow us to live as we do. I am looking forward to some quality time with Josh, getting outdoors with the pup, and finally finally finishing up some projects this weekend - including my mother's birthday present along a few other projects that have been eagerly awaiting my attention.

While you're enjoying your weekend, stop by my recent favorites in the blogosphere...

Gardening this summer? Check out the amazing how-to blog created by my friends Daryl and Paul!

No, I'm not pregnant, but there's some wonderful advice here on how to handle marriage and parenting at the same time

Why, yes, these cappuccino pops do look delicious

Skinny Summer Desserts from Gina over at Skinnytaste

Loving every single stunning detail of this home

And finally, some menu ideas for this beautiful weekend ahead of us!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!


Must-Haves: Summer Reading Essentials For Every Age

Since I was little, I have turned to books - for entertainment, for curiosity's sake, at times for comfort, and at other times for my education. Throughout the years, certain books have stuck with me as pivotal books in my life. Reading Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes in the 4th grade taught me that you cannot judge a book by it's cover, or even by it's back cover synopsis; A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett showed me that books can present a reader with real magic; and, reading Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt and Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson allowed me to find intense emotion in the best stories. As I got older, and began to read even more, books such as Sloppy Firsts by Meghan McCafferty (and the entire Jessica Darling series), The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder, and even Harry Potter by J.K. Rowlng, continued to open up the literary world for me. When I was in college, summer became the time that I read the most, and so, as the summer is fast approaching, I want to share my Summer Reading Essentials list with you.
All Images from Amazon or Wikipedia 
I've divided this into categories - from books to read to your small children, young adult fiction, and then from college and up. These books are some of my favorites - ones that I have read over and over again. And not all of these are "classics," although some are, since, for the most part, I feel like reading the classics is a given when it comes to summer reading material.

Summer Reading Essentials for the ... Small Child

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
3. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
4. Hey Willie, See The Pyramids and all of the other Max the Dog books by Maira Kalman (especially including Ooh-la-la (Max in Love)
5. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

Summer Reading Essentials for the ... Tween

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
1. Redwall, and the entire Redwall Series, by Brian Jacques

2. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
3. Holes by Louis Sachar
4. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (To date, this is still one of my all-time favorite books and I used to dream about running away from home to live to in the MET.) 
5. James and the Giant Peach, and all other novels, by Roald Dahl

Summer Reading Essentials for the ... High School Student

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
1. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
3. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Summer Reading Essentials for the ... College Aged (and Everyone Else) Crowd 

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
1. Room by Emma Donoghue

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
3. I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (a must-read for any college student)
4. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Series by Steig Laarson
6. Harvard Yard by William Martin
7. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
8. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
9. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (read The Fountainhead first!)  
10. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Of course, there are so many more must-reads, and these don't even scratch the surface of what a fully comprehensive list would look like. They are, however, a small sample of some amazing pieces of literature that you should make sure to include in your reading repertoire. 

What were your favorite summer reading novels when you were in the above age groups? Did you used to stay up late reading books under your covers? Have you read any (or all) of the books I mentioned above?


P.S. I would be remiss in writing this post if I didn't mention my amazing parents who instilled in me the importance of reading, especially my mother, without whom I would not be the avid reader that I am.
P.P.S. Today, I'm linking up to parties at House of Hepworths, A Creative Princess, Suzy's Sitcom, From My Front Porch to Yours, We Are THAT Family, The NY Melrose Family, The Johanson Journey, The Brambleberry Cottage and Shabby Creek Cottage

Must-Haves: Memorial Day Essentials

As Memorial Day is quickly approaching, it's time to get ready for days on the beach and a summer of nothing but relaxation. Not that our summer will actually be nothing but relaxation, but it is nice to dream. And for those few relaxing beach days we do get to enjoy this summer, it is always nice to be prepared.
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8
I'm a huge fan of one-piece suits, but I really love the style of this bikini. And while I feel like extra pops of color are almost always the way to go with a beach umbrella - this Coolibar beach umbrella is top rated and the silver is definitely something a little different. Don't forget to always pack your beach tote with sun block for extra skin protection and water to keep you hydrated! 

Are you getting ready to head to the beach this weekend? What are your must-bring essentials? Hope you're gearing up for an awesome kick-off to Summer!


Recipe: Summer BBQ Burgers

Good Morning! As the weather gets warmer, and Memorial Day Weekend is only a few days away, it's time to start thinking about summer barbecues! Today, I have a delicious recipe for you - one that can be used on or off of the grill, and that I promise will not disappoint: BBQ Burgers!

These burgers are so easy to make! All you need are the following ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp. BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray's, but any type of your choice is fine)
1 tbsp. ketchup
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg yolk

Once you've gathered your ingredients, grab a mixing bowl, and put your ground beef into it.

Mix it up and add 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce, 3 tbsp of BBQ sauce and 1 tbsp of ketchup. 

Then, mix it all together (with a spoon, or your hands if you're not taking pictures and trying to keep your hands clean) and add the egg yolk.

Mix the egg yolk into the meat and sauce mixture, and then add 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and mix it all together.

You can add more or less breadcrumbs or BBQ sauce, depending on if your mixture is too wet or dry, if needed. Then, form patties with your hands and place into a hot skillet over medium high heat.

Cook to your desired temperature, then serve with your choice of side (we went with salad!) and your choice of toppings - yellow American cheese and BBQ sauce for Josh and white American cheese with tomato, ketchup and mustard for me!

Mmm! The perfect summer meal - light, easy and delicious! The burger patties can also be made up to a day in advance and refrigerated to bring to your next BBQ! 

What are your favorite BBQ recipes? Do you love hamburgers? Prefer hot dogs and baked beans? I'd love to hear your favorite burger recipes!
P.S. I linked up at House of Hepworths for their weekly party!
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