This is my first school year since I began my teaching career 12 years ago that I do not teach an English class. I am exclusively a World History teacher and I am loving that role. However, English runs in my veins and I am missing some of the class discussions and learning surrounding novels in my classroom.
Nothing can replace the collective investment in the same characters and story. I miss the days when students would come in and beg to read all period so they could find out what happens next.
Just because I am no longer a high school English teacher doesn’t mean those experiences must come to an end.
I’ve taken years of experience in the classroom, my passion for books, and my interest in growing deep rooted communities to create a Guide to Hosting a Book Club. This four-page workbook walks you through how to plan for a successful book club launch or how to streamline the organization of an already established club.
In this guide, I walk you through creating norms for your group and choosing the right material to consider. I am also happy to launch this guide as a free resource for The Ameri Brit Mom community.
Over the past two summers, I’ve been taking classes for my Master’s in English. So many of those courses required me to read works of literature selected by an instructor. While many of them were enjoyable reads like Station Eleven, there was a missing element to my reading life: Choice.
This is my first summer since 2020 where I have had the freedom to select my book choices and so I decided at the beginning of the summer that I would chase the reading fads–just because I can. I turned to TikTok and blogs that I follow for recommendations and so the three books that I read while in England came highly recommended by social media’s elite readers and all for great reasons.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Atria Books
Being an A-List celebrity came at a great price for the glamorous Evelyn Hugo. Not only did she abandon her heritage by bleaching her ebony locks, but she also abandoned the notion that love can be genuine through her long list of failed marriages.
For most of her life, marriage had been a tool she used to gain fame, but one love came in unexpected ways and changed Evelyn’s life for the better.
In her final days, Evelyn seeks out a young journalist to share her life story with, but is the world ready to learn about the real Evelyn Hugo?
Title: Book Lovers
Author: Emily Henry
Nora Stephens is the cutthroat agent of a book-turned-Hallmark movie set in Sunshine Falls, NC. When her pregnant sister, Libby, suggests a trip to the town that served as the backdrop for the famous novel, Nora is hesitant to leave her New York life behind for a few weeks. She decides to take her work with her to enjoy some quality time with Libby.
While immersed in the quiet setting and working in the local coffee shop, Nora runs into her editor nemisis from the city: Charlie Lastra.
As an avid reader, Nora is aware of the archetype she is playing and the tension that is being created with Charlie throughout the summer. Despite all of his advances, Nora refuses to fall for Charlie and tries to distract herself by going through the bucket list that Libby created for their summer.
Before the summer ends, Nora learns of the real reason behind the trip and must decide her own path moving forward. She must decide if the corporate life in the city is worth losing those people she cares about most. What Nora saw as a summer adventure before Libby’s labor turns into a crossroads that forces Nora to make the choices she’s been avoiding with her busy life.
Author: Colleen Hoover
Verity Crawford was a bestselling author. WAS. As a result of a terrible accident she was left unable to communicate or control much of her own body. Her publisher and husband sought out Lowen Ashleigh, a struggling writer, as the solution to the writing contract that was broken prematurely by the disabled author.
Lowen met Jeremy Crawford on her way to discuss the deal with her publisher. A man was struck by a car on a busy New York street spraying blood all over Lowen. Jeremy helped to clean her up and prepare for her meeting without knowing her identity. Still in shock, Lowen attends the meeting and agrees to take over Verity’s series as a ghost writer and to bring closure for Verity’s beloved readers.
In order to finish the series, Lowen must spend a few weeks in Verity’s home going through her notes and reading her earlier works. But when Lowen finds a journal written by Verity she can’t stop reading. Within those pages, Verity admits to horrific crimes and truths that chill Lowen to the core. Before long, Lowen notices some strange activity going on in Verity’s bedroom and realizes that someone is lying to her about why she is there.
The stranger that Verity gets the closer Lowen gets to Jeremy. Their relationship begins to flourish, but he is still married to the woman who can’t interact or love him back. Lowen realizes that if she would share the journal with Jeremy, that she could have him all to herself. If he can see the true Verity that Lowen had met in those pages, then he may find room in his heart for her.
All three of these books mastered the art of a good plot twist. They all caused me to think about my life and to measure it against the values that I hold dear. I’m so happy that I decided to listen to the recommendations on these books because each one was engaging and kept me invested until the end.
As my trip came to a close, I picked up The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. It’s a British bestseller. I love going to Waterstones and looking at the top fiction and non-fiction books in England. Every summer I try to read a top 5 book. The Thursday Murder Club has been a fun read and I’m nearing the end so look for a review in the next week or two. You can see what else I’m reading and my own reviews of books on Goodreads.
With a subtitle of How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life, the expecations were high from the beginning. I approached this book with the end of the school year behind me. Each summer, I try to get rid of all the awful habits I formed while on survival mode during the school year. The reason this title spoke to me was because I needed a good pep talk to reignite my motivation after a pretty difficult year of teaching.
This five-part book explores the elements of self-love:
How You Got This Way
How to Embrace Your Inner Badass
How to Tap into the Motherlode
How to Get Over the BS Already
How to Kick Some Ass
The gut punches came right at the start as Sincero explores the psyche of self-sabotage and the creation of obstacles to our productivity. The power of being present is something we have control over, but first we must manage our natural tendencies toward snoozing through life.
The tools for embracing our badass may seem simple at first, but Sincero gives stories and practical steps for breaking out of the self-destructive cycles. A strong focus on self-love is the theme of the book, and many examples are provided for ways in which you can love yourself more each day.
Falling back in love with your life and the God who made you is the premise here, and when I got to the last page I felt like I just got a kick in the seat of my pants from an old friend. Jen Sincero does a great job of motivating through tough love and strong truths. I came away from this book with affirmations and goals to live the most badass life I could imagine.
I gave this book a 4/5 stars. I tend to prefer novels and fictional books, but a good non-fiction every now and again has the power to change your life. While I’m not sure much of this book was earth shattering in my journey, I did feel pumped up to get to work on myself.
Check out my Goodreads account to see what I’m reading next!
I’ll be the first to admit that The Love Hypothesis is not a book I would’ve gravitated toward on the shelf. Romance isn’t my cup of tea, but the marketing ploy for this book’s release was on-point and blasted all over social media. After viewing so many reviews and posts, I decided to give The Love Hypothesis a shot. And while this wasn’t my FAVORITE book of all time, it did help revive the Romance genre in my collection.
Olive was a lonely Ph.D student who spent most of her time in the lab or with her best friend, Anh. When Anh admits that she has caught feelings for Olive’s ex, Anh fears that going for Jeremy will be an act of betrayal toward her friend and ultimately decides to just let him go. Olive couldn’t care less, she was too busy with trying to invent a test for early detection of prostate cancer to bother with love interests. One late night she resolves to prove to Anh that she has moved on by grabbing the nearest guy and laying a big, wet kiss on his lips.
Only…this wasn’t just any guy. This was Doctor Adam Carlsen.
Carlsen was a god in the Biology world and the most feared advisor in Olive’s program. Once she realized who she was kissing she was embarassed and apologized profusely. But Adam was not as upset as she’d expected–in fact he was devising a plan to play this off in both of their favors.
Over the next several weeks, Olive and Adam began to con their friends and colleagues into thinking that they were dating. They met publicly for coffee dates to be seen by all the right people. In doing so, they got to know eachother, and yep, you guessed it…they started falling in love.
Although elements of this story were predictable, there were parts that I really enjoyed. I loved the way that the author brought nerdy humor to the page. From page one, I was engaged with her writing style and felt connected to Olive with her wit and struggle in academia.
**Chapter 15 was a bit of surprise. The story took a quick hiatus from lighthearted, playful plot to very erotic and graphic sexual scenes. (Like, probably the most X-rated text I’ve ever read. Again, I’m not really into Romance so I cannot even compare it to another text or say if it was appropriate for the genre. But, I would say this is not a book for teens for sure!)
All in all, I would rate this book a 3.5 out of 5. I enjoyed the read, but there was room to improve the predicability and authenticity of the plot. In the future, I would read other books by Ali Hazelwood. This type of book would be a great vacation read or something light to take on a long roadtrip or trainride.
Follow me on Goodreads for more reviews and recommendations.
Jude is a young girl living in Syria. Her love for family and home are challenged by the political turmoil in her town and the violence erupting in the streets. When her mother finds out that she is expecting another child, Jude’s father sends his girls to live with family in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Ohio might as well be another planet because at first Jude and her mother are treated like aliens. They try to assimilate into American culture all while clinging to the most important parts of their Syrian life. Friendships are hard for Jude at first, but as she develops her English skills in an ESL classroom she meets other students who have left their homelands behind for the promise of safety.
A story of coming-of-age during immigration to America is what sets this lyrical book apart from others in the genre.
A couple of things to note if considering this book for a young audience:
-Jude starts her period and begins wearing a hijab. The language here is not very graphic, but may not be suitable for elementary school readers.
-Violence is not depicted explicitly, but Jude’s brother, Issa, is involved with a Syrian rebellion and she worries for his safety often.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book from the Newbery List. As a high school teacher, middle grade fiction is not a genre I gravitate toward and so this was something different to break up my ensemble of YA and Literary fiction. Because this book was written for a younger audience it was a quick read. Additionally, it is a book written in verse which limits the word count on each page. This is a good option for reluctant readers because the plot is easy to follow and the words-per-page are manageable and help propel the reader quickly through the story.
I gave this book a 4-star rating on Goodreads. If you like my reviews and want to read some more, follow me on Goodreads. Also, if you follow me you can see which reviews are soon to come. If you are looking for a recommendation on what to read next, I’d love to connect on the app!
This week I am taking a look at the eccentric and unique qualities that make up an Enneagram Four. Not only are Fours masters of creativity, but they long to fulfill a special role in their relationships. In their quest for love, Fours may come on a little strong,
they pack the emotional punch to follow through. Reading about Enneagram Fours in The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron has really helped me to better understand the best ways to interact with the Fours in my life to ensure that I am promoting their mental health by my responses to their projections.
The three weeks I have invested in studying the Enneagram have already been such a blessing in my relationships. Diving into the thinking behind each of these personality types has helped me empathize and understand the people around me. Reading each chapter of Ian Morgan Cron’s book The Road Back to You has helped me to not only add language to my own emotions, but helped me to better communicate with the people in my life.
Last week I explored the purpose of The Enneagram using The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron. You can read up on my Introduction to the Enneagram, but essentially, “It’s full of wisdom for people who want to get out of their own way and become who they were created to be.” (14)
Over the next several weeks, I will be summarizing what I have learned from this text about each personality type. I am a ONE, but it is hard to finally land on your correct number so I recommend reading the book (and not just my notes) before declaring your Enneagram type.
Enneagram Two: The Helper
Triad– The Feeling or Heart Triad (2,3,4)
Security Number– When Twos are feeling healthy and balanced they lean into the positive attributes of a Four (The Romantic)
Stress Number- When Twos are stressed and living in an unhealthy mind space, they take on the undesirable attributes of an Eight (The Challenger)
This is a very special Valentine’s Day edition of The Ameri Brit Mom. I am excited to introduce you to my author friend, Kristy Boyce. I first met Kristy at my local chapter of SCBWI. I had no idea that she had been writing a novel about England and once she announced her book deal I was both excited for her and anticipating the release of Hot British Boyfriend.
The Q&A below is based on Kristy’s road to publication. Below she offers great advice for those who aspire to be a published author.
10 Questions with Kristy Boyce
1. Where did you get the ideas or inspiration for your book?
My original inspiration came from teaching a psychology class on “the Self.” We talk a lot about gaining self-knowledge and self-esteem in the class and that led me to write an application multiple-choice question about times when we feel comfortable sharing our “true” selves with others.
I started thinking about how someone would act if they were in a totally new situation for a few months with people they didn’t know. It might be tempting to try acting like someone else because who would know? And you wouldn’t have to keep up the charade forever. Then I decided to set it in England because I love it there! 😉
2. What is your favorite genre to read? How many books do you read monthly/annually?
Well, unsurprisingly, I love reading both young adult and adult romance novels! I also love sinking into a wonderful fantasy series.
I’m not a particularly fast reader so (if I’m lucky) I can finish about one book per week. Oftentimes it’s less than that though.
3. Describe your process of landing an agent.
Hot British Boyfriend was the fourth novel I wrote and the third that I queried. The first time I queried HBB I got full requests followed by rejections. I didn’t know how to improve the book and was about to give up on it, but then I decided to enter PitchWars (a writing mentorship program). My wonderful mentors, Carrie Allen and Sabrina Lotfi, chose me and I’m forever grateful to them. They helped me to rework the novel and then Tara Gonzales with Erin Murphy Literary Agency requested it during the 2019 PitchWars agent showcase and signed me after.
4. What was the process like as you queried publishers?
I did some revisions for my agent and then she sent out the manuscript in early fall of 2019. We were very lucky to hear back from my editor, Catherine Wallace, after about five weeks. I was expecting for the book to be out on submission for a long time, so I was completely shocked when the offer came in!
5. How long did the editing process take? What all did it entail?
Editing with a traditional publisher is an extensive process, even if the manuscript has already been revised many times. My editor and I did two rounds of general revisions, a round of copy edits, then first pass pages and final pass pages.
During the first rounds, I was still changing elements of the plot and working on the emotional arcs for the characters. During copy edits, HarperCollins hired two copy editors to review the manuscript for repetitive words, awkward sentence structure, typos, inconsistencies, and other mistakes. After that, the manuscript was formatted as a PDF and I had two chances to review it for additional mistakes before it went to the printer.
I got my initial offer in October 2019 and I believe we finished all the edits around August of 2020!
6. What tools do you use to strengthen your craft?
I think one of the best things a writer can do is to read both inside and outside their genre so that’s one thing I do. I also beta read for a few friends and that’s always helpful. We can learn so much about writing that way.
7. How did the traditional publishing process enhance your writing?
Traditional publishing isn’t for everyone, but I love that there are so many people invested in making your book the absolute best it can be. Working with my editors has been a blessing and has pushed me to improve my writing immensely. For instance, I think I have a better understanding of pacing, particularly in the first half of the book, and that was something I used to really struggle with when writing.
8. What was it like to open that first box of your books? Describe the feelings and thoughts involved.
It was an incredibly emotional experience. My husband was videotaping the “unboxing” and my son was sitting next to me (and very anxious to see the books himself, lol) so it was definitely a family affair. I was on the verge of tears the entire time, but what tipped me over the edge was opening the book to a random page and seeing my words there. Which is silly because of course my words are printed on the pages—that’s the whole point of publishing!—but holding a “real” book with my dialogue in it was one of the best experiences of my life.
9. What are you looking forward to in your future as an author?
I would love to get to meet some readers in person and talk about the book. Because it came out during the pandemic, I haven’t had any in-person events yet. I’m also looking forward to launching my next book, Hot Dutch Daydream, in 2023!
10. What does your writing practice look like?
Pre-Covid I would often write in libraries or coffee shops, but nowadays I write at my desk at home. I always light a candle and often have a cup of tea by my side. Sometimes I like to write while listening to music—my current favorite is Vitamin String Quartet.
*Bonus Question: What advice do you have for writers who dream of a published book?
There’s lots of advice I could give, but I think my biggest piece of advice is to befriend other writers and hold them close. The entire publishing business can be brutal, and you really need others who understand and can help you through the hard times and celebrate your successes. Some of my closest friends are writers and I’m so thankful for them. I wouldn’t be here without them!
Sophie lost the trust of those closest to her when she became addicted to oxy. The accident that permanently injured her leg drove her to extreme measures–numbing the pain with the pills that helped her forget it. All of the lies piled up until Sophie isolated herself from all friends and family.
After a stint in rehab, Sophie decides to come clean about her addiction and resolves to live a sober life even though the pain hasn’t gone away. She is beginning to pick up the pieces of the life she traded for drugs, when she and her best friend, Mina, are attacked in the woods. Only Sophie leaves that woods alive.
A masked man kills Mina and plants drugs on the unconscious Sophie. He knows Sophie’s past well enough to know exactly how to frame her. When she awakes in a pool of Mina’s blood, Sophie becomes the main suspect in Mina’s murder. Who would trust that she was sober when she has a history of lying about her addiction?
Once Sophie returns from rehab a second time, she sets out to find the man who shot Mina. On her quest to avenge her best friend, Sophie uncovers that she wasn’t the only person who kept deadly secrets.
Far From You is a YA Thriller that contains drug abuse, sex, and LGBTQ+ scenes. The plot is so delicately woven by the author that the identity of Mina’s killer was an enormous surprise. I love when an author creates a believable YA Thriller that the reader can be sucked into and that is exactly what Tess Sharpe did here. I gave this story 4/5 stars on Goodreads. Follow my Goodreads page to see other recommendations and what I am reading next!