Category: Special Features

Falling in Love With…Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom (Leah from The Pretty Good Gatsby)

Falling in love with books finalDay 11, here we go! I’m beyond excited that the fabulous and well-read Leah is sharing today. She has a book that I want to immediately go out and grab–her review is fantastic. Enjoy!

Good morning everyone! I’m Leah from The Pretty Good Gatsby and when Katie asked me if I wanted to talk about (okay, more like gush and flail, let’s be real here) a book I love, it was obvious which book I would end up picking.

I read some pretty phenomenal novels last year, but one book in particular stood out for me: Heather Brittain Bergstrom’s Steal the North. This debut (YES, debut!) was something special and, since reading it, I’ve gone on to push it on multiple bloggers, family members, and even a random stranger or two!

steal the north
First thing’s first: what’s this book about?? Emmy and her mom Kate live in California. Thing’s aren’t the best, but they have each other…until the day Kate gets a call from her sister in Washington, an aunt Emmy never knew existed. When Kate was a teen she fled their tiny town, exiled from their fundamentalist church when it was discovered she was pregnant. Now Beth needs her sister’s help: for years she’s been trying to have a child and after numerous miscarriages, she has one final chance – a healing ceremony where she’ll need Emmy to participate.

Emmy reluctantly (and hesitantly) agrees to spend the summer with her new-found family, both anxious and eager to meet an aunt and uncle she never knew she had. One trailer down from Beth and Matt lives Theresa, her kids, and her younger brother Reuben. Sure, life on the Reservation would provide them with family, but the trailer court provides stability and a life away from violence. With Emmy’s arrival, two families come together and she discovers what being home truly means.

Right, so this doesn’t sound like a story full of rainbows and puppies, does it? You know what? You’re right.

It’s NOT a happy-go-lucky read, but it completely captivated me. Steal the North follows each of these characters (and a few others) and multiple perspectives is the quickest way to get to my heart. Each character is so important, so vital to the story – there isn’t just one main character, there’s a group of them. Bethany’s faith, Kate’s bitterness, Reuben’s desire to hold onto his Native American roots. These characters felt real, their emotions were raw and on full display for all the world to see.

It might be strange to say I felt like I was being punched in the gut while discussing a book I loved, but there you have it.

Steal the North ripped out my heart and stomped all over it. And I’d gladly let it happen all over again.

Wonderful characters, heavy-hitting topics like religion and race (that are handled with care and grace), and one of the strongest plots I’ve come across in a long, long time. Steal the North has become my go-to recommendation and it’s one to revisit over and over again!

I’ve learned to take note of Leah’s recs, and so I’m not even going to question this one. I’m headed to the library to hunt this one down. I’m especially (as you know) keen to read books that engage with religion or spirituality, so that makes this one even more appealing, and it takes place in California–my home state!

Feel free to leave your questions and comments for Leah below. Thanks, Leah, for sharing Steal the North! Stay tuned for another Falling in Love with Books post tomorrow.

 

What Katie Read

Falling in Love With…Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson (Kaitlin from Next Page Please)

Falling in love with books final

Welcome to Day 9 of Falling in Love with Books. Valentine’s Day has passed, but the holiday feature continues because it’s still February. And there’s still plenty of time to fall in love with a new book. So today I’m turning it over to Kaitlin from Next Page Please! Enjoy!

Hi! My name is Kaitlin and first and foremost I would like to thank you for joining me as I gush about my favorite books. Well, book in this case. If you would like to check out my blog click here, but enough of that, let’s get to the post!

The book I am totally in love with is

Since You’ve Been Gone by: Morgan Matson!

Since You've Been Gone
This is a contemporary book that is basically about a girl who receives a letter from her best friend, who apparently disappears for the summer. This letter is a list of things to do during the summer and so the main character, Emily decides she wants to check off every item on the list during that summer and this book is her adventure to checking every item off the list.
This book was such a good read. It was fun, and beautiful, and just great! It  was kind of also like a “finding yourself” book but it wasn’t very obvious to me until the end. I really don’t want to give any spoilers away for people who haven’t read the book. This book made me laugh, cry, aww, and just be very happy in general.  If you haven’t read any Morgan Matson books I would very much advise you so and I hope you do! Also, have you seen the inside cover of this book?

Thank you so much for joining me and reading this post. I hope you guys all enjoy the rest of the Falling in Love with books series and thank you Katie for hosting me. 🙂

Thank you, Kaitlin, for this glimpse of Since You’ve Been Gone. I have yet to read it, and just love the cover (and inside cover!). I’m looking forward to reading this, and since it takes place in the summer, it might be the perfect book to read during the cold winter (and I like ice cream during any season!).

See you all tomorrow for Day 10 of Falling in Love with Books as we welcome my good friend, Jen, from Fefferbooks!

What Katie Read

Falling in Love with…Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk (Diana from Brilliantly Novel)

Falling in love with books final

Enjoy Day 8 of Falling in Love with Books–Valentine’s Day is tomorrow! Diana is one of my oldest blogging friends and it is always a delight to visit her blog. I think you’ll appreciate her post today.

Hi guys! Diana from Brilliantly Novel here! Today I’m going to be sharing one of my all time favorite books with y’all, Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk.glass girl valentineGlass Girl in five words: It was absolutely, positively beautiful. Seriously you guys, I love this book SO MUCH. Because it’s from a small independent publisher, Glass Girl is one of those hidden gem books that not many people have heard of, and that’s a shame because it’s AMAZING. Told in lovely, lyrical prose and filled with rich, relatable characters, it is a breathtaking story of loss, mercy, and hope that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

About the Book

glass girlSynopsis

When Meg Kavanagh finds herself in the unthinkable role of grieving sister, she discovers some harsh truths–parents aren’t perfect, life’s not always sweet, and the dead don’t write back. Her famous artist mom grieves by slowly disappearing, and her dad copes by moving them to a small town in Wyoming.

What she finds in Wyoming blindsides her. His name is Henry Whitmire, and he shows Meg that the best things in life–like falling in love and finding mercy–require uncommon courage.

From young adult author Laura Anderson Kurk comes a heartfelt story with bittersweet intensity and emotional storytelling.

Why I Love It

As I mentioned in my review, I really connected with Meg right from the beginning. As someone who has dealt with more than her fair share of loss, it was easy to slip myself into her shoes. My heart broke for her as she grieved for Wyatt and healed with hers as she learned to let go. I’m not going to lie, this book will make you cry. A lot.

But while this story isn’t exactly a light one, it’s not all heavy either. For instance, if Thanet doesn’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will. And if Henry doesn’t make your heart sing, well, there must be something wrong with you. That boy is ALL KINDS of dreamy. In fact, I think every girl should just be issued their own Henry at birth. Mmmmm.

Glass Girl really is a complete package. Meg’s story will suck you in and leave you a different person on the other side. It will break your heart and then slowly put it back together—it might be in a different shape, but all of the pieces will be there. So, if you’re a fan of Young Adult Contemporary stories that will make you laugh, cry, swoon, and think (not necessarily in that order), I highly recommend you give Glass Girl a try. Just make sure you have a whole lot of tissues handy!

My Favorite Quote

“We all have a gap after we lose someone. We think that we will always have this hole that’s obvious to everyone around us. We won’t. The hole will be filled with life. It will be something entirely different, but at least it won’t let the wind in anymore.”


Now, I don’t know about you guys, but after a good cry I’m always down for some comfort food—and nothing is more comforting than chocolate, am I right? Well, wait ’til you get a load of these:

red velvet swirled brownies

This chocolatey, red velvety goodness can comfort me any day of the week, that’s for sure! I found this decadent delite on Pinterest and thought that it just SCREAMED Valentines Day and Deliciousness! It felt like a crime to keep something so yummy looking to myself, so here, help yourself. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
heaping 1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2 vials red food coloring, or as needed (I used 2 red Betty Crocker gel food coloring vials)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
  3. Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don’t scramble it. Add the egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the cocoa and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add the red food coloring and whisk to incorporate. I used 2 vials of red food coloring. I had to buy two sets of gel food coloring (red, blue, green, yellow) for the two reds I needed. Use any type of food coloring you like; you’ll need a lot of it because it takes a lot to turn a chocolatey batter red. Keep adding until desired shade is obtained. Add the flour, optional salt, and stir until just combined; don’t overmix.
  6. Add the flour, optional salt, and stir until just combined; don’t overmix.
  7. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula; set aside.
  8. In a small, microwave-safe bowl melt the chocolate chips, about 1 minute on high power. Stop to check and stir. Heat in 10-second bursts until chocolate can be stirred smooth.
  9. Drizzle the chocolate over the pan and swirl lightly with the tip of a table knife or a toothpick. To create the pattern shown, drizzle chocolate over batter in 5 wide, evenly spaced, parallel lines, each spanning the length of the pan. Like 5 rows of long train tracks. Rotate pan 90-degrees. With a toothpick, starting at the top of the pan, “draw” 5 evenly spaced lines through the chocolate. You’re dragging the toothpick perpendicularly through the first set of lines to create the swirling.
  10. Bake for about 28 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving; however, for optimal results, cool overnight so the chocolate has a chance to fully set up fully. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

**Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars: image and recipe reblogged from Avery Cooks**

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Thank you, Diana! I love your poem, by the way! What a lovely post about Glass Girl. This is another YA Contemporary I haven’t read but your review is definitely drawing me to give this book a try. And I love the quote you chose. And those brownies look DELECTABLE! Can’t wait to hear about all you readers who are going to bake these for V-Day!

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I’ll be here with a special post for you all! Now go forth and bake….and of course, READ!

What Katie Read
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