Angela Amman


Books don’t spring forth, complete, from a void. Their origins seed from our experiences, the stories of the people touching our lives, places and triumphs and hurts that twist themselves into words on pages. Those words, those pages are polished and rearranged and packaged together into packages that place a little bit of ourselves into the hands of others.

This month, three books I adore are making their way into your hands, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. A novel, a guide, and an anthology: the books vary in genre and purpose, but each will touch you and make you glad to be a reader.

(I’ll be delving into each of these titles more thoroughly in the upcoming weeks, but for now, explore their descriptions, order them, read them, and come back and let me know what you think of each of them.)

Happy April books, my friends…

Cameron D Garriepy books
Damselfly Inn by Cameron D. Garriepy

Publication date, April 13. Preorder now!

The picturesque college town of Thornton, Vermont is the perfect place to open an inn. Or so Nan Grady thinks until a late summer storm drops a tree branch through her roof and local contractor Joss Fuller into her path.

Romance has been the last thing on her career-oriented mind, but Nan can’t deny the attraction between them. Nor can she deny the history between Joss and her most important guest: a sophisticated Manhattan academic.

And then there is the mysterious vandal targeting her home and livelihood.

As summer fades to autumn and Joss becomes a fixture around the Damselfly Inn, Nan navigates the joys and complications of life in her new home town. But when the vandalism becomes increasingly upsetting, threatening Nan and her guests, as well as her budding relationship with Joss, Nan questions her place in the town, at the inn, and in Joss’s heart.


Galit Breen book
Kindness Wins by Galit Breen

Now available!

Kindness Wins covers ten habits to directly teach kids how to be kind online. Each section is written in Breen’s trademark parent-to-parent-over-coffee style and concludes with resources for further reading, discussion starters, and bulleted takeaways. She ends the book with two Kindness Wins contracts―one to share with peers and one to share with kids. Just like we needed to teach our children how to walk, swim, and throw a ball, we need to teach them how to maneuver kindly online.

This book will help you do just that.

Listen To Your Mother Book

Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now edited by Ann Imig

Now available!

Irreverent, thought-provoking, hilarious, and edgy: a collection of personal stories celebrating motherhood, featuring #1 New York Times bestselling authors Jenny Lawson and Jennifer Weiner, and many other notable writers.

Listen to Your Mother is a fantastic awakening of why our mothers are important, taking readers on a journey through motherhood in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor. Based on the sensational national performance movement, Listen to Your Mother showcases the experiences of ordinary people of all racial, gender, and age backgrounds, from every corner of the country. This collection of essays celebrates and validates what it means to be a mother today, with honesty and candor that is arrestingly stimulating and refreshing. The stories are raw, honest, poignant, and sometimes raunchy, ranging from adoption, assimilation to emptying nests; first-time motherhood, foster-parenting, to infertility; single-parenting, LGBTQ parenting, to special-needs parenting; step-mothering; never mothering, to surrogacy; and mothering through illness to mothering through unsolicited advice. Honest, funny, and heart-wrenching, these personal stories are the collective voice of mothers among us. Whether you are one, have one, or know one, Listen to Your Mother is an emotional whirlwind that is guaranteed to entertain, amuse, and enlighten.

Get the Behavior You Want… – A Review

Ask Doc G Book

I spent the afternoon volunteering at my daughter’s school, a fundraiser that focuses on outdoor activity. I spent my hours with one eye on Dylan becoming the dirtiest preschooler in the world in the sandbox and the other on the obstacle course. I cheered and clapped, reminded kids about what to do at each station and straightened obstacles when they were toppled beyond use. When kids stumbled on the balance beam, I reassured, “You’ve got this!” as they climbed back onto the close-to-the-ground beam.

I’ve always been proud of not rushing to help up my children when they fall. I let them try handstands, climb trees, and ride their bikes faster down hills than might be prudent. They fall. They scrape their knees and request bandaids I apply again and again. I try to balance my worry about their well-being with my desire to let them trust their own instincts about what they can do, to brush off small scrapes themselves, to realize stumbling is an important part of learning.

In this regard, I think I’m doing a fantastic job raising resilient kids.

But they’re getting older, and some of the scrapes they’re experiencing aren’t happening because of a misstep while barreling down an asphalt path. The scrapes are from words from their friends that sting or struggles with not doing things perfectly right the first time.

These scrapes? I have a harder time letting them fix themselves.

“Find Resilience Opportunities” was one of the first chapters I read in Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate by Deborah Gilboa, MD. I know it’s one I’ll read again and again as I force myself to put aside my desperate desire to soothe their hurt feelings in order to teach them to solve their problems themselves. After reading Dr. Gilboa’s chapter on the importance of resilience — and how we can help our kids develop it — I know that I can be a sounding board and a comforting hug without swooping in to solve their emotional hurts.

Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate is a parenting book by one of the most practical and loving doctors — and mothers — I know. You may have seen her online or on television as Ask Doc G, and her advice always makes me feel better. Her book is an extension of her media presence — check out her YouTube series of advice — and it’s the type of parenting book you’ll reference for years.

One of the greatest elements of the book is the straightforward, no-nonsense way she delivers her message. She offers reasons for her advice, and all of it centers around parenting in a way that will raise healthy, independent adults, which is something I think can be lost in the grind of daily parenting. Many of her chapters offer concrete examples and advice broken down by age group. It gives tired parents a quick frame of reference and is a great reminder that we can be mindful of parenting the children we have today, in order to build a foundation for the children we’ll be parenting in the future.

Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate will help parents tackle everything from picky eating and playdates to technology, relationship issues, and extracurricular activities. You’ll keep this one on your shelves until you look into your child’s eyes and realize he’s become the fantastic adult you’ve been watching take shape for years.

Follow Ask Doc G on Facebook / YouTube / Twitter / Google+

Have your parenting rough spots changed as your children have grown?

Disclosure: I received a copy of Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate for consideration for review. All opinions are my own.


Rare Bird – A review

Rare Bird

The countdown to school is ticking loudly. Months have dwindled to weeks, and now days are becoming hours. Soon, the house will be quieter, at least for several hours a week.

They’ve become little puppies lately: running, yelling, tumbling together in piggyback-ride-dance-move-cartwheels that inevitably turn to squabbling and elbow throwing and tears. I attempt separation, but they’re gravitationally connected right now. Within minutes, they’re giggling and fighting and laughing and tumbling again.

With their energy — their togetherness — filling our rooms, it seems fitting that the passages about the sibling relationship between Jack and Margaret in Rare Bird bubble at the surface when I think about this portrait of grief and hope.

Rare Bird by Anna Whitson-Donaldson is a story no mother should have to tell — that of the loss of her son, Jack, to a flooded creek that rose from a trickle to a dangerous hazard in a horrifying afternoon.

Jack was twelve and a brother, a friend, an actor, a LEGO lover, and through reading Anna’s blog and Rare Bird, I feel like I know him a little bit. When Anna describes how Jack chose to share a room with his best-friend-younger-sister while on vacation, I can’t help but think of my own children, who often fall asleep head-to-toe in Abbey’s top bunk.

I won’t pretend I didn’t sob when I read this line:

“I wonder, is Margaret still a sister if her brother is gone?”

– Anna Whitson-Donaldson, Rare Bird

My heart broke when I read Rare Bird, though I knew Anna’s story, and it broke when I read through my underlined passages and dog-eared pages, and it will break again when I revisit this beautiful journey of hope through pain. And I will revisit it. Through her anguish, Anna threads love, faith, and the promise that there is a way to live a life after an unthinkable loss.

Jack lives through Anna’s words and through Anna’s faith, a part of Anna she questions and affirms in countless ways as she moves around the grief spiral. As someone who struggles — who is struggling — with faith and religion and spirituality, I wasn’t sure I would be able to relate to that part of Rare Bird, though I know Anna’s faith is an integral part of who she is.

I needn’t have worried. Faith and God are a part of Anna, and they are a part of her story and of Rare Bird, but she’s not dictating how others should grieve — or live.

Her story is found in Bible verses, yes, but it’s also in blue jays and boxes of LEGO sets, a dedication in a school play program and two Thomas the Train engines. Her story is found in a mother-daughter trip to Target — Jack’s mother and Jack’s sister finding a little bit of grace and hope in a discovered gift card.

Anna’s words will help those who are grieving, I’m sure, but they’ll also help those who love people in the midst of grief. She shatters the worry that grief should be solitary; I have a passage highlighted with, “Be this for people,” in the margins. Anna’s prose is lovely and real; she doesn’t shrink from the pain of Jack’s loss, but there’s a sense of comfort in the way she weaves her story, her family’s story, together.

No mother should have had to write Rare Bird, but I can unequivocally suggest that everyone I know read this poignant, unforgettable book.

Please consider pre-ordering Rare Bird or making a note to purchase it when it’s available next month.

The Last Savanna – A review

The Last Savanna Review The weather climbed to the mid-thirties today, and the kids started talking about summer. My rain boots were sufficient to keep my feet warm, even sliding across the slushy piles of snow, but I had to warn them to watch their footing. Ice lingered near the crosswalks, masquerading as water. I was reminded of the fickle nature of weather and how I prefer Michigan’s version of extreme hot to that of our extreme cold — though neither are truly extreme as far as nature goes.

In The Last Savanna by Mike Bond, heat and dust are part of the shimmering setting of the Kenyan savanna. Africa is more than a setting for The Last Savanna. Bond narrates the novel from various perspectives — white soldiers, Somali elephant poachers, Samburu lion hunters, a kidnapped woman, a gunslinger trapped between childhood and adulthood, a Brit who’s been seduced by Africa’s savage beauty, even animals searching for water and vacillating between prey and predator. The thread linking each of the narrators is the heavy weight of the country itself, to the point that Africa becomes a character as much as any of the men canvassing its land.

Ian MacAdam and Rebecca are two points of a love story, the apex of which is their mutual inability to let anyone close enough to shatter their illusions about love. They’re both married to other people, children are hazy specters of their real lives while they’re brought back together in a hunt for their lives across the African land.

Bond’s intense bond with Africa palpitates throughout The Last Savanna. Each of the characters, both man and beast is both the hunter and the hunted, literally and figuratively, and the tension in the novel begins in the first pages and clutches the reader in its grasp until the end. Each tribe operates under its own rules and ethics, violence and death closely entwined with survival and as the novel marches grimly forward, civilization and savagery blur together in a dizzying display of the fight for survival.

The Last Savanna won’t appeal to all readers. The violence is unsheathed and unforgiving, and the trek across the savanna escalates into a feeling of near-insanity, the characters confusing reality with their inner demons, clarity and madness only a breath apart, hope dancing just out of reach on the horizon. Bond expertly draws in the reader, using the brutal beauty of Africa to show the blurry line between humanity and the animal world, letting the readers question for themselves which is the most savage. Readers will find similarities to the emotional tension and themes in William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, and The Last Savanna sheds light on the dark corners of Africa — and mankind.

I received a copy of The Last Savanna for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

I’m happy to offer one lucky reader the “adventurer’s kit” shown below. There are a few different ways to enter using the Rafflecopter form, so good luck! (A complete list of included prizes is below the form.)

What’s the most exotic vacation you’ve taken?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


What you’ll win!

· The Last Savanna by Mike Bond

· Survival card multi tool (Kikkerland)

· Colorful Bandanna (Carolina Mfg)

· Coghlan’s – 2 camping items (items may vary)

· Aquatabs water purification tablets

· Clearon neutral pH bleach tablets –

· Nuun flavored electrolyte tablets –

· Element Bars nutritional energy bar –

· Gear Aid – Seam Grip and Tenacious Tape repair patches

· Badger organic sunblock and lip balm –

· Grabber Emergency Blanket –

· HeatMax Hand Warmers –

· Action Wipes –

· Women’s Adventure Magazine –

· Outdoor Sports Guide Magazine –

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