Angela Amman

Book review: Summer on Firefly Lake

Summer on Firefly Lake Review Jen Gilroy’s Summer on Firefly Lake worked its way onto my summer reading list in the midst of a couple of thrillers, a refresher of A Wrinkle in Time, and a possible revisiting of Stephen King’s IT in anticipation of the movie’s fall release.

The sometimes sweet and sometimes sultry summer read ended up being exactly what I needed to clear my head. Summer reading lends itself to romance, no matter how many dark and stormy titles I add to my pile.

Summer on Firefly Lake is part of an interwoven, three-part series, and I hesitated to accept a copy for review at first. Truthfully, I didn’t have time to read the first book (The Cottage at Firefly Lake), and I didn’t want to dive into a book where I’d be playing a lot of catch up in relationship to characters and locations. (The promotional materials said the novel could be read as a stand-alone, but I still waffled.)

I needn’t have worried. The story functions well as a stand-alone, and I never felt lost or unsure about who people were or the role they played in Mia and Nick’s lives.

Mia Gibbs returns to Firefly Lake after her divorce, a place she visited — but never really loved — as a child. The desire for stability for her children draws Mia there, because her sister Charlie made a life there, and Charlie’s the only family Mia has left. Reconnecting with Nick McGuire, a bad boy turned respectable attorney, provides her with a solid friendship as she navigates a potentially lonely summer with her girls visiting their father.

Nick McGuire grew up in the small town, but he’s only back to help his mother move out of her family home after a health scare. His back-to-New-York countdown ticks loudly in the back of his head, even as he finds himself thinking of Mia as much more than a friend.

The attraction between Mia and Nick sizzles, and their mutual hesitation about getting into a relationship feel real. Their dance around their chemistry works without feeling forced, even as you wish they’d communicate some of their hidden worries a little bit more. Watching each of them come to terms with their own worries ups the tension as the reader wonders if they would, indeed, be better off as just friends.

Life, as life does, throws complications between them. Nick’s mother isn’t as eager to move as he might have helped, and a twelve-year old foster child comes into Nick’s life when he’s least likely to take on any additional responsibilities.

Nick, Mia, and the other residents of Firefly Lake embody the kind of people we encounter each day: mostly kind, a little stubborn, and just a touch unsure about where they want to go, even when their hearts are pointing them in the right direction.

I’m glad I took a chance on Firefly Lake, and I plan on visiting the other novels in the series (Back Home at Firefly Lake will be available in December, 2017.)

For more information about Jen Gilroy, please visit her website

Information about where to purchase Summer on Firefly Lake — and her first novel, The Cottage at Firefly Lake — available here

I received a copy of Summer on Firefly Lake for consideration for review. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Multiples Illuminated: An excerpt

Multiples Illuminated excerptMultiples Illuminated: Life with Twins and Triplets, the Toddler to Tween Years is the collection of essays from Megan Woolsey & Alison Lee. Both editors parent multiples themselves, and they’ve gathered stories from other parents of multiples. This collection includes an essay from a twin, offering a different perspective than the parenting side of living with multiples.

This is an excerpt of “When One Twin Has Cancer” by Jessica Martineau from Multiples Illuminated: Life with Twins and Triplets, the Toddler to Tween Years.

We were whisked into a private room filled with a team of people. Brief introductions later, we had met Mila’s oncologist team. Doctors, surgeons, social workers, and nurses.
The pediatric oncologist, a young-looking man, warm by default, Dr. X, took the lead.
“Jessica, Mark … we received the results of the biopsy. Mila has Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma.”

That was the scary medical term for what was a large tumor I’d discovered on Mila’s right hip during a routine trip to tubby time.

He proceeded to inform us that this was a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

Mark put his hand to his face and tears fell. I had never seen him like this before, and it scared me. I must have missed something. I was not following. There were so many solemn eyes looking at us. Awaiting a response. I felt like a deer caught in headlights.

Dr. X continued, “We will begin with surgery to remove the tumor and the muscle surrounding it. From there, we will decide her specific treatment plan. It is definitive that she will receive weekly chemotherapy for 12 months. The pending factor will be the addition of radiation. This will be an unknown until we see what we are dealing with.”

The reference to chemotherapy hit me like a boulder. As I started to lose it, Mark began to compose himself. It was as if we passed off the strength baton.

This was the moment we were welcomed into the family we never wanted to be a part of.

Immediately after Mila’s diagnosis, Ava popped into my mind. Was this her impending doom? Would she get cancer now? Or after Mila finished her treatment? Years down the road, would we hit the repeat button? We needed to know if this disease was genetic, because our twins are identical.

Our worries were laid to rest later when a genetic test proved that this cancer did not develop from a genetic strand. Ava as well as Presley, had as slim a chance of developing cancer as any other healthy child. The other silver lining of this diagnosis was a recent study that confirmed that a six-month treatment would be just as effective as a year-long one. Just like that, Mila was halfway through.

After a successful surgery, Mila began her journey of weekly chemotherapy. It was the first time she and her twin had been separated for several days. Ava spent the day with her grandmother and Mila received sole attention from me. They both loved the one-on-one time. However, the moment we walked in the door on Wednesday evenings, they ran to each other and commemorated the reunion with joyful squeals.

Every third Wednesday, Mila came home with a hydration backpack and was on a strong, continued, dosage of anti-nausea drugs that caused her to be a bit loopy. The hydration backpack was connected to her through a port in her chest. It had about two feet of slack. On these evenings, Mila, Ava and I would curl up into a chair together and watch Curious George for a few short hours until bedtime. Ava, having the flexibility to be up and about if needed, would grab her water bottle or a banana for herself and Mila just in case she wanted it. She was unapologetically thoughtful and supportive, as if she knew how her sister was feeling.

The mornings Mila woke up in her crib after sleeping with the hydration backpack were not the easiest. The medicine made her nauseated, and occasionally she would vomit. As I tended to Mila to get her clean and comfortable, Ava waited patiently in her crib. When Mila was cleaned up, I would place her in Ava’s crib to continue cleaning the rest of the room. The girls sat contentedly together. Despite not understanding the seriousness of cancer, Ava became her sister’s safe space and kept her smiling. When the twins were together, you would never have known Mila had cancer and was undergoing a treatment that could bring a 200-pound man to his knees.

Together, with Presley and Ava’s support, love and laughter kicked this disease to the curb.

The book launches on August 4, 2017, National Twins Day!

The digital version of the book is available for preorder now for $2.99 on Amazon for Kindle and other digital devices. Come August 4, launch day, all preorders will be delivered automatically to buyers. 

Stock up at Bookstock

I adore books, reading, and all related things like pens, notebooks, and cozy corners in couches. When Ryan and I went to Denver last year, we spent time wandering around a bookstore, and the kids and I hit the library as often as we can.

Bookstock

Visit Bookstock to stock your shelves

I’m happy to help promote #BookstockMI this year, Detroit’s biggest used book and media sale. I mean, look at that amazing tagline: Supporting the need to read. Getting books into people’s hands promotes reading. I love seeing my kids get excited about new books, new stories, and new adventures in worlds that exist between the covers of a book.

Bookstock offers over 200,000 gently used books and media items for sale. All items have been donated and presorted, and you just know countless treasures hide on the shelves of the sale. You don’t want to miss this event. Whether you’re shopping for your own home, for gifts, or maybe even for your child’s teacher’s classroom, you’ll find everything you need — and more — at this sale.

Bookstock Michigan

Bookstock supports literacy

Good deals abound at Bookstock, of course, but the sale does more than offer a week’s worth of shopping. Marking 15 years of supporting the need to read, Bookstock has generated nearly $1.7 million for literacy and education projects throughout Oakland County and Detroit. More than 800 volunteers work together throughout the year to organize and staff the weeklong Bookstock sale.

Bookstock is brought to the community by the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC, and a consortium of non-profit organizations that support education and literacy projects throughout metro Detroit. For more information about Bookstook, call the Bookstock hotline, (248) 645-7840, ext. 365, or visit bookstockmi.org.

Special shopping days

If you love getting extra-good deals (who doesn’t?) check out the special shopping opportunities happening during Bookstock:

  • Monday Madness – Monday, April 24: The first 1,000 shoppers will receive spectacular giveaways and one lucky shopper will receive a $500 VISA gift card.
  • Teacher Appreciation Day – Tuesday, April 25: Bookstock is celebrating teachers by giving 50% off to all teachers with a valid ID from 3–9 p.m. At 5 p.m., the Bookstock  B.E.S.T.* Awards, (Bookstock Extraordinary Student/School/Teacher)will be presented to fourth grade students from Detroit Public Schools Community District who write the best essays entitled, “My Favorite Book Character…and Why.” A WDIV TV personality, will present the awards live,and cash prizes will be given to five students, their teachers and their schools.
  • Cookstock – Wednesday, April 26:  Bookstock will feature the area’s largest collection of gently used cookbooks, and local TV celebrities Tati Amare (WDIV- 4), Carolyn Clifford (WXYZ-7) and Sherry Margolis (Fox 2) will announce the winners of the first Cookstock Recipe Contest at 5 .pm. at Bookstock, the first recipe contest to benefit literacy in Michigan!
  • Bookbuster Special Days – Thursday, April 27 and Friday, April 28Buy three books and get the fourth book *free (*least expensive item) from 3 – 9 p.m. Spend $25 or more either night and be entered in a special drawing for: 
    • 4 tickets to a Red Wings game in the new Little Caesars Arena
    • A piece of the Palace floor signed by Pistons Bad Boy Bill Laimbeer
    • A two night stay and two rounds of Golf for two people at Treetops Resort in Gaylord
  • Half Price Finale, Sunday, April 30All books and media will be sold for half price!

Bookstock Michigan

More details about Bookstock

  • Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley and Detroit News columnist Neal Rubin are Honorary Co-Chairs of Bookstock and the Mike Morse Law Firm is Bookstock’s 2017 Presenting Sponsor.
  • Bookstock’s Pre-Sale will kick-off on Sunday, April 23 at 8:15 a.m. with a performance by Livonia’s Churchill High School Drumline. There is a $20 admission charge for the Pre-Sale only, which runs through 11 a.m. and offers savvy shoppers and collectors first crack at Bookstock’s treasure trove of bargains.
  • Bookstock has over 200,000 donated used books, DVDs, CDs, books on tape, magazines and records for sale at bargain basement prices.
  • The sale will continue through Sunday, April 30, running Sundays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Keep up with Bookstock online

Bookstock book sale

Chatting about Multiples Illuminated

anthologiesWhen I was pregnant with Dylan, I distinctly remember thinking about how I’d sync his nap schedule with Abbey’s. Her nap schedule basically consisted of working very hard for over an hour to get her to sleep for approximately 30 minutes, but I still clung to the idea of 30 minutes of child-free time a day.

She dropped her nap completely just about a month before he was born.

Children don’t care all that much about their parents’ plans for child-free time and — in my experience — it got even more hit-or-miss when we added our second child to the mix. Some parents, though, add kids to the mix more than one at a time, and I remain a little in awe of parents of multiples. Twins, triplets, or more, welcoming more than one baby into your home at one time can’t be an easy task.

Multiples Illuminated: A Collection of Stories and Advice From Parents of Twins, Triplets and More is a compelling collection of stories from writers and parents of multiples, as well as expert advice that is a must-have for all parents and grandparents of multiples. It dives deep into the world of raising multiples with beautiful stories and helpful advice. In it, you will find essays on infertility help and hope; finding out and coping with a multiples pregnancy; stories of labor and delivery; stories from the NICU; breastfeeding best practices for multiples; and surviving the infant and toddler stages.

I asked the editors of Multiples Illuminated a few questions, both about the anthology and about the joys and challenges of parenting multiples.

1. Why did you decide to put together the Multiples Illuminated anthology?

Megan: I have seen many beautiful anthologies published the past few years and have been fortunate to be a part of a few of them as an essayist. One day while I was out shopping with my husband I had an AHA moment: there should  be an anthology for multiple parents from multiple parents and I need to make it happen. When I was pregnant with triplets I scoured the Amazon virtual shelves in search of books to help me through the unique process of carrying, delivering and raising triplets. I only found a few books to help me. I would’ve really appreciated a book like Multiples Illuminated when I was pregnant, and I love that we have it now. Creating this book with Alison has truly been a dream fulfilled.

2. How does Multiples Illuminated differ from other parenting books, particularly other books about raising multiples?

Multiples Illuminated is not a “how-to” book although we do have an advice section for each of the chapters covering infertility and trying to conceive, pregnancy, labor and delivery, NICU and the first years. The advice we give is based on our personal experiences, sharing what worked for us. The stories are honest and although personal to each writer. They are universal in the experiences they share, and lessons they learned. It’s more of a “Come take a peek into real life with multiples” rather than “Here’s how you do it.”

3. What’s one thing about raising multiples that you’ve experienced that you never would have expected?

Alison: How much people LOVE twins! Everywhere we go, the twins get attention – of the good kind. People are genuinely interested in and fascinated by multiples.

Megan: How much I would enjoy watching the close bond my triplets have. It is truly a beautiful relationship. I agree with Alison- people love multiples! It’s pretty fun.

4. What’s one benefit to having two newborns at one time? One drawback?

Alison: Watching them together. Just marveling at the fact that there are TWO. When my twins were little, they always found their way to each other when they were sleeping. Sitting side by side, they’d reach out for each other’s hands. Now that they are toddlers, watching talk to each other and play (and fight!) together, it’s a joy. The drawback of having more than one newborn is that there is only one of you. Spouses and family members are great to fall back on but ultimately, there is only one YOU.

Megan: The benefit is harder to realize when they are newborns – more obvious as they become toddlers and beyond when they can play together. The drawback to having three newborns at once is – do I even need to say it (LOL)? Up for hours in the middle of the night. Feeding three babies. Blasting through 15 diapers a day. Trying to soothe three babies at once. Newborn triplets is a challenge to say the least.

5. What’s one misconception about twins or triplets you haven’t found to be true with your little ones?

We don’t know if there are misconceptions about multiples. If people think having twins, triplets or more to be difficult – it’s true, yes, it is. Every stage is challenging. If people think having multiples must be fun – it’s true. It is fun. It’s amazing. It’s joyful. It’s a blessing. If people think having more than one child at a time to be noisy – YES, YES IT IS.

6. What advice would you give to families just starting their journey of parenting multiples?

Be prepared! Do your research: read (a book like Multiples Illuminated!), connect with other multiples families online (join our Facebook community) and offline. Talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns regarding your pregnancy, birth plan and the early days.

Ask for help and gladly accept offers to help. Having meals stocked in your fridge or laundry done is a great relief. Allowing grandparents, aunts and uncles cuddle time with the babies mean you can take a breather (or a shower). Lean on your partner. Night feeds with multiples is no joke!

Whether you’re the parent of multiples, have a friend with multiples, or simply enjoy reading parenting stories, you won’t want to miss this collection of essays!

Amazon (paperback and Kindle)

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

iBooks

Kobo

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