August 28, 2014

Looks for Books: Ruin & Rising

This month we are reading Ruin and Rising, the 3rd and final book in the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. You can see our epic photos from our Shadow and Bone book club last fall HERE.
This book revolves around a girl named Alina who must find the strength to defeat the Darkling by forming alliances and mending rivalries.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.The time has come for the ultimate battle of good versus evil, which side will be left standing to rule all of Ravka?

The Look:
When we read the first book in this series, Shadow and Bone, we themed our evening and our attire around the books traditional Grisha colors of black, red, blue and purple. 
But for Ruin and Rising, we choose to celebrate the main character Alina and her Saint-hood status of being the "Sun Summoner."
As I mentioned, the white in the outfit represents Alina the sun summoner saint, and the House of Harlow necklace I paired with this outfit represents an important symbol in the book.

I found it interesting that Leigh is not only an amazing author but also a makeup artist and band member in Hollywood. She attended Yale and is from Jerusalem. She is definitely someone I would love to meet, a mix of brains, creativity and coolness. Amazing!!!! 

Love, Jacque
P.S. Head to to see more Fashion, Beauty and Style

Denim - J Brand via Nordstrom Rack (similar)
Blouse - Nordstrom Rack (similar)
Blazer - Nordstrom Rack (similar)
Necklace - House of Harlow 1960 via Rocksbox
Cuff - Windsor Store (similar)
Heels - MIA via Nordstrom Rack
Watch - Capri Watch
Sunnies - Nordstrom

August 25, 2014

What's in Your Library Bag?

On one of our recent trips to the library, my 3 year old wandered off and found his favorite section. Before I knew it, our library bag (and the stroller) were full. He had books on Audi's, Porche's, monster trucks, the history of the automobile, airplanes, Heavy Duty Construction Equipment, Planes, Toy Story, Knuffle Bunny, Cars 2, and he even found a learn to speak Klingon book. I didn't even know he knew where the nonfiction section was. There was a part of me that wanted to have him choose 4 or 5 and put the other 10 back, but I resisted. Instead I shared his joy and excitement for all the fun new books he found for us to read. You can see his pile contrasted with my pile.

Library Tip: Give your children autonomy to pick whatever books catch their interest. This is a great time for kids to be spontaneous, explore their interests and create their identity as a reader. As a parent, it feels nice to say "YES! great choice." 
hippospotamus, bread and jam for frances, fortune cookies, ribbit, ella, mr tiger goes wild, the robot books, andrew drew and drew, if i built a car
Check out this months library list. I hope you find a few that both you and your children enjoy reading.
Hippospotamus (recommended for 4-8) by Jeanne Willis is a humorous read about a hippo that has a red spot on his bottomus and none of the animals can figure it out. They each have their own idea of what it might be. I will not spoil it for you, but it is lighthearted and fun. 
Ribbit  (recommended for 3-7) by Rodrigo Folgueira is a sweet book about friendship with an unusual twist that will keeps kids on their toes. Great for teaching children about reaching out to make friends. 
The Robot Book  (recommended for 1-4) by Heather Brown is colorful, interactive and has a heart or at least the Robot does. This is a fun board book for littles, but my preschooler also loved it. 
Bread and Jam for Frances  (recommended for 4-8) by Russel Hoban will make you feel better if you have really picky eaters like I do. I tried so hard to feed them the very best as infants...lentil soup, green smoothies, quinoa and greek yogurt. This book keeps it real (with a ray of hope) and is fun for parent and child together. 
Ella Sets the Stage  (recommended for 4-8) by Carmela D'armico makes all of us feel better about what we do well, rather than what we don't do. I found it to be a great reminder as an adult and something I would like to reinforce in my children. There are a few Ella books, but I could not remember her name. I described one of her other books to the librarian and she couldn't think of it. Not even 5 minutes later, my 1 year old started haphazardly pulling books off the shelf and there was Ella. I had to include one of her books, it seemed serendipitous.  
Andrew Drew and Drew (recommended for 4-8) by Barney Saltzberg is interactive flap by flap. The drawings start as a line and as you open each flap the drawings grow and  and the drawings develop. My preschooler really loves to open the flaps for each drawing. It reminds me a little bit of Harold and the Purple Crayon, which I love. 
Fortune Cookies (recommended for 3-6) by Albert Bitterman had me hooked right at the title. I love fortune cookies, I even made a trip to a little factory in San Francisco to see the little old ladies making them. So fun! The book is fun, because you pull the little fortunes out of the cookies. The story line unfolds as each fortune comes true, but maybe not the way the little girl expected. 
Mr Tiger Goes Wild (recommended for 3-6) by Peter Brown has beautiful artwork, a playful story line and a good message. I saw @thelittlebookcollector list this on Instagram. I really love this book. I was raised in a home where we were reminded of manners often, including "shoulders back," and sometimes it just seemed more comfortable to eat with my elbow on the table. I loved Mr. Tiger and his boredom with being so proper. 
If I Built a Car (recommended for 5-8) by Chris Van Dusen let's a child's imagination run. As I listen to my preschooler chatter nonstop, sometimes I wonder what is real and what is play for him. His imagination is exploding in a wonderful way. I think he loved this book for that reason. If you built a car, what would it be like? 

hippospotamus, bread and jam for frances, fortune cookies, ribbit, ella, mr tiger goes wild, the robot books, andrew drew and drew, if i built a car
Happy reading aloud!


August 20, 2014

If I Stay {Book to Movie}

Opens August 22, 2014

Written by, Gayle Forman

I read this book a couple of years ago and it immediately drew me in. I read it so fast, I just couldn't get enough of it. This is one of my favorite books along with the sequel "Where She Went"

Movie Synopsis

Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined.

Book Synopsis

Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make

Chloë Grace Moretz - playing "Mia Hall"

Chloe has been in many movies and TV shows. Some of the movies she is most known for is "Kick Ass" playing "Hit-Girl", "Hugo" playing "Isabelle" and the remake of "Carrie" playing "Carrie White".  She plays "Diondra" in "Dark Places" a book to movie written by Gillian Flynn coming out September 1st, 2014. And she has another movie coming out September 26th, 2014 where she plays "Teri" in "The Equalizer" starring with Denzel Washington. She has a total of 6 movies coming out this year. She has been very busy. She is currently cast to play "Cassie Sullivan" in "The 5th Wave" coming out in 2016.

Chloe Grace Moretz
(Image Source)                                                                                               (Image Source) 
Jamie Blackley - playing "Adam"

 Jamie has been in several movies also. He is most know for playing "Iain" in "Snow White and the Huntsman" and for playing "Ziggy" in "The Fifth Estate". He has another movie coming out this year called "Kids in Love" playing "Tom". And he is currently filming the Untitled Woody Allen Project coming out in 2015.

Jamie Blackley

I made my own "If I Stay Movie Poster" 
If you would like to have some fun creating your own click here.

Make your own if i stay movie poster

Favorite Quotes
This book has so many great quotes it is hard to choose just a couple.

Quote 1

Quote 2
"And that's just it, isn't it? That's how we manage to survive the loss. Because love, it never dies, it never goes away, it never fades, so long as you hang on to it." -If I Stay 

Quote 3 
Movie Trailer #1

Movie Trailer #2

Here is a hopeful review from someone who has seen an early screening of the movie. This makes me super excited to see it.

August 5, 2014
I was lucky to come across free screening tickets (as usual) from a post from Refinery29 and was able to watch this movie a week ago. I didn’t post any reviews because I thought that, having not seen movies like these (pre-teen, based on books, death centered, tear jerkers) in a while, I would want to see the other similar ones out right now (The Fault in Our Stars) before making any reviews… If I had to pick one out of the two, I would pick If I Stay in a heartbeat. 
I went into the movie theatre not very sure of what to expect, I just wanted to see a free movie and watch my girl Chloë Moretz kill it on screen as she usually does, and that was exactly what happened. 
Let’s start off with how great the soundtrack was and music references (both classical and rock) and how I wished that all those 13 year old girls at the movie theatre watching the movie could appreciate. I loved the setting in Portland and the idea of music being in the center of everything. The timeline of going back and forth between the present and the past made it refreshing to watch and the pacing of the movie worked great. 
In comparison to The Fault in Our Stars, I want to mention about how this movie almost had me completely crying during so much of it while TFIOS did not. What I think did it the most was how well they introduced the family and they allowed you to fall in love with the characters before you see them in the car accident. (I won’t put any spoilers, because I want you to go see) but it could’ve easily been a really forced movie, and it wasn’t. 
When I’ve mentioned this movie I always mentioned Nick and Norah’s Infinite playlist, except maybe better. The movies aren’t alike, but the aspect of music is in there. The comedy and the community. I’m happy this movie exists and it was a very wonderful surprise.
3.5 Stars ★★★▴

This review made me want to check out the movie soundtrack. I love seeing movies that have great music in them. Can't wait to hear what they have.

Here's hoping we all enjoy the movie!

August 18, 2014

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker {Part I}

This books Moderator was Robin (above) who went ALL out for this magical book!
Just a little plug but I'm so proud of her, but everyone needs to know that Robin is getting her first book published titled, "Remembrandt" THIS fall and we are all so proud of her! Check out her website HERE to learn more about Robin and her book!
Check out the official Golem & the Jinni book trailer

If you haven't heard of this book before you might be asking yourself,
"What IS a golem or a Jinni for that matter??"

Good question, we wondered the same thing before we started reading.

From the title we wondered if a Golem was similar to theone we knew from the LOTR (it is NOT) lol, and we thought the jinni might look something out of Aladdin (not the case.
The photos below are a closer representation to what a Golem and Jinni traditionally looks in mythology (not necessarily in Weckers book.) Helene used the traditional ideas of a Golem and a Jinni and created characters with curiosity, an independent mind and humanity. 
She also created them to look more human so that they could blend into society.

The Golem:
In Jewish myth and folklore, a golem is a human-like figure that is brought to life by powerful magic. They are powerful but simple-minded, and must obey their masters in all things. Golems are usually made from clay, though they can also be made of wood or even ash. The magic that brings life to a golem comes from Kabbalah, a mystical, esoteric branch of Jewish teaching.

The Jinni:In Middle Eastern and Muslim mythology, a jinni (also djinni or genie) is a spirit made of smokeless flame. A jinni (or, to use the plural, jinn) is usually invisible to humans, but can be seen when it wants to be. In Muslim belief, God created the jinn from fire, as humans were created from earth and angels from light.

Stepping in the door for book club this month felt like stepping into another world, everything looked AMAZING! Robin spend days creating a middle eastern lounge for all of us.
There were little touches and details everywhere you looked that related to the characters and the book.
how to bring a golem to life
I came to book club wearing my "Jinni bands" 
Jinni bands
I also came to book club dressed in a modern version of a jinni outfit (it was the best I could come up with being 20 weeks pregnant okay! All I want to wear are stretchy pants!) 
You can see in the picture below that I'm rubbing the magic flask hoping to free a jinni.
 (Big surprise, it didn't work, wamp, wamp.) 

Clay golem, make your own golem
Since Golems are usually made out of clay, we thought it would be fun to have our own Golem making station! 
Each book club member created their own Golem or clay creation and then we all voted on the one we liked best. You can see some examples of the "sculptures" created by some of our members below.
(There were giggles for days looking at all of them!) 
Clay golem, make your own golem
In the end, we voted on Brooke's (seriously good looking) sculpt of Chava, the Golem from the book.
She deserved to win with skills like that!
Clay Golem, make your own golem
Brooke won the prize below.
Way to go Brooke!

The Golem and the Jinni is a powerful, vivid novel that pulls religion, folklore and magic into a fascinating point in American history and will pull you right in along with it.

Want to see more photos, menu ideas and inspiration for The Golem and the Jinni? 

 Then check out PART II of this post!

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker {Part II}

Photo Source
(See Part I HERE)

We enjoyed our first ever Syrian inspired menu which was scrumptious!
( Have I mentioned how much I LOVE baklava?)
the golem and the jinni book menu
syrian menusyrian menu
syrian menu
We ate up all of our delicious food before digging right in with our discussion.

Robin found the majority of her discussion questions HERE if you'd like to see some of what talked about.
We also used Helene Wecker's website many times because it is chuck full of great info!
We probably used her character list the most which is super helpful when you're trying to keep Syrian names straight and remember who's who.
Helene Wecker

But, we did take a quick break in between our discussion for something really, REALLY important...

Ice cream bar

Since one of the supporting characters (Mahmoud Saleh) was an ice cream vendor, we HAD to have an ice cream bar right? 

We had three different flavors to try: Vanilla, Peaches and cream and Butterbeer.
(I may have a small obsession with all things Harry Potter and brought the butterbeer.)

Robin provided the most elaborate topping bar I've ever seen and everyone spend a good amount of time creating their ice cream bowls.
ice cream bar
If by chance you also have a small obsession with all things Harry Potter as well, (or if you just want to try some of the yummies ice cream ever,) then you can download my butterbeer ice cream recipe below.butterbeer ice cream, free recipe

Do you want even MORE inspiration for your Golem and the Jinni book club meeting??

Then you need to check out Robin's Pinterest board HERE!

Don't forget to read our book club's official review of the Goloem and the Jinni HERE

August 15, 2014

The Golem and the Jinni Book Review

TITLE OF THE BOOK: The Golem and the Jinni

AUTHOR: Helene Wecker

PUBLISHER: HarperCollins




GENRE: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism 

BOOK SUMMARY: The Golem and the Jinni is an exciting story about two very different creatures, both that are supernatural. The first creature is a woman named Chava, she is a Golem, a creature made of clay who is created and brought to life in Poland. The second is Ahmad, he is a Jinni, a being of fire who was born in the Syrian dessert long ago. They both arrive in New York City in 1899. Both characters who are at first unknown to each other, explore the strange human city. Until, one evening their paths cross.  

 Our Rating: 4 out of 5

OUR GROUP REVIEW: Robin did an AMAZING job moderating this book. We had so many great things to talk about and it was especially fun to talk about them in the atmosphere Robin set up for us. The room was completely decked out in awesome Arabic décor that really got us into the spirit of the book. Everyone really enjoyed this book!

One of our favorite items to discuss at any book club are the characters and that was especially true at this meeting. We loved the two main characters and how unique they were. A Golem and a Jinni put together in the same story. What an odd but perfect combination Wecker did bringing the two together.

The Golem (Chava) is very much like a child but in a woman’s body. She had to be taught different social norms and how to act in certain situations. Some of the situations that happened in the book brought up good discussion on natural instinct that Chava had vs. taught social norms. Sometimes our natural instincts might go against what society says is correct. We also talked about how difficult it would be to have the ability to read and feel other people’s emotions and desires. That’s an ability that we decided might not be the best to have, it would be too emotionally draining. Sometimes we would forget that Chava was a Golem, but then there were funny, ignorant moments from her that always reminded us. We also liked how the author showed us her thought process and how she had to think about how to act like a human. She had to think about slowing down and had to make mistakes on purpose.

The Jinni (Ahmad) was very different than the Golem. He did whatever he wanted when he wanted. We  liked how magical and mysterious he was, but didn’t love his arrogant, impulsive, and selfish side. His story and history was definitely a favorite. We talked about how Ahmad’s character and actions were just like the element he was made of. A Jinni is a being of fire and like fire Ahmad was physically warm, unpredictable and people got burnt when they got to close to him. Chava too was like her element; evolving but also stable, physically cold to the touch, and liked to be controlled (to have a master).

The Golem and the Jinni were so opposite, but so similar. That’s probably why they were such good friends. The Jinni taught the Golem how to live a little and how to learn from her experiences, and she taught him about compassion for humans and how his actions affect others.

Yehudah Schaalman  was the creepy villain of this story. Of course we didn’t love him or what he was trying to do, but he was such an interesting and unique character to talk about so I guess Wecker did a great job creating this antagonist! We can't say much more about Schaalman because of spoilers but he was very obsessive and was never satisfied which was his undoing. 
We enjoyed ALL the characters, not just the main ones, they all played an important role and sometimes carried the story themselves. We liked how realistic all the characters seemed, even the magical Jinni and golem which made us feel as if they could possibly exist.

We noticed that the realism elements in the book seemed to outweigh the magical elements and some of our members mentioned they would have liked to be swept us away a little more to a different world. The author did a lot of research about the time period and we all learned a lot about New York in 1899, we just weren't expecting to! We were thinking the story would use more of the Arab and Jewish cultural inspiration from where the Jinni and Golem originate from. We learned that the author originally wrote this story without any mythological characters; it was originally planned to be historical fiction. That’s why we figured the book had more of that vibe. Overall though we thought the author did a great job of weaving realism and magic (we just wanted more magic ;) ).  

New York 1899

New York was a smart location to base this story because was (and still is) a big melting pot of so many cultures and people where possibly, a golem and jinni could blend it.

Overall, all of our members really enjoyed this book and it definitely makes a great book club book.
Not only has Wecker populated her fable with two wonderful leads, but her backup players are extremely rich. The Golem and the Jinni has love, parental and romantic, a vibrant picture of a place and time in New York, a little action, adventure and enough magic to shake a wand at. In short it is everything in a book that you could possibly wish for. 

See PART I of our book club meeting
See PART II of our book club meeting

Helene Wecker grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, a small town north of Chicago, and received her Bachelor’s in English from Carleton College in Minnesota. After graduating, she worked a number of marketing and communications jobs in Minneapolis and Seattle before deciding to return to her first love, fiction writing. Accordingly, she moved to New York to pursue a Master’s in fiction at Columbia University.

She now lives near San Francisco with her husband and daughter. Her first novel, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, was published in April 2013 by HarperCollins.

Q&A with Helene

Q: How did the idea for your novel originate?

When I was a writing student at Columbia, I started writing a series of short stories that combined tales from my family and from my husband’s family. I’m Jewish and he’s Arab American, and so in that sense we come from two different (and, in many eyes, opposing) cultures. But I’ve always been struck by the similarities between our families, the way that certain themes echo between them. We’re both the children of immigrants, with all that entails. As a result my husband and I both grew up in suburban, picket-fence America—but with the intimate and sometimes uncomfortable burden of another place’s history, and the complications of living as a cultural minority, which affects our relationships with those we love and those we meet.
In any case, I was writing these stories, but I wasn’t having much luck with them. One day I was complaining about it to a friend. She suggested I try something different. She knew I loved stores that used elements of the fantastical, and was surprised I never wrote like that. By the end of the conversation, the seed had been planted. Instead of two families of different cultures meeting and interacting, I now had two supernatural characters: a golem and a jinni. And somehow it seemed likeliest that these two would meet in New York in the late 1800s, when immigrants from Eastern Europe and Syria were coming to America in droves.

Q: When you thought about writing a golem character, did you think about other legends and myths about people being created out of inanimate matter, like the famous Golem of Prague, or Frankenstein’s monster, or even a modern robot?

I certainly wrote the Golem’s character with those stories in mind. In fact, in early drafts she was much closer to something like the Golem of Prague or Frankenstein’s monster. She had less emotion, and less insight into the emotions of others. But it became clear that that wouldn’t do for a main character. So I made her more empathic, more “human,” and brought her closer to the androids and cyborgs of modern science fiction, like the replicants of Blade Runner and Star Trek’s Lt. Commander Data. But I think all these stories have the same sources at heart, and the same central question of what happens when we create life that approaches human but isn’t quite.

Q: How is your Jinni different or similar to those of legend? When you were writing his character, what were you thinking about getting across to the reader?

I started out on less certain footing with the Jinni than with the Golem. I didn’t realize until I started researching the jinn how much they are an everyday truth for many in the modern Middle East and the Muslim world, and I wanted to be respectful of that. But I also realized that a Western audience would be more familiar with the Thousand and One Nights and pop culture versions. In the end, I kept coming back to the idea of a creature created from fire, and how that might translate to his personality: impulsive, passionate, dazzling, dangerous. It struck me that such a creature would have a very hard time camouflaging himself in New York society.

Q: You decided to give your golem and jinni free will and fairly strong-willed personalities, even though they are both bound to masters. How did you come to this decision, and what are the consequences? 

Funny enough, it was never really a decision. I think their strong personalities came about because they’re both bound and limited, and forced to live in a state that isn’t quite natural to either of them. I knew the interesting stuff would happen when they came up against those limitations. As for the consequences, it meant that they’re constantly arguing!

Q: Besides the main characters, who else was the most fun to write?
It’s hard to choose, but I think Saleh was my favorite supporting character to write. He was a huge surprise to me. I was researching Little Syria, and I found an article in the New-York Daily Tribune written in 1892. One of the illustrations was of a man in a turban, sitting in front of a wooden churn. The caption was “An Ice-Cream Seller.” I thought, who is that guy? And suddenly I knew. I wrote his backstory in one long, frenzied session. It felt like an unlooked-for gift. I grew very attached to Saleh – he’s such a great curmudgeon.

(source for “About the Author” section and Q&A 



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