Books on Parade ~ Parenting for the Genius by Amy Alamar


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Parenting for the GeniusSynopsis:

Parenting for the GENIUS is for parents who would rather spend time with their families than read this book. It offers a no-nonsense approach to parenting that presents values you can proudly parent and live by in an accessible and enjoyable way. Parenting for the GENIUS is a guide for parents of children of all ages. It’s a how-to book that supports parents in creating clear and realistic strategies based on reflective practice.

As a resource, Parenting for the GENIUS is full of usable strategies for a host of situations that are discussed with honesty, complexity, and care—in the comforting style of discussing difficult problems with a good friend. Amy Alamar delivers her wisdom and expertise through insightful, familiar, and charming examples. The anecdotes and practical advice come together to illustrate the importance of reflecting on your parenting practice to inform your future decisions.

Parenting for the Genius is a comprehensive source for parents that discusses:

• Helping your child develop an authentic identity
• Developing character in your kids by addressing who your child is and who your child will be
• Promoting independence and encouraging and honoring that independence
• Nurturing well-being and healthy choices and increasing your family’s wellness
• Relating to your community and supporting your children’s entry into that community
• Helping your child build, enjoy, and benefit from the people and institutions around your family

Additionally, Parenting for the GENIUS provides day-to-day practical advice in areas such as:

• Thinking big picture, even when invested in the small stuff
• Finding clarity in anger, frustration, or disappointment
• Creating a space for yourself and identifying when you need that space
• Negotiating with control and supporting your child’s confidence
• Encouraging your child’s healthy choices
• Focusing on learning and not performance





“Amy Alamar dispenses parenting advice with humor, compassion, and wisdom. This is a confidence-boosting book for parents and one that will be useful from cradle to college.”
– Daniel H. Pink, Author of Drive and To Sell Is Human

“The brilliance of this book is how it blends real-to-life vignettes with practical advice, allowing parents to reflect on what is best for their children. Parents will develop strategies to develop the character, values, and resilience in their children that will prepare them to thrive now and far into the future.”
– Kenneth R Ginsburg, MD, MS Ed, Author of Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings

“Like a good parent, Amy doesn’t adopt a judgmental or scolding tone. She approaches her reader like the good, experienced friend every parent needs. Her practical, realistic advice acknowledges the realities of balancing work, personal health, and relationships. I thought I’d heard every bit of parenting advice, yet this book kept surprising me.”
– Peter Hartlaub, Father, Parenting Blogger (The Poop), and Journalist (San Francisco Chronicle)

Where Can I Get It?

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Goodreads ~ FTG Press


Follow Amy

Website ~ Twitter ~ LinkedIn



Make no mistake, you’ll be making many mistakes. Sometimes there are no right answers, but often there are plenty of wrong ones. If you take nothing else from this book, know that mistakes (while they can present challenging situations) are extremely valuable and that you can view each one as a teachable moment.

I can’t stand it when parents say things like, “I’m such a bad mom,” or “I know, I’m the worst father in the world!” You will say the wrong thing. You will react too strongly, or not strongly enough. You will lack consistency. Tell yourself this is okay as long as you learn from it and make a better (but still maybe not the best) choice next time. It is very hard to move forward and enjoy the great moments of parenting when you feel stuck in the bad ones. Nobody’s perfect, so why should you be any different? But you can be a terrific parent—as long as you make productive mistakes. Stop worrying about being the best or worst parent, and just focus on being the best parent you can be. Have good intentions, reflect on your practice, and forge ahead with knowledge.

I recall my mother’s advice when I returned home from a show with my son. I had made a special day for him: dinner out, a live show. On the way home, he wanted to go for a treat. I said it was time for bed, and he pouted and whined—and that is a nice way of putting it. Well, I lost it. Really? How could he be so ungrateful? Why wasn’t he thanking me for such a special day? As I went to bed, I was frustrated that I had spent so much time making it such a special day only to find it was all ruined. I was near tears with anger as my mother pointed out to me that just because we had a bad drive home didn’t mean the whole day was ruined. It was a great day with one bad moment.

At some point, you have to let these things go. It’s okay to be upset, of course, but you have to move forward and know that one imperfect experience doesn’t make the whole day a failure. More importantly, it doesn’t make you a bad parent—just a good parent who had a perfectly normal imperfect moment with your child.


Who is Amy?

Amy AlamarAmy Alamar, EdD, is the director of school partnerships at Girard Education Foundation, where she works with K–12 schools on integrating Activate Instruction, an interactive, online curriculum tool. In this role, she gathers and disseminates best practices and works with teachers, administrators, parents, and students to implement this tool. Previously, she served as the schools program director for Challenge Success at Stanford University. In her role there, she oversaw all the programming for member schools and conducted professional development for middle and high school faculty and parent education presentations. Amy has been working and researching in the field of education as a teacher, teacher educator, researcher, and reformer for over fifteen years, with a focus on underresourced students, literacy, curriculum design, and constructivist education. She has also done additional research in the areas of utilization of multimedia in education and student stress. In her role as an educator, Amy has been in classrooms ranging from elementary all the way through higher education. In her role as a frequent speaker for parent and faculty groups, Amy has facilitated parent education sessions focused on student stress and wellbeing as well as faculty development workshops focused on engagement with learning, professional communication, and curriculum design. Amy is the mother of three of her very own research subjects whom she learns from and enjoys each and every day.


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Melissa Reads :: Going Through the Change by Samantha Bryant


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Going Through the Change by Samantha BryantSynopsis:

Going through “the change” isn’t easy on any woman. Mood swings, hot flashes, hormonal imbalances, and itchy skin are par for the course. But for these four seemingly unrelated women, menopause brought changes none of them had ever anticipated–super-heroic changes.

Helen discovers a spark within that reignites her fire. Jessica finds that her mood is lighter, and so is her body. Patricia always had a tough hide, but now even bullets bounce off her. Linda doesn’t have trouble opening the pickle jar anymore…now that she’s a man.

When events throw the women together, they find out that they have more in common than they knew–one person has touched all their lives. The hunt for answers is on.

Thank you to Samantha and Rosie for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

rosies-book-review-team-1My Rank: 4 stars

Delightful fun. This is a new way of thinking about super heroes and I love it. It’s a quick-paced read that ends on a cliffhanger. The characters are well crafted and differed from each other splendidly. I would have liked there to have been more dialogue, but hey, I’m a dialogue fanatic.

Final Thoughts:

A refreshing take on super heroes. I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.

Favorite Lines

“Well, I don’t actually like coffee. It’s just a vehicle for cream and sugar as far as I’m concerned.”


…her legs suddenly dropped like gravity had remembered they were there. She was no longer holding on to the chandelier in order not to float away. Now, she was hanging from it, and she was starting to fall. “Nathan!” she squealed. One hand was already starting to slip. Her hands always got damp when she was scared. It had been a real problem when she’d been doing competitive gymnastics.


To her great surprise, the instrument shifted in her grip, and suddenly, Linda was standing in her dining room with a piano in her hands. “Hah,” she cried aloud. “Hah!”


The garden had become quite overgrown. It was pretty in a way, wild and untamed, but also, somehow, a little threatening.


Melissa Reads :: Fairest by Marissa Meyer


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Fairest by Marissa MeyerSynopsis:

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.


My Rank: 4.5 stars

I read an answer Meyer gave about character development; you must ask why the evil characters do what they do. By understanding their history and how they came to the point they are now makes them realistic and even more frightening. In Fairest, Meyer does just that. Levana’s life is not sugar-coated. Did I pity Levana? Yes. Did I feel horrible for the trauma and torment her sister inflected on her? Doubly so. But do I still hate Levana and want her gone, gone, gone? Oh, yeah.

This is a story about the bullied becoming the bully. About the tormented becoming a tormentor. Levana’s aggressor was her older sister. What makes the story even more wonderful is that even Channary’s viciousness is explained. Meyer shows us that hate and a childhood without love has a domino effect that is passed down the ladder, twisting and harming everyone next in line.

Final Thoughts:

A great read into the insight of the villain. Not mandatory in order to follow the series, but one to chew on while you wait for Winter.

Favorite Lines

“Maybe the princess could save herself.”
“That sounds like a pretty good story too.”


“Love is a conquest! Love is war!”


“Come here, baby sister,” she whispered, and despite the terror twisting inside Levana’s stomach, her feet obeyed. “I want to show you something.”


“Are you still waiting for me to fall in love with you?”


Levana had not seen the bodies, but she had seen the bedrooms the next morning, and her first thought was that all that blood would make for a very pretty rouge on her lips.



Start Somewhere.


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0c8b00dfe8c7caf2eb9a4af2f53c55c3I might be wrong, but I think Stephen King was the one who said beginning is the hardest and he’s right.

In the beginning, the canvas is blank and filled with opportunity, teaming with possibilities. So many possibilities that they clutter up and start choking out creativity and replacing it with worry. This worry I’m picking the correct threads to weave together to form a story are the right ones — the perfect ones — can become so terrible that I’m tempted to runaway from it. But if I runaway and hide under the covers (often tempted), these stories would never get written. It’s hard. It’s scary. But start somewhere.

Melissa Reads :: Cress by Marissa Meyer


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Cress by Marissa MeyerSynopsis:

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.


My Rank: 4.5 stars

I liked Cress more than Scarlet. The third installment of the Lunar Chronicles continues to layer more characters and Cress is an entertaining addition. She’s, in every sense of the word, a love struck teenager who spends her hours daydreaming and fantasizing and I related to her immensely. Plus, she was rather adorable. From the cover you’ll know that Cress is Rapunzel. Instead of a tower, she is trapped in a satellite and her life is just as isolated from civilization. I loved that this prison fuels her infatuation with Earth; she wants nothing more than to be rescued by Carswell Thorne (her dashing hero) and live her days on the bright blue planet. Figures that she would (of course) choose the guy who’s the rogue. Spot on teenager. I also loved, that though Cress could be a bit … awkward, put her in front of a computer and stand back. Girl rocks hacking.

There’s more action in Cress than the other two books in the series and it quickly became very, very intense. I’d like to go into all that intensity but I’d be giving too much away and I’d hate to do that. Thorne is at some of his best in Cress, lifting the mood and cracking the jokes even with an injury that would send many into a tailspin.

Final Thoughts:

A fantastic installment. Winter is going to be insane … and I mean that literally. How in the world are they going to overthrow Levana and save Scarlet? How???

Favorite Lines

“Do you think it was destiny that brought us together?”
He squinted and, after a thoughtful moment, shook his head. “No. I’m pretty sure it was Cinder.”


“Captain,” she murmured. “I think I’m in love with you.”
An eyebrow shot up. She counted six beats of his heart before, suddenly, he laughed.
“Don’t tell me it took you two whole days to realize that. I must be losing my touch.”


“It’s beautiful out there.”
A hesitation, before, “Could you be more specific?”
“The sky is this gorgeous, intense blue color.” She pressed her fingers to the glass and traced the wavy hills on the horizon.
“Oh, good. You’ve really narrowed it down for me.”


“Have you given any thought to your wedding vows?”

Kai snorted.

“Delete anything that has to do with love, respect, or joy, and I’ll sign on the dotted line.”


“Hey, I’m not judging. I’m familiar with IT-relations. Just wait until you meet our spaceship. She’s a riot.”


“Captain! To your left there’s a Lunar guard and on your right is a doctor who’s running tests on Lunars and I’m being held by one of Levana’s wolf hybrids and please be careful!”

Thorne took a step back into the hallway a gun from his waistband. He spent a moment swiveling the barrel of the gun in each direction, but nobody moved to attack him.

With some surprise, Cress realized that the operative’s grip had weakened.

“Er…” Thorne furrowed his brow, aiming the gun somewhere near the window. “Could you describe all those threats again because I feel like I missed something.”


“Captain Carswell Thorne, is it?”

“That’s right.”

“I’m afraid you won’t have claim to that title for long. I’m about to commandeer your Rampion for the queen.”

“I am sorry to hear about that.”

“Additionally, I assume you are aware that assisting a wanted fugitive, such as Linh Cinder, is a crime punishable by death on Luna. Your sentence is to be carried out immediately.”

“Efficiency. I respect that.”


Guest Author Joshua Allen Mercier


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I know Joshua Mercier from his blog, The Bearded Scribe. Since then, Joshua has started his own publishing company (Bearded Scribe Press) and released his first publication: Twice Upon a Time, An Anthology. He was kind enough to do a short interview with me:

Twice Upon a TimeIt is so exciting to have your first book out in print. Congratulations! Twice Upon a Time contains stories from multiple writers. How much fun was this project and working with the writers?

This anthology project was an absolute blast! From the moment I sent out the submission call to the heart-pounding moment when I submitted the final files for publication, it was a rollercoaster ride to say the least. Receiving each story was like opening a present. I was so pleased with the number of submissions and overwhelmed by the quality of the stories.

I can’t wait to get started on the next volume of Twice Upon A Time… soon.


You are both the editor and publisher of Twice Upon A Time, and you’re also one of the guest writers. Was it a challenge to retell your chosen story? What was your inspiration?

Doing all three was somewhat challenging, especially since my characters didn’t want to cooperate. I had to take breaks from writing my own story to edit the other submissions, too, so having to come back to the story frequently made the first draft seem really disconnected.

When I first chose Red Riding Hood to retell, my outline was a completely different story than what exists within the pages of the anthology. And after outlining the original story, a verse kept creeping into my mind—the verse that is at the very beginning of the tale—which became the entire inspiration for the final product….

 There were two witches in a wood;

One was evil, one was good.

A cloak of red, a cloak of black;

Like the fire and the ash.

That verse alone haunted me and forced me to take the story in an entire different direction.  Images of gallows and Salem and an apple orchard flooded my mind, and the opening scene poured out of me.

Why do you think fairy tales captivate us so much? Why do they have such lasting power?

I think any story that we hear over and over resonates within us, an echo returned, and we relate to that which we already know so much more easily.  Stories from our childhood especially, when our minds, imaginations, and hearts are untainted by the burdens of life’s reality, seem rooted that much more deeply.


When I think of fairy tales, I think of the classics—Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty—but there are many tales that are not as widely known. Were you surprised by any of the stories your writers picked or did the classics rule the day?

I have to admit that those came first to my mind, too. It’s one of the reasons I opted to have prospective contributors query their intended retellings first before allowing any submissions. I didn’t want constant queries for the same tale, so I closed further queries on a tale once I approved one. Doing so forced everyone to think outside the box, and I ended up with a large amount of queries for tales even I had never heard of before. There are both classics and obscure tales—even some that combine multiple tales or worlds in one retelling.

What are your promotional plans for Twice Upon A Time?

Currently, I am running a blog tour to feature both the contributors and their stories individually—at least enough to entice readers.  Also, my partner, Jeremiah, has helped me a lot by contacting reviewers about the title—with great success, I might add. It’s a large volume, and some reviewers who agreed to review it did so for a timeframe that fits their schedule… so now it’s just a sit-and-wait game with the reviews. I am still accepting reviewers, if any of your readers are interested, and they can sign up to review this and future titles by visiting

I am also plugging the book on all of my social media outlets, of course, especially within niche groups.

Thank you so much, Joshua. Best of luck with your novel and Bearded Scribe Press.

Melissa Reads :: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer


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Scarlet by Marissa MeyerSynopsis:

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.


My Rank: 4.5 stars

I’m just gonna say that Carswell Thorne is one of the best characters. And when Iko becomes the ship (the SHIP) I was having a really hard time decided who was the better comic relief: Iko or Thorne. And when they’re together: heaven help me.

In the second installment of the Lunar Chronicles we dive into Little Red Riding Hood. Grandmother has gone missing, Scarlet must track her down through the French countryside with a street fighter named Wolf — who seems disturbingly wolf-like. Like Cinder, the story flips to different characters, allowing us to see what is happening with Prince Kai (I loved how Meyer makes the prince powerless; I love it when gender roles switch) to Cinder and Thorne as they hide from arrest to Scarlet and Wolf as they struggle to trust one another.

My only complaint (and it’s a small one) is that when the characters get highly emotional (usually during an argument) they become … forced. There’s a lot of hand waving, and sighing and spinning around, all of which I like, but these actions stand out, so when they are repeated in quick succession, they become too theatrical and lose their power.

Final Thoughts:

Onward to book three!

Favorite Lines

“I knew they would kill me when they found out, but…” He struggled for words, releasing a sharp breath. “I think I realized that I would rather die because I betrayed them, than live because I betrayed you.”


A relieved grin filled up Thorne’s face. “We’re having another moment, aren’t we?”

“If by a moment, you mean me not wanting to strangle you for the first time since we met, then I guess we are.”


“Scarlet and Wolf are saying gushy things in the galley,” Iko said. “Normally I like gushy things, but its different when its real people. I prefer the net dramas.”


Kai neared his desk again, seeing that the fugitive’s profile had been transferred to the screen. His frown deepened. Perhaps not dangerous, but young and inarguably good-looking. His prison photo showed him flippantly winking at the camera. Kai hated him immediately.


Thorne blinked at her, then down at the sewage he could barely make out in the darkness. “Don’t you have some tool in that fancy hand of yours that can get us across?”

Cinder glared, light-headed from her body’s instinctively short breaths. “Oh, wow, how could I have forgotten about my grappling hook?”


Melissa Reads :: Cinder by Marissa Meyer


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Cinder by Marissa Meyer Synopsis:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

My Rank: 5 stars

After my little book rank I was in serious need for an awesome book and I struck gold with Cinder. I’ve never been much of a robot girl, though I adore WALLE. When I realized this retelling of Cinderella was of a cyborg Cinderella, I was put off and pushed the book aside. Thankfully, a friend, looking at you, R.G., was positive I’d like it, so I finally gave it a go.

Thank goodness.

Meyer’s retelling of Cinderella is vibrant, engaging, satisfying and exciting. I could not put it down. I love it when writers flesh out their world. Set in the far future, Earth is (FINALLY) peaceful, but the moon looms large. (Can I just say that I LOVED that the moon houses a magical — though that’s not exactly the right word — population that control others with their minds. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.) Though the Earth no longer wars with itself, Luna is antagonistic and constantly threatens invasion.

But life on Earth is not perfect. There is still prejudice with cyborgs receiving the brunt. They’re the lowest on the totem pole and poor Cinder is more of a servant to her adopted family. But she hides her metal extremities by wearing gloves and cargo pants and her natural charm and personality (she’s delightfully sarcastic) makes her easy to like.

I highly enjoyed that the story flips to different characters. Cinder is told through both Cinder’s perspective and Prince Kai’s. All the wonderful aspects of the classic fairy tale are here: grubby girl, ball to find a wife, hasty retreat down the stairs, loss of foot(wear), but Meyer molds them into something new. Putting them into her futuristic Earth, that is crippled by a plague and the dominating Lunars, she melds them into her story with satisfying ease. Even better, Meyer has made her story massive, stretching over numerous books where more fairy tales will be woven in.

Final Thoughts:


Favorite Lines

Iko rolled to her side, clasping her metal grippers over her chest. “Prince Kai! Check my fan, I think I’m overheating.”


The night sky was clear, and though the lights from the city blocked out any stars, the sharp crescent moon lurked near the horizon, a sleepy eye squinting through the haze.


She was unnatural.


What Kills a Book (for Me)



I’m a picky reader and I call myself a picky reader because it’s a downright mission to find a book that I truly love. In my years of reading, not many books are in the ‘truly love’ category. Today, in fact, I’ve decided to stop and desist reading Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Sorry, Graveyard, it just wasn’t working out between us. And it got me thinking: What kills a book for me?


Yep. Characters. Those blobs that fill up a book, banging into each other and causing all sorts of messes. If I don’t care about the characters (main, supportive, or whatever) then I have a really hard time enjoying the book. Sometimes the writing style can overcome this. If it’s fast, engaging, funny or quirky, then yes, I can ignore the fact that I don’t give two cents about the characters. But if the writing isn’t enough of a filter, then I’m sorry, I’m putting the book down.

To me, the characters hold up the book. Sure, the plot can be ingenious, the writing glorious, but the characters! The characters are the actors. The characters are the ones carrying the story on their shoulders. A simple story with killer characters will always get gold from me. And I don’t mean that the characters have to be bizarre or flawed to the point of mental instability, unless that’s what your character is supposed to be. What I mean is I want them to be real. I want them to have depth. I want them to think things over and tell me why they do the things they do or care the way they care or hate the way they hate. I want to root for the good guys and bash the bad guys and fear the evil guys and roll my eyes at the annoying guys because why, WHY, would I read about someone who I don’t give a damn about?




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