• Mealtime Mama: Southwestern Chicken Caesar Tostada
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What We’re Reading: 5 fantastic teen books headed to theatres

whatreading FPL

By Hotspur Closser, youth services librarian, FPL

It is nearly impossible to keep up with the flood of feature films based on young adult novels nowadays.

I’m convinced that the recent trend of turning teen literature into movies is no longer a trend at all and is officially here to stay, as Hollywood studios continue to see dollar signs in the mostly original (albeit occasionally derivative) world of YA fiction—a world that continues to produce bonafide blockbusters one after another.

Without further ado, here are five fantastic end-of-summer reads to get you ready for their upcoming feature film adaptations.  All five books are available for checkout at the Fayetteville Public Library.

THE 5th WAVE  by Rick Yancey

The first installment in a planned trilogy, Rick Yancey’s exciting sci-fi series kicks off shortly before the fifth and final wave of an alien invasion of Earth.  The first wave was a worldwide EMP (electromagnetic pulse) to take out our technology; the second wave was a literal wave in the form of a massive tsunami to destroy all of our coasts; the third wave was pestilence in the guise of a global virus similar to Ebola; and the fourth wave sends specially designated “silencers” (alien-infested humans) to pick off the remaining survivors while they await the as-yet unknown fifth wave.  Action-packed and chock-full of characters, this series should appeal to fans of post-apocalyptic survival stories (War of the Worlds, The Walking Dead, etc.), and you can bet audiences are going to eat these movies up.  The first film is slated for early 2016.

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NERVE  by Jeanne Ryan

Jeanne Ryan’s young adult debut is a fast-paced story set in the not-too-distant-future world of reality television.  Vee, the novel’s protagonist, is an introvert in high school who finds herself competing for prizes on “Nerve,” a kind-of reality game show that rewards its contestants for successfully completing humiliating dares which prey on their insecurities.  The premise isn’t nearly as far-fetched as most young adult speculative fiction, and much of the story’s subtext (themes of bullying, impact of social media, manipulation, social anxiety and insecurities) is highly relevant to today’s teens.  With an unscheduled release date in 2016, it will be interesting to see how Hollywood decides to treat this adaptation, as it’s likely to be closer to Easy A or Mean Girls than to The Running Man.

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This dark and strange story follows 16-year-old Jacob Portman as he copes with the mysterious death of his grandfather.  Believing his grandfather to have been killed by a monster, Jacob travels to a remote island in hopes of finding clues at Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an orphanage his grandfather used to tell him stories about that housed children with fantastical abilities.  One part Edward Gorey and two parts “Twilight Zone,” Ransom Riggs’ novel is both highly original and a well-written read.  The film adaptation is being directed by Tim Burton, cinematic master of the dark and strange, so the movie’s mood should be a good fit when it hits theaters in March of 2016.

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RED QUEEN  by Victoria Aveyard

Author Victoria Aveyard weaves a fantastical tale about a world inhabited by two classes of people—a ruling class of genetically superior beings with silver blood and superhuman abilities, and a lower class of powerless red-blooded plebians who live only to serve their silver-blooded masters.  When 17-year-old Mare finds out that she possesses both kinds of blood, the system finds itself shaken to its very core.  The first in a planned trilogy, Red Queen successfully covers the themes of class warfare and political intrigue which are present in so many dystopian teen stories like The Hunger Games and Divergent.  No release date has yet been set for the film.

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If you like your teen fiction to be realistic, gritty and intense, then this novel is for you.  Matthew Quick, who also authored The Silver Linings Playbook, tells the tale of Leonard Peacock, a troubled teen fighting figurative demons (both at home and in his own head) as he nears his 18th birthday.  Harboring a dark secret that he just cannot live with anymore, Leonard decides to make his 18th birthday one to remember–for others, not for himself–as he plots a murder/suicide.  Hollywood heartthrob Channing Tatum (he of Magic Mike fame) is currently slated to direct and possibly star in the film adaptation, but no release date has been set.

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All these books are available for checkout at the Fayetteville Public Library, our What We’re Reading sponsor on nwaMotherlode.

Click here to see more about the Fayetteville Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. Win prizes for doing what you love — reading!

Inside His Head: ‘Gym rat’ husband skips out on family too often

inside a guy's head

If you’ve ever wondered, “What was he THINKING?!” you’ll love this monthly feature.

Here we go where women fear to tread — Inside His Head. Find out what men are thinking, delivered straight from the “horse’s” mouth.

This month’s question for our anonymous panel of husbands:

Q: It drives me nuts when my husband gets home from work, grabs a snack and says he’s going to “run to the gym”. Meanwhile, there’s dinner to cook and kids to take care of — which I get to do by myself. I would be fine with it a couple of nights a week, but it’s more often than that. I haven’t put my foot down yet, but I know it has to be done. Any advice for getting my point across without it leading to a huge fight?

GRAY: Seems like he’s too busy pumping iron at the gym to recognize he’s not pulling his weight at home and it’s making you resent making a meal and spending time with your children. It appears to be making the situation divisive. And if something this innocent could lead to a “huge” fight then some time together might do you all some good.

To me the solution seems simple: find time to exercise as a family.

Exercise is a great habit to have, but carving out the time to do it regularly can be a real bugger. Making it a family affair can be a great way to teach your kids the importance of staying fit while giving you all an opportunity to share your day with each other. If they’re too young to go on a bike ride or run around the park, there’s a whole host of carriers and strollers perfectly suited for the situation.

Sure, you might be able to talk him into switching a workout or two to the weekend or a morning, but why not join him? Find ways to bring the family together. It’ll be the best exercise any of you can do.

john.thumbnailMAVERICK: Your complaint sounds pretty reasonable. You don’t mind him going to the gym, it’s just his timing that puts the whole family, except for him, in a bind.

The best way to get this across without leading to a huge fight is to address it when A) he’s not “driving you nuts” with his behavior and B) when he’s not focused on getting out the door and hitting the gym.

Assuming he’s not a total gym rat who has to be working out every day, bring the subject up on one of his off days and in the evening when dinner if finished and after the kids are in bed or doing something to keep them occupied. For goodness sake, whatever you do, don’t “put your foot down.” He’ll instantly react badly to that, you’re not his mom and best I can tell he’s not even been told his behavior is causing you grief.

Unless he’s just a jerk, and your question points more to oblivious rather than jerky, he simply doesn’t realize he’s jamming you up with the timing of his workouts. He likely is thinking that by timing his workout between the end of work and dinner he’s getting it done before he can be lured in to simply staying home and hanging out and it leaves his evening free to be with the family.

Let him know you think his gym time is important to his sanity and his health, but you really need him at home to help with his family in that all-important time before dinner. Tell him there’s just too much going on during his gym time and you need some help. Remember, you are both adults. This is a reasonable request, not an ultimatum or a chance for you to vent, bringing up all the times in the past he’s fallen short of your likely unvoiced expectations.

Offer some alternatives, maybe starting dinner earlier while he helps you with that or tends to the kids so he can still get out to the gym at a decent hour afterward.

If his going after dinner all the time isn’t the best solution maybe you two can compromise, with him going to the gym straight after work a few times a week and on those days he becomes responsible for evening duties, like baths or homework or the bedtime routine. Or maybe some of those things you need help with regarding the kids, say homework or household chores can shift till after dinner when he can be the one who tends to them.

You have every reason to expect help and likely a compromise can be arranged. Just don’t minimize his gym time. Don’t couch this like he’s out playing while you slave around the house. It’s important to him.

It’s become an issue, most likely, simply because he’s unaware. And don’t, I repeat don’t, come at him like your his mom. It’ll just make him defensive and make that huge fight you say you are dreading a near certainty.

generichead-1MICHAEL: It’s not a matter of “putting your foot down”.

It sounds like your husbands personal time has edged past an acceptable limit. You need to clearly communicate your annoyance to your husband in a constructive way. He may assume that dinner and kids is your “job”. Clearly it’s not.

We all want our spouse to be healthy, but not at the expense of the rest of the family. Tell him you appreciate him taking care of himself but you need him to cut back and expend some of that energy at home helping you in the evenings. He can always go later at night if necessary after things have settled down.

Summer-Remix4When you have kids, you have to shift your priorities a bit. That doesn’t mean that you never do anything for yourself, but you do have to compromise a bit to ensure that the entire family can win. It’s time for him to take one for them team.

Pictures! Kids of Northwest Arkansas

Bedford Camera category logoMoms, you’ve got 10 more days to submit photos for our Summer Snapshot Contest, sponsored by Bedford Camera & Video. We’ll show some of the remaining photo finalists at the end of the month and then announce the grand prize winner in August.

Remember that the grand prize winner will get a huge print on canvas of her favorite snapshot, courtesy of Bedford. (Click here to get the details and rules for the Summer Snapshot Contest.) Send five snapshots each month to gwen@nwamotherlode.com.

Click HERE to see other snapshots we’ve published recently on the website.

And now… we’re happy to show off three more of the funny, sweet, amazing shots that have been shared by our fellow mamas. :-)


“Mom, we were framed! Whatever it was, we didn’t do it. They can’t prove a thing. And if we did do it, it was the dog’s fault.”


Judging by the look on those three faces, we’re going to go out on a limb and say they like trains. ;-)


“Hey, Mom! Look what happens when you pull this trigger thingy!”


Blog 66: Things to do in Little Rock, part 2


Last month, we mixed it up a little and brought you Blog 66 — the Natural State version.

Sarabeth Jones of thedramatic.com for shared some insider tips and pics with us about her hometown of Little Rock. She told us all about the downtown/Argenta section of the city.

pdcoverToday is Part 2 about Little Rock, focusing on other areas of the city. These recommendations come from Kyran Pittman, a Newfoundland native, author and Little Rock transplant:

When you’re in Little Rock, you should definitely plan to eat at …

Sushi Cafe on Kavanaugh. It’s our favorite date spot, and besides great sushi, they mix a good Manhattan. Try the wok-seared edamame and the Spice Girls roll.

You do NOT want to miss seeing …

Little Rock Central High School. Central High is a perpetual selection on “most beautiful buildings” lists, and deservedly so. The architecture is spectacular. But its history as a battleground in the civil rights movement is even more dramatic. The site is a National Park, as well as an active high school (one of my sons is a student there), so there are guides and interpretative material to enhance your appreciation for this historic monument.

A few “hidden gems” that only the locals know about …

The Arkansas River Trail, our extensive scenic route for cyclists, runners, and walkers. Our favorite part of the trail is Two Rivers Park Bridge at the western end, but it’s all wonderful.

The most kid-friendly hotels are …

My boys have attended a lot of kids sleepover birthday parties at the Embassy Suites in west Little Rock, and they love it. If a hotel can roll with a suite full of sugar-charged 10-year-old boys playing video games all night, they win at kid-friendly.

For couples-only excursions, stay here …

Anywhere I can get breakfast in bed, and someone else cleans the bathroom is a luxury retreat in my book. But if I could choose from any place in town, it would be the Capital Hotel. I’ve never slept there, but I’ve been in the restaurant, bar, and lobby enough to expect sumptuous bed linens and impeccable room service. When celebrities come to town, they stay at the Capital. If it’s good enough for Johnny Depp, I guess it’s good enough for me.

If you visit when it’s cold, try …

If you visit Little Rock when it’s cold, it’s fun to: shop and eat. The Heights neighborhood is a great place to do both, with lots of indie shops to poke around in. Have warm pastry from Boulevard Bakery for breakfast, and a hot bowl of soup at Cheers for lunch. I hardly leave the 72207 zip code unless I’m in a jet plane, but the Promenade at Chenal also has great shopping and dining, especially if you’re coming from a place without an Anthropologie store or J. Crew.


If you visit in the summer, try …

The Cajun Sno-cone shack on Kavanaugh Boulevard in Hillcrest. It takes a long time for them to shave the ice, and the asphalt parking lot will be like the surface of the sun, but it will be worth it. “Homemade Ice Cream” is my favorite, with an extra shot of sweetened condensed milk.

One of the most awesome things about Little Rock is …

Summer-Remix4The many talented and accomplished people who live here. I’m constantly learning about local residents who are doing extraordinary things. I think Little Rock is a perfect home base for people with high profile careers, who want to be able to live quiet personal lives. It’s a place where achievement is appreciated, but not fussed over. Maybe living with the Clintons for years has something to do with that. I don’t what it would take to make Little Rockers lose their cool and forget their manners over somebody who’s a Somebody. Maybe Johnny Depp.

I would describe the “vibe” in Little Rock as ..

“A big small town.” It’s large enough to have the perks of an urban environment, but small enough to feel neighborly. It’s not a place to disappear…I see somebody I know nearly everywhere I go. It’s a wonderful place to feel at home.

kyransittingfenceMORE ABOUT KRYAN: I come from the near-mythical island of Newfoundland, where I grew up as a poet’s daughter–the child of a crazy bohemian tribe of artists, musicians, writers and absent-minded professors. I thought I would live there all my life, until I fell in love with Patrick, when we met online in early 1995. That’s right, back before chat and pictures, when people online weren’t believed to be real. O pioneers! That story is told in my book, Planting Dandelions. It was quite an adventure. But the real adventure has been everything that happened since: coming to Little Rock, getting married, having three kids (all boys), buying a house, trying to keep a house, staying married, and gradually falling in love with America.

Your old shoes are NEEDED: Soles for Souls

soles for souls logoMamas, we bet you could round up at least one or two (or more) pairs of shoes that the people in your house do NOT wear any more  — either because they’re too small, too old, don’t fit quite right, or you’ve just got too many. Please consider donating those shoes to a great organization called Soles for Souls, which was founded by two Northwest Arkansas teenagers, Jake Gearhart and Molly Hedberg.

The shoes will be sent to the Mission of Hope in Haiti, a country still in desperate need as it rebuilds following earthquakes that destroyed the area.

Womens, mens and children’s practical shoes are needed, and they can even be used shoes that have been outgrown by your kids. (But no high heels, please.)

Please take the shoes you’d like to donate to a drop-off location at the Hedberg Allergy & Asthma Center. There’s a location in Fayetteville and one in Rogers.

  • Rogers drop-off address: 700 S. 52nd Street
  • Fayetteville drop-off address: 1585 Rainforest Road

Fore more info or if you’d like to request a pick-up for a donation of shoes, click HERE and send Jake and Molly a message via the group’s Facebook page.