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The Natural Verve Has Moved!

I’ve had so much fun getting to know you all on this blog. Alas, all good things must come to an end…thankfully, The Natural Verve is not one of them!

I hope you’ll all follow me to my new blog home which can be found here!

There’s lots of exciting things to come on our brand new website. Make sure to enter your email and subscribe so you don’t miss a beat!

You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter! Be sure to follow me: @naturalverve

I can’t wait to start this new chapter with you all.

Lots of love,

Kristen

In the Name of Ransom

Two of my greatest passions in life are books and art. So when one man decided to combine the two and create a brilliant world for us to play in…my head just about exploded! A collector of old photographs, Ransom Riggs has developed quite the inventory of unique and unusual pictures from days past. For some of you that may not remember, there was a time not so long ago, when Photoshop did not exist. While there were still ways of manipulating an image, the technology was a far cry from that which we know today. Alas, this post is not a lecture on the overuse of photo editing techniques…this is merely an introduction to images like these:

Kind of weird, eh? These are not just photos, however, they’re the book covers for Mr. Riggs’ Peculiar Children trilogy. This extraordinary man has intertwined the worlds of prose and photography to create a delightfully, creepy set of stories. His characters and plot lines come directly from the pictures he’s collected over the years. Despite a wide array of miscellaneous themes, he’s woven an intricate web that ebbs and flows from one page to another in perfect melody and transition.

Set within a series of “time loops” that take the reader from one year, decade, and generation to another, his words take on the same gothic styling as the photos he’s chosen to use. The peculiar children that provide the series its namesake are unusual, disturbing and lovable all at once.

While I have to admit that the third and final novel in the series, Library of Souls, did not capture my interest in the same manner as its predecessors, the trilogy as a whole provides a whimsical escape from everyday normalcy. Where else will you find a little girl with a serious case of back mouth (just wait and read!) or a boy that houses bees inside of his mouth?

Despite the unusual perfection that Ransom Riggs has created, however, it would appear that these books are about to receive a less than par Hollywood revision. While I hate to speak ill of the great Tim Burton, he has been tasked with bringing the first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, to the big screen and seems to have given Riggs’ dark and twisted world a candy-coated treatment. The trailer’s been released and offers little credit to the original feel that makes the books so spectacular. The colors are too bright, the characters too cheesy, and everyone’s peculiarities seem to have been switched around. I have to hope that Mr. Burton has a plan, but at first glance, it looks like we’ve got another bad book to movie experience on our hands.

Check out the movie trailer for yourself and let me know what you think! Oh, and if you haven’t read the books, be a dear and head directly to your nearest bookstore…or you know, just power up your Kindle!

 

 

 

Orphan Train – Christina Baker Kline

I’ve been a complete and total failure in the book department lately. I have only read 1 and a 1/2 books so far in 2016, certainly not a personal best. I can practically hear my Goodreads Reading Challenge taunting me from afar. Alas, life has been keeping me pretty busy. I solemnly swear to the gods of literature that I will attempt to redeem myself, but for now, I can, at least, say that the one book I read in its entirety was a good one.

orphan

Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline, was written to pull at your heartstrings. Slightly predictable in parts, this was a story that needed to be told. Jumping between time periods, this book tells the tale of a modern day teenager who is attempting to survive our flawed American foster system and a girl from the past who barely survived the New York orphan train in the late 1920’s.

This story brings us face to face with the vicious childcare system that so many babies, toddlers, and young children find themselves thrown into. This is not to say that every situation is a bad one, but the terrible experiences had by the characters in this book seem to be more common than necessary.

I couldn’t put this book down. It is such a beautiful portrayal of hope and perseverance. I feel that I learned so much about this area of American history. I’m almost ashamed how little I knew before. So if you’re looking for a truly good read, I’d highly suggest you give this one a chance.

Happy reading!

Color Me Shocked…My Jojo Moyes Experience

When it comes to books, I pride myself on the ability to figure them out before I even finish page one.  For that matter, I’ve usually determined what will happen before the books even open. Once in a blue moon, however, I’m wrong (don’t tell my husband!)

Every now and then, I’ll come across a story that’s completely off the cuff.  A novel that goes against the rules of storytelling and gives us something incredibly unique.  Most of the time, these books offer the reader a single moment that will cause their breath to catch in their throats.  The kind of moment that makes you wonder why you’re reading the book at all, and whether throwing the blasphemous thing across the room is the better option.  Except that you can’t, and you realize that this element of surprise kind of makes you love the book even more.

This being said, I present you with my top three “caught off guard” classics:

  1. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn: If you’ve been living under a rock, let me tell you this; when “the moment” happens, you will want to cry, scream and bitch someone out all at once!
  2. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green: Oh John Green, you terrible, wonderful man.  You ruined my life and gave me one of the most beautiful reading experiences all at once. One day in the near future, I fully intend to dedicate an entire post to nothing but singing your praises!

And finally, number 3. The most recent addition to my list:

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Me-Before-You-book-cover-Jan-12-p122

Within the first few pages of this book, I was completely infatuated.  There was a lightness to Moyes’ writing that pulled at my heart strings.  She has a way of getting to you that you never dreamed possible.

This is the story of Lou Clark, a young girl who’s down on her luck after the diner she’s worked at for years closes down.  With grim employment options, she finds herself working as a caretaker for the wealthy Will Traynor, a quadriplegic who spends his days dwelling on the past.  When Lou first arrives to work for him, it’s truly rough waters.  She spends her days lurking around his home, avoiding him at much as possible.  Will, likewise, spends his days ruefully ignoring her.

In time, though, they develop an unexpected closeness that surprises them both.  Here’s where I’d assumed I’d “figured it out.”  An unconventional love story where both parties help the other to remember the joy and beauty in life, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Yeah, not so much.

Now don’t get me wrong.  They both do help one another to reclaim happiness in their lives, but the journey itself is quite shocking.  There comes a moment in the book where you realize what an idiot you’ve been.  You begin to understand that this is not a puppies and rainbows kind of story.  Believe me when I say that I spent the last 100 pages or so with tears streaming down my face.

If you choose to pick up this book, be prepared for that moment.  I won’t sugar coat anything, it will shatter your heart.  But if you give this book a chance, you’ll see just how moving it really is.  This is the first thing I’ve read in a very long time that pushed me to take a look at myself and evaluate each part of my own beautiful life.  In my opinion, Me Before You isn’t just a book, it’s truly an experience.

That one I time I realized I might be a stalker…

So I’m a little bit fanatic when it comes to books.  Sometimes I wish it was possible to literally fall into their pages for a nice long snuggle…seems like the coziest idea ever, in my opinion!  I submerge myself in their words, and when I find a book that I fall completely in love with, it becomes a lifelong friend.  The book will turn into a small part of me, and I will spend obscene amounts of time reflecting on all of the good times we’ve had.

Then, as I develop this strong attachment to the books themselves, I find myself willing to dedicate my life to the authors who’ve written them.  Write a book that really pulls at my heartstrings and I will become your devoted enthusiast. Such was the case when I finished reading Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews.  At the close of the book, I was ready and willing to crawl into the world that MKA created.  And this is how I became a stalker.

Once I’d fallen in love with her fun work, I took the next logical step…I followed her on Facebook!  Imagine my surprise and delight when one fateful day I discovered she was researching her next novel in my own hometown.  I counted my lucky stars and decided it was completely appropriate to send her a message that went something like this…

“Hi there!  I love your work and can’t help but notice that you’re currently in my hometown.  I’d love the opportunity to meet you in person!”

I waited patiently for an invitation to join her at the beach house she was renting where we’d drink wine and giggle over the silly adventures of the characters in her books.  We’d become besties and her next book would be dedicated to the wine-o from Florida!  Instead, however, I got a very gracious thank you and an invite to the book signing she was holding the next day.  Not exactly a day at the beach, but I’d take it!  So then this happened…

Left - My friend Katie (and fellow stalker) Center - MKA Right - Yours truly
Left – My friend Katie (and fellow stalker)
Center – MKA
Right – Yours truly

She was so wonderful, not to mention hilarious, in real life that on a recent trip to Savannah, I once again took to her Facebook page.  I knew she owned a vacation rental on Tybee Island and spent lots of her time there (Can you say stalker?)  Much to my delight, there was going to be another signing during our vacation.  I dragged my husband over there with me and had her sign the very book she’d been researching at our first meeting, Ladies Night.

ladies-night-out

Ladies Night tells the tale of a group of women (and one man) who have been wronged by their spouses and are each in the middle of nasty divorces.  They are forced to attend weekly marriage counseling sessions and form fast friendships.  When their counselor starts acting a little out of her head, things start getting interesting and the plot takes off.  The book is set in my hometown area, so for any of my fellow locals, you’ll notice lots of familiar sites and areas, including the famous Rod and Reel Pier.

While I have to admit that this book might not be one of my favorites by MKA, that’s not to say you shouldn’t read it.  It’s a fast, fun read that has all the necessary components.  Things like romance, suspense, laughter, and women driving their ex-husbands Audi into a pool! This book is the perfect summer companion, and I highly recommend it to you all!

A Simple Salutation

Verve

[ Vurv]

Noun

  1. enthusiasm or vigor, as in literary or artistic work;spirit:
  2. vivaciousness; liveliness; animation:

When I made the decision to start this blog, I found myself wondering what it should be about. After all, I am, by no means, an expert on anything.  Well unless being obsessive is something that a person can be an expert in!

And that’s what I am…obsessive.  I have the capability to obsess over just about anything (“just about” being the pertinent phrase!)  Whether it’s my child, a great book, finding the perfect glass of wine – sometimes I feel like I could get excited about a million different things before noon!  Hence the name of this blog…”The Natural Verve.”  I have a pure, simplistic enthusiasm for so many elements in my life.

So I ask…why pick one?  Why not let you all in and share the whole lot of my many infatuations?  And that’s what I intend to do.  If you came to this blog looking for great recipes, I’m pretty sure you’ll find them in time.  Looking for a good book?  Something tells me you’ll eventually find a review or two (who am I kidding, probably a whole library’s worth!)  Or maybe you found this blog and thought: “Hey, maybe that writer has a super cute kid?”  The answer is yes, I most definitely do, and I will certainly be bragging about her adorable-ness!

At “The Natural Verve,” I won’t just offer you one choice from the color wheel.  I plan on giving you the whole damn rainbow!  So join me on this quest for variety.  Read along as I make my way through my a world of likes, dislikes and new experiences!  Welcome, and happy reading!