March...

Botswana, Kurdistan, and Star Trek

Well, things have gotten weird since we last talked. I’m trying to go with the flow and take one day at a time, while also holding on to a feeling of normalcy where I can despite changes in plans and routine. And I’m trying to be a good member of my community, and daily figuring out what that means. My prayer for all of us today is peace and comfort, for good health, and for an abundance of patience. 

Now! On to the books and TV and things to inspire us and a multitude of things to be grateful for. Stay tuned until the end for a fun little bonus related to my novel You Again!

What I’m reading….

I finally read one of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith, and it was absolutely charming. It was a small, leisurely book, a trip to Botswana with fascinating characters and with a bit of mystery on the side. (I read Double Comfort Safari Club. Also, in looking up a link to the book, I learned that there was an HBO series adapted from the first book! I wonder if I can find it anywhere to watch it).

I just finished a library find called The Kurdish Bike, by Alesa Lightbourne. It’s a novel about a woman who goes to Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) to teach English. I’ve lately been on the lookout for books about the Kurdish people, and this one was mostly enjoyable, although the main character/narrator got on my nerves after a while. This would be a book I’d hand off to a reader who really enjoys memoirs, because although it’s fiction, it reads almost like a memoir. I think next time I look for a book set in a non-Western culture, I’m going to try and find one written by more of an insider than an outsider. Both kinds of books can be enjoyable, but now at least I know what I want next.

What I’m watching…

I started watching Star Trek: Picard with my parents while they were here visiting, and it is so good, y’all. Very action packed and intense, and of course Patrick Stewart is as fantastic as ever. I also finished The Mandalorian last month, and I think I could have watched that show forever. Why is it so good?? It’s easily my favorite thing in the Star Wars universe. I loved that it had such a deep story, but with so few words at times, and I loved how it really highlighted the depth of the world building in the Star Wars universe. 

Also worth noting: Netflix has released The Great British Baking Show: Beginnings (i.e., the very first season ever!) and it’s exactly what I need right now. (except it makes me want to bake and my grocery stores are low on flour, and honestly is everyone who is camped out at home baking right now???? Hopeful for a restock next week)

What I’m grateful for…

I’m grateful for a lot of things right now, but here are just a few: a wonderful Spring Break visit from my parents, HEB grocery stores, group texts with friends, and the fact that my favorite local coffee roaster is offering free shipping from their online store right now.

A little inspiration... 

I have two bits of inspiration today: First, I want to highlight an ordinary, but extraordinary, stranger I encountered on the internet, someone who gave her phone number to her kids’ school teachers to pass along to any working parent who needs a place for their kid to hang out during the day while school is out. How awesome is that?! I am in awe of that kind of service. 

Second, a Bible verse I came across this morning: 

“Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” - Deuteronomy 4:39

FREE BONUS! 

And now it’s time for the fun (and free!) bonus: links to download two beautiful coloring sheets designed to accompany my novel You Again! I’m offering them as a free bonus to book clubs (a purchase of 5 or more books), but wanted to also offer them as a thank you to my newsletter subscribers. Links are HERE and HERE. If you don’t have a way to print them yourself, just reply to this email and we can talk about sending you some in the mail.

If you know anyone who likes to color (or who might enjoy getting this little newsletter in their email every month!), pass along the link to sign up for the email too! I’ll be offering the coloring sheets as a newsletter sign up bonus probably until summer.

https://amandawatersauthor@substack.com

Now it’s your turn! Hit reply and let me know what you’re reading or watching or listening to right now! What are you thankful for? 

February...

Hello, friends! I have little news this month. First, In case you missed my announcement on social media, there is now a You Again Book Discussion Guide you can download off my website!

Second, I was a guest on the Writer’s Haven podcast! I chatted with the host, Musu Bangura, about my path to writing, You Again, and our personal theories about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Check out the podcast at this link: Writer’s Haven, or on iTunes.

What I’m reading

A couple of weeks ago I finally joined the rest of the world in reading Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng. Holy moly. It was one of those books I couldn’t stop thinking about after I’d read it. The ending was a little too abrupt for me, but overall I really enjoyed it. Intriguing characters, thought-provoking story lines, and a lot of drama. I recently enjoyed a historical fiction novel called Threads: A Depression Era Tale, by Charlotte Whitney. It’s slice of life novel set in rural Michigan during The Great Depression, told through the eyes of three sisters ages 7, 11, and 16. The author creates a vivid setting with compelling characters and a story that will keep you turning pages. I particularly loved getting to experience some of the same events through different points of view. I’d definitely recommend Threads to anyone who enjoys character driven historical fiction.

What I’m watching:

I recently finished the third season of Anne with an E. Overall, I really enjoyed this season, although the show continues to be a bit heavy handed with some of their “issues” story lines. I can appreciate the show tackling topics such Indigenous peoples rights, racism, feminism, and consent, and in looking at those topics through a late 19th century lens. However, a few of the story lines really lacked a subtlety that would have served them better in my opinion, and I think it’s because there were simply too many of them for ten one-hour episodes. Also, I stand by my assertion that Anne with an E is best enjoyed as something separate from the books. I’d probably recommend the series to a friend who’d never read the books, and to select people who enjoyed the series. (it would depend on the friend and their typical approach and feelings about book adaptations in general). Worth mentioning: Gilbert writes a letter to Anne in the last episode and it is everything I could have wanted it to be.

I’m currently in the middle of The Mandalorian which is so far living up to the hype, and looking forward to checking out the new Star Trek: Picard soon. 

Something I’m grateful for:

My Book club has been a bright spot in my life the last several months, and I am so grateful for those ladies and their willingness to get together and talk about books and life.

A little inspiration

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18

Talk again soon! 

January list...

Hello, friends and happy January! I’m actually a little amazed that it’s halfway through the the month already, but here we are. Here’s a not-deep thought for the new year: the new newsletter format has me thinking it’s time for a title refresh, but I am the worst at coming up with titles. So if you make it to the end of my very long ramblings (guess I’m feeling extra chatty this month) then let’s brainstorm — give me your best ideas for a newsletter title!

What I'm reading...

I read The Starless Sea by Erin Morganstern during the Christmas break. It was beautiful and mesmerizing and magical. It's about secret worlds and secret societies, books and stories, fairy tales, myths, legends and stories within stories. And if you are a fan of world building, Morganstern is an absolute wizard at setting and description. In addition to The Starless Sea, I recently finished Starsight, by Brandon Sanderson, book two in his YA sci-fi trilogy. It was just as fun, snarky, and action-packed as the first one. Last but certainly not least I re-read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid for book club. This book is short but so powerful. The story focuses on Saeed and Nadia, two young people from an unnamed city in the Middle East. They meet and form a connection in the midst of a particularly violent and unstable time in their city. At the same time, doors begin opening up all over the world, doors that let people travel from one place to somewhere across the world. It’s a simple, thoughtful story about migration, family, humanity, change, the things that draw people together and push them apart.

What I'm watching...

J and I finished the third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and it didn’t disappoint. We got a lot of time with Abe and Rose, which I always love, and continued character development for Susie and Midge. I’m still amazed at how the show has managed to make Joel such a sympathetic character, and I really enjoyed his bar-in-Chinatown story line. I think The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel does a good job of acknowledging and addressing issues like racism and sexism in a way that feels really natural. Just started the third season of Anne with an E on Netflix , about which I still have complicated feelings (I am a HUGE Anne of Green Gables fan. It’s one of the few series that I consistently re-read. And in case you’re wondering, my favorite book of the series is the first one, followed by Anne’s House of Dreams, and Rilla of Ingleside). I’m finding that the further the stories get from the books, the more I enjoy it as a show in its own right. The imagining and reinterpreting of the between-the-line spaces and new characters doesn't really bother me (and sometimes I like it! It's fun addition). Even though there are a few story lines I haven't liked, the net enjoyment has remained positive. I like the way the show has interpreted some of the characters: Anne, Gilbert, Miss Stacy, Diana, Ruby, Josie, Jane; but I also very strongly dislike other characterizations: Matthew, Mrs. Lynde, Billie Andrews, Josephine Barry (not nearly grumpy enough and way too sympathetic). I'm on the fence about Marilla. All that to say...I'm still watching it, and three episodes in, so far so good on this third season (the third episode! Heartbreaking), but I'll reserve final judgement on the season until later. 

Something I'm grateful for...

The Tomball Farmer’s Market is one of my favorite weekend activities. Year-round farmer’s markets and fresh produce are a perk of living in a mild climate, and I am grateful to have a weekly market so close. I’m also grateful for the Popsicle cart so that my kids get excited about going too!

A little inspiration...

This summer I discovered the delightful and lovely Instagram account @winsomepaper and she recently posted a prayer that really stuck with me and I hope you’ll enjoy it too:

A Prayer for January

"When did I start believing that the whole of life is to be a perpetual summer? A forever daylight with no night? May we do the courageous work of sticking close to our hearts in the dark and cold too. I  can't go on believing that You just want me to spend everyday with my eyes set on spring. What do you have for us here in the cold night? Amen and Amen." ~@winsomepaper

A December list...

Hello! It's less than a week until Christmas, and while it's tempting to continue putting off a new newsletter/blog post until the January (because I love Big Official Timing), I decided I preferred an every-day-is-a-new-day approach. So here we go!

What I'm reading...

A few weeks ago I finished The Spy of Venice, by Benet Brandreth  and really enjoyed it! It's a novel that imagines what William Shakespeare might have been up to between the time his twins were born and when he shows up in London as a playwright. Perhaps he was involved in espionage in Venice??? The author is the linguist coach for the Royal Shakespeare Company, so what really shines in this novel is the setting and the language, which is Shakespearean, but more common and everyday (so more accessible). I also really enjoyed the characterization of Shakespeare and his companions. Up next is Starsight, by Brandon Sanderson (Young Adult sci-fi)  and

The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern. The Starless Sea is a library book, so that's probably the one that will get priority.

What I'm watching...

A lot of my favorite shows are back! Jack Ryan season 2 , The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 3, and The Crown season 3 .  The Crown has jumped ahead several years, so the actors are all re-cast, and I have to say as much as I liked the original cast, I LOVE the new cast.

What I'm listening to...

You get a bonus this month! I've got Sandra McCracken's album Christmas on repeat, and it's an absolute delight if you like acoustic guitar driven, folksy Christmas music. There's a great mix of contemplative, joyful, classic songs and originals. Love it.

I'm also really enjoying The Office Ladies Podcast. Real life best friends and former co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey are rewatching The Office and then talking behind the scenes goodness. It's so much fun! (side note - if you want a somewhat jarring experience, watch John Krasinsky in an episode or two of Jack Ryan, and then go immediately watch an episode of The Office).

What I'm grateful for...

So many things! But to name a few...upcoming travel for the holidays, four more book reviews on Amazon, and Christmas cards in the mail.

A little inspiration....

"Suddenly angels lit up the whole sky and a great choir sang it out loud...

It's time! He's come! At last! He's here!

And in the little town

in a little shed

in a little window

a candle flickered in the dark...

The animals stood around his bed. And the whole earth and all the stars and sky held its breath...

The One who made us has come to live with us!"

~ excerpt  from Song of the Stars, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Amanda Loves Words

Welcome to Amanda Loves Words by me, Amanda Waters. I'm a writer, reader, coffee addict, and the author of You Again, a second-chance romance novel. I love to talk about books, music, tv, and movies. Once a month I share what I’m reading, what I’m watching, what I’m listening to, something I’m grateful for, and a little something I’ve found that’s inspiring. Every now and then, I might send out a bonus email: a little creative writing exercise, an essay, whatever.

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