Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Great Reads for Moms: March ’13 Edition

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

I hope everyone is off to a great reading start this year! If you are looking for more ways to squeeze in quality reading time, be sure to read this month’s article on how I made reading a priority in my own life again. I am off to another great start this year, although at a slower pace than I would like thanks to our busy schedule.

Be sure to connect with me on my  Author Profile on GoodReads and you will find my book is listed there too! I would be ecstatic if you became a fan of my writing and would love to see my book listed as something you might be reading in 2013. 

As always, if you are looking for a little inspiration this new year, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another. So far it is a huge success and I have gotten a few new ideas for my own stack!

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks of the month here. If you want to read more, please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

It has been many years since I have read a Stephen King book, but I kept hearing that I should pick up this book from so many people (including my amazing friend Kristen from Dine & Dish) that I thought I would give this book a try. I have to say, that I believe already that this book will be among my top ten for 2013, simply because the concept of the book, the characters, and the beautiful weaving of history throughout it have stuck with me since I read it.

This is not horror fiction, but historical fiction offering up the hypothetical scenario that if you could change something in history, would you alter it and what would the consequences be if history was changed.

Jake Epping  teaches high school English in Lisbon Falls, Maine, and is recently divorced from his wife and going through the everyday minutiae of middle-aged life. When he happens upon an assignment from one of his students, a brain-damaged janitor’s story of a childhood Halloween massacre by their drunken father, it brings him to tears and he finds that he can’t stop thinking about what if his life had worked out differently.

When he has lunch at his favorite diner, the diner owner and friend, Al, shares that he has a secret portal to 1958 that he uses to time travel in the back pantry of his restaurant.  He has been taking notes and following Lee Harvey Oswald to see if he can alter the JFK assassination. His dying wish is that Jake can use his notes and actually complete the mission of killing Lee Oswald Harvey before he kills JFK.

Jake decides to fulfill Al’s dying wish and begins a new life in 1958 under the name of George Amberson. What Jake doesn’t expect is how quickly his life can become settled in this new era or how his life would change if he met his one true love?

I loved absolutely everything about this book and when I finished it, I wanted to read the story all over again. It has a beautiful love story, great suspense, and leads to the ultimate question, “Would you change history if you could?”

I can’t recommend this book enough- I would give it ten stars if I could!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is a book that I have picked up from the library no less than half a dozen times, but never could seem to get around to reading it. I usually abandon popular fiction, but this book kept coming up in conversations with fellow readers and everyone kept encouraging me to read it. I am so glad that you did, I really did enjoy this fresh take on the circus and the magical elements within this book.

Unlike a traditional circus papered with announcements of dates and times of arrival, the night circus arrives without warning. Within the black-and-white striped canvas walls is a circus called Le Cirque des Rêves, that appears out of nowhere and is only open at night. What lies within these black-and-white walls is a circus like no other with room upon room of optical illusions, magical acts, and a behind-the-scenes competition between two young magicians.

Celia & Marco have been both been training as magicians for this competition since they were children, although they never knew who or what they would be up against. Both of them are skilled magicians, each with a specific skill set that they are strongest at, and they are to be pitted against each other in a battle to the death.

What neither  Celia or Marco expects is that they will fall in love. What could the outcome be when only one opponent can remain standing?

This book is imaginative in concept and in its writing. I found myself sucked into a world of vivid imagination and could not put the book down because I needed to know what the fate of Celia & Marco could be. The book has many, many characters, which definitely kept me on my toes, but each character offers a different element to the circus that helps mold this unique story line.

Thank you all for recommending this one! I loved it!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

Schroder by Amity Gaige

Schroder is an absolutely riveting read that I finished in a record 24 hours due to the captivating story. The book shares the story of  Erik Schroder. When he was just a boy, he applied to attend a summer camp, where he makes up a fictional name of, “Eric Kennedy,” with a rich East coast background contrary to  his real first generation East German immigrant background. Once he adopts this fictional identity, he severs contact with his father and starts his life free of his German roots, and enjoys what he believes to be the American dream.

Years later, Erik and his wife are going through a divorce and his custody rights are basically taken away from him. In an impulsive decision, Erik finds himself on an urgent escape to Lake Champlain, Vermont with his daughter on a week long journey filled with bad decision after bad decision.  In an explanation to explain his behavior his story is then told to his ex-wife Laura from a correctional facility where Erik confesses why he adopted a different identity, how it felt to not have his daughter in his life, and what he did on those six days on the run with his daughter.

There are so many things I loved about this book. First, Erik is truly one of the most unlikable characters you will ever read, yet the author still manages to pull at your heartstrings and make you feel sorry for Erik and his circumstances.  The second, is hearing this story told form Erik’s point of view makes you wonder what the story would be if told from Laura’s point of view or his daughter’s point of view.

There are some loose strings with this one, like the fact that Erik was able to go his entire life without getting caught with his new identity or how he was able to pull this identity switch over on his wife. Despite the improbability of that though, I really thought the characters were well-developed and the story would lend itself well to a book club discussion!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Each year I make a goal to read a literary classic or two and I was excited to read Wuthering Heights for the first time this year. The Masterpiece Theater adaptation of the book and the classic movie of this book both are among my favorites ever watched, yet I had not read it.

If you are not familiar with the story, Wuthering Heights is a love story of dramatic proportions between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, an adopted child of their family. When Mr. Earnshaw passes away, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley. He ends up leaving Wuthering Heights, believing in his heart that although he loves Catherine, she does not love him back

When he returns years later, successful and wealthy, he exacts his revenge for all of the cruelty invoked on him as a boy and for the love he lost.

Dark, cruel, twisted plot lines, and an unrequited love story are what make this book so darn good. You find yourself loving and then hating Heathcliff.

I am so proud I tackled this classic and am looking forward to reading more great classics this year!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall

Virginia plantation wife Iris Dunleavy is put on trial and convicted of madness amid the chaos of the Civil War. The problem is that Iris is not actually insane, but simply does not agree with the way her husband is managing the slaves that they have on their plantation.  She is sent away to Sanibel Asylum to be counseled and restored back into becoming an agreeable wife. Unlike others there though, Iris knows that she did nothing wrong and refuses to change when her husband is the real criminal.

There is a mix of unlikely characters at the Sanibel Asylum, all with varying senses of lunacy. When Iris begins playing checkers with Ambrose Weller, another patient at the asylum, a relationship quickly blossoms and an unlikely love story develops.

Determined to escape the asylum, Iris finds herself conflicted as she falls more and more in love with Ambrose Weller, a man who is dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder after serving in the Civil War. Will she stay to be with Ambrose or will they runaway together and what will be the consequence of taking Ambrose out of his therapy setting?

This is a great, quick read, that historical fiction fans will love for a quick escape!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

 

Not enough great reads for you? Check out our Books section of our site for monthly recommendations and ideas for making reading a priority again in your busy mom life!

Books I have read in 2013 (so far):

Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!

 

What has been in your book stack this winter? Feel free to share your book recommendations or feedback on any of the books that have been mentioned above! I love getting new suggestions for my book pile!

 

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The Best Resources For Frugal Readers (And How to Make Reading a Priority Again)

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

One of the things that I get asked the most is how I am able to read so many books each month and still manage everything else in my life. If one of your goals this year is to read more, I want to share with you how reading has transformed my life and how it can transform your life too!

The truth is, we all have the same hours in the day and we all choose what we want to fill them with.  Some days I fill it with managing the house and doing everything that needs to be done for my family, but there are days that I let it all go and sit in my favorite chair with my favorite book for an hour instead.

Here are some simple strategies I have used to carve in more time for my fictional reading life:

I Stopped Watching Television- When we dropped our television package, it was the greatest gift in time management I have ever given myself. Our television watching has now whittled down to about four shows a week that we really care about and the rest of the time our television is turned off. It has been so freeing to not feel like I have to dedicate time to the television to justify the bills that we were receiving.

Although watching news has never really been a priority to me, to not be detached completely from the world, I listen to NPR on the way into the gym each morning or while I am tidying up from breakfast. I know what I need to know about world news and local news and then I turn it off and focus on the books I am reading.

I Always Have a Book In My Hand- You will very rarely see me without a book in my hand and I find ways to make the most of every single little pocket of time I have to read my books. Whether I am coloring my hair, cooking, waiting for the kids to get off the bus, waiting at the doctor’s office, or standing in line at the grocery store, you will find me trying to devour a page or two of a book. With devices like the Kindle for your smart phones and tablets, electronic readers, audio books, and the endless supply of great free reading material  from the library, I am constantly trying to find a new way to sneak more pages in my day.

I Make a Goal For Myself- Every year I use GoodReads to create a reading challenge for myself. For me, vague goals of, “I’d like to read more,” usually yield mediocre results. With a number in mind, I know that I have something to work towards and to accomplish. Sometimes I reach my goals, this year, I did not. It doesn’t bother me if I don’t reach my lofty goals because the true point of the goal for me is just to read, read, and read some more.

You can connect with me on GoodReads and see what I am working on right now!

I Want to Be a Role Model For My Kids- I want my kids to model the good things that I do in my life and being a reader is one thing that I am proud of and that I want for them. I don’t want my kids remembering that I sat in front of the television and watched Toddlers & Tiaras every night or that their mom was never without her celebrity gossip magazines. I want them to remember that their mom was always reading, always learning, and also that she wasn’t afraid to tackle hard books and hard topics.

The results for me have been having two kids that are ferocious readers themselves. They beg to go to the library and they are just like me,  often walking into walls and doors because they have their nose in books. If we are going somewhere, they grab their books to take with them when we run errands and one of our biggest struggles is when we have to shut off the lights and our books at night. I love seeing them model me in this way.

I Read What I Want To Read- We have enough pressures on us as mothers, but to be pressured to always be reading award-winning books doesn’t have to be one of them. If your life is full of stress and chaos, a good chick lit book might be just what the doctor ordered. I like to read one heavy book and one light book and alternate them. When my children were smaller all I wanted to read was something that would make me laugh. No matter what you read… just keep reading!

I Want to Be a Well-Rounded Person- I didn’t take a lot of advanced classes in high school like my husband so I was only exposed to excerpts of classic books, rather than reading them. As a woman in her thirties, I am reading these books for the first time in my adult life and I am proud that I am no longer intimidated by classical literature. I won’t let the hurdles of my youth stop me from being a well-rounded person and that is why you will often find me making a goal to read the classics.

I Want to Be a Great Writer- Great writers are great readers. Other writers constantly inspire me to be better at what I am writing. I found it a hard juggle to work on my own book and still squeeze in time to read. My pockets of time had dwindled, but I still tried to make it a priority because reading is that important to me.

Reading has changed my life and has shaped me into a better person than I could have been without the words of great writers. Books provide an escape, they challenge how I view the rights and wrongs in life, they take me to countries I may never visit, they make me weep, they make me laugh, and they made me dream that I could transform someone else with my own words. 

Great Reading Resources To Get You Started:

 

GoodReads or Shelfari- Goodreads is my ultimate resource for keeping me motivated to read daily. I use it for my yearly reading goals, to keep track of books that I want to read in the future, and to rate and review books that I have finished reading. The best feature is the barcode scanner that you an use to scan books to quickly pull them into your to-be-read or reading virtual piles.

BookCrossing- This site offers a fun way for you to clear out your bookshelves. The idea is simple, but so fun. Just put a tag within your book to track it and release your book into the wild, which just means leave it somewhere where someone else can find it (coffee shops, doctor’s offices, schools, etc.). When someone finds a book with a BookCrossing ID number in it, they can enter that code into the site and report where the book has moved to. It is a fun way to track where your books have traveled and see how far they can go.

Library Elf- This program helps you keep track of your library materials so you won’t get socked with late fees. Elf is an Internet-based tool for keeping track of what’s due, overdue and ready for pickup. Reminders are sent when the user wants it — before items are due (up to seven days advance notice, weekly notice or everyday reminders). For my local friends, South Bend is not currently participating, but the Elkhart Library is. The basic membership to Library Elf is free.

What Should I Read Next?- One of the big hurdles with reading is finding the perfect reading material. What Should I Read Next? allows you to put in the name of your favorite author or favorite book and then gives you a reading list of similar reading material that it thinks you would like based on your preference.

Paperback Swap or Bookmooch- Just two of many sites where you can exchange books for free. You simply sign up for a membership and list the books on your bookshelf. You can then browse the books from other members and make a request to receive a book. When you are done with the book, you can list it back on the site or keep the book. New members start out usually with credits to get started on exchanging books. The more you ship and share, the more credits you recive to get more books.

Amazon’s Free Kindle Downloads- Amazon offers oodles of books for free for your Kindle or you can download the free Kindle app for your phone or tablet to read your books on. Explore this free list when you are in need of a new book to read!

 

Be sure to visit our Great Reads section to get you started on selecting great books to tackle!

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Catch Me Today At the Next Book Signing (And An Interview With the Elkhart Truth)!

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

source: The Elkhart Truth

We were very excited to be featured in The Elkhart Truth today about my first book, “The Good Life for Less.”  The bonus for us, was getting to show off our incredible pizza-making skills to the photographer from the newspaper. I hope you can read a little bit more about our story and how special this book and moment is to our family.

Today I will be doing our last book signing in the Michiana area. You can catch me over at The Family Magazine office. I have set up a Facebook invitation for that event, so please head over there to RSVP if you will be able to make it. 

Lots of people have been asking if we will be visiting any other areas for signings. I am trying to organize a couple of additional cities so please stay tuned on that!  You can visit our Book Page to see what is happening, sign up for a newsletter for updates, and find retailers who are carrying the book!

Thank you again for all of your love and support for this project. We wouldn’t be here without you!

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Join Us For Our Next Book Signing

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

We just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who came out to our very first book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Mishawaka. We felt so blessed to have each of you there and we were overwhelmed at the outpouring of people who showed up to have their books signed.

We were so excited to hear that our signing had the most successful signing at their store since Dave Ramsey came to town. We are honored to be among such company and are so thankful for friends, family, and even readers I had not yet met, for coming out on a Saturday afternoon to see us. We sold an incredible amount of books in two hours and we are so thankful for your book purchases! 

This Saturday we will be doing our next book signing in the Michiana area. You can catch us over at Better World Books in Goshen from 2-4PM. I have set up a Facebook invitation for that event, so please head over there to RSVP if you will be able to make it. Here are some directions if you are heading out to the store! 

Lots of people have been asking if we will be visiting any other areas for signings. I am trying to organize a couple of additional cities so please stay tuned on that!  You can visit our Book Page to see what is happening, sign up for a newsletter for updates, and find retailers who are carrying the book!

Thank you again for all of your love and support for this project. We wouldn’t be here without you!

(Dress & Necklace: Flourish Boutique- our site sponsor! Use web code WEB25 for 25% off your purchase!)

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Come See What the Fuss Is All About (Or How the Surprise Was On Me!)

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Well, it’s official, The Good Life For Less is out in the world now! I have been so enjoying all of the photos that people have been tagging me in on Facebook with their copies of it! Can you believe all these amazing celebrities that are posing with my book? I can’t believe it myself!

I loved seeing these pictures being posted and then the comment threads that followed that got other people out there buying the book. That is truly the power of social media! I can’t imagine what it would be like to write a book and not get to see my friends with their copies of the book. It has been making my whole life.

My favorite siting yet was from two of my favorite bloggers, Claire & Lauren, over at TX M.I.L.K. It turns out even Willie Nelson likes my book… now I know that I have arrived.

The reviews have been rolling in on the book, which is so awesome to see!  I get so excited when I see the reviews being shared on Amazon & GoodReads from readers and my blogger friends have all been so generous to share about this book. Here are some of my favorite reviews so far!

Simplifying Meal Time (@ Dine & Dish)

The Good Life for Less Review (Hoosier Homemade)

Taking a Page Out of the Good Life for Less (Extraordinary Mommy)

Book Review: The Good Life for Less (This Full House)

The Good Life for Less (The Centsible Life)

The Good Life for Less (The Simple Moms)

The Good Life for Less (Beth’s Book-Nook Blog)

Review: The Good Life for Less (Northern Cheapskate)

The Good Life for Less: A Happiness Upgrade (Baby Toolkit)

The Good Life for Less (Hormone-Colored Days)

Review: The Good Life for Less (Mom’s Favorite Stuff)

Must Read: The Good Life for Less (Mom Generations)

I was over the moon with happiness and life was so darn good…and then I got the world’s worst stomach flu. I have not been this sick in years. Flat on my back, so dehydrated your eyes feel like sandpaper sick, the I’m cold, now I’m hot, now I’m shivering again sick. SO SICK. For an entire week.

I was dying and my husband was in a sheer panic about my sickness, but couldn’t let on how worried he was. Unbeknownst to me, he had been working for seven months with my best friend on the surprise party of all surprise parties to celebrate the launch of my first book and my 35th birthday.

We had a double date planned with my best friend and her husband for, what I believed to be, a silent auction. As my husband pushed me into the room, he whispered, “This is how much I love you.” Standing in the room were over 40 of our closest friends and family there to celebrate.

I have never had a celebration like that ever in my whole life. They rented a room at Legends for the big night, who catered all of the food for the event. He had been working with my publicist to have posters of my book made up for the evening, and the night of surprises wasn’t over.

1.)  He flew my brother in to be with me for the evening from New Orleans. I hadn’t seen him since last spring and I was beside myself with joy to have him there. This was a gift, not just for me, but for our entire family because we have missed him so much. He’s currently living out in New Orleans pursuing his dreams in the art world, and it was so special to have him there.

If you are into art or happen to live in New Orleans, please check out his Facebook page to find out how to commission a piece of art! It’s the Dark & Twisty Art of John Allen.

2) He managed to get my two childhood best friends to come in for the party. We are three busy women and it takes a near miracle to get the three of us together. I almost fell over when I saw them both there for the evening. Not many people can say that they have been friends since they were ten years-old and are still friends. These were my two best friends from church camp and we spent many a summer together that I will forever treasure in my heart.

3) Perhaps, the most amazing gift and demonstration of love ever given to me, my husband had been working since June, to teach himself how to DJ so he could be the DJ for my party.

We have been together since high school and I was infamous for making him a million mix tapes of songs for him and “ghetto mixes” once I became too “hood” for a traditional mix. Those mixed tapes were the inspiration for him to surprise me.

Ryan took all the music and those memories and managed to make that into the ultimate mix for me for my birthday, for a night of dancing with my girlfriends. It might sound a little corny to you, but I fell in love with him all over again. When you have been together since you were kids, it becomes hard to surprise each other anymore. To pull off three surprises? Unheard of.

In lieu of gifts, my friends remembered how important the Faith Mission Homeless Shelter was to our family. If you recall, a few years ago, we hosted a Big Give for the shelter. A wish list from the director of the shelter was given, and everyone worked on gathering donations to share with the women & children of that shelter. This was one of my favorite surprises of the night since caring for the homeless is such an important thing to our family. I can’t tell you how happy these gifts made me!

Behind every good man is a good woman. My best friend had been working tirelessly on throwing this amazing party for me with my husband. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have a friend like that and I try to never take it for granted. I am still shocked she could keep this a secret from me for that long when we talk for hours on the phone daily. She is my other “sister,” and I can’t imagine my life without her.

Of course, my friends wanted to spoil me a little bit and all had pitched in for a gift that I had been dreaming about for years and years. I now have the most beautiful and epic sounding record player and they gathered a record collection to get me started. The morning after the party, I sat in my favorite chair and listened to my Simon & Garfunkel record…weeping uncontrollably.

In the words of my mom, most people never know what they mean to people. It is usually at their funerals, that they say what a special person you are or what you have meant to them. Few people get such a demonstration during their life while they are still around.  

I remember when my husband’s grandma passed away and the way my mother-in-law’s friends orchestrated this amazing feast for all of us and took care of her in such a difficult time. As we climbed in the car to head home that day, I cried and said how happy I was that she had friends like that. The kind of friends that would just drop everything for you and take care of you like that. What would that even be like?

I know now. God put the perfect people in my life and gave me the most incredible friends in the world. They know and understand my heart, they have no jealousy for these major career milestones, they are so proud of what I do, and they are the first to say, “What do you need? What can we do to help?” when things go wrong.

More importantly, I am reminded how loved I am by my husband and by our family. I had stars in my eyes all night for my husband and what he did for me.

I am the luckiest girl in the whole world.

Tomorrow I have my first book signing at the Mishawaka Barnes & Noble. I’m so excited that my friends are even coming in from Chicago & Indy for this special day. I hope you will accept my heartfelt invitation to join me at this signing. I want to hug and thank every single person that has supported us over the years. It would mean so much to have you there! I hope I see you tomorrow from 2-4PM at Barnes & Noble in UP Mall (Mishawaka, IN).

As you can see, life has gotten a bit chaotic. I promise to try to get back in the swing of things soon, but in the meantime, I hope you will pick up my book to read our family’s story and get inspired to get your finances back on track! I know you are missing some features here so I wanted to update you and let you know that I am just having a little trouble juggling it all by myself. I hope this helps explain things a bit more.

Thank you for your love and support!!

(Party Photography: Brittani Renee Photography. Party Dress: Flourish Boutique)

 

 

 

 

Giveaway Closed: 5 Autographed Copies of, “The Good Life For Less!”

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

Sorry! This giveaway is now closed! We would like to congratulate our five winners!  Sheri (#128), Elaine (#41), Renee (#148), Carrie (#201), &  Michelle (#32) on winning these books! Thank you again for entering and your love & support for this book!

 

This is a big week for our family as my book, “The Good Life for Less,” will be hitting bookstore shelves on January 2nd. I have waited so many years for this book of my words to be printed and I can think of no better way to start the year than with this big moment in our life.

I know my readers are very frugal (that is why you are here, after all!) so I wanted to share with you a little bit about why this book would be a great investment for your bookshelf and also offer you the opportunity to win a copy of it to save your family the expense of buying it!

 

Photo Credit: Nancy Lary Studios

Here is a little bit more background on what my book and family is all about:

THE GOOD LIFE FOR LESS is about thrifty homemaking with heart. As a Walmart Mom and spokesperson for companies like Kenmore and Minute Maid, I am sharing the tricks and tips our family has adopted to help other families create a quality life while being able to stay within budget. Filled with clever ideas for families living on a budget, THE GOOD LIFE FOR LESS provides guidance, tools, and inspiration to run happy households, such as:

  • Create a family budget book to track what money goes where, and utilize one of the free financial programs out there, such as Mint.com, to find spending leaks, or try out your spending habits by adopting the envelope system or a cash-only approach to spending. One way to jump-start your savings is by paying for everything with bills, and accumulating the change into a savings account.
  • Take advantage of online freebies such as Ebates.com and Swagbucks.com to find discounts and bonuses for shopping for necessities.
  • Delicious and affordable recipes such as rosemary ranch chicken kabobs, baked blueberry donuts with a lemon glaze, Italian veggie and pasta soup, and parmesan crusted pork chops that stretch every cent and utilize the efficient tools in your kitchen, such as the slow-cooker, to enable you more time with your kids instead of behind the stove.
  • Many people take advantage of the layaway programs featured at retailers, but also try to buy in bulk, shop off-season, and subscribe to daily deal sites, so your budget won’t take such a hit around the holidays. Buying in bulk lets you save money and pay less than at the grocery store, especially for meat, which you can divide up into 1 or 2 pound packages and freeze.
  • Take a look at your bills and utilities; be sure there is no double billing (perhaps a credit card got swiped twice at a register). If everyone in your house has a cell phone, do you really need a traditional landline plan, or could you switch to a nearly free provider like Vonage. Know what your appliances cost; one easy way to save on gas bills is to do your laundry with cold water, which cuts between 50-90% off a load of wash using hot water.

THE GOOD LIFE FOR LESS will give you this and more information, tools, and inspiration to maximize every cent of the family paycheck.

By living leaner, you and your family will gain financial stability, and as I state in my book, “living frugally has made me so much more aware of our family’s every blessing, great and small. It’s a richness that money can’t buy.” Empowering your family with the knowledge to make the best financial decisions will only bring you closer together, and give you even more enjoyment out of the time you spend together.

Photo Credit: Nancy Lary Studios

Today I want to share with you the opportunity to win a signed copy of my book. I will be giving away 5 copies this week in celebration of my book launch and to thank you all for your love and support of us over the last nine years. 

To enter to win a signed copy of, “The Good Life For Less“:

• First Entry: Leave a comment and tell me why you need this book in your life!

• Additional Entry: Let us know you are a fan of MomAdvice and join the MomAdvice Facebook Community.

• Additional Entry: Follow me on Twitter and stay up-to-date on current book promotions, giveaways, and advice on living a frugal life.

• Additional Entry: Fan my Author Profile on GoodReads or add my book to your to-be-read pile.

Five winners, chosen at random, will receive a signed copy of my first book.  Please submit your entries by Tuesday (01/08) at 8PM EST. Our winner will be drawn at random. Good luck, everyone! We are so thankful for each of you!

 

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The Best Books Read in 2012

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

It is time for my annual list of the best books I read in 2012. If you are looking for the best books to read for next year this list of the best books of 2012 are the perfect place to start for creating your reading list.

My reading goal was 60 books this year and I will just be coming in on 40 or so books once I finish out this month. I admit that I am a little short of the planned and lofty goal I had this year, but I am still really proud that I managed to squeeze in that many with such a busy year.

Each year I  document my reading challenge through GoodReads so I can track my progress while I am doing my reading. If you are planning to make a reading goal yourself, be sure to sign up for a reading challenge you can create your own goal too through GoodReads and track your own progress.

If you are looking for a little inspiration this new year, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another. So far it is a huge success and I have gotten a few new ideas for my own stack!

Just as a reminder, I read many more  books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks of the month here. If you want to read more, please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Even more exciting (for me) this year is that I now have an Author Profile on GoodReads and my book is listed there too! I would be ecstatic if you became a fan of my writing and would love to see my book listed as something you might be wanting to read in 2013. 

Without further adieu, here are my favorite reads of the year (in no particular order)! 

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

Julia Win, a young lawyer from New York, is on a mission to find out what happened to her father.  Tim Win, of Burmese origin, was a prominent Wall Street lawyer disappeared without a trace four years before, leaving Julia wondering if her father had been leading a double life.

One day, she finds a very old letter written in the 1940s by his father to a woman named Mi Mi in Burma. An address in Kalaw is all she needs to follow her instinct and begin a search for her father. Once she arrives in Kalaw, she is approached by a gentle man in a restaurant  named U Ba, who seems to know all about her even though Julia has never met him before. He wants to tell Julia a story… a story about her father. It is a story that confuses Julia and causes her to realize that the man she knew has her father, is not who he really was.

This is a love story that will captivate your heart with vivid imagery of a blind man falling in love with a disabled and beautiful woman. It is a love story that pulled at my heartstrings and was so moving that I still cannot stop thinking about it. This story will pull you in from the first page.

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

There is a certain richness that comes with great Southern storytelling and this amazing book by Jenny Wingfield is laced with that type of richness I am speaking of and beautiful storytelling that you can picture just like a movie screen.

Samuel Lake, his wife Willadee (Moses), and their three children find themselves back home in Arkansas after Samuel finds himself out of work as a minister. When tragedy strikes, the family bands together in unlikely ways and find their faith is challenged to the core of even God’s most faithful. The book offers the story of spunky Swan Lake (yes, her family did name her that), an unlikely little boy that the family takes in as their own, a town villain that has made it his life’s mission to make their family’s life miserable, and Toy, Swan’s uncle, who becomes her unlikely hero.

Each character is so vividly told with his/her own story line that Wingfield magically weaves together to create an incredible story that will stick with you long after you close the book. I can’t recommend this one enough!

The Snow Child by Eoywn Ivey

The Snow Child takes place in 1920 in Alaska where a city-bred girl Mabel and her husband Jack are trying to make a life for themselves in the isolated woods of an Alaskan farm. More than anything Mabel & Jack have longed for a child, but have remained childless and are beginning to drift apart. Mabel is in the throes of a deep depression and Jack is beginning to wonder if their decision to move to Alaska was a sound one.

One night, amid the first falling snow, Jack & Mabel have a moment of tenderness and begin playing in the snow. They decide to make a snow child and add little additions from Mabel’s wardrobe to wrap her in.

The next morning, their snow child is gone, but they begin catching the glimpse of a child running through the woods wearing Mabel’s items that were once on their snow child.  This child  of the woods contentedly runs around the forest in the freezing cold with a red fox. Mabel and Jack are left wondering…is this a real child or is this a fairy tale child that they are simply hallucinating?

This is a grown-up fairy tale that is just so beautifully written that your heart will be aching for Mabel and Jack that they can make this child that they have longed for to be their own.  I was enraptured with the story from the first page and I have a feeling you will too!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I love when I read a book and feel my real life slipping away from me. Gone Girl was a book that sucked me from the very first page and offered one of those amazing journeys as a reader.

Without giving the plot away the story begins with  Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Amy has carefully wrapped gifts and is making the perfect breakfast for her husband when she suddenly disappears one seemingly ordinary morning. Nick is quickly under suspicion since he appears completely unemotional with the news of his wife’s disappearance and has no real explanation for his whereabouts when Amy has disappeared. Clue after clue points to Nick and the police begin building a case against him. It leaves the entire town and those closest to Amy wondering what Nick has done to Amy.

Of course, with all good stories, things aren’t always as they appear and this story will take the reader on great plot twists that they will never suspect coming. Although, I found the ending of this book to be a bit flat and it didn’t wrap up the way I had hoped, I still believe this is one of the best thrillers I have read this year.

Editor’s Note- This book contains graphic scenes, language, & violence.

Defending Jacob by William Landay

I am  not interested in legal thrillers, but my girlfriend recommended this book to me and I am so thankful she did. This is one of the best thrillers I have read since Before I Go to Sleep, and left me hanging on the edge of my seat for the entire book.

Andy Barber has been a district attorney for over twenty years. He is well respected and knows how to command the courtroom. When a murder happens at his son’s school, he is among the first on the scene and is ready to help bring vindication to the murderer.

What Andy never suspects is that his own son is the one who is charged with the murder. Andy is removed from the case when all clues begin to point towards his son. Andy doesn’t want to believe that his son could commit such a heinous crime, but as mounting evidence points towards Jacob, he is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Does he hide the evidence he finds that he knows that the police might be after or let the justice system decide the fate of his child?

Part family drama, part thriller, I could not put this book down. My heart ached for this family who is now ostracized from their friends and coworkers, while the other part of me ached that Jacob would be proven guilty of the crime. The reader will be taken on a wild ride from start to finish with this book. It is a twisty ending that will leave you breathless.

Whatever you do, add this deeply moving book to your list. I highly recommend this read for book clubs because it gives readers a chance to think what they might do to protect their child.

Editor’s Note: This book contains violence and graphic language.

The Healing by Jonathan Odell

A Mississippi plantation mistress, Amanda Satterfield, loses her daughter to cholera after her husband refuses to treat her for what he refers to as a, “slave disease.” In turn of these events, Amanda begins to lose her mind and decides to take a newborn slave in as her own, taking her from her family that loves her. She renames the little girl Granada, and begins to parade her around in her daughter’s clothing and allowing her to be part of family dinners, despite her husband and their friends discomfort.

Troubled not only by his wife’s mental illness, but by the plague that seems to be sweeping through his slave population, Master Satterfield purchases Polly Shine, a slave who is known to be a healer. When Polly sets eyes upon Granada, she knows that she has the gift and requests that Granada be removed from the home so she can shadow Polly.

Seventy-five years later, Granada is now known as Gran Gran and takes in an abandoned girl in her care. To help the girl to come out of her shell, she shares with her the powerful story of learning to let go of the girl that she thought she was to be to the mistress, to the amazing road of being a healer herself.

I guarantee that you will love this book if you are fans of The Kitchen House, Dry Grass of August, or The Help. The story is achingly beautiful and written in such a way that you will long remember it in your heart. I can’t recommend this one enough, friends!

A Good American by Alex George

I love to read books that are sweep me quickly into their story line, whose words read like lyrics, and prose that reads as beautifully as poetry. Alex George offers a book that you will long remember that has been elegantly and eloquently crafted in a way that I have not read in many years. It is a book that I found myself reading paragraphs aloud to my husband, simply because they were written in such a descriptive manner that you felt as though you were watching a movie.

“Always there was music.” The book opens with Frederick, an amateur opera singer, serenading an unlikely girl named Jette who is tall in stature and just as equal in her elegance & family upbringing. Frederick quickly woos Jette in a whirlwind love affair and Jette discovers she is pregnant, forcing the couple to leave as quickly as possible from her family’s disapproving eyes. The year is 1904, Jette and Frederick board a ship to New Orleans instead of their originally intended boat to New York when they discover that the boat is full. “What’s the difference? They’re both new,” they say.

They end up settling in the tiny town of Beatrice, Missouri where we meet a cast of unlikely characters who all find refuge in this German speaking town. The book chronicles the journey of their family through prohibition, the Great Depression and the Kennedy assassination. Despite the depth of the book and the plots it carries, it moves swiftly and is well-executed, leaving the reader hanging until the final page.

I loved this book so much that I emailed the author when I finished it to tell him just how much I enjoyed this book. He immediately replied with heartfelt thanks for the compliments, which makes a reader like me feel even more connected to this amazing story.

Heft by Liz Moore

Heft is truly one of the best books that I have read this year and I know that this is a novel that can be appreciated by all. It is a story that leaves you rooting for some of the most unlikely characters and showcases the beauty of unlikely friendships.

Eighteen years ago, Arthur had a promising career as a professor, and loved his work. He is now  a 58 year-old man who cannot leave his home due to his incredible size of 500 pounds. Since 2001 he has managed to stay within the confines of his home relying on services like grocery and food deliveries that can be ordered from his own computer. He has no friends, no family, and the only bit of human contact he receives are letters occasionally sent to him from his old student, Charlene Turner.

When Charlene contacts Arthur, out of the blue, to see if he will help her with her son Kel Keller and offer guidance to him to help him, Arthur hires a cleaning service to help him get his house back in shape. His house is a place that has been grossly neglected because Arthur has lost the will and lacks the energy to clean it, due to his size. When a young 19 year-old Yolanda shows up on his doorstep, he can never know how this will change his life. An unlikely friendship unfolds and brings new purpose to Arthur’s life that he never expects.

The author not only takes you through Arthur’s difficulties in his life, but the story of Kel and his mother Chelsea alternate in these chapters as you see the difficulties that this young man has had to overcome and will leave you begging for the happy ending that this boy so deserves.

Beautifully written and great stories that are woven together in such a way that you can vividly picture each of these characters and feel their stories resonate in your own heart. You will have a hard time putting this one down and I look forward to reading more from Liz Moore in the future!

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Nothing about, “The Pillars of the Earth,” sounded interesting to me and, to be honest, the sheer size of this book scared me to death. Our book club selected this book though and as others in our book club read it, they shared how amazing it was. I just knew I had to take the plunge despite my misgivings that it was going to be a boring read. I am so, so glad that I did. It is a book filled with amazingly developed characters, fabulous plot twists, and historical fiction at its finest. I could not put it down, I had to know how it would all work out, and I was captivated from the opening paragraph until the very last page.

Tom Builder has lost commission on a home that he was to build and begins to roam England seeking work.  As he is turned away from each job they find, their family begins to starve and his pregnant wife dies during childbirth in the woods.  Without food to give the baby, they abandon the child in the woods and Tom immediately comes into a relationship with a resourceful woman named Ellen and their son Jack who become a part of their family and help them navigate the forest life.

When Tom seeks shelter at a church his life never becomes the same again as he finds work through an unlikely fire that damages the church and then finds that his life is interwoven with the church in more ways than he could ever imagine. The building of a new church brings together unlikely characters and a determined character who threatens to destroy it all.

A story of good and evil that riveted me and one that will truly captivate you from start to finish, this book moved me and will probably reside firmly in my top ten books I have ever read.

Editor’s Note: This contains sexually graphic scenes. 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I am trying to tackle a few of those books that people say to me, “I can’t believe you haven’t read that yet.” Outlander has been recommended to me time and time again so I decided I would start this year out with a few of the books that I have been intending to read.  At over 600 pages, I can see why I have not attempted to tackle this before, but after reading it I can honestly say that it was an amazing story and I can’t wait to read more in this series. A book of this size has never been devoured so quickly and I don’t think my family saw me for three weeks while I worked on this one.

This story follows Claire Randall, a young combat nurse in WWII who recently moved to Scotland with her husband. While they are out hiking one day, Claire accidentally passes through the stones of an ancient stone circle and awakens to find herself in 16th century Scotland. Confused as to what has happened to her Claire’s path crosses with a Highland warrior named James Fraser that forever alters Claire’s path and begins a love story that rivals any other that you may have read.

This book is definitely not for the faint of heart it is violent and sexually charged throughout. At times I felt like I was reading a Harlequin romance novel as some of the love scenes were a little fluffy for my usual taste, but the good in this book definitely outweighs the bad.

This is historical fiction at some of its finest and I felt like I was transported while I read this. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and be transported once again.

Honorable Mentions

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

On a stormy night an unlikely couple knocks on an unlikely stranger’s door, when they come to seek shelter from the storm. Lynnie, a woman with an intellectual disability and Homan, a deaf man, have run away from a brutal institution where they have been placed because of their disabilities.

A friendly schoolteacher answers her door and finds that she has opened the door to a journey she never could have anticipated. Because the couple have ran away from the institution, the police begin to bang on the door looking for them and Lynnie hands to her a brand new baby and utters just two words to the teacher, “Hide her.”

Lynnie is returned to the school, Homan runs away and is thought to have been dead, and Martha is left in charge of a child when she has never had a child of her own. The story chronicles forty years following each of these characters as their lives take an unlikely path.

The premise of the story is captivating and the love story between Lynnie & Homan is beautifully told. The challenges faced by each of these characters with disabilities is told with sensitivity and offers unique insight into what it would be like to be deaf or intellectually handicapped. I found myself tearing up in parts and rooting for each of these characters.

Although the book is slow in parts, the story is worth pushing through and would also lend itself well to book club discussions since it is the kind of book you just want to talk about when you are finished with it.  Definitely add this one to your to-be-read piles!

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Honolulu was one of my favorite books, but I had heard from other readers that Alan Brennert’s Molokai, was even better than the first book that I read of his. I was not disappointed. I loved this book from start to finish and appreciate everyone recommending this one to me!

Rachel Kalama is a spirited little girl who captures your heart immediately. Rachel is living a typical life of a little Hawaiian girl- she has spats with her sister, she dreams of getting out of Hawaii, and she is beloved by her family. When a rose colored mark appears on her leg, her mother pricks her leg and finds that Rachel does not react. Rachel’s mother knows immediately that Rachel has leprosy. In fear of protecting her daughter, she covers the mark and hides other marks that appear on Rachel’s body. It is the family’s dark secret since all people afflicted by leprosy are quarantined and taken from their families.

When Rachel’s sister gets in a fight with Rachel, she calls her a, “leper,” and the authorities are immediately notified that Rachel is suspected of leprosy. When she is taken to the clinic for testing and the results come back positive, Rachel is taken from her family and moved to the island of Kalaupapa, a quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i.

Rachel’s life should be over, but it is just beginning. Rachel’s spiritedness pulls her through the devastation of losing her family as Rachel begins to find a new family among an unlikely cast of characters. She will capture your heart until the final page.

This book was so unbelievably good and fascinating that I could not put it down. What should have been a book of heartbreak has you walking away with such positivity about the human spirit and its ability to overcome tragedy. I hope you will add this one to your reading list!

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

I have to say that this book was one of my favorite reads this summer, simply because it is deliciously fast-paced chick-lit at its finest.

Anne Blythe seems to have everything. She has sold her first book, has a fabulous life, and fabulous friends. When it comes to being lucky in love though, she can’t seem to ever find the right guy. novel. After her best friend announces her engagement and her latest relationship ends, she decides to take a risk and contact a dating service in hopes of finding the perfect match. Upon her first appointment with the dating service though, she realizes that it is not a dating service at all, but a matchmaking service for an arranged marriage.

Once she starts the process, there is no turning back and Anne finds herself traveling to a Mexican resort where she will meet and marry (all in the same weekend) her “perfect,” guy.

This book has great twists and turns that you will really enjoy and after devouring this book in a mere day, I can’t recommend it enough for a fun reading escape!

Books I have read in 2012 (so far):

Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!

Take a peek at the best of the 2011 picks for even more Great Reads. What is your favorite book you read this year? What should I read for next year? Tell me, tell me please!

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Great Reads for Moms: December ’12 Edition

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Although the reviews have been pretty quiet around here, I have still been slowly getting back to reading now that my own book is finally written! I am so excited to share with you just a few of the gems I have been enjoying these last few months and also excited to hear what you have been working on.

Even more exciting (for me), is that I now have an Author Profile on GoodReads and my book is listed there too! I would be ecstatic if you became a fan of my writing and would love to see my book listed as something you might be wanting to read in 2013. 

I have also listed my second book signing in Goshen, Indiana at Better World Books. Please accept my heartfelt invitation to come to this book signing. I would love to meet you! 

As always, if you are looking for a little inspiration this new year, be sure to check our MomAdvice fan page for a weekly check-in on what everyone is reading each week on our Facebook Fan Page. I hope you will swing by on Fridays and share about the books you are working on or request recommendations with one another. So far it is a huge success and I have gotten a few new ideas for my own stack!

Just as a reminder, I read many more books than are just featured here, but try to feature the ones that are my absolute best picks of the month here. If you want to read more, please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there too! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there! In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Heft by Liz Moore

Heft is truly one of the best books that I have read this year and I know that this is a novel that can be appreciated by all. It is a story that leaves you rooting for some of the most unlikely characters and showcases the beauty of unlikely friendships.

Eighteen years ago, Arthur had a promising career as a professor, and loved his work. He is now  a 58 year-old man who cannot leave his home due to his incredible size of 500 pounds. Since 2001 he has managed to stay within the confines of his home relying on services like grocery and food deliveries that can be ordered from his own computer. He has no friends, no family, and the only bit of human contact he receives are letters occasionally sent to him from his old student, Charlene Turner.

When Charlene contacts Arthur, out of the blue, to see if he will help her with her son Kel Keller and offer guidance to him to help him, Arthur hires a cleaning service to help him get his house back in shape. His house is a place that has been grossly neglected because Arthur has lost the will and lacks the energy to clean it, due to his size. When a young 19 year-old Yolanda shows up on his doorstep, he can never know how this will change his life. An unlikely friendship unfolds and brings new purpose to Arthur’s life that he never expects.

The author not only takes you through Arthur’s difficulties in his life, but the story of Kel and his mother Chelsea alternate in these chapters as you see the difficulties that this young man has had to overcome and will leave you begging for the happy ending that this boy so deserves.

Beautifully written and great stories that are woven together in such a way that you can vividly picture each of these characters and feel their stories resonate in your own heart. You will have a hard time putting this one down and I look forward to reading more from Liz Moore in the future!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars


The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

There is a certain richness that comes with great Southern storytelling and this amazing book by Jenny Wingfield is laced with that type of richness I am speaking of and beautiful storytelling that you can picture just like a movie screen.

Samuel Lake, his wife Willadee (Moses), and their three children find themselves back home in Arkansas after Samuel finds himself out of work as a minister. When tragedy strikes, the family bands together in unlikely ways and find their faith is challenged to the core of even God’s most faithful. The book offers the story of spunky Swan Lake (yes, her family did name her that), an unlikely little boy that the family takes in as their own, a town villain that has made it his life’s mission to make their family’s life miserable, and Toy, Swan’s uncle, who becomes her unlikely hero.

Each character is so vividly told with his/her own story line that Wingfield magically weaves together to create an incredible story that will stick with you long after you close the book. I can’t recommend this one enough!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

These Is My Words by Nancy F. Turner

For a long time I have had, “These Is My Words,” in the back of my mind as a great book to tackle this winter and I am so glad that I finally did. This story is inspired by the author’s own family memoirs, and the words belong to Sarah Prine. Sarah is a spunky young woman who finds herself a pioneer as they travel the frontier in search of a place to call home.The story is told in diary format and  records her steps beginning from her childhood to a young adult to becoming a mother. What truly makes the book is the beautiful love story between herself and cavalry officer Captain Jack Elliot. It is a love story that rivals great love stories like Gone with the Wind and the Outlander series.

Although I am not typically a fan of writing that is written in diary or letter form, I did truly love this book, mostly, for the beautiful love story it offered. I understand that there are two more books in this series to tackle and I look forward to reading those in the upcoming year!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 Stars

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Wow! It’s been a long time since a thriller kept me up all night, but Into the Darkest Corner is just the book for you if you are looking for a book that you just can’t turn the pages fast enough and causes you to be groggy the next day because you just had to finish it!

Catherine Bailey is a young, single, and beautiful woman that catches the eye of a guy named Lee who is working at a night club one night that she is at one night with her friends. She is quickly taken in by him and she isn’t the only one. All of her friends seem just as smitten with Lee as she is.

While their relationship starts out with a passionate fury and a surprising attentiveness that Catherine has never experience before, she soon realizes that there is also another darker side to Lee that, frankly, scares her. Lee continually is both physically and mentally abusive to Catherine and begins to wedge doubt of her own character by planting seeds in the minds of all of her friends who all begin to question Catherine’s own stability.

Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine, who is now going under the name Cathy, has become a shell of her former self, and is riddled with obsessive compulsive disorder as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. Although she has no friends and no one to lean on, an unlikely relationship blossoms between herself and the her upstairs neighbor, Stuart. Just when she begins she thinks she can find happiness, Lee is released from prison and first on his agenda of people to visit….Cathy. What happens though when everyone believes you just have OCD and there really IS someone after you?

At several points I realized I was holding my breath because the book was so suspenseful as the character, Lee, is in pursuit of her. For those of you left wondering is there any life after, “Gone Girl,” this book is for you.  This book is perfectly timed with a great story build of a woman before and after an abusive relationship came into her life.   This is a fantastic read, but not for the faint of heart due to extreme violence and graphic sex scenes.  This is just as dark and twisted as Gone Girl,  but brings a level of suspense that I have been waiting a long time for in a book.

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

love anthony by Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova is an author that does not disappoint and has become one of the authors I rely upon for a great story. Love Anthony is a heartbreaking and also endearing story that will pull upon your heartstrings as a mother and would lend itself well to any book club discussion.

Olivia had always dreamed of being a mother, but her idea of what life would be like as a mom is changed when her son Anthony is diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Anthony struggles with sounds and crowds and “normal” childhood experiences and Olivia works hard to make sense of what life is like for Anthony when he cannot speak to her. Just when Olivia begins to make sense of what her new life with Anthony will look like, he unexpectedly dies.

She finds herself alone in a cottage on Nantucket, newly separated from her husband, and desperate to understand the meaning of her son’s life when a chance encounter with another woman facing her own loss brings Anthony alive again for Olivia in a most unexpected way.

The two stories of these women is beautifully woven and what I truly appreciated about this story, as heartbreaking as it was, is how Genova seems to get inside the head of what it would be like to live as an autistic child and how she seems to really bring light to the difficulties an autistic child would have to endure.

Beautiful and a sweetly satisfying ending for a heartbreaking tale, Genova continues to weave beautiful stories that linger in my mind long after I close the book.

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

Not enough great reads for you? Check out our Books section of our site for monthly recommendations and ideas for making reading a priority again in your busy mom life!

Books I have read in 2012 (so far):


Disclosure: All of the links above are affiliate links and are provided so you can locate the books quickly and easily. Feel free to order a book, but we encourage utilizing the library system and buying me a latte instead.  Then we both would be really happy and we could have our own little book club together! Wouldn’t that just be so much more lovely? Happy Reading!

 

What has been in your book stack this winter? Feel free to share your book recommendations or feedback on any of the books that have been mentioned above! I love getting new suggestions for my book pile!


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The Good Life for Less Book Update

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

There are no words to explain seeing and holding your book for the first time. Last week a box arrived on my doorstep from Penguin and, with shaky hands, I opened the book and drank it all in. The only thing that even comes close to this experience is the birth of my children.

Last week I received an email that nearly brought me to my knees. My editor emailed to let me know that we had already sold the first print run of the book and they had to reprint it.  I can’t even begin to wrap my head around that, can you? 

The big question I am always asked is how you even begin the process of writing a book. My experience getting published was a unique one because it came through a truly unique opportunity for our family. Several years ago, I had replied to a media inquiry for a magazine that was looking for families that choose to live a life without credit cards. I submitted our family as an example and shared that we also had celebrated paying off our credit cards with our kids by throwing a debt-free party with them. They loved this unique spin on debt-free living and sent a team out to my house to photograph me for Redbook and wrote a feature on us. It was, perhaps, the most glamorous day of my life and I couldn’t believe all of these people were in our little house in Granger.

That magazine somehow landed in the hands of a literary agent who reached out to me and asked if I had ever considered writing a book.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Photo Credit: Nancy Lary Studios

 
Of course, the process of going from a blog and freelance article writer to a book writer was a difficult one. The entire process took me three years, mainly due to my own obstacles with running my site and running after small children.  When we finally sold the book, I had only gone over the first hurdle. You see, with nonfiction books, you sell your proposal before you sell a book.  Writing the proposal is writing the blueprint for what you envision the book will look like. It sets up the skeleton of how it will all look, but it is not the book.

Once that was sold, I still had a book to write.

I remember talking to another author about how I had never realized what a process this all would be and he shared with me that it isn’t really about how talented of a writer you are, it is just if you have the endurance to get through the process of publishing a book. I now understand.

When I finally received a copy of my book in my hands after all that writing, it was a big girl’s little girl dream come true. I don’t know if I ever will get over how incredibly incredible it all is.  You see, even as a child, I wanted to be a writer and to write my very own book.

I remember sitting and listening to my teachers read to me and rolling around words and phrases in my head and mouth because I loved them so much. I wished that I could have that power with words that my words would someday get stuck in their heads the way they did in mine.

One of my favorite authors was Beverly Cleary and now that I am rereading her books with my daughter, it brings even more joy to me as I roll the words around in my mouth again and her stories bring new meaning to me as an adult.

When I was a kid,  I used to type furiously on an old typewriter in my parent’s basement, writing my own little books of stories of my own imagination. My mother can also attest to the elaborate storytelling (that’s how I like to think of it) and my power at embellishing every story I told. I wanted more than anything to be a writer.

Photo Credit: Nancy Lary Studios

 
When my husband suggested I start a blog for my ideas, it turned out to be a fantastic outlet for me when I first became a stay-at-home mom and has fed that creative part of my brain so well over the years. I could be a “published author,” simply by hitting a button to post my words. Granted, it was publishing that anyone can do, but I have always treated it like my life’s work to write words and have people read them. More empowering is when someone reads your words and then they share with you how you have changed their lives through them.

If you have followed me over the years, you have seen the evolution of the blog, the words, and the found love for creating beautiful images with those words. If there is one thing I have learned it is that there is always the potential to do and be better. I am still evolving.

I hope you will be able to pick up my book and read more about our family’s journey out of debt and unemployment and into a life far richer than we could have ever imagined…in all the important ways.

The book will be out on bookstore shelves on January 2nd (a slight shift in dates due to our reprinting), but is now available for pre-order.  Here are some options for great places to order it! I also encourage you to hit your local bookstore to pick it up! 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Walmart

Powell’s

Indiebound

My first book signing will be on January 19th from 2-4 PM at the Mishawaka Barnes & Noble Store in the University Park Mall.  Feel free to accept my invitation to join me on that day. I will admit, I am SUPER nervous about that. I can just picture me and my mom sitting at a table alone.

To crickets. 

You don’t want that do you? I would be so honored to meet you all and please forgive me ahead of time about  knowing everyone’s name. I know Facebook faces, Twitter profile handles, and can recognize you on IG… BUT I tend to have an old lady brain and can’t always remember actual names! That is the other part I am nervous about so I thought I would say that in advance!

Thank you all for your continued love and support for me through this project.  I find myself randomly bursting into tears when I think of how kind everyone has been to us through this process and the genuine excitement from our friends about all of it.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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The Good Life for Less: My First Book Available NOW!

Friday, October 5th, 2012

After much waiting and years of hard work, I am so excited to share with you that, “The Good Life for Less,” (my first book, published by Penguin) is now available in bookstores nationwide. This is, perhaps, one of the most surreal moments of my life and I am so proud that I finally get to share it with all of you. It is such an honor to have my family on the cover (shot by Nancy Lary Studios) of this book and it was one of the most special days of our lives and one I will forever remember.

This book is the handbook that I wish someone had given to me when I started my family. It is a book rooted in great family traditions on a dime, how to get delicious and inexpensive meals on the table, how to care and decorate your home for less, how to have fabulous family celebrations without spending a lot, and truly living the good life for less!  It is nine years of hard research and sharing the very best gems of wisdom I have learned over the years, much learned  through my own trial and error, as well as the beautiful words of wisdom you have shared with me over the years that have helped to shape our family.

Even as a child, I also wanted to be a writer and to write my own book. I used to type furiously on an old typewriter in my parent’s basement, writing my own little books of stories of my own imagination.  I am fascinated with writers and have often admitted out loud that the main reason I have a Twitter account is simply to talk to my favorite writers. I am the girl that sends fan mail to my favorite writers. I am forever a bookworm. To be among them, is a childhood dream come true.

We so appreciate your love and support. Without you, a moment like this would have never been possible. This is one of those projects though that I truly need your help supporting- please share about it with your friends, tweet it, pin it, Facebook it, share it, buy it, etc… It would mean so much to my family!

The book is NOW AVAILABLE for ordering, both print and digital versions!  Here are some options for great places to order it! I also encourage you to hit your local bookstore to pick it up! 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Walmart

Powell’s

Indiebound

I am so thankful for you and your belief in me over the years. Nine years ago, I would have never envisioned where this journey would take us and it has far surpassed anything I could have ever dreamed.

I thank you and love you all dearly!

xo,

Amy

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