Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

13 Great Books to Check Out In 2013

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

13 Great Books to Check Out in 2013 from admit it, I have fallen VERY behind on book reviewing and I am so sorry about that. I have been reading an awful lot lately so I am excited to share with thirteen books that I have enjoyed this Summer & Fall. I am just highlighting the best of the best on here so I am excited to hopefully offer a few books to your library lists that you might not have read yet this year!

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 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.


A Hundred Summers

 A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

Although summer is long past, if you want to feel like it is summer again pick up this divine book for a quick and wonderful escape. When the ever-so-handsome football hero Nick Greenwald joins an Ivy League campus in the uncertain days of the Great Depression he falls madly in love with Lily Dane. Lily’s family, however, is not pleased that she has found her suitor in a boy from a Jewish family. Her beautiful best friend, Budgie, ends up marrying Nick shortly after they break off their relationship, leaving Lily brokenhearted and bewildered. Seven years later, the Greenwalds turn up at Seaview, Rhode Island, the same town where Lily’s family vacations and Lily finds all the answers she has been looking for all of these years in a minefield of plot twists and turns!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I always try to tackle one classic each year and  I am so proud that I actually tackled this and Wuthering Heights this year, which was no small feat for me! My husband has been hounding me since high school to read this book and still had his old dog-eared copy for me in our nightstand. I finally relented and read it and I am SO glad that I did. It was definitely one of the best books that I have read this year!

The book takes place in California in the Salinas Valley, a home to two families whose lives are fatefully intertwined in many ways. Over the generations, between the beginning of the twentieth century and the end of the First World War, the Trasks and the Hamiltons replay out two of the Bible’s most memorable stories- the story of Cain & Abel and the story of Adam & Eve.

The story is so beautifully told and shockingly provocative for the time, it is said to be Steinbeck’s greatest work. After reading it, I would say that it is one of the greatest works I have ever read. I really want you to read this one too!
Editor’s Note: Adult Language & Sexuality

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Me Before You

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

It is rare for a book to stick with me as long as this story has, but Me Before You holds a special place in my heart this year. Although I think it falls in the chick-lit vein, the story of the challenges and difficulties of becoming and living as a paraplegic made me think about those living with this challenge in a new way.

Louisa Clark is on the hunt for a job and unable to find work when she stumbles upon a job caring for a paraplegic. Although she has no medical background and feels this job isn’t really a good fit for her, she is simply asked to be a companion and keep Will Traynor company. Will is wheelchair bound after a tragic accident that has altered his entire life. A man who loved extreme sports and travel, he wonders how much longer he can live like this and if a life like this is worth living.
I absolutely loved this story and the reader will find themselves wondering what they would do if they were in these character’s shoes. Beautifully told with emotion and humor,  you just won’t be able to put this one down!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Eleanor & Park

 eleanor & park by rainbow rowell

Eleanor & Park was an Amazon Book of Month in young adult fiction in 2013 and once these characters weave their way into your heart, you will understand just why this book was selected.
Eleanor just doesn’t fit in with her peers, wild hair and patchwork outfits, do not seem to help her blend in better. When she is forced to choose a seat on the bus she ends up sitting next to Park, a quiet kid who is obsessed with comic books and an outsider himself.
When Park notices that Eleanor is reading his comic books over his shoulders, he starts sharing them with her, which later develops into a sharing of great mixed music tapes, and then develops into more than either of them can imagine.
Set in 1986, this book made me laugh out loud and made me cry. Eleanor is one of those quirky characters that you just can’t help rooting for. Although this is written for young adults, anyone who ever survived those awful days of high school will love this book.
Editor’s Note: Adult Language

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

I Couldn't Love You More

I Couldn’t Love You More by Jillian Medoff

This book was, honestly, a tough read for me, but I am so glad that I read it. It has stuck with me long after I closed the pages and was one that I talked about with my husband after I finished it.

Without giving too much of the plot away, Eliot Gordon has two step-daughters and a biological child with her partner Grant. They have never gotten married, but have been together for a long time and feel solid in their commitment with each other. When Eliot’s long-lost first love appears back in her life, a truly shocking chain of events occur that will haunt their family forever. Eliot’s one split second of error is an error that any mother can make, but shadowed by this relationship, it feels almost unforgivable. I am recommending this one for a book club pick because it would lend itself to a great discussion and is one that you just want to talk about after you finish it.

Editor’s Note: Adult Language & Sexuality

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

Necessary Lies

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

I absolutely love Diane Chamberlain. Pair a Diane Chamberlain with a period piece? Well, I am there!  Necessary Lies is one of those books you just want to share with a book club because it lends itself to such a great discussion on what role our government should play (if any)  in our lives when they happen to be the system our families need to rely on in financial struggles.

Chamberlain weaves a fictional story about the very real North Carolina’s Eugenics Sterilization Program that was in effect from 1929 to 1975. In this story, 15-year-old Ivy Hart, her mentally slow 17-year-old sister, and young nephew “Baby” William all live with their grandmother who is in failing health. Jane Forrester becomes Ivy’s family’s social worker and she encounters the state program that seeks to sterilize “mental defectives,” among others with supposedly undesirable characteristics. Through every choice she makes from then on, Jane triggers an inescapable series of events that thrusts everything either she or Ivy ever held to be true into a harsh light, binding them together in ways they do not immediately comprehend or appreciate.

Although I felt this one had a slower build for me, it was worth powering through for the incredible discussion and the endearing characters that are told through this story.  I just can’t stop thinking about this one! If you love this book, be sure to check out her prequel!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Orange is the New Black book cover

Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman

If the television series on Netflix was too racy for you, this book is surprisingly tamer and a truly interesting read about what it would be like to be a woman prisoner.

Piper Kerman is the girl next door that we all love and admire. She has a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, but Piper also has a past that few people know about. She got herself mixed up with the wrong people  and found herself assisting a drug ring with a suitcase of drug money ten years before. As our pasts often do, her past had a way of creeping up on her and Piper is convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison.
This book offers a closer look into the prison system and what it would be like as a prisoner and what her life was like over the course of her sentence.

I couldn’t put this book down and read it in just a couple of short days. Although I didn’t feel the story flowed as well as it could have, the content within it was absolutely fascinating to me. The friendships between these women and what a day in the life of a prisoner really would be like, is a far cry from what I had envisioned. This is a very thought-provoking book that would be a great one to share with your book club pals and will have you seeing the whole prison system in a far different light.

Editor’s Note: Adult Language & Sexuality

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Fault In Our Stars The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

There is so much to love about this book from John Green and the characters are just as endearing as that fabulous Eleanor & Park book that I highlighted above. In full disclosure, this is a book that you need a big box of tissues with and one that will stick with you long after you close the pages.
This is the story of an unlikely group of friends that meet through their Cancer Kid Support Group. Hazel has experienced a medical miracle and her tumor has been shrinking, buying her a few more years, but she finds that she is depressed despite the good news. Her doctors encouage her to participate in a support group which permanently alters Hazel’s path. When she meets Augustus, they quickly form a deep bond that neither could have ever anticipated.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away on this one, but it is so beautifully told, with heart-wrenching honesty, that these kids will wedge right into your heart when you read about them.

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Girl You Left Behind

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

After reading Me Before You, I was dying to pick up this book, especially when I heard that it was historical fiction. I have to say that I loved this one almost as much as I loved Me Before You.

The first part of the story is set in 1916 in France. Artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his young wife, Sophie, to fight on the front lines.  When their  town falls to the Germans in the midst of World War I, Edouard’s portrait of Sophie draws the eye of the new Kommandant. As the officer’s dangerous obsession deepens, Sophie will risk everything—her family, her reputation, and her life—to see her husband again.

Almost a century later, this same painting is given to Liv Halston by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. A chance encounter reveals the painting’s true worth, and a battle begins for who its legitimate owner is—putting Liv’s belief in what is right to the ultimate test.

Once I started this book, I just couldn’t put it down. Both stories were equally compelling and the story behind this painting is beautifully told and heartbreaking, especially the lengths that Sophie will go to to reunite with her husband.

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Husband's Secret

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

I am a big fan of Liane Moriarty and have to say that this is one of the best books I have read by her. When I got this book, I expected some typical chick-lit, but this one was so much more than that.  This book was selected as one of the best books of the month by Amazon this year and it is no wonder since it was a gripping page turner that I just could not put down.

Just imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Again, imagine this secret is so big that it could threaten the stability of your own life and the lives of others. But then imagine that you run across this letter when tidying your attic while your husband is still alive.

Cecilia Fitzpatrick  has it all- a successful career, she is well-respected with in her community, and she is one of those women that just seems to have it all together. This secret is about to crumble her perfect world and will forever alter the lives of others around them.

This one is another one that I just couldn’t put down and truly illustrates the point that our past has a way of catching up with us.

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Storyteller

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I will admit that I have given up on the last few Picoult books that I have read. The books just didn’t have the spark that I was looking for anymore and started to feel predictable. Each week though, someone recommended this book to me on our reading thread so I decided to give in and read it. This is nothing like she has ever written before and will likely be one of my top ten books I have read this year. You really MUST read it.

Sage Singer works the night shift as a baker, preparing pastries and breads until the wee hours of the morning. She is scarred physically and emotionally and prefers to work alone, but finds that she is leading a lonely life.. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship that will forever change both of their lives. You see, Josef has a secret that he has been living with his whole life, and he is about to ask Sage for a favor that he hopes she won’t refuse.

I wish I could say more, but this is one that I guarantee you will be thinking about and that would lend itself well to any book club discussion. I dare to say that this is the best book yet by Jodi Picoult!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars


Wonder by R.J. Palacio

If you read one book with your kids this year, let it be this one. Wonder is truly one of the best kid’s books I have read in a long time and Augustus is the most fantastic little boy that you will want your child to emulate and look up to.

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity and thanks to his numerous surgeries he has been homeschooled by his family.  Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. 

The book is told from August’s perspective and then tells it from other kids that are around him, his sister, and even his sister’s boyfriend. When all of these stories are pieced together, it creates the perfect telling of what it is like to be someone who looks different then those around him and what it would be like to love or be friends with someone who is different.

This book is absolutely perfect in every single way from start to finish. It deals with big issues, but truly is captured in the voice of a fifth grade boy. I couldn’t put it down and can’t wait to share this book with my two children.

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars

Z Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

If there is one lady that I now have mad love for it is Zelda Fitzgerald after reading this fantastic historical fiction account of her life.

Zelda Sayre is anything, but typical. Reckless and a little wild, Zelda  meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918,  when she is just seventeen years old and he is serving as a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama.  Zelda has always been determined to never settle down, but Scott’s charms wear her down despite the fact that he has no wealth to his name, no prominence, and isn’t even Southern. Her family is unimpressed, but through a little trickery of her own, Zelda manages to push Scott into selling his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s.  Days later, Zelda boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, believing that everything will work out in the end.

This wild pair earn the fascination and adoration of the public and become a public spectacle that is reported in the papers. They partake in wild partying and drinking as Scott tries to continue writing with little success and little money coming in. Zelda, a writer in her own right, tries to find herself and who she is when she is oh-so-much-more than just F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife.

I absolutely loved this book and reading about their relationship. You know it is good if you go on an evening of reading on Wikipedia after you are done reading a book. I loved this book from start to finish!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

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!


Tell me, what books you have been enjoying these past few months? Anything I should be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site!

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Book Review: The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

The Engagements was a book that I picked up, looking for a quick chick lit escape this summer. What happened instead, was a book that has stuck with me since I put it down and surprised me with its depth and beauty. It was the kind of book that I couldn’t wait for someone else to read and the one that I drove my husband crazy sharing about in the evenings because of the smartly woven plot twists.

Each chapter alternates stories with each story deeply rooted in the engagement ring from the inception of the idea of selling the idea of an engagement ring to women to what this ring signifies to each character in the book.

The stories unfold beginning with Frances Gerety, an advertising copyright who works on the De Beers account and who is the creator of  the, “A Diamond is Forever,” campaign that De Beers is still known for today. She is the one who changes what the diamond ring means to women and, yet, receives very little recognition for her efforts in her career. Fans of Mad Men, in particular, will fall in love with Frances and her struggles to get to the top of her ad agency, much like the beloved Peggy Olson in our favorite television series.

All of the other chapters weave in stories from different decades of what the diamond ring means to the other characters in the book. Evelyn has been married to her husband for 40 years, ever since her husband slipped off her first wedding ring and put his own in its place. Delphine  has seen both the beauty and the awfulness in relationships and finds herself in a love triangle she never expected.  James is a paramedic whose constant struggle to prove to his family and wife that he is good enough when he  feels in his heart he is not,  and the story of Kate who has been with her partner for a decade, but refuses to be married because of her feminist beliefs.

The novel spans nearly a hundred years with these stories and, perhaps, the most surprising thing for me was how utterly enchanted I was with every single story and character. I am guilty of favoring certain characters more than others, yet with this book, every story and every chapter was so great that I enjoyed all of them equally.

Don’t let the slow start on this book discourage you- I promise that it will be worth it to see this one through to the end! This is my favorite book by J. Courtney Sullivan yet and I have a feeling it will be for you too!

MomAdvice Rating- 4 Stars out of 5 Stars

The Engagements

If you are looking for a little reading inspiration, 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!

You can also follow me on GoodReads & Instagram for more reading inspiration! Don’t forget to check out our list of 20 Great Beach Reads and our Books section for your summer reading!

Disclosure: The link provided is an affiliate link and is 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!

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Book Review: Forever Interrupted

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Forever_Interrupted In the summer I am always looking for a good reading escape and I have found that with, “Forever Interrupted,” by Taylor Jenkins. It is a love story that has been forever interrupted when Elsie Porter meets her soul mate, gets married, and finds herself being widowed… all in six short months?

What complicates the story further though is that Elsie’s husband has never told his family about her and his mother is less-than-happy to find out that Ben had a wife that he had never told her about.

It would be an awfully short story though if it ended there and Reid beautifully weaves together the amazing love story of Elsie & Ben from the very beginning while flashing forward as Elsie struggles to move on and finds comfort in one of the most unlikely of people.

I would recommend this one for fans of Emily Giffin, our readers that loved, “Arranged,” as much as I did,  and for those who appreciated the love story of, “One Day.” I found myself both laughing, crying, and sometimes laughing and crying all at the same time.

I bet you read this one in just a couple of short days- it is a hard one to ever put down! I can’t wait to read more from this author!

MomAdvice Rating- 5 Stars out of 5 Stars


If you are looking for a little reading inspiration, 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!

You can also follow me on GoodReads & Instagram for more reading inspiration!

Disclosure: The link provided is an affiliate link and is 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!

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Beach Reads: 20 Books to Add to Your Beach Bag This Summer

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

20 Beach Reads for SummerIf there is one thing I love about summer it is catching up on my summer beach reads. Today I wanted to share with you 20 book ideas for stocking your beach bag this summer and that can provide a perfect escape during the summer months. While I lean heavy toward the chick lit genre in the summer, I am mixing in a few unexpected additions that I think you will equally enjoy in the thriller and historical fiction categories.

Beach Reads

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.

What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

“What Alice Forgot,” opens with Alice sprawled on the floor of the gym after she has fallen and hit her head after passing out in a spinning class. Alice is certainly perplexed by this because she has never gone to the gym and certainly would never do a spinning class. Her main concern is for her unborn baby when she wakes up and she is anxious for her husband to meet her at the hospital to help calm her down. Everyone seems to know her and everyone looks so different to her, that she is beginning to wonder what is going on. When Alice’s sister, Elizabeth, arrives at the hospital, she has to break it to Alice that she is not pregnant, she is not 29, she has three children, and she is in the middle of a custody battle and divorce with her husband.

Alice has, in fact, lost her memory over the last ten years and what faces her is heartbreaking and unpleasant.  People don’t even seem to like her. Friendships she thought she had do not exist. Neighbors avoid her. She can’t remember ever having any children. And the one person she thought loved her the most can’t stand to even speak to her.

As Alice comes to terms with the person she can’t remember becoming she is faced with many terrible truths about herself as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.  Will it be too late to repair the damage that has been done and if her memory returns, will she still long to be the woman she was ten years ago.

I absolutely loved this book as I love all books that explore the what-if’s in life.  This one had me laughing and even a little teary-eyed as Alice goes through the journey of discovering who she has become and how to capture the innocence of a girl in her twenties and in love.

Skipping a Beat

Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

High-school sweethearts Julie & Michael have left behind their small town and are in pursuit of living a life better than their modest upbringings and achieving the American dream. When Michael decides to start a sports drink company, neither of them could ever expect how quickly his business would takeoff or what it would be like to be millionaires. As money is introduced into their life, their marriage begins to crumble as Michael is increasingly unavailable due to the success of his company and the separation that exists as a couple begins to grow apart.

The book opens as Michael has a near-death experience and Julie, a successful party planner, is called to the hospital to be with her husband.  Michael begins acting strangely and tells Julia that he has made the decision to give all of his money and company away.  Julie is stunned, as she has begun the process of filing for a divorce from her husband, and will lose half of the estate and money if he gives everything away. Michael pleads for Julie to give him just one chance.

This book then delves into the complex relationship that they share and how their marriage began to fail as they began to rediscover one another again once their fortune is taken out of the equation.

I went into it expecting a simple piece of chick lit, and it developed into one beautiful story! Perhaps it is not life-altering, but sometimes a girl just needs a good love story that renews her feelings about love and what is important in life.  It offered everything I love in a book:  great characters, a beautiful love story, a fabulous friendship between two women, and great humor interjected throughout the story. It really was so much more than I could have hoped for!

The Language of Flowers


The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Victoria Jones was a child that has been unloved and unwanted by many.  After going from foster care home to foster care home, she finally find someone who loves her whole-heartedly and wants to adopt her as her own.  Elizabeth is a dream mother to this wounded child.  She spends hours teaching Victoria the Victorian names and meanings for flowers and how to care for them. These lessons t later become the tools that she must employ to share her feelings and find work later in her life. Through a traumatic turn of events though, Elizabeth never adopts Victoria and at eighteen she is declared emancipated with no money, nowhere to go, and no one who loves her.

Victoria makes her home in the local park, sleeping in the grass at night, and even begins to plant her own garden in the park. When a local florist happens upon Victoria and her talent for flower arranging, she is hired on the spot to help with her small floral shop. Word soon gets around about Victoria’s talent for arrangements, carefully chosen & arranged based on their Victorian flower names and what they mean for their recipients.

When Victoria runs into a floral vendor who happens to be someone from her & Elizabeth’s past, she must decide if she can ever move forward from the secret that she is harboring in her heart and if she can ever feel and find love again.

The story switches from Victoria’s childhood to her time now as an adult. It never is confusing, but outlines the heartbreaking story of a difficult childhood and why Victoria would have such difficulties as an adult.

It is so surprising that this is Diffenbaugh’s first novel as she writes with experience and description that you rarely find in a debut novel.  I have no doubt you will love this book as much as I did!

Gone Girl

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.

Wife 22

Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

If you are looking for another great chick-lit escape, Wife 22 offers a fresh and modern-day perspective on finding love that I think you will really enjoy.

Alice Buckle is a typical middle aged mother who has found herself in a funk in her marriage. While Googling the search term, “happy marriage,” she suddenly receives an opportunity in her email to take part in a marriage survey. Since she is struggling in her marriage, she find this to be a fun and anonymous way to share about her marriage without judgement. She takes on the anonymous survey as, “Wife 22,” and finds herself completely engrossed in taking the survey and writing the answers to the questions. As she engages daily in the interaction with the researcher, their playful banter starts to turn into something that Alice never expected.

This modern day love story of love lost and love found again is one that you will really love. What adds to the charm of this book is the social media thread of viewing Alice’s friend’s Facebook status updates at the beginning of the chapters, the Facebook chats she engages in, and of course the emails back and forth between herself and the Researcher.

A solid ending to this story really pulls all the layers together beautifully. As an aside, there is an Appendix at the very end of the book that provides the questions that were asked of Alice when completing the survey. I wished I would have had those to help me pull the answers together more fully.


Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

This book made my top ten list this past year, 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!

I've Got Your Number

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Sometimes you just want to sit down with a good chick lit book and laugh. As always, Sophie Kinsella delivers a funny, charming, and hilarious book that will be perfect to tackle for your summer reading!

When Poppy Wyatt begins showing off her family heirloom engagement ring to all of her friends at a hotel reception, her ring ends up missing, amid the chaos of the fire alarms going off at the hotel. Not only is Poppy lost without her ring, her phone is stolen during the chaos with the number she has given the hotel staff to use to contact her if they do discover her ring.

When she spots a cell phone on top of a trash can, she gives that phone’s number out to the hotel staff, in hopes someone will find her engagement ring and call her on it. Of course, the phone belongs to someone and with that first call, Poppy’s life is turned upside down when businessman Sam Roxton begins chatting and texting Poppy.

The book is back to Sophie’s roots of hilarity that made her infamous Shopaholic series so delightful. I really enjoyed this cute modern day love story and I think you will too!

Labor Day

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

Joyce Maynard is quickly becoming one of my new favorite authors and I found her book, “Labor Day,” to be a delight to read with great twists and character build that had me thinking about the book long after the pages were shut.

Henry is the narrator of this story and tells the story through his thirteen year-old eyes of a Labor Day weekend that changed his and his mother’s entire life. The strange story begins as he stands in a drugstore browsing the aisles, where he is approached by a man who asks if he can catch a ride home with him and his mother. The man appears to be injured, but seems harmless enough to catch a ride back with them. Henry doesn’t know it, but Frank is actually an escaped convict who is wanted for murder and is being searched for. His mother, Adele, is divorced and isolates herself from society, but offers to let Frank stay there for a few days as his injuries heal, in exchange for help around the house.

An unlikely relationship blossoms between the three characters and Frank quickly begins to fill the voids of a partner that Adele has always wanted in her life and the father that Henry wishes he had. Whether it is the simple act of dancing with Adele in the kitchen or throwing a ball with Henry, he fills those voids that they both have been missing. All of this would be perfect provided Frank wasn’t an escaped felon, but living in hiding is not a new thing for Adele, and both she & her son become quickly swept away with Frank.

The story telling in this is so vivid, despite the idea feeling a bit far-fetched, that I found myself rooting for a happy ending with the family that Adele & Henry have desired. As it seem is customary with Maynard’s books, a thoughtful twist is thrown in at the end that can lead to your own thoughtful reflection on what you would do in this situation.

Editor’s Note: Sexuality is in this book, as it is told through the eyes of an adolescent boy.

Before I Go to Sleep

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

If you are looking for a psychological thriller that will have you guessing until the very last page what is happening, then I have the book for you.  This is the best thriller that I have read this year and can hardly believe that it is the author’s first book.

Every single day Christine wakes up not knowing who she is, where she is, and who her husband is.  It is the same scenario every day as she makes her way to the bathroom, where pictures are layered upon the mirror that explain who she is and who her husband is. Each day she must go through the heartbreaking discovery that she has had a terrible accident that has caused her to have permanent amnesia. People she thinks are alive have died.  She can’t remember if she is a mother. She doesn’t know why she doesn’t have any friends. Some days she wakes up and she believes she is in her twenties and cannot even recognize the woman who looks at her in the mirror.

When Christine begins meeting with a doctor, he encourages her to begin journaling each day to help jog her memory of what has been happening in her daily life. As each day opens, Christine opens her journal and begins to read and as she reads, she begins to discover that the life that she is leading might not be all that it seems to be.  As Christine becomes more and more aware of her story and begins to challenge the information that her husband is feeding to her about what has happened, the reader is left wondering if Christine is obsessing about details because she can’t really recall them or if the stories she is hearing are even real?

If you read one thriller this year, let it be this one. I promise you, it is truly amazing and will leave you stunned when you read the final pages.  I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Something Borrowed


something borrowed by emily giffin

Rachel & Darcy have been best friends their whole lives. Darcy is the beautiful one and is the friend that is always hogging the spotlight, while Rachel has always been content to be in Darcy’s shadow, concentrating on her studies in school. As Rachel is out celebrating her thirtieth birthday with Darcy, her fiancée Dex, and their other friends, she finds that she drinks a tad more than she normally would and finds herself in a predicament that changes the outcome of her life.

That night, when Dex graciously offers to see Rachel home, one thing leads to another and they find themselves having an affair that neither one of them bargained for. Writing it off as a one night stand, Rachel decides that she will try to forget that the encounter ever happened.

Thinking that Dex likely had too much to drink too, she is stunned when Dex admits that he has had feelings for Rachel for a long time.

As the two of them try to resist each other, Rachel is forced to complete the duties as the maid of honor to Darcy, and help her with the decisions for her wedding to Dex. Rachel is consumed with guilt while Darcy continues to be consumed with herself and is oblivious to what is happening.

Told from Rachel’s perspective, you begin to sympathize with Rachel and the challenges that she has had to live with to be friends with a person like Darcy. As she reflects on childhood incidents and the way that Darcy has made her feel, you can’t help but to sympathize for her and root for her to be with Dex.

The twist is such a good one at the end and while it is more of the chick-lit genre, this book is more about the friendships and the dynamics within a friendship than anything else! I am so glad that I finally read this and dived into the sequel, “Something Blue,” as soon as I finished it.

Firefly Lane

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

This book was an unbelievably fun adventure that chronicles the life of two best friends from the time they are children until they are grown women. It goes through each decade, the hair, the pop culture references, and the politics that are happening as they are growing up.

Kate & Tully are as opposite as friends can be, but they are both outsiders in their own ways. Kate is a bookworm and shy while Tully has been uprooted to a new school and feels unloved by her mother. Regardless of their differences, they become fast friends whose lives become quickly entwined.

As they get older, new issues face them. Tully is career-driven and hungry for a job as an anchorwoman. Kate, on the other hand, is more laid back and unsure of her life goals. Kate really just longs to be with someone while Tully ends up with the someone she longs to be with.

In some ways the book was predictable, in others, it reminded me of the chick flicks I love to see with my girlfriends. I laughed out loud and I cried a little bit too. It was just an all-around fantastic read!

I gave this gift to my girlfriends for the holidays because it is just one of those books that you can’t not share!

Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

This book takes you on a journey that is beautifully told of the time in China and in the US during the Japanese invasion of Shanghai and happens to be one of my favorite Lisa See books of all time.

Pearl & May are sisters who deal with many of the insecurities and rivalry that most sisters endure. Pearl is studious and responsible while May is beautiful and has the ability to get her way in any type of situation. Both girls are living a life of privilege and are unaware of the poor and less fortunate. The girls enjoy the good life and are able to afford their lifestyle thanks to modeling for advertisements that help afford them what their family needs.

This all takes a turn when they discover that their father is in deep debt. In order to pay off his debts, he arranges for a marriage and marries off the girls to a set of brothers residing in the United States. They are expected to make the journey to the US and fulfill their father’s debts.

Getting to the United States proves to be more challenging than either sister bargained for as the invasion of Shanghai happens at the same time they are to be heading on the boat.

To say that this journey to the United States is epic, would be a small understatement. The girls endure incredible tragedy, untold brutality, and a journey that they never dreamed they would ever endure.

The story, above all else, is about sisters. Sisters that love each other in spite of it all…and sisters that would do anything for one another.

There is a sequel to this book and you can find my review of that here!

Last Night at Chateau Marmont

Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger

From the author of, “The Devil Wears Prada,” is a great read following a normal everyday couple and what happens when fame comes knocking.

Julian & Brooke live a relatively idyllic life as both have focus on their careers. Julian works a day job, but has high hopes of one day becoming a famous musician. Brooke, his wife, is his number one fan who works two jobs to help support her husband’s struggling career as he tries to break into the record industry. They both hope that he will one day become famous and do what he loves so much. Of course, the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for,” really rings true when Julian finally becomes the rock star he has always wanted.

While Julian is whisked off and surrounded by a PR team and record executives looking to boost his image and get him mentioned in tabloids, Brooke is left wondering what this will all mean for her and their marriage. When a scandalous picture is taken of her husband with another woman at Chateau Marmont, Brooke must decide if she can truly believe Julian or if the pressure from fans and the people he surrounds himself with have become too much.

As she struggles to continue doing her job while still supporting Julian and being there for all of the events that are happening in his career, Brooke now finds herself, at times, lonely and practically single. With every obstacle placed in front of their marriage, the reader is left wondering if any marriage could survive the fame and scrutiny of the public.

A heartbreaking and real look at fame and how it could alter a relationship, this is a little more than your typical chick-lit! Lauren Weisberger delivers another great new read filled with pop culture references and many cameos from some of your favorite celebrities!

One Day

One Day by David Nicholls

The concept for Nicholl’s book is a genius one that I loved from start to finish. It chronicles the lives of two friends, Dex & Em, over the course of twenty years and each chapter begins a new year on the same exact day. It begins with what seems like a romantic relationship in 1988 and then each year jumps into a new place of their friendship and what is happening that year with them.

You began the journey with Dex & Em when they are in college and each of them is dreaming big for what they have in store for their future. You then go along on the journey as Dex lives off of the wealth of his family, as Em is stuck in a dead end job, as Dex finds fame, as Dex loses fame, and as Em finally begins living her dream. To say more than this would give it all away, but know that as a reader of the book, you get to glimpse into the lives and evolution of how we change as people as we grow older.

The relationship with Dex & Em is at times endearing and at times exasperating. Em puts up with a lot as Dex falls down a slippery slope in the world of Hollywood. It is a, “When Harry Met Sally,” love story that I simply could not put down.

The ending was a shocking one, that may disappoint some readers, but it did not take away from the story for me. Because of the ending, try to avoid reading any reviews of the book until you have finished it so you can draw your own conclusion on this book!

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

I have never read a book by Diane Chamberlain, but if this is any indication of her writing style, I am permanently hooked on this author.

This book focuses on a sixteen year old girl who has lost her mother and seems to be very alone in the world. She works as a waitress and waits on the table of a handsome young man who sweeps her off of her feet. Despite their age difference, he seems to be very taken with her and she is head over heels in love with him.

He makes a confession that he is on a mission to release his sister from jail for a wrongfully accused crime. He asks her to partner with him and his brother to free their sister from jail. All she will have to do is to sit with the senator’s wife, whom they plan to kidnap, as bait to get the local senator to agree to release their sister.

The crime goes completely wrong and forever alters the path of CeeCee Wilkes. She is forced to change her identity and lives with a horrible secret of what has happened during that fateful night that she assisted with the kidnapping.

This one had me on the edge of my seat and I could not put it down until I knew what had happened. It is one of the best books that I have read in a long time and I would highly recommend it!

These Things Hidden

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

If you have not read The Weight of Silence, be sure to check out my review on Heather Gudenkauf’s first novel.  Gudenkauf is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and her second novel is filled with suspense, fabulous plot twists, and a great storyline that I devoured in just two days!  Her books, to me, are like a really suspenseful movie and what I was so fond of in Jodi Picoult’s earlier books.

Allison Green was not the typical teenager, but a golden child who excelled at everything she ever did. Straight A’s, beautiful, and a strong soccer player, she seemed to have everything going for her. In a mistake that would forever alter her existence, and even cause her parents to disown her, Allison Green is accused of murder and spends five years serving a ten year sentence.  Her reputation is marred forever, but it isn’t the only reputation to be marred.

Allison’s sister, Brynn, was constantly in the shadow of her sister and never got any attention from her parents. Living in a small town and having your sister accused of murder is social suicide for Brynn, who has lost all of her friends because of her sister’s mistake. When Allison is released early for good behavior, she is the first to be called by Allison.  Brynn won’t take her calls and finds the new existence she has created at college once again is clouded by her sister’s past.

The two sister’s worlds are about to collide as the secret of one little boy threatens three families and the reader will be shocked at the twisted web that Gudenkauf  successfully spins, weaving an unlikely set of characters together and a suspenseful satisfying ending that will leave you begging for more!

Defending Jacob

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.

Time of My Life

Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch

If I had to give my vote to one of my all-time favorite chick lit books, “Time of My Life,” would be among my absolute favorites.

In this book, Scotch tackles an the what-if  question that many of us ask ourselves- what if I had held on to the one that got away? Jillian Westfield seems to have it all: a loving lawyer husband, a beautiful baby girl, and a gorgeous home in Westchester County, N.Y. While she has it all, she also is run down and covered in spit-up when she disocvers that her old boyfriend, Jackson, is getting married. The day after a chi-clearing massage, Jill wakes up and finds herself seven years in the past, giving her the chance to revisit her life with Jack in Manhattan, when she worked as an advertising executive.

The grass is always greener on the other side, and Jillian discovers what life would be like if she had never met her husband and had gone down the other path in life instead. Fast-moving and beautifully written, this is a definite must-read to add to your beach bag!

Great-Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells

Great-Aunt Sophia’s Lessons for Bombshells by Lisa Cach

Grace Cavanaugh is working religiously on proving her Women’s Studies dissertation thesis that beauty only leads to unhappiness. She figures what better subject for her dissertation could there be than her great-aunt Sophia, a former B-movie star? Now eighty-five and facing surgery, Sophia has asked Grace for her to come and stay with her for the summer.

Grace soon discovers that rather than a frail and aging starlet, Great-Aunt Sophia is happily holiding cord in a Pebble Beach mansion, that seems to captivate everyone in her presence. To make matters worse, she wants to focus on making Grace into the bombshell she never was and starts Grace on a strict regime of carbs, updating her wardrobe, and learning to talk like a lady. To practice she must practice her new feminine wiles on on two of them in the house and see what results.

Newly unleashed desires—and the discovery of a closely held family secret threaten everything that Grace has always believed about being a woman.

While slightly predictable, this is a sexy book with a better developed plot than your typical Harlequin-type romance. This one offers a fun escape into a love triangle that would be perfect for your summer reading!

Editor’s Note- Sexuality

The Best of Us

The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen

The most recent indulgence in my beach reading bag has been this fantastically wonderful escape in Sarah Pekkanen’s latest novel, “The Best of Us.”

I have a feeling you will absolutely love this story about old college friends who all go on an all-expense paid week in Jamaica, by invitation of an old college friend who has hit the big-time financially.
All four women are desperate not just for a reunion, but for an escape: Tina is drowning under the demands of mothering four young children. Allie is shattered by the news that a genetic illness runs in her family. Savannah is carrying the secret of her husband’s infidelity. And, finally, there’s Pauline, who spares no expense to throw her wealthy husband an unforgettable thirty-fifth birthday celebration, hoping it will gloss over the cracks already splitting apart their new marriage.

If you happen to be in the 35-year old range like me, you will appreciate the college flashbacks with music and discussion of that time their life and, with nothing to do but lay on the beach, there is plenty of time to reminisce about their former life. But as a powerful hurricane bears down on the island, turmoil swirls inside the villa, forcing each of the women to reevaluate everything she knows about her friends—and herself.

This is a fantastic read from one of my favorite chick-lit authors. This is definitely one to add to your beach bag this summer for a fun escape!

Editor’s Note: Sexuality

 Beach Reads

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!

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!


Tell me, what’s YOUR favorite beach read? Anything I should be adding to my beach bag for the summer? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!


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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, 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 and 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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