Archive for April, 2019

Small-Budget Crushes 04.19.19

Friday, April 19th, 2019

Wow! The sales this weekend are INCREDIBLE! Happy shopping! xo

striped top (ADDITIONAL HALF OFF on all sale items!!)

rash guard shirt (50% off!!!)

polka dot swimsuit (several patterns!!)

striped midi skirt (50% off & an additional 20% off with coupon code FULLBASKET)

rainbow striped sweater (under $20!!)

yellow tassel earrings (loads of colors)

pleated top (use coupon code HOPTOIT for 50% off!!)

floral ruffle dress (use coupon code FRIENDS for 40% off!!)

striped midi dress (several colors/patterns)

initial birthstone ring (great grad gift!)

tropical orange romper

wrap belt (use coupon code FRIENDS for 40% off!!)

makeup organizer

jean shorts

red block heels (surprisingly comfortable, several hues, & buy 1 get 1 50% off!!)

zodiac cake topper

personalized wooden watch grad gift (I’m not crying, you’re crying!)

candy striped top (ADDITIONAL HALF OFF SALE ITEMS!!)

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links!! xoxoxo

Amy’s Notebook 04.18.19

Thursday, April 18th, 2019


I’ve been dying to make an Instant Pot Cheesecake and this recipe looks perfect.

What it is like to grow up with more money than you’ll ever spend. Fascinating!

These are some really creative ideas for ways to squeeze in more books.

Things I wish my therapist would say to me– hahaha!

A simple conversation starter for any social situation.

This was your favorite purchase this week.

22 Whole30 recipes you can eat all week long. YUM!


I can’t get over how stunning this bike wheel wreath is! Such a smart upcycle!

These embellished braids would be so pretty for Easter Sunday.

I’ve got this book on my nightstand this week and this book going on my earbuds.

This piece really hit the nail on the head about friendships & parenting in your 40’s. (*language*)

I loved reading this piece on the new microblading eyebrows trend that’s going on.

Loved volunteering for this organization this week. I wish more schools would do this!

Speaking of South Bend, this was the highlight of my week.


How good does this broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken breast look? YUM!

This has been my year of branching out and I love this advice on making new friends.

This one-pot dish looks delicious!

We are going to have to try this recipe for our next Indian night.

This is a great gathering of beginner cooking tips. A lot of these are things I learned through trial and error.


How fun is this faux woven pendant light?

30 foolproof ways to deal with difficult people.

What’s behind the elective-sobriety trend.

Looking for a mocktail to start with? This recipe caught my eye!

It’s harder to focus these days and it isn’t your fault.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

Please note, there are affiliate links in this post- thank you! xoxo

Let’s Talk About Books and TV!

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

I had the honor of being a guest on The Couch Podcast with Mary Carver this week! Mary asked if I would join her to talk about TV and books and it was such a blast. My homework to prepare was to take a list of great television shows people are loving and share them a couple of books I think they would like, based on their taste in television.

When I got done piecing together my notes, I sent them off to Mary so she could create a giant reading guide for you that you can take to your local library for some books you just won’t want to put down!

We chatted about Arrested Development (bring on the quirky characters), Outlander (you know I love a good time travel story!), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (I love female characters that buck the system), Friends (specifically, Ross & Rachel), The Handmaid’s Tale (fight the power!), & Stranger Things (the weirder the better).

We ran out of time to talk about The Crown, but I managed to squeeze in my recommendations in today’s reading guide. Phew!

Head HERE to grab your free reading guide and to listen to this fun podcast! 

Thank you, Mary, for giving me a space to share about my favorite books!


Looking for more great books? Here are some posts you might want to visit!

53 historical fiction novels to escape with

19 thrillers to keep you up all night

the best books of 2018

join our FREE MomAdvice Book Club

grab you free reading challenge worksheet

I hope these posts inspire you to curl up with a great book this week! Happy reading!


Amy’s Notebook 04.11.19

Thursday, April 11th, 2019


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How gorgeous is this centerpiece made from spray painting these inexpensive vase fillers?

This looks like a fun new spin on cauliflower– yum!

How sobriety made me a better cook. Love this inspiring story!

Along the same thoughts, millenials are sick of drinking.

No points for busy. Amen.


How yummy does this Instant Pot spaghetti & meatballs recipe look?

I am screening summer reads right now and am telling you now, add this to your summer must-read stack. It was amazing!!

I love the idea of quiet maximalism in room styling. This was a whole bunch of eye-candy too!

I have to agree that this is a slippery slope.

Beautiful and simple tips for becoming a better listener. I need to work on this.

The YA books your favorite YA authors can’t stop raving about. I need to add a couple of these to my stack!

Here is your favorite purchase this week. Well done, friends!


This vegan creamy curried carrot soup looks like the perfect way to celebrate spring.

This piece made me laugh out loud.

Your smartest friends are using this setting on their phone.

We don’t buy things with money, we buy them with hours of our time.

You can’t be everybody’s cup of tea.

I feel this SO very much. It is exhausting.

How to declutter your house using the root cause method.

Do you have any financial self-care rituals? Love this mindfulness idea.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

Please note, there are affiliate links in this post- thank you! xoxo

Small-Budget Crushes 04.10.19

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

Who doesn’t love a little Spring shopping?

striped cami

floral clutch

button-front midi dress (several colors- take 45% off with coupon code CYBER)

clear umbrella (buy 1 accessory, get 1 free)

tile stickers

basket printed cooler

beaded orb necklace (perfect statement necklace in so many fun colors!)

raquel striped midi dress

distressed denim jacket

black geometric rug

puff-sleeved top (several hues)

desert print

tie-waist pants

smocked jumpsuit

metal watering can (two finishes)

black jumpsuit (this is a smart investment piece!!)

v strong coffee

woven circle bag

gilmore girls shirt

wrap-top swimsuit

round glass vase

yoga wheel

tie-waist cropped jumpsuit (several colors!!)

Keep on window shopping by visiting all of my Small-Budget Crushes. This post contains affiliate links!! xoxoxo

9 Ideas for Dating Your Husband in the Spring

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Today we have gathered 9 fun ways to date your husband in the Spring.  Make the most of these warmer months and discover a fun new way to date your spouse through this new season.

From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.

When I started thinking about this post, I couldn’t help the goofy phrases that kept popping into my head. “Spring is in the air!” “Spring into a date night!” “Have a spring fling!” “Let me tell you ‘bout the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees…”

It’s silly, but it’s also true that something about the shift into spring does tend to bring out our more playful and even romantic sides. Maybe it’s the warmer temperatures or the way we no longer need so many layers of clothes. Or maybe it’s just the relief that a) we survived winter and b) it’s no longer winter.

My next two date nights are all booked up with superhero movies, but I’m hopeful we’ll get more creative after that. After all, superhero movies don’t seem to be going anywhere, but spring won’t last long and we have to make the most of this time of year. Here are a few date ideas I’ve come up with to create quality time when spring starts. Maybe they’ll inspire you, too!

Take a walk (or run or bike ride)

I’m not normally a real outdoorsy type of person, but after a long winter I’m excited to breathe in some fresh (warmer) air. (Not so much the pollen that comes with it, but that’s another post for another day.)

We’re trying to fit fitness into our lives at my house, so taking a walk or bike ride is already something we’re doing these days. But doing it with just my husband? Maybe even on a trail outside our neighborhood or at a park? That sounds lovely.

(The more athletic readers might even want to go for a run with your spouse. After all, in most communities, you can’t find a spring weekend without a 5K scheduled somewhere. Why not train together?)

Try that new restaurant

For my husband’s birthday a few months ago, I gave him several gift cards to restaurants we’ve wanted to try but haven’t had the chance yet. I figured this will force us to do something different for once! (Instead of ending the whole “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” back-and-forth by eating, again, at the same old chain restaurant where the servers know our orders.)

Bonus points if you find a restaurant where you can eat outside on a nice spring day!

Visit the zoo or a farm

I know, I know, this is the type of outing you’d normally plan for your kids. But why not save some of the springtime fun for your spouse?!

My daughters and I recently visited a local alpaca farm, where we got to feed and pet the most adorable alpacas. Next time I plan a fun trip like that, I think I’ll take my husband instead! (After all, bonding over the cuteness of tiny animals THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE HOME AND FEED AND BATHE sounds perfect to me!)

Speaking of farms — how about a farmers’ market?

Instead of waiting for a free night to date your husband, try a morning.

Grab a fancy coffee or a stack of pancakes together, then hit the farmer’s market for the freshest produce, flowers, and more.

You can have fun but also enjoy the space to breathe and be together, to catch up and connect over more than bills and babysitters. And you’ll probably go home with something delicious, too!

Batter’s up! Take in a baseball game

I personally find baseball dreadfully boring. But my husband loves it. So I try to get us to a game every now and then, keeping my eye rolls and comments to a minimum, of course.

And when I do?

I almost always find that it’s actually fun to hike up to the top of the stadium, eat a hot dog or share some nachos, and root for our team together.

(And I realize that you may love baseball, too. In that case this date idea is even better!)

Spend some time with sidewalk chalk and the stars

Years ago, my husband and I stumbled onto a sidewalk chalk festival in our city. We were blown away by the intricate, beautiful drawings people created, and I’ve always wanted to attend that kind of event again.

We might never fit that into our schedule, but I was thinking that we could borrow our kids’ sidewalk chalk and get to work decorating our driveway ourselves! It seems silly — but sometimes acting silly is the exact thing my relationship needs. How about you?

And after you complete your masterpiece, it might be fun to stay outside for a picnic and watch the sunset or the stars.

Play a round of mini golf

Miniature golf feels like territory of first dates and romantic comedies, but I’m pretty sure it’s a cliched outing for a reason.

I can’t remember the last time my husband and I played mini golf together, but I’m putting it on our list for this spring. (The bonus for us is that there’s a mini golf course very close to our favorite restaurant.

Maybe you have something similar?

Or perhaps the winner gets to choose where you eat dinner or dessert?!)

Dream and plan

One of the most romantic nights I’ve spent with my husband in the last several months involved our couch, a map, and a calendar.

We started talking about ideas for future vacations at dinner and as soon as we got the kids in bed, we picked up the conversation.

We couldn’t stop dreaming and laughing and planning and even learning about each other. (I had no idea he wanted to visit some of the places he suggested!)

As someone who loves traveling…and making lists, this was pretty much a perfect date night. And it didn’t require a babysitter or even a bra (because let’s be honest, I was in my pajamas FOR SURE as we pored over maps and clicked through visitors bureau websites).

You don’t have to make a 15-year vacation plan. Perhaps you and your husband just need to talk through your plans for the summer. Maybe you want to share ideas for future date nights or talk about your next home improvement project. No matter what you’re planning, the point is to do it together, to work as a team to dream and scheme and — if you’re a Type A nerd like me — make a great list together.

Fire up the grill!

I’m not going to say that turning up the heat on your grill will turn up the heat in your marriage.

Well, except I guess I just did! (I can’t help it! Don’t hate me. The springtime puns and jokes are too much for me to resist!)

ANYWAY. My husband is the grillmaster in our family, but I’d love to learn. Perhaps you’re the grilling expert, though; would your husband be interested in joining you? Even if you both grill (or if one of you teaching the other a skill is not likely to end in fun and romance), you could always pick a new food or recipe to try out together. No matter how you go about this one, something about the smell of a grill and eating outside (or with the windows open) screams, “Spring!” And that is win-win, no matter who actually flips the burgers.

Love these ideas? Here are a few more you might enjoy!

6 ways to date your husband in the fall

What to Do When Date Nights are Impossible | what to do when date nights are impossible

9 unique ideas for frugal date nights

how podcasts saved our marriage

5 ways to date your husband in the fall

Those are my ideas for dating your husband in the spring, but I’d love to hear from you, too. How do YOU date your husband in this season?

Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons, but she lives because of God’s grace. Mary writes with humor and honesty about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places on her blog, She is the author of Fast Talk & Faith: A 22-Day Devotional Inspired by Gilmore Girls and co-author of Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts.She is also a regular contributor and Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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March Happy List

Monday, April 8th, 2019

Well, hello there! My husband and I just got back from our Iceland adventures and I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it all was.  If anything topped my happy list in March, it was FOR SURE visiting the Blue Lagoon and celebrating my husband’s 40th birthday.

As amazing as it all was, there really is no place like home. I couldn’t be happier to be reunited with our kids and our fur baby.

Perhaps, not as excited to be reunited with laundry, dishes, and cleaning the house.

Ah, you gotta love real life.

You will be happy to know though that I still have a few amazing reads for you put together for March so don’t miss this month’s must-reads list.

Also, can I brag for one moment before we get started on the happy list? Check out who is up for Mom Blog of the Year again this year!

I can’t tell you how honored I am and to be listed among such incredible women that I admire and respect.

Have you been missing the 3 little things list each week? Just so you know, this feature didn’t go away…it just moved over to my newsletters each week.

Sign up is super quick over here. I will even send you some free printables to help you put together this incredible home management binder.

Today I wanted to share what you might have missed this past month in one big giant happy list!!

I Got that Glow Going

As I have aged, I feel like my skin has gotten duller in appearance and I’ve been looking for some ways to bring the glow back to my complexion.

I discovered these Aveeno Maxglow Infusion Drops and have started adding 2 drops of this to my moisturizer and it really works at adding a subtle glow to your face.

Paired with this tool that I have in my makeup arsenal, my husband has even started commenting on my glowing skin (trust me, that NEVER happens).

I really love this stuff and a little goes a long way! I highly recommend adding these to your makeup routine!

We Have Been Doing a Little Time Traveling

My husband and I were married in 2000 so we thought it would be fun to relive those good old days through this amazing series you can find on Netflix.

This CNN docuseries, produced by Tom Hanks, explores each season through the pop culture, social, and political trends of a different decade, starting with the sixties.

Each decade is explored through about eight episodes and it is filled with amazing interviews with people who played some part in these stories and through the eyes of historians.

After finishing the 2000’s, we moved on to the 90’s and now are enjoying reliving our high school days. I highly recommend diving into these if you haven’t before. It has been both fun and informative!

A Selfie Clip-On Light for Picture Taking

Our home doesn’t have a lot of natural light in it and I often struggle to take photos for my feed because of it.

I happened to stumble upon this e.l.f. selfie light at Walmart and I can’t rave enough about how much light it can bring to your pictures.

It illuminates you with three settings, that ramp up the brightness, and it comes all ready to go with batteries and everything.

It is so small that it is perfect to tuck in your purse for those selfie moments with your kiddos. Priced at just $12, it is one of those inexpensive gadgets that make a huge difference in your photos.

Stitch Fix for Men

I knew as soon as my husband found out we were headed to Iceland, he would start panicking about what items he would need to wear while we are there. Did you know that Stitch Fix now styles for men? I remembered that I read that in my emails and decided to utilize this service for his birthday gift.

If you are pulling off a surprise getaway somewhere or planning a vacation where you know your wardrobe isn’t prepared, I can’t recommend this fun service enough.

In my husband’s box, for example, were two REALLY amazing waterproof packable jackets, a heavy-duty flannel shirt, and a thick sweater.

It was just what he needed and it took the stress out of shopping for him. If you want to give the service a spin for a gentleman in your life, here’s $25 to spend on your first purchase!

My Trusty Dinner Bell

If you have read my blog for a long time, you may already know about my little bell, but I had to mention again how much I love our little antique hotel bell for getting everyone to to the dinner table.

I forget that other people don’t do this so when my brother came for dinner, he started laughing when I gave it a little ding-ding-ding and the whole family came to the kitchen.

As an INFJ, I can’t stand yelling and our split-level home means that people scatter in all directions.

A little tap of the bell and everyone gathers,  saving me from yelling and running around our house to find everyone.

We found our bell at an antique shop, but here is an inexpensive alternative if you can’t find one for your house. I can’t rave enough about how much I love this low-tech item.

ALDI Tikka Masala Simmering Sauce

I might be dating myself, but when I was growing up, we ate a lot of Chicken Tonight.

All you had to do was brown some chicken and then you poured the sauce over it to simmer in and called it dinner.

When I saw that ALDI was carrying a tikka masala simmering sauce, I decided to give it a try and now we eat it every couple of weeks or so.

I shared about it on Instagram Stories and had several people send me DM’s back that they decided to give it a spin after my endorsement and absolutely loved it.

The best part is that you can choose what you want to simmer with it for your own spin. Chickpeas, tofu, chicken, and shrimp all make for a delicious (and way easy!) weeknight meal. We serve it with rice and the baby naan that the store carries (it is the perfect size!) and I consider it almost like a night off from cooking.

I hope you love this sauce as much as as we do!

Slip Shorts

After dressing for one week in a dress this month (to help raise funds for Junior League!), I can tell you that my favorite slip shorts were worn and loved daily.

If you have parents with Southern roots, you know you were not allowed to be running around in a dress without a proper slip.

I can still see images of my mom shaking her head and pointing to the door when I would come out for church without a slip.

That is why I love this more modern approach with these slip shorts for helping smooth those lines and to give a clean finish underneath your dresses.

If you are not a fan of compression garments, give these a try! While still minimizing lines, they are comfortable to wear all day long!

I don’t think we can always say the same thing about Spanx- hahaha!

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs

I also went without tights for a week and it was a CHILLY experience in the Midwest.

Spring, where are you?

Luckily, my legs weren’t turning blue thanks to my favorite beauty hack-  Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs.

Simply squeeze a little on your hands and spread on your lightly moisturized (but dry) legs.

Then just use your hands to spread the make-up on your legs and it all air dries in one minute. It is truly an airbrushed leg experience and, provided you blend well and pick the right shade for your own coloring, it gives a beautiful finish to your legs.

It has a little shimmer to it too, but not overly noticeable.

The best part is that it is waterproof so if you are even at the beach, you will be fine.

You need soap to get it off, otherwise it stays right where you put it.

Since it has good staying power, one bottle usually gets me through the entire summer!

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

The New Season of Queer Eye

I was such a fan of the original cast and the work they did, but I feel like the reboot of Queer Eye is on another level!

It sounds kind of cheesy to say that each episode teaches me something, but it REALLY does.

The guys help makeover people that are often overlooked by others and embrace them with warmness and inclusion.

The ability to meet people where they are and provide solutions for them is a valuable lesson in how we help others in our life.

I, honestly, bawl through every episode because of these beautiful moments.

Through the show, they are able to teach people to embrace others with compassion and empathy.

This is one that we watch with our kids and has given us a lot to talk about- especially the focus on inclusion.

It is easy to judge others if we aren’t walking in their shoes and many of these people have felt let down by the world.

The lessons that are garnered from this are impactful and beautiful.

My favorite episodes this season (so far) have been Jones BBQ (two strong business woman who have put family first before themselves), When Robert Met Jamie (a lesson on how we talk about ourselves and present ourselves to others- really good lesson for kids!!), and Black Girl Magic (not allowing boxes and labels to determine if we are displaying characteristics of our own race & how to form family if you are rejected by your own).

You guys should watch it if you haven’t yet.

Also, thanks for coming to my Queer Eye TED Talk!

Here are a few of my favorite March captures (follow me on IG for more)!

Enormously excited that I got a signed copy of Mayor Pete’s new book and that I got to hear him speak. You would have to be hiding under a rock to not know that South Bend’s mayor is getting a lot of buzz on the news as we all ready for his official announcement that he is running for President! If you are unfamiliar with him, this is one of my favorite interviews that he has done (and, yes, I’ve watched them ALL!!). 

I participated in the Little Black Dress initiative to help raise funds and awareness for the work we do locally in Junior League. If you are local and interested in joining, send me a message and I’m happy to connect you! I’ve volunteered more hours than I ever have and feel more connected to my community and its organizations. REALLY excited to volunteer this month at this organization, that is making national news, through the done-in-a-day projects that this organization offers. 

Loved this sunset we caught as we boarded our plane to Iceland. It is one of those little things that I will never get tired of! 

Top Ten Most Visited Articles in March

  1. Easy Burlap Wreath Tutorial
  2. 3-Ingredient Instant Pot Ribs
  3. How to Organize Board Games
  4. How to Make Rice Cooker Quinoa
  5. Amy’s Notebook 03.07.19
  6. DIY Roll-Up Jigsaw Puzzle Mat
  7. How to Make a Blanket Scarf
  8. January 2019 Must-Reads
  9. How to Dye Plastic Eggs
  10. February 2019 Must-Reads

Top Ten Most Purchased Items in March

  1. Initial Stacking Rings
  2. Soft Touch Foot Peel Masks
  3. Belei Beauty Products
  4. Neck & Shoulder Relaxer
  5. Hilor Women’s One-Piece Swimsuit
  6. Jockey Slip Shorts
  7. Alphabet Wood Tracing Board
  8. Perfect Fit Open Neck T-Shirt
  9. iPhone Acoustic Speaker 
  10. Women’s Drape Jogger Pants

Top Ten Books Purchased in March (join the club to be notified of daily deals!)

  1. I Think You’re Wrong, But I’m Listening
  2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
  3. Born a Crime
  4. Inheritance
  5. A History of Loneliness
  6. What Alice Forgot
  7. What if It’s Us
  8. Z.
  9. This is Where I Leave You
  10. The Dry Grass of August

I hope you enjoyed this month’s round-up of March fun and I look forward to sharing more in April! I hope my month of happy brings a month of happy to you too! If this post doesn’t convince you my newsletter is fun, I’ve got nothing. Sign up over here to get this fun weekly in your inbox.

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of It’s the 3 Little Things!

March 2019 Must-Reads

Monday, April 1st, 2019

How are you? I am so excited to hear about what YOU read this past month since I didn’t get to as many book as I had hoped. March was a slow month of reading, for me, but yielded a couple of books that I can definitely see on my top ten list for 2019. Between preparations for an upcoming trip and taking some coursework for my job, I didn’t have as much free time to read as I hoped.

Next month should be a lot more fruitful now that life will be slowing down a bit after the spring break holiday. I have big plans to share about some of the most anticipated summer novels so you can start thinking about all those wonderful lazy days of summer filled with gorgeous new reads. I don’t know about you, but this Midwest girl can’t wait for that summer weather and iced tea sipping in the sunshine.

While you’re here, be sure to print out the 2019 MomAdvice reading challenge worksheet and join our free online book club! You can check out the 2019 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here!  You can also friend me on GoodReads for more great book reviews! I love connecting with you there.

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? Grab your FREE book over here.

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections: 

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson

All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger

This month’s special: Using code APRILSHOWERS, new members can get a free book when they join today.

Here are 5 must-read books I tackled in March:

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

It has been a long time since I have read a historical fiction book that I was this swept away in, but The Things We Cannot Say, was incredible from start to finish. If you like your historical fiction to jump from past to present, told through alternating viewpoints, I have a feeling you will appreciate the format of this beautiful story.

Since Alina Dziak was nine, she knew that she would marry her best friend, Tomaz. At fifteen she is engaged and unconcerned about the reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing that they are her neighbors and not a threat.  She instead fills her head with dreams of the day that Tomasz will return from college so they can be married. Alina could never know though how the Nazi occupation would take over her rural village and how it had the power to destroy her relationship with her one true love.

Presently, Alice is struggling with the challenges of her special needs child, a husband who doesn’t get the work that goes into keeping their family floating, and her grandmother who is hospitalized. When her grandmother begs her to return to her childhood hometown, Alice begins to realize there is more to her grandmother’s story than meets the eye. Leaving is never easy, especially with her juggle, but she makes the promise and heads to find out more about her grandmother and the secrets she has been keeping.

This is a beautiful love story weaved in with the all-too-relatable struggle of being a modern day woman. Rimmel finds ways to weave this story very creatively that allows the slow unveiling of secrets to the reader.  This time in history is a heavy one and the shifting viewpoints really benefit in helping create a story that you can connect with in a myriad of ways. You can help but root for Alina and Tomaz through this haunting read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

5 out of 5 Stars

I’m Fine And Neither Are You by Camille Pagán

Thank you to the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

This is just a friendly reminder to always check for those free Prime books. Lucky readers were able to score I’m Fine and Neither Are You for free this past month. Since I really loved the author’s last book so much, I was excited to dig into this next read.

Penelope Ruiz-Kar is a relatable character as she is constantly treading water at her job and with all of her duties in the family.  Meanwhile, her best friend, Jenny Sweet, seems to have everything together. She writes a popular lifestyle blog, keeps a tidy home, has a child with impeccable manners, and a perfect marriage.

It is why Penelope is genuinely floored when a shocking tragedy reveals that Jenny’s life is far from what Penelope believed. In light of this turn of events, Penelope and her husband (Sanjay) agree to each write a list of changes they want to each other to make and then commit them with honestly. The plan quickly begins to backfire though as secrets and resentment are revealed and the couple must deal with them.  This experiment changes the landscape of their relationship entirely, making Penelope question if honesty really IS the best policy.

I won’t reveal the tragedy that happens, but the narcissist in me wishes that the story was focused more on Jenny and her struggles because I think it could have been a deeper discussion to be shared in a book club than what it was. The tragedy, to me, was the most compelling part of the story, despite it being a bit controversial. The truth is, Jenny’s life is where many of our Pinterest-filled heads are and it is important people see that online life a little differently.

The marriage challenges though and Penelope’s “just keeping swimming,” life are equally relatable for many. I found a lot of vulnerability in these characters and this experiment to be one that all marriages could benefit from, in some way. I have a feeling you will love this read as much as I did!

4 out of 5 Stars

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

Once in a blue moon I run across a book that I think I could put in just about anyone’s hands and they would love it. The book this year is, FOR SURE, Finding Dorothy. I did musical theatre for years and one of my favorites is The Wizard of Oz. That said, I didn’t know a lot about the history of the book it was based upon or the behind-the-scenes events that had happened during the filming of the movie. I think that is why this book was such a treat because of the meticulous research by Letts to create this story.

The book shares the true story of Maud & Frank Baum. Frank wrote the story of Oz, but the journey to success was a long one. His wife, far ahead of her time as a feminist, leaves behind her education to marry this magical man and start a life together. Their life is what shapes the story of Oz and it is incredibly beautiful.

Later in life, Maud learns that M-G-M is adapting her late husband’s masterpiece for the screen. Somehow this seventy-seven-year-old firecracker finds a way to make it into the studio for the filming, something she really feels tasked to do. It is of the utmost importance that Frank’s story is held in the same spirit that it was written. As Maud hears Judy Garland rehearsing, she recognizes the yearning that was her own yearnings as a girl. This yearning is why Maud decides she must protect Dorothy at all costs, just like she did so many years ago.

I can assure you that this book will be in my top ten of 2019. It is magical and is recommended, in particular, for fans of The Greatest Showman. I couldn’t put it down and now see the story of Oz in such a different way than I did before.

5 out of 5 Stars

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up was a fantastic audiobook treat this month and powerfully narrated by Bahni Turpin. I had high expectations after devouring The Hate U Give, and Thomas delivers once again with this beautiful coming-of-age story.

Bri’s family is always desperately struggling to make ends meet, but they seem to face one hurdle after another, especially after the loss of her mother’s job. Bri decides to pour her frustrations into songwriting and writes a powerful anthem about her struggle called On the Come Up. The lyrics are a lot harder than the way she actually lives her life and when her song goes viral, she is encouraged to be the things she is not to keep riding the success.

With an eviction notice on their door, Bri has no choice but to lean into the image people have of her.  She also feels an additional pressure to be legendary because of her father and his rap career legacy. This mounting pressure is a major theme in Bri’s life and in this story’s pages.

While I don’t think the lessons were as hard hitting as the ones in her first book, Thomas still gives us a true coming-of-age story that will really make you root for Bri.

I just have to say, once again, Turpin as a narrator is just GENIUS because the girl can RAP. The rap battles that Thomas writes are unreal good and Turpin handles them like a pro. They were so good, in fact, that I had my husband grab an earbud to listen to a few of these with me.

Fans of old school rap will really dig this ode to hip hop that Thomas has crafted.  The author proves that she is no one-hit-wonder and I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next!

4 out of 5 Stars

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing an advanced copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! 

One thing I’m REALLY proud of us this year is really pushing people (myself included!) outside of our comfort genres through our book club. I am not a mystery reader, but when I heard about the plot of The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, I thought this might be just the plot ticket to get me reading one.

First of all, put your wine glasses down for this one because you will need ALL those brain cells to help solve this murder mystery!

There are three rules of Blackheath House:

  1. Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
  2. There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
  3. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.

Agatha Christie fun meets Groundhog Day in this wildly inventive debut that will keep the reader guessing from start to finish. The reader knows that Evelyn Hardcastle will die. In fact, she will die every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. Aiden finds himself waking up in a different body and repeating the day over and over again, armed with new information when he wakes.  Some of his hosts help him while others make his job very hard. Leaving clues for himself to find, he must win the game in order to leave the property…but that’s just what everyone else wants to do to. It will be a fight to the surprising finish.

Turton crafts some unlikable characters and creates beautiful tension when Aiden has to fight the impulses of the body he inhabits. His confusion though is the reader’s confusion too so that is why the story keeps the reader on their toes throughout.

Read on Kindle, I missed one of the most important elements to the story…the map and cast of characters to flip to. Although they are there, they are not easy to read on the Paperwhite so be sure to print out the pages from the sneak peek so you can keep everyone straight.

This felt a bit like Clue in book form and I would highly recommend it, in particular, for Agatha Christie fans. We had one reader who has read her entire body of work and said this is the first book she’s read that actually delivered on the Christie hype.

This book was a confusing challenge and I loved it.

4 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year

January 2019 Must-Reads

February 2019 Must-Reads

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

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