Book Review: Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

two-by-twoI haven’t read a Nicholas Sparks book in a long time. Reading his books feels like going home. They’re familiar: Full of love, family, and ugly tears. Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks made me question my priorities. It made me want to live it the present. It made me want to chase after my dreams. There aren’t many books that make you feel that way anymore, are there?

Russ and Vivian seem to have the perfect marriage and the perfect family. London, who is about to start Kindergarten, is portrayed as the ideal child; she is easy-going, loves art class, and adores Barbies. When Russ decides that he hates is job, and is probably about to get fired, he decides to open up his own advertisement company. Vivian, who is stay at home mom, with London, decides that she is not going to stop using credit cards and getting mani/pedi’s just because money is a little tight. When Russ’s business doesn’t start up as quick as expected, Vivian decides to take it upon herself to start working full-time, leaving London in Russ’s care, over the summer, without daycare. In the meantime, Russ learns that his child’s best friend is the son of an ex-girlfriend, someone he once thought he would marry.

I honestly don’t know why Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks received so many bad reviews. I know that sometimes, people read to escape reality, and Nicolas Sparks likes to paint a beautiful picture of amazing love. This book is no different although, others may disagree. There is a lot of true love in this story: love from the past, love between parents and children, and a whole lot of family love.

A couple qualms I had with this book are: it was very long, the twist 3/4 into the book threw me for a loop, and how the ending just seemed rushed. Other than that, I fell for these characters, except for Vivian, and wanted them all to end up happily ever after. Unfortunately, in life,  fairy tales aren’t always real.

I really like the tie in with the book children’s book, Two by Two. Russ and Vivian read this fictional book to London before bed. It would be neat if it were a real book, or if Nicolas Sparks came out with a children’s book to go along with his adult novel. I personally love Goodnight, Ark by Laura Sassi, which is wonderful retelling of the Noah’s Ark story. Even though there isn’t a real children’s novel to accompany this book, there is a soundtrack that is available  through January 3 , for free, which is inspired by the novel, in collaboration with JD Eicher. Head over to the author’s website to download the digital CD (four songs) after signing up for an email newsletter. (The CD can be downloaded directly from the website. No purchase necessary.) How cool is that? Also, how adorable is the book’s cover? Russ is pretty much the perfect dad and even though Vivian doesn’t  think he is the perfect husband, he seems pretty awesome to me.

Friday Five

Because why not, right? When is the last time I have done one of these? Well, I looked it up and I can tell you it was July 15. JULY.  Seize the day, right? Jimmie is still sleeping (he is sick) so let’s do this!

  1. I am in the middle of the second episode of the new Gilmore Girls season. So far, it brings back fond memories, but it feels rushed. Plus, I haven’t seen Jess yet, so that doesn’t trill me. I wish they made it into a 12 episode thing instead of four long episodes. Who has time for that? Not me.
  2. I am reading the new Nicholas Sparks book, Two by  Two. It is keeping me interested, which is a good thing since I’ve had trouble focusing (and finishing) books lately. I had to scan the last 100 pages of Truly, Madly, Guilty by Laine Moriatry, just so I could return it (it was already three days late on a seven day loan). So now, instead of buying books, I just give my money to the library in late fees. I am going to be about 10 books under my reading goal for the year, and one less than I read last year. How is that possible?
  3. Christmas magic is up in our household. Every year, I take our stuff out and I think, “I need more.” I truly do need more. We don’t have much since we have been moving around a bunch. I hate that all Christmas decorations either have to be lit up and/or are sparkly. I added two things to our collection this year. Luckily, neither of them light up and there are no sparkles involved.
  4. Jimmie still isn’t 100% using silverware. I guess it is a kid thing, and he is only 2 1/2, but lately he has been trying so hard. In a sense I am proud of him, but also frustrated because he is trying to eat EVERYTHING with his fork. Like his banana, and a cracker. I tried to explain that you can pick these things up with your fingers, but he refused. The cracker broke, crying ensued, and I had to bring him a new cracker that wasn’t broken. This went on for a good 15 minutes.
  5. I am obsessed with the Ibotta rebate app. Yesterday, I redeemed 10 rebates and got back $7.25 plus I got a $5 bonus for redeeming the 10 rebates. I am also halfway to the $20 Christmas bonus that requires redeeming 20 rebates. I have already cashed out $50 in gift cards and have enough for another $25 gift card. They email you the gift cards, which makes things even easier, or you can cash out through pay pal. (FREE MONEY, people.) Sign up here and earn $10 after you redeem one rebate. It is super easy, I promise.  I only buy stuff I know I need to use or want to use. If you’re not using this app, you are missing out on a lot of cash back.


This is what happens when you child is sick, they wake up at 4::30 in the morning and refuse to nap. They fall asleep at 3 watching TV. Luckily, Toby woke him up at 3:45 and he still went to bed without a peep at 7:15. The snuggles were quite precious, though. That’s how I know he is sick when he will sit with me and watch TV.


My favorite room in the house. It is also the most decorated one, Jimmie helped us decorate the tree and has been pretty good with it so far. He likes to point out all of the ornaments. It is kind of like a fun search and find.

Happy December!

Christmas time is here again. How is 2016 almost over? It is really hard to wrap my head around the fact that it is almost 2017 and that this will be Jimmie’s third Christmas. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family. Making new traditions with my little one is my absolute favorite. Jimmie enjoyed his first real Thanksgiving meal. Last year, he was sick and the year before he had just started eating purees. Let’s just say, it was a hit in his book.


Dad with the turkey! Everything was so yummy. Why didn’t I eat more leftovers?!


His favorites included: Noodles, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans and bread (of course). Sometimes I feel like I am raising a vegetarian. Jimmie’s least favorite food group is meat. Except for ham, which he loves, and we hardly ever make. Luckily, the kid loves beans!


I really enjoyed being able to play outside on Thanksgiving. If only Christmas is as warm as it was last year. We can cross our fingers, right?


I can’t even handle the cuteness of this shirt he made in preschool. His teachers are the best!


Watching these two play together warms my heart times a million.


Birthday cake for Mom’s 60th for dessert, with a side of pumpkin pie.


Another fun part of the weekend was Jimmie getting his first “real” haircut. He did better than I could have ever hoped for.




Let’s just say the only reason this ring pop made it into the car is that he didn’t eat it while he was getting his haircut. I took it away a few minutes later. what a mess! But that smile is priceless!

Book Review: Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family by Bret Boone and Kevin Cook


From Goodreads:

From the first third-generation baseball player in Major League Baseball history, a sometimes moving, always candid look at his family’s 70 years in the world of professional baseball.

A five-foot-ten firecracker who was spurned by scouts for his small size, supposed lack of power, and temper tantrums (one scout called him a “helmet-throwing terror”), Bret Boone didn’t care about family legacy as fought his way into the Major Leagues in 1992; he wanted to make his own way. He did just that, building a 14-year career that included three all-star appearances, four Gold Gloves, a bout with alcoholism, and the ignominy of being traded for the infamous “player to be named later.” Now that he’s coaching minor leaguers half his age, and his 15-year-old son has the potential to be a fourth-generation major leaguer, Bret is ready to reflect on and tell the story of baseball from the perspective of his family’s 70-year history in the sports.

It has taken me forever to post about Home Game by Bret Boone and Kevin Cook (I received it back in June for review) because I honestly could not get into the book. It is a sports memoir about baseball. I thought I would really enjoy it because baseball is my all-time favorite sport and I am also a Phillies fan, which plays a huge part in the Boone family history. From what I did read, which wasn’t the whole book, I learned a lot about the Boone family, who had three generations of members in Major League Baseball, and about baseball in general. I wish I could have gotten into it more, but sadly, it wasn’t a winner in my eyes. There are a lot of small stories from when Bret was younger, growing up a ballplayers kid. Then, of course, his own journey into the major leagues. There are some interesting tidbits in there if you are a big Boone family fan.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: One Small Donkey By Dandi Daley Mackall Illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens


From Goodreads:

Little ones can do big things for God!

Your family will love this heartwarming Christmas story told from an unlikely perspective: a donkey carrying Mary to Bethlehem. Though the donkey wasn’t the biggest, fastest, or strongest of all the animals, he had an important job all the same. Adults and children alike will love the message about how God has big plans for little ones.

Dandi Daley Mackall loves God, children, words, and animals. Her nearly 500 books for children and grown-ups have sold more than four million copies worldwide, and her awards include an ECPA Christian Book Award for Best Children’s Book. Dandi writes from rural Ohio, where she lives with her family, including horses, dogs, cats, and an occasional squirrel, deer, or raccoon.

One Small Donkey by Dandi Daly Mackall is based on Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. It is told by the perspective of the donkey who carried Mary on his back. It teaches little children that no job is too small and that they can help spread God’s word.

This definitely isn’t my favorite story about Jesus’ birth, but it isn’t horrible either. The illustrations by Marta Alvarez Miguens make the book worth checking out; they are very detailed and inviting. The book is kind of long which would make it more attractive to 4-8 year olds; my 2 year old did sit through it once. There are some fun animal sounds that might interest younger kids.

Worst case scenario, skip the words and just talk about the pictures.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Book Review: Missing Parts by Lucinda Berry


From Goodreads:

Growing up abandoned by her father and raised by a single mother, Celeste was determined to create the perfect family but even perfect families have secrets. Celeste’s days are filled with a rewarding career, a devoted husband, and her four-year-old daughter. Only Celeste knows the precarious house of cards her family is built upon until the day her daughter falls critically ill. Celeste’s world quickly spirals out of control as her secret threatens to destroy her marriage, family, reputation, and sanity. She’ll go to any lengths to protect her family—take any risk, break any law—anything except tell the truth.

A good book is a book you love to hate. This is the way I feel about Missing Parts by Lucinda Berry. It is twisty, dark, and downright devastating at times. I kind of wish it was told by alternating points of view instead of just Celeste’s. I really would have liked it to switch between Celeste and her husband’s POV. That would have made the story even more interesting.

Celeste is a mom and a wife. Her and her husband, David, tried for years to get pregnant and when Celeste finally did, she just didn’t make a connection with her daughter. David ends up staying home with Rori while Celeste goes back to work. After Rori suddenly gets deathly ill, Celeste’s life begins to unravel. Lies and secrets become a really uncomfortable reality.

I like how at the beginning of the book, all of the moms are out to dinner just complaining about their lives. It is real and raw, it is how most moms feel. More women need to be honest about their new parent feelings. It changes you, your marriage, and your entire life. Real friends don’t judge you, no matter what.

There are so many shocking moments in Missing Parts. Some I sort of saw coming, and others made me want to yell and throw the book across the room. The beginning was good, the middle was just okay, and the end just pissed me off. Each chapter in the book is full of surprises. A day after finishing it, I am still agonizing over some of Celeste’s decisions.  This isn’t a feel good book, and some would probably say the ending is far from happy. But not every story can end with happily ever after. Our choices not only affect our lives, but everyone else’s life, too.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Ready, Set, Find Christmas by Vanessa Carroll


Christmas is right around the corner, friends. How lovely is this little search and find Christmas book? It is such a unique gift for any child 2-6. As you open the book, you will find Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. Each left page has a bible verse and several items for your child to find on the opposite right page. The pages are board book style and have tabs for little hands to grab and turn.

Ready, Set, Find Christmas by Vanessa Carroll is a great interactive book for you and your child. You can sit with them, read the bible verse, and search for the pictures together. As you complete this Christmas activity, you can explain to your child the true meaning of Christmas in a fun, educational way.

There are 48 objects in the book for your child to find including: animals, everyday objects, and some uncommon items. The colors of the book are bold and intriguing; your child will want to read Ready, Set, Find Christmas again and again.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.