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. 

Book Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott


From Goodreads:

Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate. From a writer with “exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl,” (Janet Maslin) You Will Know Me is a breathless roller coaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition

I have read a ton of amazing thrillers this year and You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott is one of them. As soon as I started reading this novel, I knew I was in for a juicy read. Based around a competitive gymnastics center, the Knox’s are trying to achieve the unthinkable, turning their daughter, Devon, into an Olympic gymnast. All I have to say is, I’m glad I don’t have a girl, and I am not going to be pushing my son into gymnastics anytime soon. The insane amount of money people put into gymnastics, the insane amount of time spent practicing and competing, and the insane amount of gossip and scandals that seem to happen, is enough to keep me far away from any gym.

Even though I don’t enjoy being involved in gossip and scandals (who does?), I love reading about them (who doesn’t?). Devon is born to be a star. After a tragic foot accident when she was three, her doctor suggests that her parents enroll her in gymnastics to help her with her balance issues. From there, it is destiny. Sometimes, though, people try to ruin someone else’s destiny. Sometimes by mistake, and sometimes on purpose.

When a car accident occurs on a dangerous road, weeks before qualifiers, the gymnasts, parents, and coaches are all tumble through a whirlwind of emotions. The accident turns into an investigation, which throws everyone off their game, especially Devon. Katie Knox, Devon’s mother, starts to discover clues that may lead to the source of her husband’s, daughter’s, and son’s weird behavior. Her character is my favorite in You Will Know Me. She gives her whole life to her daughter, day in and day out, to help her become a star. Katie and her husband, Eric, aren’t the type of parents that are forcing their child to go to the Olympics, Devon is just that good; she has the will and drive to achieve greatness. With all of the attention on Devon, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for little Drew, the second child in the family. He is so smart and seems to be just along for the ride. I’m sure this happens a lot with other siblings in professional athlete’s families.

Even though You Will Know Me focuses on the death of one person, there is more to it than just secrets and lies. There is a lot of determination in these athletes and a lot of crazy support from their parents. Along with determination comes injuries, pain, and a lack of reality for these girls, outside of gymnastics. It really is an interesting look into their world.

I had first heard about You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott before the summer Olympics started and, of course, I was intrigued. Gymnastics, like many other Americans, is my favorite part of the Olympics. What a crazy life professional athletes live. They must be under extreme amount of pressure from their parents, family, peers, friends, and society in general. I can only hope that if my son wants to play a sport, we don’t get too wrapped up in the hoopla of it all. All I want is for him to have fun.

Book Review: Mending Fences by Sherryl Woods


From Goodreads:

For ten years Emily Dobbs and Marcie Carter have been the closest of friends. They’ve raised their kids together, shared joy and heartache, exchanged neighborhood gossip over tea. But when Marcie’s son, now a college freshman sports star, is arrested for date rape, the bond between the families could be shattered forever.

As the Carters try to deal with the unthinkable, Emily discovers her daughter has been hiding a terrible secret…a secret that threatens the futures of both families. Recently divorced, Emily struggles to keep it all together—to support her terrified daughter, to maintain her friendship with Evan’s mother and to have faith in the detective who could change all of their lives.

When things seem darkest, both she and Marcie discover that sometimes the first step toward a better future is mending fences with the past.

Mending Fences by Sherryl Woods is a raw, emotional book about friendship, family, and date rape. It is as real as any fiction book can possibly get. I was hooked on this story as soon as I started to read it. I have never read a book as honest as this one. The friendship between Emily and Marcie, Josh and Evan, and Dani and Caityln, is like a fairy tale. Who doesn’t want to be best friends with their neighbors and their kids? Sometimes, though, fairy tales don’t always have happy endings. Sometimes, dreams turn into nightmares, and family trumps friendship, always.

I could not put Mending Fences down. The women in this book could be anyone out there dealing with rape, silently and alone.  Mending Fences is an inspirational story about brave women who decide to stand up to their attacker and do something about date rape, even if they are scared to do it. No woman deserves to feel like they did something wrong. Mending Fences proves that there is justice for date rape victims. This novel is also about the hardships of friendship, divorce, and the struggles of being a stay-at-home mom vs. a working mom.

It broke my heart to see how Marcie was treated by her husband, how Emily was forced to divorce her husband, and how Dani had to keep such a large secret from almost everyone she loved and trusted. It is hard to believe that two families, who lived side by side for almost their entire lives, could end up in such a tangled up mess. Mending Fences is heavy and hard to swallow. Like I said, I had trouble putting it down. Even though it is sad, it is also heartfelt and written with tact and understanding.

Mending Fences is a reissue from Sherryl Woods and will be available to purchase on September 27, 2016.

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

Fit Organic Mosquito Repellent Review

It has been a summer FULL of bugs, especiallymosquitoes. I have always been prone to being eaten alive by mosquitoes, but up until this year, Jimmie never had any problems with them. At beginning of the summer,  I bought a generic brand bug spray that smelled awful and made me feel bad about using it every time I sprayed it on him. I would put it on him, go outside, then immediately come in and give him a bath. Then I discover Fit Organic Mosquito Repellent.


Let me start off by saying Fit Organic smells AMAZING. I’m not even kidding, the lemons are so sweet smelling that I don’t even mind using it on myself. Fit Organic is made with lemongrass oil and is deet free. The repellent works for up to three hours and is safe for children and women who are pregnant. I, for one, didn’t even know bug spray could be harmful to pregnant women. Not only does Fit Organic make mosquito repellent, they also make other organic household products. If they all smell as good as the bug spray, then I want them all.


We live in a very woody area: there is reservoir nearby and many of our neighbors have pools. There was rarely a time this summer where the mosquitoes were not out and about looking to munch on someone. Jimmie and I both started to use Fit Organic Mosquito Repellent and have has very minimal bites since we started to use it. I don’t mind putting it on Jimmie and then letting him nap in his crib, without a bath, because it is made with natural, organic ingredients. This mosquito repellent is USDA certified, unlike many of the other organic bug sprays on the market.

Try out this Fit Organic Mosquito Repellent to see how great it is. It doesn’t expire, which is fantastic because we will be able to use this same bottle next summer, too.

I was sent a product sample in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: One Big Turkey written and illustrated by Anne Vittur Kennedy


Fall has arrived. Even though we still have quite a few hot days ahead, the mornings, and evenings, have cooled down. What a perfect time to start thinking about fall books and Thanksgiving! Fall always comes and goes so fast. Before you know it, it will be winter time. Don’t delay checking out this super cute fall book, One Big Turkey written and Illustrated by Anne Vittur Kennedy.

One Big Turkey is a Thanksgiving book, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start reading it to your children now. This book is perfect for any child birth-3 (even 4) years old. The book focuses on counting. Throughout the book you and your child will count: turkeys, squirrels. deer, mice, nuts, corn, apples, pumpkins, and other fall related items. A turkey is on every page, so this book could also be a seek and find for little ones.

One Big Turkey is one of the few children’s Christian books that I have read that doesn’t have any forced (awkward) rhymes. Each rhyming page actually makes sense and flows with the story. The illustrations are realistic and beautiful.  At the end of the book, you will remind your child to give thanks to God, which is certainly the most important part of the story.

Happy fall and happy counting!

Order you copy of One Big Turkey and enjoy it all fall long.

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

Book Review: It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak into Happily Never After by Andi Dorfman


Confession: Let me start off by saying that for some reason, I thought Andi Dorfman was Kaytlyn Bristowe. I have no idea why. I have watched all of the Bachelor/Bachelorette seasons since 2011 (I’m not proud…), including both of Andi’s and both of Kaitlyn’s. So when I realized Andi wasn’t Kaitlyn, I was bummed. If that makes any sense to anyone. I guess the reason is because both Andi and Kaitlyn both dated Nick Viall, the newest Bachelor for 2017. He was the runner up on both seasons with Andi and Kaitlyn. He also did not propose to Jen on Bachelor in Paradise, this past summer. Nick inspired me to read Andi’s book It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak into Happily Never After, because of all of the negative comments he alluded to on Bachelor in Paradise about Josh Murray.  Josh refuses to admit he read the book (I call bull) and says it is a work of fiction. Even though Nick made me want to read the book to hear all the dirt on Josh, the book was already on my radar because I love getting the inside scoop on the ABC hit shows The Bachelor and Bachelorette.

With all that out in the open, I’d have to continue this review by stating that this book was horrible. It is very rare that I give terrible ratings on books; If I think a book is crap, I just stop reading it. But Andi Dorfman’s book is so bad that I literally couldn’t stop reading it. And I feel horrible by being so brutally honest. Although I thought the book was beyond awful, I do believe that Andi is being honest in her book and Josh really didn’t treat her like scum by emotionally abusing here. If I were Amanda Stanton (the woman who Josh proposed to on Bachelor in Paradise) I would be running far, far away from Josh.

I’ll just make a list on why this book was not as good as it should have been:

  1. It is written like a diary (which I usually love) but it just seems so fake. I don’t believe this book was written in “real” time the way Andi wants to make you believe.
  2. The whole book is just a run on bitch/whine fest.
  3. Andi drinks and curses A LOT. If you want to be taken seriously as an author, let alone a person, you can’t be dropping the f bomb every page and talk about drinking entire bottles of wine, each night, for almost 60 days straight.
  4. I’m sure Josh treated Andi horribly, but she also seems a bit vindictive. No one deserves to be emotionally abused, but I feel like she may have emotionally abused Josh once or twice, too. It takes two to tango, people.
  5. I just don’t understand how she has so much money to blow. I’m sure the show paid her, but she didn’t work for the entire 60 days she “wrote” this book. I also don’t understand why she didn’t just move back in with her parents, not her friend, Kelly.
  6. There wasn’t any top secret Bachelor or Bachelorette scoop in this book minus all of the dirt on Nick and Josh.
  7. Speaking of Nick, I am totally team Nick these days. I remember HATING him on Andi’s season, but now I kind of like him. So every time she said something mean about Nick, I was offended. Nick is awesome. Josh, on the other hand, still sucks.
  8. Andi, you are not Carrie Bradshaw, she wasn’t this whiny about being single. That girt got her heart broke TONS of times and she still got herself out of bed each day.

What I did like about the book:

  1. Finding out what Nick said in the fantasy suite. HILARIOUS.
  2. The Ultimate Breakup Playlist on page 35. PERFECT!
  3. Post breakup bucket list on page 242-243.
  4. When it ended.

I’m sorry, Andi. I’m sorry if you are reading this (which I am sure you’re not) and I am sorry that you had to endure all of the pain and anxiety Josh caused you. I hope all of the attention your book received on Bachelor in Paradise brought up sales. I also really hope you are a contestant on Nick’s season because that would really boost ratings. I  think you should send an autographed copy of your book to Amanda because she needs to know what she is getting herself (and her children) into. Lastly, I think you need to go to AA. No one should be drinking that much wine. I hope you find your happily ever after, and if you do and decide to write a book about it, I hope your writing style improves.

Book Review: Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer


From Goodreads:

Mara Carlyle’s senior year is going as normally as could be expected, until—wa-bam!—fellow senior Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period pre-calc.

Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last teenager to blow up without warning or explanation. As the seniors continue to pop like balloons and the national eye turns to Mara’s suburban New Jersey hometown, the FBI rolls in and the search for a reason is on.

Whip-smart and blunt, Mara narrates the end of their world as she knows it while trying to make it to graduation in one piece.

When I first read about Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer in Entertainment Weekly, I was skeptical. Kids blowing up? Sounded lame to me. I decided I wouldn’t bother reading it. Then I saw it at the library on the 7 day reading shelf. I figured I would check it out since I didn’t have to put in a request. I dove into the book right away and started laughing out loud as soon as the protagonist, Mara, started speaking. Mara has quite the voice. The f-bomb (pun intended) is thrown around more than a few times; not something you see in most YA books.

When you think about it, kids blowing up their senior year, for no reason at all, IS kind of funny. If that happened to me, I probably wouldn’t be laughing, but since I was reading about it, I chucked more times than I can count. As the book went on, we met new characters, some blew up, and some didn’t. There was a lot of craziness going on and the book became redundant. Suddenly, it wasn’t funny anymore, it was just boring. As much as I enjoyed the first half of the book, I didn’t like the second half as much. What kept me reading was the fact that I wanted to know why kids were blowing up and also because the book is based in New Jersey. I love reading books that mention Wawa, as if everyone in the world even knows that it is the best convenience store ever.

All the relationships in Spontaneous are weird. At first, the relationship between Mara and her best friend, Tess, was really sweet, endearing, and interesting. Then it just started to get strange. Mara started to ignore Tess, Tess started trying to figure out what was going on scientifically with the senior class, and then the story ended. There were stretches of pages that Tess wasn’t even mentioned. Her character could have been developed a lot more, instead of focusing on Mara’s “rebel” boyfriend, Dylan. I guess attaching yourself to any character, in a story where a lot of people are blowing up, is difficult. The ending blew, pun intended, once again. It was horrible. Not enough information given. Let just say, if it does turn into a movie, for once, I hope they change the ending so it doesn’t suck as much.

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer is an interesting book about a topic that isn’t normally present in young adult novels: spontaneous combustion.  It’s not your typical high school novel with tons of love and friendship. It is worth checking out if you want a good laugh.