Archives for June 2016

Summer Reading Challenge: Saving Abby by Steena Holmes (Melissa’s review)

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Saving Abby

Saving Abby
written by Steena Holmes
published by Lake Union Publishing, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I’d read one of Holmes’s books before (read my review of The Memory Child here) and loved it, so even though this subject matter isn’t exactly my favorite, I gave it a go.

If you’ve dealt with or are dealing with infertility, the beginning of this book is going to make you angry. My husband and I struggled with infertility for years, and there’s one thing people always tell you–one thing that, after hearing it time and time again, makes you want to scream. It’s this: “Why don’t you just relax and stop trying so hard? Take a cruise or something.” I’m going to give you three guesses as to how Claire and Josh conceive, and the first two don’t count. Holmes could’ve done better than the cliché.

I described this book to my boss as the “dying pregnant lady” book, and once you get past the infertility stuff, that’s basically what it is: a novel about a dying pregnant woman. It’s poignant. You’ll tear up a few times. You’ll wonder if Claire and Josh’s marriage would’ve survived had the inevitable not happened (and yeah, SPOILER ALERT: the dying pregnant lady dies). But if you’re like me, you’ll be left slightly disappointed that the flash forward at the end doesn’t say a word about Abby and Derek. I wonder if they’re still married . . .



Would I recommend it: This isn’t the type of book I usually read, but if you like a good tearjerker, then go for it.


About the book – from Goodreads: 
All children’s book illustrator Claire Turner ever wanted was to be a mother. After six years of trying to conceive, she and her husband, Josh, have finally accepted that she will never be pregnant with a child of their own.

Yet once they give up hope, the couple gets the miracle they’ve been waiting for. For the first few months of her pregnancy, Claire and Josh are living on cloud nine. But when she begins to experience debilitating headaches, blurred vision, and even fainting spells, the soon-to-be mother goes to the doctor and receives a terrifying diagnosis. Since any treatment could put their unborn baby’s life at risk, the Turners must carefully weigh their limited options. And as her symptoms worsen, Claire will have to make an impossible decision: Save her own life, or save her child’s?

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Steena Holmes brings us an unforgettable story of one woman’s courage and love.





Midsummer’s Eve Giveaway Hop

midsummer eve hop


Welcome to my stop on the Midsummer’s Eve Giveaway Hop! I’m excited to participate in this hop hosted by BookHounds! I’m giving away a $15 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (US only) OR $15 in books from the Book Depository (INT).


Be sure to hop to the other blogs participating in this giveaway! The Linky is below the Rafflecopter.


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Summer Reading Challenge: The Sweetheart Deal by Polly Dugan (spotlight, giveaway)

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The Sweetheart Deal

The Sweetheart Deal
written by Polly Dugan
published by Little, Brown and Company, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: The poignant story of what happens when a woman who thinks she’s lost everything has the chance to love again.

Leo has long joked that, in the event of his death, he wants his best friend Garrett, a lifelong bachelor, to marry his wife, Audrey. One drunken night, he goes so far as to make Garrett promise to do so. Then, twelve years later, Leo, a veteran firefighter, dies in a skiing accident.

As Audrey navigates her new role as widow and single parent, Garrett quits his job in Boston and buys a one-way ticket out west. Before long, Audrey’s feelings for Garrett become more than platonic, and Garrett finds himself falling for Audrey, her boys, and their life together in Portland. When Audrey finds out about the drunken pact from years ago, though, the harmless promise that brought Garrett into her world becomes the obstacle to his remaining in it.



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May 2016 Subscription Boxes



Hi, Everyone!

Here are our subscriptions from the month of May:



Lit-Cube May 2016 (1)

This was an awesome Alice in Wonderland box! I love the T-shirt!

Lit-Cube May 2016 (2)

I love the “Eat Me” cookie! And the prints are awesome!



Uppercase May 2016


Owl Crate

OwlCrate May 2016 (1) OwlCrate May 2016 (2)

Fresh Fiction

Fresh Fiction May 2016


Ever After

Google the Cat checked out the box, too!

Google the Cat checked out the box, too!


Jamberry StyleBox

The Classic Box

The Classic Box



May 2016 Birchbox



Ipsy May 2016



Koala Crate May 2016

May Koala Crate

May 2016 Kiwi Crate

May Kiwi Crate – They will be making pinball machines!!

Kiwi Crate April 2016 - completed

This was the Kiwi Crate from April. Both my boys get a crate. They made jellyfish tanks! The jellyfish move up and down using the wheels on the sides of the boxes. So cute!

Koala Crate Feb 2016 - completed

This was February’s Koala Crate. It’s a little stage with puppets. It came with a bunch of different backdrops that are on a magnet board. The puppets are magnets, too. There are a ton of magnets to design your puppets and the sets.


What do you think of month’s boxes?

Do you subscribe to any boxes? If so, which ones? I did include my referral links, so if you’re interested, please feel free to use them! I know I would appreciate it.





In the Kitchen: Home Chef Subscription: Lamb Meatball Pita


Hi, Everyone!

In an effort to spend less time meal planning and more time reading, I decided to give Home Chef a try. It costs less than taking the whole family to a restaurant, and it seemed like a fun way to add some new recipes to my repertoire.

Tonight: Lamb Meatball Pita

Home Chef Lamb meatballs (1)

I love the ingredients Home Chef sends. They are so fresh, clearly labels, and they even peel the garlic!

Home Chef Lamb meatballs (2)

Here’s some prep work.

The prep work was pretty easy. The meatballs took no time to mix and form. Next time, I will bake them on parchment paper instead of foil. The mashed chickpeas with mint and lemon juice was so tasty. I was eating it with a spoon. I did save some for our pitas, but it was really tasty. I definitely have to make that again–for a meal and maybe just to snack on.

Home Chef Lamb meatballs (3)

This is Home Chef’s picture of the finished product because I forgot to take a picture of our actual meal. I know, I’m sorry, but it was just soooooo good that I gobbled it up.


The salad on the side is arugula, lemon juice, olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper topped with lemon zest. It was very light and refreshing. And I have discovered that I LOVE arugula. It is so tasty. You can also mix arugula with some lime juice, olive oil, and crushed red pepper flakes for a great side salad or for sandwiches or burgers. Excellent!

If I make it again: I will back the meatballs on parchment paper instead of foil. They stuck a bit to the foil.

Did my kids eat it: We didn’t share this time around. I may make it for them someday.



Spotlight: A Girl Like You by Michelle Cox (giveaway)

A Girl Like You: A Henrietta and Inspector Howard Novel

A Girl Like You
written by Michelle Cox
published by She Writes Press, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Henrietta von Harmon works as a 26 girl at a corner bar on Chicago s northwest side. It s 1935, but things still aren’t looking up since the big crash and her father’s subsequent suicide, leaving Henrietta to care for her antagonistic mother and younger siblings. Henrietta is eventually persuaded to take a job as a taxi dancer at a local dance hall and just when she’s beginning to enjoy herself, the floor matron turns up dead. When aloof Inspector Clive Howard appears on the scene, Henrietta agrees to go undercover for him and is plunged into Chicago’s grittier underworld. Meanwhile, she’s still busy playing mother hen to her younger siblings, as well as to pesky neighborhood boy Stanley, who believes himself in love with her and keeps popping up in the most unlikely places, determined to keep Henrietta safe even from the Inspector, if need be. Despite his efforts, however, and his penchant for messing up the Inspector’s investigation, the lovely Henrietta and the impenetrable Inspector find themselves drawn to each other in most unsuitable ways.”

About the author: Michelle Cox has a BA in English literature from Mundelein College, Chicago. While her heart might lie in the eighteenth century with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy or in the crooked streets of Little Dorrit’s London, she tends to write of a slightly more recent age, a time closer to the World Wars, when all was not yet lost and the last roses of summer were first coming into bloom. Cox lives with her husband and three children in the Chicago suburbs. This is her first novel.

Find Ms. Cox here: web, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads


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Summer Reading Challenge: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Chrissy’s review)

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One True LovesOne True Loves
written by Taylor Jenkins Reid
published by Washington Square Press, 2016

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I really did. This was one of those books that I put off other obligations (laundry, dishes, blog tasks, etc.) just so I could read. That’s right . . . I read One True Loves  every free chance I had and then some.

It was a fantastic story, and it really made me think. I can’t even begin to imagine what Emma went through losing her husband, Jesse, having to start over, and then having that husband come back. Wow. Seriously. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. There were happy moments, sad moments, and moments that had me wondering what Emma was going to decide. I definitely had an absolute favorite. I’m not going to tell you which one. That might spoil the book. But there was a clear pick for me. At least in this scenario and circumstance.


Would I recommend it: Absolutely. It was a wonderful story that had me glued to the book from beginning to end.

About the book – from Goodreads: 
From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a PeopleMagazine pick and a “Best Book of the Summer” by Glamour andUSA Today—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.






Heather’s Review: Twin Piques by Tracie Banister

Hi, Everyone! Please welcome Heather to the blog!!! She is our new contributing review. You can check out her bio here. We are so excited that she is reviewing for us as well!! Welcome to EFC, Heather!

TBanister-TwinPiques-CoverTwin Piques
written by Tracie Banister
published by Tracie Banister, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review. 

** This review first appeared on Heather’s blog. **

Did I enjoy this book: 
It took me a long time to read Tracie Banister’s latest novel. Published in January of 2015, it’s been sitting in my TBR pile, screaming for attention. I loved Tracie’s other novels and this one was no different. I only regret not reading it sooner. Tracie’s books are always well researched–so much so, that I wonder how she has the time to write her stories. The careers that she chooses for her characters are never boring–and these two are no different: a forensic accountant and a pet psychic; a rose gardener and a graphic novelist/artist. I learned enough by reading this book to know exactly how to take care of my roses this fall!

I fell in love with the characters, instantly. Willa, whose optimistic outlook on life made me smile the entire way through the book. Sloane, whose no-nonsense, direct approach to life had me reading her parts quickly just to see what would happen next. I rooted for Gav and Brody throughout the book and honestly felt like slapping Sloane once or twice for being so obtuse. This is what I enjoy most about Tracie’s books–her characters. They are well developed, well balanced, and memorable. They stay with me long after I’ve finished reading the books. I read this one over a month ago and I’m still thinking about Sloane and Willa and wondering what they’re up to now.




Would I recommend it: Yes! Tracie’s books are always entertaining, and you won’t be disappointed. As I said earlier, the characters stay with you long after you’ve read the book! Also, I just found out that Tracie will be doing a special “wedding” edition in her newsletter later this week! 😀



About the book – from Goodreads: Forensic accountant Sloane Tobin and kooky pet psychic Willa may have the same face, but that’s the only thing these identical twins have in common.

How she can read the hearts and minds of animals has always been a mystery to Willa, and her rotten luck with men is equally baffling. Although she’s been looking for “The One” for what feels like forever (A teenage marriage to a French mime and dating a guy named Spider seemed like good ideas at the time!), optimistic Willa refuses to give up on love. When she meets Brody, the handsome rose expert hired to save her grandmother’s garden, she’s instantly smitten, but why does he keep sending her mixed signals? Does he return her feelings, or is their attraction all in her fanciful head?

Unlike her twin, Sloane has zero interest in romance. Her passion is her job, where she uses her gift for numbers to take down slimy embezzlers and asset-hiding spouses. When she’s assigned two high profile cases, Sloane feels confident the promotion she’s been angling for is within her grasp. But will her plan to climb the corporate ladder be thwarted by difficult clients, her co-worker-with-benefits, or – most surprisingly of all – her own sister? And how’s she supposed to stay focused on the drama at work when her childhood friend, Gav, moves in next door and the spark between them becomes impossible to ignore?

To get what they both want, can Willa and Sloane band together and rely on each other’s strengths? Or will their differences drive them apart once and for all?



Melissa’s Review: I AM by Michael Drakish

I Am

written by Michael Drakish
published by Smashwords, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), AmazonGoodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I almost didn’t get past the cover, but boy am I glad I did. Drakich’s story is definitely science fiction, but it brought up some questions I’m always interested in discussing: sentient machines, reincarnation, and my favorite–what if God really IS just the One who’s been around the longest?

The only thing that irked me (besides the god-awful cover art) was the ending. Drakich could’ve been more subtle. We all knew where things were going, and it’s a bit insulting to have it literally spelled out for us.



“Am I to blame for this?”


Would I recommend it: Yes! Ignore the cover . . . this one is worth the read.


About the book – from Goodreads: 
Genius, wealthy and life regenerated, Adam Spenceworth is living the dream aboard his custom spaceship run by Mum, his first designed AI, protected by Gort, his first robot, and occupied by Eve, his sexbot. With each regeneration he returns to start over as a twenty-five year old man ready to enjoy the pleasures of his success. What could go wrong? Except, maybe, planetary wars, territorial space battles, alien invasions, and the disturbing fact that each regeneration is taking exponentially longer than the one before bringing him into one galactic crisis after another. A frolicking space drama filled with references sure to strike home with any science fiction aficionado.



Bookshelves and Giveaways – June 14, 2016

Hi, Everyone!

It’s time for another bookshelf look and giveaway! Today, we get to see Melissa’s shelves!

Melissa's shelves

Melissa's shelves 2 melissa's shelves 3

Melissa's shelves 4

Some of the kid books!

Melissa's shelves 5 Melissa's shelves 6

And now for the giveaway! I have some some extra unread books in my house–again, not all that surprising!–and I want to pass them on to you guys. For this giveaway, I have a paperback box set of The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.


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