My 2014 Reading List – UPDATED!


Last year, I listed all of the books I wanted to read in 2013.  I made a dent, but not as much as I wanted to.  Although, come to think of it, there were books that I read that weren’t on my initial list – two being the Divergent series!  Here’s my list for 2014.  (Note: a New Year resolution I really need to keep to this year, is to NOT BUY ANY MORE BOOKS until I read the gazillion I have in paperback or downloaded on my Kindle.)

  1. Orphan Train – COMPLETED 1/15/14
  2. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  3. The Holiday by Jane Green
  4. A Walk in the Park by Jane Green
  5. The Girls in 3B by Valerie Taylor
  6. Over You by Emma McLaughlin
  7. Bared to You by Sylvia Day
  8. Swim by Jennifer Wiener
  9. Paris Without End by Gioia Diliberto
  10. Paris in Love by Eloisa James
  11. The Fallback Plan by Leign Stein
  12. Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb
  13. Prep, a novel by Curtis Sittenfield
  14. The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan
  15. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  16. Pearl of China by Anchee Min
  17. Womenomics by Claire Shipman
  18. The Weighing of the Heart by Jane Thynne
  19. Extraordinary Theory of Objects by Stephanie LaCava
  20. The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman
  21. The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Phillipa Gregory
  22. Motherland by Amy Shone
  23. A Place of Yes by Bethenny Frankel
  24. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
  25. The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty
  26. Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly
  27. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
  28. The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay
  29. MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Brett
  30. Smut: Stories by Alan Bennett
  31. Girl Land by Caitlin Flanagan
  32. The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar
  33. A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay — COMPLETED  9/14
  34. The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
  35. Saving Ceecee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman – COMPLETED 7/14
  36. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  37. The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain
  38. Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
  39. Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs – COMPLETED 10/14
  40. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
  41. Promises to Keep by Jane Green
  42. The Summer We Met Gatsby by Danielle Ganek- COMPLETED 9/12/14
  43. Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner – COMPLETED 10/14

Do you have any good book recommendations?  I’d love to hear!


  1. The Chaperone – COMPLETED 1/14
  2. No, Seriously – (audiobook) COMPLETED 1/14
  3. On the Inside – COMPLETED 1/14
  4. Orphan Train – COMPLETED 4/14
  5. Wedding Night – (audiobook) Sophie Kinsella – COMPLETED 2/14
  6. Spelling it Like it is (audiobook) – COMPLETED 3/14
  7. Have You Found Her? – COMPLETED 4/14
  8. Brunette Ambitions (Lea Michele – audiobook) – COMPLETED 5/14
  9. Maxed Out – American Moms on the Brink – COMPLETED 6/14
  10. The American Heiress – COMPLETED 7/14
  11. The Book of Life – COMPLETED 8/14
  12. Not That Kind of Girl – COMPLETED 10/14




Book Review: Eclair Goes to Stella’s


Hi, I’m Éclair and I’m seven. My sister Meggie is two. When mom got sick we had to go live with Stella, my dad’s mom, the one with maroon colored hair. I begged Dad not to make us stay with her because she beat her horse and was going to eat her rooster, but he didn’t believe me. Even after I pretended I was going to barf, he left us with Stella.

So there we were, Meggie and me, on a strange pink farm with a skinny horse, a mean rooster, and Stinky Stella who had a living room filled with dead deer heads.

What would she do to us?

Would we end up on her wall too?

MY REVIEW: I didn’t know how this book was going to pan out when I first started reading.  I was concerned and confused when I read that Clair and Meggie’s mom was going away because she was “sick”…at first I thought it was going to be too heavy of a topic for the recommended age group to grasp, but it can be true life!  I felt that the book was very real in that Eclair was telling the story how a true young girl would tell a story.  From the mention of the stinky diaper, to what was going through her head when she saw the trophy deer heads in Stella’s house.

I enjoyed reading the book and look forward to learning mores about Eclair and Meggie’s adventures on Stella’s farm.  I hope that the author does touch on the main reason for the little girls going away to their grandma’s and how they cope – it could turn out to be a healing book for children that may be going through the same situation.

Book Reading Age
First – Third grade GIRLS, 5 – 9 year olds

Buy the Book from…     Barnes and Noble

eclair pic

“Do you want to name her?” Stella said.
I squeezed my eyes to think again. “Star. She looks like a movie star.”
“I love it.” Stella reached up to give me a high-five. “Star, it is.”

About the Author

Michelle grew up in the suburbs of Detroit with five brothers.  She enjoys writing her novels and encouraging writers and readers alike. She is living her dream writing stories of real people searching for their dreams and confronting their fears, showing the passion of the characters’ plights, often giving her the ability to show the reader the ‘other’ side of the story. When she is not writing she enjoys life on the tennis court and is known as “Queen of the Rim Shots.”

Her debut novel, CACHE a PREDATOR, a geocaching mystery. was launched in July, 2013 and has been an Amazon best-seller in the crime/thriller category.  Her other works include: Willow, Scattered Links, Kelly’s Story, Eclair Series, and The Vision in a Kiss.  She has won contests in both The Writer’s Journal and The Writer’s Digest. Love is Just a Word (Scattered Links) was a bronze medalist is the 2010 Frasier Contest, a 2011 semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis Contest, and won the Aspiring Writer’s Contest withe THE READING ROOM, 2013.

Follow the Author

Website   Facebook   Twitter   Google+   Goodreads

I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.




5 Lucky Winners !! 1st Prize – $25 or Paypal Cash (WW) plus Sterling Silver & Brass Horse Charm Necklace and Signed Eclair Book 4 more winners will each receive a Signed Eclair Book (Amazon GC/Paypal Cash open Worldwide – Necklace/Signed books open to US/CA/UK)
Ending on Thursday 25th September at 11.59pm EST



Horse Charm Necklace from Chapman Jewelers, Warsaw, Indiana Sterling Silver and Brass Brown Satin Cord – Extends 16″ – 18″ (not red cord as shown in image)


Enter Below and Good Luck !!


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There’s an App For That…or a Website

I’m always on the lookout for a cool app or website to make life a bit easier or more fun.  Below are my latest findings.

thyme kitchen app

My husband is the chef of the household.  He is a natural when it comes to cooking – something I am NOT.  I can cook, and I do like to, but I am the type of person that needs a recipe (at least for the first time around with a dish) and needs to have everything timed out perfectly.  In the past I would use the timer on the oven as well as the timer on the microwave.  The microwave in our new house for some reason doesn’t have a timer – or at least one that I can find.  So odd.  This is where Thyme comes in perfectly!

Pick the burner on the app that you are cooking on, set the timer.  Pick the second burner you are using – do the same.  So simple, so great!  It’s available on both iTunes and Google Play.  $0.99

GoodMouth toothbrushes You know how it is important to change out your toothbrush every few months – even more if you have gotten over a cold, etc.?  I just read about this great subscription, called GoodMouth, that takes the task of reminding to refresh your toothbrushes!  For a family of 4, it costs $13.95 (free shipping) to receive new brushes every 3 months, and with every subscription they donate 2 brushes to someone in need through Giving Goodness.  You complete a simple survey, asking basic questions and you’re all set!  I ordered my first set and can’t wait to get them!  Check out GoodMouth… you can update or cancel at any time.

Free Prints - screenshot

Want to get free prints of your favorite smartphone shots?  Introducing an app that will send you up to 85 free 4×6 prints per month.  You do have to pay for shipping and handling, which ranges from $1.99 – $9.99 depending on the size of the order.  I haven’t tried it just yet, but the app is downloaded on my phone.  I just need to get some time to actually pick out which pictures to print!

Are you a magazine junkie like me?  Enter Next Issue - an app/website that offers unlimited access to over 140 magazines for a small monthly fee.  You can try it out for free for the first 30 days and cancel at any time.  There are two membership levels – one is $9.99/month and the other is $14.99/mont which includes weeklies.  I still like to hold the physical magazine, turn the pages, rip out the ones with items I am interested in or articles that peek my interest.  Check it out….tell me what you think.



learn a new language

I am so excited for this next website – Duolingo.  You can learn a bunch of different languages FOR FREE!  Choose the language you want to learn, create a profile and voila!  You can work along with friends via Facebook too!  Although I have Rosetta Stone for Spanish and have yet to use it (bad me…it is on my bucket list for this year and the year is not yet over!), I am going to try Duolingo for Spanish and see how it goes!  What language do you want to learn?  If you sign up, tell me and we can watch each other’s progress!


Five for Friday – August 8

5 for friday

I totally missed last Friday’s Five for Friday and I am so sad about that.  I hope this one makes up for it!

number 1

It’s hot – very hot – and on hot days I love to cool down with ice cream or popsicles BUT most store-bought popsicles are filled with sugar.  If you have ever seen my little one on a sugar high, you will know why I am adamant about trying my darnedest to remove this attitude-changing, crazy-making item from his life.  Now I know that fruits contain sugars, but by making my own frozen treats, I can manage how much sugar is actually in them.

number 2

I subscribe to the Blogilates Youtube channel.  I love Cassie’s enthusiasm…and now I am actually doing her videos (it took me a year, but better late than never!)  Check out her video below entitled Lower Belly Flattener and tell me what you think!

number 3

I was so surprised when I found out that Twizzlers have gluten in them – boo.  BUT when I came across this article, it made my day.  6 Surprising Foods You Never Knew Were Gluten-Free!  Love you French Macarons!

number 4

I really enjoyed reading and connected with the author of Maxed Out: Moms on the Brink.  I think my review of the book says it all!

number 5

If you are a fellow blogger, you may like this article on 5 Facebook mistakes that can cause your blog traffic.  I learned some great tidbits and hope they are helpful for you too!

I hope you have a great weekend! What are your plans?

Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink – Book Review

I started reading Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink as part of a book club; one of which I (sadly) infrequent due to life getting in the way.  I still like to read the books along with the other members, even if I can’t join in the post-reading festivities of food, wine, gossip and eventual chat about the designated book.

Unlike other books I have read in the past, I was compelled to highlight certain sections of the book, feeling that I needed to share these tidbits with you.  Please note that I am one of the fortunate ones whom works for a company that embraces career enhancement along with family life and flexibility.  It just amazes me that there are companies out there in this day and age that are so NOT like that.

Ever hear of the “Mommy Track”?  Coined by Felice Schwartz, a career consultant, the mommy track is defined in a New York Times article as:

…a phenomenon in which women with family responsibilities are shunted into dead end, lower paying jobs.

Schwartz recommended that companies separate their female employees into two groups.  Group 1 would be composed of the female employees that were willing to work the longer hours, have the flexibility to travel whenever needed – basically not letting anything personal get “in the way” of their career.  Group 2 would be the female employees who are OK with taking the lower-end, less paying jobs in exchange for flexibility when they needed to take an impromptu day off should their child get sick, etc.  Do you find this fair and “modern”?  Thankfully, I as do a lot of my working moms are employed by companies that are flexible and supportive of our career track.  This mommy track just threw me for a loop.

In an interview with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, she stated that all of the years that mothers spend raising their children help them in the future with interpersonal and diplomacy skills.  I completely agree!  Think about it…all of the times you had to be the referee in a confrontation between your kids – pointing out key points of the argument and how to come to an agreement.  I believe that alone has helped me with working with my teams, along with the interpersonal skills of knowing how to work with different personalities.  BTW – Pelosi was a stay-at-home mom to 5 children before running for Congress.

Maternity leave – a very heated topic amongst Americans today.  Did you know that the United States is one of the handful of countries that doesn’t have paid maternity leave?  What are your thoughts on that?  I can dedicate an entire post to that topic alone.

A great tip I took from the book was that sometimes you need to create a project plan for your family life, just as you would for a new project at work.  I know it sounds very sterile, but to me it is very helpful!  There may come a time that there are so many things going on at once – whether it is after school sports, play dates, household chores, coupled with work events – that a project plan, or something as simple as a list, will clear your mind and help you prioritize and conquer everything sanely.

Ever hear of Results-Only Work Environments (ROWE)?  It is new to me, but I found it quite interesting.  Basically employees are evaluated by their work and not by the number of hours they work or the amount of face time.  Its the theory that as long as you get your work done, and it is completed to the expected standards that are initially set forth, then you are adhering to the ROWE and can have “unlimited paid time off”.  This puts the project ownership, accountability and full responsibility on the employee.  A company that has implemented ROWE, Gap Inc., has reported that quality and productivity has increased, while turnover has decreased by 50%.  Nice!

Ever wonder why, at times, we are super stressed and not as happy as we remember our moms were?  Alcorn points out that

Our lives have changed dramatically since the ’60s, but the institutions around us – government, workplace and marriage – have not kept up.  Mothers today are on the front lines of a deep dysfunction in society, trying to make up for the fact that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that is now expected of us.

Makes a lot of sense, right?

Above are just a few points that resonated with me – there was a lot of great reading going on with this book.  I highly recommend it for my working mama readers as well as my stay-at-home mamas – I feel that you all may assimilate with what the author is saying.  Here’s an Amazon link to grab a copy (digital or print):

Please note that the opinions in this review are 100% my own.  I was not asked to review this book but thought it was interesting and a good read for you!