About ME · Book Reviews · Fiction

National Book Lovers Day and ‘Bear Necessity’ book review

Happy National Book Lovers Day & Thank You @scribnerbooks for my gifted copy of ‘Bear Necessity‘ by James Gould-Bourn! (pub 8/4)

As many of you know from my last Instagram post, my 4-legged family member, Zeus, passed away on Friday. He would have been 16 yrs old on 9/12. The last year has been a rough one for him (& of course for me as his main caregiver.) I have struggled all weekend w/ coming to terms w/ our loss, so to get out of my head, I read this book that was kinda relevant to what I am going through.

‘Bear Necessity’ is about a father & son overcoming their grief in surprisingly inventive ways.

Danny’s life is falling apart. He’s become a single father to 11-yr-old Will—who hasn’t spoken since the death of his mother in a car crash a year earlier—& Danny has just been fired from his construction job. To make matters worse, he’s behind on the rent & his nasty landlord is threatening to break his legs if he doesn’t pay soon. Danny needs money, & fast.

After observing local street performers in a nearby park, Danny spends his last few dollars on a tattered panda costume, impulsively deciding to become a dancing bear. While performing one day, Danny spots his son in the park, & chases off the older boys who are taunting him. Will opens up for the first time since his mother’s death, unaware that the man in the panda costume is his father. Afraid of disclosing his true identity, Danny comforts his son. But will Danny lose Will’s trust once he reveals who he is? And will he be able to dance his way out of debt, or be beaten up before he has a chance?

Filled with a colorful cast of characters, ‘Bear Necessity‘ is a refreshingly unpretentious & ultimately uplifting story of a father & son reconnecting in the most unlikely of circumstances. This debut novel definitely had it’s heartbreaking & tough-to-read-about moments, & of course I cried more than once (honestly, I would have no matter what, all things considered…), but ‘Bear Necessity‘ is at its heart uplifting & hopeful. The book deals with overcoming tragedy & grief in a unique way while a father does whatever he can to fix whats left of his family. Poignant, heartwarming, & utterly delightful, ‘Bear Necessity‘ is truly a wonderful book!

Click HERE to add ‘Bear Necessity’ to your Goodreads list.
Click HERE to give my Instagram post (& maybe some others) a LIKE.
Click HERE to visit James Gould-Bourn on Instagram.

What others are saying about ‘Bear Necessity’:

“James Gould-Bourn’s novel is a comedy of sadness and dancing bears. That alone should convince you to pick up a copy, but I’ll add that it’s a delightful story about fatherhood and childhood. And dancing bears.”
Owen King, author of Double Feature

“Fast, fresh and very very funny. Moving effortlessly from comedy to poignancy, it’s a story of joy, of connection and of the overwhelming resilience of the human spirit. Reading it made me want to dance. An absolute gem of a book.”
—Katie Marsh, author of The Rest of Me

“A deeply comforting story… heartfelt themes and wit further elevate charming plot twists and a well-tuned cast of quirky, supporting characters who prove that the spirit of friendship can build bridges to greater understanding and brighter days. Gould-Bourn is a beautiful, perceptive writer who has crafted a moving, sensitive story that is also very funny. Bear Necessity is a perfect literary antidote to anxious, troubled times.”
Shelf Awareness

“Refreshing…. a well-written, speedy read that focuses on the love between a dad and his son and how it can lead to friendship.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Promising, sweet… a feel-good story about coping with grief.”
Publishers Weekly

❤RIP Zeus Almighty…(9/12/04-8/7/20)❤


About ME · BOTMs,

My May Books-of-the-Month have arrived! Just in time for my BIRTHDAY!

Click HERE to give my IG page some love!

Today is my birthday! 🎂🎈 Yay for me! Except for the fact that I am not feeling well (autoimmune flare-up, not covid). But lucky me, my husband works from home today & my daughter is also here to help me out with everything & force me to sit & chill & just plain relax for the day. I’ve been doing so much lately & I often forget that due to my “invisible” illnesses, I do have limitations & need to take time to just relax each day & not overdo it. Also, here in Ohio many businesses are re-opening today (with provisions, of course, & limitations), but I know I will still be wearing my mask when I go out especially now, since I expect people will be flocking to all of the businesses that have been closed for the last 2 mos or so.😷

Since it’s my birthday month & I am an official Book of the Month B.F.F., I got a FREE add-on book! Once you have received your 12th BOTM box, you become a BFF & receive some great swag! A FREE tote bag, a FREE add-on book during your birthday month, & a your choice of one of the five Book of the Year finalists at the end of the year FREE.

The May book selections were:

Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life, but finds no outlet for her considerable talents. Defying the expectations placed on women, she engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes secret narratives about neglected and silenced women. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other’s spiritual and philosophical ideas. He becomes a floodgate for her intellect, but also the awakener of her heart.

Their marriage unfolds with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, James and Simon, and their mother, Mary. Here, Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to the Roman occupation of Israel, partially led by her charismatic adopted brother, Judas. She is sustained by her indomitable aunt Yaltha, who is searching for her long-lost daughter, as well as by other women, including her friend Tabitha, who is sold into slavery after she was raped, and Phasaelis, the shrewd wife of Herod Antipas. Ana’s impetuous streak occasionally invites danger. When one such foray forces her to flee Nazareth for her safety shortly before Jesus’ public ministry begins, she makes her way with Yaltha to Alexandria, where she eventually finds refuge and purpose in unexpected surroundings.

Grounded in meticulous historical research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’ life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her.

After her former band shot to superstardom without her, Claire reluctantly agrees to a gig as a playgroup musician for overprivileged infants on New York’s Park Avenue. Claire is surprised to discover that she is smitten with her new employers, a welcoming clique of wellness addicts with impossibly shiny hair, who whirl from juice cleanse to overpriced miracle vitamins to spin class with limitless energy.

There is perfect hostess Whitney who is on the brink of social-media stardom and just needs to find a way to keep her perfect life from falling apart. Caustically funny, recent stay-at-home mom Amara who is struggling to embrace her new identity. And old money, veteran mom Gwen who never misses an opportunity to dole out parenting advice. But as Claire grows closer to the cool women who pay her bills, she uncovers secrets and betrayals that no amount of activated charcoal can fix.

Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when she gets the call. Grueling hours are standard at elite law firms like Young & Crane, but they’d be easier to swallow if Lizzie was there voluntarily. Until recently, she’d been a happily underpaid federal prosecutor. That job and her brilliant, devoted husband Sam—she had everything she’d ever wanted. And then, suddenly, it all fell apart.

No. That’s a lie. It wasn’t sudden, was it? Long ago the cracks in Lizzie’s marriage had started to show. She was just good at averting her eyes.

The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help—even if Zach Grayson is an old friend. But Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect.

As Lizzie is drawn into the dark heart of idyllic Park Slope, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Grace Hall private school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place.

Samiah Brooks never thought she would be “that” girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she’s been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah—along with his two other “girlfriends,” London and Taylor—have gone viral online. Now the three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men, no dating, and no worrying about their relationship status . . .

For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she’s always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy, honey-eyed Daniel Collins at work. What are the chances? When it comes to love, there’s no such thing as a coincidence. But is Daniel really boyfriend material or is he maybe just a little too good to be true?

Bunny Lampert is the princess of North Shore⁠—beautiful, tall, blond, with a rich real-estate-developer father and a swimming pool in her backyard. Michael⁠⁠—with a ponytail down his back and a septum piercing⁠—lives with his aunt in the cramped stucco cottage next door. When Bunny catches Michael smoking in her yard, he discovers that her life is not as perfect as it seems.

At six foot three, Bunny towers over their classmates. Even as she dreams of standing out and competing in the Olympics, she is desperate to fit in, to seem normal, and to get a boyfriend, all while hiding her father’s escalating alcoholism. Michael has secrets of his own. At home and at school Michael pretends to be straight, but at night he tries to understand himself by meeting men online for anonymous encounters that both thrill and scare him.

When Michael falls in love for the first time, a vicious strain of gossip circulates and a terrible, brutal act becomes the defining feature of both his and Bunny’s futures⁠⁠—and of their friendship. With storytelling as intoxicating as it is intelligent, Rufi Thorpe has created a tragic and unflinching portrait of identity, a fascinating examination of our struggles to exist in our bodies, and an excruciatingly beautiful story of two humans aching for connection.

***************

📚Many of the books each month are Early Releases, meaning you can get a nice hardback copy of a book sometimes a month or more before the gen public! Full-size, beautiful hardback books for nearly HALF of what you would pay anywhere else, & well-curated selections of various genres. A little something for everyone! You can add-on other books for even LESS (up to 3 books total per month) & you can skip any month you like. (You can cancel anytime, but trust me, you won’t want to!)

If you have been on the fence about joining Book-of-the-Month, I encourage you to do it now! There are some GREAT books to choose from & with some excellent summer releases coming, you will be able to get in on that readerly action before your non-BOTM friends. You get a special introductory price for your first BOTM & then you will be on your way to becoming a BOTM BFF like me! Click HERE to use my special referral code & get a nice discount on your first BOTM selection.

📚Are you already a member? What book(s) did you chose for May? Or did you skip perhaps? What books are you hoping will be in the June batch? Personally, I am hoping for the new Riley Sager book as a June or July selection. (I was set to meet him at an author event in early July, but that is cancelled now. So bummed.) Today is also a pretty great pub day! Tuesday’s are always fun when it comes to IG & seeing what new books released that day. Any particular book(s) come out today that you are excited to read? Oh, & don’t forget I have a new giveaway going on Instagram. Click HERE to go to that post.

Click HERE to go to the giveaway post

Well, folks, hope you all have a wonderful week! Stay safe out there! And don’t forget to wash your hands & stop touching your face! 😊😷🎂

About ME · Audiobooks · Book Reviews · LibroFm

Happy Independent Bookstore Day! (well, sort of…) [TAKE 2]

(****Ok I will start off by saying you probably already got an email with this post, but for some reason it was not showing up on my blog & is still in my “draft post” file. So I am hitting the “publish button one more time. I put a lot of work into the post & just want it to actually show up on my blog & get out of the wrong file. Thanks for understanding….)

Happy Independent Bookstore Day!! Especially to my fave, Gathering Volumes Bookstore in Perrysburg, OH! And thank you @readforeverpub & @hachetteaudio for my free copies of ‘The Happy Ever After Playlist‘ by Abby Jimenez!

Click HERE to add this to your Goodreads list

While the “official” Indie Bookstore Day is now postponed until Aug 29th, we are still having an online celebration today to recognize, thank & support our local & independent bookstores! During these difficult times I can tell you that reading (whether physical books or audiobooks) has really helped me get through some tough days.

Me reading The Eye of Zeus by Alane Adams with my youngest

I listen to audiobooks during the day to help with the stress & anxiety of being isolated for weeks with my overly loud & bored kids, & I have also incorporated daily outloud reading time with them as part of our new homeschooling routine, which I will continue to do even when our official school year ends. Then in the evening when I can sit quietly, I read my physical books.

Click HERE to read more about this book

Right now I am listening to ‘The Happy Ever After Playlist‘ with of my Libro.fm app. Libro.fm is an audiobook app that supports Indie Bookstores with their sales. By choosing Libro.fm over other audiobook companies, you support a local bookstore of your choice.

Most people think you can only buy physical books from indie bookstores, but that’s not true. Many bookstores have partnered with Libro.fm to support audiobook sales as well. No more waiting for your library holds to come in. Get the audiobook you want as soon as it is released via your Librofm app or use BookStoreLink.com to find the books you want at an independent bookstore. Many have curbside pick-up or will ship the books to you.

My independent bookstore of choice is Gathering Volumes Bookstore in Perrysburg, Ohio. They also have a special going on this weeekend which includes a FREE Independent Bookstore Day totebag! Click HERE to go to their Instagram post that tells you the details. I think I will be making a purchase from them this weekend for sure! They also ship books, sell e-books & audiobooks, & have some really fun, nicely curated book subscriptions for all ages. They also have a used book section with some fantastic deals!

Today ONLY, anyone who has a Librofm app will get TWO pre-selected audiobooks for FREE (info link in bio) & if you start an audiobook membership & use my code MOMLOVESREADING, you will get a 3-for-1 audiobook deal (books of your choice!) That’s FIVE audiobooks for one low price TODAY only! (However, my code deal is good anytime!)

To help out our bookseller community even more, Libro.fm has partnered with a range of artists to create 10 pairs of socks for book lovers. Profits will go to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation to support booksellers across the nation affected by COVID-19.

1-Browse the Designs: These one-of-a-kind socks feature art from illustrators, authors, and designers who love books just as much as you do.

2-Name Your Price: All socks start at $15, but you can choose to pay as much as you’d like to increase your impact.

3-Support Booksellers: Pull on your socks, put on an audiobook, and stay safe at home while supporting booksellers across the nation.

Click HERE for more information

Independent bookstores are not just stores. They are community centers & local anchors run by passionate readers. Bookstores are like an entire universe of ideas & places to visit. They are my happy place! I miss them & they miss us & need our sales more than ever to help them stay afloat when their doors open back up. Be sure to download your FREE Libro.fm today to get your FREEBIE’s then consider starting a membership using my code. You can cancel anytime, but if you are enjoying the app & the audiobooks while supporting indie booksellers, why would you want to? Click HERE for more info on how Libro.fm works.

And as always…stay home, stay safe, stay sane. Now go wash your hands!

About ME · Book Reviews

Book Review: “The Familiar Dark” by Amy Engel

Click HERE to give my Instagram post a LIKE

Thank you @duttonbooks for my gifted copy of “The Familiar Dark” by Amy Engel!

Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, “The Familiar Dark” opens with a murder.

Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother’s cruel brand of strength if she’s going to face the reality about her daughter’s death and about her own true nature.

Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother’s trailer for a final lesson.

Click HERE to add it to your Goodreads list

What a gripping, darkly addictive, heart-wrenching read! Just so good! Engel’s previous book, “The Roanoke Girls” gave you taste of her amazing writing skills, and “The Familiar Dark” is no exception.

Engel created an expertly paced novel wrought with grittiness, betrayal, vengeance, and perfectly nuanced, damaged characters. “The Familiar Dark” is a disturbing, psychological thriller at heart, but it is also powerful, emotional and thought-provoking. You will remember this story long after you have finished reading it.

Click HERE to go to my Instagram post

The Familiar Dark” was released on 3/31. Look for it at your local independent bookstore. Many bookstores are doing curbside pickups and home deliveries. Amazon is not prioritizing most books and it may takes weeks to get it from them…Shop LOCAL. Independent bookstores need our help right now more than ever! Use BookStoreLink to find a bookstore near you or one that ships.

QOTD: What are you reading this weekend? Also, stay tuned…new giveaways (yep, GIVEAWAYS) coming soon!

I am struggling with reading lately. I am on week 5 of homeschooling and having kids home (and having ZERO quiet time or a moment to myself) and not gonna lie, it’s getting to me. I’m starting to get salty with the ones I love and snapping at my husband and kids, catching myself doing it, then feeling like a piece of garbage afterwards. Honestly, I think I just need a good ugly cry, a long walk with an audiobook, and maybe a glass of wine (or two) on days that have just gotten the better of me. I did stay up til 1am last night with my daughter watching “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” & “PS I Still Love You” on Netflix, I did have 2 small glasses of Cabernet, and just getting some alone, quiet time with her was nice! (And it DID help my mood, and the movies were cute, YA fluff, based on the books by Jenny Han.)

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! And as always, stay home, stay safe, stay sane. Now go wash your hands!

About ME · RebateApps

How to Get Books for FREE using Rebate Apps! (Post 1 in Series)

Pic from Fetch Rewards app

In my circle of friends I am known as the one that saves lots of money with coupons, rebates, sales, etc. I use paper coupons, digital coupons, loyalty programs (IE: Target Circle, Ulta Beauty Rewards, etc). I have about 50+ apps on my Iphone that are just for grocery stores, restaurants, online shopping, printing coupons, & rebate apps. I make it a habit of checking my store apps (Kroger, Target, Meijers) digital coupons once or twice a week & add the ones that I would possibly use to my app account. I have literally saved thousands of dollars every year by taking a little bit of time to do this. We’ll talk more about store apps some other time. Today I am going to introduce you to the “Fetch Rewards” app in my first post in a series of Rebate App blog posts…

Rebate apps that I use to earn FREE BOOKS as a treat to myself for all the money I save my family with my other apps!

First up in this series is by far probably the EASIEST of all the apps I use…Fetch Rewards! You just download the app, scan your receipts within 14 days, and the app will show you how many reward points you earned with that receipt within minutes. You don’t have to do anything before you shop or while you are shopping, and you can also connect the email associated with your online grocery purchases to automatically earn reward points from places like Walmart.com, Target.com, Instacart, & more! You can even connect your Amazon account to earn reward point for certain Amazon grocery purchase as well! (And don’t worry, Fetch Rewards keeps your data safe & doesn’t sell your information to anyone.)

Click HERE for my referral link

First step is to, of course, download the app. (I use an Iphone, but most apps are available for other phone brands operating systems as well.) When you open the app, use my referral code MP1JV to automatically receive an extra 2000 reward points when you upload your first store receipt. You can also click HERE to use my referral link & download the app. (And yep, it’s FREE!) Just make sure you use the code or the link to get that bonus (& I get a little bonus, too, for telling you about this amazing app!)

Lay your receipt out on the counter as flat & wrinkle free as possible & make sure you have decent lighting. Don’t worry, the app will let you know if it can’t read your receipt info very well & prompt you to take a clearer photo & find better lighting. Open your app, click on the photo button, & starting with the very top of your receipt, snap your first photo that must include the top corners of the receipt AND the store name. Don’t leave anything out.

Then line up the next snapshot with the first one (the app will show you your last photo), & snap that pic. Do this until you have scanned your full receipt, including the bottom two corners. When you are done, submit it, & wait for the magic to happen. With in minutes (95% of the time) Fetch will let you know how many reward points & bonus points (if applicable) you earned with that receipt.

My pic is kinda bad since it was hard to screen shot while taking the photo…but you get the point.

You have 14 days to scan your receipt. You can only scan each receipt once, but don’t worry, Fetch will let you know if you already scanned a receipt. If you feel Fetch may have missed an item you should have received points for, don’t worry; there is a way to let them know so they can check & see if they did in fact miss an item (or two). There are HUNDREDS of brands that earn reward points (my app currently shows 311 brands!) & most of these brands are common ones, not rare finds like on some apps. On the “Discover” page of the app you will see your special offers, bonus points, & all your current high point offers.

Click HERE for my referral link

Click on the activity icon and you will see your yearly, monthly & weekly progress, such as how many receipts you have submitted, how many points you have received, how much you have spent at each store, breakdowns for each receipt, & so much more! (I didn’t include a photo of my activity for privacy’s sake.)

311 current brands & more added all the time!

Once you have accumulated at least 3000 points (which is fairly easy to do), you can cash your points in for a $3 gift certificate reward (hundreds to choose from!). Personally, I would NOT redeem your points just yet. I wait until I have at LEAST 5000 points to redeem for a $5 reward gift certificate, BUT I usually like to stockpile my points until I have $20 or more. It just makes the gift card amount that much bigger ($20) & when I get a $20 Amazon gift card, that is a pretty good discount on a couple of paperbacks or a hardback. Other places I get gift cards for to get books for FREE are Barnes & Noble, Walmart & Target. There are also TONS of restaurant gift cards available, such as my favorites Chipotle, Starbucks, Panera & Dunkin. It doesn’t end there…there are also hundreds of store gift cards as well, like Sephora, Kohls, TJ Maxx, Lowes, Macys, & MORE!

Click HERE for my referral link & earn 2000 bonus points on your first receipt scan

So, don’t delay! Start earning FREE gift cards from your receipts today & be sure to use my referral code MP1JV or THIS link https://fetchrewards.onelink.me/vvv3/referralemail?code=MP1JV to get your bonus 2000 points. It’s SO easy & a fun way to reward yourself during these tough times. If you have questions, there is a FAQ section that can answer them for you or you can comment here (or email me) & I will do my best to answer them.

Stay tuned for another rebate app post coming soon & learn how to save $$$ & earn freebies! As a mother of 5, I have been using coupons & savings/rebate apps for YEARS & the last time I checked all of my app savings, I was over the $5000 mark on how much I have gotten back in either cash or gift cards, so I call that a MAJOR WIN!

If you are just visiting my blog today, why not go hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss out on my Rebate Savings Series posts & my book reviews & giveaways, too! Happy Sunday to you all & stay safe out there! (Now, go wash your hands!)