Book Review: The Fallout by Tamar Cohen

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Set in England, Dan, Sasha, Hannah, and Josh are best friends. Their four year old daughters, Lily and September, are also best friends. Life couldn’t get any better for the the two families. Until one day, Dan tells Josh that he is going to divorce his wife, Sasha, for a younger woman. Torn between their relationship with the couple and with each individual, Hannah and Josh struggle to keep their own marriage together, while Sasha and Dan’s turns into a custody battle.

The Fallout by Tamar Cohen is a juicy read; there are so many little stories tied into one big problem. The novel starts off a bit slow. I found myself getting distracted easily, but once I got to the middle, I didn’t want to put it down. The whole book is full of “he said, she said” and a ton of drama. I felt so bad for the two little girls, September and Lily, they were certainly stuck in the middle of their parent’s issues. As the story goes on, there is a bit of an eerie, creepy undertone that you can’t ignore. I was just waiting for something terrible to happen, every time I turned the page. The ending basically hit me in the face like a car crash. It was very unexpected, yet perfect, at the same time.

The Fallout certainly proves how one person’s actions can cause a chain of reactions. Hannah and Josh swore they would stay neutral during their friends’ separation, yet it is only natural for Hannah to sympathize with Sasha and Josh to sympathize with Dan. You really get to know all four main characters in this novel. It was such a relief to read a book that didn’t alternate character perspectives from chapter to chapter. There are too many novels that do that, these days, and frankly, I get tired of reading them. The Fallout is a breath of fresh air, a fiction novel that didn’t make me feel rushed from one chapter to the next.

I really enjoyed the setting in this novel. I went to England once, and would go back again, given the chance. I love that that the little girls have afternoon tea dates. I enjoyed reading about daily life in England. As I have mentioned before, it is always nice to read a story that isn’t based in North America. But even outside of our country, divorce isn’t very pretty. Tamar Cohen definitely crafted a novel which drives that point home.

The Fallout  by Tamar Cohen was originally published under the title The Broken in the UK in 2014. The Fallout is now available for purchase here in the States.

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

Fit Snack Subscription Box May 2016

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With everyone being sick in my house, this month, our healthy snacks came in handy when there wasn’t much time to shop. Here is what was in our May Fit Snack box:

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Get Chia Stawberry Fruit Bar: I love everything strawberry flavored. This Chia bar is 100 % pure and doesn’t have any additives or preservatives.

Raw Rev Organic Food Bar: There were two Raw Rev bars in May’s box. I couldn’t eat them because they contained nuts. Each bar is only 100 calories!

Sensible Foods Crunch Snacks: These are great for kids. Jimmie loves dried snacks. 100 % natural snacks.

RW Garcia Chips: Chips should be a food group because I love them so much. These sweet potato crackers were so yummy, I even ate the crumbs. Gluten and GMO free!

Kay’s Naturals Protein Chips: Who doesn’t want to eat pizza in a puff ball form? These pizza puff balls were delicious!

Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener: I haven’t tried this yet because I haven’t had my coffee all week. This sweetener is zero calorie and claims to taste just like sugar.

Angel Fire Hemp Co Tea: This green tea is in my fridge to try. It is made from organic hemp seeds and tea leaves.

Dream Water: Claims to be a natural, drug-free sleep aid. I haven’t tried it yet.

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If you have never heard about Fit Snack, please check out another one of my posts about the amazing subscription box company based out of Colorado. I love how each box comes with new exercises, workout tips (this month was a body sprint workout), and coupon codes for some of the snacks in the box.

For your chance to WIN a free Fit Snack box, head on over to their contest page here. There is a chance to win every month. Enter today so that you can start snacking healthy tomorrow!

I was sent a Fit Snack box in exchange for an honest review. All of the options are my own. Thanks Fit Snack!

Jimmie’s 2 Year Update!

I decided to take it down a notch and just do yearly updates (granted I haven’t done monthly ones in quite some time.) With that being said, I stole this awesome survey from one of my blogger friends over at Finding My Yellow (her little boy is SUPER cute and I really wish we could all be real life friends). Check out her great blog!

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Weight/height: 27 pounds and 35 1/2 inches. He is in the lower end of the weight percentile chart and the higher end in height. Tall and thin!

Health: After finally figuring out that soy and/or just not drinking enough water was causing constipation, Jimmie has been doing really well and poops regularly. We were dealing with constipation since before he turned one. I am glad that is over with. He can still have soy, just not too much. He has been fussy all year with his teeth, too. He just got his 3rd 2-year-old molar the other day (well, it broke skin). I don’t think the 4th one is even close to coming through, though.

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Diet: Kid loves to eat. We are so blessed in this department. He loves pasta (duh, he is Italian) and he also really likes sausage (we mostly give him chicken sausage). He will eat spicy foods like Korean chicken and eats most fruits and veggies (a month ago the only fruits he would eat were bananas and blueberries). 9 times out of 10 he is eating what we eat for dinner. I’ll tell ya, though, he is a marathon eater. Sometimes we sit at the table for 40 minutes! He also LOVES peas. As in, today for lunch, he “asked” for more. Who is this kid? Jim and I hate peas. But when Jimmie gives me one, I sure as heck eat them, too.

Clothes: He wears mostly 18-24 months clothes, still. Some Carter’s 24 months stuff fit him but most other brands are still WAY too big. If it is 2T, forget it. Hopefully in a few months he will grow into some more stuff. He wears a size 6 shoe and we just instituted a play shoe rule and a going out shoe rule. Kids ruin shoes fast!

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Sleeping: He goes to bed between 7 and 7:30 and has been waking up a little earlier these past couple weeks, around 6:30. Hopefully we get back to sleeping until 7:15, soon. We took his pacifier away from him a week ago, so this week was an adjustment period. I’m happy to report once we took it away, we never gave it back. Going cold turkey totally worked for us. Napping is going well. We had a rough week right before we moved, but I think that was his 2 year sleep regression. Are those over yet?

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Likes: He loves watching the washing machine go round and round. He also likes to sweep (we bought him his own little broom for his Birthday.) He likes hanging out outside (when it isn’t raining!!) and going to his new library time. He loves playing in his pretend kitchen and watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He still loves to read, which is my favorite “like” on his list. His weirdest obsession is Adele. Put on the CD 25 and he calms down in the car, immediately (especially if you put “Hello” on repeat.) I tried to put on one of her old CDs, no dice. He would swing on a swing all day long, if we let him.

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Dislikes: Messy fingers, using his silverware (even though he is perfectly capable), not getting attention when I’m cooking, getting his teeth brushed, and grilled cheese.

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Milestones: He started saying “ya ya ya” recently, although he still isn’t saying a lot of words. Just mama, dada, burp, dirt, nana, bubble. He also makes a lot of animal sounds. This concerns us a little bit, but we also recognize that he understands everything we say, so we are going to wait a few more months before getting him evaluated. He can complete some puzzles, which makes me so proud. He can walk up and down stairs while holding my hand and is attempting to do it by himself, although it gives me a minor heart attack every single time. He can stack blocks up 9 blocks. He can open doors (even with child proofing). He started eating cereal about a month ago which I think is awesome. His favorite part is drinking the milk from the bowl.

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Quirks: He loves to spin in circles and get dizzy, this ends in him falling down. His dancing is the cutest thing I have ever seen; he starts to move his shoulders whenever he hears music. He loves helping. I’m not sure if this is a quirk, but it is adorable. He loves helping me empty the silverware from the dishwasher. He likes to cheers his own milk and water cups and loves watching our garage door go up and down.

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Nicknames; Monkey, Jimmie-Jam, Jimbo, Monks, sweet pea, Monker-do, bubba

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We parents are: busy and tired. The move has worn us out. Jim is going to be starting his new job in June (cya later, Army) and I will begin looking for a job in June. I have already reserved Jimmie’s spot in daycare starting anytime between July and September. We are taking a 5 day vacation in June to Ohio, for a wedding, and stopping in Virginia and Kentucky on the way. Jimmie is staying with Jim’s parents. I am counting the minutes until I can just sit, drink coffee, and stare out the window of one of our fantastic Air B&B houses.

This upcoming year is going to be huge. Potty training is going to start after our vacation and new jobs/schedules are in the horizon. Jim turns 30 in July and I turn 30 in August. I can’t believe 2016 is almost halfway over. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings and what 2017 has in store for all of us. Stay tuned for a new blog name very soon.

Book Review: Counting Blessings by Eileen Spinelli, Illustrated by Lee Holland

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Counting to ten has never been more fun than counting along with this cute,cuddly little bunny in Counting Blessings by Eileen Spinelli, Illustrated by Lee Holland. Along the way the little bunny counts: body parts, food, toys, friends, and much more. You won’t want to miss this precious story that teaches your child how to count from 1 to 10.

I always enjoy the illustrations in children’s books. The pictures are so colorful, cheerful, and engaging. Lee Holland did a beautiful job creating lovely pictures that children from birth to three will enjoy.  I like books in which my child can interact with. Jimmie likes pointing to the pictures of the lady bugs and bees, as well as, many of the other animals: koalas, elephants, and birds.

The story concept is simple. Some of the rhymes are forced, but children probably won’t notice this as much as I do. Each page leaves lot of room for imagination, which will encourage your child make up their own words. Each of the four seasons are mentioned in the book, ending with fall by comparing leaves to blessings, you just can’t count them all.

Fun fact: Eileen Spinelli is married to one of my favorite authors: Jerry Spinelli. He wrote my favorite book from middle school: Maniac Magee. I have a signed copy  that Jim gave me. Jim student taught with Eileen and Jerry Spinelli’s son.

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

Book Review: Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

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From Goodreads:

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

This is the second Mary Kubica book I have read. After reading Pretty Baby, I was hooked.  Ms. Kubica really knows how to make your imagination run wild from start to finish. In her newest novel, Don’t You Cry, you will be sitting on the edge of your chair wondering what the heck is going on. From alternating points of views, Quinn and Alex, uncover who Esther Vaughan really is and what happened to her, in two completely unrelated stories. Living in different towns, uncovering different clues, not even knowing one another, Alex and Quinn discover secrets that leave them ultimately mystified.

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica is twisty, dark, and enchanting. Believe me when I say that you are not going to want to put it down. Books like this one make me wonder if I know someone that has some crazy, deep, dark secret that they’re hiding. It makes me question everyone I think I know. Quinn is an interesting character who is well-developed throughout the entire novel. Not only is she looking for her missing roommate, she is also falling deeper for a guy she isn’t supposed to like to begin with, Ben. Alex, who I actually thought was a girl for the first 50 pages of the book (I have no idea why I thought this,) is an interesting character, as well. Sometimes, when I read books with alternating perspectives, I prefer one character over the other. This wasn’t the case in Don’t You Cry; I didn’t want either character’s chapters to end just so I could get back to the “other” story.

It really is unbelievable how Mary Kubica kept me guessing throughout this entire novel. I figured a few things out, but she still managed to surprise me, more than once, towards the end. She has a way of giving small clues throughout her books that keep you wanting more and more; I ate up the suspense like a bag of chips. If you enjoyed The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins and/or Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, then you will love Don’t you cry by Mary Kubica on sale May 17, 2016.

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

Jimmie’s Second Birthday Curious George Party

After several weeks of rain, the sun finally came out on Saturday, for Jimmie’s 2nd Birthday! The day was full of good food, good family, good friends, and a little bit of monkey business.

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Cousins chasing each other in the yard

I swore I was going to keep it simple this year. And, in my eyes,  I stuck to my word. It was so much easier having one party for all of our friends and family, instead of two, like last year. We have called Jimmie “Monkey” since he was really little. I actually thought of making his room a Curious George theme, before settling on Dr. Seuss. (The books are actually from Kohl’s from before he was even born.)

Party favors were Curious George Coloring books from Party City, Thomas the Train Crayons from Party City, and Red/White/Blue crazy straws. (Of course, I forgot to give half of them out!)

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We served hot dogs, hamburgers, Korean chicken, berry salad, and pasta salad. For snacks we had chips and pirate booty.

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I wanted to order a cake for dessert, but I couldn’t find a Curious George cake. I ended up making these cute monkey cupcakes. They really were the easiest thing in the world to create.

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the proud grandparents

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Jimmie eating his first hot dog. Since I’m crazy, I had my brother supervise because he is CPR certified. I’m happy to report, Jimmie did well.

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Sharing some pirate’s booty with one of his best little girlfriends

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The happiest of Birthdays to you! (I’m pretty sure we haven’t taken a formal family photo since his last Birthday!)

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Birthday Boy was so tired towards the end of his party. That’s what happens when you’re forced to skip your nap. He was a trooper, though, and made it until his normal bedtime where we read his Birthday book and gave him one more one year old kiss.

The Day Before Your Second Birthday

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Tomorrow you’re turning two, Little Jimmie. You, my little darling, are no longer going to be a baby. Last year I was too sentimental and said you were going to be a toddler on your first Birthday, a big boy, but I continued to call you my baby, all the same. I was too excited for you to grow up, not thinking about how growing up meant not being little anymore.

Now, you’re walking, talking (sort of), and running a muck all over the place. You know just how to make me mad, and laugh in my face when I tell you no. It takes all of my strength not to laugh back at you, especially when you’re in time out and keep saying, “Hi” to me. I usually have to go in the other room and laugh before returning. You love to sweep, load the washer, unload the dishwasher, and empty our groceries bags. You are the best little helper, ever.

You continue to make every day unpredictable. Some days that’s a good thing, others, not so much. Some days I cry, some days I laugh, and most days, I still do both all at once. I can count on you to remind me that being a parent isn’t easy, but it is worth it. It’s worth seeing you eyes light up when the garage door goes up and down, it’s worth it when you want seconds (and thirds) on pasta night, it’s worth it when you lean in an give me a kiss when I ask you for one, and it is especially worth it when you put your head on my shoulder to just rest and snuggle.

I love watching you dance, climb, figure out new things, and explore. Year two of your life has been filled with so many adventures. We traveled all the way up to Vermont. Along the way we went to: New York, Connecticut,   Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. You were an angel on that trip and we had so much fun with you. And, of course, the best part of the week was how you learned how to walk all by yourself. As the year went on, we decided to buy a house. Again, you were a champ and took the change with ease. You love you new house, your room, and your yard; it’s as if we have always lived here.

Today is the last day I can say that you’re one. Tomorrow we enter the “terrible twos.” And even though I know they may or may not be harder than this past year, I also know that it will be a stage that will pass in a blink of an eye. What will this year bring? Only time will tell but as long as we are all together, we can take on the world.

Tomorrow you’re turning two, Little Jimmie. You, my little darling, are no longer going to be a baby. But sweet little angel, you will always, always be my baby boy. Because when I look at you I see that tiny little face, and those tiny little hands that you had the day you were born. Stay little, stay sweet.

Happy Birthday Eve, Little Monkey. We love you times a million, zillion, trillion.