Summer Family Time Enjoying the Little Things: Little Mercies #LittleMercies

This is a sponsored post by Harlequin and all opinions are my own.

I’m working with Little Mercies a book by Heather Gudenkauf and available In stores June 24, 2014. We have been asked to share with you our summer family time. You know, well you know if you read my blog or have been reading it for any length of time that my family is super important to me and that I’m a huge supporter of making family time an important part of life. Kids grow up in an instant and if you don’t enjoy all those little amazing moments in every day you’ll blink and they will be gone. So be sure to cherish each moment.

We have been enjoying our family time this summer. For the very first day of our summer vacation I took the kids to the beach. It was an amazing day together. We built sand castles and Zoe found 9 WHOLE Sand Dollars. We walked up and down the beach and even got a little wet. It was amazing! I wish I had time to take them to the beach every day even if it is a four hour drive. We finally had to leave because we were a little cold. On the way home the kids took the most precious photos of each other.


Then for the next two weeks the kids went to Theater camp at the Kids Theater in Everett. I went to all of their performances. Which wasn’t easy because they had two a day on each Friday, but it was so so worth it because they were adorable on stage. They were amazing, yes I’m a doting mother and so proud of everything they do. For the rest of the summer we’re heading off to a wedding, then we’re having a family vacation in New York and later this summer we’re spending time in Florida with the grandparents. I’m super excited about making more memories with every moment we have together this summer.


In her book, Little Mercies, Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences… 
Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity—the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children’s advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for. 


Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends’ couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen’s and Jenny’s lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another. 

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

Check here for an excerpt from the book:


Follow Along Socially

· Watch the Book Trailer

· Visit Heather Gudenkauf’s Official Site

· Follow Heather Gudenkauf on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

· Visit Little Mercies page on Goodreads

and check out this BOOK CLUB KIT



*Photo credit Morgan Hawthorne*


Heather Gudenkauf is an Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Heather lives in Iowa with her husband and children. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and running.

Minnie in Paris Review & Giveaway #MinnieinParis

Zoe loves Minnie Mouse when we were at Disneyland over spring break she had to have her picture taken with Minnie Mouse pretty much every time we saw her.


When I was offered the book Minnie in Paris I knew I had to say yes because she would love to read it. And she read it as soon as I handed it to her. It’s a colorful book made for fancy girls. And there is a little fancy in all girls. MinnieinParis

Fashion is Minnie’s passion! Just like Zoe, my little girl has been a fashionista since she was 18 months old. I haven’t been allowed to pick out her clothes in years. And, as a result, Minnie’s been invited to show her bows on the runways of Paris!

At the airport, Minnie is so busy taking care of her nieces, Millie and Melody, that she accidentally switches suitcases with Penguini the magician–and finds that his suitcase is full of bunnies instead of bows! Minnie must round up the mischievous little bunnies, find Penguini, and make her bows in time for the show. Will she make it? 

Readers are treated to a stunning tour of famous Parisian locations, from the Louvre to Tuilleries Gardens to the Eiffel tower, to a classic Parisian bistro—all in search of Penguini’s bunnies.

This charming hardcover picture book comes with a code to access the Minnie in Paris eBook.


Follow along socially:

· Visit the Minnie in Paris product page

· Follow Disney Publishing on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram


Enter to Win

Minnie Mouse Rolling Luggage

Pack-up your cares and forget them with Minnie’s pink polka-dotted rolling luggage! This glittering overnight case is topped with pretty bows, and has lots of room to pack her most glamorous travel essentials.

Minnie Mouse Plush

Our Minnie Plush is the pink of polka-dotted perfection. Disney’s soft-stuffed sweetheart is a perfect size for little arms to give great big hugs. Follow her to find laughter and learning at The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

and the book!

Travel with Minnie!

Officially…..One (1) winner receives a Minnie Mouse rolling suitcase, Minnie Mouse plush, and Minnie in Paris

Open to US addresses only

Prizing courtesy of Disney Press & The Disney Store


To Enter:

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American Girl Of The Year 2014 is Isabelle: The Isabelle American Girl Doll Book

I felt so blessed because American Girl has been sending us their books and they sent us the doll of the year book just in time for Zoe’s Birthday. I mean it actually showed up on her birthday so of course I added it to the stack of birthday presents that she opened and look at this smile. SHE LOVES IT. Of course she still has a small desire for an actual American Girl Doll but the fact she gets so excited about the books just makes me so proud. And she’s only in first grade and she can read these books all by herself. We help her a little but she reads these books at night in her room. I LOVE THIS GIRL!


She’s saving up for her own American Girl Doll.

American Girl has revealed its new limited-edition ‘Girl of the Year’ doll for 2014.

Isabelle Palmer, a young ballerina who attends a private dance school in Washington D.C., is the company’s newest release.

With her blonde, pink-streaked hair, casual clothes, and many dance accessories, Isabelle will likely be a must-have toy among aspiring young ballerinas nationwide.



  • Who she is: She’s an inspired dancer who discovers her own way to shine
  • Where she lives: Isabelle lives and attends school in Washington, D.C., surrounded by the bustle and culture of the city
  • Favorite activities: Practicing ballet and designing dance costumes
  • Best friends: Luisa, a modern dancer; and Gabriel, a magician
  • Fun fact: When Isabelle is dancing, she sometimes pretends she’s a water lily skipping and spinning across a pond
  • What changes her life: The realization that she can use her design skills to help others
  • What she discovers: There’s no one else out there with your unique talents

From one of the three books:

As soon as we got to the ballet studio, Luisa and I plunged inside. Before I’d gotten into Anna Hart, I’d taken ballet three times a week at a pretty good dance academy. And I had learned all the moves, turns, and positions so well that I’d been one of the best dancers in my class.

That wasn’t true here at Anna Hart, but the ballet studio still felt like my second home. I loved the soft whisper of cloth on floor as the other ballet students warmed up. They lay on their backs, stretching their arms and legs in ways that arms and legs didn’t normally move. Some wore gray sweatshirts over their brightly colored leotards, as if pigeons and parrots were gathering together in the same birdbath.

Our teacher, Ms. Hawken, was a small, slim woman in a leotard with a crimson scarf tied around her waist. A matching ribbon circled her ponytail.

Get your child reading by introducing the American Girl series to them. You can find them at the library, Amazon, or at the American Girl Doll store.

Guinness World Records 2014 Edition

The Guinness World Records 2014 Edition hit shelves in September, packed with new additions to the shocking, stunning and inspiring feats that have captivated readers for almost sixty years! The best-selling copyright book in history is filled with thousands of ”officially amazing” records, exclusive pictures, hundreds of fun facts and trivia, and an updated, free augmented reality app which will captivate readers with some of this year’s most visually-arresting title holders!


The book is full of fun facts and interesting to the kids. The way they present the information is fun and keeps the eye moving over the pages. These balancing acts we found were pretty cool.


The small sections are short and entertaining, just the thing to distract you for 5-10 minutes. In addition to the large, photo-heavy articles, the 2014 edition has kind of a film-strip feature on the bottom of many of the pages that expand on one theme, such as which entertainer, politician, or other celebrity has the most Twitter followers.

You can see the book in 3D by downloading the 2014 Guinness App with a step by step guide to photo booth.



Guinness World Records (GWR) is the global authority on record-breaking achievements.
First published in 1955, the annual Guinness World Records™ book has become one of the biggest-selling copyright titles of all time, selling 120 million copies to date in 22 languages and in more than 100 countries.
The internationally renowned brand is now also available across a number of platforms – GWR’s global television shows are watched by 250 million viewers annually; digital media and online record-processing services attract more than 50 million visitors a year; and the live events team annually entertains and inspires 1.5 million people around the world.
GWR receives more than 1,000 applications each week and has a specialized team of multi-language record managers and adjudicators who travel the globe to verify official record attempts.
GWR also has a commercial division (Guinness World Records Corporate) that offers accessible record-breaking business solutions to other organizations and brands.

Top 5 of Everything Has Something For Everyone

Top 5 of Everything Has Something For Everyone

By Emily

(sample received)

To help promote literacy in young children, I have begun a tradition of including books with every birthday gift I give. With my own children I usually try to find something unique to them, but I’m often stumped when it comes to the interests of their friends. With the help of my book-loving little girl, we’ve enjoyed the challenge of seeking out books that will appeal to a wide range of kids. When given the opportunity to review a copy of the newly released Top 5 of Everything my daughter insisted we had to check it out. From the title alone, my daughter couldn’t wait to get her hands on a copy and I admit I was pretty intrigued as well.

Top5coverThe book, Top 5 of Everything, by Time Home Entertainment Inc. and the editors of TIME For Kids includes top 5 lists for a variety of kid-friendly topics. The lists featured in the book cover many subjects, from animals, sports, technology, food, people and entertainment. What are the five most popular names for dogs? What are the five oldest baseball stadiums? Who were the five youngest United States presidents? The answers to those questions and dozens more are found in the new book.

photo (21)

The 144-page book is based on TIME For Kids’ most popular feature: the TIME For Kids Top 5. Similar to the magazine version, the lists have amusing and colorful illustrations accompanied by information at a glance. Each Top 5 list has guaranteed kid and parent appeal and is certain to surprise young readers who will refer to the book over and over.

The book features more than 100 lists, including the following topics:

· The hottest planets in the solar system

· The baseball players with the most home runs

· The fastest roller coasters

· The most popular dog breeds

· The biggest spiders

· The longest spacewalks

· Kids’ favorite toys

photo (20)Think you know what the Top 5 All-Time Favorite Toys are (based on a poll of 20,000 people?) Guess! I’ve posted the answers at the end of this review!

Other sample lists include:

Top 5 Cereals with the Most Sugar

1. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks

2. Post Golden Crisp

3. Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow

4. Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s Oops!

5. Quaker Oats Original Cap’n Crunch

Top 5 Most-Searched-For Dictionary Words

*From Merriam-Webster’s website

1. Pretentious

2. Ubiquitous

3. Love

4. Cynical

5. Apathetic

I’m pretty certain I don’t have the only inquiring little mind who’s always wondering what the biggest, craziest, silliest things out there are. Thanks to Top 5 of Everything so many of my daughter’s curiosities have been answered and my sanity saved! This book has become a favorite in our home and with friends and family. My daughter has taken Top 5 of Everything on the bus to school, to playdates and sleepovers to share with her friends. As you can see by my picture, our copy has been well loved! I can guarantee that this informative book will appeal to so many kids as well as grownups too. Top 5 of Everything makes a great gift that will teach, entertain and encourage reading in any child.

Okay, so here are the answers to the Top 5 All-Time Favorite Toys! How’d you score?

Top 5 All-Time Favorite Toys

*Based on a poll of 20,000 people

1. G.I. Joe

2. Transformers

3. Lego

4. Barbie

5. View-Master

Top 5 of Everything (Time Home Entertainment Inc.; August 27, 2013; $11.99) is available at and retailers nationwide.

Disclosure – This product was provided to me free of charge by the manufacturer for the writing of this review; however, opinions expressed are my own and are NOT influenced by monetary compensation.

About Emily:

Emily is also very active in the local MOMS CLUB. The mother of two girls, ages 7 and 3, Emily also cares for her lovable old shihtzu, a frisky kitty and a flock of egg-laying chickens. Originally from Wisconsin, Emily transplanted to Pacific Northwest after college to be with the handsome, sweet guy she met on Spring Break. They have now been married for 10 years. Emily hates housecleaning, loves wine and enjoys dining out. She would love to find a cure for the depression and anxiety she has dealt with on and off since early adulthood, just like me. She is an amazing mom and friend. You can follow Emily on Twitter @EastSeattleMama.

Children’s Book review: “Big Pigs and Sock Dances” by Randy Briley

Book review: “Big Pigs and Sock Dances” by Randy Briley

Written By Lynn:

I met Randy’s wife through a local moms group, she is such a kind-hearted person, the type you always wish good things happen too. But that, unfortunately wasn’t the case when her husband, the sole breadwinner for the family, was laid off from work this year. Randy saw the silver lining and being an amazing artist has also tried his hand at writing children’s books.


I was given a book to review called “Big Pigs and Sock Dances”. The story is written and illustrated by Randy. When I first saw the pictures I thought they were a little unusual and that my daughters might find them weird, but I showed it to them any way. I guessed since the book was targeted for their age (they’re 3 & 6) they would give the best and honest review. My eldest LOVED it. She literally read it 3 times over in the first sitting. My youngest giggled along too at the words AND pictures. The unusualness of the pictures actually appealed to them. The story is more of a poem referring to things the writer likes and sometimes dislikes. It could be the thoughts of a child, and I mean that in a GOOD way! Of course it mentions something about underpants, which most children find positively hilarious, and mine did! BWsmall

It is a book I can sit with my children and enjoy looking at because I seem to see and hear something new each time. It gives me the impression that children, especially boys, who don’t normally like to read, will find something engaging about it and want to turn it’s pages, even if it’s just to look at all the pictures initially.

This book is available via Amazon in a kindle addition (you don’t need a kindle, just the app) at

You can also find more information at

Like Raven Mad Studios on Facebook

Or follow randybriley99 on Twitter


About Lynn:

I met Lynn in MOMS Club and she has two children. One of which is the same age as my daughter and they love to giggle and play together. Lynn Hooper is also a local Mary Kay Consultant while also being a full time mom. “A lot of what the business stands for is true to my heart. Mary Kay Inc. has a foundation that donates funds to help end domestic violence and also funds research into cancers that affect women. Mary Kay also has what’s called "The Golden Rule" which means God (faith) first, family second and business third. A great principal for me and nice to know I am part of a team that believes in this too.

LEGOS: Cool Creations in 35 Pieces By Sean Kenny Children’s Book

This book makes me think….With Little Blocks comes Great Creativity….


Ok, yeah I’m pretty random sometimes when I’m reviewing products, yes we received this book as a sample and it came on a day that Miles didn’t have school and his sister did. He kept asking me if he could play a video game but he’s not allowed to change the discs because he doesn’t take care of the discs. So I had to change the disk and I was in the middle of editing a video for my blog. This book was delivered and suddenly he didn’t care about the video game, he cared about finding the LEGOS to make a ROBOT.IMG_7985

There are always LEGOS in the floor of my living room, on the fire place and in the kitchen. The kids LOVE LEGOS and when I say kids that include the big kid my husband. Ah, I love them too but they paly with them the most. What I love about this book is how easy it is to use and how it inspires great things. Building with LEGO® pieces can inspire children and adults alike to construct wonderfully imaginative and grand creations – towering castles, massive aircrafts, and intricate cities. But LEGO models don’t have to be complicated to be fun and exciting. In Cool Creations in 35 Pieces, best-selling author and artist Sean Kenney taps deep into his imagination with an exercise that will challenge readers of all ages. He creates dozens of figures—from menacing robots with names like Blurg and Scraps, to transforming trucks, to creatures that live in the rainforest—out of LEGOs, but uses no more than 35 pieces in each construct.

Cool Creations in 35 Pieces is Sean’s sixth book that showcases his LEGO art work. His intricate-yet-simple designs will inspire millions of LEGO fans to unleash their own imaginations. He provides starting points, and also includes a step-by-step instruction guide on how he created his pieces.

Falling in love with LEGOs as a boy, Sean left a lucrative Lehman Brothers career to pursue his dream as an artist. He now owns nearly 2 million LEGO bricks and has erected works that weigh as much as 400 pounds. For Cool Creations in 35 Pieces, however, he wanted to show what’s possible with only a few blocks. Just imagine the worlds you can create in only 35 pieces!

CROWDFUNDING FOR SOCIAL GOOD: Financing Your Mark on the World by Devin Thorpe

Although I knew who Devin Thorpe was, before reading this book, I had no idea what Crowdfunding was. This book explains it and how to use it to do good in our needy World. Check out my thoughts on it plus enter the giveaway below to win a FANTASTIC prize!

Crowdfunding for Social Good, Financing Your Mark on the World

by Devin D. Thorpe

Published:  July 27, 2013

Publisher:  Createspace

Length:  168 pages

Genre:  Non-fiction Financial How-To Book

Available at:  Amazon – KindleAmazon – PaperbackB&N


About Crowdfunding For Social Good:


“Over the last year of writing my Forbes blog, I have had the opportunity to really dig deeply into the world of crowdfunding. I’ve just completed my first draft of my new book, Crowdfunding for Social Good: Financing Your Mark on the World.”  – Devin Thorpe

The book is a guide to successful crowdfunding for people who want to change the world.

The book is not a sequel to my book, Your Mark On The World, but it is written in the same spirit. I’ve studied a dozens of successful crowdfunding campaigns, interviewing the people behind them to learn their secrets for success.

Devin’s Book, Your Mark on the World, was downloaded over 75,000 times and reached the #19 spot on Amazon’s free book list–among all free books. It remains on the top 50 free nonfiction books at Amazon.





Well for starters, not being an economic whiz kid, I had to find out what Crowdfunding was.  In short, it is a currently favored manner to raise capital in tiny amounts from a very large group of individuals via social media and the Internet.  I recently saw this in action via another book and the author’s use of the site Indiegogo.  Pretty ingenious, if I do say so myself.  It is a method that appeals to me.  I am a pretty frugal soul so I would not normally just give my funds to a stranger without a pretty good reason but participating in Crowdfunding?  Yes, I would.

So how does Devin’s book bring it all back around to doing things for the social good, i.e humanitarian efforts?  Well, he goes into what steps to take to make doing something for others just because you can and they have need easy.  He gives specific examples of how to make good use of all of  our amazing Social Media resources and make your dream to do good come alive.

I have read Devin’s books before and have to admit that while I normally could not care less about a financial book and therefore would not normally even pick one up, his manner of presenting information is clear, interesting and easy for even the lay-person to understand.  This book really hit home with me, especially after my trip to China to adopt my daughter.  I believe in the Starfish Story…while maybe I cannot make a difference for everyone, I can make a difference to the ‘one’ .  This book shows me how to make that possible.

***5 STARS***


About Author Devin Thorpe:

Devin D. Thorpe thinks he is the luckiest person alive. After being “let go” from the best job he’d ever had—as the Chief Financial Officer of the multinational food and beverage company MonaVie—he and his wife ended up living in China for a year where he wrote Your Mark On The World and embarked on the career he’d always wanted yet hadn’t dared dream.

Now, as an author, a popular guest speaker and Forbes contributor, Devin is devoted full time to championing social good. His current life isn’t much like his past.

As an entrepreneur, Devin ran—at separate times—a boutique investment banking firm and a small mortgage company. He served as the Treasurer for the multinational vitamin manufacturer USANA Health Sciences years before becoming CFO for MonaVie. Over his career he led or advised on the successful completion of $500 million in transactions.
Devin squeezed in two brief stints in government, including two years working for Jake Garn on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Staff and another year working for an independent state agency called USTAR, where he helped foster technology entrepreneurship during Governor Jon Huntsman’s administration.

Devin is proud to have graduated from the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business, which recognized him as a Distinguished Alum in 2006. He also earned an MBA at Cornell University where he ran the student newspaper, Cornell Business.

Today, Devin channels the idealism of his youth with the loving support of his wife, Gail. Their son Dayton is a PhD candidate in Physics at UC Berkeley (and Devin rarely misses an opportunity to mention that).

Follow Devin Online:

Twitter Facebook  |  Google+  |  Tumblr

To get all of Devin’s updates please subscribe here to his newsletter
Devin is giving away a Kindle Fire HD!

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**Note: I received this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.  All opinions are my own and no further compensation was received.


Follow the Book Tour

Meet The Dooples Children’s Book

When it comes to the education of my children, I will explore anything and everything to help aid them for a solid foundation and future. I’d love to put them in private school but it’s so darn expensive and with a little work with them I could probably achieve the same results. I received a sample book, called Meet The Dooples.


The Dooples, a group of writing implementations who come to life in a collection of books and a musical animation that Charactersmotivate children to think, learn and communicate.

Once upon a time…a long, long time ago there was a land so far away that nobody has yet to find it.  The name of this land was Doo and the people who lived there were very friendly writing tools, called ”Dooples”.
While playing, one day at the Inka Plinka River, the Dooples saw something moving on the other side.  Then they found something very strange.  They did not know what to do?  Then they thought and thought.  Finally, they decided to go to Mount Petrooky, the tallest mountain in the Land of Doo, to see the wise one, Mr. Dooba Dee Doo for answers…

The Dooples were created by Dr. Lynn Hunter to combine education with entertainment and aid learning with rhyme, rhythm and repetition. She believes that it’s important to maintain ongoing learning throughout the year and that children become more engaged with story-based education. Dr. Hunter recently premiered “The Dooples in the Land of Doo” animated film and introduced new characters such as a “marker” named Marcus, a “pen” named Penny, a "crayon" named Spectrina, and the wisest Doople in the Land of Doo, Mr. Doo Ba Dee Doo, who all learn by “Doo-ing.”


The Dooples were created to help facilitate elementary-school aged kids everywhere with learning new concepts, using "everyday tools" they are very familiar with. My children explored the book. It’s a great way to introduce kids to different ways of writing and drawing. With the pictures there are plenty of things to explore in the book, it’s great for younger children, I would say pre-K and for Kindergartners that have no experience with school at all.

A Real Prince is Hard to Find: A Modern Fairy Tale

After months of anticipation the baby finally arrived!  I’m not much of a royal watcher, probably because my mother was a huge royal watcher, but I know there are lots out there. I received all kinds of product and review requests but it was the cute children’s books that came out that grabbed my attention. To celebrate the excitement with A REAL PRINCE IS HARD TO FIND: A Modern Fairy Tale.  With a companion app (which you can download here) this delightfully illustrated picture book sweetly tells the story of how William and Kate grew up, met and eventually married, capturing the hearts of millions worldwide.


The Will & Kate App Description:


‘Will and Kate is a charming, clever, witty and utterly gorgeous e-book. I want to read it over and over again forever … This is truly one of the best e-books I’ve seen.’ Kids Book Review

‘Oozing charm, a sweet bonbon to celebrate the royal wedding of (probably) the decade.’ Kirkus Reviews

‘An elegant, humorous, at times irreverent rendition of the Royal love affair.’ The Literary Platform

Will & Kate is the highly interactive, fun-filled story of a prince, a princess, some sheep, and a royal romance. Take a hot air balloon trip past curious giraffes, set off a sky full of fireworks and help Kate choose her wedding dress for the big day. Or simply hang out with the royal corgis.

– full of interactive elements – tap and swipe each page to discover hidden surprises
– fun sound effects on every page
– ‘Read to Me’ narration on each page
– ‘Read it Myself’ option to read without narration

We did like the book!


The illustrations are really cute and I think it makes a fantastic bedtime story book. The perfect fairy tale deserves the perfect picture book. The world has royal fever–we just can’t get enough of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Millions of people around the globe tuned in to watch their wedding in spring 2011, and the recent announcement of a baby on the way sent the media into a frenzy of speculation. Now, readers can go back in time to see their story from the beginning – a story about a little boy named William who would grow up to be king, and a little girl named Catherine who dreamed of meeting a prince one day…

Follow Will and Kate through their childhood days, their grand wedding, their international travels… and (of course) the arrival of their royal baby. Based on a popular app from Ink Robin, with illustrations by Adam Larkum that bring both the English country-side and the streets of London to life, this delightful picture book will make readers young and old alike fall in love with everyone’s favorite royal couple all over again.