May and June Reads

I’ve fallen a little bit behind in sharing but figured it was time to share my May and June reads!

In case you missed it, here’s what I read in January, February , March and April.

As always, you can also follow along on Instagram with #SamaraReads2018.

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

This was a March Book of the Month book. The story follows an investigation in a close knit neighborhood after a mother and her twins go missing in the midst of what seems to be an amicable divorce. The neighborhood women are speechless of where she’d gone and why she’d leave and if they should be concerned. I really enjoyed it. I wouldn’t necessarily consider if a thriller but it was a good read.

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

B.A. Paris is one of my favorite thriller authors and her newest book does not disappoint. Twelve years ago, Layla goes missing while on a vacation road trip and is never seen again. Her fiancé Finn has moved on and is now engaged to her sister, Ellen, when he starts receiving mysterious emails and starts wondering if Layla is alive or someone is trying to get inside his head.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

This was an April Book of the Month book. Ten years ago, 15 year old Ellie Mack goes missing without a trace. Her mother, Laurel, has struggled for the past ten years when she meets Floyd and his 9 year old daughter, Poppy. Poppy strangely resembles her missing daughter and slowly Laurel starts unraveling what really happened to her daughter.

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

This has been on my list for quite some time. I’ve read other Brene Brown books and always finished them feeling as though I have sigh better understanding of self. This one was no different. She examines what it means to belong, learning how to behave and love those we don’t see eye to eye with, removes the barriers of hatred. I think EVERY human should read this and apply her principles to life, especially in the hostile political environment we currently live in.

Drunk Mom by Jowita Bydlowska

I ordered this book after seeing Nora Borealis post about it on Instagram. Jowita’s memoir shares, in detail, her downward spiral into alcoholism after becoming a mom. While she openly writes about previously becoming sober, this spiral is dangerous and hard to watch [and read about] She wrote in a very real and raw way- so much so that you could actually feel how strong her desire to drink was on the pages of her book.

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

This book was recommended to me by a hockey mom friend. The story follows investigator Naomi [nicknamed The Child Finder] as she looks for a little girl who disappeared in the mountains a few years earlier without a trace. It was a really good read.

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

This was an advance readers copy sent to me by the publisher. It goes on sale July 17. Seven year old Hanna is making her mother Suzette crazy. She does not talk, has been kicked out of local schools, yet is a perfect angel when Suzette’s husband and Hanna’s father, Alex, is home. The book is a slow unraveling of the relationship between mother and daughter and ultimately brings quite a bit of awareness to child mental health. I didn’t like the ending. AT ALL.

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

This was a May Book of the Month book. A normal girls night out for some mom friends turns scary when one of their babies goes missing while out. There were a lot of characters to keep track of but overall I enjoyed this one.

Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this post. That means if you click on and purchase a book I have linked, I will receive a small commission from Amazon. It will cost you no more or no less. 

The Greatest Showman Birthday Party [Under $100]

Frannie just turned 5 and to celebrate she wanted a Greatest Showman themed birthday party. It is hands down her favorite movie and soundtrack and she has watched it so many times she could probably recite most of it to you.

We held her party at her local dance studio which was fun because the instructor assigned to her party was able to create a little routine to one of the songs from the movie and have the kids perform for their parents.

I wanted to share some of the things we did for her party as of all of the parties we’ve ever thrown I think this was the simplest and also likely the lowest cost. Without including the studio fee of $100, the party cost us less than $100, yet included all of those fun and special details I like to include for parties.


Birthday Invite from Etsy $16 & then I send the .jpeg to Walgreens. Most of the time you can get 5×7 prints made for around $1 with a coupon code.


  • Barnum’s Animal Crackers  [24 for $38 on Amazon or around $1/box at Target]
  • I typically order cupcakes from our Target bakery as they can customize colors and flavors as desired. $17
  • I think everyone who throws parties needs a Cupcake stand [Mine is Martha Stewart brand from Macy’s that I purchased years ago but this one is similar.]

  • Clown Noses $6.99 [I displayed these in a clear glass jar on a cake stand, things I already owned but could use to display them.]

Not pictured: Temporary Tattoos   $4.70 I bought these for the kids to choose before the party began while we waited for all the friends to arrive. Super simple little treat that takes up some time.


April Reads

It’s time to share my April reads! In case you missed it, here’s what I read in January, February and March. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman This was another Book of the Month* club book. The story follows 30 year old Eleanor Oliphant who lives a rather boring life until she meets […]

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March Reads

It’s time to share what I read in March. In case you missed it, here’s what I read in January and here’s what I read in February.  The Broken Girls by Simone St. James This was a February Book of the Month* book. The story follows journalist Fiona Sheridan as she works on uncovering why […]

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February Reads

Here’s the books I read in February [and if you missed my January reads, you can see those right here.] As always, you can follow along book by book on Instagram- #SamaraReads2018 After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry I learned about this book on the Smartest Person in the Room podcast- coined as one of […]

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January Reads

At the request of several I decided that this year I’d recap my books each month [likely with a top ten post to still come at the end of the year] but this way you can get an idea of the books I’m reading throughout the year. In January, I read: Little Fires Everywhere by […]

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Things to Know Before You Go to The Wiz at Children’s Theatre Company

This past weekend, I was able to attend one of the opening weekend shows for Children’s Theatre Company and Penumbra Theatre’s production of The Wiz. The modern day twist of the classic story was very well done by a star studded cast and deserved the standing ovation it received at the end. Here’s a few […]

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My Favorite Podcasts

If 2016 was the year I [re]-discovered reading, 2017 was the year I discovered podcasts. Call me late to the party but I really, really didn’t understand the whole podcast thing for a long time. But it’s actually super easy [especially on iPhone] and there are quite a few podcasts I enjoyed or ended up […]

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Books I’m Gifting This Season

Several people I know have been looking for book suggestions for Christmas. I love gifting good books. And if they are pretty to look at, even better. Here’s a few of my favorites this season for gifting: [You can click on the images to go directly to Amazon for more information or to order.] Little People […]

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Ten Years Gone

On Thursday, December 13th, 2007 at 1:05 a.m. my mother, my mumsy, passed away. She left the pain and the illness she’d been living with and fighting seven months and went home to her heavenly home. Ten years ago today my mom left us and in so many ways she left us prepared for her death. Details […]

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