Valentine Reflections, Facebook Giveaway, and a Book Review: Convenience Store Woman {Sayaka Murata}

Happy Friday, Friends!

I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day!  Mine was spent at my daughter’s classroom party (so cute) during the day.  The kids did crafts, played games, ate yummy food, and had a blast.  I love being able to experience these fun days with her and her friends and I never take for granted that I am able to do so. 🙂

Last night, we couldn’t find a babysitter so Jon and my romantic dinner was turned into a family event, lol. My daughter and I were each handed a rose from the hostess as we walked into the restaurant (my daughter LOVED that and it made her feel so fancy). The only kids in the entire restaurant belonged to us and although I wouldn’t say that dinner was romantic (Jon and I don’t typically have rock, paper, scissors tournaments when we dine alone), I would say it was definitely fun. 🙂

Our kids received giant Hershey Kisses and poop emoji stuffed toys (clearly Jon was the parent who bought the childrens’ gifts for this holiday…???)

And I received a gift card for a 90 minute massage and all I could say when I opened the envelope was “YESSSSSSSSS”. Do you get massages?  I got my first one 2 years ago when Jon and I were in Cabo and I’ve never looked back.  Since returning home from our trip, I’ve enjoyed quite a few 🙂  THE.  BEST.  I’ve only had 60 minute massages, this 90 minute one will be such a treat!  Perfection.

I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday filled with lots of love…and books 🙂

Thank you to everyone who entered the Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach giveaway! Congratulations Julie and Claire F.!

Ladies, please email me at with your mailing addresses and I’ll pass them along to the author to get your books sent out ASAP.

Facebook Giveaway:

Would you like another chance to win an autographed and dedicated copy of Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach? 

I have 2 MORE copies to give away…this time exclusively on Facebook! Head over there for your chance to enter, it will be up within minutes of me publishing this post. Good luck!

My First Vlog

I filmed a vlog with my review of Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming.  I had too many thoughts to type. 🙂 I’m hoping to get that video posted on Monday!  Make sure you check back…

And now, a book review! Oh do I have a great one for you today…

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life but is aware that she is not living up to society’s expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko’s contented stasis–but will it be for the better?

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

5 Stars

I’ve read so many book reviews on this one and it’s been on my radar for months.  I finally picked it up at the library this week and I’m so glad that I did!

I read this entire book over 2 days.  I haven’t done that in such a long time!  Full disclosure:  this book is TINY.  Like, itty bitty. Only 163 pages and the actual book itself is about 1/2 the length of a normal book…but being able to read ANY book over 2 days when you’re a mom is a total win in my book so I’m feeling great 🙂

This book sucked me in from page 1.  It’s a bit…different…but in a good way!  It’s been translated (It was originally written in Japanese).  I was a bit nervous because the last book that I read which had been translated CLEARLY lost something in translation and was absolutely awful. Not at all the case with this book, it was great!

In my opinion, the main character in this one clearly falls somewhere on the autism spectrum and reminded me of the main characters from this book and from this book.  The biggest difference between the 3 books is that I absolutely LOATHED the other 2 books and I absolutely LOVED this one!  Man, did I hate those other 2 books (you can read my review of one of them here).

The deeper message in this story is about society and living up to the expectations that others have set for you.  It’s an interesting and thought provoking read all around.  And QUICK!  You could truly sit and read this entire book in one sitting.

Bottom Line:  

This is a little, teeny tiny gem of a book!  And…if you read it, you will never look at a convenience store in the same way ever again (in a good way).

Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Have a great weekend!  Don’t forget to enter the giveaway on Facebook!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

***CHILDREN’S BOOK GIVEAWAY (2 Copies)*** Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach {Elizabeth Gerlach}

Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to read and review for my blog.  All opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Giveaway details will be given at the bottom of this post!

As soon as I finished reading this book with my children, I sent Elizabeth Gerlach an email which contained only 1 sentence:

“This might just be one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.”

Description from Amazon:

Awarded 5-stars from both Reader’s Favorite and the award-winning “Read With Your Kids” podcast, as well as a Certified Great Read.

Meet young Benjamin who takes us on an inspiring & fun adventure to the beach in this first book in the Ben’s Adventures series. You’ll smile and be inspired as you follow Ben into his imagination and he shows us that all kids can play and dream.
In his first adventure, Ben imagines a perfect beach day where he builds sand castles, flies kites, plays with crabs and enjoys special moments with his family. Ben loves the sun on his face and the wind in his hair. He can dream, he can play, and he can interact and have meaningful experiences. Ben smiles, and you will too.

“Let’s build a sandcastle”, I say to my friend.
He says, “Sounds good.”
And we make our plan.
With one tower built,and two more to go.
I kick and laugh and then think “Oh No!”

A Great Book for Introducing Special Needs or Disability to Young Children Ben’s Adventures provides a simple and subtle way to introduce special needs and disability to your child. It can easily open the discussion for what disability means. Why does someone need a wheelchair? If someone’s in a wheelchair, can they still play with me? It will help young minds recognize and understand differences among us and ACCEPT those differences. And the main character Benjamin will reinforce the important take-away that just because someone might be different or need assistance, he/she is still a kid, can be a friend, and can enjoy kids’ play.

Teach Empathy, Inclusion and Acceptance from an Early Age Kids will have as many (if not more) similarities than they have noticeable differences.It’s our job as parents to talk about these issues with our kids. Understanding and accepting others throughout our lives is learned in childhood.

Ben is a young triplet brother that shows all kids can play & dream. Ben’s Adventures was inspired by the author’s son Benjamin who had cerebral palsy. Despite Ben’s challenges in life, he smiled everyday. It’s a wonderful message that is important for typical families AND those with special needs. And it provides a good introduction of disability for any family. In writing it, Gerlach wanted to show that all kids are capable and able to do great (or even simple) things.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely, positively love this book.  So much.

The story itself is beautiful, the pictures are adorable, and the discussion that it created between my 7 year old daughter and I after we finished reading was amazing.  We discussed differences in people and even though someone might not always be able to communicate in the same way that you do…they still have feelings, thoughts, and dreams.  It was an amazing and inspiring discussion and this book was a perfect catalyst to discuss such an important topic.

It would also be a wonderful book for a classroom!  The discussions and writing assignments that could follow would be endless.  If you have any teachers in your life, their classroom would greatly benefit from this book.

I love, love, love this special book.  In fact, it’s one of my favorite books that I’ve ever reviewed on my blog.

A Conversation with Elizabeth Gerlach, in Her Own Words:

Briefly give a description of your book:

Ben’s Adventures is about a young triplet brother who has cerebral palsy. He loves his family/friends, creating memories and taking adventures! He’s in a wheelchair but shows that ALL kids can play & dream and create meaningful connections and memories.

In this first book, Ben takes us to the beach where he plays with crabs, builds sandcastles and flies with kites.

How did you create the idea for your book?

It’s inspired by my triplet son Benjamin. Ben passed away from a serious illness in 2016 at almost 4 years old. Despite his/our challenges, he always had a smile on his face and laughed quite a bit. As a family, we loved to have different experiences and adventures and just spend time together. I wanted to show that even though a child might have additional needs, it doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy ‘kid things’ and have fun. And I wanted to represent disability in a children’s book by creating a main character who uses a wheelchair.

What audience would be most interested in your book?

Ben’s Adventures is probably most suited for Preschool through second grade. It’s a good message for any child/family (not just one with additional needs). I’ve been told it helps to introduce the concept of disability with kids that aren’t yet familiar. Families have been able to have meaningful conversations around the book.

Where can your book be purchased?

Signed/Dedicated copies are available on my website here:

But it’s also available on Amazon in both Hard Cover and Kindle format.

Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:




Any additional information that you would like to provide about you or your book:

Ben’s Adventures just received a 5-star review from Readers’ Favorite and has average 5 star review on Amazon.

As a family, to honor Benjamin, we established the Ben Smiles Memorial Foundation to purchase switch-adapted toys and other devices to kids with motor challenges.


I have 2 copies of Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach to give away (US only for this giveaway)! 
Winners will receive an autographed and dedicated copy of Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach

To be entered, please complete these 2 simple steps:

1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog

2. Leave a comment below telling the first name of the person you would have the author write the dedication inside the cover to if you are chosen to win a copy

**You must complete both of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway and you must complete them here on my blog (not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)**

Giveaway will end Friday morning at 6:00 CDT and the winner will be randomly chosen and announced in Friday morning’s blog post.

Make sure you check back on Friday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winner to email me your mailing address.  If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner).

If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your comments!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo