Book Recommendations – June 2016

Welcome to my most requested List… Book Recommendations! And I wrote one TWO years ago and promised to do this monthly. Lies. But I am back again and going to give you a quick list to get back in the swing of things…a few books I’ve read since my last round of recommendations that I’ve started telling people to read. And again, I promise not to post spoilers in the descriptions if you promise not to post spoilers in the comments!

Affiliate Link disclaimer: If you click on the book, it will take you straight to my Amazon affiliate link so you can order…and ordering from my link enables me to buy more books. All of which I’ll tell you about in future lists. Isn’t Amazon grand?

1. Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline

It sounds terribly sad (a train of orphans? wahhhh) but I promise this is a captivating novel that will pull at your hearts strings as you follow the journey of two different young women, at two different periods in our history. The story follows both Vivian, a Depression-era young girl and her struggles on the Orphan Train (yes, it was a real part of our American history; the trains used to bring children from our crowded East coast cities out to the rural Midwest), as well as Molly, a teenager in our modern-day foster care system.

2. I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai

If you are not familiar with the story of Malala Yousafzai, you should be. Malala became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace prize in 2014, in recognition for her fight against the suppression of children and her work towards the education of all children, worldwide, regardless of gender. Her memoir chronicles her life in Pakistan, explains why she is a champion for children’s education, specifically young women’s, and reveals the aftermath of when she was shot by the Taliban in 2012. The extensive details of Pakistani history can be cumbersome, but we can all find inspiration in her message and story.

PS: Be careful purchasing this one if you decide to not just click on the handy dandy photo of the book above – there is also a “young readers” edition for children that is less detailed. The cover looks similar and is marked “Young Reader’s Edition” but it is an easy mistake to make.


3. Red Rising, by Pierce Brown

Ender’s Game meets The Hunger Games. It’s a Science Fictionish Fantasyish and Young Adultish (the main character is 16 at the beginning of the trilogy but it doesn’t read like a YA novel) and combines a revolutionary war with space travel, historical Roman & Martian society and class oppression. A tale as old as time, right? I know this one sounds very niche (where my ancient Roman history Sci Fi readers at?!) but the trilogy feels fresh and like nothing I’ve ever read before while combining a compelling story line of friendship, war and intrigue.

4. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

Another historical novel, this one is a page turner but not because its a thriller – because it is a really well-written story. We follow two sisters in German-occupied France during World War 2 – one joins the Resistance, one follows the rules and permits her home to be occupied by a Nazi captain. PS: It reminded me of another Kristin Hannah novel, Winter Garden – an excellent story, strong female characters and just the right amount of pulling on my heart strings.

5. The Girl on the Train

Wait, didn’t she already write about a train? Sure did. But The Girl on the Train is very, very different from Orphan Train. This novel is more along the lines of Gone Girl (you can read my recommendation for that here) and is a page-turning thriller. And just like Gone Girl, it is coming to a movie theater near you in October!

But you all know the rules around here – the book is better so read the book first!


Alright. There’s a few new books for you to add to your shelf and let me know when you read them! I plan on writing a few more book lists over the upcoming months, with drafts already created for Young Adult, Fantasy, Memoir and All Time Favorites!

What genre of book list would you like me to write next? Have you read any of these books?

How To Make Laundry Detergent

Yes, it’s true – I make my own laundry detergent. I know what you’re thinking – “What?! She doesn’t have 19 kids and counting, why would she do that?!” Well the short story is that I’m cheap. The slightly longer story is below with instructions on how I make mine!

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Pin this image and save for later!

1) The Why

It’s a pretty predictable story: I saw it on Pinterest, tried it once, and realized that it’s not only cheaper than buying laundry detergent but it’s super easy. A 100 fluid ounces of Tide is $12-$14 and that’s 64 loads of laundry. If you do four loads of laundry a week, that Tide should last you about four months. I realized that for $14.46 (the cost of my laundry detergent materials) I could do laundry for three times as long because you only need two tablespoons per load! Plus, you’ll have leftover materials for the next batch, so it’s actually closer to $10 after you use up the remaining ingredients for batch number two. Not to mention the added benefit of not having to lug huge containers of detergent home from the store…

2) The When

One batch can usually last me about a year.  I made the batch I am currently using in JULY of last year. Now, part of the reason it lasts me this long is because I still do all our workout clothes in a sports detergent designed to eliminate sweat, odors, and make our pricey tech shirts and dri-fit gear last longer (If you take care of them, you don’t have to buy more, which makes that sports detergent worth every penny). I also have a weak spot for the smell of Tide Febreze, which is how I still do our sheets…but otherwise, I do all our laundry with this concoction.

3) The How



Gosh, wouldn’t it be so pretty in one of those big hurricane jars? Like the magazines? Yup. Probably would be. But here’s my Sterilite plastic bin that I bought at Target for $6 because I’m super classy…and my laundry detergent is hidden behind a closet door so I’d rather function over form.


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Grate your bars of soap until you have 4 cups – I’ve found that one bar equals about 2 cups…so if you buy a 3 pack, you’ll have a bar leftover for your next batch. That is officially the hardest part of this entire process.


Combine the 4 cups of grated soap with 6 cups Borax, 4 cups Washing Soda, and 4 cups Baking Soda.


Use two tablespoons per load!

Pro Tips:

– You’re going to have leftover ingredients towards your next batch of laundry soap – rather than keep the 3 or 4 half empty boxes and extra bar of soap cluttering up my laundry area, I combine them all in one container and write myself a note of what I need to add to the batch and store that underneath my sink until A. I need to make my next batch or B. One of the ingredients I need goes on sale or I have a coupon for it and I’ll pick it up and add it in.


– I bought a measuring spoon set at the Dollar Store so that I could have a dedicated Tablespoon to leave in the detergent.

– I decided on my last batch to add a cup of Downy Fresh Protect ($5-6) because I had a coupon for it and I really like how it adds a nice fragrance to the detergent. Totally optional.
And that’s it! I know it seems “extreme” and really cheap to make your own laundry detergent…but I hope after you’ve read this that at least it doesn’t seem difficult as well! I have continued to make my own because its remarkably easy as well as saves money. And I love not worrying about buying it for an entire year…that might be the best part!

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