About karen

Karen is married to a big kid and mom to a head strong, only child. She is happy with her family of three, along with their spoiled fur baby. Karen works full time as a teacher and still finds time to blog, read, crochet, and cook. Follow along as she enjoys this life.

AJ Reviews: Galazy Zack-Three is a Crowd


Zack is thrilled when he finds out that his best friend on Earth, Bert Jones, is going to visit him on Nebulon. Zack can’t wait to show Bert around the new planet, as well as his new school. But when Bert meets Drake, Zack’s best friend on Nebulon, some jealousy starts to brew. Drake feels left out when Zack and Bert tell stories from Earth and share inside jokes. And he feels even more left out when the three boys go to an amusement park on the planet Cisnos and Zack and Bert go on all the rides…without Drake. When Zack finally realizes how out-of-place Drake feels, he, Drake, and Bert decide to all have fun together. Because, of course, two best friends are even better than one!

AJ bought one these books home from library time at school. We discovered how exciting and fun this book was to read. Needless to say we are both hooked. I love listening to AJ read this to me at night.

AJ’s Review:

This book is so cool. Zack’s friend from Earth visits Zack on Nebulon. He forgets about Drake, his friend on Nebulon. He keeps playing and going on rides with Bert and Drake feels sad and left out.

Zack learns he can be friends with both of them. You have to be be friends with everyone. It’s not nice to leave someone out. I know how that feels and it’s not nice.   

Mommy’s Review: 

What fun to read with AJ. I love that there are plenty of books in the series and the fact that’s hes reading a series on his own is wonderful.  Each book is filled with fun adventures and important lessons.  

The first four books AJ read are:

In book #1 We learn how and why Zack and his family go to Nebulon. At first Zack doesn’t want to go, but once there he begins to love his new home.

In book #2 Zack has to deal with a bully on Nebulon, but good guy Zack discovers something scientists need and he gets all the attention the bully wants.

In book #3 Zack’s dad works for an advanced company on Nebulon. He gets to go on a space trip with his dad and the dad’s company to bring back a prehistoric animal that came from another planet.

In book #4 Zack meets what he thinks is a monster, but the monster turns out to be a kid from another planet. Zack understands what it’s like to be new and they all become friends.

Book Review: The GIft


Jenna is seriously ill. She’s lost all hope of getting the heart transplant she needs to live. But just as her life is ebbing away, she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie.
Who was Callie and how did she die? Jenna is determined to find out.

The closer Jenna gets to those who loved Callie, the more questions arise about her untimely death. Someone knows what happened to Callie. Why won’t they talk?

Jenna is about to uncover the truth, but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.

*****3 STARS*****

Intriguing and mysterious, but definitely not a psychological thriller. Thought it was going one way, and it just turned out to be a bunch of people deceiving each other. Callie was leading her towards something, but not what I expected or thought would be awesome. Sure Jenna’s almost killed but it was so uneventful, at least in my opinion.

I was disappointed in the fact that what I was picturing in my head was far from how it ended. I guess she was trying to piece all the characters together like in The Husband’s Secret, but it was too convoluted and confusing.

Again intriguing with a bit of science and a lesson to not always trust those you think are sweet and kind. They may be hiding something hideous.

No spoilers, because it would too confusing to explain.

2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Karen has
read 5 books toward
her goal of
55 books.

*****Now I’m Reading*****


I really am hoping this is good as the summary makes it sound. I shall let you know, as always. 

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

???Not sure what to read next???

Click HERE for a list of all my book reviews. 

I will no longer host a book review blog hop, trying to make time to blog, work, and be a mom. Therefore I had to cut some things out. Please continue to enjoy all my book reviews. 

Linking up with

“Mrs.AOK, photo meanderingmondaybadge1014200x200_zps679d2e71.png


January Fly on the Wall



Fly on the Wall

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 9 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.


Mommy: AKA Karen, me…the wife and mom 

Daddy: AKA Tony, husband and dad

AJ – our only child, a 7 year old boy who thinks he knows it all and is the one in charge

Bonus – our sweet and lovable adopted rat terrier 

I was arguing with Tony and he got a bit loud. AJ yelled, “You can’t be mean to Mommy because then you’re mean to me. I came from Mommy’s belly, so when you’re mean to mommy you’re mean to me. That insults me.”
Oh man why do they have to ruin movies with all this kissing.
Tony refused to take out dog. AJ turns around mid walk, puts hand up in hair, and says I’ll take care of this as he marched up to Tony. “You better take Bonus out, Mommy asked you.”
AJ got mad at me, because I was talking to him while he was searching for a show on Netflix. “See you got me messed up Mommy. Great Mommy, great job.”
While laying in bed with AJ during our nighttime routine. He began coughing and sputtering. “Mommy you are suffocating me with your bad breath.”
“What? I just brushed my teeth?”
“Well you stink.”
“That’s a lie, my mouth smells great.”
How dare I ask him to clean up before breakfast. I knew once breakfast was over we would only have a little time to get ready for basketball.
He repeated this about ten times. “You’re a big meanie. You’re the worst mommy.”
My father is talking to AJ and telling him to come pick up a bag and come to the door. AJ rolls his eyes and says “Okay, hold on, Sonny Boy.”
We brought AJ to a gymnastic activity place on a recent day off from school. He spent two hours there and loved it.
“So what did you do?”
“I did jumping, balancing, kicking, and yada, yada, yada.”
Tony and AJ are chatting, Tony is wearing a knit cap.
“Take off your hat, Daddy.”
“Why? Is it bothering you?”
“Well spring is coming.”
Tony laughs, “No, we are in the middle of winter. Spring is not here yet.”

Cheesy Chicken Thighs

Cheesy Chicken Thighs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6

Cheesy Chicken Thighs

Note that my picky son would never eat this unless the chicken was cut up and mixed into the rice along with the veggies.


  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  • seasonings of choice
  • toothpicks
  • olive oil
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli and cauliflower
  • cooked rice


  1. 1. mix shredded cheese of choice with seasonings
  2. 2. make another mixture of favorite seasonings to add to chicken
  3. cut chicken thighs almost in half, leaving one edge intact
  4. 3. put shredded cheese mixture in chicken, fold, and secure with a toothpick.
  5. 4. rub seasonings on chicken and place on well oiled cast iron skillet
  6. 5. cover and cook at 350 degrees until fully cooked.
  7. 7. serve with rice and veggies (I chose broccoli and cauliflower)
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes


AJ: only ate it when the chicken was cut up and mixed with the veggies in the rice

Mommy: easy to make and felt like a fancy meal. Tasted amazing.

Daddy: hardly takes chicken to work…oh well, more for me.

I’m linking up with

 Lori's Culinary Creations

 Epic Mommy Adventures

Epic Mommy Adventures

Book Review: Down the Darkest Road


Four years after the unsolved disappearance of her sixteen-year-old daughter, Lauren Lawton is the only one still chasing the ghosts of her perfect Santa Barbara life. The world has given her daughter up for dead. Her husband ended his own life in the aftermath. Even Lauren’s younger daughter is desperate to find what’s left of the childhood she hasn’t been allowed to have.

Lauren knows exactly who took her oldest child, but there is not a shred of evidence against the man. Even as he stalks her family, Lauren is powerless to stop him. The Santa Barbara police are handcuffed by the very laws they are sworn to uphold. Looking for a fresh start in a town with no memories, Lauren and her younger daughter, Leah, move to idyllic Oak Knoll. But when Lauren’s suspect turns up in the same city, it feels to all the world that history is about to repeat itself. Leah Lawton will soon turn sixteen, and Oak Knoll has a cunning predator on the hunt.

Sheriff’s detective Tony Mendez and his team begin to close in on the suspected killer, desperate to keep the young women of their picturesque town safe. But as the investigators sift through the murky circumstances of an increasingly disturbing case, a stunning question changes everything they thought they knew. In Down the Darkest Road, #1 New York Times bestseller Tami Hoag proves again why she is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers.

*****5 STARS*****

Again sick and twisted book. It’s horrible when you know who took your daughter but no one can prove it and no one can help you. 

It’s repulsive when the criminals have more rights and you have no rights at all. 

So many twists and turns in this book. 

On a sweet note, its great to see Ann and Vince and how their wonderful lives are going. sighs….

Mendez doesn’t have a relationship with the woman we thought he would, but ends up with a woman who might just be perfect for him. 

Highlight for spoilers (((It was Rolan Balancola, but he had an accomplice. Since Lauren is so focused on finding the kidnapper and killer of her older daughter, she hired a private investigator, who just happened to the be the other killer.

They both get kidnapped but survive. Both men were killed, but wish they had spent the rest of their life in prison.

Sure, now they were finally able search is places and find that Rolan not only stalked other women, but also killed five more.

It was sick to know that he played the entire system and got away with so much.

Ann and Vince not only have Hayley as a daughter, they have a son Anthony and she is pregnant again. She is such a Godsend to any and all victims.

Mendez is not with Susan, Wendy’s mom, but with a fellow detective from another town. She’s loud, crash, and rude…but seems perfect for him.))) 


2017 Reading Challenge

Karen has
read 4 books toward
her goal of
55 books.

*****Now I’m Reading*****


This author wrote the book The Sister, so I know this is going to be sick and twisted. How and why did she get this heart? What will happen now? 

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

???Not sure what to read next???

Click HERE for a list of all my book reviews. 

I will no longer host a book review blog hop, trying to make time to blog, work, and be a mom. Therefore I had to cut some things out. Please continue to enjoy all my book reviews. 

Linking up with

“Mrs.AOK, photo meanderingmondaybadge1014200x200_zps679d2e71.png


Book Review: Falling


When Emma Montague left the strict confines of upper-crust British life for New York, she felt sure it would make her happy. Away from her parents and expectations, she felt liberated, throwing herself into Manhattan life replete with a high-paying job, a gorgeous apartment, and a string of successful boyfriends. But the cutthroat world of finance and relentless pursuit of more began to take its toll. This wasn’t the life she wanted either.
On the move again, Emma settles in the picturesque waterfront town of Westport, Connecticut, a world apart from both England and Manhattan. It is here that she begins to confront what it is she really wants from her life. With no job, and knowing only one person in town, she channels her passion for creating beautiful spaces into remaking the dilapidated cottage she rents from Dominic, a local handyman who lives next door with his six-year-old son.
Unlike any man Emma has ever known, Dominic is confident, grounded, and committed to being present for his son whose mother fled shortly after he was born. They become friends, and slowly much more, as Emma finds herself feeling at home in a way she never has before.
But just as they start to imagine a life together as a family, fate intervenes in the most shocking of ways. For the first time, Emma has to stay and fight for what she loves, for the truth she has discovered about herself, or risk losing it all.
In a novel of changing seasons, shifting lives, and selfless love, a story unfolds—of one woman’s far-reaching journey to discover who she is truly meant to be…

*****5 STARS*****

Tissue warning! A MUST READ…BEAUTIFUL!!!!! Spoilers below

I had reservations about this book, but was so glad I read it. As Emma says at the end, You don’t always get what you want”. You make plans and the universe laughs.

I couldn’t help but fall in love with Emma, Dominic, and Jessie’s family. Beautifully written except that Jane Green wrote Emma as whiny and annoying at times.

Several obstacles pop up in life, but nothing prepares you for the most horrific thing that could happen. Yet Emma lives on and loves.

Highlight for spoilers (((Dominic falls off the roof and winds up dying in the hospital two days later not realizing how bad his head trauma had been.

Stacy, Jessie’s mom, returns and wants Jessie back only to realize she just wants to be the lovable aunt and gives Emma legal custody of Jessie. Dominic’s crazy and loud parents can’t deal with the loss of their son and refuse to build a relationship with their grandson.

Emma’s parents who didn’t approve of her relationship with Dominic, wound up becoming the best grandparents to Jessie. They fell in love with him from the moment they saw him.

Jessie loves Emma, his mom, as he now calls her. He loves her. Emma still mourns Dominic, but knows he will live on in their hearts. She has become the awesome mom she never knew she wanted to be.)))






2017 Reading Challenge

Karen has
read 3 books toward
her goal of
55 books.

*****Now I’m Reading*****


Can’t wait to get back to these characters. I hope this books is just as twisted as the first two.  

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

???Not sure what to read next???

Click HERE for a list of all my book reviews. 

I will no longer host a book review blog hop, trying to make time to blog, work, and be a mom. Therefore I had to cut some things out. Please continue to enjoy all my book reviews. 

Linking up with

“Mrs.AOK, photo meanderingmondaybadge1014200x200_zps679d2e71.png


Must Read Thrillers

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

I’m using:

why ~ best ~ tasteful- ~ enough ~ month

They were submitted by: http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

Why???? Why? is every thriller being compared to Gone Girl and Girl on the Train? Why????????

Gone Girl was impressive because of the complete change of the character’s way of thinking and her plotting. She planned something and led those in her life to believe one thing then revealed she lied and why she lied. She was devious, twisted, and warped. The author planned the entire book around the character tricking and deceiving others. Girl on the Train was fantastic because a character was tricked by a sociopath. Slowly, with the character, readers begin to realize what is really going on and what is happening. A good thriller is synonymous with terror, blood-curdling fear, and leaves you wondering how you will ever feel safe again.

Shitty thrillers just change the plot or characters voice mid-book without any clues, reason, or thoughtful writing. Making a character suddenly admit to killing someone, lying to others, or stealing something without a reason or plan in the end is not a good thriller; it’s terrible writing. ENOUGH of wasting readers time on thrillers that even TRY to compare to Gone Girl.

Which thrillers should you avoid??? Don’t read these books unless you prefer a thriller that lets you down or insults your intelligence. Here are some less than exciting thrillers I have read in the last few months.

You’re probably thinking who am I to judge what makes a good thriller. Well, I read 4-5 books a month, 263 books thus far and most are thrillers. I’ve been tricked before by the promise of a great thriller and found impressive and spine-chilling thrillers by word of mouth and searching around.

Books with only 3 stars…and I was being generous.

   29904284     Image result for the secret keeper    24989558

2 stars and waste of my time

25814204    25814248      25734248    22514957

Which thrillers are a must read???? These books got 5 ***** stars and are worth reading…if you dare.

These books are twisted, sick, and gory; nothing tasteful here. Some will make you sick others will leave you shocked to the core. These are the best thrillers I have recently read.


Secrets to the Grave (Oak Knoll, #2) 1747182    28932946   Image result for among the wicked   25489185     23014711    26114146      Image result for the kind worth killing      26050845                    20792121   13586737     Image result for someone is watching     Image result for pretty girls book     


Want to see all the books I’ve read in all genres? Need a recommendation? Check out my read books from Goodreads HERE.                                                                                                                                      

my read shelf:
Karen's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)          

 Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:


Book Review: Secrets to the Grave


“My daddy hurt my mommy.”

The 911 call from a small child sends the idyllic California town of Oak Knoll into a tailspin. A brutal crime scene is discovered: the body of Marissa Fordham with her young daughter, Haley, injured but alive.

Sheriff’s detective Tony Mendez faces a puzzle with nothing but pieces that won’t fit. To assist his witness, Haley, he calls teacher-turned-child advocate Anne Leone, who’s already the star witness in a sensational murder trial.

As Tony and Anne begin to peel back the layers of Marissa Fordham’s life, they find a clue fragment here, another there. And just when it seems Marissa has taken her secrets to the grave, they uncover a fact that puts Anne and Haley directly in the sights of a killer: Marissa Fordham never existed.

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.

*****5 STARS*****


BRAVO, Once again a sick and twisted murder mystery. Never expected that would be the killer.

No one is who you thought they were, they are all pretending. In reality the truth is scary. 
The plot was well written and executed. Every detail and character planned for and sequenced. 
Can’t wait to the read the next one.
Loved hearing from all the favorite characters again. 
Highlight for spoilers (((Marissa is not Hayley’s reall mom. She sort of adopted her from a drug addicted prostitute. She pretended Hayley was Bruce Bordain’s child after he wanted her to abort the baby…which she ultimately lost from the stress. Milo Bordain killed Marissa after finding out the truth about Marissa.)))


2017 Reading Challenge

Karen has
read 2 books toward
her goal of
55 books.


 *****Now I’m Reading*****


I’ve been a bit disappointed in Jane Green lately, I hope this book is worth the read. 

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

???Not sure what to read next???

Click HERE for a list of all my book reviews. 

I will no longer host a book review blog hop, trying to make time to blog, work, and be a mom. Therefore I had to cut some things out. Please continue to enjoy all my book reviews. 

Linking up with

“Mrs.AOK, photo meanderingmondaybadge1014200x200_zps679d2e71.png


Happy New Year


Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week, 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

My subject is:

Looking back at 2016, now that it’s finished, what is one thing you’d love to change about it?!  For just one event from 2016, you can rewrite history. What event do you pick, and how do you rewrite it?!

It was submitted by: http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Great prompt! Sure there are a few things I would like to change in 2016, but I am afraid if I change one thing then everything else would be affected. I’ve always felt like if I rewrite history, make one change then all of the things and people I love would be different all because I changed one bad thing.

I do wish AJ had stayed up later on New Year’s Eve. I had hoped that if he stayed up later than 9:56 than he would have slept later the next morning. Though in reality, my son is an early riser, always has been, always will be. It’s nice to dream, though right? He woke up at 5:50. **sighs**

Our little family did have an awesome New Year’s Eve though. I planned lots of activities for each hour. That broke up a long night and made us interact as a family. It sure was perfect. We started off by having some picture fun.


I saw a few ideas on Pinterest for kids during the New Year’s Eve night. A few different versions showed writing activities on strips of paper, rolling them up and putting them in a flat balloon, blowing up the balloon, then writing the date on the balloon. AJ had a blast taking each one down at the right time and popping them by sitting on them.


4 pm: AJ had to interview two people. He could have called up anyone he wanted, but he chose to interview us. We had to answer 1. What did we love about this year? 2. What do we wish we did? 3. What is a goal for 2017?


5 pm: AJ had to make a New Year’s Eve ball. We used a blown up globe and covered it in wrapping paper. It was amusing and festive.


6 pm: We each had a sheet of paper with 11 things to find in the house. We all had the same list, just in a different order. It was fascinating hearing what each other found.


7 pm: We each had to use a straw to move 10 M&Ms from a napkin to a bowl. I’ll admit I was a bit competitive and wanted to beat Tony, which caused Anthony to feel awful since he only got one in the bowl. Tony and AJ played again and I made sure I helped AJ beat his Daddy. Next time I think we should do it with 40 and set a timer for one minute.


8 pm:  Balloon Volleyball was hysterical. Not only were we playing with a balloon, but we had to keep Bonus away from it. She wanted to kill it and when she finally got a hold of it she scared herself by biting it and popping it.


9pm: We each had to draw 5 things we think will happen in 2017. This was sure fun to not only draw, but share our predictions with each other.


AJ fell asleep at 9:56, two minutes after telling Tony he was excited about the 10:00 balloon. After setting my timer for 11:55, I fell asleep as well. I woke up both guys, Tony yelled at me and Anthony was confused and just gave dirty looks.

After I “forced” them to watch the ball drop, Tony grumbled back to bed and Anthony went back to sleep only to wake up at 5:50.

All in all, I think we had the best New Year’s Eve in a long time. I need to make even better activities for next year. Looking forward to having another quiet and entertaining night with my family of three next New Years.


Book Review: Today Will Be Different


Eleanor knows she’s a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won’t swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother’s company. It’s also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he’s on vacation. Just when it seems like things can’t go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.

*****2 STARS*****

Too similar to Where’d You Bernadette and too boring and drawn out. I really had to force myself to get through it. I didn’t want my first book to be one I gave up on, but wish I did

I found Eleanor boring and annoying. I felt bad for her son. 

2017 Reading Challenge

Karen has
read 1 book toward
her goal of
55 books.


*****Now I’m Reading*****


The next book after Deeper Than The Dead this is going to be sick, twisted, and captivating. 

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

???Not sure what to read next???

Click HERE for a list of all my book reviews. 

I will no longer host a book review blog hop, trying to make time to blog, work, and be a mom. Therefore I had to cut some things out. Please continue to enjoy all my book reviews. 

Linking up with

“Mrs.AOK, photo meanderingmondaybadge1014200x200_zps679d2e71.png