Gudenkauf’s Haunting Portrayal of Parenthood (Book Review)

Source: Harlequin

When I was asked to participate in a sponsored tour for Little Mercies, I proactively asked whether I could have a book for review, as well. I feel this is important to note so that you understand that this book review, though provided for free, is separate from the sponsored tour.

Move over, Jodi Picoult, a new author that tackles difficult social subjects is in town. Once again, Heather Gudenkauf has written a book that is impossible to put down and addresses some of the most gut-wrenching scenarios a parent can face. I shouldn’t be too surprised because I loved her previous books that also tackled difficult subjects, especially The Weight of Silence, but Little Mercies may be her best book yet.

Little Mercies is a story about parents, families, and the tenuous ties between them. The dual-narrative story follows Ellen, a social worker, and Jenny, a precocious ten year old, both of whom are battling their inner demons and grappling with the hand they’ve been dealt in life. Although Ellen has saved countless families and children in her time as a social worker, a momentary lapse in judgment will put her life, career, and parental responsibilities at risk. Meanwhile, Jenny is growing up with a loving, but irresponsible, father, and is searching for answers about herself. Although their stories are distinctly different, it is their interconnectedness that give the book an unexpected depth and value to the story.

What I loved about this book is that the characters were so real. Everyone, whether they are a parent or not, has had a lapse in judgment that resulted in consequences that spiraled out of control. This is especially true in today’s world of smartphones, Vines, and SnapChats. In Little Mercies, Gudenkauf translates the feelings from those gut-wrenching experiences to the pages in a way that will evoke an actual, physical reaction from the reader. In the few hours it took me to read Little Mercies from cover to cover, I was anxious for Ellen, fearful for her children, and concerned for Jenny. I also became angry at injustices, saddened by tragedies, and comforted by certain relationships. In short, this book took me on an emotional roller coaster, and while it wasn’t all roses and sunshine, I loved every minute of it.

If you’re looking for a compelling story that you can read in a relatively short amount of time, I highly recommend Little Mercies. Gudenkauf manages to approach an emotional and difficult topic with a sensitivity and care that places her at the top of her game and you would be remiss to skip this one.

What is the most emotionally-charged novel you’ve read recently?

Released: June 24, 2014 • Pages: 320 • Publisher: Harlequin MIRA 

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Childhood Memories: Boston, Disney, and Birthdays

This post is sponsored by Harlequin but the memories are my own.

Unsurprisingly, summertime was one of my favorite times growing up because it meant no school and lots of time for reading (oftentimes in my favorite tree) and family vacations. To be honest, some things never change and summer reading is still one of my favorite things to do. This summer, I picked up Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf (released June 24, 2014), a book about the importance of family in the face of adversity (read excerpt). Because family memories are so important, I’ve decided to share a few of my favorites from over the years (the good and the funny).

Follow Heather Gudenkauf on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!

Childhood Memories - Road trip

Every summer, my family would drive to the 22 hours from Florida to Boston in our minivan. The trip always took two full days and we stopped in or around Alexandria, VA. Here are a few of my memories from that drive:

  • Getting dinner at a restaurant in Alexandria, only to have something in the kitchen catch fire. I’m not sure whether it was actually my food or not, but I think it was.
  • Getting stuck on the Ring of Fire at the Brockton Fair. The ride stopped with my cousin and I in it for a full 17 seconds, during which we had to prop up our bodies upside down by placing our hands on the roof of the car. I will never, ever go on this ride again. Ever.
  • When I was 22, I finally picked up the Harry Potter’s. I started reading them on the drive to Boston and read the first five within a week. It was fantastic. If you plan to take a road trip this summer, I recommend bringing Little Mercies along for the ride.

Childhood Memories – Boston and Gramma’s House

I have a million fond memories of my Gramma’s house, from my invisible friend to hiding in the lazy susan to stuffing myself behind the TV under the basement stairs with a book. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Sitting on the littlest duck at the Duck Pond in the Boston Commons. For as long as I can remember, I would sit on the littles one for a photo every year. Naturally, as I got older, the pictures became a little more ridiculous, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
  • Hanging out by the creek in my Gramma’s backyard. I remember when I was little I would throw rocks into the creek so that I could hop across it. As I got older, I was able to take one long step over the creek, but when I was a kid it was huge. There was also an old shopping cart in it for years and years and I have to wonder whether it is still there.

If you judge my childhood memories by my photos, I loved Pluto and cake (sounds about right)

Childhood Memories – My Birthday! 

My birthday is in June, which meant I never got a school birthday party. Luckily, my family is amazing and I had some really great birthday parties over the years, including an amazing one at McDonald’s when I was 5 or 6. Growing up in Florida (and living a little while in Orland0), we also spent a lot of time at Disney World.

  • When I was 12, my amazing aunt and uncle rented a convertible for the day to take my friends and I to the skating rink. We hung out in my front yard for a while playing games (with boys!) and then drove around town jamming out to some rad music. This was back in 1994, so the music blaring from the speakers included NKOTB, Vanilla Ice, and Technotronic and we were so cool.

Share your favorite childhood memories in the comment section!

Two Year Anniversary Giveaway!

25 giveaway

Today is my two year anniversary! Well, it’s the anniversary of the day I bought my domain, which is close enough. It’s been an incredible year and I can’t thank all of you enough for coming along with me for the ride, especially the more than 11,000 who have subscribed to my site and forum (which will become more active, I swear!) I’ve met some amazing people, both readers and other bloggers, and I am grateful to each and every person who has supported me.

Here are a few of things that The Book Wheel has accomplished in the past year, thanks to all of you:

To celebrate the many successes I’ve had over the past year, I am giving away a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card. Good luck and thank you!


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Product Review: Bamboo Bathroom Caddy

I received this product free from in exchange for an honest review. I selected the Bamboo Bathtub Caddy from their website.

A few weeks ago, offered me a product to review from their site and I was instantly excited. I was familiar with their site (I’ve tweeted about them before) and knew that whatever I got, I would love. When they let me pick out my own product, I knew instantly that I wanted this Bamboo Bathtub Caddy. I don’t currently have one and, to be honest, so many of them are cheap and don’t work well, but I had a good feeling about this one.

I was right and it’s amazing. Here are my favorite features:

  • It feels like good quality. The wood is smooth, it’s heavy enough to be durable but not enough to be clunky. It has just enough weight to it so I won’t accidentally flip it over if I touch it (unlike many of the plastic products).
  • The wine holder on the right is great, but the “soap dish” on the left is also the perfect size for a coffee mug (and I love my coffee). If you do put soap in it, it has a hole in the bottom for the water to go through.
  • The bookstand folds into the caddy, but when you have it up to lean your book on it, you have three places to prop the book up on the bottom, meaning you can angle the book however you want.
  • The legs are expandable and not preset, so whatever size your tub, it’ll fit. This is awesome because the lip on the inside of my tub is about 1/3 the size of the other side and the extendable legs let me center the caddy without being stuck with “notches” so it’s more stable.

Final verdict: I love it and I’m not saying that because I got it for free (although that is nice, too). I tend to take the Goldilocks approach to bathtub products and want them just right, but most caddy’s are either too cheap or too cumbersome. This one is just right. If you’re one to read in the tub (or just drink wine), then definitely grab yourself one of these.

How to Make Anchor Links

how to make anchor links

What | How | Additional Options | Download

What are anchor links?

Anchor links are linked portions of text that bring you to another section of the page. For example, when you click “Download” above, it will drop you down to the “Download” portion of this page. They are commonly used as a table of contents or for directories that are organized alphabetically. As you can see, these instructions are set up using anchor links so that you can see them live. You can see a more extensive example about them by clicking here.

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How to make them

Anchor links are pretty easy to make, although they look overwhelming. Below is the coding for 3 anchor links, but you can follow the same pattern to make more. It is important to compose these in the HTML editor, rather than the visual. The coding below is what I used for this page, so feel free to click around to see how it all works.

Part 1: Title Anchor Links: This is the coding for the text that you will place at the top of your page/post that will drop the reader down to the appropriate section. The code in red is mandatory, while the code in blue can be changed. The | is simply an aesthetic divider.

anchor links 1

What it all means: Now, let’s break down what this all means. I will only use the options for the first set of brackets, but the same details apply to the others. 

anchor links 2

<a href=”link”>text</> is the standard coding for any hyperlinked text. What makes this particular code different is that, instead of using a link, you use a # sign followed by your identifier. This can be anything you want (letter, number, word), so long as you are consistent in its use (described in detail in next section).

Part II: Pointed-To Anchor Links: These are the links that the titles will direct/scroll the reader down to. Again, red is mandatory, while the code in blue can be changed.

anchor links 3

In this coding, the <h3> and </h3> are simply defining the size of the font, in this case using Heading 3 in WordPress. The important part about this coding is that you insert the correct identifier as the a name. The identifier that you use needs to match the identifier following the # sign outlined above. So, in this case, the word “What” is defined as <a href=”#A>, so where it points to needs to match using the corresponding <a name=”A”>. You can substitute the word what for anything you want.

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Additional Options

If you would like to add a back to top option, add the following code in the appropriate spot. This coding is for the back to top you see on this page, but you can change the alignment, font, size, and color. As you can see, the #top is the most important aspect.

anchor links 4

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How to Make Anchor Links (Word)

How to Make Anchor Links (PDF)

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