Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

5 Books I Read This Past Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)

Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

Okay, I’m absolutely giddy to tell you that I finished 15+ books in January. Honestly, I am pretty shocked by this number!

I think some of it has to do with setting weekly goals and some of it has to do with prioritizing audiobooks again (and the fact that they no longer make me nauseous now that I’m further along in my pregnancy, reading aloud again, and switching from being on my phone (answering comments/messages) while on the treadmill to reading/praying while on the treadmill.

It seems like tiny tweaks and additions have added up to big results. And this is so encouraging to me.

No promises that I’ll keep up this pace for the rest of the year! However, considering how full January has been, it seems like it truly might be possible to at least keep reading 2-3 books/week most weeks. We’ll see!

If you want to see what I’m currently reading or what I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my GoodReads account.

A Word on My Star Ratings

The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books.

Before and After

I was so excited about this book as it’s the real-life stories of the children who survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. (If you have read or listened to Before We Were Yours, you’re familiar with that heart-breaking story.)

While I think these stories need to be told and while I found some of them fascinating, the book as a whole was a let down when compared to Before We Were Yours. Maybe it’s because I was expecting more cohesiveness in the book as opposed to a lot of individual stories with only what felt like a thin plot string holding them together.

If you loved Before We Were Yours, you might enjoy this book for more real-life biography/backstory for the novel. However, if you’re only going to read one of the two books, definitely read Before We Were Yours.

I decided to give this book 3 stars because 2 stars felt like I was doing a disservice to the families and children and lives that were wrecked by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. But for the writing and overall level that the book engaged me, I’d probably only give it two stars.

Verdict: 3 stars

100 Ways to Love Your Husband + 100 Ways to Love Your Wife

If you are looking for some practical ideas and inspiration for ways to love your spouse, these small books are a great starting place. They are filled with 100 different ideas to speak love to your spouse.

Now, I’ll say that not all of these ideas will work for every couple. There are some that would most definitely not really be our “thing” at all. But there were other ideas that I hadn’t thought of before that provided some highly motivating and inspiration sparks of inspiration for ways I can practically show Jesse love.

If you need more encouragement, be sure to check out this week’s podcast episode with the authors, Matt and Lisa Jacobson!

Verdict: 3 stars

Live Love Now

I was sent a pre-release copy of this book in order to write an endorsement. Rachel Macy Stafford’s books have deeply impacted me and it was an honor to get to write an endorsement for her.

Here was what I wrote:

If you are the parent or grandparent of a pre-teen or teen or if you have any interaction at all with teens or tweens, you need to read this book. It is packed with powerful reminders of how our words, actions, attitudes, and availability (or lack thereof), leave indelible marks on the next generation.

I was inspired, convicted, and challenged by Rachel’s gentle message of how to guide, encourage, and impact young adults to live with less stress and more joy. And I took away so many practical applications I plan to immediately implement in our home and parenting.

Note: I likely would have given this more than 3 stars, but I felt like the writing was a big choppy at times and it sometimes felt more like reading a collection of essays or blog posts. However, the underlying concepts in so many of the chapters were really, really good.

Verdict: 3 stars

The Whole-Brain Child

This was, by far, my favorite book this week. I honestly cannot stop talking about it. Poor Jesse has had to listen to me rave again and again about it all week long! 🙂

This was highly recommended to by one of our kids’ counselors and and one of their therapists in the past few years and I finally read it. It is packed with great suggestions and strategies for helping our kids process the world, relate better with others, and feel more loved and secure.

It is not written from a Christian perspective, but I found the sections on brain science to be fascinating and really enlightening. If you are a parent or work with kids in any capacity, I highly recommend this book to help you better love, understand, teach, and nurture the kids in your life.

Note: I would have given it 5 stars, but I disagreed with some of the points (and felt a few were not entirely Biblical) so I only gave it a 4-star rating.

Verdict: 4 stars

Classic Movie We Watched This Week

The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it.

I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!)

This week, we watched the original Cheaper by the Dozen movie. I had seen it once before but it’s been a long time! While it’s a little slow moving and ends on a sad note, it has some genuinely funny moments throughout it.

By the way, the movie is loosely based upon the real-life story as told in the book by the same name. I read it years and years ago and remember liking it. Have you read it before? I was wondering if it would be worth reading to the kids or not? I can’t remember it well enough now!

What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list??

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!


  • Iva says:

    I love that movie. I love the remake, too. Yours, Mine, and Ours is another great movie!

  • Joanna Vanderkooi says:

    I loved Cheaper By The Dozen, the book and the movie. I also loved the sequels, the book and the movie. I have not read the other books, but I enjoy reading your reviews.

  • Kathy Vandergriff says:

    I loved that movie also. A good family movie is Indian in the Cupboard. I finished reading The Woman in the Window earlier this week and am now reading After Anna by Lisa Scottoline.

  • Eileen says:

    The original “Cheaper by the Dozen” book is a great read. Some very interesting ideas and learning methods as well!

  • Marianne says:

    Yes, I bet your kids would love the book! There’s also a sequel called “Belles on their Toes” about their continuing life and adventures. I haven’t seen the movie, but will have to see if it’s available on any of our streaming services.

  • Clare C. says:

    Cheaper By the Dozen is a GREAT book and so is the sequel, Belles on Their Toes. Even better than the movie, but isn’t that usually the case! I will tell you that there is a bit of language so when I did it as a read a loud with my 4 kids (I only ended up with 4 even though this book made me want to be a mom of 12 🙂 I edited it a bit as I went.

  • JENN says:

    Thanks for the recommendations you are best. I am reading right now the “The 5 Love Languages of Children” and I am pretty sure you recommended it; it is very interesting and an eye opener. I am watching that movie with my daughter this weekend thanks for reminding me about it.

  • September says:

    This is completely random and not related to this post specifically but something that’s been bugging me for a while…next time you do any kind of update on your website if you could figure out a way to have comments pull down without bumping you back to the top of the page. It’s annoying to read a post, click on comments and then have to scroll back through the entire post to get to comments.

    • Thank you for letting us know that was bothersome to you. That’s the first time anyone has mentioned it bothering them! I honestly didn’t even realize it did that since I always look at comments on the backend of the site versus the front end. I’m asking if it can be changed!

      • Kimberly in NC says:

        I agree with September on this. Don’t mean to be a complainer, but I do prefer the old way of clicking on comments and it took you directly to them. Keep up the good work…I am a long time reader of your blog and I still enjoy it!

  • Dana says:

    If you haven’t read it yet, you should read The Connected Child! It’s an amazing book for foster and adoptive children, includes some of the principles of The Whole Brained Child that are so cool, and was written from a Christian perspective.

  • Ruth says:

    I ADORE the Cheaper by the Dozen book and the sequel. I read some of it aloud a couple years ago but I’ve read it 2 or 3 times myself.

  • Kelly says:

    I am LOVING your book recommendations! I have had the Whole brain child on my “books to read” list for quite awhile, but honestly it just looked kinda boring. But after reading your review, I promptly requested it from our library!
    Also, I wanted to say that when I have a nursing baby, I get so much reading done! It’s the perfect time for reading, in my opinion!

    • It’s been so long since I’ve nursed a baby that I kind of forget what it’s like and what I usually do while nursing! But I am hoping for reading time during some of it! Trying not to have too many plans or expectations, though!

      And hopefully you enjoy the book, too!

  • Ashley Merrithew says:

    I loved Pollyanna and Bedknobs and Broomsticks as a kid. I recently rewatched Pollyanna on Disney+ and will hopefully watch the other soon.

  • Brooke says:

    I’m curious why you feel like most of your books need to be written from a Christian perspective. I’m very strong in my Jewish faith, but I appreciate reading secular, Christian, Muslim, Buddist, etc perspectives. I don’t have to agree with it all, but I take what is useful and ignore the rest. You do you – I’m not judging your choices. I’m just seeking to understand your perspective as you’ve mentioned this a few times on this and other posts 🙂

    • Just to clarify, I definitely read books that are written from lots of different perspectives and faiths. However, since many people read books based upon my recommendations, I always want to be clear and share my honest thoughts so people can know what to expect if they might expect a book to be written from a Christian perspective when it’s not.

  • Melanie says:

    We’ve read it aloud a couple of times – 21 years between the youngest and oldest. It’s definitely in the top ten of our read aloud favorites. We have a big family too, so we found so much of this relatable. We did a lot of laughing, and some crying. Belles on Their Toes is the sequel and we loved that one, too.

Money Saving Mom® Comment Policy

We love comments from readers, so chime in with your thoughts below! We do our best to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging, so please keep your comments cordial and kind. Read more information on our comment policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *