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    Bookworm Essentials: Tools & Resources to Enhance Your Family’s Reading Life + A Giveaway!

    With the growing accessibility of books and reading materials, bookish accessories are in high demand now more than ever before. But let’s face it, being a bookworm is a lot of work. It takes dedication, concentration and plenty of time. Below I’ve compiled a list of essentials I have found to be essential to ensure a pleasant, stress free reading experience.

    Read Everyday. Essential #1: Something to read
    If you’re going to be a bookworm (or a writer), you’re going to need a lot of books to read. So start by compiling a wish list of books you’d like to read and start reading.

    No Dog Eared Pages, Please! Essential #2: Book Darts
    These magical little bookmarks are invaluable for not only marking your place, but prepping for book club (or blog post writing). Mark not only your page, but the exact line you want to remember. Once you try them you might not want go back to your old bookmarking ways.

    Say Goodbye to Flapping Pages. Essential #3 Page Anchor
    If you’ve ever struggled with pages flapping in your face while reading a physical book, this little accessory may just be your reading BFF. You can read my previous review of the Page Anchor here. BONUS: Use my coupon code HEREWEEREAD15 to get 15% off your Page Anchor! Head over to www.page-anchor.com now!

    Let there be light! Essential #4: An LED Book light
    If you read in bed like I do, you may want to have an LED book light like this one handy. I find portable book lights really useful for reading in bed at night. I also use my book light in the car or while traveling by plane.

    Protect your bookish investments. Essential #5: A book sleeve
    Whether you’re book is in your home, at the bottom of your beach bag or the top of your carry-on, it will be protected from the bumps and bruises of travel inside a cute protective sleeve.

    Read while you eat. Essential #6: A wooden book holder
    Do you love to read books while eating,cooking, drinking tea, having coffee, or while knitting? Do you need a gadget to hold books open while you are reading? Then you might want to invest in a wooden book holder like this one. Bonus: It also doubles as a cookbook recipe holder or a tablet holder.

    Set a daily reading timed goal. Essential #7: A reading timer
    I aim to read for at least 20 – 30 minutes daily in the morning and at night right before bed. I find using a reading timer helps me stay on track with my daily reading goals. Simply set the timer for the allotted period, read until it goes off, then lights out. Both of my kids use this children’s reading timer since they don’t have mobile devices of their own yet.

    Bookmark It. Essential #8: Literary Tattoos
    Ok, so these are not essentials, but they are fun… Literary Tattoos!
    Just add water: Simple stick, wet, and peel instructions mean easy application for all of these temporary tattoos.

    Bookmark It. Essential #9: Bookmarks
    I’m really picky when it comes to bookmarks. In the past, I have used paper bookmarks, bobby pins, paper clips and index cards to save my place in a book. However, over the years I’ve learned bookmarks have to be functional, easy to use and long-lasting. Today, there are so many types of bookmarks to choose from – even magnetic ones!

    Lately, I’ve been loving the durable leather bookmarks from our friends at Ox and Pine. Oh, and did I mention their bookmarks can be personalized? They also sell beautiful journals and a few other bookish items.

    And hey, fellow bookworm, have you heard of our diverse summer reading challenge? Although summer is almost over, you can still use this resource all year round. Happy Reading!

    The Giveaway!
    Our friends at Ox and Pine are offering two FREE personalized bookmarks to one (1) lucky US based resident! Enter for your chance to win below. Good Luck!Ox and Pine: Two Personalized Leather Bookmarks

    Your turn: What are some of your favorite bookworm essentials? Feel free to share in the comments.

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    Always Eat After 7pm: Week 4 Update Conclusion & Final Thoughts

    Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. As always, the opinions expressed below are my own.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book Always Eat After 7pm and appreciated the conversational, irreverent tone by author and fitness expert Joel Marion.

    The biggest lessons I learned from the book are – you can totally eat after 7pm AND you can’t ignore your diet. Eating right and getting in regular exercise really does make a huge difference in your overall well being if your goal is to remain fit and in shape.

    The essential idea of this book is to re-learn how to eat whatever you want whenever you’re hungry (in moderation), without imposing rules or guilt on yourself about it. The chapters take you through a step-by-step process for this, with the idea being to work through them over time.

    There’s so much useful information in it that contradicts lots of completely baseless assumptions and myths I’d picked up over the years.  Always Eat After 7 PM really helped me to challenge leftover diet culture ways of thinking, good/bad perspectives on food, un-evidenced fears about health, and the compulsion to not trust my body and instead feel the need to control it.

    I plan to maintain my body by following a modified version of this diet while ensuring I continue to work out on a regular basis and drink plenty of water. My hope is that I can commit to maintaining this lifestyle for as long as I can with the understanding that if I “fall off the wagon” I give myself enough grace and get back on again.

    I’d highly recommend this book for people like me who want to tone up their bodies or people who want to lose weight and learn to maintain it afterwards. If you read it and decide to give it a try I’d love to know your thoughts and if you had success with it.

    Check out my previous posts below to read about my weekly progression.

    Week 1 Update
    Week 2 Update
    Week 3 Update

    Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion is now available to purchase.

    About the Author

    Joel Marion is a six-time bestselling author, host of the top-ranked inspirational podcast Born to Impact, and the co-founder of BioTrust Nutrition (the largest eCommerce supplement company in the United States). Additionally, his work has been featured in the pages of more than 20 popular national newsstand magazines including Men’s Fitness, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, Oxygen, Men’s Journal, and Clean Eating. He resides with his wife, Lisa, and two daughters in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

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    Always Eat After 7pm: Goal Setting + An Update

    Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. As always, the opinions expressed below are my own.

    I recently finished reading the book Always Eat After 7pm written by Joel Marion.  It was certainly an informative and engaging read that taught me so much about healthy eating.  By following Joel’s straightforward approach, I was able to press the reset button on my entire diet and get serious about toning up my body. One of the best things was trying out some of the recipes from the book like the no-bake salted caramel bars, fruit tarts and the chili loaded baked potatoes…yum!

     In case you’re unfamiliar with the book and what it’s all about, here is a brief explanation and direct quote taken from the book:

    Always Eat After 7 PM is a three-phase program that teaches you how to lose big by strategically eating big when you are naturally hungriest—in the evening. This may sound too good to be true, but let me assure you it is no gimmick. It’s all about making strategic and smart food swaps, and you can still eat your favorite foods.”

    I’m happy to report I lost a total of four pounds since beginning my fitness journey.  At the start of this program I told you my goal was to tone up certain areas of my body.  What I didn’t expect was to lose a few pounds along the way which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Although I feel and look relatively the same since the start of this program, I do notice I have slightly more energy in the mornings which lasts throughout my day until bedtime.

    Here are a few additional highlights from the book I’d like to share:

    • Protein is the most fat-loss-friendly food because it burns more calories while being digested than any other macronutrient.
    • The biggest challenge people face when following any type of diet is getting adequate amounts from whole foods each day to reap these benefits. This is when protein powder comes in handy and can help you further accelerate your fat loss.
    • Probiotics are friendly, living microbes in the gut that help us stay healthy.  You carry about four pounds of microbes (bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and so forth) in your gut—that’s about 100 trillion microbes.

    The recipes, the meal plan, and lots of scientific backup in this book make it easy to follow along and enjoy.  Joel also provides you with of motivation to keep going after you complete the program so you can maintain your weight.

    I’ll post my final update soon, so stay tuned!

    In the meantime, check out my two previous posts from the first two weeks here:

    Week 1 Update
    Week 2 Update

    Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion is now available to purchase here.

    About the Author
    Joel Marion is a six-time bestselling author, host of the top-ranked inspirational podcast Born to Impact, and the cofounder of BioTrust Nutrition (the largest eCommerce supplement company in the United States). Additionally, his work has been featured in the pages of more than 20 popular national newsstand magazines including Men’s Fitness, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, Oxygen, Men’s Journal, and Clean Eating. He resides with his wife, Lisa, and two daughters in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

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    Always Eat After 7PM: Meet Author Joel Marion + An Update

    Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. As always, the opinions expressed below are my own.

    A few days ago, I introduced you to the book Always Eat After 7pm written by Joel Marion.  You can refer back to my first update post here.

    Today, I’m updating you on my first week progress since starting the 14-day Acceleration Phase of Joel’s program.

    Before I get into my update, let me fill you in on some of my favorite things I learned in the first part of the book:

    • Regular nut consumption has been shown to boost metabolism by as much as 11 percent and increase fat burning by up to 50 percent.
    • Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are great late-night snacks fat burning snacks.
    • Other foods like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, grapefruit, blueberries and cherries are also recommended for late-night snacking
    • The simple 3-minute fat burning morning ritual recommended by Joel – this is my new favorite thing to do in the mornings!

    At the start of the second part of the book, Joel lets readers know what to expect during the first phase of his program:

    “During this phase, you get to eat a variety of protein choices and many different kinds of veggies. You’ll be limiting your calories and carb intake a bit so that your body shifts quickly into fat-burning mode; this is the only phase in which you won’t eat Super Carbs. You do get to enjoy berries, cherries, and dark chocolate, though, along with friendly fats, all of which supply energy and help you feel satisfied.”

    The goal is to focus on getting a certain ratio of macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat to ensure you’re getting enough for fat burning and overall well-being.  Other traditional diets recommend staying under a set calorie threshold each day.

    Once you figure out how many grams of each macro you want to aim for you can plan your meals accordingly.  Joel also recommends utilizing the help of apps like My FitnessPal and My Macros+ to help you easily track your macros daily.  It may sound overly complicated, but it’s not once you get the hang of it.

    I appreciate that there are daily menu and guides with serving sizes listed for both men and women shown in the book.  I found this to be super helpful and made the process feel less intimidating.  I’m also thrilled that many of the foods listed in the daily menus are foods I regularly eat like: grilled chicken breast, grilled lamb chops, and baked salmon.  Win-win!

    Since this is was week one of the program, I was allowed to have a breakfast snack, but the goal was to wean myself off of it through the week which I did for three days.

    Overall, my body feels wonderful, energized and more alert.  I also managed to lose two pounds even though weight loss is not my ultimate goal.  So far, eating at 7pm seems to be working!

    I’ll post another update soon, so stay tuned.

    In the meantime, get up close and personal with Joel Marion by reading a few interview questions below. Also, you can find my Week 1 update by clicking here.

    Q: What inspired you to write the book?

    A: After authoring 6 best selling books it was glaringly obvious there were 2 huge misconceptions about dieting that needed to be exposed. The first is that you can’t eat late at night or before bed, which science now shows is NOT true. And second, you can’t eat large portions that satisfy your natural instinct. This book solves both these problems by providing an evidence-based, enjoyable approach to dieting that can be used by any person to quickly achieve their weight loss goals.

    Q: You’re a six-time best selling author, what is different about this book compared to your others?

    A: Although many of the concepts are similar, the biggest difference is that you don’t have to deprive yourself of your favorite foods. You don’t have to deal with the burden of eating every few hours. And you don’t have to skip the carbs at dinnertime or avoid eating before bed.

     Q: How difficult is the Always Eat After 7 PM plan to follow?

    A: It’s not. And that’s exactly why I wrote the book. While any diet is never truly easy, it can be more enjoyable and much easier to adhere to when you understand how Always Eat After 7pm works because it caters to our bodies natural instincts.

    Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion is now available to purchase.

    About the Author

    Joel Marion is a six-time bestselling author, host of the top-ranked inspirational podcast Born to Impact, and the co-founder of BioTrust Nutrition (the largest eCommerce supplement company in the United States). Additionally, his work has been featured in the pages of more than 20 popular national newsstand magazines including Men’s Fitness, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, Oxygen, Men’s Journal, and Clean Eating. He resides with his wife, Lisa, and two daughters in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

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    Dieting Rules Were Made to Be Broken: Always Eat After 7pm Week #1 by Joel Marion

    Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. As always, the opinions expressed below are my own.

    Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed to have a healthy and stable metabolism which helps keep my body in shape. I also work out regularly at least three to four times per week and eat a well-balanced diet. Although I don’t have a goal to shed any excess weight, I would like to tone up my arms, thighs and stomach. That’s why when the offer to receive an advanced copy of the book Always Eat After 7 PM by Joel Marion came up, I was so excited! Over the next month, I’ll be sharing my experience of the book and program.

    The book is divided up into three parts: The Foundation, Burn Fat in Three Easy Phases and Hit the Kitchen. Joel explains his easy-to-follow program which consists of a 14-day Acceleration Phase that helps kick start the program so you can see rapid results in the first 14 days. Next, is the Main Phase that advises you of which nutritional foods to eat followed by the Lifestyle Phase that teaches you how to say goodbye to your shed pounds for good.

    Although I never followed any before diets in the past, I do recall hearing about the many fitness myths like “You should never skip breakfast because it’s the most important meal of the day” and “Eating food after 7pm makes you fat.” I was pleased to hear Joel debunk four of popular myths many of us have been led to believe over the years within the first few pages of the book.

    “It’s probably been drilled into your head that eating late at night leads to obesity and excess belly fat. Myths like this one are strangely persistent, even though there’s little research to back them up.”

    In addition to toning up my body, I’m excited to read about the list of fat-burning sweet and salty pre-bedtime snacks and learn some new recipes in the easy-to-follow meals plans. I’ll post an update soon, so stay tuned!

    In the meantime, check out Joe’s go-to snacks and recipes here. Learn more about the book and how to purchase here.

    About the Author
    Joel Marion is a six-time bestselling author, host of the top-ranked inspirational podcast Born to Impact, and the co-founder of BioTrust Nutrition (the largest eCommerce supplement company in the United States). Additionally, his work has been featured in the pages of more than 20 popular national newsstand magazines including Men’s Fitness, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, Oxygen, Men’s Journal, and Clean Eating. He resides with his wife, Lisa, and two daughters in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

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    How We Organize Our Books at Home + Where to Find Free or Discounted Books

    How We Organize Our Books at Home

    To organize or not to organize, that is the question bibliophiles around the world sometimes discuss both in person and online. Believe it or not, people often get into heated debates about this topic – yes, there are people who take take their books and organization (or lack thereof) VERY seriously.

    I am often asked how we organize our books at home since we are fortunate to have so many of them. Therefore, I finally decided to write a blog post hoping it will help others or spark ideas on different ways to organize books.

    ORGANIZATION METHOD #1: ORGANIZE BY COLOR

    I prefer to organize our books by rainbow color in our family room library. Since those are the main bookshelves in our home, I wanted them to be visually appealing and pleasing to the eye. Plus, I find organizing by color makes it easier for me and my kids to put books away once we’ve read them. This organization method works especially well for smaller kids as it encourages independence. Kids tend to be naturally good at sorting by color as it’s an easy system to follow.

    Side note: Another thing I’ve become really good at by organizing this way is memorizing the book and spine color of books. It’s bizarre to think about how many books I have memorized the colors for.

    ORGANIZATION METHOD #2: ORGANIZE BY THEME

    My kids both have their books organized by theme on the bookshelves in their rooms. More specifically, I’ve chosen to surround them with books where they can see themselves being represented within the pages and on the covers.

    As a parent, my goal is to present my children with a full spectrum of Black and Brown characters in a variety of books. I want their experiences of story and representations of the world to include people of color, people they can imagine being like — people like Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Misty Copeland, Michelle Obama, and Michael Jordan — or fictional characters with whom they can identify.

    By placing these types of books in their rooms, I hope it reminds my kids daily that they are loved, seen, powerful and worthy of self-love and respect.

    ORGANIZATION METHOD #3: MONTHLY/WEEKLY RANDOM ROTATION

    For this method I use book bins to help keep books organized. The books that are placed in the bins vary from week to week, month to month or day to day. I generally rotate the kids’ book bins (which are placed in their rooms on the floor) once per week or once per month.

    Sometimes the book bins are filled with seasonal or holiday books, but most often these are the books my kids choose to read at bedtime or during story time throughout the week. Book bins also allow my kids to have more independence and select books to read on their own.

    Book bin courtesy of Fankang
    Book bin courtesy of Hunrung

    ORGANIZATION METHOD #4: ORGANIZE BY ROOM

    I’ll admit, we have books in almost every room in our home. For example, we place cookbooks in the kitchen area, personal growth and business/career related books in the office and holiday books are stored in the basement with holiday decorations.

    BEFORE YOU BEGIN ORGANIZING

    Before you begin putting your books in order, you may want to take an inventory of what’s currently in your collection. Decide which books you want to keep, ones you want to donate and ones you want to give away to others. Once per quarter I purge all of our books and decide which ones we’ll keep, donate or give away. I usually end up finding duplicate copies or books my kids have outgrown. Those books automatically fall into either the donate or give away piles.

    THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT

    Looking for an app to help keep your home library even more organized?

    A few weeks ago I started using a FREE app called Libib to catalog and keep track of all the books we own. I love it because it’s very user-friendly and the free version allows you to scan/enter up to 5,000 books, video games, movies and albums. Simply scan your books or other items by barcode or you can input them manually. Check it out!

    OTHER WAYS TO ORGANIZE

    Recently, I asked my audience on Instagram how they organize their books at home. Below find some of their suggestions that may help you too.

    • Organize alphabetically
    • Organize by genre, category, subject or theme
    • Separate paperback books from hard covers
    • Organize by size (tallest to shortest or shortest to tallest)
    • Organize books in a series together
    • Organize by author or illustrator last names
    • Organize by publishing company
    • Organize non-fiction books by the Dewey decimal system and fiction books separated by genre then alphabetically
    • Organize by type (chapter books, picture books, early readers, board books, holiday books, adult books)
    • Organize classic books in one area and Newberry/award winning books in another area
    • Random piles throughout the house – a free for all!
    • No organization – just go with the flow

    As you can see, there is no one size fits all when it comes to book organization. Ultimately, you’ll want to do what works best for you and your family. If you’d like to organize or re-organize books in your home, I hope this has given you a few tips to help get you started.

    TIPS TO SCORE FREE OR DISCOUNTED BOOKS TO BUILD YOUR HOME LIBRARY

    You may also want to check out my blog post (linked here) which provides you with resources to find free or discounted books for your home library. One of my favorite sources is Bookshop.org.

    Your turn: Sound off in the comments and let me know how you organize your books at home.

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    Introducing Bookshop: The Indie Amazon for Book Lovers

    Introducing Bookshop: The Indie Amazon for Book Lovers

    Attention book lovers! There’s a new online bookstore in town and its name is Bookshop, also known as the Indie Amazon. Have you heard of them yet?

    Launched in January 2020 by Andy Hunter, Bookshop.org is an online e-commerce bookstore and affiliate network that helps benefit independent book stores. Their ultimate goal? Take book business back from online retail giant Amazon.

    When I found out about Bookshop, I was super excited and began setting up my online book store immediately. Bookshop’s affiliate program is available to magazines, book stores and book bloggers, offering a 10 percent commission. This is a HIGHER affiliate commission rate than what Amazon currently offers so for me it was a no brainer to sign up as an affiliate. Plus, I get to support indie book stores and my local community. Win-win!

    I love having Bookshop as an alternative resource for purchasing books AND giving my audience another choice besides always referring them to Amazon. Plus, the website interface is beautiful, organized and well thought out. I can’t wait to finish creating all of my diverse and inclusive book lists in my new Bookshop store!

    Here’s how it works:

    Instead of ordering books from Amazon, head out Bookshop.org. It’s an easy way to support your local independent bookshop or just indies in general. When you’re shopping on the site, you can either find your favorite bookshop or you can shop without specifying a particular store and the profit will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores – even ones that don’t use bookshop.org! How awesome is that? Bookshop affiliates set up their online book store the same way they would on Amazon.

    Let’s face it, Amazon doesn’t need any more money. Am I right? I’m more than happy to make the change and start forming a new habit when it comes to purchasing books and making book recommendations. I’ll still keep my Amazon store updated with new books too, but I feel really good about giving my audience another choice when it comes to buying books. Bookshop.org has books for children, teens, and adults.

    Your turn: Are you planning to set up an affiliate account with Bookshop? Will you start using Bookshop to purchase books instead of using Amazon? Feel free to share in the comments.

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