08 April, 2012

#BookReview :: From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds by Amy L. Peterson

Today marks the beginning of “From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds” Book Tour. This book tour includes Interviews, Guest Posts, Book Excerpts, Book Reviews, Author Fun Facts, Fun Twitter Party and ofcourse some Awesome Giveaways!

I am proud to be the first blog on the first Book Tour that the author, Amy L.Peterson, has embarked upon and so without any further ado… Let’s get started, shall we?

First, thank you, Debdatta, for giving me this opportunity and for being the first host for my April 8-28th book blog tour.  Thank you also for reviewing my book. I remain amazed by people like that review books for nothing in return.  Or at least I’ve been told you don’t charge for reviews.  Guess I’ll wait and see what bills come in the mail, huh?  Seriously, thank you!

From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds is my humorous story about falling hook, line and sinker for a guy with four kids and enough fishing tackle to sink a small boat.  The kids were three, five 13 and 15; I was 30 and clueless. I didn’t know that a Transformer is a toy that changes from one weird thing to another, that teenagers only want to talk about important matters when they bring them up, and that a man can get teary-eyed when a woman suggests that all his fishing gear may not fit into their small apartment.  I wrote this book to help other stepmoms and future stepmoms realize that even if they, too, are clueless, it’s all worth doing with the right guy.  My goal was to provide a few good laughs and a whole bunch of sound, light-hearted advice.  Consider “Tip #36:  Anyone who says you have no idea what you’re getting into, is right.” 

An EXCERPT from the BOOK

The excerpt below is from Chapter 9, “Can’t We Just Duct Tape Them Together and Send Them Outside?”

Three days after Mark proposed to me, I awoke in a two-bedroom, tunnel-shaped apartment surrounded by boxes.  I spent the day moving boxes around, consolidating boxes and basically doing everything that can be done with boxes.  Except throw them away.  Mark was, I finally realized, a pack rat.

And on the fourth day, the children came.  With more boxes.

The children marched in by twos, carrying Little Mermaid tote bags, Bat Man sleeping bags, boxes overflowing with head phones, boxes of cassette tapes, boxes of clothes, boxes of water toys and boxes of things whose names I had yet to learn.   Back and forth the kids went, dumping a box off in their bedroom and marching off to the car to bring another box back to the bedroom.  One bedroom.  With a trundle bed a co-worker had donated, and a small closet.

"We’re running out of room in the bedroom, Dad," Simone said as she carried in a crate full of make-up.

“Put overflow stuff in the front closet,” was the answer. 

And that’s when Mark turned to me and said, “Want to help out some?” 

I had a sort of awakening then, and realized that I had been sitting on the futon for quite some time, having an out-of-body experience as my apartment filled up with junk.
"The only thing worse would be forty days of rain," I told Mark as I stood to join the procession of boxes.

"The month will be gone before you know it."  He gave me a little squeeze.  "And we'll find opportunities to let you have time to yourself so you don't go crazy."

A half hour later, I found space on the futon to gather my thoughts.  I had just daydreamed my way to a long expanse of empty, sandy beach, when Elizabeth, now sweating from ear to ear, sat down next to me.  And I mean next to me so that her sweaty skin was touching mine.  She leaned over and gave me a little hug, with, "Hi, Amy-Mom.  We get to stay here for a long time."

"And won't that be fun for all of us," I said and rolled my eyes in Mark's direction.

"Trust me," Mark said.  "With the lake here, we'll have water balloon fights, go swimming--."

"Feed the ducks!" Elizabeth added.

"Exactly, Lizby," Mark said.

“Lizby?” I frowned.  “What name am I supposed to use?  Elizabeth?  Lizby?  Tin Lizzy?"

"The Great Lizby!" she said.

I could see it now:  I'm at the grocery store and a neighbor recognizes me.  She says hello, notices the little girl at my side and asks, "And who's this?"

And I have to say, “The Great Lizby?”

Elizabeth looked up at me and said, “Dad calls Samantha Sammy sometimes, and Conrad is Raddy and Rad-Boy.  And Simone is sometimes S’Monie and Moanie.”

“But there’s still really only four of you, right?” I asked, suddenly worried.

Elizabeth said yes and added, “But you can call us by our real names if you want.”  Then she handed me a doll about ten inches long, with rubbery arms and legs and a rubbery face.  "I can take Teenser Water Baby with us when we go swimming."

"Oh goody."  I took the rubbery doll, looked into its rubbery eyes and suddenly knew why my brother had shot all my sister’s dolls across the lawn with his slingshot.  And tried to run them all over with the lawn mower.

"She's real nice," I said.  "So you better take good care of her.  If you don't want to carry her around, put her on your bed so she's safe and comfy, okay?"

"Okay," and she got up and bounced off to her bedroom.

"We'll have to get her a stroller for all her babies sometime," Mark whispered.

I pictured a stroller full of babies being pushed around the crowded apartment, running into boxes, the wall.  “I’d vote for an industrial strength one that can go outside."

A loud thud from the kids' room stopped whatever Mark was going to say.  In three steps we were in the doorway of the 8x8 foot room.  Samantha was underneath a large air mattress she was trying to inflate as her bed.  She was to share the bed with Simone who was lying on top of the semi-inflated mattress with Conrad.  Simone and Conrad were giggling. 

"Get off, you jerks!" Samantha yelled.
Elizabeth, meanwhile, was perched at the top of the trundle bed and was looking down at Simone and Conrad as if she wanted to join them.
Being new to part-time parenthood, I stepped back to see how Mark would handle it.
“You," he pointed to Elizabeth, "don't even think about jumping."  He pointed then to Simone and Conrad, "You two get off the mattress and outside, now."
"Aw, Dad," Simone said as she jostled Conrad's head and led him outside.  "We were just having fun."
Samantha, obviously accustomed to such behavior, merely said, "Jerks" and went back to blowing up the mattress.  Elizabeth extended her arms so Mark could remove her from the top of the trundle bed.  Peace was momentarily restored in the 600-square foot apartment.
“So, that’s how you do it,” I said to Mark.  “Just go in there and take charge.”
“Someday you’ll be able to do it just like that,” he said.
“Think so?” I asked Elizabeth.
“Probably not,” she said.

To see if I ever got the knack of taking charge of the kids, you just might have to buy my book at Amazon.com.  It is available as an e-book and a paperback.  Other review comments are summarized on my web site.

Check the book out on Amazon

My Review

Amy had her priorities in life all set and ‘marriage’ was not on top of that list. Not even in the middle. And having kids was nowhere on that list! She hadn’t even ‘noticed’ Mark until he rejects her proposal at work. And well, when she does notice him – the unexpected happens. Amy not only ends up marrying Mark but also takes on the four children from Mark’s first marriage. From being a single career oriented woman to being a wife and a mother, that is exactly what this book is all about.

It’s a light hearted book, filled with cozy family moments, interesting interactions, utter chaos and outright funny moments. It is like getting glimpses or watching episodes of somebody else’s life instead of a tv series. I smiled and giggled through most of the book. Somewhere down the line I have also developed a certain liking for Elizabeth, the youngest in the family. The way she explains her nickname to Amy was really endearing. The only setback according to me was the flow of words. It just wasn’t that smooth. It is just a minor setback and nothing that would take away greatly from the book. Also, the highlight of the books is the sometimes funny – sometimes useful tips!

Tip #1: Behind every successful stepmother is a man with at least one child!
Tip #11: If your first meeting with the kids doesn’t go well, rest assured that it won’t be the last thing that won’t go well.
Tip #56: "You can't get a refund just because you're not having fun."
Tip #70: "You won't be able to predict what the kids remember, or what they'll like the most. So try to enjoy it all."

Overall it was an enjoyable read with the ability to refresh a person’s mind. Whether you are single or married or in a relationship or even a man [ 😊 ] – I would like to recommend you to read this book and be a part of the Peterson Family.

10 Things you Probably didn't know about Amy L. Peterson

1.   Starting with one of the most clichéd questions – if you were stranded on an island, what three things would you take with you?
My husband, a machete and a signaling beacon.  I’d want my husband to keep me warm at night and he’s better with a machete (to crack coconuts) than me.  The beacon would be used when we got sick of being stranded on the island and wanted someone to rescue us, though I suspect we wouldn’t use that for a week, or until the coconuts ran out. 

2.   Your favourite Movie Stars.
Meryl Streep for the amazing range of characters she can portray, and Robert Redford because he hasn’t had a face lift, is an environmentalist and in a recent interview, he found humor and humility in the fact that someone thought he was the guy on the Newman’s Own food labels.

3.   Favourite TV Shows. 
I’m a Survivor fan which is probably where the machete idea came from. 

4.   Favourite food/drink and a fun incident tied to it.
My husband took me to Bonaire for our honeymoon “a few years back” (being like the mid 1990s), and we stumbled upon The Green Parrot restaurant on the ocean which had these wonderful fruit drinks with hand-carved wooden sea creatures stuck in the straw.   So, after we went scuba diving all day, we spent the evening at the Green Parrot collecting wooden sea creatures.  Years later, the restaurant was taken out in a hurricane.

5.   Your favourite colour and what you associate it with. 
The shade of blue on the cover of my book is a happy, cheerful color and since I’m all about promoting my book now, well, it’s my favorite color right now.

6.   What/who has the most ‘Calming Effect’ on you? 
Being stranded on a tropical island sounds pretty calming.  And our hot tub was pretty calming until some northern short-tail shrews chewed on the wiring and caused the hot tub to short circuit.  So in lieu of those, I have to settle for sitting near my bay window and watching the wildlife we attract to our yard with sunflower seeds, suet, corn and salt-free peanuts (the latter of which shrews love).  I’ve blogged about some of these critters at amylpeterson.com.   

7.   Three countries you would love to visit. 
Madagascar because the wildlife there is like nowhere else.  Brazil to float part of the Amazon River and catch a beautiful peacock bass.   And the Arctic to see narwhals (I mean, what’s that long spiral tooth on their head all about?), belugas (because they look intelligent in a way I can’t explain yet) and polar bears (because they just say “cute.”). 

8.   Three things about the society that irks you the most. 
1)  Evil people that mis-use tax dollars.  I work for state government and do my best to make sure public funds are well spent, so nothing irks me more than hearing about government officials wasting money.  I think it’d be rather entertaining to strap such evil people naked to a flagpole for a few days.  (The idea comes from Chapter 12 in my book--my husband and I used the idea of strapping the kids naked to a flagpole if they whined about certain things). 
2)  Greedy people.  It seems the American dream is no longer to just make enough to have a better life; it’s to make masses of money and buy bigger, better and more.   I say, strap all the greedy people naked to a flag pole, too. 
3)  Billboards.  I think there should be a hunting season on billboards that includes the use of regular ammo as well as explosives.

9.   What do you listen more to: Heart or Mind? 
I have to listen to my mind, because if I listened to my heart I’d spend most of my time writing and go hungry.  My husband would go hungry, too, and he can be like a grumpy polar bear when he’s hungry, so that’s just not good.

10. Random fact about your daily life after the release of your book. 
My daily life the last few months has involved working, taking care of over a dozen fuzzy animals, and spending my spare time looking for opportunities like this one.  I’ve tried to do all this without completely ignoring my husband, but, alas, this is the first year I failed to order him a chocolate Easter bunny from Saunders.  Thankfully, Stepkid #2 is bringing several chocolate bunnies with her when she comes for Easter.  It’s wonderful having four big stepkids!  

Amy has kindly agreed to Giveaway a E-book copy of her book to a winner from my blog. So what are you waiting for? Enter the Giveaway through the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Book Tour Schedule
12th April - Pragya @Reviewing Shelf 
15th April - Twitter Party #zero2fourkids
17th April - Rachel @Stressed Rach
26th April - Ella @Mymcbooks Blog


  1. Great review, Amy is such a nice person I had the pleasure of reviewing this one for her at the beginning of March. :)
    +New GFC follower.
    -Kimberly @ Turning The Pages

  2. Great review, excerpt & interview! The book sounds very amusing, to those of us not getting used to 4 kids:) & informative. Best success to you Amy!

    Paul R Hewlett

    1. I don't know what I would have done in her place -- probably run away to another continent!

  3. Hre personality sure shines through in that fun interview

  4. I hadn't heard of this book before. I will be adding this to my TBR list.