Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

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Book Review of Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book, but it wasn’t the adventure I found in its pages. Wow! What a ride! I hope you enjoy m book review of Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern.

Blurb:

“A surprise role in a movie takes actress Derry O’Donnell to a romantic castle in the Scottish Highlands.  But romance soon turns to fear and suspicion.  Someone means to kill, and Derry, moonlighting as celebrity fortune-teller Madam Tulip, is snared in a net of greed, conspiracy and betrayal.

A millionaire banker, a film producer with a mysterious past, a gun-loving wife, a PA with her eyes on Hollywood, a handsome and charming estate manager—each has a secret to share and a request for Madam Tulip.  As  Derry and her friend Bruce race to prevent a murder, she learns to her dismay that the one future Tulip can’t predict is her own.

Madame Tulip and the Bones of Chance is the third in a series of thrilling and hilarious Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant amateur detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.”

My Book Review:

Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball and could predict the future. Wouldn’t that be nice? Then other times I’m happy to be surprised. If you could see what was coming would you do things differently? Would it change how you live your life, how you treat people, and how you react? Would it make you second guess yourself? A little deep, I know, but it makes me curious.

Derry is a fun character. I like how particular she is about her Madam Tulip costume and props. She has a cute personality. Derry is not particularly intuitive when it comes to herself and how others feel about her. She tends to miss major clues. When it comes to other people, though, she does a little better. Sometimes I thought she acted as a strong character, and other times I was a bit disappointed by her lack of action.

I am not one to believe in crystal balls or tarot cards. Unfortunately, Madam Tulip would not see me in her booth. She does make for a fun character though. The story line is pretty good. There were a few side stories that didn’t really add to the plot line, but I guess they gave you a little more insight into Derry’s life. It’s well written and exciting. There are some crazy twists; I thought one of them was a bit unbelievable, but by then I was into the story and couldn’t put it down.

I liked the writing style, the descriptions, and the character development. There were a lot of characters, though, and I could not keep them straight. Even at the end I had a difficult time remembering who certain characters were. I liked Bruce a lot, and think that maybe Derry should pay a little more attention to him.

Overall, this is a fun and entertaining read. I’d read more of the Madam Tulip books.

Content Rating PG-13Rating: PG-13 (There’s only a little bit of profanity in this book. There isn’t any “intimacy.” Although there is some brief violence, it isn’t overly graphic.)

Recommendation: 16+

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2J1cvdr

Disclosure: I did receive a free book in exchange for my honest review. This did not sway my opinion in any way.

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the book thief by markus zusak An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry  Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
 

Book Review of Boying Up by Mayim Bialik, PhD

Boying Up by Mayim Bialik

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Book Review of Boying Up: How to be Brave, Bold, and Brilliant by Mayim Bialik, Phd

Ugh! The dreaded talk. You know the one. The talk that everyone should have with their kids. The one where you have to use real names for body parts and go into details about the birds and the bees. Yeah, I know that talk. My husband and I decided that he would talk with our boys and I would talk with our girls. We have two of each. He’s already talked with our boys, and I have had the talk with one of our girls. One more to go for me. This book is great for a follow-up of that talk. Here’s my book review of Boying Up by Mayim Bialik, PhD.

Blurb:

“Growing from a boy into a man is no simple feat. Bodies are changing, social circles are evolving, hair is appearing in places it never was before—and on top of it all, there’s the ever-present pressure to conform to the typical idea of what it means to be ‘manly’ and masculine. But it’s easier to Boy Up if you’re armed with facts.

Want to know why your voice cracks like that? What you should eat to build muscle, or how to talk to someone you have a crush on? How about if someone bullies you or spreads rumors about you?

Using her own experience as a mom of boys and plenty of scientific information, Mayim Bialik, neuroscientist and star of The Big Bang Theory, talks about what it means to grow from a boy to a man biologically, psychologically and sociologically.

Want to be brave, bold and brilliant? You can! Start by reading this book.”

My Book Review:

This book is packed with great information! Mayim Bialik does not mince words. She speaks boldly and bravely about everything that happens when boys grow into men. The first thing she discusses is anatomy for boys and girls. There are even drawings to go along with it. It’s very straightforward and accurate. She uses the correct names for everything and says it like it is. I like that she even goes into the science of X and Y chromosomes and DNA.

Throughout the book, Mayim talks a lot about how everyone is different. She discusses how there isn’t one right way to be a boy. It’s so good to hear because there are stereotypes for boys just like there are for girls. She talks about how it’s ok for boys to like different things and look different from each other. Not all boys need to like cars and sports.

I love the section on how to take care of their bodies. I think all YA boys need to read this section. Seriously. I know they want to survive on soda pop and candy bars. Mayim goes into a lot of detail about how much water to drink each day, proper nutrition, and mindfulness when eating. She also talks about the importance of exercising. She gives lots of different ways to exercise; it doesn’t need to be football practice for every boy.

Mayim doesn’t stop there. I loved the chapter on how boys learn. She is a neuroscientist, so she has very detailed and interesting scientific facts. One thing I thought was really good was when she discussed the culture of media among boys and how they like video games and such. I guess there is actually science behind why boys get all competitive and like to win.

She does talk about why some boys are more bothered by violence and other things in media. I agree that there are different sensitivity levels. I also think that sometimes that is because children are desensitized by watching violence and more adult themes when they are too young. I don’t allow my children to watch PG-13 movies until they are 13. And even then, there are certain movies I won’t let them watch until they are older.

How boys love is the next chapter in the book. Mayim goes into intimacy, but intimacy as in getting to know someone well and making ourselves vulnerable. She talks about relationships with family and friends and how those can change over time. One thing she goes into more detail about is “Brotherhood” and boys as “their buddies, their bros, their homeboys, their dudes, their posse.” There are lots of different places that boys can find their peeps.

Then, yes, Mayim discusses the science of romance. I think it’s great to point these things out to boys so they understand what they’re experiencing. She talks about physical things that happen when boys are around someone they may be interested in. Things like sweating, dry mouth, and babbling. Ha! It’s good to know it happens to boys too. She goes into greater detail about attraction, dating, and courtship. This includes physical “intimacy.”

I know it’s hard for most parents to discuss this with their children. It is for me! It’s essential, though. Mayim goes into detail about it, of course using correct body part names and how it occurs. One thing she stresses is that it does feel good, but it is primarily to make babies. And that if you are doing it, you will most likely make a baby at some point. This is a good reminder for teenagers with raging hormones.

She talks about how waiting until marriage used to be the norm, but isn’t as common now.  We have stressed to our children that waiting until marriage is important. I think it’s important because it is so intimate. There are emotions and feelings that occur when people are intimate in that way, and being in a stable, strong relationship is important. Then, if babies come, there is already a foundation for that family. She also discusses that it’s a special thing; it’s not evil and you shouldn’t be afraid of it either. But use precautions. Be safe.

This book goes deep into many things that are difficult to talk about. It’s very informative. Although there is a lot of information, good and very detailed information, Mayim does a great job of making it accessible. Her writing is so easy to read; it’s not awkward or scary or anything. This book should be used as a companion to a parental discussion. It would be great to have your son read a chapter and discuss it, or discuss it at the end. Boys and dads could read it together. My boys might die if I read it with them.

Content Rating PG-13Rating: PG-13 (This book goes in depth about human anatomy and physical “intimacy.” It’s the birds and the bees talk plus a whole lot more.)

Recommendation: YA (I would strongly recommend that parents either read it before or with their boys. Only parents know what each child can handle.)

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2LbCHAe

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

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Girls Who Code: Lights, Music, Code! (Book #3) by Jo Whittenmore the hundred dresses  To the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger
 
 

Review of The Nantucket Sea Monster by Darcy Pattison

The Nantucket Sea Monster by Darcy Pattison

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Book Review of The Nantucket Sea Monster: A Fake News Story by Darcy Pattison

Lately it seems like there has been a lot of discussion about fake news stories. I don’t think I’d heard much about fake news stories until just a few years ago. Because they have been focused on, it makes it seem like printing fake news stories is a new thing. Apparently it’s not! Which sadly makes me feel better. In 1937 there was a story printed about a sea monster off of the coast of Nantucket. Was it real? Were the people of Nantucket doomed to live in daily fear for their lives? Find out more in my book review of The Nantucket Sea Monster: A Fake News Story by Darcy Pattison.

Blurb:

“Do you believe everything you read in the newspaper? Early in August 1937, a news flash came: a sea monster had been spotted lurking off the shore of Nantucket Island. Historically, the Massachusetts island had served as port for whaling ships. Eyewitnesses swore this wasn’t a whale, but some new, fearsome creature. As eyewitness account[s] piled up, newspaper stories of the sea monster spread quickly. Across the nation, people shivered in fear.

This nonfiction picture book is a perfect story to start discussions about non-political fake news stories.”

My Book Review:

I haven’t ever heard of this story before! I’m glad that Ms. Pattison has brought it to life for us to learn from. I think the story is well written. It explains the story well and is easy to read and understand. The fact that it’s a nonfiction picture book is great, of course.

The illustrations are a little different, but are bright colored and fun. It does have the feel of an earlier time; say maybe 1937? I think they’re well done, and I like the layout of the pages with the speech bubbles, the big headline font, and the quote boxes.

Reading this book to a class (or family) would be a great way to start a discussion about non-political fake news stories. It offers a safe way to discuss the pros and cons and the whys of fake news stories. I think it would be fun to split the class into two and have one half write real news stories and the other half write fake news stories. Then try to figure out which ones are which. It’d also be fun to have kids create their own sea monsters.

If nothing else, it’s a fun way to get kids interested in reading about history!  

Content Rating GRating: G (It’s clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2InM6D0

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Hail to the Chief by Callista Gingrich What are You Thinking by Valerie Ackley  Discover America by Katherine Lee Bates
 
 

Book Review of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Book Review of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

For some reason, this book took me a long time to read! I would start then have to stop so I could read another book because I had a review I needed to post. Then I’d pick it up again, and not finish in time so I’d have to put it down to finish another book for review. At this point it’s about a week late at the library (oops!) because I just wanted to finish it. My point is, this review is a long time in coming! So I hope you enjoy my book review of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
 

Blurb:

“In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads to the colors of the houses to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren—an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter, Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood—and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.”

My Book Review:

I should have just stopped reading this book and taken it back to the library when I knew I couldn’t finish it in time. The problem was that I couldn’t take it back because I was so intrigued! I had to find out what happened! I loved the writing in this book because it just pulls you in. It flows well, transitions well, has realistic dialogues, and it draws you into the story.

The characters are very well developed. I loved their complexity, their depth, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they all fit together. Each of the characters brought a difference in opinion and way of living. I liked how each character had his or her own viewpoints, and how those views determined the decisions they would make. It’s just like in real life. I have four children and they are all very different. They all see the world a little differently, and that’s one of the things I love about them.

There are some very heavy topics discussed in this book. Parental rights, teenage “intimacy,” abortion, honesty, making mistakes, and how we treat each other are just a few. Does playing by the rules 99% of the time make it ok to be unethical for 1% of the time? Does a more affluent person have more rights than a non-affluent person? What makes a fit mother? Does a nomadic lifestyle make a person less important?

See what I mean? Wow. This book definitely packs a punch!

Content Rating RRating: R (There’s some profanity, including several “f” words. There is teenage “intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos, and one of the characters has an abortion.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2rEKjDc

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the book thief by markus zusak Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton  A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake
  

Make a Teacher Happy: Prevent Summer Brain!

Summer Fit 2-3

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Prevent Summer Brain with Summer Fit Workbooks!

Remember last fall when the kids went back to school and had forgotten most of what they’d learned the previous year? It’s called…Summer Brain. Ouch! All of that work–gone. How do you prevent Summer Brain? You have to be a mean mom and make the kids use their brains this summer. I know, it’s hard. I’ve grown callous to the mean summer mom eye rolls because I’ve been doing it for so long.  It’s a good thing, I promise.
 
I’ve tried a few different things like printing off my own packets, workbooks, and online programs. I finally settled on the Summer Fit workbooks. It’s so easy and mom friendly!
 

Why Use Summer Fit Workbooks to Prevent Summer Brain?

I have used the Summer Fit workbooks for a few years now, and I LOVE them!!! They have a level for each grade in elementary school (they start with pre-K and go to 8th grade), which is great. The workload is the perfect amount. Each day there is a page of reading and a page of math. It isn’t super hard, but it is hard enough to keep the kids from forgetting everything over the summer.
 
I love the Friday material. Every Friday is a value (compassion, determination…..that kind of thing), and it highlights a person who exemplifies that value. The kids do activities surrounding that value and person. Also, each day has an exercise for the kids to do. It’s not hard, but it gets them up and moving. And the great thing about these books is that it eliminates all the mom-work. There’s no searching the internet or printing off individual worksheets; it’s all right there in the book. It makes mom’s job so much easier!!! They even have a book for 7th and 8th graders, which is great because it’s harder to know what the older kids need. I highly recommend the Summer Fit workbooks!
 
 

Content Rating GRating: G (clean!!!)

 Recommendation: Pre-K to 8th grade

 

Which One Is Right For You?

(If you’d like to purchase a workbook, click on the image below.)

This post was first published on 5/23/16; Updated on 5/11/18.

Book Review of Rhyme Crime by Jon Burgerman

Rhyme Crime by Jon Burgerman

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Book Review of Rhyme Crime by Jon Burgerman

When I taught first grade, one of the things I would stress to parents was the importance of rhyming.  As a kid I learned all of the nursery rhymes and repeated them often. Rhyming is an important skill for beginning and early readers to master. I love it when rhyming is emphasized in children’s books because it reinforces that skill. So did this book live up to my expectations? Find out in my book review of Rhyme Crime by Jon Burgerman.

Blurb:

“Someone stole Hammy’s hat…and replaced it with a cat!

And Marlow’s happy smile…became a crocodile!

What rhyme crime is next? Is anyone safe? Good thing YOU are on the case!

From the creator of SPLAT! Comes more playful, irreverent, kid-empowering fun—with a rhyming twist.”

My Book Review:

Rhyming is such an important skill for beginning and early readers, so I love it when children’s books contain rhyming. I love the idea of this book. It has a very clever premise, and it’s funny. I mean, what kid wouldn’t laugh at a hat being replaced by a cat? Or by a smile being replaced by a crocodile? I know my kids and I would spend 15 minutes after reading this book laughing at all the other rhyme thefts we could come up with.

The mistake the thief makes is classic. Oops! I know my kids would enjoy that part too. So this book has a lot of good things going for it. I like the premise, the rhyming, the story, and the humor. Unfortunately though, I do not like the illustrations. They’re weird and kind of creepy. They might scare the children they should be entertaining. I don’t know though, because some of the cartoons that are popular right now also have weird looking characters. So maybe it’s just me.

Overall, I like this book. I wish the illustrations were a little less creepy, but other than that I think it’s a fun book. The rhyming is good and the humor makes it fun. It would make a good addition to any home or school library.

Content Rating GRating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2rzeVpq

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

 

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Book Review of Girl Fighter by Cyan Night

Girl Fighter by Cyan Night

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Book Review of Girl Fighter by Cyan Night

My husband laughed at me when I told him I was reading this book. He said, “It’s right up your alley!” Haha! He knows me too well. I do not watch boxing or fighting of any kind. I can’t. Watching people hit each other and hurt each other is not my thing. I don’t find it entertaining because there could be long-lasting repercussions from injuries. You won’t find me watching a fight like that…ever. So, what did I think about the book? Find out in my book review of Girl Fighter by Cyan Night.

Blurb:

What kind of person signs up for a cage fight? Aliyah, a mixed race Australian lives a solitary life as a computer specialist in London. She is born with an exceptional intelligence but her gifted mind does little to alleviate the pain she carries inside since her childhood. One day Aliyah stumbles upon a mixed martial arts gym. Like many fighters before her she finds peace in a sport that is seemingly violent.

She takes on training with a military discipline as an easy substitute for any meaningful bond in her life. Her journey to her debut cage fight is challenging, but it does nothing to prepare her for the biggest fight of her life. Girl Fighter explores the motivations of a mixed martial artist, the challenges of women in combat sport and the unseen struggles of a brain injury survivor.

 My Book Review:

The beginning of the book goes into Aliyah’s past. Where is she from, how did she get her name, and how did she get to this point in her life. It’s a bit confusing, and a little long, but it does set up the story. From the get-go you feel for Aliyah and her situation. I felt bad for her because of her past. However, I found her difficult to relate to in the present. Ok, so you had a rough life growing up—I’m sorry—now move on! Make something of yourself. Change your life, surround yourself with good people.

She doesn’t do any of that. Aliyah finds herself alone, and it’s sad, but she put herself in that situation. I’m just a spectator to the situation, and I find it hard to relate to her. I can only imagine the vibes she would put off if you were in the same room with her. Ms. Night did a good job of developing Aliyah. She may not have been my favorite character, but she was consistent and well developed.

The story is well written. I felt like I was there with Aliyah when she was training, at work, and even during the fight. It was interesting to see why a woman (or anyone) would choose to put herself in that situation. Like I said, I don’t get the sport. So, I did find it interesting to learn her motivations.

Unfortunately, this was not my favorite book. It did have some redeeming moments, but I just felt like I was watching a train wreck in slow motion. Something would happen, and it would negatively snowball until it got worse and worse. I felt drained after reading this book. You may feel differently than I did, but I didn’t find any inspiring moments or breaks to Aliyah’s pain.

I know in real life there aren’t always happy endings, so I didn’t expect one here. However, the ending did try to kind of make things better. I liked Hilary, Jeremy’s wife. She was the one bright spot in this book, and I’m glad she was there. John was a jerk. Consequently, I couldn’t believe the ending.

Although it was interesting learning about Aliyah and her motivations to fight, her life in London, and her journey, it was a bit of a downer for me. That’s fine. I don’t expect to read all unicorns and pixie dust, and I think I’d get sick of that anyway. Reality has its difficulties, and I think we can learn a lot from what others experience. Me, now you’ll for sure NEVER find me in the ring.

Have a good attitude. It’s the relationships in our lives that make life meaningful. Take the time to foster friendships and family relationships. Serve others. Life is too short to waste on unkind and uncaring people. Don’t judge people because you never know where they’re coming from in their lives. Look around you and find those who need a friend.

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including many “f” words. “Intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. Violence including fighting in the ring and outside the ring.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2KHBAIa

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

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The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card  Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan
 
 
 

Book Review of Miss Wilton’s Waltz by Josi S. Kilpack

Miss Wiltons Waltz by Josi Kilpack

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Book Review of Miss Wilton's Waltz by Josi S. Kilpack

I liked the first book in this series, The Vicar’s Daughter. So, I got excited when I heard about the second book. I like how it’s told from Lenora’s perspective, and how it shows her healing and growth throughout the book. Lenora definitely got the raw end of the deal in the first book, so I hoped that she would be able to find happiness in this second book. Does she? How does her teaching go? Well, I won’t reveal too much, but find out what I thought about this book in my book review of Miss Wilton’s Waltz by Josi. S. Kilpack.

Blurb:

“Lenora Wilton has spent her life hiding behind the keys of her beloved pianoforte and the vibrancy of her younger sister, Cassie. But Lenora is ready for a change and begins her journey of self-discovery by traveling to Bath to live with Aunt Gwen and teach music at an all-girls’ boarding school. She is different in Bath and enjoys the freedom and independence of her new life there.

When Lenora meets Aiden Asher, she finds herself attracted to him, but her unexpected feelings become more complicated when she learns that Catherine—Lenora’s newest and most troublesome student in the school—is Mr. Asher’s niece.

Catherine is a difficult student, but Lenora feels as though she is making progress with the girl even as the chemistry between Lenora and Aiden increases. When they share a passionate kiss by the River Avon, Lenora feels it is the beginning of a new forever—until she learns that Aiden has withheld an important detail about his life that changes everything.

Lenora closes her heart to him, and Aiden, caught between his obligation and his heart, must do what he can to make amends. And Lenora, after years of hiding from everyone and everything, faces a decision only she can make.”

My Book Review:

I’m a sucker for romantic stories. You add teaching to that, and I’m hooked. Reading about Lenora teaching and trying new things to help her students reminded me of my teaching days. It almost made me miss it. And then comes Catherine. Ha! Yep, I don’t miss dealing with unruly students. I had a few of those, and it’s difficult. You know that they just need love and stability, but it’s hard to get them to the point where they trust you.

I liked Lenora a lot. Her character was well developed and real. Although I could relate to her in some aspects, I couldn’t in others. That’s fine, though because people are complex. I liked her dedication to her students and felt bad for her difficult position. Aiden grew on me; I didn’t like him at first. He seemed gruff and insensitive, and made some choices that irritated me. His character was well developed, complex, and also real.

Catherine is one of those characters that you want to like. You feel so bad for her and the struggles she’s had in her lifetime. It seems as if when you put your arms around her and care for her that she’ll either stomp on your love or embrace it wholeheartedly. And, you never know which one you’ll get. I thought her character was also developed well. Aunt Gwen was one of my favorite characters. She seemed like she would be fun to hang out with.

I thought the book was well written. It was a little predictable, but there were a few surprises along the way that made it interesting. I liked the story line and the characters. There were a few times that the characters irritated me because of their choices, but overall I enjoyed it. It’s a fast, easy, entertaining read. I thought that there was just enough romance; it wasn’t overly cheesy (Just a little cheesy—but you need a little cheese with your romance, right?) If you enjoyed The Vicar’s Daughter, you will enjoy Miss Wilton’s Waltz.   

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or violence. There’s no “intimacy” except for kissing.)

Recommendation: Young Adults and up

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2KIXB9y

 

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Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack  A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack
 
 
 

Raising A Reader: How To Help a Struggling Reader

Child Reading Book to Doll

How To Help A Struggling Reader

I love this image! It’s my daughter when she was little. She’s twelve now, and of course she’s still cute, but this picture just melts my heart. She’s so little! Okay, back on track! When I taught first grade parents always asked me what they could do to help their child become a better reader. Even now, parents ask me how to help a struggling reader. My answer is always the same! READ to her!

Reading Aloud to Children

Did you know that in my state government officials plan for prisons based on first grade reading ability? That’s right. Crazy, huh? They take the reading ability of the first graders to plan for future prison needs. It’s a little scary to think about! If a child struggles to read through third grade, then there are resources set aside to help her. After third grade, the resources quickly decrease. If a child still struggles to read when she gets to junior high then there are very few resources to help, and even good teachers have moved on. It’s usually not a priority.  So what can parents do?

Today’s tip on how to help a struggling reader is the easiest and the most fun!

READ aloud to your children!!

Reading to your kids every day is the best way to help them enjoy reading. What is better than piling on the couch or the bed and enjoying a great book together? Not only is it good quality time together, it also teaches them to enjoy reading. It can be picture books or chapter books, depending on their age, but either way…….Just Read!!!

If we could get our parents to read to their preschool children fifteen minutes a day, we could revolutionize the schools. ~Dr. Ruth Love, Superintendent, Chicago Public Schools (1981)¹

The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.²

When my daughter (the one in the above photo) was in second grade, she really struggled with reading. She was my third child and I hate to admit that we had gotten busy and had not been as good at reading every day. At parent teacher conference her teacher told us how much she was struggling and I was surprised. I hadn’t realized! So what did we do? We started reading. A lot. I read aloud to her daily, and usually more than once a day. We read picture books and chapter books. I read aloud and I had her read aloud. 

What happened? She began to improve. It didn’t happen over night, but by fourth grade she was back where she needed to be. So good, in fact, that she read all of the Harry Potter books in fourth grade. She is now in sixth grade and is doing great. Her teacher gave her a goal of 40 books this year and she has read well over that. Reading aloud works to help struggling readers! They love the time together, they hear your pronunciation, your fluency, and your enjoyment. Struggling readers also learn vocabulary words and background knowledge. They learn that reading is enjoyable.

What about older kids?

My kiddos are getting big! My oldest is 16 (ahhh!), but they still ask me every night if we can read. It’s my favorite time of the day! I have all four kids in the same room with me, and I have their full and undivided attention! Start when they’re little and make it a priority. Beware though! Once you start they won’t want to stop! If they’re big now, it’s ok, start now! There are fun books to read to older kids too! We’re reading The Princess Bride by William Goldman at the moment. Before that we read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. (Just in case you’re wondering, the book is WAY better than the movie!)

I hope this helps you to know how to help your struggling reader! Here are some of the books I’ve read to my kids over the years. Click on the image to read my review!

The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood   The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks   Frindle by Andrew Clements   The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary   The BFG by Roald Dahl   Mr Poppers Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater   Charlotte's Web by E.B. White   The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl    the chocolate touch   the hundred dresses   The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo 

¹The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease p. xi

²The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease p. 3

This post was first published on 2/4/14; updated on 5/3/18.

Book Review of Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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Book Review of Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I have heard so much about this book. It has been recommended to me several times. I put it on hold at the library and didn’t receive it for a few months–that’s how popular it is. And now I can see why. From the very beginning of this book I felt like it was written for me. It spoke to me! Seriously. Weird. It’s kind of creepy that Greg McKeown, the author, knows me so well. Of course he doesn’t know me at all, but wow, I think he wrote this for me. I hope it helps you as much as it has already helped me! Please enjoy my book review of Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

 

Blurb:

“Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.

Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?

Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?

Are you often busy but not productive?

Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.

Essentialism is more than a time-management strategy or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter.

By forcing us to apply more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy—instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.

Essentialism is not one more thing—it’s a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives. Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.”

My Book Review:

As I stated above, I have heard a lot about this book. It’s been recommended to me a few times, and I’ve heard about it on podcasts and from other people. Now that I’ve read it, I can see why it came so highly recommended. I’ve been converted to Essentialism for sure! It makes so much sense. The philosophy is truly life changing.

I’m a people pleaser and a rule follower. My husband is always getting on me because I can’t say no. I’ll take on whatever anyone asks of me, and then I get bogged down and stressed, and I don’t have enough time to do it all. Well, not anymore! This book has liberated me. It has given me permission to say no, and I’m going to use it! Honestly, it’s going to be hard. A lifetime of apparently bad habits will not be easy to change, but I am going to try really hard because I need to. For my family and me, this could be life changing.

The book is so well written. Greg McKeown has a way with words. It’s easy to read and understand, it flows well, and it is so inspiring. He makes it all seem so easy, so hopefully it will be. I love the formatting of this book. There are a few illustrations, and some pages are white on black. He uses really big fonts to highlight important points, and it’s eye catching.

The chapters are broken down into bite size pieces. Each chapter begins with a quote, which I love. Then he makes sure to state how an Essentialist would think in certain situations compared to how a Nonessentialist would think in the same situations. Ooops! I usually fit under the Nonessentialist way of thinking, but that is already changing. The writing is clear and concise and does a great job of illustrating his points.

As stated above, I got this book from the library, but I think I need to buy it because I want to highlight and bookmark almost the whole thing. I want to remember what he said because I know it’s going to take time to change my way of thinking. This is one of those rare books that I know I will want to reference time and time again. To be able to take back the control in my life will be amazing. What? I can choose? Seriously. How do we forget that we have agency? I love this book, and I highly recommend it. 

Content Rating GRating: G (It’s clean. There’s nothing inappropriate in it.)

Recommendation: 16+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2HPdcCM

 

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the seven habits of highly effective families by stephen r covey Does Change Have to be So Hard by Julie Donley, RN  The Compliment Quotient by Monica Strobel