The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey

Book Review of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey

Have you ever looked over at a family that looks as if they have it all together? Have you wondered what it is they’re doing that makes them so successful? Has there been a time in your own family where you have struggled to hold it together? Do you have a great family but you want to make it better? Then The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey is the book for you!


“With the same profound insight, simplicity, and practical wisdom that have already reached tens of millions of readers, Stephen R. Covey demonstrates how the principles he introduced in The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People can be used to build the kind of strong, loving family that lasts for generations. As Covey says, ‘When you raise your children, you are also raising your grandchildren.

Covey explains that strong families don’t just happen, but need the combined energy, talent, desire, vision, and dedication of all their members. Sharing insightful, often poignant or humorous experiences from his own life and from the lives of other families, he imparts practical advice on solving common family dilemmas, such as finding quality time to spend together, dealing with family disputes, healing a broken relationship, and changing a negative family atmosphere.

He shows how families can learn to incorporate principles into their daily lives through activities, meetings, and games that involve all family members and help to create a spirit of understanding, support, and enthusiasm.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families is destined to become the preeminent work on the family, providing a new benchmark on a very important global topic.” 

My Book Review:

This book is very well written. Even though it’s self help, it’s easy to read and understand. It flows well, and has enough humor and anecdotes to make it an enjoyable read. Covey has included many examples written by people who have implemented the strategies in their own lives. I liked these examples a lot because they help show how the strategies work. They also show that the strategies put forth are practical, useful, and attainable.  This book discusses common sense solutions and talks about the importance of  self -improvement.
I really liked how at the end of each chapter there is a page titled, “Sharing this chapter with adults and teens.” There’s another on how to share the info. with children, which is so helpful. Also listed at the end of each chapter is an action step. It lists 3-4 things you may do with your family to implement the strategy discussed. 
By the time I finished reading this book, I had many pages marked and lots of quotes underlined. Here are a few of my favorites:
Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.
My friend, love is a verb. Love–the feeling–is a fruit of love the verb. So love her. Sacrifice. Lister to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her.
There is a difference between principles (or true north) and our behavior (or direction of travel).
The greatest thing you can do for your children is love your spouse.
Be patient with yourself. Even be patient with your own impatience.
I highly recommend this book. It’s full of examples, humor, and practical advice. I have a great family and family life, but I wanted to make it better. The information in this book helped to do that. I would recommend this book to any individual or family that wants to take a good thing and make it great.

Content Rating GRating: G (Clean!)

Age Recommendation: Great as a family read-aloud. I’d say 12 and up to read alone. This is especially good for parents to read.

4 Star Rating

You may purchase this book here:

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Compliment Quotient by Monica Strobel cheers to eternity by al and ben carraway  The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

(This post contains affiliate links. You don’t pay any extra and I receive a small commission.)

This post was originally published on 4/16/09; updated on 3/15/18.

Book Review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Book Review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

I love inspirational stories, and this one does not disappoint! Wow. The strength and determination of these men inspires me to do better, work harder, and dream bigger. If they can do the impossible, so can I! I hope you enjoy my book review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. 


“Out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times–the improbable, intimate account of nine working-class boys from the American West who at the 1936 Olympics showed the world what true grit really meant. Daniel James Brown’s stirring book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans.
It was an unlikely quest from the start–a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, who first had to master the harsh physical and psychological demands of collegiate rowing and then defeat the East Coast’s elite teams that had long dominated the sport. The emotional heart of the story lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but to find a real place for himself in the world. Plagued by personal demons, a devastating family history, and crushing poverty, Joe knows that a seat in the Washington freshman shell is his only option to remain in college.
The crew is slowly assembled by an enigmatic and determined coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat designer, but it is the boys’ commitment to one another that makes them a winning team. Finally gaining the Olympic berth they long sought, they face their biggest challenge–rowing against the German and Italian crews under Adolf Hitler’s gaze and before Leni Riefenstahl’s cameras at the “Nazi Olympics” in Berlin, 1936. Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals and their vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Daniel James Brown has created a portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest, all in this immensely satisfying book.”

My Book Review:

Wow! The 1936 Olympics have produced some of the best stories I have ever read! First was “Unbroken” about Louis Zampirini. He ran in the 1936 Olympics. That book was so good! Then there’s the story of Jessie Owens. I haven’t read a book about him, but I recently saw the movie “Race,” and Jessie’s story is fantastic too! And then there’s this book. Amazing. Seriously amazing. I loved it! The writing is very well done. It may be nonfiction, but it definitely reads like fiction. The descriptions are beautifully done, and the writing captivates you from the get-go.
Joe Rantz’ story is unbelievable! The circumstances he overcame in his life put him right up there with Louis Zampirini as one of the most inspirational people I’ve read about. Most people would give up and die rather than go through what he did. His so-called parents made me so angry. They are not fit to be called parents. The things they did to him were unconscionable. And yet he survived, and not only survived, but thrived. What an inspiration he is!!
The stories of the other men are also well told and captivating. I loved learning about George Pocock. He has such an interesting story. I never thought I’d enjoy learning about how to make a rowing boat, but he makes it seem so important and interesting. I enjoyed reading all the quotes by Pocock at the beginning of each chapter. This quote by Pocock really speaks to the difficulty of the sport:
“Rowing is perhaps the toughest of sports. Once the race starts, there are no time-outs, no substitutions. It calls upon the limits of human endurance. The coach must therefore impart the secrets of the special kind of endurance that comes from mind, heart, and body.”
I also enjoyed looking at the pictures in the book. I liked that they weren’t all bunched together in the middle, but they were spread here and there throughout the book. One thing I loved was how all these stories showed how trials make people stronger. Usually we just want our lives to be easy, right? Well, look at how strong these men became because their lives were not easy. I think attitudes are a little different now, and that’s unsettling. There seems to be a trend of if it’s not easy I won’t do it. We need more determination and hard work like these men had. I loved this book! I loved the writing, the characters, the story; I loved all of it. Five star ratings are unusual for me, but this one deserves it; I highly recommend this book!

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG 13+ (There is some profanity, but not a lot. There isn’t any “intimacy.” There are, however, a few situations that border on domestic violence. They are difficult to read, and not appropriate for young readers.)


Recommendation: 14 years-old and up.

Rated 5/5 (I don’t give many of those!!)

5 Star Book Review Rating

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the nightingale by kristin hannah The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This review was originally published on 3/21/16; updated on 3/8/18.

12 Amazing World War 2 Books You Can’t Put Down

12 Amazing WWll Books You Can't Put Down

12 Amazing World War 2 Books

Today I thought I’d switch things up a bit!
(I know, it’s unlike me…spring fever maybe??)

My 12 Favorite World War 2 Books

Here are my 12 favorite Wold War 2 Books. Some of them are nonfiction and some of them are fiction; I like both–I can’t help it!
(I didn’t put them in any particular order…Click on the Picture to Read My Review)
1. All The Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
2. The Boys in the Boat
Daniel James Brown
3.  The Monuments Men
Robert M. Edsel
(Ok, this may not have been my favorite book, but the story of what these men did was amazing.)
4. The Book Thief
Markus Zusak
the book thief by markus zusak
5.  Unbroken
Laura Hillenbrand
6.  A Woman’s Place
Lynn Austin
7.  The Diary of Anne Frank
Anne Frank
(I have read this book several times, but not since I started my blog -gasp!- so I don’t have a review….I’ll need to get on that!)
8.  The Hiding Place
Corrie Ten Boom
9.  Man’s Search For Meaning
Viktor E. Frankl
(I have also read and loved this book, but I have not reviewed it….yet!)
10. When The Emperor Was Divine
Julie Otsuka
(I didn’t love this book, but it was VERY eye-opening.)
11.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
12.  The Nightingale
Kristin Hannah
the nightingale by kristin hannah
Each of these World War 2 books highlights a different aspect of World War 2. Some of them are fiction and some of them are nonfiction, but whether it is true or not, each brings a different piece of the war to light. There are people in internment camps, people trying to hide Jews in their homes, and a Japanese-American family inside an internment camp here in the United States. There is a story about what the women in the United States did at home during the war and how they helped the efforts, and there’s a story of how the war affected a little girl and her family in Germany.
I have laughed, cried, gotten angry, and learned so much as I have read these books. I hope they touch you as they have touched me.
Do you have any other favorite World War 2 books? Comment below, I’d love to read them!
Happy Reading!

This post was originally published on 3/31/16; updated on 2/15/18.

[Book Review] Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

[Book Review] Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong


“In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and 27 men sailed from England in an attempt to become the first team of explorers to cross Antarctica. Five months later and still 100 miles from land, their ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. When Endurance broke apart and sank, the expedition survived another five months camping on ice floes, followed by a perilous journey through stormy seas to remote and unvisited Elephant Island. In a dramatic climax to this amazing survival story, Shackleton and five others navigated 800 miles of treacherous open ocean in a 20-foot boat to fetch a rescue ship. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World vividly re-creates one of the most extraordinary adventure stories in history. Jennifer Armstrong narrates this unbelievable story with vigor, and eye for detail, and an appreciation of the marvelous leadership of Ernest Shackleton, who brought home every one of his men alive. With them survived a remarkable archive of photographs of the expedition, more than 40 of which are reported here.”

My Review:

I love this book! It is an amazing story! Seriously amazing, and I think it teaches wonderful lessons about hard work, determination, working together, and great leadership. It is so well written that it reads as fiction. I love the format with the pictures and the maps. I love to just look at the pictures because they capture the moment so well. I look up to Ernest Shackleton because of his great leadership ability. As you’re reading, you know that no one dies, but you can’t believe it!  These men go through so many trials and hardships, and not one of them dies. It is incredible! Ms. Armstrong did a great job with this book and I highly recommend it! I recommend it as a read-aloud and also as a personal read. This book is one of my all-time-favorite nonfiction reads!
 Content Rating PG+

Rating: PG+ (It is clean, but they do suffer through a lot of hardships, some of which are not pleasant to read.)

Age Recommendation: Fifth Grade and up. It is a great read-aloud for home or school, and is also a wonderful book for kids and adults alike to sit down and read. Parents may want to read it first just so they know if it is appropriate for their child.

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown   1776 by David McCullough  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
*This post was first published on 8/8/12, and was updated on 1/10/18.

[Book Review] Snow Crystals by W.A. Bentley and W.J. Humphreys

Snow Crystals by W.A. Bentley

[Book Review] Snow Crystals by W.A. Bentley and W.J. Humphreys


“Did you ever try to photograph a snow flake? The procedure is very tricky. The work must be done rapidly in extreme cold, for even body heat can melt a rare specimen that has been painstakingly mounted. The lighting must be just right to reveal all the nuances of design without producing heat. But the results can be rewarding, as the work of W.A. Bentley proved. For almost half a century, Bentley caught and photographed thousands of snow flakes in his workshop at Jericho, Vermont, and made available to scientists and art instructors samples of his remarkable work. In 1931, the American Meteorological Society gathered together the best of these photomicrographs, plus some slides of frost, glaze, dew on vegetation and spider webs, sleet, and soft hail, and a text by W.J. Humphreys, and had them published. That book is here reproduced, unaltered and unabridged. Over 2,000 beautiful crystals on these pages reveal the wonder of nature’s diversity in uniformity: no two are alike, yet all are based on a common hexagon.”

 My Review:

Since I woke up to at least six inches of snow this morning, I thought this book would be very fitting for today. I love any nonfiction book that captivates and intrigues the reader, especially if that reader is a child. This book does just that. The text at the beginning is too difficult and technical for my girls (9 and 6), but that has not stopped them from pouring over each and every snowflake pictured in this book. When it was due at the library they begged me to renew it because they didn’t want to let it go. It is fascinating! The beginning text is very interesting, yet a bit technical. It talks about the different types of snowflakes and how they are formed, it talks about how Mr. Bentley painstakingly photographed each and every snowflake, and it talks about different natural phenomena like dew, sleet, hail, and frost. I found it intriguing, but I read through it quickly because I couldn’t wait to see all the beautiful pictures. It is amazing how intricate and detailed some of the snowflakes are! I had no idea that some snowflakes look like columns. Yes, they look like actual Roman columns, 3D and everything. There are many different shapes and configurations. No two in the book are the same. My favorite ones are the ones you think of when you think of snowflakes, with many delicate and intricate details. Frost is beautiful too! After reading this book, I can now look outside at all the snow this morning and not only see, but appreciate the beauty in it as well. This book would be fabulous for science teachers, art teachers, photography teachers, and all teachers looking to introduce more nonfiction books into the classroom. It would also be a great addition to any home library. I highly recommend this book.

Content Rating G

Rating: G (Clean!)

Age Recommendation: Everyone! (For a silent read I would say 5th or 6th grade and up to be able to understand the text, but everyone can enjoy the photographs.)


Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong   I'm Possible by Jeff Griffin   Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace
*This post was originally published on 12/29/14; updated on 1/5/18.

[Book Review] Remember the Ladies by Callista Gingrich

Remember the Ladies by Callista Gingrich
Remember the Ladies
Callista Gingrich

Ellis the Elephant is headed back to the White House! In Remember the Ladies, the seventh in Callista Gingrich’s New York Times bestselling series, Ellis meets some of America’s greatest first ladies and discovers their many contributions to American history. Join Ellis as he travels back in time to encounter:
  • Martha Washington as she invents what it means to be a first lady
  • Dolley Madison as she saves a portrait of George Washington from a burning White House
  • Mary Todd Lincoln as she supports Union troops throughout the Civil War
  • Eleanor Roosevelt as she redefines and strengthens the role of first lady
  • Jackie Kennedy as she brings style and glamour to the White House
With beautiful illustrations and charming rhymes, Remember the Ladies will delight young and old alike with a look at the first ladies who helped make America an exceptional nation.
My Review:
This book is so cute! The illustrations are adorable, and I love that it’s teaching the children about the first ladies. I think the first ladies sometimes get overlooked, but many of them have done some great things, and have championed some very important causes. I actually learned a lot! I didn’t know about many of the middle first ladies. I know quite a bit about Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, and then I know quite a bit about the more current first ladies, but I learned a great deal about some of those first ladies in the middle. For example, did you know that Abigail Fillmore added a library to the White House? I’d love to see the library in the White House! And I didn’t know that Jackie Kennedy gave Americans the first televised tour of the White House, or that Lady Bird Johnson worked to clean up America’s highways. This book highlights many of the first ladies, and I love that the title is based on Abigail Adams telling her husband to “remember the ladies!” I think this book does a good job of covering first ladies from both parties. At the end there is a little snippet on each first lady. I was surprised to know that in a few cases the presidents’ wives didn’t want the role, so a daughter or someone else would fill the position. I enjoyed this book and do recommend it.
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: Everyone
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

[Book Review] Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage

Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage
Photo Credit:

Jesus the Christ
James E. Talmage

Blurb (Credit:

Considered one of the all-time great classics of LDS literature, Jesus the Christ is a comprehensive look into the life and ministry of the Savior. Written at the request of the First Presidency by the Apostle James E. Talmage, and penned from an office inside the Salt Lake Temple, this volume is more than a simple outline of the Savior’s life. It presents a far-reaching view of the Savior-including His life in the flesh, His antemortal existence, and His activities across time as the world’s Redeemer. Allow this unparalleled work to enhance your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as it magnifies your understanding of the scriptures.

My Review:

Every once in awhile a book comes along that changes your life. As you read it, the words influence you so much that you will never think the same way about the subject again; you will never be the same. A few books I’ve read in my lifetime have made me feel this way. Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson was one, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo was another. And today I add Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage. It’s hefty, for sure! The edition I read has 793 pages, and it is not an easy read. It took me months to read. James E. Talmage was a very intelligent man, and his vocabulary is off the charts. I had to look up the definitions of many words. It’s strange, because at first it took me forever, but by the end I was in the groove, and his style and language became easier to understand. This is the most comprehensive book on the life and mission of Jesus Christ that I have ever seen. It’s incredible. It begins with why we need a Savior. Then it takes you through many of the prophets of the Old Testament that prophesied about the coming of a Savior. A Messiah. It delves into the lives of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. Talmage takes you step by step through the New Testament and the life of Jesus Christ here on earth. He is very comprehensive in his writing. He discusses Christ’s teachings and miracles. I loved learning about life in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas; who the different groups of people are and how they came to be. The events take on different meanings when you know more about the context in which they happened. Sometimes when I’m reading the parables of Christ I understand their meanings and sometimes I don’t. This book explains them all, and it helped me so much. He goes into detail about the symbolism in the writings of the New Testament, which, once again, is very helpful in finding new meaning in the words on the page. One thing in particular that helped me was learning about the difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and scribes, the Samaritans and the Jews. It was also extremely helpful to learn about the structure of the Roman government in Jerusalem, and who was in power over what. The detail Talmage puts into his description of Jesus Christ’s Atoning sacrifice helps you to understand the importance of this moment. 

 Christ’s agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. The thought that He suffered through fear of death is untenable. Death to Him was preliminary to resurrection and triumphal return to the Father from whom He had come, and to a state of glory even beyond what He had before possessed; and, moreover, it was within His power to lay down His life voluntarily. He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so; for his human organism would have succumbed, and syncope would have produced unconsciousness and welcome oblivion. In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all the horrors that Satan, ‘the prince of this world’ could inflict.

Next, Talmage takes you through Jesus’ arrest and trials before Herod and Pilate. Then he thoroughly discusses Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. At the end, he goes into some detail into the lives of the eleven apostles and what occurred after they were all gone, and he even goes a little into the dark ages. 

This is an amazing book! It takes a long time to get through it, but it’s worth it. It was written by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes known as Mormon or LDS), but anyone wanting a better understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ will benefit from reading this book. I promise it is worth the effort. Your understanding and love for the Savior will grow tenfold. Reading this book changed my perceptions and increased my love and appreciation for my Savior, Jesus the Christ. 

Rating: PG (Clean)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up. (A younger person could read it, as it is taken from the Bible, but Talmage’s language is difficult to understand because of his awesome vocabulary, so I think 16 and up are more likely to understand it.)

Getting To Know FreedomFactor.Org

Today I wanted to take a moment to spotlight:
This is Stan Ellsworth, host of American Ride, and he’s working with Freedom
to teach Americans about our history and help them read the U.S. Constitution. 
This is Freedom’s mission statement:
“We at Freedom Factor have a passion for our American Heritage and want to share it with the world. The United States Constitution is the centerpiece of this heritage. What makes America unique in world history is the emphasis on local government and written Constitutions. Written Constitutions mark ‘a momentous advance in civilization and it is especially interesting as being peculiarly American.’ To keep our civilization advancing we are asking you to do three simple things: Read the U.S. Constitution, get to KNOW it better, and SHARE it with others. Partner with us in our efforts to put a Pocket Constitution into the hand of every American. Let’s together spread the message that protects us, promotes our happiness, and most importantly, brings us together.”
Hear it from Mr. Ellsworth himself (This is the first of many videos that teach U.S. History):

This site is so great! I wish I had known about it sooner!

You can read the U.S. Constitution:

There’s a great audio program that teaches kids about the U.S. Constitution:

And if you create an account there are videos that teach U.S. History:

In American politics right now, it seems like no one agrees on anything, and no one gets along. Many people have a “my way or the highway” attitude; consequently, there aren’t many people on opposite sides of the aisle that work together. Is compromise a word anyone understands any more? When our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, it wasn’t easy. There were differing opinions. There were strong emotions. There weren’t even any examples of what they were trying to accomplish. Years ago I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey. In it, Mr. Covey talks about how there’s something even higher and better than compromise. When people really come together, it’s not just my way, your way, or compromise; there’s a fourth option. You take what person #1 wants and what person #2 wants, and you don’t make either one of them compromise, but you have them come hand in hand and find another option. You create something completely different that fits the needs of both equally. (He gave an example of a young married couple that didn’t have a lot of money. The husband wanted a new sofa, and the wife said that they couldn’t afford one. To make it work, they bought an old sofa at a thrift store and they learned how to reupholster it….they both got what they wanted). That is what is missing in politics today, and I find that disheartening because coming together like that is what brought about the Constitution of the United States of America.

A couple of years ago I was trying to get my teaching license current after letting it expire. I took an American History class, and we talked about the making of the Constitution. I hadn’t read it since high school (oops!). So I took the time to read and study the Constitution. I was amazed at how much I thought I knew, but didn’t really know. There were a few things I thought were included in the Constitution, but aren’t; and there were a few things in the Constitution that I didn’t know were there. I love this project by Freedom because I think it is so important for us as citizens to get back to the basics. We need to read and study our Constitution. We need to talk to each other. We need to discuss our differences in a way that uplifts each other. I think we all really want the same things, we just have different ways of getting there. If we take the time to talk to each other without vilifying or destroying, I think we’ll see that we’re not enemies; in fact, we’re on the same team. Let’s come together, find common ground, and help each other. It all starts with education. The more we learn about how our government works and the more we learn about each other, the more we see each other’s individual worth, the better voters and leaders we become, and that results in a better run government. After all, to quote Abraham Lincoln, this is a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” so the people better know their Constitution!

Disclosure: I did receive a free Pocket Constitution from this organization for providing this spotlight. However, this does not sway my opinion. I think it’s a great organization, and I’m excited to delve more into their site and resources in the future. 

An Unseen Angel

An Unseen Angel
Alissa Parker

“When Alissa Parker lost her daughter Emilie in the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting, she started a life-changing journey to answer soul-searching questions about faith, hope, and healing. As she sought for the peace and comfort that could help mend her broken heart, she learned, step by step, how to open her heart to God’s grace and will. One step brought her face to face with the shooter’s father, where in a pivotal and poignant meeting, she was given an opportunity to forgive. Another step brought her into the sheltering compassion of her community as family, friends, and even strangers reached out to buoy her up with their shared faith. And several miraculous manifestations of Emilie’s continued presence and influence lifted her heart and will validate the faith of every Christian. The story of Alissa and Emilie reminds us that the bonds of love continue beyond this life and that despite tragedy and heartache, we can find strength in our family and our faith.”
My Review:
I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard about the Sandy Hook mass shooting. I was driving around town running errands; I had the radio on when a breaking news story came on. Immediately I turned the station to my local news station, and listened in shock to the details. I was sobbing as I drove; tears streaming down my face. There had been shootings before, and they were horrible, but this, this was beyond that. This was pure evil. When I had the opportunity to review this book I accepted because I was so drawn to that story. I knew it would be difficult to read, but I wanted to hear Alissa’s story. Well, I was correct-this is not an easy book to read. I cried most of the way through it. However, it is well written, touching, and full of faith and hope. Alissa did a very good job of telling the story with all it’s ups and downs, and with its hard days and good days. I liked that she was very real in the book. There are darling pictures of Emilie throughout the book, and it just breaks your heart to recall the tragedy of her death. I think the real story in the book is how Alissa and her family were able to heal and find hope after Emilie’s passing. I loved that she opening spoke of her faith, and how it may have even wavered, but in the end it brought her comfort and peace. I truly believe that we will see our loved ones again, and that hope helped Alissa through the difficult days. Hearing about the small miracles brought me to tears. Even though this is a heartbreaking story to read, I was glad I did. Alissa and her family are truly an inspiration.

Rating: PG-13+ (Although there isn’t an profanity or “intimacy,” she does talk about and describe how her daughter was killed during the school shooting.)

Recommendation: 16-17 years old and up. This may even be too much for some 16 year-olds.

The Magnolia Story

The Magnolia Story
Chip and Joanna Gaines
(with Mark Dagostino)


“Sometimes the messiest stuff and the biggest mistakes can take you someplace wonderful. With the help of their hit TV show, Fixer Upper, the husband and wife team of Chip and Joanna Gaines have transformed the seemingly everyday work of renovating homes and flipping houses in Waco, Texas, into something much more. With their fun personalities, good humor, strong love of family, and unique design style, they’ve managed to capture the hearts of Americans from all walks of life. It all happened so quickly, their ever-multiplying fan base has been left to wonder: Who are these people? Where did they come from What’s the secret to their success? And should I pack up and move to Waco, too? From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together to the project that nearly cost them everything, The Magnolia Story offers a peak behind the curtain of who Chip and Joanna are today. This first book also includes stories and photos from the childhood memories that shaped them and the twists and turns that led them to the life they currently share: on the farm with their four kids and countless farm animals, and in their ever-expanding roles and entrepreneurs, designers, and good neighbors. It also answers (in hilarious detail) the one lingering question that fans of the show always ask: Is Chip really that funny? ‘Oh yeah,’ says Joanna.’ He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.'”
My Review:
I have a confession to make. Yep, you guessed it. I’m an HGTV addict. I may watch a few too many shows on that channel. (When I’m not reading, of course!) Fixer Upper has always been one of my favorites. I think that Chip and Joanna seem so sincere, and you can feel the love they have for each other and their children just radiating through the tv waves. When I saw this book at the library I grabbed it. And now it’s four days late, so I better review it and get it back to the library quick! I really enjoyed this book! It is written from both Joanna and Chip’s perspectives. There are two different fonts representing each of them, and it’s easy to read. The voice they have is great. I love how much importance they put on their family, and the importance they put on their marriage. Their voices in this book are great. They say that individually they are good, but together they make each other stronger, and I love that! They didn’t have perfect childhoods, and not everything has come easy to them, but they work very hard, and they dream big. They have some fun stories from their childhoods, and also from their marriage. The big houseboat surprise is hilarious. I liked that they made it clear that they are not perfect. They have disagreements, they have made a few poor business choices, and they each have areas they need to improve in, but they do their best, they forgive each other, and they always put family first. This book is well written, has a positive voice, and is inspirational. I love that they discuss how God has blessed them, and the miracles they’ve witnessed in their lives. 
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: 5th grade and up (My daughter is in 5th grade, and I’d be fine with her reading it. I don’t really think she’d care to, but it is appropriate.)