[Book Review] Cheers to Eternity by Al and Ben Carraway

cheers to eternity by al and ben carraway

[Book Review] Cheers to Eternity: Lessons We've Learned on Dating and Marriage by Al and Ben Carraway

I have heard Al Carraway speak twice now; the first time I heard her speak, she wasn’t married to Ben yet. She is such an engaging speaker, so I was excited to read and review this book. I hoped it would be as engaging as her talks are.


“Author of the best seller More than the Tattooed Mormon, Al Carraway and her husband, Ben, remind you that marriage isn’t supposed to be ‘serious and hard.’ A successful marriage is one that you build as a team—emphasizing constant communication, working through hard times together, and (above all) remembering to put God first.

Using a wonderfully open dialogue, the Carraways share the funny, embarrassing, and honest lessons and struggles that have shaped their life together.

Written for singles, newlyweds, and marriage veterans, Cheers to Eternity will help you bring new insights into your relationships, keep life in perspective, and make the rest of your life here and in eternity exciting, amazing, and meaningful.”


My Review:

This is a fast, yet engaging, read. The Carraways seem to have a good relationship, and seem to have their priorities straight. I like how they play off of each other, and I like how Ben talks and then Al responds, and vice versa. Sometimes in marriage we see the same situation differently, and you see that come through a few times. There are a few parts where this comes across as very cutesy, bordering on cheesy, but it didn’t bother me too much.

The Carraways haven’t been married very long, and this definitely comes through in their book.  There were a few times I may have rolled my eyes at them; my husband and I have been married just shy of twenty years now, so they don’t have all the experience that comes from time together. However, their marriage has still gone through some difficult struggles, so their opinions are valid. Also, it’s always good to remember what it was like in the early days of your marriage, and to remember what it was that you loved about each other, etc.

Although there isn’t anything in this book that is groundbreaking or especially new, it’s definitely a good reminder. Sometimes we get caught up in the day to day grind, and it’s good to remember to take the time to love each other and put each other’s needs first.

            As you move forward with marriage, it will no longer be about “I” and “Me,” but will always and forever be “Us” and “We.” Let’s not let anything come in the way of loving our spouse and putting them before our selfish desires. It is always better to be kind and understanding than to be right. Let’s lose ourselves in them and, no matter what happens, be there for them. Forgive quickly and always. Every day let’s wake up and think of what we can do to make things easier for them.

I like how they start each chapter with a quote or two on the topic they’re discussing. A few of their discussion topics are: It’s Not About You, Communication, Finance, Intimacy, Expectations, Always Have Time For Love, Affection, and Doing Hard Things Together. There is definitely a religious overtone to this book; Al and Ben Carraway are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes known as Mormon or LDS). They are Christian, and they just talk about how in marriage you also need to put God first.

Even though I’ve been married for many years longer than the Carraways have, it was good to hear their perspective. I may not have learned anything new in their book, but it’s always a good reminder of what we should be doing. If you’re dating or a newlywed then I would definitely recommend this book. If you’ve been married for awhile, like I have, then it’s still a good read. Trying to improve your marriage is never a bad thing, right?


Content Rating RRating: R (There’s no profanity and no violence. However, it is all about marriage, and “intimacy” is a part of that. They don’t shy away from the topic.)

Age Recommendation: Adult 


 3.5/5 Stars 3.5 Star Rating


Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

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

[Book Review] Overcoming and Avoiding Illness by James Lilley

Overcoming and Avoiding Illness by James Lilley

[Book Review] Overcoming and Avoiding Illness by James Lilley

James Lilley approached me last fall to review his book Overcoming and Avoiding Illness. At the time, my son had been sick for a very long time, and we still didn’t have a diagnosis. I agreed to read his book in hopes of finding help for my son. Before I was able to read his book, however, my son spent a couple nights in the hospital, where he finally received a diagnosis. Although the information in this book didn’t end up helping in that particular situation, James Lilley has a lot of great information about how to overcome and avoid illness; he’s definitely done his research!


“Based on six years of research this is the remarkable story of one man’s obsession to overcome serious illness. When doctors failed him, James Lilley succeeded by applying common sense and an extraordinary level of dogged persistence.

Inside you’ll find the strategies he used to rebuild his own health brick-by-brick. Covering more topics than a Swiss army knife, these techniques are easy to implement and apply to a wide range of ailments.

With an exceptional ability to breakdown the complex, James shares his many insights using a blend of empathy and humor. This is an inspiring story which will open your eyes to a whole new way of thinking about wellness.

This isn’t just another hyped up health book designed to look good sitting on the shelf, it’s an empowering, comprehensive, problem solving tool. ~James Lilley

In every sense of the word, this is a truly independent book. There was never any slick marketing campaign or big launch date to draw on. It’s actually quite remarkable that you even found this book or perhaps this book found you.”

My Review:

As I stated previously, my son was super sick for most of last year. He’s still not fully recovered, but has come a very long way. Life is almost back to normal, although it is something he will probably always deal with in some way. James Lilley reached out to me in the middle of all of the craziness, so I was excited to read his story and see what he was able to do to overcome his illness. He spent many years researching solutions to his health problems, and it definitely shows; this book is packed with information!

For the most part, I liked his writing style; it’s easy to read, humorous, and casual. He does use quite a bit of profanity, which I didn’t love or think necessary, but that’s just my opinion. Mr. Lilley does have a knack for taking difficult medical terms and procedures, and making them easy to understand. He includes advice that is very common sense like eating your vegetables every day and good nutrition, but then he’ll add something about testing your blood’s acidity levels or detoxifying the metals in your body. There are some very in-depth and technical things that he advises, and a lot of them are things I’ve never heard of.

I liked reading his story. The one about how he was so sick that he had to be in a wheelchair, and now because of these strategies he’s walking again. I wished that there had been more of that story because I felt at times that it was just a huge information dump. It would have been great if he had included how doing each of those individual things had helped him overcome his illness. Something to the affect of, “Doing A helped decrease this…” or “After six months of doing B, I started to see this…” Without those little pieces of information, I was left feeling overwhelmed with all the information.

James Lilley put many years into this research, and there is so much to learn from his book. On the one hand, I trust him because he has read and researched for many years, but on the other hand, he’s not officially a doctor. What I decided to do was to take what he said, and if I thought it would help or I liked the concept, then I would talk to my doctor and research it myself as well.  By doing this, I feel it’s a good compromise.

One little nitpicky thing that annoyed me was the cover. Mr. Lilley put an acronym on the cover. The acronym is: What’s The Formula? Well, as we all know, that acronym is used in texting to say something very different.  I didn’t feel comfortable with that acronym big and bright on the cover of a book that I read in front of my children and took to many different places, so I took a sharpie and covered it up. I know it’s little, but sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference.

Overall, I thought this book was okay. There is a ton of information; some of it seems great, and other things seem kind of way out there. I wish he had connected the dots more along the way, but if you’re looking for information on how to overcome or avoid illness, this could be a very good resource for you.

Content Rating R

Rating: R (There is a lot of medical jargon and quite a bit of profanity.)

Age Recommendation: Adult

3 Star Rating

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

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:


Gilbert Ohanian

“Is there a bully in your life that you don’t know how to deal with? I had one too. It prompted me to write ‘Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied,’ a book outlining practical strategies for defending against bullies and resolving the conflict and aggression that often plagues victims of bullying. Inside these pages, I will take you through my own harrowing journey with bullies–from boarding school beat-ups, to violent attacks from crazed skinheads on the streets of London, to bullies in a public school of America. In each chapter a reflection of my personal story will show you what I did wrong, and how you can actually defend yourself in this modern day and age.”
My Review:
Bullying is something that, as a teacher, I do not put up with. As a mom, I don’t put up with it. There’s definitely a zero tolerance policy on bullying in my house. However, a couple of my kids have been bullied at school. My children have been physically harmed, and they have been verbally and emotionally bullied as well. Our school does have a zero bullying policy, but it’s not always easy to see happening when it’s verbal or emotional. When I have brought it up with principals and teachers they have taken it seriously and it has stopped. It’s not as easy when the kids are in junior high, so it’s been more difficult to take care of there. Anyway, I’m telling you this to let you know that I am no stranger to bullying. I think it is a topic that needs to be discussed continually with children at home and at school. This is a very important subject, and so I was glad to hear from Mr. Ohanian about reviewing his book. His story is tragic. It broke my heart to read about everything he went through during his childhood. There were definitely things that his school leaders could have done differently to help him, and there were things that he also could have done differently, but looking back doesn’t change anything. What happened, happened. I’m glad that he was brave enough to speak out and tell his story. It’s important for people to read about and understand the dynamics of bullying. There are some good aspects to this book. Speaking out against bullying is always important and beneficial. He gives some good ideas on how to deal with bullies, and he writes about the things he could have handled differently. Those are all good things. Reading about his story will definitely help others to speak out against bullying. Unfortunately, this book needs to be edited. A lot. It’s written from the heart, but he discusses several situations that are not relevant to the story at all. Also, it may be written from the heart, but there are many grammatical errors and portions of the book that do not flow well or transition well. One other thing that bothered me was that he is not a psychologist or doctor. I understand that he lived through these situations, but I wasn’t sure if the advice he gives in the book is just his philosophy or if it’s sound advice from bullying experts. Does that make sense? He does cite many articles in this book, so I know that he did research into best practices. I hesitate to state these things because he has endured a lot of criticism in his life, and I don’t want to add to that. It is a very sad story, and I feel terrible that he had to endure such hardships in his life. I think this book has a lot of potential, and I hope that he will find a great editor and publish a second edition.  
Rating: PG+ (There is no profanity or “intimacy,” except for maybe a brief kiss. There is a lot of violence in this book. He is beaten-up, harassed, and bullied. Some of the stories are difficult to read because of how harsh they are.)
Recommendation: 13 years-old and up (YA)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

[Book Review] I’m Possible by Jeff Griffin

I'm Possible by Jeff Griffin

I’m Possible 


Jeff Griffin


“The sun’s rays filtered in from the partially opened shades of the plane. They lit up the world in front of me and warmed my soul, knowing I was almost to my destination. The beautiful golden light replaced the grey and hazy cobwebs from my eyes, revealing the most spectacular scene I had ever seen in my entire life. I looked out the small seven-inch window and witnessed something that I’ll never forget! I beheld something in this magnificent world that the majority of people never get to see. I was looking out at Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak! I was at the tail end of a three-flight journey with two layovers in between, nearly logging twenty-four hours of flight time. I hadn’t gotten any real sleep in the last thirty-six hours. My bloodshot eyes were heavy, my mind was slow and sluggish, and my body was even slower in response. How did I get here? I thought to myself. Am I d-r-e-a-m-i-n-g? As Lao and Confucius once said, “A journey of one-thousand miles begins with one step.” My story is about inspiring you to take your own journey one step at a time. It’s about dreaming and accomplishing the impossible. It’s not only about aiming for the sky and reaching for the stars but enjoying the journey along the way. Begin your personal journey today, press forward to the top, and don’t you ever stop. As you move toward your dreams, there will be obstacles and setbacks along the way; don’t be afraid. You can get to the top of your world by following the signs and guide posts within these pages. You can do it with others! You can do it with me! We can do it together, one step at a time!”

My Review:

Wow. What a story! The story of Jeff Griffin from his accident to his lengthy recovery, and to his life since, is pure inspiration! He has overcome more obstacles in his lifetime than many people even dream of, and yet he still has a positive attitude. I can’t even imagine. Truly, it’s remarkable. Reading about Jeff’s accident was so scary. I kept picturing his fall. Over and over. I couldn’t read the hospital parts where he was describing the different surgeries and procedures; I skipped those because I didn’t want to pass out on my couch. Ouch! Even during those difficult days in the hospital he tried to find the positives in the situation, and that would be so hard to do! I like that he not only points out the things he did right, but he also shows that he isn’t perfect and that even he threw a little pity-party one day. I like the way the book is set up with mile markers as “chapters,” and little bits of advice with goals you can set for yourself. Jeff has a good voice. It’s easy to follow and understand, and he pulls you in with his humor and easy-going attitude. If you need a pick-me-up, this book is for you! It helps you put your problems into perspective, and give you a little push to do better and try harder.

The one thing I had a hard time with in this book was the grammar. There are many grammatical errors, and it was a bit distracting. Hopefully those will be fixed in following editions. It is clean, but there are discussions of adult issues like having children when you’re paralyzed. It doesn’t go into great detail, but be aware that it is there. There isn’t any profanity or violence, but the scene of the accident is difficult to read. There is a Christian slant to the book, but it is not preachy and people of all faiths (or not faiths) will enjoy it.

The Following is an Interview With the Author Sent to Me by the Publicist

Author Bio-

Jeff Griffin is a wheelchair athlete who earned his
Master’s degree in Education and knows how to win.  He played in the 2004 Athens Olympics, holds a
Guinness Book of World Records, and is a four time NWBA All-Star MVP.  He enjoys mentoring youth, distributing
wheelchairs, and providing Peer Training Materials through his humanitarian
efforts with LDS Charities. He is
passionate about progress.
1.) What inspired you
to write I’Mpossible?
–  My book is
all about accomplishing the impossible and the journey we must take to fulfill
our dreams.  When I got to college the
professor had all 150 of his students write a paragraph on a certain topic and
hand it in.  The next day he called six students’ names in the classroom and had them go to back of the room.  They were told in semi-private terms that
they needed to take a remedial class so they could get caught up.  I was one of those six! I didn’t know it at
the time but it was the best thing that could have happened to me.  I learned the basics of writing. I had a
personal experience with a professor that cared about what I had inside my mind
and heart.  He was someone who wanted me
to learn how to express and share my own ideas and stories.  He taught me that the impossible was
possible.  He helped plant a seed of hope
in the field of stories.  I now love to
lounge around in the world of words! This
class and professor helped liberate me from the chains of doubt and
discouragement.   In return I hope to
inspire millions to take their own first step towards their own dreams and
desires with my personal story from trying to tragedy to triumph.  My joy and happiness comes from helping
others break free and see there is more to life than what we see!   
2.) What is the main
message of your book?
  The main
message of I’mPossible is that we are all faced with a mountain of trials and
more often than not, we listen to those around us and think that our personal
trials are too big or too tough to overcome. That is just not true. In the
introduction of the book I write, “I understand that more than likely you don’t
have the same problem as me but I believe we all have a handicap or a Mt.
Everest to climb in some area of our lives. Nobody is perfect, no matter how much you want to believe it!  Your handicap could be a mental disability
that pains you beyond comprehension.  It
could be something that we have been suffering for days, months, and or even
years. It could be a social handicap
that paralyzes us when we’re out in public or inside our private walls. It could be a physical handicap like my own
where others can instantly see what our problem is without being able to hide
it. Unlike other disabilities that are
more personal which can be kept from others and hidden for a very long time. Your Mt. Everest could even be a spiritual
handicap that we refuse to acknowledge. Or perhaps it could be something we have been struggling with for a very
long time and we are having a very hard time overcoming it. Whatever your individual handicap is, it can
be conquered! These disabilities can be
either debilitating or liberating. They can hold us back or lift us up. They can remain our weakness or they can become
our strengths.   I hope by sharing my
story of big dreams, grave disappointments, and euphoric triumphs it can help
in some small way to lift you closer to the light that lifts.  With each passing mile marker along the journey
we can learn from our experiences or be lost for them.  I have found peace in the pain and joy in the
journey.  I hope you can find some too,
as you embark on your own journey within the pages of this book.  Remember; there are no excuses when it comes
to success!  You’repossible!” 
3.) How can your
message help other people?  
understand that my message will not resonate with everyone, but I do know from
experience that when I see or read about someone else who overcomes great odds
or challenges it gives me hope.  I’m
motivated to be better, to do more, and to give more.  It shows me that if someone else can do hard
things then I too can overcome hard and impossible things.  Not only that, but that life can be cherished
and enjoyed even with hardships and heartache.  My message is a raw exposure to my heart and
4.) What makes your
book different than other motivational books?
– I tried to make my book a
little different by not only telling a heroic story but also giving some
obvious and not so obvious clues on how to climb and overcome your own
challenge of life.  Whether it is
physical, mental, social, or intellectual I believe there is a way to
accomplish the impossible.  There are
guide posts instead of chapters and there is an invitation for every reader to
think about certain areas of his or her life, and other places to take action
with those thoughts. 
The invitations are not overwhelming and may seem too simple, but if
followed, they will change your life.  I
tried to make it clear and simple but powerful! 

Rating: PG+ (Graphic accident scene and discussions of having children while paralyzed)

Age Recommendation: 12 and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:
Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace   Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong   The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton
*This post was originally posted on 5/5/16, and was updated on 1/10/18.

Will My Child Be Ready?

Will My Child Be Ready? by Emily Freeman and Merrilee Boyack

“A missionary’s training does not begin when he or she enters the doors of the MTC. Well before that, each missionary’s mother can begin laying the groundwork that will prepare her child to diligently and wholeheartedly serve the Lord and His children. Mothers have an immeasurable influence and a significant responsibility in raising up young men and women who are prepared to do the work of the Lord. The good news: that responsibility can begin wherever you and your child are on the path of preparation. Whether your child is two, eight, or eighteen, this unique resource written by mothers who have sent children on missions (and some who have also served as mission presidents’ wives) will help you build the foundation of faith, endurance, and hard work that every missionary needs.”
My Review:
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (you may have heard of it as the Mormon Church or LDS Church). When our young men turn 18 they are encouraged to serve  a two year mission. When our young women turn 19 they may also serve a mission, but it is up to each young woman to decide if she would like to go. Young women serve for eighteen months. Missionaries go out across the world to teach people about our church. They pay their own way. Missionaries serve because they love God and His Son Jesus Christ, and they want to share the message of our church. I don’t always review church books because I don’t want it to seem like my blog is too churchy or preachy. However, I have two sons and two daughters, and some of them may choose to serve  missions someday, and I want them to be ready if they do. So, I decided to review this one. 
At first as I was reading this book I began to get overwhelmed and stressed over everything I wasn’t doing that they said I should be doing. I didn’t serve a mission when I was younger, so I sometimes feel like I don’t know what I need to prepare my children for. I talked to my husband about some of it, and he calmed my fears. He let me know that it’s okay. This is a great guideline, and can be a huge help, but not to get too worried about it because look at what we are doing. We are doing a lot of things right. It made me feel a lot better, and I enjoyed reading the rest of the book. It is written by different women who are mothers, mission presidents’ wives, and some who have served missions of their own. It’s well written, easy to understand, and is full of real-life examples. I loved reading their stories. When you think about it, a lot of what they suggest is stuff we should be doing anyway: saying daily individual and family prayers, family and individual scripture reading, weekly Family Home Evening (Monday nights are set aside as family time where we spend time as a family having fun and learning about the Gospel), church attendance, and teaching our children how to cook, do laundry, etc. A lot of what they say is to make sure our children know how to live on their own by knowing how to cook, how to do their own laundry, how to handle finances, how to work hard, and even how to ride a bike (a lot of missionaries ride bikes around). One of their main points is teaching our children how to live without their technology, which is difficult for many youth today. In the end, I found this to be a really good resource. If I try and check off every box I will make myself crazy, but I’m glad to have a framework and an idea of what I need to do. In some areas I could pat myself on the back, and then on others I have major work to do. This book is well written, with lots of personal stories and examples, and I enjoyed it. I may not be perfect (I know you’re all shocked, right…..I am not perfect??? What??), but at least I have an idea of what I need to work on. I would recommend this book to any mother who may someday have a child serve a mission. 
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: 13 and up. It’s written for mothers, but I don’t think it would hurt for future missionaries themselves to read it. 
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
*If you would like to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) then you may click the link on the left sidebar or visit: www.mormon.org.

Peer Pressure vs. True Friends (Surviving Junior High)

Peer Pressure vs. True Friends (Surviving Junior High) 
     by Dr. Orly Katz
Blurb (Taken from an email sent to me by the author):
The book deals with everyday issues such as: self esteem, peer pressure Vs. true friend, body language intuition & leadership, positive thinking, and more…And include true life stories about growing up with tips, helpful rules, Illustrations, simple to do exercises and fun ‘test yourself’ questionnaires.”

My Review:

This is a great book to help teenagers deal with all the pressures of life and school at that age. It is written to help children take control of their environment, to not be victims, to stand up for themselves, and to feel confident about themselves. It does say ages 12-16, but I would recommend that parents read it first to see where if their child is ready. The lessons that are taught in this book are so relevant and so needed today. Every student will benefit from reading this book. I love that it teaches teenagers how to say “no” to bad situations, and I also love how it helps kids learn and understand the consequences of some of their actions. Dr. Katz does have a chapter on the internet and how to use it properly, or what can happen if you use it improperly, and I think this one might be the most important. With the invention of the internet, bullying, spreading lies and rumors, and many other situations are so much worse than they were when I was a teenager. Now those lies can be spread to hundreds of people in a matter of seconds, and they will always be out there. Yes, that internet chapter is very important. I think this book is greatly needed today; it is a great resource for parents and teachers alike. 

There are a couple of examples in this book that may make a few parents uncomfortable with their 12 year-old reading them. I have a soon-to-be seventh and eighth grader, and I thought a lot about it. In the end I decided that I probably will discuss the situations with them. I guess there is a lot of stuff out there and I’d rather them be prepared. I will not have them read the book alone, though, I will be reading and discussing it with them. One of these examples is of a girl who gets asked to prom and her date asks her which hotel she wants to stay at after. They would be spending the rest of the prom night together, alone, in the hotel room. The word is never used, and what they would actually be doing there is never discussed, but kids will know what she is talking about. (At first I did not want my sons reading this, but the more I thought about it, the more I decided that they probably should. The prom is not relevant to them yet, but I know that kids are being “intimate” at very young ages, so I do think it is a lesson that they should hear….very supervised though.) The other situation is when there is a pool party and a very well endowed girl has a huge wardrobe malfunction and her whole, large, breast comes out of her bathing suit for everyone to see. (I was really against my two sons reading this story at first, but we go to the public pool sometimes, and really, it could happen. The lesson taught with the story is very important, and I think it is probably good for them to think about what they would do in a situation like that before it happens.) 

Overall, I think this is book has some valuable lessons in it that teenagers need to hear. It is well written; it is not condescending, but it is written on their level. I think kids will relate to her examples and her writing style. I recommend this book to all young adults.

Rating: PG+ (This book is clean, but discusses some very sensitive topics. “Intimacy” is discussed in a round-about way, and it does talk about a girl’s breast hanging out of her bathing suit.

Recommendation: Junior high and up. I do recommend that parents read and discuss it with their children.

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

Peer Pressure vs True Friends (Surviving Primary School)

Peer Pressure vs. True Friends (Surviving Primary School) 
     by Dr. Orly Katz

Blurb (Taken from an email sent to me by the author):
The book deals with everyday issues such as: self esteem, peer pressure Vs. true friend, body language intuition & leadership, positive thinking, and more…And includes true life stories about growing up with tips, helpful rules, Illustrations, simple to do exercises and fun ‘test yourself’ questionnaires.”

My Review:

This is a great book for elementary school children. It is written to help children take control of their environment, to not be victims, to stand up for themselves, and to feel confident about themselves.  It says ages 9-13, which is about 3rd to 7th grade; I would feel comfortable reading it with my seven-year-old, who is going into second grade. This book is well written, and is written in a way that kids will relate to. It doesn’t talk down to the children, yet it is written on their level so they will understand.  Dr. Katz uses many examples of situations that may occur in elementary school and how to handle them. I love the chapter about saying “no” to things if they will put us in bad situations. I also enjoyed the chapter on Energy Drains. I think it is really good for kids to know the difference between tattling and reporting. When I was teaching I hated the endless, “He did this…” or “She did that…” My students knew I did not like tattling. My kids know the same thing now. However, reporting things like abuse or bullying is a completely different story, and it’s so important for children to know the difference. These are just a couple of examples of what is discussed in this book. I think it is a great resource for parents and teachers alike. I will definitely be reading it to my children. It will be a good way to open the door for discussion on each of these topics. I think as parents we sometimes struggle with how to discuss the hard stuff, and this book makes it a lot easier. It could be read silently by the children, but I think it’s one that will be more effective if parents read it with their children. There are questions at the end of the chapters for the children to answer to find out where they stand on each issue, and I think it could be eye-opening for some children. I highly recommend this book. 

Rating: PG (Totally clean! It does discuss some difficult topics though.)

Recommendation Second grade (about 7 year-old) and up

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

Gift From The Sea

Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“In this inimitable, beloved classic–graceful, lucid and lyrical–Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. Drawing inspiration from the shells on the shore, Lindbergh’s musings on the shape of a woman’s life bring new understanding to both men and women at any stage of life. A mother of five, an acclaimed writer and a pioneering aviator, Lindbergh casts an unsentimental eye on the trappings of modernity that threaten to overwhelm us: the time-saving gadgets that complicate rather than simplify, the multiple commitments that take us from our families. And by recording her thoughts during a brief escape from everyday demands, she helps readers find a space for contemplation and creativity within their own lives. With great wisdom and insight Lindbergh describes the shifting shapes of relationships and marriage, presenting a vision of life as it is lived in an enduring and evolving partnership. A groundbreaking, best-selling work when it was originally published in 1955, Gift from the Sea continues to be discovered by new generations of readers.”
I haven’t ever read a book quite like this. It’s been around for a long time, and I had never even heard of it until my book group decided to read it this month. It’s a fast, easy read, but the implications of it are not an easy fix. It’s funny because she wrote this a long time ago, yet it rings true today; probably even more than it did then. Ms. Lindbergh was able to take a two week vacation, away from her husband and children, to write this book. She recommends it to every woman. Yeah, right! There is no way I could just up and spend two weeks by myself on the ocean shore without my family. It’s hard enough to find time to spend on a family vacation. So, some of her advice is great, but not very practical. Of course it’s easy to figure things out when you have that much time all by yourself with none of the demands of children or husband calling your name every few minutes! I’m sure I could figure out lots of things if that were the case; however, a lot of the advice she gives is actually really good. She says that we women need to simplify our lives. We need to get rid of distractions and find ourselves. I agree with her. Yes, we do! But how do we do that today? It’s something every woman needs to find for herself, there is no magical wand. She says we need to make ourselves a priority, which we probably do. Unfortunately, that is difficult because so many things seem to be more pressing than time for me. I enjoyed her descriptions of the shells and how she related them to different times in a woman’s life. I liked a lot of what she said. The problem was, she never really said how to accomplish it, or if she accomplished it when she arrived home to her husband and five children. If nothing else, it was a good reminder to try and take some time for myself once in awhile, and try to simplify as much as possible. Also, it was a great reminder to live in the now; to enjoy life as it is today and not just bide my time until that “someday” happens. Life isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey, right? Sometimes that is hard to remember. Even though the answers are not clean, I would recommend this book to every mother. It won’t solve all your problems, but it’s a nice break from the busy-ness of life and motherhood, and it might help you at least get the thought process started on how to achieve simplification and enjoy life today.
Rating: PG-13+ (There isn’t any profanity or violence, but there is talk of “intimacy” in the marriage relationship. It’s not graphic or detailed, but it is discussed because it is an important part of a marriage.)
Recommendation: Adult (It is written for adult women, and I think they will enjoy it most)

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
Donalyn Miller is a dedicated teacher who says she has yet to meet a child she couldn’t turn into a reader. In The Book Whisperer, Miller takes us inside her 6th grade classroom to reveal the secrets of her powerful but unusual instructional approach. Rejecting book reports, comprehension worksheets, and other aspects of conventional instruction, Miller embraces giving students an individual choice in what they read combined with a program for independent reading. She also focuses on building a classroom library of high-interest books, and above all, on modeling appropriate and authentic reading behaviors. Her zeal for reading is infectious and inspiring, and the results speak for themselves. No matter how far behind Miller’s students may be when they start out, they end up reading an average of 40 books per year, achieve high scores on standardized tests, and internalize a love for reading that lasts long after they’ve left her class.
My review:
Where was this book 14 years ago when I taught my cute little first graders? I LOVE this book! It is my personal teaching philosophy all rolled up into one nice, neat package. Seriously! I love her ideas, her structure, her philosophy, her library, all of it. Ms. Miller focuses on reading for reading instruction. Her goal is to help kids love to read and to be life-long readers, and she does it by allowing them to actually read. I was definitely what she calls an underground reader in school. I would read the book we were reading in class, finishing it in a few days or a week, and then I’d have to sit through weeks of awful lectures and lessons and picking the book apart before the class finally finished. By then I’d probably read three or four other books. I hated reading books as a class. I hated that it took so long. I hated trying to find the meanings of each and every sentence. I wanted to scream, “I don’t care, just let me read!” And that is what Ms. Miller does. She lets them read. Awesome. Even though this book is geared toward teachers, parents can learn a lot from it as well. I highly recommend it to all my teacher friends, and when I go back to teaching, this will be my top priority! Love, love, love this book!!!
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: High school and up. This would be great for high school/college students who want to go into teaching. Every teacher should read this book!

[Book Review] Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace

Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace
Photo Credit: goodreads.com



Noelle Pikus Pace


“Where are your choices leading you? Regardless of our circumstances, each moment presents us with decisions to make. It doesn’t matter what question, trial, or success we experience–each traces back to a choice. At any given moment, we can choose to doubt, fear, worry; to be prideful, angry, depressed, or miserable–or we can choose to be a light. We can choose to be happy. The choice is always ours, and each choice can be a step forward on the path of life we want for ourselves. The life lessons learned by Olympic athlete Noelle Pikus Pace can equip each of us to turn daily choices and challenges into opportunities for growth. In her warm and relatable style, Noelle shares touching personal stories and teaches how these experiences can help us keep a healthy perspective on the things that matter most. She helps us to see that though all of our goals and trials are different, we each can choose to become the best versions of ourselves one day at a time.”

My Review:

What an inspiring woman! Wow! I loved this book! I love how positive her message is. Her writing style is fun and light, even when discussing some difficult situations. She has the ability to take hard things and make them better. I am always telling my children that they have the choice to make each day a great one or a miserable one, and I’m glad I finally have someone to back me up on this! I love her message and think it is so needed today. We don’t need to be victims. We don’t need to let what happens in the world or in our lives bring us down, we get to choose to make it better. I enjoyed reading about her life leading up to her Olympic dream, and thought that her goal setting suggestions were right on. I love that she says to dream big and then work hard to make that dream happen. Her message of having integrity hit home. Be yourself. Stand up for yourself and your standards or your values. Be honest. I liked this quote, 
I know who I am and what I stand for regardless of what others say or think. 
Skeleton is just a sport. My integrity is everything. 
There are a lot of great quotes in this book. I think I’m going to copy some of them and put them in my kids’ rooms. I am also going to have my boys (13 and 11) read this book. I know she’s a girl, but the message is fabulous for both boys and girls. And, the good thing is, it’s great for everyone, not just athletes. The message applies to every aspect of our lives. I highly recommend this book! Reading it makes you feel like you can conquer the world (or at least achieve your goals)!
There is a slightly religious undertone to this book, which didn’t bother me at all. She quotes some scripture and some religious leaders (she also quotes nonreligious leaders and has a bunch of nonreligious poems). It isn’t about religion, and it’s not preachy at all, she just uses the scriptures and quotes to emphasize her points. I don’t think it matters if you are religious or not, this book has such a positive and uplifting message that it’s great for everyone. I definitely recommend this book!

Rating: G (Clean!)

Age Recommendation: Fifth grade and up as a silent read. First grade and up as a read-aloud. I’m going to read it to my daughters (6 and 9), and I think they’ll understand it just fine. There are a few things I’ll need to explain to them (miscarriage is one thing that comes to mind), but I want them to hear the message.

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

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

I'm Possible by Jeff Griffin   The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton   The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

*This post was originally posted on 10/6/14, and was updated on 1/10/18.