Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Monster at Recess by Shira C. Potter

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

Meet misfit Sophie, too used to being bullied at Grey Stone Day School. Her classmates Julia and Molly tease her to no end and her teacher, Mrs. Cook ignores the bullying.
The playground at Grey Stone has a special secret though: it's shared with the students of a monster school! Craving acceptance and diversity, and trying to defeat her feelings of fear towards these strange and colorful monsters, Sophie bravely steps into the unknown and meets a little monster at recess--and makes her first friend. Through her friendship with the monster, she develops stronger feelings of self-confidence and self-esteem.

My thoughts-

I remember growing up in the late 80's and early 90's that there was always a group of kids no matter what school I went to who would ostracize the other kids from their world. 
Maybe it was because the other kids weren't playing sports like them, or maybe it was because they looked different, or maybe even because they didn't grow up in that place their whole lives that these kids wouldn't be friends with you. I never understood this as a kid. I always tried to interact with all of the other kids, but I found myself on the rejected end of things every now and then and that is so difficult for a kid. Fast forward to current day and I have seen with my own eyes my own kid get bullied by other kids. Yes, you read that right, I have seen a kid say mean things to her with me standing there right next to her. It is one thing to not include a kid in your group, I totally get not everyone can be friends with everyone), but I do not understand why the bullying epidemic has become as bad as it has. The Monster At Recess is a children's book that I think should be in the hands of every kid. This book should be in every young elementary classroom from Kindergarten to Second Grade. It is a short book, but makes a great point about how it doesn't matter how someone else looks or how different we are from each other, that we can still get along, and even be friends. I don't  know what the answer to the bullying epidemic is, but I think books like this one are a great start.





Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Keto Slow Cooker & One-Pot Meals (Bookbook Reviews)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

Slow cooker and one pot meals are the ultimate convenience food. Just fix and forget, then enjoy a nourishing meal when everyone gets home.

Unfortunately, most slow cooker and one-pot recipes depend on processed, high-carbohydrate ingredients like noodles, potatoes, and other high-glycemic ingredients which aren’t allowed on the ketogenic diet.
Keto Slow Cooker & One-Pot Meals lets you enjoy your slow cooker while maintaining your ketogenic diet, too!
Filled with 100 keto recipes for everything from satisfying soups, to quick skillet meals, and savory stews, you'll always be able to get a healthy ketogenic meal on the table with no fuss!

My thoughts-

I am always looking for ways to diversify the ketogenic diet that I follow. This, for me, has been the absolute best way to not only lose weight, but feel and look healthier. Keto Slow Cooker & One-Pot Meals is a great addition to my cookbook collection. I like that there is a healthy mixture of foods from all kinds of different regions. I love a variety of foods, and like recipes like chicken tikka masala, and moussaka. It is easier to eat well when you have a variety of delicious options! I also like that the nutrition facts are listed, particularly the fat and fiber which are both extremely important to track or at least have an idea of when eating this way. Particularly of note is the dessert section, which is full of delicious ways to conquer my sweet tooth without compromising the Keto way of life. I highly recommend this cookbook to anyone following any kind of low carbohydrate diet. 








Picturing Heaven: 40 Hope-filled Devotions with Coloring Pages

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own.

About the book-

Foster a deeper connection with God through coloring! Picturing Heaven is a unique coloring book featuring 40 illustrations to help you imagine the beauty of heaven, each accompanied by a devotion by Randy Alcorn, who writes frequently on the topic of heaven. Featuring metallic gold accents, lay-flat binding, and bright white paper.

My thoughts-

I think with the climate of today's society, many of us long for Heaven. There are definitely moments of high stress and anxiety for me within my own family life, and in life over all and sometimes I just need something to calm my nerves and remind me what awaits. Picturing Heaven is a great devotional focusing completely on Heaven. It is uplifting with wonderful Bible verses and has great reminders that our big picture is paradise with God. The gold and black color scheme of the pages are absolutely gorgeous and I love that Randy Alcorn has combined a devotional book with the calming art of coloring, which makes for a very peaceful experience. Picturing Heaven is the perfect gift to pair with gel pens or some nice colored pencils!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sadia by Colleen Nelson (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

Sadia wishes life in high school was as straightforward as a game of basketball

Fifteen-year-old Sadia Ahmadi is passionate about one thing: basketball. Her best friend Nazreen, on the other hand, wants to get noticed by the popular crowd and has started de-jabbing, removing her hijab, at school every morning. Sadia’s mom had warned her that navigating high school could be tricky. As much as she hates to admit it, her mom was right.

When tryouts for an elite basketball team are announced, Sadia jumps at the opportunity. Her talent speaks for itself. Her head scarf, on the other hand, is a problem; especially when a discriminatory rule means she has to choose between removing her hijab and not playing. Nazreen, Sadia’s parents, and her teammates all have different opinions about what she should do. But it is Sadia who has to find the courage to stand up for herself and fight for what is right — on and off the court.

My thoughts-

When I want something quick to read I always look to Young Adult novels. I love the quick pace of them, but also that they are usually full of emotion. I wanted to read Sadia because it was a perspective of someone different from me, and I think that diversifying your reading can help you be a more understanding person. I thought the author did a great job of letting us see high school and the world through Sadia's eyes. Her parents are pretty laid back for Muslims (I grew up in a house with a pretty strict Muslim step parent), but shows that just like in any religion there are varying degrees of personality through her two Muslim friends. I also liked that the author touched on the crisis going on in Syria. It is good to expose kids and young adults to current events. I loved that basketball was Sadia's passion, and enjoyed seeing her team have her back when she ran into some problems with rules and regulations, but I absolutely loved the side plot about the photography and passion projects. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA fiction or anyone who may want to step into someone else's shoes for a few hours via Sadia's story.

T-H-B by Randy C. Dockens (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Buoyancy PR in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

Luke has his dream job being an astrophysicist at the Houston Aeorspace Engineering Center preparing for the upcoming Mars mission. He even has a blooming romance with Sarah, a physician where he works.  Life in 2089 is good- couldn't be better. Until...until he makes that fateful choice. The decision to pick up that small piece of paper containing three simple letters plunges him into a conspiracy of memory manipulation caused by a secreat organization. Why is it occurring? Every direction he turns points him to T-H-B. Would finding it provide answers, or will it make him an enemy to the entire world?

My thoughts-

The description of this book sounded so intriguing. I love the fast pace of suspense novels and all of the trying to figure out exactly where things are going in the book. I like that it also had a touch of sci-fi and romance, which I think helped make it a more well rounded book. T-H-B was a quick page turning read as you want to see what is happening with Luke and friends, and learn exactly what T-H-B is and what is going on with the mind control elements and who exactly are the bad guys? By the end of the book, I felt like I had more questions unanswered than answered, but hopefully book two will help explain things a little better. I can't wait to see where things are headed. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense novels. T-H-B would make a fantastic Christmas gift for a book lover!

F-S-H-S: Book Two of The Coded Message Trilogy, is planned for release in June 2018, followed in September 2018 by the third and final book, T-U-L-E: Book Three of The Coded Message Trilogy.


Friday, December 8, 2017

A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

“In the blink of an eye, A Short History of the Girl Next Door goes from hilarious to haunting to harrowing to heartbreaking to hopeful and back. You’ll never be sure exactly what kind of tears you’re crying. The riotously funny and achingly authentic voice of this gorgeous coming-of-age story will break your heart, but have no fear: it will piece it back together with the glue of love, hope, and humor, and it will be stronger than before.”

 —Jeff Zentner, award-winning author of The Serpent Kingand Goodbye Days

My thoughts-

This. Book. I can not believe this was a debut novel. I was enthralled from the beginning with the strong bond between Matt Wainright and Tabby, his neighbor, BFF, and secret love. I read A Short History of the Girl Next Door on my flight to Las Vegas the other day, and didn't expect the emotional gut punch in the middle. I am sure I probably got a few looks because of all of the tears, but to me, that is the sign of an excellent book...tears of laughter, tears of sorrow, tears of joy, tears of hope, and this one contained them all. I think this was an excellent read, a superb first novel, and definitely a book I will be recommending to my book club. I recommend this book to any fans of Young Adult fiction, but particularly to fans of Jeff Zentner and John Green. Just have the tissues ready. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

Maddie is a normal twelve-year-old girl. Well, except for the fake mustaches she carries in her pocket. She likes to make people laugh and slapping on a mustache, especially a fuzzy pink or neon green one, always gets a smile. Maddie hopes that the class queen, Cassie, will find her mustaches as funny as she does and want to play with her at recess. She's been self-conscious lately because her right arm only feels normal when it's curled against her chest and she's constantly tripping over her feet. But that's probably just part of growing up and not something weird, right?

When Maddie's arm continues to bother her, her parents take her to a doctor who gives them a shocking diagnosis: the cause of the abnormal behavior of her limbs is a brain tumor and she must have surgery to remove it. She's understandably afraid as he describes the procedure, but knows she must find a way to be brave and must face her fears--all of them--at the hospital, at home and at school.

She will need all of her courage not only to face her illness, but also to face Cassie at school. Both Cassie and Maddie are auditioning for the same role in the school play, but when Cassie accuses Maddie of lying about her tumor in order to get attention, Cassie's bossiness turns into bullying.

And as Maddie's surgery approaches, she begins to worry more and more about the outcome. What if something goes wrong? What if the doctors don't get all the tumor out of her brain? What will happen to her family? What will happen to her?

It will take all of Maddie's vibrant imagination, a lot of kindness-both given and received-and of course, the perfect mustache to overcome the tough stuff ahead of her.


My thoughts-

When I first started reading Mustaches for Maddie I was not sure I would finish. The beginning part was so slow for me, but I am glad I stuck through that very short lived slowness because I really ended up liking this book. It was full of humor, drama, and life lessons. This is the exact kind of book I hope my daughter will gravitate towards now that they are older. I think the fact that the book was based on an actual kid's experience will make it resonate more with it's audience. I enjoyed the quirkiness, but also that a serious issue like dealing with a brain tumor is seen from a child's point of view, which may help kids deal better with an issue they may be going through. I also liked that empathy for others became a central theme in Mustaches for Maddie