Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tyndale review: Larger than life Lara

This isn't about me. This story, I mean. So already you got a reason to hang it up. At least that's what Mrs. Smith, our English teacher, says. 

But the story is about ten-year-old Laney Grafton and the new girl in her class--Lara Phelps, whom everyone bullies from the minute she shows up. Laney is just relieved to have someone else as a target of bullying. But instead of acting the way a bullied kid normally acts, this new girl returns kindness for a meanness that intensifies . . . until nobody remains unchanged, not even the reader.

In a unique and multi-layered story, with equal parts humor and angst, Laney communicates the art of storytelling as it happens, with chapter headings, such as: Character, Setting, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax. And she weaves an unforgettable tale of a new girl who transforms an entire class and, in the process, reveals the best and worst in all of us.

This is a powerful and emotional story, which School Library Journal called "Thoroughly enjoyable and unexpectedly wry, . . . as intelligent as it is succinct."


My Review:

There's one thing that I know is true. I knew it from life, and this book brought back a lot of feelings and memories: kids are mean.

Bonus one: As emotional as this book is (even though, pre-motherhood I never would have cried, but....) it gave me hope. It gave me an inspiration to do all that I can to raise my daughter to be kind and strong. 

Bonus two: the chapter titles!!!! I love reading, and I loved English class. And I loved writing (even though my writing days are somewhat confined to documentation at work and book reviews right now) Oh, a child after my own heart, As heartbreaking as the book got, the chapter titles kept me going.

Con one: This book is so short! I guess it falls in line with the premise that a fifth grader is writing it, but there's so much more of Laney and Lara's world that I want to know and read about.

Con two: I wish the ending had been more like a fairy tale, but it's also important that it was realistic. So, I guess not really a con?

Overall, a great read. Thank you Tyndale publishers for letting me review this.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Book review: Boss bitch

You don’t need dozens or hundreds of employees to be a boss, says financial expert and serial entrepreneur Nicole Lapin. Hell, you don’t even need one. You just need to find your inner Boss Bitch — your most confident, savvy, ambitious self — and own it.

A Boss Bitch is the she-ro of her own story. She is someone who takes charge of her future and embraces being a “boss” in all aspects of the word: whether as the boss of her own life, family and career, the literal boss at work, or, as the boss of her own company. Whichever she chooses (or all three), a Boss Bitch is someone who gets out there and makes her success happen — and so can you.

Lapin draws on raw and often hilariously real stories from her own career — the good, the bad, and the ugly — to show what it means to be a "boss" in twelve easy steps. In her refreshingly accessible and relatable style, she first shows how to embrace the “boss of you" mentality by seizing the power that comes from believing in yourself and expanding your skillset. Then she offers candid no-nonsense advice for how to kill it at as the “boss at work” whether you have a high-up role or not. And finally, for those who want to take the plunge as an entrepreneur, she lays out the nuts and bolts of how to be the “boss of your own business” from   raising money and  getting it off the ground to hiring a kickass staff and dealing office drama to turning a profit.

Being a badass in your career is something that should be worn as a badge of honor, says Lapin. Here, she inspires us to rise to the occasion and celebrate our successes — and then keep killing it like the Boss Bitches we are!
 



My review:
From the very first sentence - "To my former self, who would be proud of me now," to the last - And the princess lived happily ever after in her own big castle and with all her own money and she took care of herself--the end," this book turned out to be something I would love to give my daughter one day. Or maybe my sister, since she's graduating much sooner than my daughter will from school.

To be fair, the Actual last sentence is "if you do give up, fuck you." which I think is equally inspiring.

I appreciate this book for what it is, and it has some good takeaways- like how to ask for a raise and set boundaries. But the voice of the writing seemed a bit forced. I'm all for reclaiming the title of "bitch" form something bad to something powerful, but the abundant sprinkling of the word (example: "so what's your story, bitch?") seemed like the author was trying a bit too hard to be  Britney and we didn't get a chance to see her true voice come out. 

I have all of the respect for Nicole, and would love to pick up her next book. But I was hoping this would be something I could give as a gift to any woman--not just someone I have a 18 year relationship with that knows I don't think it's appropriate to drop 'bitch' into everyday conversation. I look forward to see if Ms. Lapin has more books in store. Maybe her next one we'll get to see her true voice. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Book review: Harvest



My review:
I wasn't as into this book as I thought it would be. At first, it seemed like something I could use to grow and cook my own food for a family of three in a one room apartment.
I really don't need facial scrubs and I certainly don't have room for a crabapple tree. So I was disappointed. I can maybe use it as a christmas gift for someone who has an actual house with a backyard that isn't forbidden by the HOA to grow food. (If I can find someone like that) but this is not staying on my shelf for long. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Coloring book review: The Night voyage

This third adult coloring book in Daria Song's Time series follows the little girl on a new nighttime adventure when the conductor of her toy train comes to life and helps her distribute gifts across the world.

The Night Voyage is an evocatively illustrated story of a little girl who is swept away on the eve of her birthday by her toy train conductor on a magical journey to distribute gifts around the globe. Taking devotees of The Time Garden and The Time Chamber on an imaginative new adventure, The Night Voyage continues Daria Song's wildly successful series with the beautifully intricate art that her fans have come to love, featuring a world of paper cranes, penny-farthing bicycles, trolleys, cityscapes, and hot air balloon-filled skies.





This is the perfect gift!!! I so thank the publishers for sending me a free copy to review. This book has a beautiful cover, sturdy pages that don't bleed, and a fabulous mix of small and large areas to color in. Those who have used coloring books regularly know those teeny tiny details may look pretty but are HELL on your wrists.
Added Bonus: Not religious. I love religious books, don't get me wrong, but if a book is obviously religious it rules out as a gift for a lot of people. 
Overall: If you're going to gift a coloring book, gift this one. 5/5

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Booklook bloggers review: Say and pray devotions

Say and Pray devotions with your little ones today!
Your youngsters want to be just like you. How exciting! Help them grow in their faith and learn more about God’s love with Say & Pray Devotions.
Say & Pray Devotions features short devotions and lots of labeled illustrations so your little one can practice identifying objects and words on their own! This book is a great tool to start a devotional time with little ones, as it will help you teach them about God, and the labeled pictures will help start a life of faith.
This is a nice complement to the bestselling Say & Pray Bible.




My Review:
Children's books are tricky. I did find one child's bible that we loved reading together once, but it had paper pages and is now in pieces. One day my 2 year old will grow and not instinctively rip things--her winnie the pooh anthology has nearly all the pages in it still.
Until then, hard pages are a must. This book has them! After reading the book with your little one and pointing out words, actions, and things, your little one can safely look through this book on their own.
This book is also a great reminder to be thankful for the little things -- colors, smells, food-- all the tiny things we (well, I) forget to include in my prayers. Things I take for granted. 
Overall, this is a durable, colorful book that will be enjoyed by all babies of any gender. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Booklook Bloggers review: 365 Devotions to Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”


—Matthew 11:28


Rest.  You crave it. Your body needs it. Your tired soul longs for it. But in the madness of your day-to-day rush, how can you possibly find it? Truth be told, when life’s demands overwhelm us, the first thing we sacrifice is our own rest. But God has a different plan for us: He made us to enjoy deep, reviving refreshment in Him. 365 Devotions for Finding Rest will guide you in a yearlong journey toward embracing His rest in your life. You’ll be amazed as God’s peace and restoration transform you.








My Review:

I read a book fairly recently (Not recently enough to remember the exact title, something along the lines of Minute Tips for Moms) that enlightened me to the idea of 'rest'. Not the type of rest where it's your day off so you dress up and go out with your spouse and then spend 30 minutes packing up your toddler to go to the park, but real actual rest. 

As you grow up you hit this stage where you almost miss being sick, because you remember sitting in bed, no responsibilities but to take care of yourself, and you sleep and color and eat things your mom brings you. And then you realize you're all grown up and no one is going to bring you anything, and if you eat then you also need to make something for your toddler and then you have to help your toddler sit potty and before you know it, it's been three hours into your optimistically-planned 'rest day' full of chores and cleaning and being a mom.

My husband and I have developed a plan where I get three hours (la, not a whole day) of uninterrupted rest where I might take a bubble bath, might nap, or might just read or color. We do the same for him on my days off as he has the harder job of stay at home dad.

This devotional is a wonderful way to remind yourself to take a beat and instead of three hours a week, maybe take a half hour each day as well before the kids wake up or after they've gone to sleep. Just like 365 devotions to finding Peace, this book is well presented as a hardback with a foiled (shiny!) cover and bookmark to keep your place. Much recommended. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

NetGalley Review: The Pie Life

The Pie Life is the ultimate self-improvement playbook for women who work. Now is the time for you to banish the guilt and start living a life you love! Havingworked withthousands of womenover the past two decades, Harvard MBA and best-selling author Samantha Ettus shares the secrets for how you can sustain a thrivingpersonaland professional life at the same time.

Incorporating personal stories from hundreds of women including TV writer and producer Shonda Rhimes, news anchor Gayle King, Wall Street maven Sallie Krawcheck, Barnard College President Debora Spar, entrepreneur Liz Lange and Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Anne Fulenwider, The Pie Lifewill turn everything you know about work/life balance on its head.
Transform your life into one that is more satisfying, rich, and delicious than you ever thought possible and join the thousands of women already living The Pie Life.

Samantha Ettus
@samanthaettus
http://www.samanthaettus.com 



My Review:

You don't know how much this book helped me. Not just with organizing things and prioritizing my life, but with the guilt and the self esteem that happens as a working parent.

It's all very well to say "Lean in, Do it ALL!" but to actually attempt to do it ALL is probably unhealthy if you try to make your home-work balance exactly 50/50.

Samantha Ettus is the logical best friend that says "if you work ten hours, commute 2 and sleep 8, you're not going to fit another 10 hours of home time in a 24 hour day."

Everyone's pie is different. A coworker of mine actually does have a commute longer than an hour because she lives out of state. Another has a daughter, but no wife. Still another has like three dogs. All of our pies are different. My commute slice is actually about 15 minutes. I don't have a walk the dog slice. I do have a book review slice, and a year-round prepare-for-Christmas slice.

If you feel overwhelmed from Leaning In, Grab a slice of Pie with Samantha Ettus. (you see how I made that sound like a commercial? fancy!)

Monday, January 2, 2017

NetGalley Review: Lists to Love by for Busy Wives

It's no secret that there is a wide emotional gap between men and women. Couples crave love, but don't always know how to express it to their spouse. 
LISTS TO LOVE BY FOR BUSY WIVES presents creative, practical ways for wives to bridge that gap and improve their marriage. These thirty lists will carry wives through an entire month of learning to love their husbands more deeply--advice they will come back to again and again. Highlights include:
8 Expectations for a Great Marriage
5 Things Husbands Wish Wives Knew
10 Things Husbands Want to Hear from Their Wives
7 Things You Should Stop Doing to Your Husband in Public







My Review:

Likes:
1. Lists. Just, in General, I like lists.
2. The emphasis on Communication and watching your words

Dislikes:
1. The 'lie back and think of England' approach to sex the author seems to have.
2. Really, this really got on my nerves. I hated it.

Take these lists with a grain of salt. There was a lot I didn't agree with or didn't fit my particular beliefs or ideals. I will back up the author on the importance of asking your spouse questions, watching your words when talking to them, the importance of saying "thank you" and "I appreciate you", etc. Words are Power, but we all know that.

Overall: not a TOTAL waste of time, but still a bit disappointing.