Posts Tagged ‘book-reviews’

Bob & Larry Sing the 80’s (Review)

My family has loved Veggie Tales for years now… since long before the littlest one joined our family. The DVDs (and CDs) excel at entertaining kids and their parents too. This Bob & Larry Sing the 80’s CD is no exception. As a child of the 80’s, I have had this CD on my mental wish list for a while, so I was excited to win a copy from My Memphis Mommy earlier this week. Familiar, child-entertaining characters + great eighties music = a total win! I had heard and loved the preview snippets from songs, but was even more impressed when I finally was able to hear the entire CD this week. The veggies offer amusing dialogue and commentary on songs, and insert their own brand of veggie humor as well. Some songs have been “veggiefied” by some lyrics adaptations, which only adds to the entertainment value for us. I am excited to have the chance to listen to the songs I grew up with (especially since many “80’s” music stations tend to stop in the early 80’s) and have the chance to introduce my little boy to some great tunes at the same time. Whether or not you choose to introduce the original versions of songs (we will), this CD is bound to keep your entire family entertained. Hop over to Big Idea to purchase the CD, and prepare to be entertained!


Exhaustion & Lullabies

I am exhausted. The last 24 hours has been a huge emotional roller coaster of getting conflicting answers from vets and being massively annoyed at miscommunications. I can say with reasonable confidence that my kitty will be just fine in a few days… and I am glad that crisis is averted for a while.  I realized just how much the exhaustion had caught up with the whole family when my 4 year old fell asleep ON HIS OWN before supper tonight.

Anyway… I thought I’d blog a bit about my favorite CD of lullabies. I found this CD while pregnant with my little boy, and he listened to it every night for at least the first year of his life. I love it. It has unfortunately been missing in our house for a while… though we did manage to burn a couple of tracks into iTunes as MP3s before the CD disappeared. I am still hoping it turns up someday… or I just may have to buy another copy.

I learned fairly quickly that children’s music is too often only loved by children. This arrangement of lullabies is beautiful and will appeal to children and adults alike. I spent many nights crying in front of my computer screen listening to samples from the CD before buying it… and many nights listening to it in tears while rocking my baby to sleep. The CD served to relax me when my tears were from exhaustion and anxiety… and I generally ended up in emotional tears even on those peaceful nights.  This is not at all a religious or Christian CD… but listening to it so often reminded me of just how much of a gift I was given in my baby boy.  If you are looking for a baby gift… this one comes highly recommended!

On Amazon:  Golden Slumbers: A Father’s Lullaby

Tonight, I am thankful for lullabies… and a warm bed to sleep in. 🙂

Review — Kaleidoscope: Seeing God’s Wit and Wisdom in a Whole New Light

I have to admit I opened this book with fairly low expectations.  I was pleasantly surprised by the writings inside.  Kaleidoscope is a book written by popular Women of Faith speaker Patsy Clairmont.  The book lives up to its name.  The outside cover is colorful and eye-catching… but not particularly special.  Turning through the first few pages, I caught a hint of promise… kept reading because I am reviewing the book… and was rewarded with an explosion of rich words and life illustrations.  Patsy views the biblical proverbs as a kaleidoscope of ever-changing rich insights and applications to our daily lives, and unveils complex meanings behind these simple phrases and verses as she shares her insights.  The book is divided into 32 short chapters, each illustrating a specific proverb.  Each chapter ends with questions for reflection and relevant Bible verses from other areas of the Bible.  I appreciated how the short essays and illustrations unpacked deeper meanings to the Scriptures and how Patsy used examples from her own life to illustrate these meanings.  Patsy expertly blends humor with self-disclosure and deep reflections with lighthearted stories as she explores topics such as anxiety/depression, friendship, fit, and the importance of our words.  She faces these topics with strength and a wisdom that comes from experience.  For this reading, I opted to read straight through Kaleidoscope instead of taking it in smaller doses as a devotional book.  I will certainly be taking more time to re-read the book, answer the questions, and reflect on the meanings these proverbs hold for my life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

B is for Books

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!  —
Emily Dickinson

I love books.  Some of my earliest memories are from browsing in the children’s section of the library, then later climbing on stools to reach the highest shelves to be transported to the worlds of fairies and magic and mystery. Books started my fascination with wanting to know the stories of people’s lives (you know, Julia Cameron thinks therapists are often just blocked creatives anyway… I can see that…) and help them figure out how to change them… or at least change perspective.

Today I just want to share a few life-changing books for me and a few treasured favorites from childhood to today!  I’ve been trying to do some decluttering (hey, I think I may have just found my D post!) of bookshelves lately… many of thse are the books that I can’t part with.

“Children’s” books (which are not just for children)

  • Wrinkle in Time Series (Madeleine L’Engle) – I have loved this series from childhood on up.  I am grateful that this series introduced me to the woman and author of Madeleine L’Engle.  Everything I have read of hers has become an instant favorite, whether it was originally written for children or adults.
  • Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis) — another “children’s” book series which a much deeper meaning.  I read some snippets of these as a child and loved the fantasy… I finally read them in full as an adult and love the allegory.  Yet another example of childhood books introducing me to a brilliant author… one that I can’t wait until my 4-year-old is old enough to enjoy.
  • The Summer of the Swans (Betsy Byars) — I read this book every summer for years.  Something in it spoke to me… and today I don’t know what.  I did a quick skimming of Amazon reviews and found discussions of the book’s emphasis on caring for others, understanding those who are different, dealing with typical adolescent angst.  Any of those could have attracted me to this book… interesting to me now that I returned to it over and over and now am not sure why!
  • I Love You Through and Through (Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak)– a recent find that I picked up to read to my little boy a few years ago.  It features an adorable little boy and the message that he is completely loved, even when he is mad, even when he is sad — through and through — yesterday, today, and tomorrow too!  (And this one *is* just for the little ones… though we grownups need that message too!)

Teen and Adult Finds

  • In His Steps (Charles Sheldon) – When I was a teenager, my youth minister had our church youth group (which was about 6 people total) read this book.  Church as a child was a list of rules and traditions.   This book showed me that Christianity is a relationship… affirmed that it is okay to struggle or have doubts… and most importantly showed me examples of Christianity being played out in ordinary lives and the huge transformations that can occur from that.
  • Reviving Ophelia (Mary Pipher) — Maybe dated by now… but good insight into the struggles of girls.
  • The Artist’s Way (Julia Cameron) – Read (if “read” is the correct term) as part of a composition class in college.  Julia speaks to creative types on nurturing their creativity and on ignoring their censor (so hard to do!).  The book has some great writing prompts and ideas for getting to what you need to write about.  Now if there was just a way to do morning pages with a 4-year-old who is up at the crack of dawn…
  • Space for God (Don Postema) — A bible study that I’ve returned to a few times… have yet to finish… and still love.  Postema uses art, poetry, traditions and writings of various faith, and his own musings to talk about different attributes of a Christian life.  His Gratitude section spurred my on-again, off-again tradition of listing what I am thankful for in any given day (which is Thankful Thursdays on this blog).
  • The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) — I love books which take the Bible and help me think about how the characters in it had regular lives… where they didn’t know the end of the story… where things happened that we don’t know about.  The Red Tent is fiction, but it is an insightful read into the life of Dinah… the book left me thinking about the perspective of others in the story, musing again on women’s views in the Bible (yes, I tend to be a bit of a feminist… and a Christian… which don’t always mesh so well), and sobbing over some of the book’s tragedies and insights into loss.
  • Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers) – I’m normally not a huge fan of Christian fiction (not that you can tell that from this list) and certainly not a fan of Christian romance novels.  This is a huge exception.  Redeeming Love is a retelling of the book of Hosea in modern terms.  It is a powerful example of how love (true love, God-love, unconditional love) can transform relationships.  The book explores the relationship between Michael Hosea and Angel… but the ultimate relationship explored (as in the Biblical book of Hosea) is the one between God and his people.   It is amazing.  Read it when you have time because you won’t want to put it down.  Bring Kleenex.
  • Financial Peace (Dave Ramsey) – Money and sex are the two biggest areas couples fight about.  This book addresses the money part.  (Wanting help on the sex part?  Check out this book).  Dave introduces a great program for getting out of debt, getting on track financially, and then using financial resources to bless others.  I don’t always agree with him or  follow everything he says, but I know this program is a great start.  I especially appreciate his emphasis on the importance of having a partner to work through finances with (your spouse if you are married) and the importance of both savers and spenders having their say.  As the saver in my marriage… setting out a budget helped me feel safe in spending money on fun things.  This book and concepts in it have given my husband and I a frame to base financial decisions on… even at the times we seem to be going backwards (life doesn’t always work out with increased income, annual raises and no life crises and sometime I think Dave assumes that in his book!).  Being much more on the same page financially has helped our marriage in so many other ways… I can’t say enough good things about this book.  If you are intrigued, check out Dave’s web site as well.
  • Conspiracy of Kindness (Steve Sjogren) – I read this book as a requirement for a course in graduate school.  What stayed with me is the importance of reaching out to people and meeting their needs — with no expectations attached.  The details are fuzzy since it has been well over 5 years since I read the book… but I remember how impacted I was by it at the time.  Seems like this one is overdue to be read again…
  • Scream-Free Parenting (Hal Runkel) — This is the only book I have yet to finish that I recommend to others.  It is not a difficult book to read, it is not lengthy, but it does involve self-examination (hmm…).  One reason I love it so much is it talks to the parents about changing your parenting… not changing your kids.  Even as a relatively young mom, I know that my greatest hurdle in parenting is dealing with myself.  Here’s an excerpt from the author that explains the book’s premise better than I am able at the moment: ScreamFree Parenting is not just about lowering your voice. It’s about learning to calm your emotional reactions and learning to focus on your own behavior more than your kids’ behavior . . . for their benefit. Our biggest enemy as parents is not the TV, the Internet, or even drugs. Our biggest enemy is our own emotional reactivity. When we say we “lost it” with our kids, the “it” in that sentence is our own adulthood. And then we wonder why our kids have so little respect for us, why our kids seem to have all the power in the family… Read the book.  I promise I will.  And if you don’t see a review of a fully read book on here by the end of May you can call me out on it.  This author is also in the midst of writing a book entitled Scream Free Marriage. I had the privilege of sitting through a seminar on the subject last weekend.  It is now the only book I recommend that hasn’t even been published yet.  (And if I had money and a job where I could impact others right now I’d so be going through the training to be a leader for this movement).  For more info on the ScreamFree approach, check out The Scream Free Institute.

There are of course other books which have influenced me… these just come immediately to mind.  Scanning this list leaves me amazed at some of the great books I was introduced to by others.  It also leaves me wondering — did I choose books because of my interests… or have the books I read shaped me towards those interests?  Feel free to share some of your favorites with me in comments… or do your own books post and post the link here.

Happy Reading! 🙂