Sunday, September 24, 2017

Book Review: Me & Milo the Great By Michelle Schlicher

A Novel

By: Michelle Schlicher

Published: September 14, 2017

Publisher: Michelle Schlicher


I wasn't sure what to expect from Iowa author Michelle Schlicher's newest book. The synopsis doesn't tell the reader much about the story and you go in a little blind. But, since I had read one of Schlicher's previous books GRACIE'S SONG, I was confident I would like it.

Going into this story blind is just what you need to do. Let the story evolve for you through the way Holiday tells her story. As you flip back in forth from the past to the present you get an idea of the person Holiday Sanchez is and that she is deeply hurting. But, you don't know why. I want the story to open up for you the way it did for me. It was emotionally draining at times to read and yet hopeful, sad and yet, joyful. The circumstances of the story are unique and one I've never read before.

The author handles Holiday's emotions so delicately that rather than pity her, you feel the emotions right along with her. The descriptions of Holiday's anxiety and panic attacks offer the reader a very realistic portrait of those who suffer from this often-times debilitating disorder. But, watching Holiday emerge from her pain and loneliness brought out some strong emotions in me while reading.

Milo is a wonderful character and brings an interesting twist to the story that made the pages much less dreary. His patience with Holiday, his humor, and tenderness are just what she needs. As their relationship grows and she begins to trust him, I couldn't stop rooting for them.

I truly don't want to say any more about the story or its characters and risk exposing any special parts of this novel (and there were many). Instead, I want you to know this story of a young woman healing after a tragic past will uplift you. Will you need tissues close by? Yes, but the emotions are the good kind and will leave your heart feeling full. It will also remind you to look for those small moments of magic in your life.

Favorite Quotes:

"I am far too gone, folded into myself like a chrysalis. 
If only I could wake up as something new, 
something more beautiful, something less broken."

"My newfound courage comes and goes. 
But the want, the need, is now embedded deep inside me. 
I want to be braver. I want to live larger. 
I want to see all that I 've failed to see, to do all that I've failed to do."

Michelle Schlicher - source

MICHELLE SCHLICHER is the author of the novels The Blue JayGracie’s Song and Come This Way. She lives outside of Des Moines with her husband, two children, two fluffy dogs and a cat that followed her home to become a prince. For more information, check out her website, HERE. Check out all her books, HERE

To purchase a copy of ME & MILO THE GREAT, click the photo below:

Thanks to the author for sending an ebook for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Children's Book Review: Scanorama Books By Anna Claybourne

Slide...Scan...and Reveal

By: Anna Claybourne

Published: September 13, 2016

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books


These fascinating books featuring amazing animals across our vast world are much more than just the typical non-fiction books. What sets them apart is the unique x-ray strip that lets you scan across the page to see inside the animals.

Did you know the blue whale actually has finger bones in its flippers? I certainly didn't. By sliding the scanner over the blue whale body, you can see the finger bones inside the flippers. The book also breaks down various sections of Top 5 animals such as Strongest, Smartest, Tiniest, and Deadliest. It offers a brief overview of each of the Top 5 animals, sharing their unique quality and where they live.

The book also offers Lift-the-Flaps throughout the book showing a specific feature unique to that particular animal, like how the Peacock Flounder blends in perfectly with its background in order to be completely hidden.

These are really awesome books and I know that kids will be fighting over these during their self-reading time in the classroom. All elementary-aged kids will find these books exciting with vivid photos and mini facts to keep kids interested. With so many unique animals in our world, there is much to learn in these books.

Slide...Scan...and Reveal

By: Anna Claybourne

Published: September 13, 2016

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books


This book focuses on the most dangerous of all animals in our world. From tigers to wolves to bears to snakes and spiders and much more, children will learn what makes them so dangerous to their prey and to humans.

The unique x-ray feature allows readers to scan across the page and look at the skeleton of a tiger, an inland taipan snake or a stinging scorpion. Each section focuses on a group of animals as predators and its prey. It shares what makes them so dangerous and what part of the world they live in. There are also various lift-the-flaps throughout to offer a look into a more unique feature of a particular animal. Did you know that a polar bear will wait by a breathing hole for days knowing the unsuspecting seal will have to eventually come up for air?

If your kids don't get creeped out by lizards and snakes and spiders and other scary looking creatures, then they will love learning about what makes these animals so dangerous. These books make learning so fun for kids that they won't even realize they are educational.

Slide...Scan...and Reveal

By: Anna Claybourne

Published: December 20, 2016

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books


Kids who love dinosaurs must add this book to their collection. Between amazing pictures, the scannable images, and interesting facts, kids will find this book completely fascinating. The book breaks up various types of dinosaurs between fierce hunters to plant munchers to horned dinosaurs to even the smallest dinosaurs.

Our boys were never that interested in dinosaurs, so I had no idea there were so many different species and how those specific dinosaurs then morphed into some of the animals we know of today. The mini facts on each dinosaur shares what they ate, what their body was like, and how many millions of years ago they lived.

Did you know that fossiled eggs have been found with unhatched eggs still inside them? I had never heard of the Einiosaurus which had two horns on its head and one on its snout. Its name means "buffalo lizard" and it certainly looks like one.

These Scanorama books would make excellent teacher gifts for the classroom and birthday or Christmas gifts for the kids that love science. I can't wait to share them with the kids in the classroom. I have a feeling they will become a favorite.

Anna Claybourne - source
Anna Claybourne is a freelance children’s writer and editor, based in Edinburgh, Scotland. To see all of Anna Claybourne's books, click HERE. You can also visit her website, HERE.

To purchase a copy of these Scanorama Books, click the photos below:

I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's regular Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. This is a place for bloggers to share posts related to children's and YA books. You will find spotlights, reviews, and sometimes even giveaways by clicking HERE, every Saturday.

Thanks to the publisher for providing copies of these books for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase any of these books through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Review: Reading People By Anne Bogel

How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything

By: Anne Bogel

Published: September 19, 2017

Publisher: Baker Books


Have you ever thought about how your personality affects the way you interact with your spouse, children, family, co-workers, or friends? Have you considered that maybe the difficulty you are having with someone may be because your personalities are struggling with each other? By understanding how your brain works and why someone is reacting in a specific way to something you have said or done, could change your view of that whole situation.

Anne Bogel of the popular Modern Mrs. Darcy blog has been fascinated with personality traits for several years.  If you were one of those teens that took every quiz in a magazine asking why kind of friend you are or who should you date next, then I bet you are also taking the wide variety of quizzes on social media. Quizzes range from which Harry Potter character you are to which state should you really be living in, to what book genre you should be reading based on your personality. Everyone seems to be taking them and sharing the answers with their friends.

But, Bogel takes this one step further by encouraging us to really find out what makes us the person we are. But, as Bogel points out, taking every personality test out there doesn't matter if you aren't honest with yourself about your own personality and that of those you spend time with. Yes, her book is based on research but she shares it with readers in a conversational manner. She doesn't overwhelm the reader with statistics but instead explains how that research on personality trickles down to the everyday person. The key is no personality is better or worse than the other, it just means we might be better suited towards another for marriage, or towards a certain type of career.

Reading and re-reading this book over the last couple months has encouraged me to look into my own personality traits. By taking various online assessments, I am fairly confident that I am an ESFJ of the Myers-Brigg personality types. Then doing research related to that type of personality has offered numerous "Aha" moments in my own life and relationships with others. It's been life-changing as I no longer feel like I have to make excuses for my own feelings. It has also opened my eyes in regards to our children. Taking various online assessments can help point them in the right direction for a major in college or a career option. Seeing that our daughter is quite possibly an introvert, opposite to my extroverted behavior, has allowed me to loosen up a bit regarding her social interactions.

As someone who works in the school system, the chapter that focused on Highly Sensitive People (HSP), especially children, offered me a whole new viewpoint on how to best educate and communicate with students that fit that category. Feeling things strongly, noise, and overstimulation are all things that may cause of HSP to shut down. So, when a student asks if they can work without a partner or to work in the hall, may be a sign that their surroundings are causing their brain to shut down. This may not be the case in every situation, but knowing your students, your children, your co-workers and the environment that will make them successful can make your relationship with them so much more cooperative.

Ultimately, READING PEOPLE offers the reader a chance to understand the people that are important in your life. Recognizing and accepting the way they interact with the world may be different from you and that is A-Ok.

Anne Bogel - source
Anne Bogel is the creator of the popular blog Modern Mrs. Darcy and the podcast What Should I Read Next? Her popular book lists and reading guides have established Bogel as a tastemaker among readers, authors, and publishers. Bogel lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

To purchase a copy of READING PEOPLE, click the photo below:

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting

Friday, September 15, 2017

Children's Book Review: Freddy the Frogcaster and the Flash Flood


By: Janice Dean "The Weather Machine"

Illustrated by: Russ Cox

Published: August 21, 2017

Publisher: Regnery Kids


Unfortunately, there are thousands of children in the US and surrounding Carribean areas that have been dealing with horrific disasters from Hurricane Harvey and Hurrican Irma. I can't even fathom how the families are dealing with going home to nothing. Seeing the Florida Keys on the news this week just broke my heart. Janice Dean, a senior meteorologist at Fox News Channel, has created Freddy the Frogcaster and a series of books dealing with weather issues including FREDDY THE FROGCASTER AND THE HUGE HURRICANE as well as others. Maybe your children are watching the news and scared by the severity of the disasters, this series of books may be a way to explain to them what is happening and how to be prepared if a blizzard, tornado, flash flood, or hurricane comes to your area.

Freddy loves frogcasting the weather. His fellow frogcasters, Sally Croaker and Polly Woggins (awesome character names) love talking weather with Freddy. After a drought, Freddy noticed a storm was heading their way. He was worried that the ground was too dry to soak up all the rain and warned their listeners in Lilypad to prepare for flooding. But, the storm went North and Freddy's frogcast was wrong. Will the residents of Lilypad believe him the next time he warns of a flash flood?

Freddy received much ridicule and teasing after warning about the flood the first time. Much like many of us have done to our own meteorologists. Even though Freddy and his fellow frogcasters know he did the best he could with the information he had, Freddy still worries that residents won't listen when a new storm is coming with even more rain. As residents deal with flooding, the frogcasters are there to report and make sure everyone is safe.

After the story, Dean takes parents and readers through the basics of what is a flood, what the different warnings mean, and how to prepare if a flood or flash flood happens in your area.

Russ Cox has created some really adorable characters in these Freddy books. Even though what happens in the story is scary, he portrays the scenes in a way that kids can understand the danger. He shows homes and cars in the flood, but not people. He shows through his illustrations that flooding can be dangerous and it is important to listen to the weather alerts.

I think these would be great for home or school lessons about the weather. I haven't read the other Freddy books, but if I had young children, I would totally be buying all of them.

UPDATE: For every copy of this book that is sold, Janice Dean will donate the proceeds to Hurricane relief. Click HERE for article.

Janice Dean - source
Janice Dean is the senior meteorologist for the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. Dean joined FNC in January of 2004, reporting on some of the biggest weather stories in history such as Hurricane Katrina, and more recently, the Moore and El Reno 2013 tornadoes in Oklahoma. She also led the coverage on FNC of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Janice is a member of the American Meteorological Society and was awarded the AMS Seal of Approval in 2009. 

Many Fox viewers know Janice as “Janice Dean the Weather Machine,” a nickname that was given to her by chief news anchor and managing editor Shepard Smith.
Janice resides in New York with her husband and their two sons. For more information, check out the Freddy the Frogcaster website, HERE

Russ Cox - source
Russ has illustrated all of the Freddy the Frogcaster books. He opened his own studio Smiling Otis Studio where he presently specializes in illustration for the children's market and children's books. Russ and his wife live in Maine with their three cats. 
To purchase a copy of FREDDY THE FROGCASTER AND THE FLASH FLOOD, click the photo below:

See all the other Freddy books, HERE.

I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's regular Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. This is a place for bloggers to share posts related to children's and YA books. You will find spotlights, reviews, and sometimes even giveaways by clicking HERE, every Saturday.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase any of these books through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Quick Lit: Mini Reviews of Some Recent Reads - September Edition

I'm trying to read more books that I choose for my own reading enjoyment. Not for review, but because I've been wanting to read them or they caught my attention. Most of them have been talked about ad nauseam or have been on my to-read list for a long time so they don't really need a full review. But, I'd still like to give them some space here on the blog.

I'll be linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and her monthly Quick Lit link up. Be sure to head over to see others link up their Quick Lit posts. 

Right now audio books are a great way for me to read the books I've been wanting to read. I either get them through the Bridges account through my library or I purchase them on Audible. It's a great way to always have a book on hand! I frequently have more than one book going at a time. That way I always have something that sounds interesting and when I get bored with one, I can move onto another one. This month I'm featuring mostly audio books because that seems to be how I can read (listen) to books that I want to read for my own enjoyment rather than for review. 

By: Fredrick Bachman
Published: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Format: Audiobook
Narrated by: Marin Ireland

This is my first Backman novel and now I want to read them all immediately. I began this book on audio but since my time expired on my library account, I had to finish the last 15 chapters by checking out the physical book from my library. (Thank goodness it was available!) This riveting story of the town of Beartown in Finland (I think) is centered on its inhabitants whose lives are consumed with hockey. But, it isn't just a hockey story, but a story of coming of age, perseverance, and so much more. Gosh, I really loved this book. Read it. Listen to it. It doesn't matter. 

The book starts with a teenager holding a gun to someone's head and then takes you through the previous year to find out how the teen got to that point. There is tension and heartbreak and friendship and hatred. But, most of all there is shown many different ways by people who maybe weren't loved much themselves and others who love so much they would put their own lives in jeopardy. 

"Sometimes life doesn't let you choose your battles. Just the company you keep."

A Memoir of Living and Dying
By: Nina Riggs
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Kirby Heyborne
Published: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Format: Audiobook

I'm not sure how I heard about this book, but I knew it was something I wanted to read. It reminded me of some of my latest non-fiction reads including THE MIDDLE PLACE, WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR, and WHERE THE LIGHT GETS IN. I listened to it on audio and it was quite beautiful. If I would have read a physical copy I am quite sure I would have highlighted several passages.

Riggs is a direct descendent of Ralph Waldo Emerson and a poet in her own right. Throughout her memoir Riggs shares lines from poems that exquisitely portray her thoughts and emotions while struggling through her mother's cancer as well as her own.

Riggs is told she has "one small spot" on her breast and she tells herself, "no one dies from one small spot". But as you can tell from the title, this does not have a happy ending. As a daughter, sister, wife, and mother of two young boys she explores living with the diagnosis for herself and watching her mother struggle through her own diagnosis. It really is brilliant, emotional, and full of prose worthy of reading.

By: Sheryl Sandberg
Narrated by: Elisa Donovan
Published: April 24, 2017
Publisher: Random House Audio and Knopf
Format: Audiobook

This was recommended to me by several people and it came up quite quickly in my library holds. I listened to the audio version which was read by Elisa Donovan and very well done. She has an easy voice to listen to and surprisingly, didn't get caught up in the emotions of the book. 

Sandberg is an author and Facebook COO and while on vacation with friends, her husband dies suddenly. She is faced with returning home without her husband and telling her young children about his death. She is faced with starting over and learning to live as a single parent.  But, I want to tell you that this book is about more than her grieving process.  It's about how she chooses to live again. Her advice is good for anyone that is recovering from a traumatic event (death, loss of job, move, health crisis) as well as those of us who know someone recovering. She helps us understand the process, tells us what to say, and not say. What to do, and not do. She offers research and most definitely, hope. 

I took away many tips from Sandberg (3 joys from each day, do one turn, then another, then another) and am very glad I listened to it. I plan to keep it in my "back pocket" for recommendations and future gifts. At the very least, you will have a new resolve for living each day to its fullest as we never know how much longer we have on this Earth.

By: Emily @ 

A short eBook that offers tips and downloadable resources for getting your mornings under control. Do you want to build in quiet time in the morning? Or maybe start getting up to workout early before everyone else is up? Whatever you want your mornings to look like, Emily can guide you to down the path. By walking through her steps and using her printable resources, you can map out what you want your mornings to look like and then work your way back to starting your morning. It isn't a full-proof system but offers a starting point and gives you tips for prioritizing.

If you choose to purchase any of the books in the above post by clicking on links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Children's Book Review: Code 7 By Bryan R. Johnson

Cracking the Code for an Epic Life

By: Bryan R. Johnson

Published: August 21, 2017

Publisher: Candy Wrapper Inc.


This upper-elementary/middle-grade novel offers inspiration for kids on what it means to inspire others. Through seven chapters, you are introduced to various students and scenarios at Flint Hill Elementary School. Each chapter involves students solving a problem, inspiring others, or giving back. Through school projects, the students learn how to work together and inspire others to work together not only in their school but in their community.

Even though the setting is the same, Flint Hill Elementary, each chapter stands alone with its own situation and characters with the final chapter bringing everyone together for a final project. I think kids will identify with the characters and appreciate the struggles the characters faced in these daunting situations. This book shows readers that kids can accomplish a lot with a plan and are just as valuable in a community as the adults.

This book would be great for a family to read and be inspired to start a volunteer project or for a classroom or all-school read for inspiration to help others. Kids can go to the WEBSITE and enter their own Code Word and be challenged to start their own project.

Bryan R. Johnson - source
No matter where Bryan Johnson is-in the car, at the dinner table, or around the campfire-he loves inventing stories for his children on demand. Bryan is also a real-life adventurer. If he's not flying airplanes, he's exploring the ruins of ancient Rome or climbing the peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro. Bryan also loves fist bumps over handshakes, pizza without the crust, and colorful shoes. For more, check out his website, HERE

To purchase a copy of CODE 7, click the photo below:

I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's regular Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. This is a place for bloggers to share posts related to children's and YA books. You will find spotlights, reviews, and sometimes even giveaways by clicking HERE, every Saturday.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase any of these books through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Book Review: Organize Your Way By Katie and Kelly McMenamin

Simple Strategies for Every Personality Type

By: Katie McMenamin and Kelly McMenamin

Published: March 14, 2017

Publisher: Sterling

For many, September is the start of a new year. With getting the kids back to school and back into a routine, it is also natural to get our homes reorganized and systems in place to know where everything is.

Everyone has their own system of organizing and you can tell that by the hundreds of organizing and decluttering books available. The McMenamin sisters have taken organizing another step by linking your styles of organizing to your specific personality type. By offering tips based on your specific personality (or PixieType as they call it in the book) then you can learn how to better create systems in your home that you can maintain and understand.

The book begins with an explanation of the different PixieTypes and gives you an opportunity to take a quiz to see which type you belong to. This is my only real negative of the book and I will offer a caveat that I had an eBook which didn't make it as easy to read rather than if I would have had a physical copy. But, in taking the quiz, I found that I fit nearly every category of PixieTypes. The quiz results didn't give me any definitive group to identify with. My notes showed Fun, Classic, Organic, Smart Freedom, Organic Freedom, Organic Structure, Fun Freedom, and Classic Freedom depending on situations. So, I just decided to move on from the personality types and just read the organizing tips.

Much like any other book, you have to offer numerous solutions and this book does that well. Since the authors/professional organizers are trying to give tips to numerous PixieTypes, they offer lots of different ideas for organizing. The chapters are broken down into areas of the home including the entryway, the home office, the master bedroom, the kitchen, the dining room, the family/living room, the bathroom, the kids'/rooms/playroom, and the garage/attic/storage spaces. By reading each section and working with their tips, you can certainly get your rooms in order. One thing I appreciated in each chapter were the illustrations (not photographs of perfect rooms but illustrations) of the main areas of a room first cluttered and then rearranged based on the tips shared in the chapter. Every chapter ends with a checklist of things you should do to put your room back in order. My favorites were the home office and master bedroom chapters. Those are areas that seem to get cluttered the most for me and I took away some tips that I'm hoping will help me keep the chaos contained. I loved that the authors gave me permission to throw out my white t-shirts. They never look the same after a year of wearing, yet I hate to throw them out but I should. White t-shirts are cheap! YES! The same goes with underwear and socks. Why do we hold on to socks that barely have any material left or underwear that no longer fits or is comfortable???? Adding a small dish for my daily jewelry was also a life changer. I typically wear the same earrings and necklace, once in awhile changing them out. Rather than having to put them away every day, leaving them in a small dish on my counter keeps them close since they are in my rotation frequently.

So, I came away with some helpful tips on keeping our home organized, but the personality type part just didn't work for me. If you need an organizational book that breaks down the rooms and steps for each room, then this book is for you. It doesn't get much simpler and offers you motivation to get it done and keep things looking nice.

Check out the book trailer:

Katie McMenamin and Kelly McMenamin - source
Katie McMenamin and Kelly McMenamin are sisters, professional organizers, personality-type experts, and founders of PixiesDidIt!®. Their business is the product of buttoned-up hedge fund analyst Kelly spending years trying to get her messy older sister Katie, a writer, to be more organized. Countless fights ensued until they had an idea: What if there is more than one way to organize? Today, they spend the bulk of their time consulting with clients, writing for their website — — and giving talks on how to organize according to your personality type. Kelly lives in NYC with her husband and three sons and Katie lives in their hometown, Cleveland, OH, with her husband and three daughters. For more information, check out their website, HERE

To purchase a copy of ORGANIZE YOUR WAY, click the photo below:

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase the above book, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting