Friday, September 30, 2016

Children's Book Review: If You Were Me and Live in Renaissance Italy/Elizabethan England by Carole P. Roman


By: Carole P. Roman

Illustrated by: Silvia Brunetti

Published: May 6, 2016

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


It has been awhile since I read anything about the Renaissance time period. I am aware of the number of artists that came out of that time but knew little about the way of life for families. Roman shares how a merchant family would live in Florence during the time of the Renaissance period. Like her other books, she offers examples of names given to children, type of food eaten, and the type of schooling that children would receive. She delves into the culture of the area including what you would do for fun and how the economy would work for both merchants and servants. The style of clothing and the many layers worn by girls and women would surprise young girls today.

I am used to Roman's books being high quality, but this one has several misspelled words. So, I am hoping I just got an early copy and the books available for purchase have been cleaned up. Otherwise, the research and way of explaining the details for elementary-aged children is spot on.

Brunetti's artwork fits the time period perfectly with its muted colors and meticulous detail to clothing and buildings. She is definitely a talented artist.

I found much that I learned while reading the book. The biographical pages and glossary in the back offer more explanations of famous people and definitions for the more interested reader.


By: Carole P. Roman

Illustrated by: Paula Tabor

Published: March 21, 2016

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Roman has found a way to teach children about our great history in a fun and engaging way. Most elementary-aged children have no idea when the Elizabethan time period was or frankly, had most likely never even heard of it. Through this series, Roman is introducing children to an important piece of the history that formed our world.

Children would be surprised to learn how small the homes were and the children usually shared beds with their siblings. Now it seems rare for children to even share a room with their sibling.

I never knew that the saying "It's raining cats and dogs." came from this time period. I always wondered what it meant and Roman shares that in this book. Again, the number of clothing layers would likely surprise most children, especially in the summer. I think they will be grateful that clothing styles have changed considerably.

 Tabor has done an excellent job of creating detailed pictures pertinent to the time period. Expressions on faces and details in scenery and clothing give children much to look at while reading through the book.

Having this background of the Elizabethan Era will help students as they begin to learn about William Shakespeare in school. The biography of famous people and glossary in the back of the book will also offer more information for children who would like to know more.

Carole P. Roman
Award winning author Carole P. Roman is a former teacher turned businesswoman. She has successfully run a family business with her husband. Her most favorite job is being a grandmother to her many grandchildren. She currently lives on Long Island with her husband. Carole has written several books for children including the IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN...series as well as a fiction series for children, CAPTAIN NO BEARD involving lots of fun adventure and imagination. For more on Carole, visit her website, caroleproman.comYou can see all of my reviews for Roman's books by clicking,HERE.  To see all her books, click HERE

To purchase a copy of IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN RENAISSANCE ITALY, click the photo below:

To purchase a copy of IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND, click the photo below:

I'll be linking up this review with Booking Mama's Kid Konnection. Every Saturday, Kid Konnection offers bloggers a place to share their posts related to children's and YA books. Click HERE to see these posts.

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Thanks to the author for sending copies of these books for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. 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 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Product Review: Life Equals Focus and Energy

Do you have days where you just can't seem to stay on task and focus? Do you hit that mid-morning or mid-afternoon slump and just wish you could take a nap? These types of days seem to happen to me more often than not. I seem to always have multiple things on my list for the day and am just trying to get everything done. I try to avoid sitting down because if I do, I could easily find myself taking a nap. I used to read in the afternoons before the kids would come home, but I can't do that now. I would easily fall asleep. 

If you are nodding along to anything I have said, then this product might just be for you. 

Life Equals Focus and Energy  is a supplement that helps you focus your mind and energize your body. This supplement includes B-vitamins, amino acids, and herbs. Herbs, such as guarana, provide a natural source of caffeine. Ginger, spearmint, and feverfew are other herbs included in the list of herbs. The amount of caffeine provided is less than a cup of coffee but more than a can of soda. 

When you feel your energy dropping or know the time of day it usually happens, you can take one or two capsules depending on your needs. Do you need a gentle nudge or a boost? You can take this supplement every day or whenever you feel like you need it. Do you have a huge project that you need to push through? A long drive ahead of you? Need energy to get through your workout after work? Just take one or two capsules and within 30-45 minutes, you should notice a difference in your energy level, but not to the point where you are like Jessie Spano from Saved by the Bell singing, "I'm So Excited". If you are too young to get that reference, then google it!  

The capsules aren't overly large and have a powder inside a clear-coated covering. They don't have an aftertaste or leave you burping like other supplements do.

I did not take this product daily, but just when I was home and felt like I needed a boost of energy. This summer I had a difficult time staying focused with our house being torn apart due to a major remodel. It was hard to work with constant noise. I also had days where I really wanted to crash, but napping on the couch while construction workers are walking around isn't ideal, so I pushed through and took Life Equals Focus Energy to get me through the afternoon slump.

I had a couple projects that came up this summer that needed my 100% attention and focus. I needed to get them done and done right in a short period of time. I found Life Equals Focus and Energy to be helpful in keeping me focused on the job in front of me. In the past, I would have made a cup of coffee or ran and grabbed a soda to keep me going through the afternoon. But, I feel like this is a much better option for me.

Life Equals gives one month of essential children's multivitamins to a malnourished child in need with every purchase. Around the world, 1 in 3 children die from malnutrition, so Life Equals has partnered with Vitamin Angels, a non-profit currently working in almost 50 countries to provide needed supplements to children.

Life Equals products are 100% Made in the USA.  To find out more about Life Equals products, check out their website, HERE. You can also purchase Life Equals Focus and Energy on Amazon by clicking the photo below:

*The FDA has not evaluated this product. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease of any kind. You should always consult your doctor or pharmacist before starting a new supplement.*

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Thanks to the company for sending this product for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase the product 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 23, 2016

Children's Book Review: Ellie's Fun Day at the Farm By Elle Fair and Marci Fair

The Amazing Adventures of Ellie the Elephant

By: Elle Fair and Marci Fair

Published: April 26, 2016

Publisher: Pacochel Press


The newest addition to Ellie and Pudgy's adventures takes them to the farm. I have previously shared their adventures to the beach and to school. Ellie the stuffed elephant and Pudgy the stuffed penguin go on adventures. Along the way, they learn something about the place they are visiting and of course, have lots of fun.

Ellie and Pudgy immerse themselves on the farm after a picnic made them wonder where their food came from. On the farm, they get to ride on a tractor, see rabbits, sheep, chicken, goats, pigs, and horses. They also visit the garden where many vegetables are grown and stop by to smell some flowers. Just being curious, allowed these two friends to have an adventurous day on the farm, seeing things they had never seen before.

There are also activities included throughout the pages of the book including dot-to-dots, a crossword puzzle, and a find-the-difference game. Joining Pudgy and Ellie on this adventure to the farm will teach your child about all the fun things that happen on a farm. Eating a delicious snack of foods from the farm was the perfect way to end their day.

Actual photos around the farm with Ellie and Pudgy feeding animals or riding the swings make the story fun for younger children and may just make them want to take their favorite stuffed animals on an adventure. If they do, be sure to share your pictures on their Facebook Page.

Marci Fair - source

As a working mother of four children, Fair was inspired to share the hard-earned wisdom she gained from juggling work and motherhood for over twenty years. This labor of love resulted in "TILT-7 Solutions To Be A Guilt-free Working Mom."

Filled with over 70 quotes from her children, over 100 real-life practical tips to help working moms and the wisdom of over 80 other wonderful working moms, Marci's goal with TILT is to encourage moms to continue to reach their goals and dreams, as they help their children reach for theirs.

Marci Fair earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Southern Methodist University. Together, she and her husband founded a real estate business that is ranked in the top 100 in the United States. In addition, Marci founded a children’s charity Kares 4 Kids, that has served over fifteen thousand kids. 

Marci and her daughter, Elle have coauthored a series of books about Elle's two favorite stuffed animals, Ellie the Elephant and Pudgy the Penguin. Elle loves reading and her stuffed animals so collaborating on these books has been a special project for them together. Both of their previous books have won the God Mom's Choice Award. 

For more information on Marci Fair and her books check out the links below:
Author's Books on Amazon, HERE.
To purchase a copy of ELLIE'S FUN DAY AT THE FARM, click the photo below:

I will be linking up this post with other bloggers at Booking Mama's Kid Konnection. Each Saturday, she hosts link-up for bloggers to share their YA or Children's book related posts. Click HERE to see all the posts. 
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Thanks to the author 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 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 16, 2016

Children's Book Review: Emily the Astronaut: The Space Case By Colette Omans Nicoletta

The Space Case

By: Colette Omans Nicoletta

Published: February 27, 2014

Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press

Fictional Nonfiction

This is one of those great children's books that tells a fictional story while giving the reader nonfictional information about a topic. In this case, Emily dreams of being an astronaut and being the first girl to visit the moon. Even though her dad makes fun and says the moon is made of cheese, Emily is determined to find out the truth about the moon and what it takes to travel to space.

Emily and her family travel to Florida to visit NASA and there Emily learns everything she needs to know about how she can get to the moon someday.  With facts, photography combined with illustrations, and a girl with a dream, young readers will become excited about space. Children are encouraged to have a dream and then find out what it will take to achieve it and I have no doubt Emily will make her dream come true.

Colette Omans Nicoletta - source
Writing and illustrating children's picture books is a lifelong dream for Colette. She published her first book in December 2008, THERE'S A FROG ON MY FOREHEAD. It received a Mom's Choice Gold award and honored as a National Indie Excellence Award Finalist. Her second book, ALLISON INVESTIGATES launched in 2010 and is available in both English and Spanish. It also received a Mom's Choice Gold award as did EMILY THE ASTRONAUT.

Nicoletta was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After college, she spent time as a textile designer in New York City and industrial designer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Nicoletta is now a K-5th-grade art teach in Minnesota and lives with her husband, two children, and two cats. To see all of her books, click HERE. You can also visit her website, HERE.

To purchase a copy of EMILY THE ASTRONAUT, click the photo below:

I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. Other bloggers have the opportunity to link up any posts related to children's or YA books. Click HERE to see all the Kid Konnection posts.

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Thanks to the author for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. 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 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Product Review: Goose Creek Home Fragrance Wax

I love using scented wax to make our home smell wonderful. I have a habit of forgetting to blow out candles so I like using these because they are much safer and when I leave, I just turn them off like I do the rest of my lights.

If you have never used a scented wax before, you can purchase a wax burner from many department or discount stores. Then you break off a piece or two of the wax and place it on the burner. The light bulb in your burner will heat up the wax and melt it which then gives off the scent in the room.When you turn off the warmer, the wax will reharden and be ready for the next time you want to melt it.

Goose Creek wax melts are long lasting, with the potential to burn 50-80 hours per package. They are made with natural essential oils that give that true-to-life scent. 

I was able to try the Strawberry Lemonade Cupcake scent which was a perfect summer scent. I tend to like food or citrus-related scents in our home and this one was just the kind of scent I like. My husband thought it was a bit too sweet, but I really liked it. Several times while the wax was burning, someone would ask, "Are you baking cupcakes?". This would make a great scent for staging your home if you are putting your house on the market. I've always heard that having the scent of something baking makes people more interested in buying your home.  

Since we were doing construction on our home all summer, I used this warmer in various locations in our home. But, it was nice to turn it on during the evening to get some of the odors from construction out of the house. I used half of the package of the wax melts since I have a larger warmer. I can't tell you how many hours I have used this, but I'm sure it is much less than the minimum of 50 hours for the length of use. There is still plenty of scent left in the wax when I  turn it on and I can smell it throughout my whole home, not just in that area where the warmer is placed. 

Goose Creek offers a number of products in their home fragrance line. Finding a scent that works for your home will be easy with their variety of fragrances. 

If you would like to purchase the Strawberry Lemonade Cupcake Wax Melts, click the photo below:

A post from today, 7 years ago - Monday's Matter: Week 37 

Thanks to Goose Creek for sending this product for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase this product through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

My Inspiration this Week from Reading the Bible in 90 Days - 2 Samuel 22:2-3

I've been reading the Bible in 90 days with Amy at as well as many others. We started this journey on July 18 and I kept up until several crisis situations came up that took any and all free time I had. As soon as I would get one under control, another would come up. Seriously. I just had a lot going on and couldn't focus on much. Plus I had deadlines for my paying job that needed my attention. So, I got extremely far behind, which is why I haven't posted anything about my reading lately.

But, the key is I am STILL READING. I haven't given up even though that would be the easy thing to do. I'm still finding snippets of time to soak in the Word and learn from Him.

My latest verse that, as usual, hit me at the perfect time is from 2 Samuel. I've been doing lots of praying the last several weeks for various things going on in our lives. He has been my rock and kept me going through all of my life's struggles.

I hope this verse offers some comfort and support for you today as well.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Product Review: Rug from Rug Expeditions

The timing was perfect. I received an email asking if I would be interested in looking at some rugs for a possible review. Since we have been remodeling our home, I am in need of several new rugs for our entryways, mudrooms, and bathrooms. I couldn't believe my luck.

When I looked through the available options, I was disappointed that none of them looked like they would match our decor and the size I was looking for. Then, late one evening, I looked through the options again and realized I had skipped over one that said Indoor/Outdoor rug. I hadn't looked at that one because I was so focused on looking for rugs for the inside of our home.

But, I clicked on it, since I actually had been wanting a rug for our screened in porch for a long time. When I clicked on the rug, I couldn't believe my luck. From the photo, it looked like the perfect color and size for our porch. So, I selected this rug in the 6x9 size and hoped it would be just the rug I wanted it to be.

Rug Expedition is a website based in San Antonio, Texas. They specialize in selling area rugs. They offer a selection of over 100,000 rugs, which makes them one of the largest online rug inventories in the United States. The process to choose and order a rug can be so overwhelming. Can you imagine scrolling through 100,000 rugs? Their website offers rugs in every single color in the rainbow and more, plus sizes and styles to fit every space and decor of your home. It can be intimidating to start the process of buying a rug, but by being allowed to narrow down your options with the available filters, it makes the process so much easier. If you start with choosing a color, say brown, then you can narrow down your choices by price range, shape, size, and decor style. Just making these choices alone, dropped my choices from 25 pages of options to only 4 pages. Then you can narrow it even more by choosing a material and if you are really knowledgeable about rugs, by a designer. If you are a Pinterest user, you can pin a rug you like right away and keep track of the ones you like. They even offer a FREE 30-Day in home trial. If you decide it doesn't work it your home, you can send it back for a full refund. The best part? All the rugs ship for FREE! 

My rug arrived very quickly and was well wrapped to protect it. If you are ordering this as a surprise, keep in mind these are delivered in clear plastic, so there is no question what you ordered when it arrives.

I quickly laid out the rug on our porch while saying a little prayer that it would work and then felt a sigh of relief when I realized it was just right. I may have jumped up and down with a little happiness clap when I looked over the whole room. It immediately gave the porch that homey feel. I have to admit, I was afraid my husband was going to hate it, but when he walked onto the porch for the first time, he stated that "it really warmed up the porch".

As you can see, our cat really likes it too. The rug has sage green, beige, tan, and yellow stripes throughout, with the yellow giving it that "pop" of color it needs. I am beyond thrilled with the rug. We have had our first several rainy days with the rug on the porch as well, and it drains through and dries quickly.

I have nothing but great things to say about my experience with Rug Expedition and this Indoor/Outdoor rug.  Check out their website HERE for your next rug purchase.

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Thanks to Rug Expeditions for sending this rug for the purpose of a review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Children's Book Review: Because of an Acorn By Lola M Schaefer and Adam Schaefer


By: Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer

Illustrated by: Frann Preston-Gannon

Published: August 2, 2016

Publisher: Chronicle Books


When I stop by my favorite independent bookstore, Next Page Books, I love perusing their children's books. This one got my attention because I love nature books for kids. As I began flipping through the pages, I knew I was going to love it by the first page.

Through simple words and gorgeous illustrations, children are shown the life-cycle of an acorn and how it affects the environment that it lives in. From the acorn to the tree to the seed to the bird to the flower to the fruit to the forest, and everything in between, all of the living things in the forest depend on each other.

The illustrations are just gorgeous with almost a three-dimensional feel to them. Children will love looking at the various things on the pages and learning the cycle of life in the forest. A few of the pages have these gorgeous die-cut images that take kids from one page to the next.

Even the youngest children can learn the importance of taking care of our environment and how each piece is important to the other. I can't wait to send this book off to my little great niece who I know will love reading this sweet story of an acorn. This book is a wonderful celebration of fall for young readers.

Lola M Schaefer - source

Lola M. Schaefer is the author of many children's books and the winner of a Charlotte Zolotow Honor and the Children's Choice Book Award. She lives with her husband in the mountains of northern Georgia. To see her many awarding-winning books, click HERE. Check out her website, HERE.  

Adam Schaefer is a writer by night, city government worker by day. Adam grew up climbing trees and still does. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Frann Preston-Gannon is a London-based illustrator and author. Her picture books have been shortlisted for many awards. In April 2011, she became the first UK recipient of the Sendak Fellowship.

To purchase a copy of BECAUSE OF AN ACORN, click the photo below:

I'll be linking up this review with Booking Mama and other bloggers on her Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. Click HERE to see posts related to children's and YA books. 

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If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you paying a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Book Review and Interview: Prohibition in Eastern Iowa By Linda Betsinger McCann


By: Linda Betsinger McCann

Published: June 2014

Publisher: The Iowan Books


When Linda McCann would visit cemeteries, she realized she had stories to share while telling her granddaughter about their ancestors. In her research, she realized her family was a descendant of the founder of Shellrock. No one in her family knew this information and she was curious to find out what other important pieces of family history her family didn’t know. This began her quest to share the stories of her family’s history as well as many others. She began by starting the historical society in Shellrock. People would give her items, like artifacts from towns like Coster that no longer exist. McCann realized it was important to preserve these items because those towns were important enough for people to name. When her granddaughters were 8 and 10, she took them to Irma, a lost town with only one house left. Her granddaughters didn’t understand why they were there and McCann told them their grandmother was born there. The girls replied by asking where the hospital was. McCann knew there was a history lesson that needed to be taught that wasn’t being shared in our schools. She set out writing her “Lost Counties of Iowa” series of books such as LOST CEDAR COUNTY and LOST LINN COUNTY.

It seems McCann may have opened a can of worms, because as she travels to communities and begins sharing her stories from the many books she has written, she is often exposed to new stories that lead her in a direction for a new book. This is how her book, PROHIBITION IN EASTERN IOWA began. After a discussion about the train that led from Waverly to Waterloo, the audience began sharing stories about how Bremer County was a wet county and Black Hawk was a dry county. They shared how men would fill suitcases in one county and ride the train back to another in order to get alcohol. It piqued her interest even more when in other locations, people didn’t know that Prohibition was a law in Iowa. This began her quest to share those stories.

Much of McCann’s research for her prohibition book was taken from newspaper articles noting arrests, gun battles, and even murders in our quiet rural communities. McCann is aware that time was running out to gather stories from living people who experienced prohibition and set out to talk to as many of them as she could find. Surprisingly, there were several who were not willing to share their stories or name names due to the shame. Many of the farm families in Iowa were used to their corn selling for $5/bushel in 1917. Times were good and families were able to get by. Then by 1923, corn was selling for just $.25/bushel and farmers couldn’t pay their bills or feed their families. Bootlegging and making and selling alcohol was a way for them to stay afloat. Most of the law enforcement chose to look the other way, knowing that farmers needed this to survive. As long as they didn’t call attention to themselves, the police usually ignored them. Then the mob moved to Iowa and started taking over which made things more dangerous for farmers and police.

A true bootlegger - photo supplied by author
McCann has found it interesting that in her research, nearly every community stated that Al Capone was in their town doing something. Every time she would hear this bit of history, she would laugh to herself, wondering how Capone could be in all these places yet still work in Chicago. She doesn’t doubt Capone was in Iowa but wonders if all the sightings are more rumor than fact. She was surprised by all the murders and gun battles that took place in once quiet, rural communities over the making and selling of alcohol.

The Iowa Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) organized at the same time the National organization formed in 1874 and stayed active until 1930. Iowa’s WCTU may be best known for its Vinton, Iowa president who was killed in 1925. Her murder is still unsolved today. Newspapers would run editorial ads to promote WCTU and other groups that supported prohibition. Once such ad is sure to give a chuckle, “Lips that touch liquor shall not touch ours”.

Many loopholes were created to escape the laws during Prohibition. Pharmacies and churches were able to continue to purchase alcohol for medicinal and religious reasons. When I read that ten gallons of wine per adult were allotted for each church per year, I had to stop and do the math. If each adult went to church once a week that meant each adult could have approximately 24 ounces of wine each church service. I’m not sure how much wine other churches serve at their communion, but I know we don’t get that much! These loopholes were interesting pieces to the numerous stories shared in McCann’s book.

If you are one of my local readers....

To hear more of her stories, especially those that pertain to Benton County and the surrounding areas, come to the Van Horne Public Library 106 Main St, on Thursday, September 8, 2016, at 7:00 PM. Just down the street, Cornerstone Apothecary will be offering a wine tasting from 5:00 – 7:00 PM. Refreshments will be available at the library as well.

McCann will have copies of her books and will be eager to hear stories that she just might put into her next book. She is currently writing about the Civilian Conservation Corps, a camp that was just outside Waverly as well as locations in Belle Plaine and Marion. These camps were part of creating Backbone State Park as well as helping with soil erosion and drought relief. She is willing to talk to anyone who may have had family members that worked in these camps. She is also working on a Lost Towns of Benton County book and is looking for history from these communities.

Her books are available at  

Linda Betsinger McCann 
Linda Betsinger McCann has always loved Iowa history. She became an RN and worked in the profession for many years. When she had the time to get involved in genealogy, her appetite for local history was wetted. Linda has since written five books in the LOST TOWNS series and has plans for more. While researching for her books, other topics come up. She has since written other books chronicling the history of Iowa. Linda enjoys speaking to schools and groups about her books. She can be reached through her publisher, or through her Facebook page Lost Towns of Iowa, HERE

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Books That Came My Way in August 2016

Where did August go? I feel like every night for the past month, I fell into bed and wondered where the day had gone. Most nights I went to bed feeling frustrated because I didn't get the things done that I wanted to accomplish that day. These same thoughts go along with my reading as well. It wasn't a good month for that. Other things took priority and reading was worked in when I had time, which wasn't much. I finished 6 books in August, 3 kids books and 3 adult books. Not what I was hoping for when I was looking forward to summer reading. But, it is what it is. I can't change our busy life right now, but just have to make do with the time I have.

I have turned away so many great books because the level of anxiety I am having about all the books I should be reading is stressing me out. So, I have made the choice to not accept anything right now and try to focus on what is in front on me. Of course, some books just find their way to me anyway, some book deals are too good to pass up, and others I had already agreed to review. So, I still have some books to share for the month.

There are a lot of great books in my stack this month. I can't wait to share my thoughts about them with you in the coming weeks. I'm only going to read books that I am interested in. If it isn't working for me, I'm going to put it aside and move on to something else. I can't read every book that comes my way, but I can at least share them with you here and I hope to review them just as soon as I can.

If you would like to purchase any of these books, 
clicking on the photo of the book will take you directly to Amazon.  
If you choose to purchase, I will receive a small commission 
without you having to pay any more for your purchase.  
I appreciate your support of reviews. 

I'll be linking up with The Deliberate Reader 
to share our stacks of books for June
To see her Stack of Books 
as well as other bloggers' Book Stacks, click HERE.


The Pacific Theater
By: Kathryn Atwood
Published: October 1, 2016
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Format: Hardcover

This type of book is right up my alley. I have her previous book, WOMEN HEROES OF WWI, but every time I move it to my stack, something comes up and I don't get it read. I'm determined to read both of her books soon!

After glamorous American singer Claire Phillips opened her own night club in Manila, using the proceeds to secretly feed starving American POWs, she also began working as a spy, chatting up Japanese military men and passing their secrets along to local guerilla resistance fighters. 

Australian Army nurse Vivian Bullwinkel, stationed in Singapore then shipwrecked in the Dutch East Indies, became the sole survivor of a horrible massacre by Japanese soldiers. She hid for days, tending to a seriously wounded British soldier while wounded herself. Humanitarian Elizabeth Choy lived the rest of her life hating only war, not her tormentors, after enduring six months of starvation and torture by the Japanese military police.

In these pages, readers will meet these and other courageous women and girls who risked their lives through their involvement in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. Fifteen suspense-filled stories unfold across China, Japan, Mayala, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines, providing an inspiring reminder of women and girls’ refusal to sit on the sidelines around the world and throughout history. 

These women — whose stories span from 1932 through 1945, the last year of the war, when U.S. Marines landed on Iwo Jima — served in dangerous roles as spies, medics, journalists, resisters, and saboteurs. Nine of the women were American; seven were captured and imprisoned by the Japanese, enduring brutal conditions. 

Author Kathryn J. Atwood provides appropriate context and framing for teens 14 and up to grapple with these harsh realities of war. Discussion questions and a guide for further study assist readers and educators in learning about this important and often neglected period of history.

By: Tony Cointreau
Published: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Prospecta Books
Format: Hardcover

I have already reviewed this book, HERE. It was a humbling and convicting look at loving and caring for those who are dying. I have a giveaway running through Monday for this book. Enter to win by clicking on my review link.

I wrote A Gift of Love because people kept asking me to do so, telling me that there was a great need for it. Perhaps it was their parents who were dying, or another family member, or a close friend, and they needed to know what they could do for their loved ones in those last weeks, days, or hours. They knew that I had worked with Mother Teresa as a volunteer in her homes for the dying, and had twelve years’ experience in what they were facing perhaps for the first time, and asked me to pass on some of my knowledge.

In 1979, when I saw a magazine photograph of one of Mother Teresa’s volunteers carrying a dying man in his arms, I knew in an instant that I had to become a part of this work. It was certainly not a religious calling, but a simple calling to give something of myself to others. I felt that if I could comfort one dying person, my life would have had purpose.

In the years to come, these men, who were dying of AIDS and had never been given much of a chance in life, taught me not only about the many ways to help others die in an atmosphere of peace and love, but also how to enjoy the richness of living our lives fully until the very end.

If I can reach just one person who is flailing around in panic and fear while trying to help a loved one at the end of their life, my journey will have been worthwhile.

By: Kelly Harms
Published: August 9, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Format: Hardcover

This book is part of an interview/review I'll be doing for The Gazette in October. Harms is an Iowa native and is coming to Next Page Books in Cedar Rapids for a reading/book signing. Stay tuned for more on this event and her newest book.

A young painter, Lily has reached a crossroads in her life. Her career hasn't taken off, her best friend may no longer be the trusted friend she thought, her boyfriend is a disappointment, and now she can't keep up with the rising cost of living in the city. With no one to turn to, Lily is forced to move from her beloved apartment, but while packing she comes across a piece of mail that had slipped to the back of her junk drawer: a letter detailing further action needed to finalize the annulment of a quickie Vegas wedding. Ten years ago!

Lily decides it's time to turn over a new leaf and the first item on her list of things to fix is getting the annulment... but you can't just send a reply ten years later, "Hey by the way we are still married." This is something that must be addressed in person. Lily takes to the road to track down her husband - the charming, fun, and sexy man she connected with all those years ago - Ben Hutchinson.

Ben Hutchinson left a wealthy dot-com lifestyle behind to return home to his family and the small town he loves, Minnow Bay. He's been living off the grid and the last thing he expects is a wife he didn't know he had to show up on his doorstep.

By chance, Lily arrives at the magical Minnow Bay Inn, and there she will discover not just a place to lay her head, but new friends, a thriving art community, and maybe even the love of her life.

True Tales of Madness and Hope
By: Mark Rubinstein
Published: September 1, 2016
Publisher: Thunder Lake Press
Format: Paperback

I have a thing for medical nonfiction books. I've got three in my list of books this time. They are always so fascinating and these tales of mental illness will hopefully shed a light on the troubling situation our hospitals and law enforcement are facing with no one to send those who are suffering.

Why would a man born in Hungary and living on Manhattan's Lower East Side run down Delancey Street ranting "I'm king of the Puerto Ricans"?

What would compel a physically healthy woman to persuade surgeons to operate on her more than a dozen times?

How was it possible for a man wearing a straitjacket to commit suicide within a locked psychiatric ward while in the company of a well-trained guard?

Though these and the other stories in this volume read like fiction, each is true.

Former practicing psychiatrist Mark Rubinstein opens the door and takes the reader deep into the world of mental illness. From the chaos of a psychiatric emergency room to the bowels of a maximum security prison, the stories range from bizarre to poignant and the people from noble to callously uncaring.
Bedlam's Door depicts the challenges mental illness poses for patients, their families, health-care professionals, and society. More importantly, it demystifies the subject while offering real hope.  

By: Eric Prochaska
Published: August 25, 2016
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Format: eBook

This is another book I'm reading for a review/interview for The Gazette. This author is a Cedar Rapids native and a friend of my best friend. This one is next up on my to-read list and I'll be sharing it with you soon.

There’s no limit to what we’ll do for family…

Ethan Tanner’s grad school life in Arizona is a far cry from his childhood in Cedar Rapids. And that’s exactly how he wants it.

Raised in near poverty by a father who dabbled none too successfully in the world of organised crime, the only person Ethan has ever cared about is his older brother Aiden.

So when he gets a call saying his brother is dead, Aiden’s world falls apart. Ethan plans to attend his brother’s funeral and then leave, once and for all. But from the moment he gets back, something feels off.

Soon, law-abiding Ethan is immersed in the dark underworld he always wanted to avoid, as he starts to think that a drug debt prompted Aiden’s death. No matter who he angers, Ethan is going to find out what really happened to his brother.

When Casey Porter, an old friend from school who is now entrenched in the world that swallowed his brother lends a hand, Ethan has to ponder how far he is willing to go to avenge Aiden. But as the pieces start to fall into place, he finds allies in strange places, and discovers a side of himself he never knew existed...

Set in a pre-9/11 world, Vengeance looks at the choices that determine our fate, a son’s quest for a father’s love, and how far one brother will go for another.

By: Emma Donoghue
Published: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Format: eBook

From the author of ROOM, I had to see what this book was all about. It has the same feel of ROOM with the focus of the story on a child. This book has been making lots of Fall reading lists.

In Emma Donoghue's latest masterpiece, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle - a girl said to have survived without food for months - soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels--a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.


Work Hard, Play Nice, and Build Your Dream Life
By: Lisa Sugar
Published: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Dutton
Format: eBook

If you have heard of POPSUGAR, then you will be familiar with this author.  Whether you are wanting to start a business or just recharge your life...this book may be just kick in the pants you need.

Lisa Sugar has an amazing job. She spends her days creating content about pop culture, must-have handbags and makeup, healthy recipes, and Instagram-worthy sweets. She manages an enormously successful, growing company with employees who love what they do. And her life is just as great at home. She and her husband have three daughters and she's the number one soccer mom who loves reading bedtime stories every night. 

How did she do it? By figuring out what her dream job was, taking risks, and believing in herself. And now she wants to motivate others to do the same. She wants to show them how to live colorful, interesting lives where every second counts.

She'll do so by sharing her personal and business story. Lisa knows that creating your dream job requires hard work, patience, and experience. She'll give advice, in big and small ways, about exactly how to do that, from starting a company to ditching a relationship that isn't working to becoming a fabulous boss. And with the great, accessible writing style that has made POPSUGAR such a hit, she'll make it fun! 

By: Camilla Way
Published: August 2, 2016
Publisher: NAL
Format: eBook

I'm not remembering why this book interested me expect for that thrilleresque synopsis. This is also making a lot of Fall Must-Read Lists.

Beautiful, creative, a little wild… Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then—but it didn’t take long for her to learn that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to.

Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there’s no one to turn to…

But someone’s been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be. It’s no coincidence that Heather shows up on Edie’s doorstep, just when Edie needs her the most. So much has passed between them—so much envy, longing, and betrayal. And Edie’s about to learn a new lesson: those who have hurt us deeply—or who we have hurt—never let us go, not entirely…

By: Ella Griffin
Published: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Format: eBook

The cover grabbed me first. Then it's premise reminds me of THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS, one of my favorite books. Plus it is set in Dublin. Hoping it is all I am wanting it to be!

Golden peonies bowing their heads beneath blue delphinium bells. Delicate pink anemones threaded between freckled green orchids. Soft apricot roses woven together with velvety purple irises. Every bouquet tells a story. And every story begins at Blossom & Grow, a tiny jewel-like flower shop in the heart of Dublin. Here, among the buckets of fragrant blooms, beneath the flickering candles and lanterns, Lara works her magic. Translating feelings into flower arrangements that change hearts and lives. But what about her own heart? Has she really healed since she lost her chance to be a mother? What will happen when her own story takes a sudden turn? Can the flowers that heal the customers work their magic on the florist? Drawing together a delightful cast of characters, Ella Griffin brings her warmth, wit and wisdom to a captivating tale woven around a Dublin florist.

By: Laurie Notaro
Published: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: eBook

Laurie Notaro is writing historical fiction??? Her writings are hilarious and so hearing that she has stepped out of her box and wrote something different intrigued me!

Soar back to the fearless 1920s with #1 New York Times best-selling writer Laurie Notaro—beloved author of The Idiot Girls’ Action Adventure Club—in a stunning historical novel that tells the true, little-known story of three aviatrixes in a race to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.

Ten thousand feet in the sky, flipping and twirling through the air, aviatrixes from London to Paris to New York—fueled by determination and courage—have their eyes on the century’s biggest prize. The year is 1927, and Amelia Earhart has not yet made her record-breaking cross-Atlantic flight. Who will follow in Charles Lindbergh’s footsteps and make her own history?

Three women’s names are splashed daily across the front page: Elsie Mackay, daughter of an Earl, is the first Englishwoman to get her pilot’s license. Mabel Boll, a glamorous society darling and former cigar girl, is ardent to make the historic flight. Beauty pageant contestant Ruth Elder uses her winnings for flying lessons and becomes the preeminent American girl of the sky.

Inspired by true events and real people, Notaro vividly evokes this exciting time as her determined heroines vie for the record. Through striking photos, meticulous research, and atmospheric prose, Notaro brings Elsie, Mabel, and Ruth to life, pulling us back in time as the pilots collide, struggle, and literally crash in the chase for fame and a place in aviation history.

The Space Case
By: Colette Omans Nicoletta
Published: February 27, 2014
Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press
Format: Hardcover

Love when books teach children to follow their dreams and to learn something along the way.

"What is the moon made of and how can I get there?" wonders Emily. "The moon is fascinating to me and I want to be the first girl to explore it." Come along with Emily as she discovers how to get to the moon and become an astronaut.

Ellie's Fun Day at the Farm
By: Marci Fair
Published: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Pacochel Press
Format: Paperback

Another installment in this fun book series. I've loved every one that I have read. 

Join Ellie the Elephant and her friend, Pudgy the Penguin, on a fun visit to the farm in this delightful children's book cowritten by author Marci Fair and her twelve-year-old daughter Elle.

Ellie and Pudgy--characters based on Elle's two favorite stuffed animals--have had many grand adventures. Now, in the fifth installment of the Amazing Adventures of Ellie the Elephant series, the curious duo decides to take a look at the origins of the food they eat every day.

This decision takes them to a farm and garden where they get a chance to ride on a big red tractor, feed a bottle to a baby goat, sit on eggs to keep them warm, and take part in many other hands-on experiences that will delight both children and parents. Readers will learn about different types of farm-grown food, meet many friendly, real animals, as well as laugh at the use of animal sounds in the story.

At the end of the day, Ellie and Pudgy settle in for a snack made from all the different foods they found at the farm. Their unbreakable friendship and sense of adventure are sure to encourage young readers to use their imaginations when it comes to their own favorite stuffed animals!

Books I Purchased

Each one of these purchases was a Kindle Daily Deal. There were some amazing deals this month, so many that I had to look away. But, each of these are ones I have been looking at for awhile. Who knows when I will get to read them, but I'm glad to know they are there waiting for me.

My Life with the first Ladies
By: J.B. West
Published: June 21, 2016
Publisher: Open Road Media
Format: eBook

I love these types of books that tell stories of real life from inside. I've been watching this one and when the price dropped, I snagged it.

A"New York Times"bestseller: A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at life on Pennsylvania Avenue with America s first families, by the man who spent nearly three decades in their midst J. B. West, chief usher of the White House, directed the operations and maintenance of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and coordinated its daily life at the request of the president and his family. He directed state functions; planned parties, weddings and funerals, gardens and playgrounds, and extensive renovations; and, with a large staff, supervised every activity in the presidential home. For twenty-eight years, first as assistant to the chief usher, then as chief usher, he witnessed national crises and triumphs, and interacted daily with six consecutive presidents and first ladies, as well as their parents, children and grandchildren, and houseguests including friends, relatives, and heads of state. J. B. West, whom Jackie Kennedy called one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met, provides an absorbing, one-of-a-kind history of life among the first ladies. Alive with anecdotes ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt s fascinating political strategies to Jackie Kennedy s tragic loss and the personal struggles of Pat Nixon, "Upstairs at the White House" is a rich account of a slice of American history that usually remains behind closed doors. "

One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients' Lives
By: Theresa Brown, RN
Published: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Format: eBook

This one has been on my to-read list since it came out. When I saw it was as daily deal I had to snag's a medical memoir. Fascinating stuff and I love that it is the nurse's perspective and not the doctors.

In a book as eye-opening as it is riveting, practicing nurse andNew York Times columnist Theresa Brown invites us to experience not just a day in the life of a nurse but all the life that happens in just one day on a hospital’s cancer ward. In the span of twelve hours, lives can be lost, life-altering medical treatment decisions made, and dreams fulfilled or irrevocably stolen. In Brown’s skilled hands--as both a dedicated nurse and an insightful chronicler of events--we are given an unprecedented view into the individual struggles as well as the larger truths about medicine in this country, and by shift’s end, we have witnessed something profound about hope and healing and humanity.

Every day, Theresa Brown holds patients' lives in her hands. On this day there are four. There is Mr. Hampton, a patient with lymphoma to whom Brown is charged with administering a powerful drug that could cure him--or kill him; Sheila, who may have been dangerously misdiagnosed; Candace, a returning patient who arrives (perhaps advisedly) with her own disinfectant wipes, cleansing rituals, and demands; and Dorothy, who after six weeks in the hospital may finally go home. Prioritizing and ministering to their needs takes the kind of skill, sensitivity, and, yes, humor that enable a nurse to be a patient’s most ardent advocate in a medical system marked by heartbreaking dysfunction as well as miraculous success.

A Novel
By: Bill Clegg
Published: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Format: eBook

When this came out, so many people whose reviews I trust, were raving about it. So, I just kept watching for it to go down in price and it did.

The stunning debut novel from bestselling author Bill Clegg is a magnificently powerful story about a circle of people who find solace in the least likely of places as they cope with a horrific tragedy.

On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is upended when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter’s fiancĂ©, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke—her entire family, all gone in a moment. June is the only survivor.

Alone and directionless, June drives across the country, away from her small Connecticut town. In her wake, a community emerges, weaving a beautiful and surprising web of connections through shared heartbreak.

From the couple running a motel on the Pacific Ocean where June eventually settles into a quiet half-life, to the wedding’s caterer whose bill has been forgotten, to Luke’s mother, the shattered outcast of the town—everyone touched by the tragedy is changed as truths about their near and far histories finally come to light.

Elegant and heartrending, and one of the most accomplished fiction debuts of the year, Did You Ever Have a Family is an absorbing, unforgettable tale that reveals humanity at its best through forgiveness and hope. At its core is a celebration of family—the ones we are born with and the ones we create.

Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner
By: Judy Melinek, MD
Published: Scribner
Publisher: August 12, 2014
Format: Audible Audio Book

I already owned this book on my Kindle, but thanks to Sheila @The Deliberate Reader, I saw that it was part of an Audible deal. I've been wanting to try audio books for quite a long time, but haven't found a deal I wanted to try or purchase. This worked out great because I can go back and forth from reading on my Kindle to listening on audio and it syncs right to where I left off on either device. I'm enjoying listening to the book and think I may try to find a few more Kindle books that have a deal on adding the audible version as well. I will say that if you have a weak stomach, this may not be a book for you. So far I've been able to manage the graphic descriptions of the human body, but it has certainly been fascinating while making me cringe a bit.

The fearless memoir of a young forensic pathologist's rookie season as a NYC medical examiner, and the cases, hair-raising and heartbreaking and impossibly complex, that shaped her as both a physician and a mother.

Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband T.J. and their toddler Daniel holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation, performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives.Working Stiff chronicles Judy's two years of training, taking readers behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines flight 587.

Lively, action-packed, and loaded with mordant wit, Working Stiff offers a firsthand account of daily life in one of America's most arduous professions, and the unexpected challenges of shuttling between the domains of the living and the dead. The body never lies, and through the murders, accidents, and suicides that land on her table, Dr. Melinek lays bare the truth behind the glamorized depictions of autopsy work on shows likeCSI and Law and Order to reveal the secret story of the real morgue.

Page-A-Day Calendar
By: Gretchen Rubin
Published: July 19, 2016
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company

I know a calendar isn't a book, but it is based off of Rubin's THE HAPPINESS PROJECT, a book I loved. I adore page-a-day calendars and thought this one would be perfect on my desk next year! I'll be reviewing it soon so you can get yours!

Get happy! From Gretchen Rubin—author of The Happiness Project and other bestselling books—here’s a day-by-day blueprint for a happier life. On each page is a nugget of optimism and practical inspiration drawn from cutting-edge research, ancient wisdom, popular culture, or the author’s own astute observations—all to help you find new happiness and satisfaction every day.

As always, I hope you will let me know if you read any of these books. But, for sure, whatever you are reading, I hope you are enjoying it because life is too short to read something you just aren't interested in. Here is to Happy Reading!

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