Have a Happy Family by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman

>>  Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Have a Happy Family by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman
Revel (Baker Publishing Group)
ISBN: 978-0800724153
Published August 2014
Trade paperback, 304 pages

I like reading parenting books. Although I studied child psychology and I practice Biblical teachings, I like to strive to learn more, especially when we parents have the challenge to bring up our kids in a technological-based world.

As children grow from babies to toddlers, preschoolers, middle-graders and finally teenagers, what you think you know about your kids suddenly flies out the window when your emotions get involved and you go through your own life changes too.

When I first saw the title of this book I thought it was unrealistic, but as I started reading I found the counsel to be very realistic, practical and loving. It fit right in with my own family values and ways of parenting.

Dr. Leman dispenses his counsel with knowledge and experience. I felt like I was reading a letter from a very experienced parent and grandparent who has seen it all. Best of all, Dr. Leman has a wonderful sense of humour and his love of family shines through in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and meditating on the counsel it contains. Dr. Leman gets kids and he gets teenagers. He gets how to make families thrive. I read a portion of this book every night and it made me love my kids more, it made me see them with new eyes, especially after some difficult days with them.

Dr. Leman incorporates all parts of a family, including grandparents. He delves into essential topics like communication, time and priorities, discipline and attitude. There is even a section called Ask Dr. Lemon with question and answer, much like Dear Abby. I also enjoyed the anecdotal stories he includes.

Overall, this is an easy book to read and Dr. Leman motivates one to take action and to follow through. However, that doesn't mean the advice is simplistic. It's actually quite deep and filled with wisdom. Highly recommended, especially if you want to make some positive changes to parent in the best way you can.

Note: This book is rated C = clean read.

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: This book has been provided courtesy of Revel (Baker Publishing Group) and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Publishing Group. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? Oct 20 Edition

>>  Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

This week I participated in a Google+ Hangout called Mamma Mia - Italy. The panel consisted of three foreigners living in Italy as well as two Italian Canadians (I was one of them) and we talked about what Italy means to us. It was a fun discussion. I invite you to take a look:

Mamma Mia - Italy hosted by Connections

Two books in my mailbox this week!

Dinosaur Boy by Cory Putman Oakes

Everyone knows the dinosaur gene skips a generation.

So it isn't a complete surprise when Sawyer sprouts spikes and a tail before the start of fifth grade. After all, his grandfather was part stegosaurus.

Despite the Principal's Zero Tolerance Policy, Sawyer becomes a bully magnet, befriended only by Elliot aka "Gigantor" and the weird new girl. When the bullies start disappearing, Sawyer is relieved-until he discovers a secret about the principal that's more shocking than Dino DNA. The bullies are in for a galactically horrible fate...and it's up to Sawyer and his friends to rescue them.

This one will be on tour with iRead Book Tours:

Corporate Cowboy by Stuart Anderson

Stuart Anderson had led a fascinating life for the past 90 years. He built Black Angus, America's #1 restaurant chain of the 1980s and ranched on a 26,000 acre spread where he raised cattle. His circle of friends has included Hollywood stars and corporate bigwigs. You'll discover his persona history is a lot like the man - larger than life! In addition, reader benefits: 

* Discover the ins and outs of profitable restaurant management as imparted by a master entrepreneur * Delight in "bone head" mistakes Anderson made early in his career like the case of the "melted chocolate" or "bitter pills for bulls."
* Get a backstage look at celebrity friendships and news-making events. 
* Try some Black Angus favorite recipes and get some diabetic tips 

Won't you too join in the adventures of this "Corporate Cowboy's" successes and failures which are by turns sobering, insightful, laugh-out-loud funny and full of folksy wisdom.

Free Kindle:
With Autumn's Return by Amanda Cabot

Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to establish her medical practice thanks to the wooing of her two older sisters who extolled the beauty of the land. She's certain she'll have a line of patients eager for her expertise and gentle bedside manner. However, she soon discovers the town and its older doctor may not welcome a new physician. Even more frustrating, the handsome young attorney next door may not be ready for the idea of a woman doctor. For his part, Jason Nordling has nothing against women, but he's promised himself that the woman he marries will be a full-time mother.

Despite their firm principles, Elizabeth and Jason find that mutual attraction--and disdain from the community--is drawing them ever closer. And when the two find themselves working to save the life and tattered reputation of a local woman, they'll have to decide how far they're willing to go to find justice--and true love.

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. This is where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.  The kidlit version is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts.

Read and Reviewed:

The Sea House by Elizabeth Gifford (so well-written and atmospheric!)

Review of REMAKE coming up on Friday. My daughter and I thought this was a great read! On tour now with giveaway. Win one of 5 copies. Enter by clicking here.

Currently Reading: The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (very good!)

The link for October audiobook reviews is up:  LISTEN UP! Let other know what you're listening to in books.


Have a great reading week!


The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford (Review and Giveaway of Book and Kindle Fire!)

>>  Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 978-1250043344
Published April 15, 2014
Hardcover, 320 pages

I was immediately drawn to this story when I first read about this book. It's literary fiction, but also includes the mysterious legend of selkies—mermaids or seal people claimed to have been sighted off the north of Scotland for centuries.

I didn't quite know what to expect, after all, this wasn't a fantasy novel. Well, it superseded my expectations and was better than I thought. Actually, I will consider this one of the best books I've read this year.

The story has a dual timeline. It begins in the present (year 1992) with Ruth and Michael who have bought the dilapidated Sea House, and after months of renovations, have finally moved in. However,once in their new home, they make a shocking discovery. Buried beneath the house are the tiny bones of a baby with its legs fused together—a mermaid child? This brings up all kinds of questions. Their story alternates with that of Reverend Alexander Ferguson, who is an amateur revolutionary scientist from the 1860s, obsessed with finding out the truth behind the legend of the selkies.

There is so much going on in this story. It deals with a woman who, at a young age, witnessed the discovery of her mother's drowned body. Ruth carries this memory and deep loss with her and her unresolved pain comes to a screeching climax when she moves into the Sea House situated in the village where her mother grew up. Ruth is dealing with depression and post traumatic stress, even as she and Michael are expecting their first child.

I was so drawn to Ruth, perhaps because I went through post-partum depresssion and feel things deeply. I understood her pain and her actions. I understood her need to find out more about that buried baby. When she does get her hands on Reverand Ferguson's journal and pieces together his story, it helps her deal with her own unresolved issues about her mother and the father she never knew.

Reverand Ferguson's story was very good too. I love historical fiction. Gifford skillfully moves from one story to the next capturing the times and lives of those in the 19th century and then smoothly transitioning to the present, while always maintaining the link between both stories. And the way she dealt with the legend of the selkies was brilliant.

Gifford's writing is exquisite. This novel was so atmospheric. Her descriptions of the sea made it so alive, almost like a character in the novel. Every description of it was beautiful, and never the same. She truly captured the many changes and images of the sea.

Best of all, unlike most literary fiction, this story has a happy and satisfying ending. If you like atmospheric stories set in Scotland with a fine set of varied and interesting characters and a mix of legendary tales so prevalent in Scots culture, then I highly recommend this one. Gifford is a master storyteller and I look forward to reading more of her works.

Note: This book is rated P = profanity for 3 f-words spoken in a moment of anger. The rest of the book is clean.
To read more reviews and to follow the tour, please visit The Sea House Tour Schedule.

And now for the giveaway!

Don't miss The Sea House, a stunning fiction debut from the UK. Set in a house on the windswept coast of the Outer Hebrides, Elisabeth Gifford's haunting tale effortlessly bridges a gap of more than a century. Adeptly interweaving two tales involving residents of the titular house, Gifford sets up an absorbing mystery revolving around local lore and myths about mermaids, selkies, and sealmen. Stretching seamlessly back and forth through time, layers upon layers of secrets are slowly and effectively peeled away in this evocative debut (Booklist).

Celebrate with Elisabeth by entering her Kindle giveaway!

E.Gifford, The Sea House Giveaway

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 19th. Winner will be announced October 20th at Elisabeth's Blog.


Watch the trailer:

About the author:
Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. She is the author of The House of Hope: A Story of God's Love and Provision for the Abandoned Orphans of China and has written articles for The Times and the Independent and has a Diploma in Creative Writing from Oxford OUDCE and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway College. She is married with three children. They live in Kingston on Thames but spend as much time as possible in the Hebrides.

Find Elisabeth online: Website, Facebook

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher and Litfuse for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.


Mailbox Monday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? October 13 Edition

>>  Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia who now blogs at To Be Continued. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home on its blog. Link up to share your MM.

Two books in my mailbox this week!

A Lady at Willowgrove Hall by Sarah E. Ladd

Her secret cloaks her in isolation and loneliness. His secret traps him in a life that is not his own.

Cecily Faire carries the shame of her past wherever she treads, knowing one slip of the tongue could expose her disgrace. But soon after becoming a lady's companion at Willowgrove Hall, Cecily finds herself face-to-face with a man well-acquainted with the past she's desperately hidden for years.

Nathaniel Stanton has a secret of his own—one that has haunted him for years and tied him to his father's position as steward of Willowgrove Hall. To protect his family,Nathaniel dares not breath a word of the truth. But as long as the shadow looms over him, he'll never be free to find his own way in the world. He'll never befree to fall in love.

When the secrets swirling within WillowgroveHall come to light, Cecily and Nathaniel must confront a painful choice: Willthey continue running from the past . . . or will they stand together and fightfor a future without the suffocating weight of secrets long suffered?

How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel by Jess Keating

After becoming the zoo's most popular student ambassador, Ana Wright is starting to love her life-even if her family does live in a zoo. But when the meanest mean girl at school volunteers at the new aquarium, Ana's life goes from sunny to sunk.

Now Ana's stuck working with her archenemy, chasing after escaped hermit crabs, and cleaning up even more animal poop in her life. Ana's newest adventure has her questioning why, after finally getting her life sorted out, do things have to change...again?

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. This is where we keep track of what we are currently reading and plan to read.  The kidlit version is hosted by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts.

Read and Reviewed:

Montreal: Street Photography by Debra Schoenberger (Giveaway too.)
Burps, Belches, and Farts Oh My! by Artie Bennett (Funny!)

Up Next:

The link for October audiobook reviews is up:  LISTEN UP! Let other know what you're listening to in books.


Have a great reading week!


Belches, Burps, and Farts Oh My! by Artie Bennett

Belches, Burps, and Farts Oh My! by Artie Bennett
Blue Apple Books
ISBN: 978-1609053925
Published Sept 2, 2014
Hardcover, 40 pages
Ages 4-8

Book Description:

He’s beheld the butt and offered the scoop on poop. Now Artie Bennett takes young readers on a discovery of those little (and not so little) puffs that exit from our mouths and duffs—the burp, the belch, and the fart! With Bennett’s signature combination of real science and zany rhyme, kids will learn the how, why, and where of gas-tastic eruptions made by people and animals, such as:

• why we can’t burp while on our backs
• which animals can’t “cut the cheese”
• how fish communicate via burp bubbles
• why soda and burps go together
• who farts more—boys or girls

For as Mr. Bennett puts it: Cows and pigs, crude or classy, Kids, grown-ups, we’re all . . . GASSY!

Our thoughts:

We've had the pleasure of reading all of Artie Bennett's books, and my son and I think they are a riot. This author has a way of taking a subject most would consider taboo, and he makes it fun for kids (and adults) to learn interesting facts about it, all with a fantastic sense of humour.

The text is in rhyme and states the facts of life about why we burp and fart (yeah, we average fourteen toots per day!) all with scientific back-up and comical illustrations that are striking, colourful and loud. We learned about animal and human behaviour,  and my son and I laughed so hard at some of the fart-astic facts and burp-tacular bits at the end of the book, like that of the silent-but-deadly fart and the "morning thunder" fart.

This book is a great way to bond and have fun with your kids. Sometimes, as adults we tend to be too serious. These subjects are popular with kids but not many books are written about them. I tip my hat off to those authors, like Bennett, who use their witty sense of humour to bring delightful books to children—books that celebrate the quirky, unique and sometimes embarrassing side to life.

Note: This book is rated C = clean (but smelly) read.

Here are other books by Artie Bennett reviewed and enjoyed by me and my son.

The Butt Book
Peter Panda Melts Down!

I met Artie at BEA 2014 where he was giving away signed copies of his book along with...you got it, a whoopee cushion!
About the author:

Brooklyn native Artie Bennett employed his signature goofy-meets-smart style to craft this hilarious ode to the burp, the belch, and that popular "Bronx cheer", the fart. A former professional crossword puzzle prodigy, Artie Bennett is now making a name for himself writing smart and funny books about subject matter that kids love to read about, and enhancing Brooklyn's reputation for producing an uncommonly high per capita of humorists. In his M-F life, Mr. Bennett is an executive copy editor at a major children's book publisher. In his spare time, he collects words.

Reviewed by Laura & Son

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for giving us this book for review. We were not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, visit Booking Mama.

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
— Mark Twain

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