Category Archives: Books

Are you Barking at the Moon?

Life is hard. I am just going to say it. And if you have been keeping up with me lately, you know that it has been extra crazy busy and a bit complicated for me (nothing bad just different). I needed a break and to laugh, I just needed it. And when I need a good laugh I read an extra special columnist who is absolutely hilarious and happens to be a friend of mine, Tracy Beckerman. Especially when she has a new book out called Barking at the Moon!

This book was sweet, entertaining, and made me laugh out loud. Ok, now you want to know about it, right? This is a sweet telling of a family getting their first dog from the viewpoint of the mom of the house. We go through all the ups and downs, surgeries, house training, doggy dieting, and even getting more pets. But mostly it is about Riley the dog;).

But the fact of this book is written from the viewpoint of mom, who actually happens to be Tracy, is what makes this book so wonderful. She reminds all of us who had a dog as a child that we really had no idea the work and chaos that go into every pet acquisition. And she tells it hilariously! If you have ever read Erma Bombeck, you will wonder why she wasn’t as funny as Tracy is;). (And if you haven’t read Erma Bombeck, you should) Tracy is able to capture all the chaos with all the joy and love that is found in both family and pet life.

Through this book, you won’t only get to know the adorable Riley but also all the characters of the Beckerman household from her husband all the way to the fish! You will feel like you are sitting with your funniest girlfriend (or the kind of person you wish you had a girlfriend) as she regales you with stories from her daily life. Stories that you probably wouldn’t have handled with as much levity as she seems to now (I doubt they were as funny to her then). Like when they had to take their new puppy they were trying to housebreak, along with their fairly young children, to a hotel while the power companies tries to bring your neighborhood back from the powerless olden days.

Seriously, this is a must-read for everyone. It is even on a Kindle Sale over on Amazon right now. And after you read this one, get all of Tracy’s books. You won’t regret it!

A note to my youngest daughter, Nerdpud. Yes, I loved this book. Yes, I wish I could be Tracy when I grow up. No, we are not getting a dog. You are just Barking at the Moon;). But I love you;).

And see how cute they are;)?

Crank Palace: The Latest Edition to The Maze Runner Fandom

I was sent a new novella to review called Crank Palace. This is set during the third book of The Maze Runner series by James Dashner. It is an interesting look into the complex world that Dashner has built for his characters. I enjoyed reading this novella but I would say that it really isn’t written for people that haven’t read the rest of the book series.

This novella delves far into the disease-ridden dystopia that Dashner has built for this series and how it has affected ordinary citizens. It also deals with the topic of found family and loss in a very compelling way. Because this novella is placed in the middle of the third and final book in The Maze Runner series there isn’t much that I can tell you about the lot or the characters that aren’t major spoilers for the series itself but it was a fun little read.

The Maze Runner series has a huge following and three movies under its belt and this novella is a great new expansion to the universe, but if you hadn’t gotten into this series yet this book probably isn’t for you. As someone who never really got into this fandom, I still enjoyed reading this novella but I wouldn’t really recommend it unless you were are already invested in these characters. Have you read this yet or are you going to read it?

Let me know in the comments below! I would also love to know your take on novella additions to book series, do you go looking for them or just read the main series. Let me know and I will see you next time!


Artemis Fowl: The Series

I have found one of the best books series’ for kids I think is around so I thought I’d share it with you guys. It’s called Artemis Fowl. These books are about a Maniacal Sociopath who is a major criminal. He has stolen and earned through shady deals over 2 million dollars. Did I mention he is 11 years old? One of the reasons I thought it was a good time to write about this book series is that there is a movie coming out in June! On June 12th Artemis Fowl is coming to Disney+ and I am super excited!

This book series is all about this kid who discovered that fairies are real and they have been living underneath us this whole time. Thousands of years ago there was a great war between the Mud men (us) and the fairies and instead of getting wiped out they went underground and were forgotten by history. Until Artemis Fowl decide he was going to prove they were real and rob them blind.

I love these books because they are an excellent mix of fantasy and science fiction that I love. The only thing cooler than a race of fairies that have awesome magic is a race of fairies with magic that are so technologically advanced that you can buy a nuclear power source that lasts forever and is smaller than a battery. 

I love this book series because of its incredible blend of many different genres and the way that it does it seamlessly.

Free Comic Book Day is Coming!!!

Previous year’s haul!

Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday!!!! Yup, you heard me. The words free and comic books together!!! Free Comic Book Day is an event that happens every where on the first Saturday of May. The comic book industry provides a variety of comic titles to giveaway in order to not only encourage comic book reading but reading over all.

10comicbkdaycharacterSo how does it work? Just look online for a local comic book shop that is participating (we usually go to Heroes here in Fresno) and show up on Saturday. You may have to wait in a bit of a line, depending on your location, but it always goes much faster than you would think. Heroes (in Fresno) often has great costumed characters that interact with the kids.

Then when you get into the store you get to pick out at least 1 comic book (sometimes more). And that is it. You can of course look around and shop. Many comic book stores run some great sales on Free Comic Book Day but you are under no obligation to buy.

I do have one recommendation if you have youngish kids. Check out what is being offered ahead of time (they list them all) and have in mind what you would like. But don’t tell the kids until you get there because, depending on the crowds, they may not have your first choices.

I also recommend you wear something geeky but that is just for fun;). I mean, how often do you get to wear a super hero cape shopping;)?

The Big Bad Wolf Goes on Vacation


It is summer and while school is on break for many it is the perfect time for reading for fun! The Big Bad Wolf Goes on Vacation by Delphine Perret is a book I recently received to review! It is a fun and light hearted follow up The Big Bad Wolf and Me. With minimalist style pencil illustrations and delightful story it is a perfect book for children about preK-2nd grade! It is all about Louis and his pet “wolf” Bernard.

Wolf spread 2 Bernard

Louis is finishing up school and is taking a road trip to the beach with his grandpa all the while accompanied by Bernard. It is witty and sweet, kind of like a very innocent Calvin and Hobbes;). So even as a parent I find it a fun read to do with my kids.

Before I go, here is a quick vacation tip from The Big Bad Wolf: Don’t eat the children (you’ll have no one to play with!).

You can pick it up from Barnes & Noble or Amazon!

(A thanks to Sterling Children’s Books for sending me a copy to review!!! While they sent me the book, the opinions are mine!)

Words of Affirmation: 5 Love Languages

5 love languages

Words, Words, Words. It is amazing to me the something that takes so little effort can have a huge effect on everyone. The Bible speaks over and over about the power to bless with our words but

Proverbs 18:21 cuts to the chase with “The tongue has the power of Life and Death.”

I don’t know the source by I remember hearing that humans are the only species that can leave their dead walking having killed them with a word. Ouch!

For some of us whom Words of Affirmation is the primary love language, it is even stronger!

4 ways to figure out if some receives in Words of Affirmation

1) The person who lavishes compliments

2) The person who asks you what you think about something they did (sometimes inadvertently)

3) The person who holds on to negative words from others

4) The person who wonders what people meant by that


Types of Words of Affirmation

-Gratitude Hebrews 10:24 Says “Lets s consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

-Encouraging Words: We are commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to “Encourage one another and build each other up”

Gary Chapman gives multiple examples of this in the video and the book but starts with the weight loss one. And he is not alone, I have heard that example (going both ways) numerous times. (Really? Can we just for a minute pretend that we have issues, goals and aspirations in our marriages? ) But seriously, the standard encouraging word is dealing with slaying a challenge.

But not all words of Encouragement are tied to a specific venture or challenge. We are told to “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today.” Hebrews 3:13a

I love in the movie The Help the maid said to the kid she cared for every night “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

-Kind Words: Dr. Chapman refers to using Kinds Words in the face of conflict. Using Ephesians 4:32 “Be Kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you” and Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away anger”

-Humble Words: Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”

How you express any of these words should be humbly! It really boils down to what my mom always said (and probably all of yours said it too), “It isn’t what you say but how you say it”. And that goes for your non-verbal communication too. We all know it but it is just a reminder.

So for those of you whom “Words of Affirmation” are your first language. Help people out! The responsibility can’t always be in someone else’s court.

But for the rest of you…

Chapman recommends you make a list of nice things to say and then say them. I am going to go a step further and recommend that you memorize them. It is always awkward to have someone converse by reading a script;).

He also recommends keeping a list of affirming things you hear or see and use them later. “Danger Will Robinson” Use them with caution…. That can come off so fake in some situations and a big hit in others. If you are using Shakespeare or Mr. Darcy, you may have a win. It will be obvious they are not your words but it will seem like you put effort into searching them out. If you are using some text book affirmation in the office you are going to come off sounding like Michael Scott from The Office. Just make sure it seems genuine and heart felt no matter who you are talking to!

A great way to avoid any awkwardness you are feeling is texts, email, facebook, and notes.! The written word is a great way to communicate. And part of what has been most dear in notes is when someone references a scripture they are praying for or an attribute they feel I am fulfilling.

As many of you know, I live “virtual” life with friends I have never met or only see a couple times a year. Emails, tweets and Facebook posting are our relationships;). When I get a post from a friend that just says thinking about you… My squeezes a little, possibly like the Grinch’s when it was growing, but it makes me smile and feel valued. The kind of valued that makes me want to do stuff for them;).

It really is, to use one of the most over used words of the decade so far, all about being intentional. If keeping a list of coworkers and marking when you make a point of saying something nice, do it. If it is making a point to write your children notes about the things you admire about them and then passing them out over time… what ever works!

In all things (and words) love!

{Over the next 7 weeks I am going to be doing a series on The 5 Love Languages (by Gary Chapman) in my Sunday School class. I decided to share my talks over here. As you may see, it isn’t aimed only at couples or children but all;). Be nice, I am nervous as it is;). }

5 Love Languages: Intro

5 love languagesLove, love is the most desired and most confusing word in the world… It is this ethereal thing we all strive for but seem to have no grasp of. But is it more than that? It is! To steal from DC Talk in the early ’90’s Love is a Verb. Love is an action, a decision, a course.

Many of us have heard of the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman over the years as it spread like wild fire through churches and Christian society in the late 1990’s. They are that way we choose to communicate and receive love through actions and words. Usually it discussed with in the relational confines of marriage and children. But love is to go beyond those relationships to all people. In John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” And in 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

We are to show love in all relationships. But how do the 5 Love Languages play into it? Well, remember the last time you performed beyond yourself at work? Or had someone go that extra mile? Well, the 5 Love Languages may have factored into that. Not that I am saying they are a manipulation tool by any means but those can be signs of Love Languages being spoken.

The 5 Love Languages are

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time


Acts of Service

Physical Touch

Understanding how people communicate love and appreciation is key to making the most out of relationships in every circumstance! Have you ever had a boss that you just go that extra mile? Have you ever felt someone was ungrateful or taking you for granted? It was probably just different languages;). You give someone so much of your time or gift but they are frustrated? Well, that happens beyond marriages too;).

And this isn’t only about learning how to read other people and how they receive love. How about when you are the one frustrated and they aren’t at all? Do you even know why? That is when knowing your own love language is key too! I know I have struggled with this for years! As frivolous as I feel it might be… While I am very demanding because I like some of all of them;), my primary love language is words of affirmation. In my heart I feel it is frivolous because it is just words but… It is;). Knowing and accepting your love language helps and helps you see others’ more clearly.

So that said as we start this journey. Share around in the comments what you think your love language is. And tell of 1 way you have shown someone love in their Love Language over the holiday (beyond Santa visiting)!


{Over the next 7 weeks I am going to be doing a series on The 5 Love Languages (by Gary Chapman) in my Sunday School class. I decided to share my talks over here. As you may see, it isn’t aimed only at couples or children but all;). Be nice, I am nervous as it is;). }

Free Homemade Gift Ebook

The Happy Housewife (better known as Toni;) has compiled a great ebook with 60 Homemade Christmas Gifts that is free right now!

These are great gifts from a variety of bloggers. They don’t even look homemade (always my struggle;).

I think I might make the cake plate or the etched vase or the tea cup candles….

Go grab it while it is free and you have time to make a few gifts;).

(And yes, there are affiliate links;)

Ruckus Reader Giveaway

Ok, we all know how much I love my tech with my tablets and apps. Well, I can’t be totally selfish. I occasionally will share with my kids. And if I am going to share my toys they will be learning something (homeschooling mantra;)! But I haven’t found a lot of the reading apps to be very educational. But I love Ruckus Media and their apps so I was very stoked to get a chance to review the Ruckus Reader Apps for iPad with my 5 year old (as of yesterday), NerdPud.

As I said, I am a bit of a reading app cynic. I tend to find them to be extremely easy or extremely hard and neither is something that will actually help my last child to learn how to fluently read. But I thought if nothing else she would have fun. Well, I am very happy to have been wrong. She loves it and she is learning!!!!

The first time we cracked open any of the Ruckus Reader apps was at the dentist. We opened up the My Little Pony level 1 book while we were waiting for the other kids to get done with their cleanings. She starts giggling in anticipation and frankly, who doesn’t love that giggle;)? We chose to have it read to her but she still got an opportunity to do word recognition and a reading too. The art is great and book choices are phenomenal! There are just enough activities for the kids to do within the story so that they never become bored and tune out. And every time we are using any of the Ruckus Reader apps her older siblings (who all read well) want to come watch instead of reading their own books they picked out.

The fact you can choose either to have the app read the story to you or not really helps make this a very versatile app. My 6 year old really enjoyed reading and playing the Transformers level 3 book but didn’t need it to read it to him. I also love the fact that you can record some one else reading the story. I would do more of that if I actually left my iPad when I traveled (but alas, I am not that nice;).

Of course part of the perks of reviewing an app is that I usually get all the paid features. And there are some good ones that come with the paid iLibrary subscription. I really like the Reading Meter reports that I get emailed to me! It means that I can allow the kids to play with the app without having to completely hover over them to see how much they get right or understand. It gives them a little space but leaves me in the position to be fully aware, the best of both worlds. I also like having access to all the books. And both those things come with the paid iLibrary subscription.

A review wouldn’t be balanced without some cons. The one I really see it that I wish there was some books that are a little more simple, like bob books. Because these are all character driven some of the names are hard and even the level 1 books are challenging to a new reader. It isn’t a horrible thing but something I feel the apps could use. Since NerdPud has been reading the Bob books I thought she would do a little better with the level 1 books but with the Transformers and the like, she didn’t do very well in reading along. She did ok at the activities but I was hoping for the actually reading to be easier. It isn’t a deal breaker but not everything can be perfect;).

On the whole if you are looking for a premium app for reading I would definitely recommend Ruckus Reader. And on that note…..

I have some subscriptions to giveaway!!!! The folks over at Ruckus Media have graciously decided to giveaway 1 six month iLibrary subscription and 2 one month iLibrary subscriptions!

To enter you must register for free with Ruckus Reader then come back and let me know that you have done it by leaving me a comment! Make sure you leave your email so I can contact you if you win.

After you register there are some things you can do for extra entries! Leave a separate comment for each one that you do.

This giveaway will close on June 26, 2012 and the winners will have 24 hours to respond.

(Disclosure: I did receive the Ruckus Reader app and iLbrary subscription from Ruckus Media to review. All opinions and words are mine and mine alone!)