Monday, August 27, 2012

Review of 'Growing Happy Kids'

Maureen Healy went on her own pilgrimage to Tibet for a three-month period. Part of her mission was to see for herself the causes of supreme happiness that she had witnessed in her Tibetan Buddhist friends' children. Her job working as a counselor to children with so many problems was a daunting one. She wanted to be of better service to them. The result was a sense of happiness and strength like she had never before experienced. Desire to teach other adults and children to be just as happy and strong played a huge part in writing this book, Growing Happy Kids.

In order to have inner confidence, you must cultivate a healthy self-esteem, which she describes as a snapshot of how you feel about yourself. You also need outer confidence, which is your ability to believe in your abilities now and into the future. She outlines the steps of achieving this. While it is best to start boosting your child's confidence from the very beginning, it can still be done at any age.

Healy shares stories of parents and children in the "real world" from a variety of cultures. Their stories demonstrate the inner confidence that their children have and how they have achieved it. Each story is followed by a takeaway that expands upon the moral of the story.

When I first started this book, I feared it was going to be a lot of New Age spiritual information that would easily turn off some who picked it up. Once you get past her history of how she came to write this book, you find a lot of real world advice that can apply to any culture and any religion. East truly meets West in the ideas and actions outlined within the book. It is also clear how Healy has drawn upon her experience as a child psychologist and scientific research to create realistic advice. A lot of this practical advice seems so common sense. A lot of the ideas were naturally implemented by my own parents. As a teacher, however, I have seen how quickly and easily a lot of these ideals are forgotten. It isn't done on purpose; society is just different today.

A lot of her tips and ideas would apply to adults, as well. We often forget about maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet, exercise and adequate sleep. We allow people to be negative toward us and forget to have faith in ourselves and our lives.

Another thing I like about this book is that it teaches you how to instill confidence in your children without going overboard. You can learn how to teach confidence without becoming cocky, or by causing the child to feel like a failure when things don't quite work out the way they are supposed to. Sometimes, something can happen to shatter your child's confidence. Healy shows you how you can also rebuild your child's confidence.

The book ends with several lists of activities that can seamlessly become part of your daily routine with your child, to help boost his or her inner confidence. Many of these could be implemented in a classroom, as well. This book is beneficial for both parents and teachers to read, as they are the ones closest to the child who will have the most impact. Further reading is also included for those who wish to learn more.

Proceeds from Growing Happy Kids are being donated to both UNICEF and the Seramey Thewo Khamsten Children's Program.

Visit Maureen Healy's website for further information, including her articles from Psychology Today.

Growing Happy Kids is also available for your Kindle.

I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This post also appears on

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sizzling Summer Reads Giveaway Aug. 20 - Sept. 2

Sizzling Summer Reads

Welcome to the Sizzling Summer Reads hosted by Literary Addicts. This Event takes place August 20 - Sept 2

Each blog participating will have a book related giveaway worth at least $10.
The Literary Addicts is also hosting a grand prize - Open Internationally!

Summer may be winding down, but you can still heat up your soul with some new inspirational reads! Uplifting Reads is teaming up with Literary Addicts to bring you the Sizzling Summer Reads giveaway. I am giving away one $10 Amazon gift card to one of my lucky readers. Simply enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win! And then be sure to visit the other blogs listed below, to earn even more.

This contest runs from August 20th through September 2nd. My particular contest is open worldwide; check each entry for each blog's specific requirements.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the linky below and hop around!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review of 'Almost Amish' by Kathryn Cushman

Susan is a Martha Stewart in-training. She is classic Type A personality and a helicopter parent. Her husband recently left her and she is trying to figure out her life. She is given a chance to be on a reality TV series in which a family tries to live like the Amish. This would bode well for her career, so she agrees to do it.

She needs another family, so she asks her brother's wife Julie to join her with their two kids. Julie is a stay-at-home mom who is completely dissatisfied with her life. She is always on the go, she never sees her kids, and she always feels like a failure. Somehow, a summer of simple living sounds like a great idea to her.

The two families aren't going to actually live as Amish. They will have electricity and indoor plumbing. They will have to learn how to wash their clothes by hand, cook on a wood stove, plant a garden, care for farm animals, etc. Every week there is a new challenge they must face, that they hope will draw in viewers.

Susan is determined to be perfect. She is so focused on what the American audience is going to see, that she continues to neglect her daughter. Julie is also afraid of looking like a fool in front of the TV audience, but she finds herself quickly getting more in tune with herself and her own kids. She realizes that simple living isn't as easy as you would think, but it is definitely more purposeful.

The attitude of the producer, Kendra, and her production crew make you cringe. For example, when they are visiting the nearby town and later Walmart, they are explicitly told to *NOT* film the Amish people and their businesses. They go ahead and do it anyway, which is so disrespectful. Some of their tasks and other things they film are also highly disrespectful. Isn't that the name of the game in reality TV anymore? Julie notices, though, and develops a strength inside her to stand up for what is right.

This book is an excellent reminder to stop and smell the roses from time to time. Everything you do in life should have some kind of a purpose. Remember to listen to your kids and to each other. You are probably missing something very important. Life is not about jumping on Facebook every five minutes to update your status, nor texting your friends nonstop about trivial matters. It is about embracing what you have and giving of yourself to others. Twists in the plot also remind you to not take people at face value. Sometimes there is more going on that what you see on the surface. First impressions are not always the correct ones. I hope that the readers of this book are able to learn this lesson as well as, if not better than, the characters in this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review.

Purchase in paperback

Purchase for Kindle

Saturday, August 18, 2012

'Sisterhood of Strength' Book Tour and Review

Book Description:

Experience for yourself the pure love that inspires ordinary women to serve and accept service in a truly extraordinary manner. This inspiring collection of true stories from the lives of women just like you is told with heartwarming sincerity. Perfect for sharing, this remarkable book is sure to uplift, encourage, and cheer any woman, whether it’s her turn to serve or be served.

About the author:

I’m a wife, mother of seven, and grandmother of two originally from Alaska, but currently live in Utah with my family and now consider myself a true city girl at heart. I will readily admit I don’t miss the giant mosquitoes or the cold and long, dark winters way up North, but I absolutely miss the fresh seafood. Fish and chips made with fresh-caught halibut is my favorite!

My beginning as a writer started in elementary school when a poem I had written for a contest was chosen as a winner, set to music, and sung by the whole school at an assembly. I wrote my first picture book, 11 pages long in fifth grade as an assignment,  bound it myself and have read it to my children several times. The next book I wrote, I was in eighth grade, 48 pages long with photograph’s and was a memoir.

The first edition of my first published novel, Torn Apart was released in July 2008, when I was 42 years old, the second edition under a new publisher was released nationally in February of 2009. So…never give up on your dream of writing. I’m currently working on my third novel.

When I’m not imagining a new plot-line or typing frantically away at my computer, I love to spend time with my family, read (my favorite genre is romantic suspense) travel, cook or bake something delicious, sew, scrap-book, or work on crafts.

The best advice I would give on how to become a better writer is to read and write everyday!. You can find more about Diony at
Buy from Amazon

**My thoughts**

This is the kind of book you read for inspiration when you are feeling down and low. It is a reminder that good people are out there, just when you need them, and when you least expect them. You could sit and read the entire book at once. I think it would have more meaning to read one or two stories at a time. It could make for a great coffee table book, for you and guests to pick up and peruse when the feeling strikes.

I am always amazed at the strength that we women have. It is always there within us, even when we feel like we are struggling. I am also amazed at the power of paying it forward. It is something I strive to do on a regular basis. The stories in this book are powerful and moving. I found myself with tears in my eyes on more than one occasion.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Free book: 'Almost Amish' by Kathryn Cushman

I love to read Amish fiction. I have been a fan for a few years now. When these titles are offered for review by publishers, I often snatch them right up.

Right now, I am making my way through a hard copy of Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman for Bethany House. It's the story of two sisters-in-law who take their kids to live in Amish country for one summer as a part of a reality TV series. Susan is trying to make more of a name for herself in the cooking and home decor arena. Julie is seeking more family time and trying to figure out more of herself.

I'm only about halfway through it thus far, but am really enjoying it. My review will be coming up next week. I'm bringing it up today, though, because it is a freebie on Amazon today for Kindle! Get a head start and check it out today!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review of 'Back to Resolution'

Bay Anders is trying to move on after her mother's death. Having grown up in a world of wealth, she pretty much always had everything she had ever desired, except the truth about her father. Her mother finally confesses the truth on her deathbed, turning Bay's world upside-down. To top it off, her stepfather Peter wants nothing more to do with her and sends her to Australia. Richard, the photographer with whom she had been working, decides he doesn't need her help anymore. He thinks she is destined for greater things. Lost and in desperate need of a fresh start, she decides to commence a search for her father, finding her way to a quiet island called Resolution.

There, she comes across Flynn McKenna. He prefers to be left alone, yet cannot keep himself away from Bay. The two of them join forces to uncover the mystery of Bay's father's disappearance, which happens to coincide with developers trying to take over the island. Can they keep their relationship on a friendly level, or will they give into temptation?

This Australian novel was fun to read. I always enjoy following a character as she strives to find herself again after life deals some difficult blows. That is a storyline to which most of us can relate. When a little romance enters into it all, even better. This book can be considered a "clean romance," as there are no sex scenes in it.

I also appreciate how Bay seeks to regain her faith. She asks for help and tries to pay attention to the signs that are sent to her. The book encourages reconnecting with God, without being preachy about it. Each person needs to find their way in their own fashion. Both Bay and Flynn are able to do this.

The mystery surrounding Bay's father can be a little far-fetched if you are looking for a realistic story. It reminds me of something from a soap opera plot. But that is why they call this fiction. It's a fun little mystery to keep it entertaining.

The descriptions of the Australian island are very tempting and make me want to go overseas right away. This made for a nice summer read.

Buy in paperback

Buy for Kindle

I received a complimentary copy of this book via BookCrash in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

'101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations' Blog Tour and Review

101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations

Book Blurb:

Bestselling author and dessert genius, Wendy Paul is back with a collection of tasty flavors and unique ice cream treats from fun-loving triple berry to exotic mango lime to scrumptious fried ice cream. Perfect for experts and novices alike, these mouthwatering creations are guaranteed to sweeten up any party and make all your friends and family scream for ice cream!
**My thoughts**

A word of advice: do NOT read this book when you are hungry! I actually cracked it open before breakfast the other morning. I hadn't even gotten my morning cup of coffee, yet. I was completely drooling as I flipped through the pages, taking note of those that I need to try sooner rather than later. Trying to decide on which one to start with is almost impossible. There are so many delectable choices!

One thing I love about this book is that you have choices for every season of the year. For example, right now in the middle of summer is the perfect time to try the Triple Berry. Winter is a good time to try the Egg Nog. Harvest Apple options or the pumpkin milkshake is perfect for fall. As Wendy notes, however, you can easily make these year-round. For example, she recommends using frozen berries when they are out of season, to make that Triple Berry ice cream. Ice cream recipes work better when the additions are already cold or frozen, anyway. 

In addition to the ice cream creations, Wendy also provides recipes for toppings, milkshakes and more, to satisfy the tastes and desires of anybody who enjoys ice cream. The photographs are also quite inspirational and drool-worthy. It's a valuable collection to anyone's cookbook library. I need a hard copy now!

I received a complimentary review copy in exchange for my honest review of this book.

Meet the author:

I’m a wife and mother residing in the great state of Utah (I have never been skiing…) who decided to write a cupcake cookbook, 101 Gourmet Cupcakes in 10 Minutes.  I have always loved to bake and cook, spending countless hours in the kitchen. It is cute, fun, and easy, even for the most novice baker. Your family and friends will be amazed with these delicious creations that you can bake for any occasion.
My second book, 101 Gourmet Cookies for Everyone is a wonderful collection of my best cookies for EVERYONE! From Gluten-free to low-fat, low-sugar recipes, vegan recipes….. and traditional, this book has it all! I am so proud of these books and I am so grateful for this fantastic opportunity to share my most treasured recipes with you!
101 Gourmet Cake Bites is my 3rd book- it’s full of great recipes- of cake bites and cake pops! I call them bite size pieces of heaven! Not only can your cake bites and cake pops look cute and adorable, they can now taste great.
and…. the 4th book of the 101 Gourmet Series will be out in August of 2012. What goes better with cupcakes, cookies and cake bites? You got it! Ice cream. Look for ice cream secrets, new recipes and teasers from now until August 2012- when 101 Gourmet Ice Cream Creations is released!  You can find more about Wendy at

Saturday, August 4, 2012

'A Glimpse of Heaven' Blog Tour

A Glimpse of Heaven
Book Blurb:
Be reminded of the purpose of life and the fact that each of us, as God’s children, has been sent to earth to accomplish a mission uniquely our own. As you read this book, you’ll understand God in ways never before comprehended—your significant worth to your Creator and his significant worth to you. Appreciate your loved ones and your Heavenly Father like never before in this comforting and inspiring experience.

My thoughts:

I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for Joanna Oblander to write this book. In it, she bears her soul as she shares her faults and some spiritual experiences that many would pass off as her being a delusional woman. She does so as a testimony to her faith. Some people are going to believe. Some people are going to acknowledge similar experiences in their own lives. Some are going to blow it off. It is the nature of this kind of story.

Joanna shares many spiritual visions that she had over the years, that helped to shape her life. She opens with a series in which she was taken for an out-of-body experience, visiting classrooms of sorts, to teach her about her pre-mortal life. The majority of the book focuses on a vision that she and her husband shared of their future children. Some of them came naturally, while the others were adopted after several years of searching and difficult trials to overcome. The focus on her children was what kept her going through some of life's most difficult times. Those experiences also helped to shape her faith in a more productive manner. She could have been preachy and told her readers that they needed to experience their faith in the same manner that she does. Instead, she shares the lessons that she learned and leaves it open for the reader to draw their own conclusions as to how to apply those lessons to his or her own life.

Buy it on Kindle or in paperback.

About the author:

JoAnna Oblander is happily married to her husband of over thirty years, Dr. Greg Oblander. She is the mother of six children, two of whom were adopted from Russia. Though her two most important jobs have been wife and mother, she has also been involved in a variety of businesses, church leadership responsibilities, and youth organizations, and she has been the lead organizer of a large biennial women’s event. As a benefactor of many varied life and spiritual experiences, she has gained a strong conviction of the importance of knowing God and His true character. The knowledge and insights she has gained as a result of her experiences have taught her of the importance of gratefully recognizing, acknowledging, and developing our God-given capacities. Those experiences have instilled in her a strong desire to create an eternally meaningful life guided by God and has led her to seek a life that is in harmony emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Her greatest joys are being with her husband, children, and grandchildren and bringing health to others as she works with her husband in his chiropractic office.

You can find more about Joanna at