Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool Review and Giveaway!

Name of book: Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool

Author: Taylor Clark

Summary (from Amazon): Nerves make us bomb job interviews, first dates, and SATs. With a presentation looming at work, fear robs us of sleep for days. It paralyzes seasoned concert musicians and freezes rookie cops in tight situations. And yet not everyone cracks. Soldiers keep their heads in combat; firemen rush into burning buildings; unflappable trauma doctors juggle patient after patient. It’s not that these people feel no fear; often, in fact, they’re riddled with it.

In Nerve, Taylor Clark draws upon cutting-edge science and painstaking reporting to explore the very heart of panic and poise. Using a wide range of case studies, Clark overturns the popular myths about anxiety and fear to explain why some people thrive under pressure, while others falter-and how we can go forward with steadier nerves and increased confidence.

Rating: 5

Reason for rating: I thought this was an excellent book. Even though it was a non-fiction book, it was a compelling read. He made the science really entertaining. It was also well organized and well thought out, something I especially appreciate in a non-fiction book. And I felt like I could use the science in my life. I really get stuck in worry sometimes and while I know I shouldn’t worry, sometimes understanding why I get sucked so easily into the worry loop (which he talks about) is helpful to ending the worry loop. Trust me, you do not want to miss this book. He makes the results of studies accessible, entertaining, and informative and looks at people in real life situations, not just hypothetical ones. I look forward to reading his other book someday.

Find Nerve on  Amazon

Find Nerve on Goodreads

And now for the giveaway! What happened was I won this book in a giveaway on another blog (which blog I don’t remember, it was a while ago, otherwise I would link to it) and I was accidentally shipped two copies of it. I called the publishing company and they said to keep it and do whatever I wanted with it. So in exchange, I am going to pass that along to you and giveaway my spare copy! No need for me to have two!

To enter, click on the link below that says a Rafflecoper giveaway and fill out the form – easy peesy! Let me know if you have any questions! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms: Contest is open to US only (sorry, I can’t afford to ship it internationally) ages 13 and older. Contest will end on December 1st at midnight (so last day to get your entries in is November 30th) and I will pick a winner using I am solely responsible for this giveaway and Little, Brown and Company are not responsible or affiliated in any way.

Disclosure: I won this in a giveaway on another blog! I am just reviewing it because I liked it and did not receive anything to do so. These thoughts are 100 percent real, honest, and mine. The Amazon link is also an affiliate link and if you purchase it through there, I will receive a small portion of the funds! Thanks for supporting me!


Reading To Your Kid!

As many of you know, I was a writing major in college. As you may guess from that, I value words, reading, writing, books and everything else along those lines.  So to me, it’s important to find time to read to Dom on a regular basis. I shoot for daily, but that doesn’t always happen depending on how crabby he is and what we’re doing during the day. However, I still find time to do this when I can, because the benefits are huge. Reading books to your kid is really crucial and important for their language development. So today I thought I would share some of the books that Dom and I love to read. In no particular order, here are five of the books we really love right now.

1.The Going-To-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

I don’t know exactly what it is about this book, but it’s fun and it’s cute. It’s a short and easy read, with entertaining colorful pictures. This is the book I’m most likely to give to Dom to look at by himself.

2. Hello, Animals! by Smriti Prasadam

This is one of our favorites. I could easily read this book to Dom three or four times in a row and he would keep paying attention. Additionally, it’s full of a lot of fun sounds that are really entertaining. This is actually a library book, but I keep thinking I’m going to have to buy a copy for our personal book collection.

3. My Daddy And Me by Amy Sklansky

Being a SAHM, it means I am the one that Dominic spends the majority of his time with. However, it’s important to me that Dom builds a good relationship with his dad. So while Nick is away, I like to read books like this to Dominic and talk about the fun things that dad will do with him when he gets home. This one is so cute and is a particular favorite. It talks about pairs of things that go together, just like dads and their children do.

4. Time for Bed by Mem Fox

This is a cute book that rhymes (which helps with language development). It’s all about mothers telling their various baby animals that it’s time for sleep. It’s a very cute book, in my opinion, and great to read before nap time or bedtime.

5. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle

This one is a favorite for us just because it’s classic and it helps teach colors. Really, who doesn’t love Eric Carle?

Reading “Moo Baa La La La” – another great book!

And here are my tips for reading with a little kid!

1. Try and pick books that they can touch and play with without the fear of them getting wrecked. This is why I pick board books. Occasionally, I will read to him from nicer picture books, but I don’t want him to rip the pages of those, so not very often.

2. Read to them at a time when they are in a good mood and have all their needs met. I.e. if they are hungry, feed them before you read to them.

3. Don’t try and force them to sit there too much longer than their attention span. I just find that it’s better to read to him a little bit and maybe not finish the whole story, than force him and sit there and be crabby about it. I want reading to be a positive experience for him, so I try and gauge his interest level. Sometimes he just wants to be moving about and I know there will be downtime later where it would be a better time to read to him.

Tell me, what are you favorite books to read to your kids? Or, if you don’t have kids, what were your favorite books as a kid?

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click on the link and buy the book, a small portion of the cost of your book will come back to me. Thanks for supporting me!

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Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith Review

Cross-posting from my other blog, which I hope, I think, to drop shortly and just make this my main blog for reviews and everything else. I can tell you for one thing it’s much less stressful to keep up with just one blog.

Name of book: Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith

Compiler: Margaret McSweeney

Margaret McSweeney is a well-published author often writing online articles for Make It Better (the former North Shore Magazine) and freelance articles for the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. In addition, she has authored and compiled several books including A Mother’s Heart KnowsGo Back and Be Happy; Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, Mother of Pearl and Aftermath.

With a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in international business, Margaret became a vice-president in the corporate finance division of a New York City bank and worked there 1986–93.

As founder of Pearl Girls, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda through Hands of Hope. For the past 10 years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs.

Summary (from Litfuse): Like oysters, women often encounter unexpected grit during their everyday lives. In response, God’s love and grace covers this grit and transforms the pain into a precious pearl that leaves a layered, luminous lining within a shell: Mother of Pearl. This brilliant luster is strong, lasting, and purposeful—just like the love, lessons, and legacies left by the special women in our lives.

Mother of Pearl celebrates the collective iridescence of motherhood. Margaret McSweeney presents a collection of heartfelt vignettes from authors who communicate the importance of the unique relationships between mothers and their children, between granddaughters and grandmothers and between children and the mother-figures in their lives.

These stories tell of the power of faith, prayer, and values, exploring coming of age, the joy of becoming a mother, the importance of motherhood, the ways to heal from a bad relationship with a mother and weathering the death of a special loved one. Poignant and thought-provoking, the stories serve to inspire, encourage, instill hope, and strengthen faith.

The proceeds from the sale of Mother of Pearl will be donated to organizations helping struggling women and children. The charities include Wings (Women in Need Growing Stronger) to help fund the Safe House in the Chicago suburbs and to Hands of Hope to help build wells for schoolchildren in Zambia.

Rating: 5

Reason for rating: This book – wow, what can I say about it. It was absolutely fabulously written and put together. The stories ranged across the gamut and they both made me smile and brought tears to my eyes. Some of the short pieces were more story-telling style while others were more factual but they were all inspiring and some were even challenging. Not in a challenging hard kind of a way, but in a way where they challenged you to take a specific action. It made me long to be a mom like these mothers and to miss my mom all the more. As soon as I finished this book, I texted her “I love you and miss you mom.” I also really appreciate that the proceeds of this book go to helping people. All in all, it’s a great read paired with great causes. I also really appreciated that most of the pieces were short so I could read one or two in just five or ten minutes which would leave me thinking as I worked on other things.

Find Mother of Pearl on Inspiring Voices

Find Mother of Pearl on Amazon

Find Mother of Pearl on Goodreads

Disclosure: I was provided with a free e-book copy of this in exchange for my honest review. These thoughts and feelings are 100 percent mine and 100 percent real!

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The Choice

All right, I’m cross posting this from my other blog because I’m starting to slowly switch things over and make this my only bog. Just a quick note, I know you can’t enter to win the Nook anymore but I left it in there since the author party is tonight and there are still prizes you can win there. I might be there. I hope to be there but it all depends on when little guy sleeps and if I do anything for my birthday.

Name of book: The Choice

Author: Robert Whitlow

Robert Whitlow is the best-selling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the prestigious Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. A Furman University graduate, Whitlow received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. A practicing attorney, Whitlow and his wife, Kathy, have four children. They make their home in North Carolina.

For more about Robert and his other books, visit

Summary (from Litfuse): One young woman. Two very different roads. The choice will change everything.

Even as a pregnant, unwed teen in 1974, Sandy Lincoln wanted to do the right thing. But when an ageless woman approached her in a convenience store with a mysterious prophecy and a warning, doing the right thing became even more unclear. She made the best choice she could . . . and has lived with the consequences.

More than thirty years later, a pregnant teen has come into her life, and Sandy’s long-ago decision has come back to haunt her. The stakes rise quickly, leaving Sandy with split seconds to choose once more. But will her choice decision bring life . . . or death?

Rating: 4.5

Reason for rating: Well when I first started reading this book I wasn’t so sure about it. To me, the first part of the book seems rushed and some lines and parts feel a little cliche. I was like yeah, yeah, yeah same old same old, I’ve heard this story before, give me something new. But sticking with it, the second part improved greatly, I found myself getting to know and really relate to these characters. (I am trying so hard right now, by the way, to write this review without spoilers because there are so many things I could say in more specific details, but I don’t want to give away huge chunks of the plot). By the end of the book, I was reading as fast as I could, trying so hard to find out what would happen next.  When I finished, I had tears in my eyes and the story had moved me deeply. As someone who did mock trial in high school and Model UN in college, I appreciated the legal aspects of it as well. The only other thing is that I’m not so sure I liked was the whole prophecy thing. It was a little too mysticism feeling for my liking, but I could look past that to the overall story itself and I understand how it furthered the plot. I think this book reminded me a little of Jodi Piccoult’s work, one of my favorite authors. I say that because of the interwoven ethical/moral dilemma, interaction with the legal system, and strong relationship/family components. I appreciated also that it was a Christian book on the subject of unwanted pregnancy and the choice between adoption, abortion, or parenting without ever coming across as preachy or holier than thou. It was refreshing. I think if you have ever been involved in the pro-life movement (as I have) that you will find this book a mostly enjoyable read.

Celebrate with Robert by entering to win a Nook Color with GlowLight!

See what folks are saying about The Choice!

One “choice” winner will receive:

  • A Nook Color with GlowLight
  • A four book Robert Whitlow library (winner’s choice)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 27th. Winner will be announced at the “The Choice” Author Chat Facebook Party on 8/28. Meet Robert, get a sneak peek of his next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and more. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group.)!

So grab your copy of The Choice and join Robert on the evening of the August 27th for a chance to connect with Robert and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don’t miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 28th!

Find The Choice on Thomas Nelson

Find  The Choice on Amazon

Find The Choice on Goodreads

Disclosure: I was provided with a free e-book copy of this in exchange for my honest review. These thoughts and feelings are 100 percent mine and 100 percent real!

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Book Review: Chazown by Craig Groeschel

So, I used to review books for my other blog, but with the shifting focus here, I decided why not just combine the two? Then it can be the best of both worlds – plus I know some people do well with having multiple blogs, but I think I have come to realize that I do best when I put my energy and focus into just one blog. But I love reviewing books, so I’m bringing that over here.

Name of the book: Chazown: Define Your Vision, Pursue Your Passion, Live Your Life on Purpose

Author: Craig Groeschel

Summary: (from Goodreads) “Chazown (pronounced khaw-ZONE) from the Hebrew, meaning a dream, revelation, or vision.

You were born with your own Chazown. Do you know what it is?

You’re invited on a most unusual odyssey—to find, name, and live out your personal Chazown. It’s a journey you’ll never forget because it’s impossible to return unchanged.

Practical, fresh, and biblically sound, Chazown is a one-of-a-kind life planning experience. Perhaps for the first time, you’ll clearly understand what you’ve always suspected:

I have been created and put on earth for a unique and important purpose.
And God intends for me to know it and live it with passion and fulfillment for His glory.

Craig Groeschel will help you get under the surface of your life to discover your life purpose in three often overlooked areas: your core values, your spiritual gifts, and your past experiences. He’ll help you turn it into a highly motivating credo—complete with short-term goals, action steps, and a supportive network to make your big dream a reality.

And then Craig will show you how to apply your own chazown to five critical areas of your life: your relationship with God, your relationships with people, your finances, your health and fitness, and your work.

Are you living someone else’s dream for your life, or no dream at all? Get ready for Chazown.

For resources, visit The Chazown Experience at

Rating: 5

Reason for Rating: I really like this book for a number of reason. The first reason is that it really makes you think. And the best part about the thinking is that it makes you think about a general concept that we all sort of talk about (God has a plan for your life) in a more concrete way (what is God’s plan for your life?). I think sometimes we often assume we can’t know God’s plan or purpose for our life so we don’t think critically about the spiritual gifts or the core values that God has given us. This book will encourage you and help you to think about how those things work together. The second thing is that it’s concrete. In the sections it asks you specific questions that apply to the concept being talked about. For example, it asks you to identify your spiritual gifts when it talks about them. In this way it’s a good book because I think it’s easy to read books that might fall under the sort of “self help” category but then you’re like, okay, that’s fine and dandy, but how do I do that? What does that look like practically? How do I start? Groeschel can cut a lot of that out because he’s provided specific pointed questions for you to think about. I also think it’s a really great book for small Bible studies. We’ve been studying this book in my Bible study (as I mentioned earlier) and it’s been working really well for that. The questions in the back definitely get us having long thought out discussions. Lastly, I can honestly say since I read this book, I really have been giving more thought to how can I be purposeful about serving and my life. This has been especially helpful since becoming a mom and has helped me to try and maintain some perspective. 

Find Chazown on Amazon

Find Chazown on Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a copy of this for free to provide my honest thoughts about the book. I was under no obligation to review it positively.


Fascinating Facts About Children’s Books

I don’t have a lot of time today because I’ll have to be out the door soon, but I thought I would leave you with a link to fascinating facts about children’s books. A lot of times, we read books as children but we have no idea all the larger messages at work within them or the points that the author was trying to make. Take Dr. Suess for example – his work was political but as a kid you don’t realize that Yertle the Turtle is talking about Hitler or that The Butter Battle Book is addressing the arms race. You just enjoy the stories.

So I hope you enjoy these fun facts found here. I know I certainly learned a thing or two. I think my favorite is the Alice in Wonderland used to be banned in parts China because the animals could talk and only humans are meant to talk. Anyways, let me know your favorite fact below!


The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan – I’m not very familiar with her to be honest, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t influential. Sometimes people can be influential behind the scenes or can still be influential despite people not knowing their name. But was she influential in 2011? Let’s take a look at what she did and then I’ll render my verdict.

  • She’s a fiction writer and a journalist.
  • Her book A Visit from the Goon Squad received a Pulitzer prize.
Is she influential? I think I am going to say yes. As I was investigating her, I ran across some of the journalism articles she wrote, it turns out I’ve read quite a few of them before – I just wasn’t aware it was her. They were really big pieces dealing with some tough issues and I think making a splash (One example would be this article: Wanted: A Few Good Sperm). Certainly, we may not know the name of our journalists, but they are highly influential in the terms that they control what news gets reported and how it gets reported. So I am ruling her influential as well.

The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Amy Chua

Amy Chua. Maybe you don’t recognize the name, but if I say Tiger Mom, would you recognize that?

Let’s learn a little more about her:

  • She is a law professor at Yale.
  • She wrote a memoir called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother which was about raising American kids the Chinese way.
  • Her book started a huge debate over how to parent your kids.
  • Her daughter has responded to the criticism of her mother by standing up for her mother.

If nothing else, she is influential because she started this huge conversation about how we should parent and what effect that has on our kids. I think having that conversation is important, regardless of what you think of her style. It started a conversation that needed to be had – what kind of parenting is best for our kids? It’s something that should be talked about. I can’t say anything yet about what I think of the memoir because I haven’t read it yet (but I plan to at some point) and I shouldn’t judge a whole book based on the comments of people online. But was she influential in this past year? Definitely.

Oh and because she’s influential for writing a book, here is a link to excerpts of it and at the end, the book itself:


*I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decide to buy the book after clicking on the link, part of the proceeds will come back to me. Thanks for supporting me!



XVI Review

I don’t usually do this, but I am willing to because I think that it would appeal to the audience of this blog. You might not know this, but I review books on the side over at I don’t usually cross post with this blog, but in books that I think were excellent and that I think pertain to the subject matter of this blog, I’m more than willing to.

Name of book: XVI

Author: Julia Karr

Summary (from the author’s website): “In the year 2150, being a girl isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when your sixteenth (read sex-teenth) birthday is fast approaching. That in itself would be enough to make anyone more than a little nuts, what with the tattoo and all – but Nina Oberon’s life has taken a definite turn for the worse. Her mother is brutally stabbed and left for dead. Before dying, she entrusts a secret book to Nina, telling her to deliver it to Nina’s father. But, first Nina has to find him; since for fifteen years he’s been officially dead. Complications arise when she rescues Sal, a mysterious, and ultra hot guy. He seems to like Nina, but also seems to know more about her father than he’s letting on. Then there’s that murderous ex-government agent who’s stalking her, and just happens to be her little sister’s dad.”

Rating: 5

Reason for rating:I loved this book. I think what drew me to it initially was the fact that was dystopian (I liked dystopian in 1984 before it was even trendy) but what made me stay was so much more. First of all, strong female characters. Nina was a strong female character, as were her mother and her little sister. I loved the larger questions it made me think about teenagers and the pressure to have sex and the way a society is (like maybe it’s more formal in this society – more spoken about, but is it really that much different now?). I loved the relationship between Nina and her little sister – it reminded me of the relationship between me and my little sister, even if I don’t have the same family situation. I love the hidden secrets and the things left under the surface. I love that Nina is written like a real character – you can see her struggle and I felt her feelings and emotions were very real. I think this is a must read book for anyone who is interested in these larger questions about sex and teenage girls in society in particular.

Find XVI on Amazon

Find XVI on Goodreads

Disclosure: I was not paid for this review. I checked it out from the library and loved it. All opinions in this post are 100 percent mine.


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