Saturday, January 30, 2016

Just Let Go

I know, I know!!! I take a little break from blogging because I've been working full-time at my kids' school (My daughter's teacher had a baby, and she asked me if I would teach her class during her three month maternity leave.), and I review a movie! Well......it's a good one, what can I say?? I still have two weeks left to teach full-time, and then hopefully things will get back to normal around here. I'm a woosy. I don't know how moms work full-time permanently. It's insane! Kudos to you all, I have a huge appreciation for all you do!





Just Let Go (Movie Review)

Have you heard this story? It's an amazing story. Be prepared to cry. Seriously. I heard about this story long before the movie came out; I remember hearing about it in the news, and I couldn't believe it. What Chris Williams went through is heartbreaking. And yet, he found the courage and inner-strength to forgive. It's a very powerful message! Instead of writing a quick blurb for you, I'm posting the movie trailer and then another movie that briefly sums up the entire story. 

Here's the movie trailer:




And here's the other brief movie about this story:




The focus of this movie is learning to forgive. It shows us that even when life is hard, and things happen to us that are unfair and awful, forgiveness will give us peace and allow us to move on in our lives. Forgiving those who hurt us allows us to be free. This movie is so inspirational. Whether you are a Christian or not, this movie will touch and inspire you to be better. I actually saw this movie the night of the Fathom Event, and I was amazed at the ability Chris had to forgive. The bonus features include the discussions by Delilah from that night, and the forgiveness challenge by Desmond Tutu. 

This movie is rated PG-13 for accident images and thematic material. I took my 14 year-old son with me when I saw it at the theater, and there were some parts that I thought were a little much for him. I was a little uncomfortable with him there, but at the same time, it's such a good message, and I was glad that he was able to see that. I hope he can learn the lesson of forgiveness now. He was emotional as we left the theater, and I think even though some parts were difficult to watch, the benefit of the lesson outweighed that. The movie is 106 minutes long. I highly recommend this movie!

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!

I know it's past Christmas, but......

Merry Christmas!!!!

I have been completely preoccupied for the last six weeks! (You could probably tell that I have not posted as much as I usually do.) I have been subbing full-time for my daughter's class at school. Her teacher had a baby and asked me if I would sub her class for the next 12 weeks. Wow. It has been crazy! I haven't worked full-time in 14 years, since I had my first baby. That was when I taught first grade, but it has been 14 years! Let's just say that jumping back into it has been a HUGE adjustment for all of us. I'm halfway through! Six more weeks to go and then hopefully I can get back to my usual routine! I usually do my reading at night when everyone is asleep and I can't sleep. However, the last six weeks I have fallen asleep so fast that I haven't been able to do much reading. I did, however,  manage to read this book. I love this book! I have read it many times, but it's been a few years; so I was excited to pick it up again. 




The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Blurb (from amazon.com):

"The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.
None of the Herdmans has ever heard the Christmas story before. Their interpretation of the tale -- the Wise Men are a bunch of dirty spies and Herod needs a good beating -- has a lot of people up in arms. But it will make this year's pageant the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever."

My Review:

I love this book! It's so cute and full of wonderful lessons; for Christmas time and all year long. The narrator is hilarious and engaging. She has a funny personality that makes you care about her and her story. The mom is so patient and usually has a positive outlook. The Herdmans are awful. I read this to the kids and I had to stop and talk about how unhealthy smoking is, and how stealing and setting fire to things are bad choices. However, it sets a great stage for what is to come in the story. Their bad behavior makes the change that much more poignant. I won't give it away, but some of the lessons learned are to actually think about the things we do, instead of just going through the motions, and to really think about the things we believe in. It also teaches the importance of not judging others, and to not gossip. It's a quick read, yet it is such a great book to read at this time of year. Reading this book helps put things in perspective. 

Rating: PG+ (It does talk about the kids smoking, burning things, and doing all sorts of bad things. It does have a religious overtone to it-just fyi.)

Recommendation: As long as mom or dad are sitting there discussing the poor choices that the kids are making, this book is fine for about first grade and up. As a silent read I would say third grade (but I would still recommend that a parent discusses it with them).


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Bookmarks!!!

I have a VERY talented friend! Her name is Colette, and she is the amazingness (Yes, I know that's not a word, but it describes her perfectly!) behind 

If you ever need any sort of printable (planners, calendars, fabulous subway art, 
bottle cap prints, candybar wraps, Halloween BOO signs....anything, go to her site first 
(I found that out the hard way! I spent hours searching on Pinterest for something and I finally found it! Guess whose it was?? Yep, Colette's; I should have gone there first and saved myself a lot of time!). Anyway, she has this darling FREEBIE printable bookmark
that she said I could share with all of you! I know my kiddos love bookmarks, and holiday
ones are the best! So please, check out her site, and go grab your cute
Christmas Bookmarks!!!


Here is the link:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Rare Nativity


A Rare Nativity by Sam Beeson (Images by Nina & Terral Cochran)

Blurb:

"We've all heard the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and we've all seen the traditional Christmas crèche. Now, author Sam Beeson and photographers Nina and Terral Cochran combine these two classic Christmas icons to create A Rare Nativity. Upon reading the first lines of the book, it's clear the narrator holds a bitter grudge as he sends his enemy crude and discarded gifts...Night after night the "gifts" pile up--shards of glass, rusty nails, gnarled twigs, and more. What the narrator's enemy decides to do with each of these odious gifts is nothing less than a Christmas miracle. The photographic creation of the rare nativity at the end of the book is both a work of art and a wonder to behold. Forgiveness is something we all need to give and receive, and A Rare Nativity opens our eyes to the act of forgiveness and the true meaning of Christmas. It's a universal message to be shared with readers of all ages. Christmas is a season for giving. Make it a season of forgiving."

My Review:

I have to admit that this book was not at all what I imagined when I opened the cover. When I think of Christmas books, I think of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, I think of angels and wise men, and I think of happiness and joy. I think of children smiling, of carols, and of family. I also think of yummy treats. When I opened this book I expected to find those things, or things that are similar. Especially thinking of the nativity, I think of Joseph and Mary with their baby in the stable. I think of angels, wise men, and shepherds. That is not what I found when I opened this book, and it definitely surprised me. This book is very different from every other Christmas book I have ever read, and I'm still trying to decide if that is a good thing or not. It opens with the line, "On the first night of Christmas I gave my enemy a briar from a tanglewood tree." This includes a picture of a burr-like thing; I'm assuming it's a briar. It goes on like that for many pages, with the narrator giving his enemy all these awful things. In the end, there is a good moral, it all comes together, and you understand. However, I felt like it focused way too much on the negative gifts and the enemy. Maybe it's because it's Christmas, but I just felt like it was 90% negative and 10% positive, and even though the positive was good, it wasn't enough to win me over. It's still a good book, and it's a good lesson to teach my kids, but unfortunately it will not be my new favorite Christmas book. If you're looking for something different this year, then A Rare Nativity will be just the book for you!

Rating: G (It's clean)

Recommendation: Everyone

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

#GivingTuesday

Global Literacy Infographic
 https://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check

Infected


Infected by Nicole Trump

Blurb:

"I try to steady my breathing as I hide from one of the Infected, the man with hatred in his eyes who is stalking me. He wants nothing less than my life. If I am caught, I will be taken mercilessly. Jo is special. She has been chosen to be one of a handful of people to be frozen in time, saved for a later time, when the Infected may have taken over, and humanity will have to be restored. But as Jo goes to her freezing chamber, she wonders if this is as much an honor as everyone seems to think. She's right. Jo and her companions awaken to a world completely different from the one they left. Immediately attacked by Infected they used to call friends, Jo and her fellows, Todd and Finn, must fight for survival and run for their lives. Setting out across rough terrain in search of other uninfected humans, they learn what it means to be in constant danger. Will Jo, Todd, and Finn be able to find their fellow humans before the Infected overtake them? Will they even see the next day?"

My Review:

I'm not much of a zombie fan, so I was a little hesitant to read this book. However, in the end, I thought it was entertaining. The twist of Jo, Todd, and Finn being frozen was interesting, and it added some different plot twists along the way. I liked Jo, Todd, and Finn, and thought they were fairly well developed. Jo is usually a strong female character, but she does have her moments. I liked some of the people that helped them as well, and I thought they were good characters. The plot doesn't go a long way; I felt that some of the time seemed like they were walking in circles, but it had some surprising turns to keep the reader interested. I liked reading about the relationship between Jo and Todd. It was kind of strange with how young they were, I felt as if I were reading about an older couple, but even that is explained.

There isn't any profanity that I can remember in this book. There really isn't any "intimacy," although there is some kissing and cuddling. There is quite a bit of violence though. There are a bunch of Infected killed, and there is some graphic fighting. Overall, though, I was entertained.

Rating: PG+ (Little to no profanity, no "intimacy," some minor kissing and cuddling, but a lot of violence, and some of it is graphic.)

Recommendation: 12 and up. This book is fine for older middle-graders (6th grade)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Saturn Run


Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein

Blurb: 

In 2066, a Caltech intern notices an anomaly – something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate. Spaceships do. A flurry of meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least one hundred years ahead in technology, and whoever can get their hands on it will have an unmatchable advantage. A conclusion the Chinese share when they find out themselves. The race is on, and a remarkable adventure begins – an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, and astonishing discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect – and everything you could want from one of the world’s greatest masters of suspense.

My Review:

I usually enjoy a good sci-fi story, so I was excited to read this book. This book has a lot of science and detail in it; you can tell the authors put a lot of time into researching the technology and science of it. Some of the technology in the book is actually quite interesting. The different engines, the heat shields, the eggs (little personal space transporters), and the unusual gadgets on the ship especially caught my attention. The writing got a little technical in a few spots, but it wasn't too bad, and it didn't last long. The characters are fun. Many of them are well written; some of them are a little cliche, like the intelligent, good-looking, stuck-up, spoiled, lazy, ivy league Sandy, who doesn't really deserve to be there, but is. I like that the President of the United States is a woman, Santeros. Also, the commander of the ship is a woman. She goes by Fang-Castro. The story is somewhat predictable, but there are a few surprises along the way that hold your attention. You could feel the characters' excitement, fear, worry, stress, and feeling of accomplishment at every step of the way. I don't have any idea if any of it is really possible, but it's a fun and unique story. 

There is a lot of profanity in this book. A lot. And much of it is the "f" word, which is extremely annoying and distracting. There is violence in this book as well, with several characters dying, and some intense fighting scenes. There is also quite a bit of "intimacy." There are scenes, innuendos, jokes, and bets. Without all the profanity and "intimacy" I would have enjoyed this book more. All that stuff is so distracting and irritating. I wish authors would leave it out (ok, I'll step off my soap-box now....)!

Rating: R (Profanity, including a lot of "f" words, violence including fighting scenes and several characters dying, and a lot of "intimacy," with scenes, innuendos, jokes, and full-on, ship-wide bets with a lot of money.)

Recommendation: Adult. This book is NOT appropriate for YA readers, or younger.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.




Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Last September


The Last September by Nina de Gramont 

Blurb:

"Brett has been in love with Charlie ever since he took her skiing on a lovely Colorado night fourteen years ago. And now, living in a seaside cottage on Cape Cod with their young daughter, it looks as if they have settled into the life they desired. However, Brett and Charlie's marriage has been tenuous for quite some time. When Charlie's unstable younger brother plans to move in with them, the tension simmering under the surface of their marriage boils over. But what happened to Charlie next was unfathomable. Charlie was the golden boy so charismatic that he charmed everyone who crossed his path; who never shied away from a challenge; who saw life as one big adventure; who could always rescue his troubled brother, no matter how unpredictable the situation. So who is to blame for the tragic turn of events? And why does Brett feel responsible?"

My Review:

This book is one of the shereads.org books of fall. I was excited to read this book because the ladies at shereads usually pick great books to read. I was not disappointed! I loved the writing style of this book; I got sucked in right from the beginning. I liked how the author incorporated the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson in her story. I have always enjoyed her poetry, and I liked how it was woven into the story of Brett and Charlie. The characters were well developed, real, and interesting. There were times I liked Brett and times I didn't. I felt the same way about Charlie and Eli too. That is what made the characters life-like, I thought, was that they weren't perfect. They made mistakes, like we all do, and how they learned from or reacted to those mistakes told you a lot about their character. The relationship between Brett and Charlie made me crazy at first because it was so one-sided. However, I came to see how they fit together and complimented each other. I didn't like how they treated each other at times, but no one is perfect, right? The relationship between Brett and Eli was fascinating. Eli's character was well done. I'm not going to give it away, but he was written well, and with everything going on, it would be hard to accurately describe a character with those characteristics. I've never been around someone with his diagnosis, but as an uninformed reader, it seemed accurate. The transitions between the flashbacks and reality were seamlessly done, and I never got confused. You all know me, I do not read to figure out what's going on, I just read. So I didn't see the surprise at the end coming. It was a good and bad twist. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the twist: Did it make you feel better or worse about the situation? I enjoyed this book! I thought it had some great lessons on marriage and never letting your guard down. Marriage is something you constantly need to work on and work for--together. It's also something you should not take for granted. You aren't ever going to change someone, so you need to love what you have, even with idiosyncrasies and shortcomings. Forgiveness in marriage is a necessity. Life is short, so live life to the fullest each day, and love those around you with all you have because you never know what tomorrow brings. Wow. That's a little deep, but that's what I got out of this book. Also, mental illness is real, and those with mental illnesses need love, support, and good doctors. We've come a long way with mental illness in the past few years, but I think it is something that still needs more research, and a change in how we view people that struggle with it. So anyway, it's a good book. :)

There is some profanity in this book. I was excited because there wasn't a lot at all, and then when you get to about page 120ish, there are several "f" words all at once. Ugh.....I hate that. And then, that was it. Once you get through those few pages it's fine. Weird. I hate it when authors just throw them in to throw them in. It's irritating. There is some violence as well. There's some domestic violence and death. Some of the scenes are graphic. There is some "intimacy," but it doesn't go into a lot of detail. You know it happens, but it isn't described in detail. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it with the above warnings. 

Rating: R (This book is not appropriate for younger readers. Profanity, including a few "f" words; violence, including domestic violence and death; "intimacy" scenes and innuendos. They aren't too graphic or descriptive, but you know it happens.)

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Blackberry Winter


Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Blurb: 

"Seattle, 1933. Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, good night and reluctantly leaves for work. She hates the night shift, but it's the only way she can earn enough to keep destitution at bay. In the morning--even though it's the second of May--a heavy snow is falling. Vera rushes to wake Daniel, but his bed is empty. His teddy bear lies outside in the snow. Seattle, present day. On the second of May, Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge awakens to another late-season snow storm. Assigned to cover this 'blackberry winter' and its predecessor decades earlier, Claire learns of Daniel's unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth--only to discover that she and Vera are linked in unexpected ways."

My Review:

I really liked this book! I was hooked from the first page. I loved the writing style; it sucked me in, and I felt as if I lived in Vera's world. I loved the language and the descriptions. I thought the characters were well developed and realistic. I especially liked Vera and Claire. I felt for Vera. I wanted to scream at her not to leave Daniel by himself that night, but unfortunately, my screaming would not have helped the situation. I cannot imagine being so destitute that leaving my baby home alone would even be an option. Her emotions were so realistic and raw. I cried when I read it. I liked Claire a lot too. She was making me nervous with Dominic, but I ended up liking the connection it brought with it (I won't give too much away). I hated the relationship she had with her husband, and it definitely made me grateful for the wonderful relationship I have with my husband. I can't imagine going through what they did, though. That would be awful. There are some great lessons for marriages: the importance of communication, and working together to get through difficult situations. I also thought you might each need to handle trials in different ways, but somehow you need to find a way to bring those ways together, or you end up too far apart.  I also liked the title, how it fit the story, and how it wove its way into little details here and there.

There were some parts of this book that were predictable, and there were a lot of "coincidences," but I still couldn't put it down. There is some profanity in this book. There is some violence as well. There is also "intimacy." There are a few scenes along with innuendos. It wasn't too detailed or graphic, but it was there. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I would definitely like to read more by this author. I would recommend it with the above warnings.

Rating: R (Profanity, violence, and "intimacy," including scenes and innuendos.)

Recommendation: Adult (This book is not appropriate for YA readers.)


Monday, October 19, 2015

The Heir (The Selection Series Book # 4)





The Heir (The Selection Series Book #4) by Kiera Cass

Blurb:

"Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon--and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has 0 interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible. But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection--no matter how fervently she protests. Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her...and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought."

My Review:

I didn't expect this book to be written from a different perspective than the other ones, but it was. It was written from the point of view of Eadlyn, daughter to America Singer and Prince Maxon. I have to say that just changing the point of view kind of turned me off to the book at first. Once I knew it wasn't America's story I kind of lost interest. But, I'd read all the other books so I decided to read it. It wasn't as good as I hoped it would be, but it turned out okay. It was quite predictable, but I still kept reading. The characters were done fairly well. I liked her brothers Ahren, Osten, and Kaden. I didn't really love Eadlyn. She was difficult to relate to, kind of bratty, and hard to please. You can kind of see why she is that way, with how she is raised, but it was a little irritating. Out of all the Selection boys I'd have to say that I liked Kile, Hale, Ean, Henri, and Erik (even though he's not an official candidate). Each of these guys were respectable and seemed like nice, normal guys. Although some of the dating scenes were cheesy and predictable, I did begin to kind of soften towards the story as I continued reading. This book is okay. If you read the others then you will most likely want to read this one, just know that it is different.

There is some language in this book, so be prepared. There was also too much about "intimacy" for my tastes, especially in a YA book. It is discussed and there is at least one almost-scene. There is kissing. One of my biggest turn-offs with this book is the violence. There is quite a bit of domestic violence in this book. The guys in the Selection aren't as respectable with her as they should be. There is one scene, in particular, where the guy's intent is rape. It doesn't happen, but you understand that the intention is there. I was not a fan of that scene.

Rating: PG-13 (Profanity, domestic violence, including an almost-rape scene, and discussions about "intimacy," along with an almost-scene.)

Recommendation: 13 and up (YA). This book is not appropriate for middle-graders.