Ask LJ- Reviewer Questions

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I get asked a lot of questions about reviewing. I figured I would answer them all in Ask LJ style for you.

LJ,

How did you get started as a reviewer?

Wanting To Begin

Wanting To Begin,

This is an easy one! I rely really heavily on reviews when I shop. I don’t want the advertisement junk or sales people pitches. I don’t care about all that. I want reviews. What did real people think about the product? That is where the good info is. Since I rely so heavily on reviews, I started feeling like it was my duty to review the things I tried, good or bad, to help others when they were looking to make a purchase. So, I started reviewing everything I bought. I started reviewing mostly on Amazon, because that is where I made the majority of my online purchases. I then started reviewing books on Goodreads. Basically, anywhere I could. I do post some reviews here on my blog. Some get pic reviews on Instagram. But really, I just started reviewing the things I was buying anyway. I didn’t buy things just to review them. I didn’t overspend trying to get enough “good stuff” to review. Just reviewed the things I bought and used.

LJ

Dearest LJ,

I want free stuff. How do I get free stuff to “review”?

Make It Worth It

Make It Worth It,

This is the most often asked question. Honestly, the answer is that I don’t know. This reviewing thing just kind of landed in my lap. I didn’t really seek it out, so I don’t know how someone seeking it out would go about it. For me, I wrote reviews because I like reviews. I did that for years before I was sent my first item free for review. It started with books. Advanced Reading Copies that I read quickly and reviewed promptly. Then it branched out into other stuff. I also have quite a span of kids here, so reviewing some things is easier here because many ages can try the same thing in the same environment. If you dislike writing and don’t personally see value in reviews, this probably isn’t for you and that is okay.

LJ

LJ,

What is the craziest thing you have ever reviewed?

Curiosity Killed The Cat

Curious Kitty,

I think reviewing vitamins felt the weirdest. I know that seems strange, but it feels a little like being a human guinea pig. I also reviewed a slew of ovulation tests and pregnancy tests. Reviewing things you pee on is a little strange. Underwear. But honestly, those are the things you WANT reviews on! As far as just, weirdest, I guess that would be… I don’t know. There are literally years worth of options. Weird rug that felt like a wet cat, home microderm abrasion machine that felt like I was sanding and vacuuming my skin at the same time, knives that The Pastor then cut the tip of his finger off with, a clarinet, a faucet, a loveseat- maybe I should just say they were unusual.

LJ

Dear LJ,

Reviewing seems like it’d be the best! Are there any bad parts?

Certainly Only Good

Dear Certainly,

It isn’t only good. It takes a lot of time. There are times I have to extremely limit what I will review because I know I am just too busy. I can only review so many books at a time. I have read so many bad books. Books that make me think, do they really just publish any old thing these days? So much time spent on bad books. And mediocre books. I mean, with so much wonderful literature in the world, and only so many pages that can be read in a lifetime, and I have voluntarily spent many of those on horrible or “eh” books. Really, it is sad.

And then there is having to write negative reviews. I don’t like that. But I feel obligated to honest reviews, so negative reviews are inevitable.

Time lines. When you are reviewing for fun, because you love reviews, and you are reviewing what you want, you can have whatever timeline you want. You can use it for 3 months, then review it once you really see what you think. But with most reviews that are given to you, they have a tighter timeline. And that isn’t always long enough to maybe test the product as much as you’d like. The ability to edit reviews does help this a bit, since I can go back after 3, 6, or 12 months or whatever and add to or change my initial review. Some timelines are even tighter. I, no joke, had a supplement company request a review in 3 days. 3 days for a supplement that literally would take 3-6 months to really give any information beyond what the bottle looked like.

And then you have the issue of stuff. Stuff accumulates. A person can only own so many vacuums. Some of my agreements state that I have to keep it or destroy it. Some say I have to keep it for a certain amount of time. Some don’t care who I pass it off to when I am done, I guess thinking maybe they’ll get a second bonus review from the product. But you accumulate stuff. And that stuff has to be dealt with in some way or another. And I have to remember which things have to be dealt with in which ways. Then you have the times when you try the thing, abuse the thing a little, and then the company wants the thing back because it broke or in some way performed in a way they didn’t expect. Then you have to get the thing out of your stuff storage system and send it back. It just all takes time and organization.

LJ

Hey LJ,

Do you make money on reviewing?

The Question Everyone Wants To Know

Everyone,

As much as The Pastor wishes that reviews generated income, they do not. My reviews do not pay a dime. In fact, the reviewed items themselves are now considered income by the IRS. So, really this could only cost me money at this point. I also never generate an affiliate link for items I received for review. (I do provide affiliate links for items I paid my money for. Affiliate links give me a few cents or whatever if a reader uses them to purchase something. So, if you want to support your favorite blogger, use their affiliate links!) So, no, this is not a lucrative hobby. More of a barter system type transaction. Again, I do this because I love reviews. I am a big fan of giving my opinion.

LJ

Dear LJ,

What is the best part of reviewing? Why do you like it so much? It seems like a lot of trouble.

Tell Me Why

Tell Me Why,

First, I value reviews when I buy something, so I like to think that I am helping build that type of consumer community where we all share our honest experiences in order to make things easier and better.

Second, I like to write and it gives me an outlet. Clearly, I do so in other ways, but in my early reviewing days, this and mom forums were where I did the majority of my writing. And mom forums are awful. So, reviewing it is.

Third, it really pushes me out of my comfort zone. I never would have tried paddle boarding if I hadn’t been sent a paddle board for review. I never would have cooked soup for weeks straight and found some amazing recipes had I not been sent a soup cookbook to review. Every review gives me the opportunity to experience and try something new. In the world of reviewing for free items, that often means trying things I might not have otherwise tried.

Fourth, I like giving my opinion. I like the satisfaction of being heard. I mean, I don’t necessarily think companies use my reviews to make their products better. But they could. And that is enough for me.

LJ

LJ,

What kind of products do you review?

What, What, What, What

What,

I really review anything I use. I started with books and baby items, since that is what I used most. It extended to toys, since I have kids from 19 months -10 years old. Household items were added to the mix. Clothes. Shoes. Soap. Vitamins. Electronics. Makeup. Beauty Products. Really, there isn’t much I won’t review. I’m more selective these days about what I will review, since there is only so much time to review things. But really, I review it all.

LJ

Dear LJ,

How do you write a good review?

Assist

Assist,

You write your experience. Really, that is about it. Do you like it? Do you hate it? What bothered you? How could it be better? What was particularly enjoyable about it? You’re just giving your opinion on the item in your hand.

I do take price point into consideration. I do take my expectations into consideration. I do take the opinions of my family into consideration. (An example of that would be a Korean lip peel that I hated but my 10 year old daughter loved. I would have rated it terribly, but she liked it, so I saw it did have some appeal and use to her age group.)

I find long reviews too cumbersome to get through. For book reviews, I don’t want the back of the book jacket when I am reading the reviews. I don’t need the entire plot.

My new favorite feature is pictures. I want pictures of the item from real people, not the professionally taken and photo shopped pictures. Real pictures. Even phone pictures. In fact, using your phone for reviews with pictures is the easiest in the world to do.

LJ

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Explode The Code Online- A Review

emery 2

This is Emery. He is a spirited little guy. He is very persistent. He is extremely passionate. He is very driven. He is a self-started. He is also not a fan of being told what to do. He dislikes workbooks. He has some super awesome qualities, but because of his independent and quite exuberant personality, he can be a challenge to teach.

Last year, we tried the Explode the Code workbooks. They were not a great fit. Emery and I butted heads for a month or two at the beginning of the school year, and then I just decided we’d wait a year for Kindergarten. Then something awesome happened. Emery decided he’d be his own Kindergarten teacher. He taught himself all his letters and letter sounds. He taught himself to count and do basic math. By the end of the year, he was reading. All without my involvement. The kid is driven. So, this year, it was time for first grade, since he mastered Kindy all by himself. I knew I needed something different. Then I saw it- Explode the Code Online!

It covers reading and spelling all in one online program. You pay per year and they progress through at their own pace. Each lesson awards them a badge. They get bees when they don’t do so well, ladybugs when they need a little work, butterflies when they do well, and paper airplanes when they do excellent work. I can log into my parent portal and see how Emery is progressing. It tells me how much time each lesson took. It tells me what areas need improvement. He is absolutely thriving on this program. He can do it completely without me and he loves that. He is proud of his badges and is progressing through first grade quickly. He may start tackling second grade material soon!

Now, some kids, you could help them in areas they struggle. Not so with Emery. What I usually do is leave books with the tricky words for him on the top of the book piles and highly visible for him so when he runs to grab a book to read, he will hopefully grab the book that will help him with his lacking skill. (Like bl- combination words or whatever it is that week.) I really could not have asked for a better reading program for this kid.

They do say you can use it on your tablet, but I have not tried. Emery sits at the computer in our kitchen to do his reading work.

2014 Books In Review

I’ll admit it, I did not read very much in 2014. I honestly don’t know what happened. I just had a slow reading year. I ended up reviewing a bunch of non-book products (crib sheets, stroller, baby carriers, vacuum, toys, etc.). But I did read, on average more than one book per month. Here they are:

revivalRevival: Faith As Wesley Lived It by Adam Hamilton

5 Stars

Written by a United Methodist Pastor, Revival is divided geographically. Each chapter focuses on a place in Wesley’s life and ministry and ties that back to Wesley’s teachings. You’ll find pictures of the author’s journey to these places. You could even use the book as a guidebook to a Wesley centered trip. He quotes Wesley’s sermons and relates them to modern life. This is a book easily understood by laity, and easily appreciated by clergy. You’ll find snippets of Wesley’s life, snippets of Wesley’s thoughts, and snippets of current Wesleyan perspective- all in one book. While not exhaustive, it is certainly a good peak into the life and mind of Wesley and into the theology of Wesleyans.

hereinisloveHerein Is Love, Volume 3: Leviticus by Nancy E. Ganz

5 Stars

I cannot tell you enough how much I love this book. I got it for homeschooling. We’d been going through the Old Testament and I found myself stumped when it came to Leviticus. This book is amazing. It ties the Old Testament to the New in a way that kids can understand. It is set up with lessons in the beginning and questions in the back. It can easily be used for Sunday School type curriculum, as well. This is understandable by grammar school age kids, but isn’t below middle or even high schoolers. My 5 year old was able to remember all the steps to becoming a priest! This book was a huge help and a huge blessing. I cannot recommend it enough!

soupclub

The Soup Club Cookbook by Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Lasko, and Julie Peacock

5 Stars

At first, I just wanted this book for the soup recipes. And there are plenty of those! The range of the recipes is pretty wide, but if you’re not a foodie, not many of them are going to appeal to you. There are also some very difficult to find specialty ingredients in a lot of the soups. If you live near a large metro area, it likely won’t be difficult for you to acquire them. If you live in more rural areas, you’ll have a lot more trouble with a lot of the ingredients. (We’re talking about things like Marmite, specialty cheeses, fresh chestnuts, celeriac bulbs, sunchokes, masa harina, kombu, nori, etc.) There are also several non-soup recipes. I was thrilled with the recipes included. And the recipes are huge, which is a plus for this large family momma.
But what really surprised me is how much I actually like the idea of a soup club. I usually shy away from dinner clubs, mostly because they just don’t work for my family. But soup club is something I could really get used to. I look forward to finding a few friends to try soup club with me.
You’ll need a few things to make this cookbook work for you. You’ll need a huge stock pot. The soup recipes are intended to be split among 4 families. That means each recipe makes 8-9 quarts of soup. (And if you’re a large family mom, like myself, that means their might even be leftovers!) You’ll need an immersion blender for several of the soups. You may need a food processor for several soups. And if you’re starting a soup club, you’ll need quart sized jars, small jars for garnishes, and canvas tote bags for delivery.

crochetwithoneCrochet with One Sheepish Girl by Meredith Crawford

5 Stars

I am a very beginning crocheter. This book has the basics in the beginning of the book, though crochet is a little hard to grasp in book form, so you may want to watch some YouTube videos to help with the beginner basics. There are several patterns in this book, all of them pretty unique. (I hate it when I buy a craft book and can find every single pattern for free on the internet. This book isn’t like that.)
Patterns include: Granny Square Infinity Cowl, Color Block Ribbed Turban, Bow Brooch, Striped Bow Clutch, Sweater Makeover (Adding crochet hearts to a sweater, not the pattern for the sweater), Collared Shirt Makeover (Adding a crochet trim to a button up shirt), Scallop Stripe Cowl, Home Cozy Home Pillowcase, Crochet Edge Frames, Yarn Bag Makeover (Adding Crochet touches to a ready made canvas bag), Ombre Basket in Three Sizes, Crochet Hook Organizer, Heart Pocket Apron, Teacup Coasters, “Enjoy” Place Setting Placemat, Cottage Tea Cozy, Diana Camera Purse (looks like a camera, doesn’t hold a camera), Tablet Case, Gift Boxes, Chocolate Latte (crochet to go coffee cup, doesn’t actually hold coffee), Blueberry Muffin (again, a “play” muffin), Party Hat Garland, Snow Cone Garland, and Crochet Edge Cards and Tags (cards are printed in the back of the book so you can make copies of the cards she has or add the trim to your own).

charcuterieThe New Charcuterie Cookbook by Jamie Bissonnette

4 Stars

This is a well laid out book. There are plenty of pictures, even step by step pictures helping you wade through the unfamiliar territory. You’ll need more than the average American kitchen contains, though. You’ll need a meat grinder. For many recipes, you need a separate meat curing fridge. You’ll need a sausage stuffer. None of these recipes will make your kitchen more efficient or save you money. This is more of a hobby cooking type endeavor. (Telling you his first few hams didn’t turn out, so don’t worry if yours doesn’t won’t fly when you’re counting on that ham for dinner.)

You should also be aware that this book, particularly in the introduction, is quite crude and contains a few profanities. I wouldn’t usually expect that in a cookbook, but think it is pertinent info, particularly for those giving the book as a gift.

Overall, a beautifully laid out, well explained book. Just not something the average American home cook is going to necessarily employ.

goodadvice
Good Advice from Bad People by Zac Bissonnette
4 Stars
This makes for an interesting coffee table book. Organized with a quote on one page in large print and then the story of why the quote is so humorous coming from that person follows on the next page or two. Some of the quotes and stories are not so amusing, some are. Makes a great conversation starter, for sure.
afterworlds
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield
3 Stars
This book is two books in one. You have the book, “Afterworlds”. Then you have the story of a young up-and-coming author writing “Afterworlds”. Chapters alternate between the stories. The timing between the stories is very well done.
“Afterworlds” by Darcy Patel would have gotten a 5 star review. And I would sit anxiously awaiting “Untitled Patel”. It was the second story of Darcy Patel flowing through the pages that brought the rating down. Don’t get me wrong, the book premise was genius, the timing of the stories flowing together was nothing short of epic. The characters in the Darcy Patel story just lost their fizz and definition as the love relationship in that story began. The plot took over and left nothing for the characters themselves to be. Darcy began acting not like Darcy, but by a pawn of the plot. Huge bummer because this book could have been epic. Darcy was just all wrong from the beginning. (She should have been a dude- that would have made so much more sense because she didn’t ever feel like any girl I have ever known. The soul of the character felt like an insecure boy.) Read it, because you have to- this is Scott Westerfeld we’re talking about. Enjoy the genius in the premise and in the Afterworlds story. But know that the Darcy Patel story is just a flat, soulless blah once you get beyond the perfect timing, insightful industry look, and innovative idea.Parental blurb: (This book is YA. Recommended for 14 and up. So I am dutifully including the info parents might want to know.) This book contains the following:
-terrorism
-cult in minor detail
– violence, but nothing excessively graphic
– violence against children
– cursing, not excessive, but a few f-bombs
– underage drinking
– sex in vague passing references, nothing graphic
– homosexual relationship is one of the main stories in the book

breastfeeding
5 Stars

I have breastfed all five of my children, so I am not new to this, nor was any of the information in the book really new or unheard of to me. However, this made me heart just sing reading about the beauty God created in the mother and child dynamic shared in breastfeeding. I will go back and read this again and again. And I highly recommend it!

Note: I am not Catholic, but I found the book amazing nonetheless. I am Protestant/Methodist.

hyperbole
Hyperbole and A Half by Allie Brosh
4 Stars
I don’t read the blog, but I bought the book anyway. I wasn’t exactly aware of how much the author likes the F word. I found the book amusing. I would caution readers that it does contain a lot of profanity, so if that is something that bothers you, skip this book. There is no getting around the profanity.
fallout
The Fallout by S.A. Bodeen
4 Stars
I did not think The Compound really needed a sequel. It was a great stand alone story. I wish authors would rebel against this new trend toward making everything a series. With that said, I liked this book. I didn’t want it tagged onto The Compound, but I did enjoy it.
baked
Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
5 Stars
If you know me, you know how much I love baking. And I love the premise of these recipes- decrease the sugar where you can, add more chocolate where you can. There are recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, tarts, and more. If you’ve never baked a cake before, you might want to start with something simpler, but for those that know their way around a mixer, you’ll love this book!
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Lectures in Old Testament Theology by Dennis Kinlaw with John Oswalt
5 Stars
As I was preparing to teach the kids about the Old Testament this year, I found myself with a lot of questions. So, instead of trudging along blindly, I picked up this book and began to read and help answer some of those questions. This book was undoubtedly a blessing to me. It helped me understand the Old Testament, helped tie it to the New Testament, and gave me more insight into the Bible than I have had before. While this book was written for academia, I find it very easy to understand with no theological or Biblical degree. I would recommend it for clergy and laity, alike.
bibleamongthemyths
The Bible Among Myths by John Oswalt
5 Stars
In addition to the previous book, I picked up this book to help further answer some of my questions. Living in a time where everyone spouts “truth” as it is known to them, it is easy to find yourself a bit confused on what is and isn’t actually true. This book helped frame the world when the Bible was written. It helps you understand the concepts of myth and history and how the Bible fits into that. It is a little more difficult to read than Lectures in Old Testament Theology, but readable nonetheless, for those with an interest in the subject.
Note: Dr. Oswalt was one of The Pastor’s seminary professors.
holdon
Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate
5 Stars
I read this book at such an opportune time. My kids have just started playing with other kids around the neighborhood and I was able to see a lot of what the authors were discussing playing out in the early stages. And I was really surprised how quickly the kids’ attachments went from our home to homes around the neighborhood. It has definitely given me more to think about and more of a leg to stand on when certain relationships my children have make me uncomfortable. (And usually, it isn’t a matter of the other kid being a bad kid. It is just how much emphasis and how much of themselves they throw into the relationship, even at relatively young ages.) This is definitely a book to read, particularly for those entering the world of raising kids who have their own friends and relationships outside of the family. It is easier to foster healthier relationships from the beginning than to be scrambling to fix them when things go bad. (Though if you’re in that second camp, this book will help, too.)
angryconvos
Angry Conversations With God by Susan E. Isaacs
4 Stars
I really couldn’t relate to Susan’s story at all. I don’t know what it is like to be a single adult searching for your mate. I don’t know what it is like to move across the country while single. I don’t know what it is like building a career while searching for Mr. Right. I didn’t do those things. And that life is so foreign to me, I just couldn’t relate. I know nothing about church hopping and trying to find the perfect church. (I’ve always been of the “grow where you are planted” variety and try to make my church better and take the things that I dislike about it to make myself a better person. I’ve never moved to a new city and had to shop for churches. In every move, I had a church home waiting for me, and I made that the best I could.)
This book is funny and snarky. And I enjoyed it, despite the author being nothing like myself. I like peeking into the spiritual journey’s of others. It gives me more insight into choices they make and why they tick. So, I did enjoy the book, though I didn’t necessarily find it personally edifying or touching.
handsfree
You’ve already seen my review of Hands Free Mama and all the ways I dislike it. If you haven’t, go read it. I gave it 2 out of 5 stars, and I think that was being pretty generous.
protecting
Protecting The Gift by Gavin de Becker
4 Stars
I really liked Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear. That book really should be read by all parents. This book, had its great points. If I was in a different situation in life, needing childcare providers on a regular basis or something, this book would have likely gotten 5 stars. There are screening questions for daycares, schools, and babysitters. There are tips on things to look for, things to ask that you may not think about, and just the general word to trust your gut. Parents today need to hear that. Trust your gut. We get so bogged down in the lists and the comparing that we often try not to listen to ourselves, even when we should. This book also helped me navigate some personal parenting issues that had come up in my life, which was invaluable. I just found that I really liked about half the book and then just kind of got through the other half. It isn’t a topic we usually like to dwell on, but Gavin de Becker does such a great job of getting right to the heart of the matter that it immediately deals with our anxieties and then leaves us with nothing but newfound strength.
makingafamilyhome
Making A Family Home by Shannon Honeybloom
2 Stars
The book is full of beautiful pictures… of the author’s perfect home and perfect kids and perfect life. Of course, likely all taken on the same day and likely not quite as perfect as projected. (I think we’ve all seen similar on social media.) It was seriously just room by room of her house and how to make your house like her home. I didn’t find it all that helpful or inspirational, it just felt pretentious. But the pictures were pretty.
lovingthelittleyears
Loving The Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
4 Stars
Overall, I enjoyed this book. There were parts that were very encouraging. Parts that had me tearing up. Parts that I felt convicted to do better for my kids. I think her views on how children change a mother’s body are amazing and could read an entire book just on that subject.
I did conclude that Mrs. Jankovic and I are very different parents. And to me, that is okay. However, I wish she wouldn’t have talked so much about discipline in her book since that is where she and I would majorly disagree. I also didn’t find it helpful to the overall grounding and encouraging tone of the book. I also found it humorous that a mom whose oldest child is 5 is talking about long term discipline approaches. She really should have left that part out, added a few more uplifting and encouraging chapter, and called it a five star book.
mamarazzi
Mamarazzi by Stacey Wasmuth
4 Stars
This book is overall a good help to taking great pictures of your kids. It contains tons of pictures along with the camera settings uses to take each picture. There are tips on how to make handmade photography helps, like diffusers and reflectors. It is a very good resource for the technical aspects of photography, explaining aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. There were tips and tricks for photographing newborns through teens. It also has info on how I choose a professional photographer when you need one.
The downsides of this book are small, but keep it from being a 5 star book. The book was copyrighted in 2011, so many of the website and specific products recommended are gone. Including websites in a book is helpful, but certainly dates a book. All the photo editing is specifically geared to Adobe Photoshop. There are recommended iPhone apps, which only scratch the surface of what is currently available. The advice on choosing a camera is really limited to Canon and Nikon. There are plenty of other options available. It also recommends a dSLR because of previous limitations with digital cameras. I own a dSLR myself, but there are plenty of digitals that are blowing folks away these days.
I think my favorite quote from this book is, “Buying a fancy camera does not make you a photographer.”
**This post contains affiliate links. **

2012 Reading

You may remember that my reading goal for 2012 was to read 52 books. I also made a list of the 25 books I wanted to make sure I read this year. I’m gonna tell you, I did reach my ultimate goal (well, passed it) but I did not get around to all 25 books. However the list did help me in deciding what to read next throughout the year. I didn’t have to look up my Amazon or Goodreads recommendations every time I went to order new books. I had a list! For 2013 I am making the same goal and making a list, even if I didn’t get around to all on my list this year. Here are the books I read this year. (Reviews on all the unreviewed books will come this week. I’ll try to come back and link them for you.) All photos are links to take you directly to where you can buy the book. Also, I didn’t necessarily like every book I read this year. You’ll have to check the reviews to see my thoughts.

1.Review here. 

2. Review here.

3. 

4. 

5. Review here. 

6. 

7. 

8. 

9. Review here.

10.  Review here. 

11. Review here.

12. Review here. 

13. 

14. 

15. 

16. Review here.

17. 

18. 

19. 

20. 

21. 

22. Review here. 

23. 

24. Review here. 

25. 

26. 

27. Review here. 

28. Review here. 

29. Review here. 

30. Review here.

31. Review here. 

32. 

33. Review here.

34. 

35. 

36. Review here.

37. 

38. 

39. Review here. 

40. 

41. 

42. 

43. 

44. 

45. 

46. 

47. 

48. 

49. 

50. 

51. Review here. 

52. 

53. 

54. 

55. 

56. Review here. 

57. 

58. 

59. 

60. 

61. 

62. 

63. 

64. 

65. 

66. Review here. 

Book Worm

So, last year, I decided I would read more in 2010. Read more than what, I’m not sure. I guess more than my usual. I enjoy reading, but sometimes as the mother of 3, you can get stuck and not take the time to do the things you enjoy. So, I did read more. I read more than usual and I read more than The Pastor (although many of us could probably say that).

Books I read in 2010:

1. The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition) by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise

I like this book. I’ve actually read it more than once. If you are looking to homeschool, read this book. It is a classical approach, but you’d be surprised how simple it really is.

2. The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth (Sears Parenting Library) by Dr. William Sears

This is a great childbirth book. Very informative, but doesn’t push you toward interventions. It also comes across as very positive, which is something most pregnancy books fail to do.

3. Ender’s Game (Ender, Book 1) by Orson Scott Card

I really liked this book. Unlike many other “series” type books, this one is self contained. Yes, you can read more in the series, but you come away from this book feeling like you got a complete story. It is a work of fiction and is appropriate for readers of all ages. (Probably around a 6th grade reading level and up.) It is a futuristic dystopia book that will have you on the edge of your seat.

4, 5, and 6. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

This was an amazing trilogy, I couldn’t wait to read the next book. Another work of fiction appropriate for about a 6th grade reading level and up. This is a great story, though I wasn’t too happy with the ending. But not all stories end as they should.

7 and 8. The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

These are the first two books in a trilogy, the third is not yet released. I very much enjoyed these books. They are works of fiction and would be appropriate for about a 6th grade reading level and up. I am eagerly anticipating the third book of the trilogy, so I can know the full story.

9. How Do You Tuck In a Superhero?: And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys (Spire Books) –  by Rachel Balducci

This is a hilarious book full of little personal stories of the author’s adventures in raising her boys. It is laugh out loud funny. It is encouraging for those of us currently raising boys. It is full of love and admiration for those dirty little scoundrels in our homes.

10. Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood by Jamie C. Martin

I absolutely loved this book. The author shares her own stories and techniques for slowing down and doing things a bit more intentionally. I think we often get caught up in the busyness of life, that we forget each day counts, especially with young children. This is a great read for any stay-at-home mom or homeschool mom looking to become more intentional and organized.

11. Ask Supernanny: What Every Parent Wants to Know  by Jo Frost

This book is full of useful and practical parenting tips. Jo Frost has little tips and tricks for how to handle the situations we, as parents, often find ourselves scratching our heads about. The “back to bed” technique found in this book quickly solved Aidan’s problem with staying in his bed at night. This book is worth having around for those times you think, “I know this isn’t working, but I don’t know what to do.”

12. Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson

This is a great book full of practical advice. If you’re like me, there are many housework items that you know you should do, but have no idea what the best way to do them is. Or, you are trying to think of what is the most necessary thing to do, since you’ve only got a limited amount of time to clean. This book has practical house keeping tips along with prioritizing your housework. It also has a lot about the history of certain chores, which is pretty interesting to read and makes you think more highly of your easy to care for sheets, and less for your box of cake mix. This is a great read for laborers in their homes everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you have a family or not, working or not, this book is a great read and a great resource.

13. The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington

This is the book we’ve been using to teach the kids to read. Honestly, I loved it more when we began. It is a very simple book of reading instructions. The lessons (which will take your child from learning letter sounds, to reading complex words) are each short and very straightforward. It has everything scripted out, so you just read the script and walk your child through the lessons. This is a word on the page program with no pictures and no workbooks. The workbook issue is a problem for us. Imogene loves her workbooks and just doesn’t get into these lessons very easily. She sits and stares. Aidan, on the other hand, likes these lessons a lot and really enjoys them. I still recommend this book and it is a wonderful starting point for any child.

14. The City of Ember (Books of Ember) by Jeanne DuPrau

This is a good fiction read, for a 5th grade reading level and up. It is a futuristic dystopia book (which I love) that is very interesting. The story is actually pretty self contained in the book, though there are more books in the series. It is a relatively quick read at only 288 pages long.

15. Manalive by G.K. Chesterton

This is a work of fiction. Although it is only 164 pages, it is not an easy read. It is more of a 9th grade reading level and up kind of book. I love the story, which had lots of little twists and intrigues. The moral of the story was one we could all take a lesson from. It is definitely worth reading.

16. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

I actually didn’t care for this book much, though it was about zombies. I liked some of the book, but it was very much war related. There was a lot of talk about history and war tactics, which I am not particularly fond of. I’m sure boys with their battle type of brains would enjoy this book much more than I did. It was also kind of graphic in the descriptions of the zombies and of the battles, which can be a little stomach churning. (Not sexually graphic, just grossly graphic.)

17. The Long Walk by Stephen King and Richard Bachman

It is a little deceptive to say this book is by Stephen Kind AND Richard Bachman, since they are both the same person, but that is the way Amazon lists it. I liked this story. I did have a problem with the copy I purchased for my Nook, though. So, I never actually got to read the last chapter of the book. I would hve perhaps liked it more, had the last chapter been there, but the Nook copy stopped short, for some odd reason. (No worries. Barnes and Noble gave me a refund for the book.) I read it because it was likened to The Hunger Games by some online reviewer. However, I didn’t feel it was much like that at all. Yes, they were kids in a contest to the death that was put on by the government, but the game was different. The motives of the kids was different. The motives of the government was different. So, there were too many differences for me to say they were comparable stories.

18. The Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition by Jim Trelease

So, the first half of this book is common sense. We all know it is good to read to kids. Anyone picking up this book is not going to be under the impression that reading is unimportant to a child’s development. The second part of this book is lists of recommended reading. It is a good starting place, but isn’t entirely necessary. To be honest, I began the year attempting to find and read Jim Trelease’s recommendations to the kids. However, I came to realize that many books we own or just come across in the library are really as good as those recommended. I still think this is a good starting place for finding quality read-alouds for children, however, the list given isn’t all inclusive or even all necessary. Some of the books recommended, my kids found to be boring. Other books not recommended, had far better content, in my opinion, than many in the book. Just read and read and read to your kids.

19. So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld

Another work of fiction. Scott Westerfeld is the author that wrote The Uglies Series. This book was not supernatural in any way, but focused on a teen trendsetter. It was an interesting read, much better than many things I read this year, but not the best by Mr. Westerfeld. It should be noted that boys are much more likely to like Scott Westerfeld’s writings that most young adult fiction. He seems to have a knack for leaving too much mushy stuff out, and of putting boys as the leading character.

20, 21, and 22. The Midnighters Series by Scott Westerfeld

I liked this series. Yes, it is young adult, but in case you didn’t notice, I read a lot of that. It is supernatural, which I like. It did get a little weird toward the end, but I can’t really see this story going many places other than weird. It is a good read and would be appropriate for about an 8th grade reading level and up.

23. Phantoms by Dean Koontz

I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this book. It was worth reading, the story was absolutely captivating. But do I like it? I’m still not sure. I enjoyed reading it, but I’m not sure that I like the story, if that makes sense.

24. Journey to The Center of The Earth by Jules Verne

I actually read this aloud to the kids this year. They really liked it. It was a fascinating story that is very well written. I was actually a bit surprised that a 4 year old and 3 year old would sit and listen to a classic like this, but they thought it was wonderful.

25. The Family Nutrition Book: Everything You Need to Know About Feeding Your Children – From Birth through Adolescence by William Sears

This book has been very helpful this year, as Imogene has been curious about proper nutrition. I have used what I read in this book to teach her the basics of eating well. We’ve discussed well balanced diets and moderation. We’ve also discussed eating a variety of colors and what each color and each food can do to help your body. This is a great resource for families, not just on how to feed your kids, but on teaching your kids life-long lessons about good nutrition.

26. The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children by John Rosemond

This book was just okay for me. It was a good parenting book, but I didn’t like it entirely. Maybe I need to reread it at another point in my life to appreciate it more. I like some of what John Rosemond has to say. So, like all parenting books, you take what you like and implement that and leave what you don’t to the pages of the book.

27. Making the “Terrible” Twos Terrific by John Rosemond

I actually liked this Rosemond book better than the Six-Point Plan book. This book helped me better understand toddler behavior, which helps you better deal with it. Of course, there were parts of the book I didn’t like, but I just ignored those and moved on.

28. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth

This is a good book about sleep. It helps you understand sleep better and gives you some tools to help your child sleep better. To be honest, after reading this book, I decided to let Emery’s sleep issues continue because they were not interrupting his sleep, they just weren’t what you would typically think of. He was 9 months old, not sleeping in his crib much, and napping a lot. All of those were fine for him, so I let him keep getting the sleep he needed in a way best for him.

29. Extras (Uglies) by Scott Westerfeld

I finished up reading the last in the Uglies Series this year. Extras was different from the first three books, as an add on to the Trilogy. It had different main characters (though some were recurring) and a different feel. It was a good read, and definitely a must read if you’re going to read the other three. They really need to make this series into movies. The Uglies Series is good reading for anyone above a 6th grade reading level. Some of the themes in the books actually make for ideal starting points in conversations between parents and teens. Questioning the society’s view of what is beautiful and what isn’t is one of the conversations this series would bring up.

30. The Host: A Novel by Stephenie Meyer

I liked reading this book. It is about alien invasion, but in a different than usually thought of way. Aspects of the book and the writing style were not always enjoyable, but the story itself is pretty good.

31. Evermore: The Immortals by Alyson Noel

I actually read the book all the way through, which is saying something. However, the story just seemed lacking and played out. I felt like I’d read it a hundred times before. I was never compelled to read anymore in the series.

32. Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

So, this is an unfinished book in the Twilight series. It is a retelling of the first book, but from Edward’s perspective. I honestly think it is a good thing this book got spoiled in the early stages and didn’t get published with the rest of the series. It wad redundant. We’ve heard the story before. Hearing it from another side didn’t add to it at all. It actually made you like the story a little less.

33. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

I am a Westerfeld fan, I don’t deny it. But this story wasn’t for me, at all. It was very stem punk, but seemed to play to a much younger audience than his books usually play to. I’m thinking a junior high boy would love this book (and the others in the series), but for me, it just wasn’t there. I’m not into wars or machines or weapons. I didn’t enjoy the book at all. However, there is a market for it, and it is a market I can be glad someone is filling. Preteen and young teen boys have very little out there to read, so this fills that void quite nicely.

34. Under the Dome: A Novel by Stephen King

So, let me be honest, the whole premise of this book reminds me of The Simpson’s Movie. I mean, really, it took me a while to get over that impression. I actually liked the book, until the end. It was a good story  until it got weird. I find that happens a lot with Stephen King. Good story- you’re loving it- then BAM! He hits you with the weird. So weird you can’t even the story seriously anymore. I won’t ruin it for you, but when you hit the weird, you’ll be thinking, “Why did he just ruin this perfectly good story? Why?!”

35. The Line by Teri Hall

Here is what annoys me about many of the newer young adult books. They write just to keep writing. The story doesn’t end. It isn’t contained, in any small way, within the pages of the book. No, you put your time and effort into a reading a book only to realize at the end that there is no end. You’ve just read part one of a who knows how long story. This may turn out to be a decent series, it has started off alright, but wait until the rest come out so you don’t feel you’ve wasted so much on this book only to have it go absolutely nowhere.

36. A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy) by Libba Bray

I really didn’t like this young adult book at all. It was a mix of victorian and supernatural, which sounds cool, but the story itself falls. It doesn’t get anywhere. Most of the writing is fluff to fill pages in an attempt to turn a single book into a trilogy. Yet another example of writing to keep writing. I didn’t like it enough to read more of the series.

37. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

When you think end of the world, do you think… BORING! No, I’m sure you don’t. Well, this apocolyptic beginning to a series (*eye roll*) is just that. You’ll read bits and pieces that have no climax and fall to the background of the story. You’ll read pages and pages about sitting around wondering when the food will run out. Even the end of the book is boring. The climax is just boring. I’m not rushing to read the rest of the series anytime soon. I’m not sure I could take it.

38. Raising a Nonviolent Child by John Rosemond

Take some hype and turn it into a parenting book. That is what you have here. Recounts of various news stories with John Rosemond’s commentary on it. Nothing useful. Most of it outdated. Seems like this should have just been an article and ended up in book form. Don’t waste you time with this one. You’ll learn little to nothing.

39. To Spank or Not To Spank by John Rosemond

This book comes across as an argument, only you’re only hearing one side. It isn’t helpful in the least and comes across very bossy. The tone of the book is enough to put me off. The content isn’t much better. Just arguing against an unknown provoker.

40. The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

This is the sequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Neither book was very good. This book was slightly better than the first, but not by much. The main character (the daughter of the main character in the first book) is slightly more likable. But there is a lot of running from zombies and a lot of self-centered “who am I” thinking. Not my cup of tea.

41, 42, and 43. The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

There are more than 3 books in the series, but I only read the first three. This is the epitome of writing just to write. I have no idea if Karen is even sure of where she is going with this story. It changes beyond recognition every few chapters. It is overly sexual, which doesn’t add to the story at all. It never reaches any type of resolution, just climax on top of climax- never going anywhere. This is definitely a series to pass on.

44. Nightlight: A Parody by Harvard Lampoon

A Parody of Twilight. I thought I’d like it. It was just dumb. Not thoughtfully put together at all. Just two seemingly mentally impaired individuals in an awkward relationship. It was not even funny to read. It was just sad and dumb.

45. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

An interesting young adult read. It is set in the south and is supernatural. I think the book could have been better, but it was a decent read.

46 and 47. Fallen and Torment by Lauren Kate

I liked both of these books. It is a young adult fiction book about fallen angels and such. It was a change from the usual vampire and zombie line-up and was entertaining. They weren’t my favorite, but they did make for decent reading.

48. Matched by Ally Condie

I liked this book. It is a futuristic eutopia turned dystopia. I was a little confused with the main character’s decisions, but it did make for an entertaining read. Although, this is clearly the first in a series to come, so no obvious conclusion.

49. After Midnight by Richard Laymon

One of the worst books I read all year. Probably the worst. A dumb girl gets caught up with serial killers while murdering a few people on the way herself. Dumb story. Don’t bother reading it.

50. Wake (Wake Series, Book 1) by Lisa McMann

I read this book, though I can barely remember all the details now. Just not memorable, I guess. I gave it 3 stars, but haven’t been pressed to read more in the series.

51. The Unschooling Handbook : How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom by Mary Griffith

I actually liked this book more than I thought I would. It solidified my decision to homeschool and started me along the path of thinking outside the box with schooling. Even if you aren’t an unschooler, there will be many things in this book you’ll find useful.

52. The Compound by S. A. Bodeen

This book was interestingly odd. You think one thing, and it turns out it is something else entirely. Although the elements to the story are revealed a bit awkwardly, I really like the story.

53. Stitch Graffiti: Unexpected Cross-Stitch by Heather Holland-Dally

A cross-stitch craft book. I like the pictures. I think I just might not be a cross-stitch person.

54. Dare to Be Square Quilting: A Block-by-Block Guide to Making Patchwork and Quilts by Boo Davis

I cannot wait to make these quilts! They are so cooky and fresh. I love these patterns.

55. Craft Hope: Handmade Crafts for a Cause by Jade Sims

This is one of my favorite craft books of the year. Why? Well, mostly just the premise. Here are things you can make to help people in need. I have more skills than cash, so finding things that I can DO that help people is a much better way for me to get involved with various charities.

56. Muffins Galore byCatherine Atkinson

This is a great cookbook. Yes, it is filled with nothing but muffins. Once you have this book, you’ll never buy a pack (or box) of muffin mix again! The muffins are easy to make and taste so yummy! We’re working our way through the book. So far, our favorite is the vanilla soaked oat muffins with chocolate speckles. Yum!

57. Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion by Rachel Thebault and Isaac Mizrahi

This book has my new favorite dessert recipes in it. This book is for comfortable cooks. You won’t find “easy” recipes with box mixes and pre-prepared ingredients. You’ll find made from scratch goodies that are so yummy! My favorite recipe so far is the Blueberry “Cheesecake.” (Vanilla cake with fresh blueberries and cream cheese icing. Makes awesome cupcakes.)

58. The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby by Laura Wattenberg

This is a great baby name book. I would like for it to include meanings of the names, but this is a good starting place.

59. Cool Names by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz

This baby name book could have been better. It was pretty short and didn’t have many names to choose from. There are a few gems in there, but not many. It is much heavier on girl names than boy names. It also has a lot of names that no one would name their child, perhaps a fish, but not a child.

60. From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds by Alexander Tsiaras

This book is full of pictures as well as informative tidbits on the fetal development. Though this is not a kid book, by any means, I bought this book for the kids as they look forward to welcoming baby Charlie. They love it. I like reading it to them.

61. The BabyCenter Essential Guide to Pregnancy and Birth: Expert Advice and Real-World Wisdom from the Top Pregnancy and Parenting Resource by Linda J. Murray, Leah Hennen, Jim Scott, and BabyCenter Editorial Team

This is a fairly good pregnancy book for first time moms. It does contain some of the usual medical non-sense, but only minimally. It focuses mainly on the changes in the mother’s body and her emotional well-being. This book, rather than contain pictures of fetal development, contains pictures of maternal development. This is much better than the horrid What to Expect, but there are better books out there if you are more naturally minded.

62. The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine

As I previously posted, this is the worst pregnancy book out there. Follow the advice found here, and you are sure to a complication filled pregnancy and more than likely, a c-section delivery.

63. The Natural Pregnancy Book: Herbs, Nutrition, and Other Holistic Choices by Aviva Jill Romm M.D. and Ina May Gaskin

This is a great pregnancy book. You will find it full of useful information during pregnancy. It doesn’t have much by way of fetal development or a week by week guide, but contains so much great information!

64. Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 6th Edition (Your Pregnancy Series)by Glade B. Curtis and Judith Schuler

This is a good option for a pregnancy book. I like the week by week updates on fetal development. I also like the weekly exercise that is included. Yes, this book has some highly medical stuff in it that would be best to be ignored, but is a much better option than What to Expect. Combine this book with the Natural Pregnancy Book listed above and you’ve got a great pregnancy book combo.

65. The Pregnancy Book: Month-by-Month, Everything You Need to Know From America’s Baby Experts by William SearsMartha Sears, and Linda Hughey Holt

I usually love the Sears Library books, but I wasn’t a fan of this one. The information is good, but it is all a bit dated. A revised edition is what this book really needs.

66. The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth (Sears Parenting Library) by William Sears and Martha Sears

I like this book. It contains lots of good information so you can make informed decisions for the birth of your child. Too many women never get this kind of information and are therefore making very uninformed decisions.

67. Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection by Aimee Ray

It is no secret, I much prefer Doodle Stitching to cross stitch. However, I am not a great artist myself. This book is a collection of designs you can copy and stitch. I’m especially fond of the octopus. He’s adorable.

68. Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew and Love by Hillary Lang

This is a great craft book for making your own dolls and stuffed things. There are plenty of toys in this book for both girls and boys. My children want every item in this book.

69. I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature by Jennifer Ward

I thought I would like this book more than I did. The book looks nice. It’d make a good gift book. It does have various outdoor activities for kids. Some of them are useful, some of them are common sense, some of them are ridiculous.

70. Homespun Memories for the Heart: More Than 200 Ideas to Make Unforgettable Moments by Karen Ehman

This book has little ideas for making every occasion in your family special. This book helps you take those everyday moments and turn them into lasting memories. With ideas for every major and minor holiday through the year as well as milestones, you are sure to find plenty of new ideas to use in your house.

71. Eliminate Chaos: The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home and Life by Laura Leist

This book was more like a TV show in book form. It wasn’t as helpful as I anticipated, though it does include little tips and tricks you’ll find useful. You’d find the same tips if you watched HGTV for a couple hours.

72. Sewing Clothes Kids Love by Nancy Langdon

I’ve already expressed my love for this book here on my blog. I’ll say it again: this book is wonderful! If you have kids and slightly advanced sewing skills, get this book!

73. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years) by Gregory Maguire

I really didn’t like this book. The story and concept were interesting, but the details were not so much. It was much longer than it needed to be and a little too vulgar for my taste.

74. Sew What! Skirts: 16 Simple Styles You Can Make with Fabulous Fabrics by Francesca DenHartog

I really like this book. I have not made any of the skirts yet, but soon will. I haven’t sewn anything for myself in a long time, but seeing as how none of my clothes are fitting, I’ll be sewing some of these skirts very soon!

75. Fertility Foods: Optimize Ovulation and Conception Through Food Choices by Jeremy Groll

This book is not what I expected it to be. It is more of a specific diet plan to promote fertility that is especially helpful for women with PCOS. If you have PCOS and are wanting a baby, or if you just want a baby and don’t eat well, this book would be a good place to start.

76. Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun S. Weed

I’ve mentioned this book before. It is very new-agey. Ask a plant before you pick it. It also has herbal remedies to cause a miscarriage, which I don’t agree with. However, it is a great resource for knowing what herbs do what for the female body.

77. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

This work of fiction is interesting. I enjoyed the story. It was worth the read.

78 and 79. Peeps and The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld

These are vampire books worth reading. This is vampirism as an STD. Awesome, right? Although, it is really spread through body fluids of any kind.

80. Tithe by Holly Black

Did not enjoy.

81. Absolutely A-Line by Wendi Gratz

This book contains one pattern, an A-line dress, and many ways to adjust it. I don’t like the pattern so much. The fit isn’t very good. It is too wide and short. Adjust the pattern to use a smaller size, adding length, and it comes out alright.

82, 83, and 84. The Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

I didn’t realize when I listed the Extras earlier, that I did, in fact, read the entire Uglies series this year. Great series. Read it. My Amazon reminded me I bought it in 2010, so I must have read it in 2010. Wow, the years are long.

85. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

I listed the sequel earlier, not realizing I read this one this year, too. Thanks for the reminder Amazon. I didn’t like it. In fact, after reading it, I decided not to read the sequel. After being told by multiple people that the sequel is better, I read it. It was a little better. Zombie book. Self-centered main character. Lots of running around and getting no where.

86. The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child (Sears Parenting Library) by Robert Sears MD

Didn’t realize I read this in 2010, but I did. I love this book. If you have a child, you need to read this book. You really should be informed before making decisions for your child. This book does not tell you what to do, rather it gives the facts, and leaves the decision with you.

87. The Homeschooling Handbook: From Preschool to High School, A Parent’s Guide by Mary Griffith

I like this book for what it is. It does give you year by year objectives, many I throw out, but gives you a starting place at least.

I think that is all the books I’ve read this year. I’ve also partially read a few books that I’ll finish in 2011, so they’ll be in next year’s tally. I also read several books to the kids (The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator, Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, etc.) that I didn’t include in my overall total.

I’m pretty happy with reading 87 books. Most of them I liked. A few I loathed. But that is part of the fun of reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading A Lot

My camera is still broken. I’m not sure when I’ll get it fixed. I’m not blogging for the kids until I replace it. I won’t be blogging here as much until it is replaced. Not sure when that will be. But I have been reading bunches!

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

After reading Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras, I had to see what else Scott Westerfeld had in his head. Turns out, it is vampires! This is a non-sparkly vampire story. In fact, this is vampires portrayed as the innocent contractors of a parasite. Yep. Lots of gross parasitic information between these pages, and I like it. I know, who likes parasites? Well, science geeks do, I guess. In this book, a carrier of the parasite seeks to send those he unknowingly infected to a treatment facility, but finds himself in the middle of something much bigger and stranger than it seemed.

This is a young adult book, so here is the nitty gritty for parents. There is no foul language that I can recall. There are gory details of parasitic infestation (the real kind, hookworms and such). There is a lot of talk of sex and wanting sex. In the story, one way the parasite is transmitted is by sexual contact. That fact is mentioned often. Sex outside of marriage is a common theme in the book. However, to the author’s credit, there are no details of any sexual encounters- just the mentioning that such encounters did occur. Add another STD to the book- have sex outside of marriage and you might become a vampire.

Steady Days by Jamie C. Martin

This book is a very quick read. It is broken down into 40 very small chapters, 1 to 3 pages each. This book offers practical insight to providing our children a steady life. You maintain a flexible schedule to optimize your performance as their mother and provide them some stability. I do wish the book was a bit longer, going into more detail in some areas. But this is an encouraging and uplifting book.

The best insight I gleaned from the book is that I am the expert when it comes to raising my children. Too many times, I’ve read a book from an expert telling my what to do. This book give me the tools to do my best, whatever my best might be. Whatever my plan, it is my plan. Only I know my children and my family, so only I know what they’ll like and what will benefit them the most.

It was also extremely encouraging to read that the author is the mother of 3 preschoolers. I find that most “experts” in parenting are older- they’ve raised their children- they are done. It is refreshing to find a young expert. It gives me confidence in myself, because if she can be an expert at this stage, so can I. I would consider this book a “must read” for stay-at-home moms (and even working moms).

Ask Supernanny by Jo Frost

I know you’ve probably seen the show Supernanny. I have seen the show a few times, and that is why I bought this book. It exceeded my expectations. I have read a lot of parenting books. I’m sure some of you have me beat, but I’ve read quite a few. I was expecting some simple demonstration of her “Naughty Seat” technique and maybe one or two others. What I got was a book FULL of various techniques for the various issues that arise in raising children. I can say her “Back to Bed Technique” worked immediately with my trouble sleeper (Aidan). It also puts many of the issues into a much better perspective so you can better handle the issue.

I will say, I’m now extremely curious about baby care in Europe. From this book, it seems to be different from the baby care we are taught (or pick up) here. I’d like to know more about this aspect of her parenting advice. I am more than a little confused by her advice to completely wean a 9 month old. I’m intrigued by her advice to not make the move to a “big boy bed” before 3, even if they are climbing out of the crib. I’d like to know more about her position on certain baby care techniques before I come to any conclusions about them. Maybe it is just one of those slight cultural differences between Europe and America. I think I’m going to buy her baby care book to find out more!