Book Review: There’s A Bully In My Brain

Over the last few years, I’ve had an increased amount of anxiety. I’ve used praying, quoting Bible verses, deep breathing, limiting my TV watching, and journaling to help me overcome my anxiety. The combination of those tactics has helped me manage my anxiety. It has also helped me have more empathy towards people who have heightened anxiety and need to seek medical/professional help. There is NO SHAME in needing professional help! If you need to seek medical or professional help for anxiety, please do so. Getting medical or professional help for anxiety is not just an act of self care, it is an act of courage.

I’m excited to share a brand new book available TODAY, There’s A Bully In My Brain by Kristin O’Rourke. There’s A Bully In My Brain provides support for children with anxiety. Written by Kristin O’Rourke who is a licensed clinical social worker, There’s A Bully In My Brain helps children identify the cause of anxiety and provides tangible solutions for how to work through when a child feels anxious. I really liked this book because it helps kids understand what they are feeling. It also provides parents/teachers with options to direct children for ways to manage their anxiety in a healthy manner. Sometimes, feeling anxious and worried can be very scary for a child; they don’t understand why they feel the things they do and that can be very overwhelming. With There’s A Bully In My Brain, kids will feel empowered to understand and clearly communicate what they feeling to an adult.

In There’s A Bully In My Brain, children are taught that the negative thoughts induced by anxiety are actually bully tactics. Written in in first person, children learn what the Bully tells thems and how to navigate those feeling of anxiety. With tactics like counseling, deep breathes and directly addressing those feelings, children learn how to overcome anxiety.

The illustrations are animated and work really well to differentiate for a kid between an anxious child and the bully (anxiety). Kids will be able to easily identify with the illustrations in There’s A Bully In My Brain. The illustrations are a lighthearted way to discuss a heavy topic like anxiety.

I think adults (parents and teachers) will find There’s A Bully In My Brain a wonderful tool to use to talk to kids about feeling anxious and how to overcome it. For a child who doesn’t understand what they are feeling, having a resource like There’s A Bully In My Brain and a safe adult to process with is a powerful combination.

You can follow author Kristin O’Rourke on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also check out her website.

*This post does contain affiliate links. This is at no cost to you, my readers, but it does help support my blog. Thank you!*

Book Review: Charlie and the Trust Tree

I graduated from college with a degree in Communication. As a parent, clear communication between my children and me is a top priority. Of course, we have miscommunications, and we have to reconcile, but the drive for clear communication is constant. I want my kids to know that they can talk to me about anything. And that, I will listen to what they have to say.

Charlie and the Trust Tree by Ashton Sumners is written by a teenage young lady. Charlie and the Trust Tree is about a child, Charlie, who uses her “trust tree” as a way to signal to her parents she needs to to talk to them if something is on her mind or bothering her. I love how Charlie’s parents are always available and eager to listen to their daughter. They encourage Charlie to overcome fears and be brave.

The entire premise of Charlie and the Trust Tree encourages kids to follow the example of the main character, Charlie. This is a great way to initiate conversation between parents and children, or even teachers and students. Using Charlie and the Trust Tree, adults will find a effective way to encourage kids to talk about what’s on the child’s mind. I could see this being a great conversation initiative for children who are shy, nervous, or anxious. But, it could also be perfect for kids who are outgoing, but unsure how to effectively communicate.

I also love that Charlie and the Trust Tree was written by a teenager. I tell you what, young people are taking this world by storm. Ashton Sumners is a great example of this. I really admire that Ashton took a a pretty mature topic (learning to clearly communicate) and wrote a book to encourage and teach kids how to communicate.

The illustrations are so cute. I appreciated how each page spread shows Charlie wrestling through difficult scenarios, but how each scenario provides Charlie (and readers!) a chance to grow and learn. Good communication captures a kid and relays incredible lessons.

You can get Charlie and the Trust Tree here. You can also find the website to have coloring pages!!

*This post does contain affiliate links. This is at no cost to my readers, but it does help support my blog. Thank you!*

Book Review: Sophie G. Wanderlin One of A Kind

When I was a child, my dad talked to my brothers, sisters, and me about “outdoing one another in kindness”. The idea was to always look for opportunities to out due one another in acts of kindness. It worked. I remember, whether driven by competition or genuine goodwill towards each other, we always looked for opportunities to be the kindest one.

As a parent, we teach our kids that being kind and looking for opportunities to share and be kind with each other. This looks differently depending on what the situation is, but sometimes it’s sharing a cookie, or holding the door for someone, or showing compassion when someone is hurt.

When Author PJ Jackson sent me her book, Sophie G. Wanderlin: One of A Kind, she mentioned she was sending me a package. While I was expecting only the book, PJ outdid herself and absolutely delighted my kids with such a fun package! She sent us rainbow colored socks of me entire family. She included coloring pages, stickers, “Adventures in Kindness” collective pins. My kids were SO excited by this book package. There were SO MANY goodies in the package. We had a great time trying on the socks and spent an entire after wearing our socks around the house.

In Sophie G. Wanderlin: One of A Kind, we meet Sophie, a vivacious little girl and her pet cat, Bob. Sophie has bright red hair and she wears rainbow colored socks, Sophie has “BIG IDEAS”. These “BIG IDEAS” make a difference and share kindness with others. Sophie approaches implementing her “BIG IDEAS” as adventures in kindness. There are so many adventures in kindness, but in particular, Sophie provides meals for the homeless, shares with her classmates, and makes friends with a girl who is lonely.

I love how the entire attitude of Sophie G. Wanderlin is so cheerful and eager to help. Readers cannot help but feel inspired to come up with their own adventures in kindness.

Using a cartoon mode of illustrating, you will love seeing Sophie’s thought process and how she readily consults her cat, Bob when contemplating her next adventure in kindness. (Bob doesn’t have much to say, but he is a good listener to Sophie’s ideas.) I loved how the bright colors throughout the book mimic the colors seen in Sophie’s rainbow socks.

Sophie G. Wanderlin:One of A Kind does an amazing job of inspiring kids (and adults!) to make kindness a wonderful and fun adventure. By the end of the book. Kids will be coming up with their own adventure in kindness to carry out. Parents and Teachers will love the positive message. This would be a great book to read as a family or in a classroom!

You can find PJ Jackson on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

*This blog contains affiliate links. This is at no cost to you, but it does help support my bog. Thank you!*

Book Review: Who Invited the Bees?

Several months ago, I had the opoortunity to meet author Beatrice Brown. I was immediately struck by how she has a tremendous heart for children. I reviewed Beatrice Brown’s first book, A Giraffe in the Gym. You can read the book review for A Giraffe in the Gym here. I am excited to announce that Beatrice is back with a brand new book!

Who Invited the Bees? by Beatrice Brown is the story of a class of young students who take a field trip. While exploring the newness of Spring, the class encounters a swarm of bumble bees! As they walk paths, cloud watch, have a picnic, and more, the class discovers the bees are following them!

Who Invited the Bees? is such a fun read. With warm weather, and new life bursting forth in nature, you can’t help by yearn to be outside and explore. Just like the class in Who Invited the Bees?, we can all identify with seeing bees show up. A buzzing bee can be a little scary, but Who Invited The Bees? Is a great way to talk about how bees are curious creatures with a mission.

The watercolor illustrations are so beautiful. The children in Who Invited the Bees? are expressive and sweet. With toothless grins, the kids bravely face those pesky bees! There are so many wonderful details in the book; like, the picnic lunch, the whistle one of the teacher is holding, and the bees! The bees are so expressive! I loved seeing such a jolly swarm of bees! The expression of the bees makes you wonder who is having more fun on the class outing – the kids or the bees? I’ll let you decide that one!

What a delightful book to read aloud to kids. It’s perfect for my son who will be entering kindergarten in the fall. He has a lot of questions about what school will look like. So we’ve been reading a lot of books that talk about kindergarten and class routines. Who Invited the Bees? perfectly lines up with that theme; while we chase the bees, we see the day unfold for a classroom on a field trip.

I LOVED seeing the diversity within the classroom in Who Invited the Bees?. There is such diversity of skin colors and abilities within this class of students. Who Invited the Bees? is so inclusive!

Be sure to grab your copy of Who Invited the Bees?! You can find Beatrice Brown on Facebook and her website!

*Contains affiliate links. This is at no cost to my readers, but it does help support my blog. Thank you!*

Book Review: True to You

I have so much to say about this book, True to You by Becky Wade.  I’m not even sure where to start.

When Bethany House Publishers sent me True to You, I couldn’t remember anything about the description, but I knew I loved the cover (Isn’t that dress so Audrey Hepburn?!). So, this was definitely a case of judging a book by it’s cover.

When I decided to read True to You, my original plan was to take it with me to the lake. I envisioned leisurely sitting by the lake while my kids played around me in the water. Who was I kidding? I have three children under five years of age, I need to keep an eye on them around water (even with puddle jumpers and life jackets on).

So naturally, when I woke up at 3am and couldn’t sleep, I thought, “One chapter will be enough to go back to sleep.” Famous last words. I started reading True to You. When I finally glanced up, it was 6:30am, the sun was coming up, and my kids were starting to stir. I was over two-thirds done with True to You. It was a gallon size cup of coffee kind of day, for sure!

True to You by Becky Wade is the first book in the Bradford Sisters Romance series. I love books with sisters; especially a trio of sisters. I have two sisters, so a trio is special to me. In True to You, we meet Nora, the middle sister. Willow is the oldest and Britt is the youngest. Nora is smart, successful, and mostly excepting of the fact that out of the trio, she is the plain, but smart one. Nora is into research, books, tea, and cardigans. I identified so much with Nora. I also like books, research, tea, and cardigans. I also identified with Nora because even though I’m the oldest of my sisters, I struggled for a long time in feeling like the plain, smart one. I have always known this isn’t true and my sisters have never made me feel like that (similar to the other Bradford sisters), but it has been a lie I struggled with for a long time. Nora is the proud owner of her town’s historical village and residential genealogist.

When Nora meets John, he is so different from her life. However, He is working on a project that needs Nora’s research and genealogist background. As they work together, reconciling the past will take more than they either ever expected.

I’ve already mentioned how I couldn’t put True to You down. It was such a great read. It is a romance book, but I thought it was really well done. The mystery and drama of the story kept me wide away as I “watched” the sun come up (I say “watched”, but I was blissfully buried in True to You).

Sometimes, an easy read is just what you need. I know for me that is true. I’ve been in a two week book struggle. I’ve need a fun book to revive my love of reading. True to You was the book I didn’t know I needed to get me out of my book slump.

With engaging characters, a fun storyline full of drama, mystery, and romance, I wasn’t satisfied once I finished read True to You. I wanted more! I already looked up when the next Bradford book comes out (never mind the fact that True to You JUST came out THIS month!). I’m excited to see what happens next with this trio of sisters. Good news for me (and you, if you become a fast fan like me!), there is a Bradford Sisters Novella called, Then Came You. It’s downloading on my kindle now!

You can follow author Becky Wade on her website and social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

*This post does include affiliate links. This is at no cost to my readers, but does help support my blog. Thank you!*


Book Club: Kitchen Club Garden Safari Vegetable Soup

My kids get really excited when we get to play in the dirt and plant things. It makes them feel invested. Mostly we’ve planted flowers, but that has been an incredibly rich experience for us.

When the good folks at Kitchen Club Kids sent us the book, Garden Safari Vegetable Soup by Eluka Moore, Larry Puzniak, and Marianne Welsh, I was thrilled to read it to my kids. We are always looking for different ways to introduce vegetables to my kids. Whether that’s in muffins or raw, we continue to gently introduce vegetables our kids might be willing to taste one day.

For Garden Safari Vegetable Soup, I decided this would be a good way to softly introduce the concept that you can grow vegetables and eat them as opposed to getting them at the grocery store. My kids loved reading Garden Safari Vegetable Soup because they had just planted flowers, so they could directly relate to planting plants.

The Garden Safari Vegetable Soup takes children through the farm to table process with number counting. Kids get the chance to see how you pick the vegetables, and then how you prepare vegetable soup (there is a delicious recipe in the back!). My kids especially enjoyed the number counting. They got excited by the “five carrots” in the book, “Hey! Mom! We eat those!”.

I loved that the illustrations are so vivid. There is no mistaking a carrot or an onion. The basil leaves look incredibly life-like. The characters in the book are engaging.

Garden Safari Vegetable Soup is an excellent way to introduce a recipe to kids and to cook with them. My three kids are under five years old, so I was super nervous about chopping vegetables with three little ones, but we did have an absolute blast enjoy counting and talking about the vegetables in the book. When we finished reading Garden Safari Vegetable Soup, my kids were SO EXCITED to see that there are other books available by The Kitchen Club Kids.  There is a Rainbow Fruit Salad book, and a Recipe Activity Kit.

The Kitchen Club Kids are doing some amazing things to encourage families to enjoy healthy foods together. I’m excited to see what they do next; it’s evident the Kitchen Club Kids are passionate about the work they are doing. You can find more about what Kitchen Club Kids is up to by going to their website. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Book Review: Love Letters From God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart

Sharing stories of strong women with my daughter is so important to me. I want her to have heroes. As a family with  Christian values, sharing strong Christian women is just as important. I want all my kids to see men and women of faith as strong and courageous.

I was so excited when Author Glenys Nellist invited me to participate in her most recent book launch blog tour. Love Letters From God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart By Glenys Nellist is a beautifully illustrated book packed with Biblical truths. Each story highlights a different woman in the Bible. With each story, there is a lift-the-flap love story. The love letters can be personalized for the young girl in your life. Each story includes Bible references to the story (the story of Deborah is in Judges 4-5) and it also includes a separate Bible reference as well that makes the story personal to the reader.

For families who love The Jesus Storybook Bible, you will quickly become a fan of the Love Letters series (there is also Love Letters from God: Bible Stories, Little Love Letters From God: Bible Stories,  Love Letters from God: Holy Bible, Christmas Love Letters From God: Bible Stories, AND sneak peak! Easter Love Stories From God: Bible Stories which you can preorder now!).

In fact, as soon as we received Love Letters From God, Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart two things occurred. One, my daughter the book and ran off. The cover is a lovely color of lilac and any shade of purple is my daughter’s favorite. That wasn’t the only time I found my daughter curled up on the couch looking at Love Letters From God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart. The second thing that has happened is that I can’t stop talking about this book. I have recommended it to friends for gift ideas for Easter or special celebrations at church.  I squealed when my hair stylist mentioned she had just found Love Letters From God: Bible Stories and I was thrilled to tell her there was a book for girls too!

The illustrations are so exquisite. Each story is a two page spread. There are many wonderful details that only bring the Bible story to life. The illustrations will have you and your sweet girl pausing just to soak up the art. There are so many layers to the illustrations too! The first time I looked at Love Letters From God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart, I was mostly taken by the art. However, when I went back to it later, I noticed how each page layout mimics a scrapbook.

The best thing about Love Letters From God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart is that you can feel the love leaping off the page. That’s exactly how God’s love should feel to everyone. I love that this book makes God’s love personalized and relevant for young girls.

You can follow Glenys Nellist on her website, Instagram, and Facebook.

*This post contains affiliate links. This is at no cost to you, but it does support my blog. Thank you so much!*


Book Review: The Lies That Bind

Now that summer is nearly here, the buzz phrase in the book world is, “Summer Reading” and with good cause too! There are so many great books, sometimes it can be hard to know which book to pick up next. I understand that tension so well. But might I suggest you add The Lies That Bind by Ed Protzel to your book list?

The Lies That Bind by Ed Protzel is a riveting is full of mystery and drama. The mysteries are multi-layered, as we follow several characters. Set in an 1859 Mississippi town, the story involves slaves, a rich French lady and her son, an imposter with a dozen slaves, angry indians and more. I’m not going to go into specifics, because I hate spoilers, but wow! This story will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is fast paced and full of adventure!

From the first chapter, I was immediately caught up in the story. It starts off with mystery and tension and intrigue. Thankgoodness it is the start of a trilogy, because readers will want more.

I was so impressed by the character development and the way The Lies That Bind follow so many storylines. As a reader, I was never confused by what was happening. I never felt lost; that is important because often in stories with multiple characters, the story can feel muddled. Not so in The Lies That Bind. Each character’s individual storyline held a distinct voice; even when they overlapped, the distinction was never lost. This only showcases author Ed Protzel’s incredible ability to weave a masterful and gripping book. It also shows the vision and taken Ed Protzel and his background as a screenwriter definitely shows his understanding of bringing a story to life.

If you like fast action stories with engaging characters, The Lies That Bind is the perfect read. Whether you are curled up on the couch for a Friday night in, or need a good book for vacation, run, don’t walk to get The Lies That Bind. It’s that interesting. It’s that good.

Ed Protzel has several more books coming out. I would encourage you to check out his website, Facebook, and Twitter to keep up with what Ed is up to next.

Book Review: Holding Hands With Happy

I really believe in self-care. You know, taking time to take care of yourself. The activity of self-care always varies for me, but the purpose is always the same: to relax and take care of myself. I’m not talking about errands or tasks, I’m talking about a quiet cup of coffee or taking myself to dinner, or sitting on the front porch to listen to the birds, or getting a pedicure. Sometimes, just going to the gym is good enough. But self-care helps me be a better person, a better wife, and a better mom. As a Christian, I value spiritual self-care as well. Which is why I spend time praying, journaling, and reading the Bible. Those acts help refuel my soul.

All of it is needed. But sometimes, if you are out of practice of self-care or you just want to start, it can be extremely overwhelming. I know there have been times where I have thought, “I need to do something for me!” But I’m so overwhelmed with how neglected my self-care priority has been, that the act of implementing self-care seems monumental.

In Holding Hands With Happy by D’Lisa DarLuz, D’Lisa leads her readers through an easy to follow guide towards happiness. She offers a simple focus, and then follows it with a easy “homework assignment”. Even though the focus on the book is happiness, the word I kept thinking of is: self-care. Sometimes, when you know you need to work on self-care, it can be difficult to know where to start. D’Lisa makes that easy for you. Whether it’s the pursuit of happiness or the pursuit of self-care,  D’Lisa leads the way! Armed with humor, D’Lisa will guide you towards taking better care of yourself. Step by step, in 15 activity filled chapters, Holding Hands With Happy makes it easy for you.

This is the type of book you could read with a journal in hand. You will want space to fully complete the homework. Then, you want time to be able to reflect on what each chapter and the corresponding homework talked about. Taking notes as you read and show you the progress you have made from start to finish of Holding Hands With Happy.

At one point in the book, there was mention of all people being gods. As a Christian, I don’t agree with that. However, the very next sentence in the book talks about how valuable we are; how each individual has worth and purpose. I TOTALLY agree with that. So many times, people feel like they have no worth or value. That is simple not true! YOU MATTER! YOU HAVE VALUE!

I really appreciated how Holding Hands With Happy does not avoid hard subjects like pain, unforgiveness, etc. We will never be truly happy until we work through the pain of our past. That is so true and so powerful.  Holding Hands With Happy will guide you to taking better care of yourself. The book will help you begin the process of releasing whatever is holding you back, and identifying what you need in your life to pursue happiness. This is an easy to read, quick book and you will feel empowered by the end of it.

You can find D’Lisa on her website, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Book Review: Free Rain

I’m so excited to share with you the new book by illustrator Jose Lucio, Free Rain. Last year, I shared with you Jose’s book, Heave Ho!. This is a book we have thoroughly enjoyed. We have LOVED reading and rereading Heave Ho!

I’ve been following the art making process of Free Rain on Instagram. You can follow Jose by going to @annelidical. So, to finally have it in my hands after watching Jose work so hard on it is such an honor.

Free Rain written Daniel Wentzel and illustrated by Jose Lucio is about a colorful group of chickens who overhear that there is “free rain” coming. Only, it’s not exactly rain, it turns out to be free RANGE. The play on words here is so funny; it follows the misdirection of chickens who are anxious, excited, confused, but curious by the idea of free rain.

Jose’s artwork, once again, is incredible. In Free Rain, he uses cartoon animation, collage and bright colors to bring the story to life. The expressions of the chickens were so hilarious; I was cracking up with how well they communicated their feelings. There is no misunderstanding what this flock is contemplating. You can see it!

My kids have been toting Free Rain throughout the house since the moment we received it in the mail. In fact, after we read Free Rain, they ran outside and began construction on a birdbath…with a drinking cup. My kids decided they could provide free rain for all birds! I love how Free Rain inspired them into action to consider bird baths, not just for chickens, but for our backyard visitors as well.

I love books like Free Rain and Heave Ho!. They inspire kids to consider the world around them. After we read Heave Ho!, we were collecting worms for weeks afterwards. Now, with Free Rain, my kids are asking questions about how birds find water and what does “free range” mean? I love those types of conversations! I’m thrilled when a book is the spark behind those conversations. I especially love it when a funny book like Free Rain is the source behind serious questions. Who knew that a flock of colorful chickens would inspire my kids? I did know, but I’m glad I found out!

When you read Free Rain with your kids (and I hope you do!), I would love to know what Free Rain inspires in them!

You can find out more about Jose Lucio by going to his website!