Browsing Category: Books

For the Love {a Review}

For the LoveOh my people! I haven’t read a funny book in a while…and this book was funny! I’ve never read anything of Jen Hatmaker’s before, but this was an enjoyable first read! “For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards” is described as:

“She reveals with humor and style how Jesus’ embracing grace is the key to dealing with life’s biggest challenge: people. The majority of our joys, struggles, thrills, and heartbreaks relate to people, beginning with ourselves and then the people we came from, married, birthed, live by, go to church with, don’t like, don’t understand, fear, compare ourselves to, and judge. Jen knows how the squeeze of this life can make us competitive and judgmental, how we can lose love for others and then for ourselves.” –From

I had no less than 15 pages in this book dog-eared and marked up with ABSOLUTE favorites! People! There are only 200 pages in this book! The chapters are short and sweet {I paced myself and read 3 a night so that I could get it done faster}. There were even several recipes in here that I may just have to try!

While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I’m still kind of at a loss for how the book had much to do with the title…and maybe that’ts just me reading, exhausted at the end of the day. There were definitely points, stories and examples that absolutely had to do with showing grace to ourselves and those around us…and maybe that was the trick. That Jen did such a fantastic job of teaching on grace that I didn’t ever feel like I was being preached at! Which I certainly appreciate.

I’ve already passed this book on to my mom for her to read and definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a light hearted faith-read!

*I received this book for free from BookLookBloggers in exchange for my honest review. You can find my disclosure policy here.

Books I’ve Read in 2015

Books I've Read in 2015

My List of Accomplished Reads for 2015
*No Longer a Slum-dog: Bringing Hope to Children in Crisis by KP Yohannan
*Little Princes by Conor Grennan
*The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
*My Life in France by Julia Child
*Who Are These Children and Why Are They Calling Me Mom? by Faith Bogdan
*The Serpent’s Tale by Ariana Franklin
*Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
*Life of Pi by Yann Martel
*Divergent by Veronica Roth
*The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner
*Submerged by Dani Pettrey
*Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg
*The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
*Soul Friends by Leslie Parrott
*Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
*The Second Mrs Darcy by Elizabeth Aston
*Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson
*Longing for Paris by Sarah Mae Hoover
*For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
*Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
*The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
*The Unveiled Wife by Jennifer Smith
*Money Making Mom by Crystal Paine
*His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F Harley, Jr.
*Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini

How to Organize and Keep Track of the Books You Want to Read and Have Read

Last year I remember seeing a lot of posts about an empty shelf change, but I never read any of them. You gotta be kidding me, I thought, how am I supposed to empty a shelf in my house?! I figured it out: You move out, that’s how. I boxed up all my books this summer, so that we could move furniture to do the dining room floors.

They didn’t all make it back on the shelves, some of them even ended up on the front porch in a box for the library and Salvation Army {if you want to stop by and look through them, by all means…}. Obviously the empty shelf concept didn’t work last year, and probably won’t after I put away all the books I got for Christmas…Matt got me just a few {His response: What? Used books are cheap}, but for right now I have an empty shelf {and a pile on the table}!Books Matt got me for Christmas

Here’s what I do, for my non-empty shelf dilemma

 I put all of the books I want to read on ONE shelf.

How to Organize Your Books  Keeping Track of What You Have to Read and Have Read Already

That’s it, earth shattering I know. They’re all in one spot, they’re not getting lost, I can see what I have to read and what I’ve finished. It’s brilliant, if I say so myself. It also helps me to avoid the whole “What do I read next?” I just go to my shelf and grab the next one. It’s awesome! So, yea, that empty shelf right there is going to be getting real full…real fast. Here’s the pile sitting on my table waiting to go fit right in there. I think I might need a bigger shelf.


Last year I managed to read around 30 books; which wasn’t too shabby {I share all the books I’ve read HERE}. I did allow myself some unexpected, and much needed, fiction reading time. Before kids the majority of my reading was fiction, now most of it is non-fiction/parenting/motherhood books. If you want to keep tabs on what I’m reading this year, you can find them all listed HERE.

What books would you add to my reading list?

Our Top Ten Favorite Christmas Reads for Children

This post contains affiliate links: Click here for my Disclosure Policy.

There’s a special kind of book for me: Christmas books. There is no other book genre in the world that I hold more dear to my heart than Christmas books. It doesn’t matter if they’re for adults or children, I love them, but children’s books are especially wonderful.

We were doing the whole Advent book thing the past few years, but I never managed to get the books wrapped. So, I waited and brought out a new book every day, but there were all these AWESOME books that I didn’t want to wait to read! This year I tossed the whole idea, since I’m striving for a Simple Christmas. We now have a Rubbermaid tote sitting in Avelyn’s room with ALL of the Christmas books in it, just waiting for us!Our Top Ten Favorite Christmas Reads for Children

Bold-Italic—Loved for Illustrations and Words
Bold—Loved for Illustrations
Italic—Loved for Words

1. Winter’s Gift by Jane Monroe Donovan

Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL illustrations about an old man, a lonely Christmas, and a horse. The story is gently woven around a snowy Christmas and the reminder that we always have room to hope.

2. Pippin the Christmas Pig by Jean Little

This is another book that we got from the library and loved so much that we had to go get our own copy. It’s the story of a little piglet who wants to know what Christmas is, and just where she fits in. The heart of this story is beautiful, and the illustrations certainly don’t hurt.

3. Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson

Karma Wilson is the author of the Bear Books, and Jane Chapman does the illustrations in all of them! They are beautiful, fun, and bright; sure to catch a child’s interest. Mortimer’s Christmas Manager is about a little mouse looking for a new home, and along the way learns something new.

4. The Polar Express  by Chris Van Allsburg

One of my favorite movies, resulted in one of my favorite books. I love, LOVE The Polar Express. The illustrations in this book are PURE MAGIC, in only that way that Christmas can be. The story is familiar, but all the better with each reading.

5. God Gave Us Christmas  by Lisa Tawn Bergren

One of our favorite children’s books is God Gave Us You, and when I saw this book I had to have it! The story once again brings me to damp eyes and a warm heart, all fueled by the beautiful story of God’s Love in wonderful illustrations.

6. The Christmas Candle by Richard Paul Evans

The story is beautiful in this book: Redefining for us what Christmas is about. The illustrations in this book are just staggering, very similar to the styles of Dutch painters Vermeer and Rembrandt, simple, complex and stunning when studied.

7. Little Red’s Christmas Story by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

This is a fun story that we also got from the library. It’s the tale of Little Red and her friends on a Christmas adventure. Sarah Ferguson tells a wonderful story, with a fun plot and delicious word choices. The illustrations are detailed, fun and eye catching. This is one that both Ave and I always pick to read. {Especially with a British accent.}

8. The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett

We love Jan Brett and ALL her books, but this is one of our favorite Christmas books of her’s. Not only are the illustrations great {have you ever noticed that Brett tells a parallel story in the margins of each page?}, but the story is about a young elf who takes her job a bit too seriously. I think we can all relate at Christmas time.

9. One Snowy Night by M. Christina Butler

I love Butler’s books, her books are usually illustrated by Jane Chapman or Tina MacNaughton who’s illustrations I always love. One Snowy Night is no different, telling the tale of a hat that gets passed along, until it finds the one who needs it most.

10. The Animals’ Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum

The illustrations are nothing fancy in this book, but the sing-song words are sure to catch a child’s attention…particularly one that loves animals. The book goes through the animals in the barn, each sharing a little piece of the Christmas story and their part in it.

We have so many more than just what’s here. There seems to be a certainly magic in Children’s books, and that magic seems to grow even stronger when Christmas is a part of it.

What are some of your favorite children’s Christmas books?

Our Top Ten Favorite Picture Books for Little Ones

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Our Top Ten Favorite Picture Books for Little Ones

We love books in our house. If it’s possible to love them too much, we might be at the edge of that page. I grew up with a mother who loved books, who would sit us down as often as possible and just read. I remember winter nights in which our wood stove roared, with the wind battering our house, reading Little House on the Prairie, by candle light, because we had lost power.

I remember summer rains, much like the ones we’ve been having, setting up camp under a tarp, so that I could be outside, and reading. Endless, ENDLESS days of summer spent nose in book. All of it, there were always books. Always words. Always stories. I only hope that I can impart a fraction of the books my mother read to me, and I read to myself, to my children.

I’m rather fastidious about books for our kids. I’m not a “book for the sake of a book” person. I’m very much a words and pictures snob. If the book leaves me wanting, then you can guarantee it won’t be staying on our shelves very long. Because if it is doing nothing for me, who has had {almost} 31 years of books and using my imagination, then it’s going to do nothing for my children.

Bold-Italic—Loved for Illustrations and Words
Bold—Loved for Illustrations
Italic—Loved for Words

1. The Rainbabies by Laura Krauss Melmed
This is one of the books that my mother read to us growing up, it was put on a shelf and forgotten, until many years latter I was raiding her stash of children’s books. The first time I read it to Ave I cried. I had forgotten what it was about: An old couple who desperately wanted a child.

2. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
This was a gift from a friend of our’s to Avelyn. I absolutely love the illustrations in this book and the words are just beautiful. If I could have pages of a book blown up into artwork, this would be it.

3. Basket Moon by Mary Lyn Ray
We loved this book, when we had gotten it from the library…so much so that it went on our Christmas Wish List last year. Oma was more than willing to add it to our collection. The illustrations are beautiful {also done by Barbara Cooney} and the words are more like poetry in different parts.

4. Fletcher Series by Julia Rawlinson
The story lines aren’t too much to talk about, pretty standard fare. Although I do like the onomatopoeia and alliterations that the author uses. The illustration style didn’t even strike me too much in the book, during our first read through. It’s the last few pages of Fletcher and Springtime Blossoms and Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, that I love.

5. The Hat by Jan Brett
What can I say about The Hat….There is not a book of Jan Brett’s in which I DO NOT LOVE the illustrations. I love the Nordic influences, I love her use of colors and weaving parallel story lines into the borders of each page. They are some of my absolutely favorite books to read.

6. Pumpkins by Mary Lyn Ray
It wasn’t until I came up with this list that I realized that this author also wrote The Basket Moon. Again her words are a delight! The illustrations in this book are pretty good, but they don’t thrill me.

7. Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose by Dr. Seuss
I’d never even heard of this book until my parents got it for the kids for Easter I believe. It’s Dr. Seuss, so the words are awesome, but the entire story line is so funny that you can’t help but giggle.

8. Eloise Wilkin Stories {A Little Golden Book Treasury} by Eloise Wilkin
This is one of our favorites for bedtime. If you remember anything of the old Little Golden Books from the 50s and 60s, these are a collection of some of the more popular of those books, specifically written by Eloise Wilkin.

Growing up, one of my brother and my favorites was, We Help Daddy. After several years of searching I found Matthew and old copy of the book, only to discover that there was a We Help Mommy to, which is a part of this collection. There are a couple of pages in here that I would love to have blown up and framed for the kids’ rooms.

9. Snuggle Up, Sleepy Ones by Claire Freedman
The story is less than stellar in this one, but the illustrations of the Savannah of Africa, are beautiful. Such a wonderful use of colors! We have a few books illustrated by Tina MacNaughton because I just love her work.

10. Easter Babies by Joy N. Hulme
A simple counting book, that is more about Spring, than anything to do with Easter, but the illustrations are, again, beautiful…each page looks more like a painting than a page from a simple children’s book.
*These books are in no specific order.

It’s not always the illustrations that make me love a book, sometimes it’s the words, and very rarely is it both. Of course we have some of the more silly books {If you give a…. series} that we love anyways, but there are some that are just so wanting that we don’t bother with them, and usually pass those on.

Of course, this isn’t ALL the books we love; believe me that would be a very long list. But these are some of the ones that we enjoy the most. Perhaps another day I’ll share a few more of our favorites.

What are some of YOUR favorite children’s books?
Ones read to you, or you’ve shared with your own children?