Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Raising The Challenging Child: How to Minimize Meltdowns, Reduce Conflict, and Increase Cooperation by Karen Doyle Buckwalter, Debbie Reed, Wendy Lyons Sunshine

GENRE: Parenting; Christian Family and Relationships
Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Revell (January 7, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800735242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800735241


SYNOPSIS: What's the worst you've ever faced as a parent? An all-out tantrum at the mall? A son who won't take out his earbuds to listen to you? A daughter who's failing at school and won't do her homework? A teen who constantly breaks curfew? A call from the police? Whatever you're dealing with, Raising the Challenging Child will help.

Building on their work at Chaddock, a nonprofit organization that has worked with some of the most challenging kids in the nation for more than 150 years, the authors empower frustrated parents with practical tips and real-life examples on how to

- minimize behavioral meltdowns
- reduce conflict
- increase cooperation
- promote healthy attachment
- improve family relationships

The strategies they share work both for the child who is going through a difficult phase brought on by life disruption or trauma, and for the child who faces chronic struggles. Parents, teachers, and those who work with children and youth will find positive, practical steps they can start taking today in order to understand and address the baffling behavior of the child under their care.


REVIEW: This is one of the best parenting books I have ever read. The scenarios presented are very realistic, as are the tips and techniques suggested (most of which are explained in detail for those who may never have used them before). I love that natural consequences are encouraged, as I have used those with all of my children and grandchildren for over 30 years now.
Not only did I find the book useful for myself, but I also passed it onto my oldest grandson's other grandmother, and she has been using the techniques with him on a daily basis (she lives with his family).
This is a wonderful book for all parents, even those who may not be avid readers. It is a quick easy read, without much technical writing, simple to follow and understand.
*I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher prior to its release. The opinions and review are mine.*

RATING: Five stars


Karen Doyle Buckwalter, MSW, LCSW, is director of program strategy at Chaddock in Quincy, Illinois. She serves on the board of directors' advisory board of the Theraplay® Institute in Chicago and has trained and consulted at family behavioral health organizations and youth foster care centers in the US, the UK, Australia, Denmark, and beyond. In addition to her degrees, Karen completed a two-year marriage and family therapy training program and 500-plus hours in diverse modalities including Theraplay®, Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), and other attachment, trauma, and developmental approaches.

Debbie Reed is president and CEO of Chaddock. Currently engaged in doctoral studies, she has also played a leadership role in child- and family-serving organizations at the state and national levels, including the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services' Child Welfare Advisory Committee, the CEO council of the internationally recognized Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and the national board of the United Methodist Association of Health and Welfare Ministries. In addition, she trains and consults with organizations on topics related to nonprofit leadership.

Wendy Lyons Sunshine
 is an award-winning writer and coauthor of The Connected Child, with over a quarter million copies sold. She is an editorial consultant for leading nonprofits and has written for media outlets including HealthAARP magazine, Scientific AmericanAmerican Way, and the New York Times.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

DVD REVIEW: Christmas Jars


Based on the New York Times best- selling novel by Jason F. Wright
Hope is an aspiring reporter who has had her fair share of tragedy in life.
Abandoned at birth, she is grieving the recent death of her adopted mother
when her apartment is burglarized of all her possessions. While reporting
the burglary to the police, Hope discovers a jar full of money labeled
"Christmas Jar." Shocked and grateful for this act of kindness, Hope
discovers that people all over her hometown of Columbus, Ohio have
been receiving Christmas jars for years during times of need. The jars
are always anonymous and always contain different amounts.
In this heartwarming Christmas classic, Hope goes undercover to discover
the secret behind the Christmas jars, putting into motion a series of events
that will change her life, and her community, forever.


This is the best new Christmas movie I've seen this year. As a baby, the heroine, Hope is abandoned in a booth at a diner, where she is found and adopted by a waitress and grows up to be an aspiring reporter. After her mother dies of cancer, and her apartment is burglarized, she discovers someone has left her a "Christmas Jar" full of money outside her door. She begins to research the Christmas Jars and discovers dozen of recipients all over her hometown. With a little more digging, she finds out who was responsible for starting the tradition and decides to write a story about them. That leads her into a complicated situation, and she comes close to losing both her career and her relationship. In the end, things work out even better than you might suspect. I enjoyed this film, both for the storyline and for the acting in it. All of the characters are very well scripted and extremely believable. I look forward to making this movie a part of our family Christmas tradition.



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Friday, November 22, 2019

BLOG TOUR WINTER 2020: MYSTERY/THRILLER The Last Affair by Margot Hunt

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (November 26, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778309223
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778309222



Synopsis: Love may be blind, but obsession's a real killer. Nora Holliday is not that kind of woman. Not the kind who has an illicit affair with a married man. But Josh Landon is everything Nora's alcoholic husband isn't. And now she and Josh are so infatuated, they can't stay away from one another. Abby Landon, Josh's daughter, is home from college nursing a broken heart. She's seeking solace, not more scandal, so when she catches her dad kissing Nora, she vows to take the homewrecker down. And as for Abby's mother and Josh's wife, Gwen? To anyone on the outside looking in, the mother of two appears to be living the ideal suburban life. Until she winds up dead. The serene seaside town of Shoreham has always been the perfect place to raise a family--not somewhere housewives are brutally murdered. So who killed Gwen Landon, and how many twisted secrets will be exposed as the vindictive plot comes undone?
Other than the woman’s blood-covered body splayed facedown in the grass, it could have been any typical upscale Floridian backyard.
There was the ubiquitous pool with a water fountain feature, a patio furnished with both a dining set and outdoor sectional couch, and an enormous gas grill capable of cooking hamburgers by the dozen. A large pergola with a tropical vine trained over it covered part of the patio. The dining area was shaded by a black-and-white-striped awning. It was the very picture of suburban domestic bliss. It could have been the set for a commercial advertising anything from laundry detergent to allergy medicine.
Again, except for the dead body.
The area had already been taped off. The first officers on the scene appeared with an ambulance in response to a frantic 911 call placed by the woman’s daughter. The paramedics had assessed the situation, and quickly determined that the woman was dead. The fact that the back of her head had been bashed in with what looked like a paving stone, conveniently dropped next to her prone body, made it immediately clear that it had not been a natural death. The responding officers called the sheriff, who responded by sending in a full investigative team. The medical examiner was now doing a preliminary examination of the body, while police officers combed the area for additional evidence. Two detectives, Mike Monroe and Gavin Reddick—separated by twenty years and sixty pounds—were overseeing the operation, standing at the edge of the patio under the shade of the pergola. It was the third week in April, but this was South Florida and the temperature had already climbed into the low nineties.
“The paving stone came from the stack out in the front yard. They were delivered last week by the company who’s installing the driveway,” Detective Reddick said. He was the younger of the two men and had a wiry frame and angular face.
“Weapon of convenience. Suggests it wasn’t premeditated,” Detective Monroe said. He had a ruddy complexion and a full head of thick dark hair, swept back off his face. A strand never moved out of place, even in a strong wind.
“Plus he dropped the weapon, rather than taking it with him. Probably panicked.”
“Could be a she,” Monroe said mildly.
Reddick shrugged. “Blunt force trauma to the back of the head? You know the stats. Overwhelming likelihood that it’s a man, and probably someone the victim was intimately involved with. Husband, maybe a boyfriend.”
“The husband was with the daughter when she called it in.”
“Doesn’t mean he didn’t do it, and then had her place the call.”
“No, it doesn’t.”
The family had been sequestered indoors, both to keep them out of the way, and so that the officers waiting in the house with them could observe anything they did or said. Other than the husband, there was a daughter in her early twenties and a teenage son. The daughter was reportedly distraught, while the husband and son had both been eerily quiet. It was possible they were in shock.
“Do we have an ID on the victim?” Reddick asked.
“It’s her house,” Monroe grunted.
“Yeah, but I like doing things the official way, you know? I’s dotted, t’s crossed, all of that. Building a case, basic detective work.”
Despite the chilling scene in front of them—the woman’s body still sprawled on the grass, the back of her head a pulpy, bloody mess—the corner of Monroe’s mouth quirked up in a half smile. “Sure, kid, tell me all about basic detective work. I’ve only been doing this for, what…thirty-two years now? The husband ID’d her. Victim is Gwen Landon, age forty-nine. Married, mother of two. Husband said she hasn’t had any recent conflict with anyone.”
“Other than the person who caved in the back of her head with a paving stone,” Reddick pointed out.
“Wouldn’t be the first time a husband didn’t know his wife as well as he thought he did.”
“Possible. But there’s another possibility, too.”
“What’s that?”
Reddick turned to look at his partner. His eyes were small and dark, and he had a habit of squinting when he concentrated intently on something.
“The husband is a liar,” Reddick said.

Review: This story grabbed my attention from the prologue and held it all the way to the last sentence. Each character has his or her story to tell, full of twists and turns, all tying together to create a magnificent tale of love, betrayal, vengeance, and murder.

I was disappointed in the reveal of the murderer, though. Having that character do the deed just felt too convoluted to me. I was definitely expecting someone else to be responsible.

I would still recommend it to anyone who enjoys this genre.

Rating: Four stars
About the author
Margot Hunt is a critically acclaimed author of psychological suspense. Her work has been praised by Publisher's Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews.

TWITTER: @HuntAuthor

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

100 Words Of Affirmation Your Husband Needs To Hear by Lisa Jacobson


Genre: Christian Marriage
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Revell (October 1, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800736605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800736606

Synopsis: Every one of us has tremendous power to either build others up or tear them down through the words we speak every day, and nowhere is this more evident than in our marriages. Are you being purposeful in how you use the power of your words to speak encouragement, strength, and love--breathing life into the heart of your spouse? Or are careless words having a negative impact on your marriage and on the heart of the one you love most?

Matt and Lisa Jacobson want you and your spouse to discover the powerful ways you can build one another up in love with the words that you choose to say every day--words that every husband and wife need to hear. These books offer you 100 Things to say to your husband or wife that deeply encourage, affirm, and inspire. Start speaking these words into each other's lives and watch your spouse--and your relationship--transform before your eyes.

Review: One of the things I like about this book is that the affirmations are written in a way that sounds like the average wife could say them, or close enough that they could just be altered slightly. They aren't long, flowery speeches that might put some women off, they are short, simple truths. I also liked that while some of them are things I already say to my husband, some of them made me realize places where I was missing opportunities to encourage him.

This book would make an excellent gift for any wife, whether a newlywed or celebrating fifty years of marriage.

Rating: Five stars

About the author
Lisa Jacobson is an author, a speaker, and the founder and host of Club31Women.com, a powerful online community of Christian women authors who write weekly on the topics of husband, home, family, and biblical truths--a strong voice for biblical womanhood. Her combined social media platforms have a reach well over 1 million viewers/visitors per month. She is the author of the best-selling 100 Ways to Love Your Husband, as well as 100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear. She and her husband, Matt, are the co-hosts of the popular FAITHFUL LIFE podcast. Together they live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where they have raised their eight children.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

100 Words Of Affirmation Your Wife Needs To Hear by Matt Jacobson

Genre: Christian marriage
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Revell (October 1, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800736648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800736644

Synopsis: Every one of us has tremendous power to either build others up or tear them down through the words we speak every day, and nowhere is this more evident than in our marriages. Are you being purposeful in how you use the power of your words to speak encouragement, strength, and love--breathing life into the heart of your spouse? Or are careless words having a negative impact on your marriage and on the heart of the one you love most?

Matt and Lisa Jacobson want you and your spouse to discover the powerful ways you can build one another up in love with the words that you choose to say every day--words that every husband and wife need to hear. These books offer you 100 Things to say to your husband or wife that deeply encourage, affirm, and inspire. Start speaking these words into each other's lives and watch your spouse--and your relationship--transform before your eyes.

Review: I had my husband read this book before I did, and he read through the entire book in one sitting. While a lot of the affirmations mentioned in the book are things that he already tells me, he did find some that made him say "I never thought of that!" 
One of the things I like about this book is that the affirmations are written in a way that sounds like the average husband could say them, or close enough that they could just be altered slightly. They aren't long, flowery speeches that might put some men off, they are short, simple truths.
This book would make an excellent gift for any husband, whether a newlywed or celebrating fifty years of marriage.

Rating: Five stars

About the author
A1o5-CEyc-LIL-US230Matt Jacobson was an executive in the publishing industry for 25 years and for the past 16 years, has been a teaching elder/pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship. Matt is also the founder and teacher at FaithfulMan.com, an online social media community focusing on the topics of marriage, parenting, and biblical teaching, with a cross-platform reach of 2,200,000 viewers/visitors per month. He is the author of the bestselling 100 Ways to Love Your Wife.

He lives with his wife, Lisa, in the Pacific Northwest where they have raised their eight children.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

BLOG TOUR: Christmas Cupcakes and a Caper (Death By Cupcake #4) by D.E. Haggerty

Christmas Cupcakes and a Caper (Death by Cupcake) by D.E. Haggerty

About Christmas Cupcakes and a Caper

Cozy Mystery Novella 
4th in Series 
Independently Published (November 1, 2019) 
Number of Pages: 80 
It’s all candy cane cupcakes and peppermint coffee until you find a dead elf on your doorstep.
Only the elf wasn’t a real elf, because elves don’t actually exist – not even at Christmas time. A college student dressed like an elf decided taking a nap in sub-zero winter temps was a good idea. It wasn’t. Anna, the pink-haired baker extraordinaire of Callie’s Cakes, is convinced the student’s death was not an accident. She drags Callie and Kristie along with her as she attempts to discover who killed the elf … um… student.
Will the gals of Callie’s Cakes find the killer before Christmas is ruined?
Cupcakes not included, although you’ll find recipes for all the delicious Christmas cupcakes Anna baked.
Review: Anna, Callie, and Kristie are back in their fourth adventure, and they are still as entertaining as ever. While the first three books each focused on one of the three women, giving us a deeper insight into her personality and backstory, this one showcases each of them throughout, using their individual skills and talents to the fullest, proving once again what a great team they make.

The easy rapport between the three women is very well written, drawing us into their inner circle of friendship and teamwork. The story is written with the perfect blend of drama and humor--and cupcakes!--to keep you reading to the end. As an added bonus, recipes for all the cupcakes mentioned in the story can be found at the back of the book, so you can add them to your repertoire of holiday treats.

If you are looking for a fun, quick and easy holiday read, this is definitely the one to choose!

Rating: Four stars

About D.E. Haggerty

I grew up reading everything I could get my grubby hands on, from my mom's Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew, to Little Women. When I wasn't flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories that have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although on the odd occasion I did manage to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. After surviving the army experience, I went back to school and got my law degree. I jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic before returning to the law. But practicing law really wasn’t my thing, so I quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out running a B&B wasn’t my thing either. I polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where I decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from my adopted home. I packed up again and moved to The Hague where, in between tennis matches and failing to save the world, I’m currently working on my next book. I hope I’ll always be working on my next book.
Author links
  Website: http://dehaggerty.wordpress.com
  Blog: https://dehaggerty.wordpress.com/category/mymusings/
  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dehaggerty
  Twitter: https://twitter.com/dehaggerty
  Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dehaggerty/
  Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7210211.D_E_Haggerty
  Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/D.E.-Haggerty/e/B00ECQBURU/
  Newsletter signup: https://mailchi.mp/027b2768aa1c/newsletter-sign-up-for-a-writers-life-by-de-haggerty
  Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/denahaggerty/
  Bookbub author page: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/d-e-haggerty
  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/d-e-haggerty-4b49a29/

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

Genre: Horror/Thriller
  • Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (December 10, 2019)

    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1643851632
    • ISBN-13: 978-1643851631


    Synopsis: A supernatural thriller in the vein of A Head Full of Ghosts about two young girls, a scary story that becomes far too real, and the tragic--and terrifying--consequences that follow one of them into adulthood.

    Red Lady, Red Lady, show us your face...

    In 1991, Heather Cole and her friends were members of the Dead Girls Club. Obsessed with the macabre, the girls exchanged stories about serial killers and imaginary monsters, like the Red Lady, the spirit of a vengeful witch killed centuries before. Heather knew the stories were just that until her best friend Becca began insisting the Red Lady was real--and she could prove it.

    That belief got Becca killed.

    It's been nearly thirty years, but Heather has never told anyone what really happened that night--that Becca was right and the Red Lady was real. She's done her best to put that fateful summer, Becca, and the Red Lady, behind her. Until a familiar necklace arrives in the mail, a necklace Heather hasn't seen since the night Becca died.

    The night Heather killed her.

    Now, someone else knows what she did...and they're determined to make Heather pay. 

    Review:  This was a perfect story to read just before Halloween! It has alternating chapters of past and present so that we learn little bits and pieces of each story as we go along.  
    I remember as a young girl doing things with my friends to scare ourselves that seem silly now--saying Bloody Mary three times in the mirror, playing light as a feather stiff as a board, playing with an ouija board, etc. But thankfully we never took any of it as seriously as Becca took her Red Lady story.
    I didn't see the ending of this one coming at all, but it certainly made sense of Becca's obsession and made me feel even sadder for her. The same can't be said for Heather, however. As an adult, she is way too paranoid and too suspicious of nearly everyone in her life.
    I highly recommend this one. It's got creepy moments, a few laughs, and tons of head-shaking 'yikes, what's wrong with people' scenes. 

    Rating:  Four stars

    About the author
    Damien Angelica Walters is the author of Cry Your Way Home, Paper Tigers, and Sing Me Your Scars, winner of This is Horror's Short Story Collection of the Year. Her short fiction has been nominated twice for a Bram Stoker Award, reprinted in The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror and The Year's Best Weird Fiction, and published in various anthologies and magazines, including the Shirley Jackson Award Finalists Autumn Cthulhu and The Madness of Dr. Caligari, World Fantasy Award Finalist Cassilda's Song, Nightmare Magazine, Black Static, and Apex Magazine. Until the magazine's closing in 2013, she was an Associate Editor of the Hugo Award-winning Electric Velocipede. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two rescued pit bulls.