Book Spotlight: Kindness in a Scary World: Rebecca J. Hubbard

SYNOPSIS:”How does a parent explain senseless mass violence to a child who is just old enough to be aware that the world has become an unpredictable and frightening place? Kindness In A Scary World is a story about a family that watches news coverage of a terrorist attack and the family’s reaction to the event. The child questions why the attack happened and whether their family is safe. The parents honestly answer their child’s many questions about the attack and help reduce their child’s fear by focusing on positive ways the child can contribute to society. This ground-breaking first in children’s literature is a must-have for anyone with young children in their lives, written by a therapist who has focused on healing traumatized children and families for two decades.”

MY THOUGHTS: Catastrophes of any kind present parents with a conundrum. How does one explain evil in the world? Not all events are the same and none of them have a ‘cookie cutter’ response. But, Rebecca J. Hubbard has nailed down a unique and appropriate answer to children’s questions.

With news coverage of killings and terrorist activities a daily occurrence, children are often exposed to these dramatic events without our knowledge. When we think they aren’t listening, they are. It’s a scenario that every parent has or will encounter. Many times, parents are put on the spot to answer without time to really think. This book offers a way to proactively address these issues.

All the possible questions a child could ask are presented in a story format. While your child is hearing a storybook, parents are gaining insight on handling catastrophes. Included in the book is a type of question & answer section for further advice. These situations are never ones that parents expect to have, but they will pop up from time to time. Thankfully, Rebecca J. Hubbard has written a book for children & their parents. As for the story itself, the characters are certainly believable. The parents in the book are portrayed as caring and knowledgeable and the child interacts with them in a loving, respectful way.

I’ve recommended this book several times and continue to do so. It’s innovative methods for dealing with crisis make it a good choice for your child’s bookshelf. I give it a 4 star rating.

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. Pic & synopsis belong to the author/publisher ONLY.


Book Spotlight: Max and Bird: Ed Vere

Birds and kittens aren’t usually friends. In fact, most are enemies. But, Max the Kitten and Bird decide to change this stereotype. Max does view Bird as a potential, tasty snack, but when Bird needs his help, he is determined to do the right thing.

Award-winning, best-selling author/illustrator, Ed Vere brings Max and Bird to life. Having penned two prior books about Max, Vere has established his character and Max will endure. I loved everything about this book. Perfect for the Pre-K through perhaps 1st grade set, Max and Bird provide numerous lessons for children- both obvious and not so overt.

Using ‘friendship’ as it’s main moral message, we see Max and Bird grow as friends and individuals. At the beginning, Max’s mindset is to follow the history of birds vs. cats and eat bird. But, as he begins to spend quality time with Bird, he realizes that his initial assumptions were a bit off. He also finds great satisfaction in helping bird with his quest to fly. Here children witness unlikely friendships formed and about giving new friendships a chance especially when people are drastically different.

With Bird, readers see a character who realizes he needs help and isn’t afraid to ask for it. Again, Bird throws off stereotypical behavior and instead makes Max feel valued as a friend. We also witness Bird losing his temper, but rebounding quickly. He doesn’t dwell on his anger or get violent. He verbalizes and moves on. These are long-lasting messages kids need today.

As the book’s illustrator, Ed Vere has drawn Max and Bird exactly how one might mentally picture them. The illustrations keep the reader’s interest without becoming the only focal point of the book. There’s a perfect harmony between words and pictures. ‘Max and Bird’ is a great choice for bedtime/quiet time reading and I highly recommend it! I give it 5 stars!

Summer Firsts For My ‘Year Of Firsts’

The Year of Firsts continues as I make a concentrated effort to try new things. Some of the summer’s firsts did involve me directly. Some were occasions of me having to let go for the first time in new ways.
For the first time, we allowed our youngest to go to camp. He attended an out-of-state Youth For Christ Camp for a whole week. A whole week. I let my baby get on a bus and go with non-family members for a whole week. You may have gathered that it was not easy. It wasn’t. It was a whole week.

But, he did well. In fact, due to it being a technology-free week, I wasn’t able to hear from him. He zip-lined, went tubing and swam. For a whole week. The husband took a vacation week during this time. He was home. For a whole week.

We had a catastrophic event when Buster got hurt. For the first time, I had to confront the fact that Buster is mortal and we may lose him. We went to an emergency vet for the first time and I found myself thrown back 14 years as he had to be cared for as if he was a human newborn.

However, two weeks later, I fulfilled a ‘bucket list’ item when we took Buster on the boat. He did a fantastic job and I adored every, taxing minute of it!

Speaking of boating, I got to go night fishing for the first time. There’s something eerie yet pleasant about being in a boat, in the middle of a lake, at night with no one around. Sounds are amplified. Where you swore there were no fish, fish splashed. We saw an otter and a snapping turtle which aren’t frequently noticed during the day. The sunset was beyond words. The glistening water was indescribable. It wasn’t even about fishing for me. It was so darn peaceful. Local rules say that boats must be out of the water by 10:30. We docked tn minutes prior. It was fantastic & I’d do it again.

In a vanity related first, I’ve had black hair for the last 20+ years. For the first time, ever, I have let it go au natural. It is 3/4 of the way gray now. I’ve been thinking about changing hair color though my husband had always been against it. When he brought it up, I thought, why not? So I consulted a cosmetologist, friend of mine who advised me to let it go gray before changing up. That is what I’m doing.

When it’s suitable to change, I will decided which color route to explore. But, this was a big first for me. I didn’t think I had the courage to go all out gray. I never even go to the Dollar Store without make-up. I never thought of myself as vain until I realized I didn’t want to look old. However, it’s been liberating!

As fall approaches, we’re preparing to enter 9th grade here at home. We have a high school student again. But, for this child, it’s his first time. Wish us luck!

Book Spotlight: Cutie Meets Mr. Lizard: Felicia Di John


In this first book, we meet Cutie, a sweet, curious, adventurous chihuahua rescue dog who lives in a house in the desert. She is a little dog who thinks she is big. Her mom Ava Rose is six years old and loves Cutie very much. She would like to play with her all day, but she must go to school. Cutie is never happy when her mom leaves her for school because that means she will be home all alone. So today, Cutie decides to go outdoors by herself to play. She explores the desert around her, makes a new friend, and finds that some animals eat strange things. She is having so much fun that she almost forgets to get back home before her mom arrives. Luckily, she remembers, and Cutie makes it back just in time to greet her mom, Ava Rose.

‘Cutie’s’ first big adventure focuses on a message of gratitude. While enjoying her excursion into a new world, she becomes aware of how good she has it at home. It’s a relevent message for today’s children. Terence Gaylor has provided wonderful illustrations, full of color & life.

Cutie is based on real-life Chihuahua rescue pup (of the same name) who lives with our author. While each of Cutie’s adventures will feature a life lesson (the next is out 9/17), it is the author’s hope that Cutie will highlight the joy that rescue dogs can bring.

As the mom of my own rescue dog, I can wholeheartedly agree. If you are in search of new reading materials, especially what will become an ongoing series, then perhaps Cutie is for you. She is definitely a little dog with a HUGE personality. I give her 4 stars!

Find Cutie via the following Medias:
*Pic belongs to author/publisher Only **Synopsis provided via Goodreads

Beneath the Surface: Sibel Hodge

Holly Gold left the glitz and glamour of London to return to her hometown. After accepting a job writing for her small town’s newspaper, she finds herself covering fluff pieces and events. While she yearns for a harder-hitting story, her life’s monotony is shattered when her childhood best friend, her husband, and her son are all found dead.

By all accounts, it’s a horrific murder suicide. When Holly knew them, they were the picture perfect family. Two doting parents and a son living in a beautiful home with successful careers aren’t the type of people one reads about in the headlines. Holly can’t accept that Dean would kill his parents and then himself. She isn’t the only one who refuses to accept it as fact.

Barbara, Dean’s maternal grandmother, implores Holly to do some off-the record, investigative work. But, when Holly begins digging into the family’s life and the circumstances are it, she finds secrets, lies, and realizations that she never expected.

When ‘Beneath the Surface’ began, I was convinced that I was starting a perfect 5 star novel. It was suspenseful, fast-paced and well-written. While the latter two adjectives remained a truth until the end, the suspense was quickly dissipated. Within a few chapters, the author clearly revealed the causes of the ‘mystery’.

I had initially hoped for a different turn of events in the plot. Without spoiling the book for those who haven’t read it, I will simply say that the plot ended up being less thriller and more of a statement against big industry. I can’t say I disagree with Sibel Hodges views. I actually do
agree. However, I was expecting more of a mystery and thriller than what was delivered.

Holly started off as a champion- fighting for truth and justice. She was a character that made you want to throw your fist in the air and cheer. By the middle, she seemed reduced to a weak, victim-mentality dependent. That was also unfortunate.

These criticisms aside, ‘Beneath’ is a good book. It could’ve been great. However, many readers have/may view it differently and as always, I encourage readers to draw their own conclusion by giving it a go. For me, my initial mental rating dropped to a 4 star one.

Book Spotlight: Stitching With Jane Foster

Stitching with Jane Foster includes 37 quick and easy cross-stitch sewing cards with punched holes for easy stitching, as well as a 36-page project book featuring instructions for designing your own unique stitching patterns and color combinations. Gather all the tools and materials you need to get started and learn stitching basics, including the straight stitch, cross-stitch, back stitch, and more. A project gallery then shows examples of how to use your adorable stitched cards: everything from bookmarks and journals to greeting cards and ornaments. The simple stitching patterns taught in this book promote growth and development, hand-eye coordination, and creativity and imagination. Includes 37 adorable punch-out templates to get you started! Color them, stitch them, press them out, and play with them; Stitching with Jane Foster will entertain and delight crafters of all ages and is sure to inspire a lifelong love of embroidery.
(Pics/Synopsis property of Quarto)

Quarto Knows has tons of quality books that promote hobbies and ideas for children. No technology required! Get back to basics and give kids an opportunity to exercise hand-eye coordination.

We were provided with a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Apple Assassination: Stacey Alabaster

A Bakery Detectives Cozy Mystery #13

Pippa has really gotten into her new role as a farmer. She’s been particularly fond of her all organic apple trees. When she wakes up to discover half of her trees are completely bare, it’s an understatement to say she ‘lost it’! Of course, her first call is to her best friend, bakery owner, Rachel.

Naturally, the two amateur sleuths are on the case and follow the missing apples all the way to their biggest rivals at The Dough Planet. Thinking it’s an open and shut case, the duo is stunned when The Dough Planet calls them with a problem. One of their customers is dead. Not only that, but the last thing she ate was a pie baked with Pippa’s apples!

Now, the case is more than a theft. It’s a murder mystery and a race to clear Pippa’s good name.

Our Bakery Detective girls are back in the game, finally. The 13th installment seems to be a lucky number for Stacey Alabaster. She gives us a great, fast-paced mystery to follow. There is a lot of back-and-forth between suspects.

We get to meet several residents that are new to us and they are quite the characters! I enjoyed this one enough to renew my faith in the series. I’m looking forward to a fabulous #14!