Monday, March 31, 2014

Motherhood Realized

Motherhood: The Best from the Power of Moms
Motherhood Realized from Power of Moms
Find their website and podcast at Power of Moms
Published Date: April 8, 2014
Amazon Summary:
We believe that family life is beautiful and that motherhood is a privilege. But we also believe it is often really hard to see all that beauty when we're in the midst of mothering. So often, we feel like we're spread too thin. We feel like we don't match up. Our hearts want to do more than our hands can manage. And every day, as we cycle through household duties, discipline, errands, conversations, teaching, and hundreds of unexpecteds, we're often left tired, worried, and in need of some extra inspiration and encouragement.
Power of Moms is an online community of deliberate mothers. Since 2007, millions of mothers from all backgrounds who are striving to be the best they can be have gathered to our website to learn and grow together. Time and again, our posts receive comments that say something like, "I am going to print this out and put it on my nightstand so I can read it again and again." We've been concerned about those nightstands . . . getting all cluttered up with paper. So we've selected dozens of our most popular posts and compiled them neatly into this book just for you.
Becoming Our Best Selves
Getting Through Hard Times
Remembering the Meaning in Motherhood
Shifting Our Perspectives
Savoring the Moments
This book isn't just a book. It's a tangible representation of a living, breathing community of mothers. Motherhood is the hardest job we'll ever love, and it's so much better when we're doing it together.
I am apart of the launch team for "Motherhood Realized". Pre-order from Amazon TODAY (3/28/14) for $12.52. The release date is April 8th, 2014. All opinions are my own. 

My Thoughts:
About a year ago I read Deliberate Motherhood from Power of Moms. I was intrigued when I saw they were coming out with a new work. "Motherhood Realized" is a collection of PoM's best and most popular blog posts. The book breaks up all the posts into four separate categories: 1. Becoming our Better Selves 2. Getting Thru Hard Times 3. Shifting Our Perspectives 4. Savoring Moments. 

As you might imagine from these categories the essays alternatively will make you laugh and cry. And yes, I mean it. I rarely actually cry for books, but a few of the stories here had me tearing up. All the essays were encouraging, relatable, and touching. Some of the stories about hardship were moving of course. But a few about savoring moments were incredibly uplifting and provided great reminders about slowing down and focusing on the here and now. 


One thing I like to highlight for the busy moms is how easy a books is to read and digest. Because these are former blog posts, each one can be read in about five minutes. Perfect for any mom! Read one or two in between diaper changes and tantrums and feel refreshed. They don't leave you hanging either.  Concluding each story is a reflection question and challenge that helps apply the lessons and ideas covered. This was really beneficial for the stories that really touched me and I wanted to ensure I would remember when I finished reading.

While I can't claim the idea is completely original, "Motherhood Realized" is encouraging and uplifting. It is written by real moms who have all been around the block a few times. Each author seems to have at least four kids, and I am not exaggerating. I certainly feel like I can trust their insight! I'm still glad to have this one on my bookshelf. Preorder it today before it releases April 8, 2014. It's already #8 in Motherhood ebooks on Amazon and climbing! I am rating it with 4 stars and marking it worth your time! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Life of a Blogger: Favorite Animals

A wonderful link up with Novel Heartbeat

I had a lot of fun reading the posts for last week's topic, travel.
This week we are chatting about our FAVORITE ANIMALS

I hate to be pretty boring, by my favorite animal are puppies!! SO flippin cute...doesn't get much better actually. 
Picture from Google

But I have also been pretty partial to guinea pigs. 

Picture from Google

Also, I would love to cuddle with a Giant Panda. I just find them irresistible and would LOVE to see one in person!!

Picture from Google

And now, dear friends, you know more about me :) Whether you wanted to or not! Feel free to leave your links below so I can creep on your favorite animals!! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quick Review: Together Time

Time Together: Me and Dad
Time Together: Me and Dad by Maria Catherine
Illustrated by Pascal Campion
Publishing Date: 3/1/14
Goodreads Summary:
Every day moments between a father and a child are captured in this sweet book. From quiet talking time to favorite song time, these small moments create lasting memories.
I received this children's book from the publisher via Netgalley. Check it out as a Father's Day gift from Amazon for $8.06 today! (3/22/14)

My Thoughts:
Time Together: Me and Dad is one of the cutest children's books I have seen in awhile. The illustrations are gorgeously done. I mean, GORGEOUS. When a children's book has artwork that intrigue both parent and child, you know it is a keeper.

This book isn't much of a story, rather its artwork features different activities children can do with their fathers. The pictures and activities shared would be good springboards for discussion with your little one, which is what a good book should do.

This book is definitely meant for younger readers, preschoolers. My baby girl is two years old and loves to read books so I would love to add this to our growing collection. It would be excellent as a Father's Day gift.

Little ones will appreciate reading about activities with daddy and parents will stay interested by the artwork and quality time that will ensue. Hard to go wrong with this one!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Surprised by Motherhood

Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom
Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being a Mom by Lisa-Jo Baker
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Check out her fantastic blog 
Goodreads Summary:
A lawyer with a well-stamped passport and a passion for human rights, Lisa-Jo Baker never wanted to be a mom. And then she had kids. Having lost her own mother to cancer as a teenager, Lisa-Jo felt lost on her journey to womanhood and wholly unprepared to raise children."Surprised by Motherhood" is Lisa-Jo's story of becoming and being a mom, and in the process, discovering that all the "what to expect" and "how to" books in the world can never truly prepare you for the sheer exhilaration, joy, and terrifying love that accompanies motherhood.Set partly in South Africa and partly in the US (with a slight detour to Ukraine along the way), "Surprised by Motherhood" is a poignant memoir of one woman's dawning realization that being a mom isn't about being perfect--it's about being present.
I recieved this book from the publisher via Netgalley. Order the Kindle version from Amazon today for $9.99 (3/22/14)

My Thoughts:
Surprised by Motherhood?? Try surprised by this book! I think I expected it to be another how-to-mother/band-together type parenting book. I shouldn't have expected that knowing what little I do have Lisa-Jo Baker. And it seems like everyone knows her! She is a self-proclaimed cheerleader for moms and has written hard, beautiful, honest truth on her blog for years. "Surprised" is her personal motherhood story. Raw, real, and doesn't hold back the gritty and dark.

This open honesty helped me relate completely. Some wonderful women are brave and share the dark bits of motherhood for the world to see, but then make apologies for it. They wrap up their words in a nice Christian bow. But in the midst of the tunnel, you may know there is an end, but you just don't see it. Baker was able to share her dark moments and not make apologies. Being a mother is hard. Don't ever believe otherwise. Of course it has it's good moments that are everything you imagine about cute, innocent, adorable infants, but it is hard. And it stretches you and changes you like nothing else ever could. Sometimes you just want some sympathy, someone to commiserate with. And to know you aren't the only one who struggles. Baker stated it so well when she said it was like 'breaking up with herself'.
Any way you cut it, motherhood is intimidating. From the courage it takes to clip a newborn's fingernails or navigate their weensy little arms into a onesie or wave them off to school, the ocean of a mother's worry is a vast one. ...So moms might not know it, but they are the bravest of the brave for taking this risk. -Chapter 8, Surprised by Motherhood, emphasis mine. 
Along with her personal journey of becoming a reluctant mother, we also get to travel with Baker! Born and raised in South Africa, she also spent some time living in the Ukraine and different parts of America. I am sure her editor cut a lot of the deeper looks into her travels out because the book IS about motherhood, but I would LOVE to read more about that. Baker's voice is so fresh and holds notes of humor; reading her travel journals would be a treat.

Heck, I would read anything by Lisa-Jo Baker. And this book has made me admire her even more. However, I am only giving this book 4 stars. It was a good read, one to devour quickly, but I also felt like it didn't take me anywhere. We wandered, we meandered, we travelled, we got to know who Baker really is. And then, the end. I really liked this podcast Baker did recently with Kat Lee from Inspired to Action. I felt like it help me wrap up Baker's journey by sharing what she is up too these days, that all she learned is taking her to some awesome new things. I hope to see more books from Camp Baker, and soon!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Life of a Blogger: Travel

This is a link up with Novel Heartbeat

Last week we talked about our favorite places. This week we get to discuss TRAVEL!!

Thus far I've only travelled outside the country (barely) three times, and a lot inside the country. 
Jamaica for the Honeymoon
Photo by AlyssaZ

Cabo San Lucas for a Missions Trip
Photo by AlyssaZ

Banff Canada for pure gorgeousness
Photo by AlyssaZ

Nationally, I've covered Minnesota, South Carolina, Montana, South Dakota, Colorado (several times), Arizona, Utah, California, Iowa (because there isn't much to see...), Missouri, and parts of Georgia, Wisconsin and most of Nebraska. 

I am beginning to think about our trip for next year! I am so excited already, but we haven't picked where to go!! Hubs and I are thinking keeping it national and saving up for an international trip the year following. Our ideas are so far are: 1. Northern Florida 2. Colorado (Hubs has never been!!) 3. or Yellowstone National Park. 

Another problem: I haven't read many travel-esque books! SO I need your recommendations if you have any!! 

Meet me in the comments below! Where should I travel to next? What are your favorite travel books??

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Reading Reviews

Time to get a bit more serious friends...

I've seen a lot around the blogosphere lately about readers deciding not to write reviews or read reviews posted by others. I think I can honestly say that this makes me very, very sad. 

First, to openly admit skipping over reviews can be kind of mean to bloggers who do spend  a lot of time on their reviews. Someone can put a lot of time and thought into something, and then bravely share it with the world....only to have everyone skip over it?? Of course I will admit that I don't read every review I come across and wouldn't expect anyone else to either. But I do take the time to read through reviews of books that interest me. I have found some great books to add to my TBR pile this way! 

Many people say they don't read reviews of books they want to read/plan on reading because they are worried about spoilers. I don't worry about spoilers because I have rarely, if ever, come across a blogger who doesn't clearly announce a spoiler if they even mention one at all! 
Pro Tip: Only read reviews from bloggers you already know and trust when it comes to these 'important' books! 
I have read bad reviews about books I am excited to read and haven't let that sway my opinion. Maybe I sound a little 'uppity' and I sincerely apologize, but if I want to read a book, I am going to read it anyhow. Despite a bad review here or there. Case in point: just today I read a review on a book I hadn't even heard of. The blogger gave it a bad review, however, the synopsis just sounds so intriguing I'm adding it to my TBR list anyways!
Pro Tip: Remember that someone's opinion is just that, an opinion! Don't be afraid to formulate your own opinions and ideas.
I'll also honestly admit that I am a horrible commenter, but am working on this skill so that writers may know that their reviews have been read and appreciated.

Second, and maybe I value tradition more than others, but I feel like reviews are what book blogging has been based on. Reading books and sharing thoughts about them is what can make this community feel like one big, cozy book club! Plus, without reviews we don't get the delicious wonders of Goodreads and Netgalley :D But it is true, reviews are such an integral part of the book blogging world. Authors and publishers rely on us to get the word out about their works. Reading reviews reveals a person's tastes and thus helps me connect (or not) to them more.

Don't misunderstand me either: some people have a knack for bookish thoughts and that is where they want to spend their time. But I implore: Don't give up reviewing completely!! It does great things for the bookish world!

Next week I will share some thoughts on what I personally like and don't like in a review, so stay tuned! 

What do you think? Am I on the mark or off my rocker?? Am I the only one who still appreciates book reviews anymore? Do you love to share reviews? Leave me your thoughts below and I will meet you in the comments! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

You're Going to Be Okay

You're Going to Be Okay: Encouraging Truth Your Heart Needs to Hear, Especially on the Hard Days
You're Going to Be Okay by Holley Gerth
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Visit Holley's encouraging blog HERE
Goodreads Summary: 
Sometimes it feels like life's falling apart at the seams. Sometimes you're completely worn out by stresses that never seem to end. For every woman who has been disappointed, who has watched a dream die, whose life isn't what she imagined it would be, bestselling author Holley Gerth has a heartfelt message of hope--you really "are" going to be okay. And it "is" possible to live with joy, resilience, and strength in both the good times and the bad. In fact, she says, that's what God desires for us. 
With her trademark positive encouragement and probing questions for self-reflection, Holley encourages women to spend less of their lives regretting and more of their lives truly living. She shows them how to guard their hearts against despair and look to the future with confidence, remembering that they are part of a greater plan and "nothing "can stop God's purposes for them.
I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Find this book on Amazon for Kindle for $9.99 today (3/13/14). 

My Thoughts:
Ever have a bad day? A bad life season? Didn't you just want to know it was all going to be okay? Perhaps you have great friends, but they don't handle the bad so well. Ever feel the crushing weight of imperfection or lonliness? Maybe you tell your spouse about your problem and all he does is offer you advice and ways to fix it, and you just want a hug and "You will be okay" whispered in your ear. If you don't have that in your life, or just need more of it, Holley Gerth's new book is for you.

The full title of this book is "You're Going to Be Okay: Encouraging Truth your Heart Needs to Hear, Especially on the Hard Days", and that is exactly what you are going to get. Gerth gently guides the reader through situations that all women face at one time or another - lack of confidence, questions of self worth, needs for knowing what we are doing is right, by using her own stories and those of others.

Reading this book is like having coffee in a cozy, warm cafe with a smiling, compassionate friend across from you. A friend who perhaps, isn't going to hold back the punches. Right from the get-go Gerth jumps in deep, diving to the very root of us and they way we think of ourselves. Gerth also has worked as a counselor and that really shows in the way she explains how our brains work and resist change. This was probably one of the more eye-opening parts of the book for me. To know there is a scientific reason as to why change is so hard for me and that I am not the only one who gets stuck in negative thinking. 

"You're Going to Be Okay" was exactly what you would expect, and I set the book down comforted, happy, and feeling normal. I felt I had refreshed myself and was ready to tackle life's mountains and molehills. God was a big piece of this book as well and Gerth wrote words that drew me back to Him and His Love in ways that were 

I want to recommend this book to all my Christian lady friends who need that comforting voice, that pat on the shoulder. It is a fantastic reminder of who we are in Christ, what we can accomplish with Him by our sides, and that we really are more than enough. I am easily rating this book with 5 Stars and can't wait to come back and read it again and again. 

Have you read any other books by Holley Gerth?? What encourages you most when you are stressed or upset??

Reading List: Cozy Reading Spot