Gift Book Reviews: The Magic of You, and Yes You Can

The World Needs More Smiles Like Yours by Laura Jane

The Magic of You: A Colorful Book of Happiness
by Laura Jane
4 out of 5 stars

This cute little book is full of inspirational sayings that encourage the reader to dream big and create beautiful things! Each affirmation or mantra guides you to make your dreams and goals a reality, pushing aside fear and embracing faith.

The book is divided into sections for Self-Love, Dream, Believe, Grow, and Create. The artwork in each section has a main color scheme: pink for Self-Love, orange for Dream, green for Grow, etc…
It’s a clever way to give some structure to the otherwise random little sayings.

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Non Fiction Review: The Abolition of Man

The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis

The Abolition of Man
by C.S. Lewis
4 out of 5 stars

Lewis shows the implications of the philosophical ideas that emotions are crude and invalid, and only “reason” should dictate our actions. Reason without emotion is unreality, and even if it were true it would only lead to the abolition of mankind. Lewis attacks the issue from several angles, debunking popular arguments that the purest form of reason is our instincts, or that benevolent actions can be found through pursuing “science” as the best moral compass for mankind to follow.

Lewis proves that moral absolutes do exist and that they are universal through all generations and cultures throughout all of time. These moral absolutes appeal to both our reason and our emotions, and you cannot cut them out of a person’s life without destroying that person. There are basic truths that are self-evident and omnipresent in all mankind.

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Non Fiction Review: Ensnared in the Wolf’s Lair

Ensnared in the Wolf's Lair by Ann Bausum

Ensnared in the Wolf’s Lair: Inside the 1944 Plot to Kill Hitler and the Ghost Children of His Revenge
by Ann Bausum
4 out of 5 stars

In the midst of Nazi Germany, a group of men attempt to assassinate Hitler. Their plan fails, and their families pay the price. Hitler is merciless in his revenge on the families and children of the men who tried to kill him. But a few of the children survive, and they are nicknamed the Ghost Children.

I appreciate this clear look at a complicated time in history, and how the nuances of the political climate in Germany were so much more complex than we can understand today. I think history tends to remember all Germans as being evil people who were complicit with Hitler’s plans, but so many of the German people were actively fighting against him from within.

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Non Fiction Review: Kid Innovators

Kid Innovators by Robin Stevenson

Kid Innovators: True Tales of Childhood from Inventors and Trailblazers
by Robin Stevenson (Goodreads Author), Allison Steinfeld (Illustrator)
4 out of 5 stars

All inventors start out as curious kids who love to learn and explore. This book gives short biographies of some famous innovators and how their childhood shaped their dreams. The bios include the stories of Steve Jobs, Jacques Cousteau, Florence Nightingale, Walt Disney, the Wright brothers, and many others.

There are sections about technology, exploring, codes, medicine, and trailblazers. It’s not just about inventing something new. It’s about revolutionizing how something is used, how art is created, or how people think. The history of computer codes, airplanes, wind turbines, rockets, nursing, hair products, entertainment, and a dozen other fields are explored.

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Non Fiction Review: Guitar The World’s Most Seductive Instrument

Guitar by David Schiller

Guitar: The World’s Most Seductive Instrument
by David Schiller
5 out of 5 stars
This incredible book has gorgeous photos and information about over 200 guitars and the amazing people who play them. It includes bios on famous guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Willie Nelson, Joni Mitchell, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Maybelle Carter, and even Jimmy Page with his double-necked guitar.

There is a page showing the anatomy of a guitar, and details on how hundreds of beautiful guitars are made by artisans all over the world. There are stats about wood materials, sound quality, and pounds of pressure from the strings.

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Non Fiction Reviews: Amazing Places and Incredible Animals

Barefoot Books Amazing Places by Miralda Colombo

Barefoot Books Amazing Places
by Miralda ColomboBeatrice Cerocchi (Illustrations)
5 out of 5 stars

This book gives information about fifteen famous places around the world, beautifully illustrated with colorful drawings. The book includes the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, the Colosseum, Easter Island, the Great Wall of China, and many more! Each landmark has a four-page spread with facts and history about the location, the people who built it, what to look for as a tourist, and how the structures are preserved.

Barefoot Books Incredible Animals by Dunia Rahwan

Barefoot Books Incredible Animals
by Dunia RahwanPaola Formica (Illustrations)
5 out of 5 stars

This book gives information about animals around the world with unique qualities and abilities. There are sections for different types of animals like predators, expert builders, devoted parents, and animals with camouflage. There are animals that glow, animals that migrate, and animals that are small but deadly. There is even a special section for animals that become unlikely friends, like the suckerfish that hitch a ride on the back of a seaturtle and clean the turtle’s shell.

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Classic NonFiction Review: The Life of Charlotte Bronte

The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell

The Life of Charlotte Bronte
by Elizabeth GaskellAlan Shelston
5 out of 5 stars

Charlotte Bronte was truly an extraordinary individual. This biography written by her friend Elizabeth Gaskell is a powerful history of the tragic life the Bronte sisters led. Their strong personalities and steady faith drew them closer together, and provided the genius for their incredible writing.

I loved reading about the eccentric Bronte family, and the close relationships between the siblings. Their isolated home among the moors of Yorkshire inspired similar vigorous settings for many of their books. It was interesting to see how their personal experiences led to fictional creations like the terrible Lowood School in ‘Jane Eyre’ or the awful governess situation in ‘Agnes Grey’. There are many parallels from their real lives to their writing.

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Non Fiction Book Review: Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography and Other Writings by Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography and Other Writings
by Benjamin Franklin

3 out of 5 stars

This is an interesting look at Benjamin Franklin’s life. The first part is his autobiography, which he never finished. It tells mostly of his early life and his beginnings in the printing business. Then there are collections of his letters, scientific writings, and political writing. These are divided by topic, with short explanations from the editor giving general information surrounding those letters or publications. It shows his work as a scientist and inventor, his gradual assent into public life as a statesman and politician, and his personal life as a husband and father and his personal relationships.

I found it very interesting and readable, and I loved seeing how meticulous and sensible Franklin was in ordering and organizing his life. He had some excellent ideas and some crazy ideas. He was a person always searching and wondering and puzzling through the mysteries of life. He must have had a terrific amount of energy, since he often writes about diligence and industry. He was a rare personality.

I enjoyed this close look into American history!

Activity Book Review: Paint by Sticker

Paint by Sticker by Workman Publishing
Paint by Sticker: Create 12 Masterpieces One Sticker at a Time!
by Workman Publishing

5 out of 5 stars

This activity book has 12 beautiful designs, and hundreds of stickers in little mosaic shapes! It’s so easy to put the stickers into place, and the finished product looks wonderful. It’s very relaxing and helped me to get creative. You really feel a sense of accomplishment when you finish!

The stickers are sturdy and easy to remove from the sticker sheet. The colors are vibrant and it’s simple to follow the instructions to find the right placement for each sticker. I really loved that the pages are perforated, so that you can tear out the sticker sheet or the design or both. That way you don’t have to keep flipping back and forth in the book.

I love the clever designs and beautiful colors! This is perfect for anytime you have some anxiety and need a calm activity.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts, and are not influenced by anyone.

Non Fiction Review: The Sleep Workbook

The Sleep Workbook by Renata Alexandre
The Sleep Workbook: Easy Strategies to Break the Anxiety-Insomnia Cycle
by Renata Alexandre

5 out of 5 stars

This book begins with an analysis of why people might have trouble falling asleep, and explains different sleep disorders. Then the author uses cognitive behavioral therapy to gently guide the reader into a better sleep pattern that will leave you feeling refreshed and energetic.

There are several sleep assessment quizzes you can take to determine some of the causes and details of your sleep issues. This really helps to pinpoint personal habits you might have that are hindering your sleep, or specific anxieties that are keeping you awake at night.

At the end of each section there are some journal prompts and room to write your thoughts about your sleep journey. There is also a sleep log that you can fill out to keep track of your sleep patterns. Continue reading