52 Uncommon Dates

52 Uncommon Dates: A Couple’s Adventure Guide for Praying, Playing and Staying Together by Randy Southern. Moody Publishers. 2014. 223 pgs. 

I was intrigued by 52 Uncommon Dates and was even more excited to read it after I saw that the introduction was written by Gary Chapman (New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages). The concept of the book was appealing, but unfortunately the book didn’t meet my expectations. Perhaps a different title would have worked better for me as I just didn’t find that the majority of the dates were “uncommon.” I approached the book hoping to find date ideas that I hadn’t heard of before or that I see as typical suggestions for date nights. The less common dates that were mentioned in the book seemed too cheesy for my husband and I, but maybe that’s just us. 

I did like that each date is listed as a separate chapter and starts with relevant scripture and a brief statement or two by Gary Chapman. Toward the end of each chapter the date is tied into The Five Love Languages and how you can connect the date to God either with prayer before during or after the date. If you haven’t read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, I would strongly recommend it before getting this book. 

Overall, I found the book initially appealing and thought the layout was carefully crafted. However, when it came down to it, I finished the book with few new date ideas for my husband and I. 

I received this book free of charge for my honest opinion. 


Kid Chef: the Foodie Kids Cookbook

Kid Chef: The Foodie Kids Cookbook. Melina Hammer. 2016. 

As an elementary school librarian I have seen more kids being interested in checking out cookbooks. Most of the time, I have kids asking for them before I can reshelve them. As an educator I can honestly say this is one of the best cookbooks for kids I’ve seen. 

The book is divided into two parts. Part One features skills that are crucial in cooking (how to read a recipe, creating a shopping list, measuring skills, using the stove, safety, food prep, baking skills, etc.). Part Two contains recipes as a traditional cookbook would. The recipes in this cookbook include a variety of recipes ranging from breakfast to snacks to salads to main dishes and desserts. I was impressed by how many of the recipes were for healthy dishes and that there are numerous unique recipes that typically aren’t featured in a cookbook for kids. 

I am definitely going to look into buying a copy of this book for my school library. While the pictures in any cookbook are generally appealing, I love that Kid Chef contains so much more!

I received this product for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

The Mapmaker’s Children


The Mapmaker’s Children. Sarah McCoy. 336 pages. 2016. 

Disclaimer – I’m a total nut for historical fiction, HOWEVER, Sarah McCoy’s The Mapmaker’s Children was easily one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. Whether or not historical fiction is your go-to genre, this book will prove to be an entertaining, intelligently written piece of literature. 

After years of research, McCoy masterfully paints the lives of two women separated by more than 150 years. Yet as the chapters alternate back and forth between the two characters, you’ll find yourself in excited anticipation of discovering how these two lives are connected. When talking with my reading buddies, I often hear people say they either love stories with multiple characters through shifting chapters or they hate them and find them difficult to follow. This couldn’t be farther from the truth in The Mapmaker’s Children. Both characters progress evenly through the novel and McCoy dictates their stories in such a calculated manner, you’ll never think twice about the characters’ stories alternating along. 

As I read more and more of the novel I found myself torn between wanting to finish the book in one sitting and not wanting to read more to avoid having the book ever reach its end. Needless to say, I’ve finished the book and my husband is probably already tired of hearing me complain about it being over. I guess I’ll just need to pick up all of Sarah McCoy’s other novels. 🙂

Have you read any of McCoy’s other works? If not, what are your favorite historical fiction novels that I should add to my “to read” list? I’d love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this post you may want to check out some of the links below about The Mapmaker’s Children. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. 

It’s Spring, Dear Dragon

It’s Spring, Dear Dragon. Margaret Hillert. 2015. 32 pages. 

It’s Spring, Dear Dragon is a cute story about a boy and his dragon muddling over the changing weather we experience so often during springtime. 

As an elementary school librarian, it is hard to find books that interest struggling and beginning readers that are appropriate for their limited skill sets. This book uses only 76 basic words, giving our beginning readers a sense of confidence and accomplishment as they will likely be able to read the text with minimal assistance. 

The resources as the end of the book (activities for enhancing phonemic awareness, phonics, word work, fluency and comprehension) add to the value of this short story. I often have educators ask for book recommendations that do not contain contractions and with the exception of the book’s title, this would be a great title to consider. 

This would be a wonderful addition to any library or collection for young readers. Unfortunately, I won’t be purchasing it for my library as it references the Easter bunny, which does not align with my school’s belief of the celebration of Easter. 

I received a digital copy of this book through NetGalley for this review. 

The Flower Workshop

The Flower Workshop. Ariella Chezar. 2016. 247 pages. 

Whether you’re a amateur gardener or avid floral designer this book will surely be an inspiration. The photos of Chezar’s arrangements are nothing short of stunning, providing a glimpse of the beauty found in nature all around us. 

While I’ve only been gardening for a few seasons now and haven’t explored much with flowers beyond a few window boxes and decorative pots, The Flower Workshop has me giddy for spring (as if my February cabin fever wasn’t bad enough already). Chezar brilliantly displays perfect combinations of colors and textures. Her arrangements are wonderfully unique and are full of endless, eye catching details. 

I appreciated the introduction on the tools necessary to get started. Ariella emphasizes what works for her without creating a “must buy list” that would break the bank for any new enthusiast. The Seasonal Flower Guide at the back of the book will also be a valuable resource as I get my feet wet in floral arranging.  

While the informative excerpts and the descriptions of her arrangements are emotional and personal, as an amateur I’m afraid I will need to supplement the steps in the book with additional assistance from Pinterest. Unfortunately there are few step by step instructions that include enough visuals for me to attempt to recreate Chezar’s’s masterpieces. The beautiful collections, however, will certainly serve as my inspiration and The Flower Workshop has found a new permanent residence on the top of my coffee table. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. 

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Riot Most Uncouth

Riot Most Uncoth. Daniel Friedman. 304 pages. 2015. 

I’ll be honest, I have mixed feelings about Riot Most Uncouth by Daniel Friedman. While I enjoyed the novel and perhaps simply had too high of expectations, I had hoped for a pragmatic conclusion. 

The main character, Lord Bryon, is arrogant, odd, and narcissistic; making it difficult to feel connected to the story as it begins. Since taking a detective fiction literature class in college, sleuth stories have always been my favorite. Perhaps my natural affinity for a good, classic mystery created unrealistically high expectations, but I had certainly hoped for more. Fairly far into the storyline, (I’ll avoid spoilers by intentionally speaking in very vague terms) the plot takes a drastic and unexpected turn away from conventional detective story characteristics to more of a new age fantasy feel. I could see bits of this being foreshadowed and spent the rest of the novel hoping the author wouldn’t take the story in the direction it continued to follow. 

Putting my disappointments with the solution to the mystery aside, this is clearly a marvelously written piece of literature. Although I didn’t really care for the main character and I could see a less than ideal ending coming down the road, I found that I still couldn’t put the book down and finished it in just a few days. The word choice is spectacular and I found myself really enjoying Daniel Friedman’s overall writing style. I do plan on reading Friedman’s first novel Don’t Ever Get Old in the near future. I just hope it follows more realistic elements of classic mysteries. 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. 

The Cat on the Mat is Flat


The Cat on the Mat is Flat. Andy Griffiths. 2007. 166 pages. 

This collection of humorous rhyming stories is sure to capture the attention of your young ones. There are nine short stories together in this book all of which have a heavy emphasis on rhyming words. Some of the stories even feel a little like tongue twisters with all the rhyming words. 

This would be a great text to use with early elementary students to practice identifying and recognizing rhyming words and patterns. 

Do you have a struggling reader who desperately wants to read chapter books but find it difficult to find books at their level? With 166 pages this book looks like a decent size chapter book but with few words on each page, your child is less likely to be overwhelmed or frustrated with large amounts of text. The rhyming words will also help struggling readers as they sound out new words.