Category: Books-DVDs

Moms and Students Can Enjoy #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso

Posted on Jul 21, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re interested in starting your own business and like books with a sassy voice, #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso is a fantastic read. If you know a high school student or recent graduate who doesn’t want to go the traditional college route (and maybe even if they do), this is a good story to share with them.

The book tells the story of Sophia Amoruso’s journey from the early days of selling on eBay and having nothing, to building a $100 million+ business (Nasty Gal) around vintage clothing finds and gorgeous newer clothing from today’s designers.

I personally loved the smart, let-it-all-hang-out, no secrets story. It’s a quick read and how can it help being an inspirational tale? Amoruso went from dumpster diving for bagels to becoming the CEO and founder of a successful business, in large part by starting small and paying attention to the little details.

It may be just the reminder that you, a teen, or young adult trying to find their way, could use in order to turn dreams into a reality.

#GirlBoss inspires its readers to take control of their lives and make things happen, no matter how much it seems the odds are stacked against them. It’s not your typical how-to or motivational story. It’s a funny, fresh read that reminds you how much a situation can change with the right amount of dedication, passion, and belief that things will all work out.

It feels like you’re reading an intriguing story more than a guide, but there’s so much knowledge tucked into those pages, too.

Photo credit: Amazon

Book Blocks Encourage Motor Skills While Developing Baby’s Visual Acuity

Posted on Jul 18, 2014 by No Comments

Board books and building blocks are two classic toys that help your little one develop important skills. Baby’s First Book Blocks is a set of mini board books that double as building blocks to help babies develop visual acuity and encourage burgeoning motor skills.

unnamed (1)It’s a popular myth that babies can’t see in color, but research shows that babies can see well enough to distinguish between subtly different shades by just two months of age.

Parents can use Baby’s First Book Blocks to encourage baby’s visual development by spending just a few minutes a day with their child looking at the bold colors, diverse shapes, and intricate patterns shown within each book.

As baby grows, the books can be stacked, sorted, and used to build simple structures much like any other set of building blocks.

Illustrator/author Dan Stiles is also the author of Put on Your Shoes! and the upcoming, Today I’m Going to Wear…. Over the past 20 years, Stiles has collaborated with everyone from indie bands to major corporations in creating identities, advertising, custom packaging, and limited edition collectible art and merchandise. His clients range include Death Cab for Cutie, Sonic Youth, Wilco, the X Games, IBM, and Old Navy. Stiles lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and daughters.

Baby’s First Book Books are available on Amazon and from many major bookstores. Priced at about $10, they are affordable as well as educational. If your children are past the board book stage, this would be an excellent gift idea to keep in mind for any upcoming baby showers or a practical donation for local holiday toy drives.

Photo credit: POW! Books

Montessori Skills for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Posted on Jul 15, 2014 by No Comments

Published on July 15, Montessori: Map Work is a new board book offering a fun way to teach toddlers and preschoolers about the world around them.

The Montessori philosophy stresses beginning with concrete ideas before moving to abstract concepts. In terms of teaching geography, this means talking about the shapes of different continents and discussing some of the different types of animals that appear on each continent.

The pages of the book are very sturdy, so this is one you can give to a curious child without fear of damage. In addition to the bold text and colorful animal illustrations, there are also textured outlines for each continent to provide sensory input for your child.

Even if your child isn’t going to be attending a Montessori school, this is one of the best board books I’ve seen covering geography.

Montessori: Map Work is recommended for children ages two to five. The book is published by Abrams Appleseed and is part of a series of early learning books taking the Montessori approach to education.

Available titles include: Montessori: Number Work, Montessori: Letter Work, and Montessori: Shape Work. All books are available on Amazon and get high marks from parents and teachers alike.

Authors Bobby and June George are a husband and wife creative team that founded Baan Dek, the first Montessori School in the state of South Dakota. They also run Montessorium, an app company.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Amazon

Learn How to Protect Your Family from Toxic Chemicals

Posted on Jul 11, 2014 by No Comments

Toxin Toxout: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of Our Bodies and Our World by Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith explores how to keep you and your family safe from the countless toxins hiding in ordinary household products like makeup, toothpaste, soap, and the food on your dinner table.

If you’re worried about the toxins your family is encountering in everyday life, this is a must-read guide to help you stay safe.

Lourie is president of the Ivey Foundation and a director of several organizations in Canada and the United States. Smith is a prominent Canadian author and environmentalist, as well as the executive director of the Broadbent Institute.

Toxin Toxout is the followup to Slow Death by Rubber Duck, their look at  how the things you encounter in your daily life lead to high levels of toxic substances in your body.

In Toxin Toxout, Lourie and Smith use self experimentation, interviews with experts, and analysis of past research to determine which methods of getting harmful chemicals out of your body are the most effective. Some of the explanations are a little dry if you’re not a hard core science nerd, but there are plenty of tips the average person can use to live healthier on a day-to-day basis.

For example:

  • Invest in organic fruits and veggies to cut your body’s level of many toxic pesticides by a factor of three.
  • Drink lots of water to flush toxins from your body.
  • Ditch traditional cosmetics containing parabens and phthalates in favor of natural products to reduce toxin exposure up to 77 times.
  • Avoid toxic odors like that “new car smell” to reduce the levels of benzene and toluene in your body.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Toxin Toxout

Link Round-up: Snacks, Pancakes, Reading Nook, and More

Posted on Jul 10, 2014 by 1 Comment

Today’s link round-up includes snack ideas, German chocolate pancakes, a reading nook, and more.

The Neighborhood Moms shared an opinion on Squeez’Ems and Pack’Ems, used for portable snacks.

Confessions of an Overworked Mom showed off her cute leather bag that carries all the essentials and looks even better as time goes on.

Kalyn’s Kitchen gave us a recipe for baked eggs with avocado and tomatoes.


Suzy Sitcom showed us how to make fresh squeezed tropical punch with the Big Boss Juicer.

View Along the Way showed us how to create a DIY kids’ reading nook.

A Mom’s Take shared her lemonade and berry spritzer recipe.

Sweet and Spicy Monkey taught us how to make German chocolate pancakes.

Photo credit: The Neighborhood Moms and Suzy Sitcom

Styletini Helps You Shake Up Your Style

Posted on Jul 9, 2014 by No Comments

Before my son was born, I felt like I had a decent grasp of what outfits worked well with my body type. But, thanks to the baby weight I can’t seem to shake and the fact that I’m officially too old to dress like a college student, I now hate shopping for clothes and tend to wear the same thing day after day.

If you’re in the same boat, Styletini: Shake Up Your Style, Stir Up Your Confidence can help. Some of the different topics that are covered include:

  • How to identify and dress for your body type
  • Building a closet of mix and match essentials for effortless dressing
  • Taking stock of what’s already in your closet
  • Know where and when to go shopping
  • When to save and when to splurge as you’re building your wardrobe
  • Dressing for special occasions like weddings or television appearances
  • How to add interest to outfits with accessories

Author Ashley Martini is a styling consultant and founding member of Martini Fashions, LLC. A business graduate of Lynn University, Ms. Martini specialized in fashion marketing and merchandising. She received a master’s degree in business with a focus on international business, and studied abroad in the world’s fashion capital, Paris, with a concentration in fashion styling and trend forecasting.

Styletini’s fashion advice is timeless, so this is definitely the book for you if you aren’t interested in following trends but want some general advice on how to build a flattering wardrobe that is age-appropriate, or how to create a budget-friendly “capsule” wardrobe that offers a range of looks that fit your busy lifestyle.

Although I did find many useful tips in this Styletini that I could apply to my own closet, I was disappointed by the lack of pictures. I think most readers expect a fashion book to be full of images showcasing the various tips that are provided.

There are some websites provided as references, but photos would have been much more beneficial for the fashion newbie who needs a visual guide to learn what works and what doesn’t as she’s putting together an outfit.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Amazon

Exploring the Artistic Side of Legos

Posted on Jul 7, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re looking for a way to encourage the artistic aspirations of your Lego loving tween or teen, The Art of Lego Design: Creative Ways to Build Amazing Models by Jordan Schwartz is chock full of inspiration.

The Art of Lego Design is not a Lego instruction manual, so this book isn’t for builders who want exact directions on how to duplicate a particular piece. As the name suggests, The Art of Lego Design is more of a look at the different techniques that can be used to create innovative Lego sculptures.

The book is intended to inspire the builder’s creativity and provide suggestions for ways to move beyond simply following someone else’s step-by-step instructions. There are interviews with several experienced Lego builders, including Tyler Clites. Mr. Clites has an amazingly detailed Alice in Wonderland model that is sure to delight fans of this classic children’s story.

My nine-year-old son most enjoyed the section on minifigures, since building Lego people who resemble friends and family is one of his favorite ways to play with his Lego collection. For me, the most interesting part of this book was the section on Lego mosaics. I’m not a very realistic builder, but I appreciate the abstract nature of mosaic Lego art.

LEGODesign_234_webLEGODesign_098_webThe section on how to photograph and share your Lego models is a helpful addition that I have not encountered in other Lego guides. Getting the habit of photographing everyone’s Lego creations makes it much less painful to disassemble a model that required several hours to build! The photos also provide a special keepsake that documents your builder’s progression over time.

Visit the No Starch Press to learn more about The Art of Lego Design or other Lego-themed titles from the publisher.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: No Starch Press

Use Prime Music to Stream Free Kid-Friendly Playlists

Posted on Jun 30, 2014 by No Comments

In early June, Amazon announced the launch of Prime Music. This service offers unlimited, ad-free access to over a million songs and hundreds of playlists. It’s a free benefit provided to anyone with a Prime membership. This is in addition to the two-day shipping, streaming video, Kindle owner’s lending library, and monthly Kindle First Look ebook selection.

If you’re looking for some kid-friendly music, there are several playlists on Prime Music that your children might enjoy. Check out these selections:

For the most part, Prime Music is easy to use. You simply add a playlist to your library, then access through Amazon Music’s cloud player.

I’ve never been a big fan of purchasing children’s music because it’s something you’ll only use for a short time. So, this seems like a great perk for anyone who already has a Prime membership. It’s certainly much more convenient than using YouTube to search for kid-friendly tunes.

If you’ve tried out Prime Music, what do you think of this new service?

Photo credit: Amazon

A Clever Way to Teach Children How to Spell Their Names

Posted on Jun 24, 2014 by No Comments

Personalized books are a great way to encourage young children to read. Lost My Name makes unique personalized books for boys and girls that tell the story of a child who wakes up to realize that his or her name has gone missing.

The child goes on an adventure to gather the letters of the name. Different characters are assigned to each letter, creating a unique story for every child.

For example, a child with the name Amber would visit an aardvark, mermaid, bear, elephant, and a robot before regaining the letters that are needed to spell her name. A boy with the name Logan would visit a lion, ostrich, giant, aardvark, and nabarlek before his journey was complete.

If you go to the Lost My Name website, you can get a full preview of what  your child’s book would look like by typing in your child’s name and selecting a boy or girl’s book. I tried a few different name combinations as a test and I thought every name ended up with a memorable story for the child.

Lost My Name personalized books are $27.99 with free shipping. You can add gift wrapping and a personal dedication for $4. If you want to order more than one book, there is a 5% discount for multiple purchases.

Lost My Name books are listed as being suitable for children ages two to six, although the site says they are most likely to appeal to a child who is just learning how to spell his or her name.

What do you think of this idea? Would your child enjoy a personalized Lost My Name book?

Photo credit: Lost My Name