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Sunday, December 16, 2012


I have some reviews coming up, but wanted to take time and just "talk" to my readers. With the busy Christmas  season in full swing, I'm sure everyone is busily getting ready for family celebrations.
I would love to hear some of your family traditions. What do you do to make the season special?
What is a favorite tradition?
In our family we have a few traditions we've done since my son was born and others that change depending on situations. One thing we always do is a special ornament for my son. This ornament has something to do with either something he's been involved with during the year, a favorite activity, hobby etc. One year he did Tae-kwon-do and we found an ornament with a boy doing a high kick. We did a chef mitt with cooking utensils when he was baking a lot, holiday dog, trains and such. This is special knowing when he grows up he will have many years of memories to take with him for his own tree.
In  years past, we have always spent Christmas Eve and Day with family. Last year we moved to FL and so were far from any family and hadn't really met any close friends here yet, so we decided to start a new tradition. We decided to go to Cocoa Beach on Christmas Day. For those of us from up north, that is a huge thing to do! Of course we had to put pictures up on Facebook for our friends dealing with freezing temperatures.
Now it's your turn. I'd love to hear some of your favorite traditions and how you make the Christmas season special!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Snowy Day

The Snowy Day

By Ezra Jack Keats

      In keeping with the Christmas book theme, here is another one of my favorite winter books. Although it doesn't directly have anything to do with Christmas, we keep it with our Christmas books and it's always just become a book we read at Christmas.
      This is such a sweet story of a child who is so excited about a snowy day. He wakes up and notices the snow that appeared while he slept. He goes out into the snow and spends time experiencing the snow in a variety of different ways from snow angels to knocking snow of tree branches. Although he isn't able to do some of the things the older boys can, he finds ways to enjoy the snow. He even wants to keep a snowball so that the day can last longer. 
      When he arrives home and while he is spending time warming up he forgets about his snowball. When he discovers that the snow has melted, he longs for his snowball back, and the feeling of being with the snow. He dreams the snow melts that night, and although he wakes up sad, when he sees that it actually snowed more he is determined again not to miss out on whatever adventures the snow holds for him.
       This is a great book.  This book is a tradition for us. I grew up on this book and I loved being able to continue reading it with my own son. It always gets us wishing for a snowy day!

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. The book is from my own collection and the opinions are my own.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Crippled Lamb

The Crippled Lamb

By Max Lucado

  • children's board book
  • Christmas book
  • My rating is 5 out of 5 stars
      This is another great book to help you get in the Christmas mood. This one focuses on the true meaning of Christmas as seen through the eyes of a lamb. This lamb, Joshua, has a bad leg. He is left behind on the trip to another field due to him being slower than the others. He has a cow friend, Abigail, who stays back in the barn with him. Suddenly they hear a noise and see a baby in the barn. Joshua notices the baby is cold and warms him with his wool. He learns the baby is the new King Jesus  and how God has a place for everyone. This is a good reminder for all of us, that no matter what we are  doing or where we are in life, that God has a plan. We are in the right place for what he will use us for.
       This is a great book for Christmas, but really it's good for throughout the year whenever we need a reminder of God's love for us.
        Praying blessings on all of my readers this Christmas season, may you find joy in this time of our Savior's birth.

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. My opinions are my own and the book used was from my own book collection.

Kids Christmas books

In getting with the season, I thought I would do some reviews of favorite Christmas books in our house!
I will do one or two a day. These are all older books, but classic.
Grab a drink...mine is iced tea today, and enjoy!

Wee Mouse Christmas

By Alyssa Satin Capucilli

  • Children's book
  • pop-up book
  • my rating is 5 out of 5 stars
      The first thing you notice with this book is the front cover. It has a delightful picture of mice mixed in with presents and a wreath. It brings you in the story from the start. The story is a clever one of the mice family experiencing Christmas. You see how Wee Mouse explores the house and sees the best thing he knows  of Christmas. He can't wait to share his "surprise" with the whole mouse family. You go on the adventure with him as he finds his family behind the flaps. Then he brings them with him back to where he found the surprise and they see the wonderful Christmas tree with the pile of gifts below it. The way the tree flaps out just makes it seem all the more thrilling. 
       This is a short and too the point book, but you are so quickly involved that you don't notice the length of the story. It is such a cute book. Your kids, and you, are sure to love it. 
       When my son was younger we would read this book many times a day throughout the Christmas season. Many of the flaps have been lovingly torn due to the amount of times read over the years.
Even though my son is a teenager, this book is still fun to look at and remember the feeling of reading it for the first time.

Disclosure:  I did not receive any compensation for this review. The opinions are my own. This is a review from my own book collection.

Monday, December 3, 2012

$25 Disney Gift Card + Tinkerbell Lanyard and Medallion Set

Great gift for any Disney Fan!

$25 Disney Gift Card + Tinkerbell Lanyard and Medallion Gift Set Giveaway!

Check out this fabulous Disney themed giveaway brought to you by Naomi Maclaren, affiliated with The Magic For Less Travel! It's time to explore all the wonderful things Disney has to offer for your next family vacation!
 I encourage you to check out Naomi's blog at Pixie Dusted Homeschool and enjoy reading some fun and informative posts filled with helpful tips and information about a variety of topics including Disney. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest too!
This giveaway is presented by 
Your Disney Prize Pack includes: One winner will receive a $25 Disney Gift Card, 1 Brand New Disney Reusable Shopping Bag,  1 Tinkerbell Lanyard from Disneyland, and 1 Tinkerbell Pin and Lanyard Medallion set which is also from Disneyland. (These items are provided by our sponsor, Naomi Maclaren, affiliated with The Magic For Less Travel. AGE: 18 yrs or older LOCATION: USA residents only DATE: Giveaway starts on December 3, 2012 and ends on December 17, 2012 at 12:00am. Please enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Allow the form to load completely then finish the mandatory entries. Once you have completely the mandatory entries, that will unlock a bunch of additional "optional" entries you can do to earn more entry points in the giveaway. Good luck to each of you! a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure: LOST ISLAND OF BOOK REVIEWS did not receive compensation for this post except for a free link on the giveaway form.   LOST ISLAND OF BOOK REVIEWS and Love2EncourageYou are not responsible for sponsor prize fulfillment. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook.

Dianna's Way by John Catenacci


Dianna's Way

By John Catenacci

  • Non-Fiction/ memoir 
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
                Through the eyes of John, we gain insight into the life of Dianna, her marriage to John, and their struggles as Dianna deals with cancer. We get a peek at how it all began as we hear in John's own words, how they met, began dating and finally marry.
                 Hearing not  only John's story, but the accounts of family members, help to show a well-rounded version of who Dianna was.
                As they begin to talk of marriage, we see how they viewed it as a great opportunity. Dianna especially lives her life as an adventure, and with a positive attitude. There are wonderful stories told of adventures together from hot air balloon rides, to decorating their home. We hear of many travels they take together.
                 They agree that their pasts make them who they are and to live without regret. This helps make forgiveness easy for them. This is important with the path they are on.
                We come alongside them as they struggle with the daily life of a person affected with cancer. Through the process of tests, diagnosis, and effects of both, we find how the strength and positive outlook stay with them till the end.

            From the beginning, what I notice is how John writes as if he's talking to a friend. In his comfortable language you see the whole picture of their life with cancer, and feel a part of the journey with them. I really enjoyed how he occasionally would be telling of a situation and add how the future played into that situation. This really helped pull the story together. You soon discover that while cancer obviously was the major reason for the book, they never allowed cancer to take control. The word that comes to my mind is strength. You see this many times throughout the book. They seemed to live life forward as mentioned by John many times. This is of great encouragement to anyone going through a similar situation. 
            I enjoyed seeing how Dianna kept a gratitude journal even in the midst of her worst days. this also stood out to me. 
            The stories told of how they pushed through what could paralyze some, were great . The wig stories were my favorite!
             John tells it like it is throughout the book. Sometimes maybe a little too much...which I'm sure you'll understand once you read the book! (you really want to find that part don't you?!)
At times I felt the book read a little slow, but there was a lot to share and you did need it to get the full story. I do recommend this book as a great look into how living life with a terminal disease can be, and how you can change your outlook into one of encouragement to others.

Disclosure: I only received an e-book copy of this book in order to do the review. The  honest opinions of this post are my own.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

John Catenacci's Web Site: (at this time, not yet live)
John Catenacci's Facebook:
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Dianna's Way
 blog tour site:

Enjoy a Q & A with John Catenacci below:

 Please tell us about your current release. I will use the back cover copy as it works pretty well on its own.
 John Catenacci is enthralled from the start by the beauty, radiance, and mystery of the much younger woman he meets at a party. Dianna “is in Technicolor and everyone else is in black and white.” Expecting to be the teacher, not the student, John is humbled by the gradual discovery that the opposite is true, in their marriage and in life. The author is profoundly awed by Dianna’s courage, determination, and lightness of being that remains entirely undiminished in the face of what becomes a seventeen-year battle with an aggressive form of breast cancer. John accompanies Dianna each step of the way, and is increasingly amazed by the undeniable healing affect she has on others. Theirs is a shared spiritual journey into the nature of love and transformation. Even after her passing, their relationship pierces the illusion veiling this reality.

Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?
At some point in our life together, I began to notice Dianna was living her life in a genuinely powerful, almost mysterious (to me) way and suggested to her that I write her story. She was as delighted as any child running down the stairs on Christmas morning. But, as her health deteriorated, I became focused on care giving and put the writing aside. After she died, I was engulfed in grief and for a couple of years I just couldn’t climb out of it. One day, I happened upon a book by Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, which I credit with guiding me back into the game. The book is in five parts. The first four recount our life together with the fifth devoted to my personal spiritual journey of coming to terms with her leaving, my long view of who she was and what I learned from her. The first four parts flowed like water once I began to write but I struggled mightily with the last part. Yet it is this last part that weaves together the whole of her life, her message, in a way very satisfying to me.

Can you tell us about the story behind your book cover?
Well, originally the cover was going to be centered on the photo of Dianna that is now on the back cover. I love this photo of her – it is quintessential Dianna in an image. However, my editor, Marly Cornell, convinced me this was going to be an ineffective cover and, after accidentally seeing the photo of Dianna and me from the rear taken by a dear friend/professional photographer, Giovanni Sanitate, she instantly said, “This is the one. Use this one.” Well, it has taken most of my life but I have finally learned to listen and follow advice when the advice comes from someone I respect. So, now, everyone gets to see my bald head instead of Dianna. More mystery, more intriguing, Marly said. Probably because anyone looking at it would wonder what this young woman is doing with this old man. Anyway, unwilling to let it go completely, I pushed Dianna’s photo to the back cover because I wanted it to be seen and seen in color.

What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?
 Everyone is unique. No one could have written this book but me and no one else has existed nor ever will exist who is like Dianna. So her story and how I have written it is like no other book anyone has ever read. Of course, this does not make it a good book but simply a unique one. I have read quite a few memoirs, many involving illness, care giving – and some of them were really good. What I think makes this book special is what made Dianna special, what made our relationship special – so much laughter, optimism, ways of constantly making lemonade when we needed it, and, finally, the deeply spiritual orientation to the book’s message – good or bad, there is nothing fluffy about where Dianna goes in her life nor in the way I have chosen to examine her life …. and the very meaning of life itself.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I like to write in sentence fragments and the entire book is a sort of a mosaic – there are chapters that are conventionally chronological because they had to be but other parts of the book are like bursts of light shining on an amazing woman so the reader can enjoy her in the way I – and all who knew her – enjoyed and were inspired by her.  I am so happy with how the entire tapestry came together into a whole. I think Dianna is too. Of course I could go into grammar and punctuation, which I thought I knew. And my love of ellipses and my aversion to the word “that” and my unconscious tendency to start sentences with “So.”  So, my early readers and editor ripped me to pieces on those “quirks.”

Open your book to a random page and tell us what’s happening.
In my reality, nothing in life is random — or accidental. When I was about to write this response, I happened to look out the window and saw three – three – hummingbirds dancing around a honeysuckle – have never seen this before – like Dianna saying “talk about the hummingbird chapter.” While I was writing the book, it occurred to me to use a hummingbird as one metaphor for how Dianna lived her life – flitting from person to person, embracing their love whole heartedly while impregnating each one with a simple grace, unflagging humor and ineffable love in return, all in one magical spontaneous exchange. The look of triumph on her face, her excitement and joy, when the first hummingbird showed up in our yard was unforgettable. She had worked so hard for several years, planting for them, and finally there it was, this little Ruby Throated blur. In that moment I saw, once again, her determination, patience, faith, appreciation and gratitude all in one tiny vignette during one day of our lives.

 Do you plan any subsequent books?
An already almost fully formed book is in my mind now. Better writers than I have said don’t talk about a book idea or the energy for writing it will bleed away, leaving it stillborn.

Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.
The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die by John Izzo and The Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware because I am old enough now where I should pay attention to these things — probably before tomorrow — and A Broken Sausage Grinder by Hank Thomas, a friend of mine and The Almost Archer Sisters by Lisa Gabriele, a relative and friend of mine. I often read several books at a time, switching back and forth depending on my mood. All are interesting in different ways and for different reasons. There is so very much talent in the world isn’t there?

Excerpt from the book:

The End of Something
     “Honey, why don’t we make love anymore?”
     We are in bed. Dianna is reading a book about healing cancer, while
I’m thumbing through a bird hunting magazine. Dianna lays her book
on the end table and rolls over toward me. I lay down the magazine, too.
She has my undivided attention now.
     “I think we make love every day in some way,” I say.
     “You know what I mean.”
     I let out a big sigh. We have not had sex since the transplant. I have
been thinking about this for quite a while, and nothing ever comes up
making sense to me.
     “Don’t you find me desirable anymore? Do you still love me?”
     “Do you actually have to ask me that?” I’m looking her right in the
eye. “I love you more now than I ever have.”
     “I don’t have a way to explain it. It’s not that I don’t find you attractive
or desirable. It’s just with everything that has happened to us, to you, I
just…I don’t know what to say.”
      “It’s because I’ve lost my breasts, isn’t it. You never touch them
     “Well, honey, we’ve discussed that already. You’ve admitted you
don’t have any feeling there anymore. Why would I touch them? I don’t
fondle doorknobs, either. But, anyway, your breasts have nothing to do
with it.”
     “Then, what?”
     “The only way I can put it is, I love you very much, and more and
more with each passing year. But expressing my love for you in a sexual
way feels…I don’t know…just feels inappropriate somehow.”
     “Like you will hurt me or something?”
      “I guess so. No matter how much you love someone, if the person
you love is wounded and bleeding, you don’t try to have sex with them.
Feels… just doesn’t feel…right. You protect them. You care for them, not
have sex with them. Something like that.”
     “I’m not a cripple, you know. I’m not a piece of glass. I won’t break.”
     “I know that, honey.”
      “I’m a woman with womanly needs. I still desire you sexually. I would
love to have sex with you like a normal human being.” She slides her arm
under my arm. “I feel rejected. That hurts.”
     “I realize that. I feel terrible about it. Don’t you think I haven’t thought
about how much you’ve lost? You have lost your dream of having a child.
Now your menstrual cycles have ended, reminding you that all you are
going to get from now on is hot flashes instead of the child you so dearly
wanted. You’ve lost your breasts, a part of you, you were always so proud
of…, and you have lost your hair twelve times. You…”
     “Three times.”
     I laugh. Then, so does she, a little.
     “What I’m trying to say, maybe not very well, is I realize all these
losses assail your femininity, of what it means to be a woman, …and…
not having sex with your partner is just another thing piled on top of all
the rest. It’s the last thing you need to have happen in your life, right now.
I know I can’t feel what you feel exactly…, but I do understand these are
losses you deal with every day. That’s why it hurts me so much to be stuck
like this, this way.”
     “Then, I don’t understand why you would want to deprive me of this,
     My eyes are getting wet, and my heart is thick in my throat.
     “Believe me, if I could do anything about it, I would. I just can’t. Men
can’t fake it, you know.”
     “I don’t want you to fake it.”
      I put my arms around her and pull her close to me. I can’t stop the
tears now.
     “And so I don’t. I’m not faking my love for you, either. I would do
anything I know how to do for you. I do what I can. I’m so sorry, honey.”
      She starts to cry, softly, quietly, burying her head into my neck.
     “So am I,” she whispers.
     We fall into silence. There doesn’t seem to be anything else to say. I
keep my arms around her, and she keeps her arm over me.
     We fall asleep that way.

The Beginning of Something Else
    The next morning, I get up, leaving Dianna still asleep, and go into the
kitchen to make coffee. My back is facing the hallway to the bedroom.
Suddenly I feel her arms around me as she lays her head sideways against
my back.
     “I know what love is, John.”
     “You do?” I ask without turning toward her.
     “Look at me,” she says.
     I turn around and look into her eyes. They look wet, but she’s
smiling. “Love is the way you are with me,” she pauses, then, in a more
perky tone of voice, “And the way I am with you, too.”
     Now I can’t help it. I fall apart. She wraps her arms tight around me
and I bury my head into her neck.
     “It’s going to be okay,” she says.
     “It is okay,” she says, then adds, “More than okay.”
     After a minute, she steps back and looks at me with a smirk on her
face. “Do you ever desire other women?”
     I think about that minefield, but decide to go ahead anyway. “Of course.
Once in awhile, I do. Some women are sexually attractive and, …and don’t
look wounded to me, I guess. Must be about a billion of ’em out there.”
     She smiles, gives me a little kiss on the cheek, then walks over to
the dining room window and looks out over the lake. Finally, she says
quietly, without looking at me, “Maybe one day, honey, you’ll see we are
all wounded.”
     I stop pouring water into the coffee pot in midstream, about to enlist
my skills in mental masturbation, when she darts away to a different
     “Oh, honey, I think it’s going to be a beautiful day today. In fact, I’m
sure it is.” She comes across the room and peeks over the bar. “Oh. Are
you making coffee for me?”
      “Everything is for you,” I say with a smile.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Fallacy Detective

The Fallacy Detective

By Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn

  • Educational/Homeschool
  • My rating is 5 out of 5 stars
  • ISBN: 978-0-9745315-3-3

                 In this great logic book, which is part of the same series of books as "The Thinking Toolbox", we are learning now how to recognize bad reasoning.
                 The basic set up of the book is similar to "The Thinking Toolbox" in that  you have the separate lessons which have the explanation, examples and exercises.  The difference is in the theme of the book.  "The Fallacy Detective" starts out with teaching us to listen. (every mom is cheering now!)
Sometimes we aren't good at the basic listening skills needed in life, and we miss out on the whole story. This section shows us ways to listen and why it's important to listen. We have to use our minds in order to catch the bad reasoning. A Fallacy means when you find an error in your logic. To find the bad reasoning we have to use our minds and be able to notice when things don't make sense.
                  In this book we cover how to handle things such as avoiding the question where we learn about red herrings. We learn what happens when we make assumptions, some statistical fallacies and finally propaganda.
                   The explanations of each of these are carefully laid out in specific sections which allows us to understand what is being explained. What I find especially fun in this book is the Detective game at the end of the book. You are able to apply what you have been learning about and use it in finding the fallacies in a fun way. It's a wonderful way to engage the students. I would check out this book for sure!

Disclosure: I received a paperback copy of the book in order to do the review. All opinions are honest and my own.

The Thinking Toolbox


The Thinking Toolbox

By Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn

  • Educational/ Homeschool
  • my rating is 5 out of 5 stars
  • ISBN : 978-0-9745315-1-9

                    As a homeschool mom myself, I really was excited about getting my hands on a good logic book. Logic is an important aspect of learning and the more engaging the book is, the more interest the kids will have.
                     The first thing I noticed was how friendly the book appears. It has a colorful cover with fun pictures that just invites you to look more. I know for a lot of kids, that's the first step to sparking an interest in a book of any kind.  When I noticed that it was written with a Christian viewpoint, as a mom I was very interested. I liked to see some of the examples linked to Bible verses or situations.
                      In looking through this book, I was not disappointed. The lessons are separated into sections which discuss different reasoning skills. You move from learning about the Tools for Thinking, to the Opposing Viewpoints and finally the Tools of Science. Each section is broken down into lessons that focus on one area of logic. You are given an explaination of the topic which include examples and any stories that might follow along. Then you are given some "do it yourself" exercises to solidify your understanding of what you've learned. The lessons are well thought out and explained. They contain useful examples and great exercises.
                       My favorite lessons were those that transformed the lesson into a mystery to solve. These really allowed the reader to grasp the concepts in a new and entertaining way.
                        At the back of the book there is a section dedicated to projects and games to use outside the book, that encourages more active thinking. There is also an answer key for all the exercises in the book.
                        I really think the authors were great at incorporating the material into a fun book. I recommend this book to any family who wants to encourage logical thinking.
Disclosure: I received a paperback copy of this book in order to do the review. All opinions are honest and my own.