Bold as Love: What Can Happen When We See People the Way God Does by Bob Roberts, Jr.

I can’t lie. I’m kind of a skeptic at heart. When I see a book that talks about bringing people from different beliefs together, I automatically make some assumptions. However, I was surprised to find that Bob Roberts Jr.’s book, Bold as Love  was anything but a map with multiple routes all leading to heaven. Instead, the book presented a sincere account of one man’s attempt to make changes in his community and throughout the world.

I was impressed with the honesty that the author offered as he described the way that he viewed some of the other members of various religions around him before he started to make changes. He openly admits some of the struggles that his church faced as well as some of the fears that come with stepping out of one’s comfort zone and looking to take a new and different path.

The perspective presented was one that I believe a lot of Christians should consider and take to heart. It cannot hurt to love those around us as God does. It cannot hurt to look at people through God’s eyes as opposed to our own. Despite how uncomfortable it might seem at first, there are rewards to be reaped as the action begins to take off.

The book itself is an easy read; filled with simple prose and sprinkled with stories about the author’s life experiences that show just how far he was willing to go to stand behind what he was trying to achieve. In the end, he didn’t just transform his community or even his fellow church members. He changed himself.

If you are looking for a challenge and want to make a positive impact on your community, strengthen your own beliefs, and take God’s love of others to the next level, this text provides you with a starting point.

This book was given to me by Handlebar Marketing in exchange for my honest review.

The MoneySmart Family System by Steve and Annette Economides

Every parent wonders how to impart financial information to his or her child but how do you make sure that the kids get the message? Steve and Annette Economides have used their own experiences to create a helpful guide for parent with children of all ages. Even if you have not started talking to your kids about money, the Economides realize that it is never too late to get started. They put everything together in one book entitled The MoneySmart Family System: Teaching Financial Independence to Children of All Ages.

Every chapter talks about a different financial principle in every paragraph including how to save, how to teach your kids about giving and how to deal with your kids asking for things every time you go to the store. In each chapter, after providing some statistics, experiences and personal stories, the Economides break down ways to apply the information based on different age groups. The book is not just about learn the principles; it is about how to practically apply them to your life.

My son is seven and my daughter is five and we are currently trying out new methods for chores and allowance. This book was a huge help. There were suggestions about how to talk to our kids about certain things and how to encourage them to save and know where every penny is going. While we are not yet ready for the chapters on transportation or marriage, I can see this book being a resource that we look to time and time again as the kids get older and we move into new stages of life.

Steve and Annette Economides are New York Time Bestselling authors and are fondly referred to as America’s Cheapest Family. (Of course, you knew this book was right up my alley!!) I would recommend this to parents with children of all ages. If you want new and fresh ideas for how to approach finances with your children, this book is for you.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for my honest review.  

The Power of Prophetic Blessing by John Hagee

Over the past month, I have been working my way though John Hagee’s The Power of Prophetic Blessing. Hagee discusses both the prophetic and the priestly blessings and explains how each one can impact a person’s life. He uses examples from the Bible in each chapter to illustrate the points and in the end, explains how to receive these blessings.

I have to admit that this required some analysis on my part of my own beliefs. While it is easy to get caught up in the idea of blessings and how they can benefit and impact a person’s life, there is still a reality that cannot be overlooked. Several passages of the book stood up and left me wondering if Hagee’s theory holds up completely in all circumstances. It was easy to use some instances of the Bible to fit the model of blessing and protection and yet other times, it was completely absent. It seemed to me that he used certain passages to fit his message while overlooking inconsistencies in the logic.

One point that stood out was the explanation of Sarai and the Pharaoh. How could it be that handing her over would be what God wanted? How does this show that he trusted God by deceiving the Pharaoh? While I am in no way a Bible scholar, this one had me stumped. I was also confused with the explanation of, “I will bless those that bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;” Genesis 12:3 (NIV). If this is the case, why were all the people that helped the Jews during the Holocaust listed on page 93 passed over. He lists out how their lives ended in death or dire circumstances because of their commitment to saving the Jews.

The fact is that God is in control of all things and He is sovereign. There is no getting past this. There is no way to speak a blessing over someone and guarantee that they will become healthy, rich and wise. Unfortunately there were too many inconsistencies that left me questioning the major themes of the book. Just because you are a believer, this does not mean that you are destined to have a life without struggle.  

While I disagreed with many of the books messages, I did appreciate that it sent me back to the Word to verify what was being said.

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Jackson: The Iron Willed Commander by Paul S. Vickery

How much do you really know about Andrew Jackson and his impact on the United States of America? Paul S. Vickery’s book, Jackson: The Iron Willed Commander, provides more than just the accomplishments and accolades of a man destined to lead his country. Instead, it explains all of the major successes and struggles in his life and demonstrates how he handles each one. 

Sometimes it feels like a county’s leadership is completely out of touch with the people. Jackson, born poor and orphaned as an adolescent, knew what was like to work hard and make something of himself. He fought for the country he loved and went on to serve as her president. The phrase pulling oneself up by the bootstraps comes to mind when I think about Andrew Jackson.  

This book was more than just a list of events, dates, and battles. It brought to life just what it would take for Jackson to succeed in the most trying of circumstances. It is a much more personal take on the man and his experience. As a real history lover, I found the book interesting and enlightening but I don’t think that you have to have a love for the past to enjoy it. Many segments are written much like a narrative and keep the reader caught up in the moment. 

Vickery’s book made me really think about what it would be like to stand on the front lines, low on supplies as well as moral, and still stand tall knowing that the battle would be won if by nothing else than sure will power.  Old Hickory gave all he had whether on the battlefield of war or politics.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klaven | Review

Being in high school is never easy but it can be more complicated when it includes a set of local bullies and a girl that seems to see and speak to things outside of this world. Sam Hopkins, son of the local pastor, finds himself in several difficult situations and his choice to, “Do Right. Fear Nothing.” Twists and turns continue to keep the reader interested in the mystery behind the story of Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klaven.

For me, the novel was an easy read with believable characters. It was easy to identify with Sam Hopkins and the situations that he ended up facing. You can’t help but root for him as he tries to make the right decision. He has a great voice and you could not help but feel like a real person was sharing his story with you.

It was a little tough to get into at first. Things seemed a little slow and I was not really sure where it was headed. Luckily, I didn’t give up on it because it was well worth the read. My guess is that this book is custom made for kids around middle school or high school age as they will be able to relate to Sam and the idea of wanting to do the right thing even when seems so difficult. Every school has bullies and every school has kids that are a little eccentric. There is a good chance that kids will read this and take a second look at the people around them and what is really going on behind the scenes.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Reading Eggs Helps Kids Learn to Read Online

'More kids books' photo (c) 2012, The Greenery Nursery and Garden Shop - license:
Teaching kids to read isn't always easy. At home, it is tough to come up with fun ideas and games to keep kids interested and make sure that they are progressing. Some days, there just isn't enough time to get around to practicing reading. Parents need something to make this process simpler.

For the past month, Daughter (age 5) has been using Reading Eggs, a learn to read online program. It begins with a reading assessment test to make sure that the child is starting at the right ability appropriate level. There are all types of games to make sure that kids see the same words over and over again and show proficiency by clicking on them in a variety of different ways.

Daughter is already a pretty good reader but she still enjoyed the program. I watched her giggle while she played a game (a lot like Frogger) that required her to get the frog across the logs using the words she was learning. She already knew the words but for me, I liked the way that the words were shown. There was an explanation of how the words were built and put together. To me, the phonics really made a difference.

If you have a child that is struggling to read or you just want to give them a little extra practice with fun, online games, consider trying out Reading Eggs. Parents start can start with a free 14 day trial and do not need to give a credit card to get started. You can register multiple children and keep up to date on each one's progress. Reading Eggs is for kids up to 7 years old. If you have a child 7-13, consider signing up for The Reading Eggspress.

If anyone tries Reading Eggs, be sure to let me know what you think and how it worked out for you.

**I received a free three month trial courtesy of Reading Eggs for trying out the product and posting my review.

Gene Doucette's Immortal Winner

Here's the drawing information from

Random Sequence Generator

Here is your sequence:
Timestamp: 2012-05-11 16:56:40 UTC

That makes the winner Angie! Congratulations! I'll send you an email and give the publisher your email address to download your free copy of Gene Doucette's Immortal.

Thanks to all who participated

Immortal by Gene Doucette

For most people, the idea of being immortal seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Who would not like to run around and amass knowledge from different cultures, experience the making of the world as we know it, and basically get to do what ever it is you want to without fear or concern for the future?

Immortal, by Gene Doucette, provides a glimpse into this type of life with Adam, a interesting main character with a sometimes witty, sometimes insightful, sometimes drunken perspective on the world around him. He struggles with a variety of different characters, both real and “magical,” as well as what most might consider a drinking problem. Adam is a unique character with a unique voice that keep the reader consistently hungry for more adventure.

My honest option? You are probably going to want to read this one. If you like a book that creates a few laughs, this one this one will work. If you like drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat, this one will work. It isn’t every day that you find a book that stands out from the rest. For me, this was unlike any other book that I’ve read and you know me; I’ve read a lot. Check to the right for a link to the book at Amazon.

One reader will receive a free copy of Gene Doucette’s Immortal. Of course, in order to participate, you have to do a little work. What would you do if you were immortal? In other words, what would you do with 60,000 years if you weren't worried about aging? And, let the crazy stories and ideas begin. 

Leave your idea in the comments below along with your email address. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your email you can always write your comment and send your email address to me via frugalfamilyexaminer (@) gmail (.) com.

The winner will be chosen on Friday so what are you waiting for? 

As a side note:

·      This isn’t going to be one for the kiddos. I’d leave this one to the grown ups only because of a few F-bombs and its got a few sexual elements. Apparently iffrits just can’t help themselves.
·      I received a copy of this book from The Writer’s Coffee Shop via NetGalley. I was not paid for writing the review. It was just a great opportunity to sample another author’s work and share it with you. J

Progress With Zumba

So have I totally met all of my goals? No.
Have I tried really hard? Yes.

So to prove how hard I have been working - here are some of the important things I have taken care of over the past week:

  • Went to Kohl's; purchased new workout clothes (You can't expect me to wear last year's yoga pants to workout in the comfort of my own home.)
  • Perfected my workout drink (Crystal Light Lemonade, Tea, and Sugar Free Raspberry Syrup)
  • Total Calories burned on these activities: No idea.

Okay, I did more. I tested out  Zumba Fitness 2. Last week I just tried the low intensity songs one at a time. I was up to three songs and was pretty impressed with myself. Then, a friend asked if I had gone through a full class yet. 

And so this morning, with the Wii remote strapped to my side, I finished my very first, low-intensity, short class. The fact that I am still able to type means I survived (just barely). 

Things I have learned thus far:
  • The workout clothes are not making it any easy to get through the Wii Zumba class. However, I do feel a little better about wearing them.
  • If you do not have any type of rhythm, you can fake it. (I got the Zumba Master award today and there was  no way I was keeping up with all the beats.)
  • My kids are going to hold me accountable. When I skipped the other day, both Son and Daughter made it a point to ask why I was not doing Zumba. Who knew that a six and four year old would be my accountability partners?
So my goals are pretty much the same for this upcoming week. Even if I have not lost any weight or I don't feel anymore fit, if I am still standing and able to move, I will be happy. 

Time to Get Serious

Last week, my sister became engaged. Yippee for here - not so yippee for me. This weekend we went shopping to look at dresses. Every single one she put on was amazing.  On the other hand, trying on bridesmaid dresses was not as much fun.

It isn't the choice of dress. My sister has got great taste. It wasn't that I ate some bad Indian food before we went in. Here's the thing - - I think it may be time to take Weight Watchers seriously. I have been starting eating the right way every Monday for about two months and oddly enough, eating well one day a week is just not going to cut it. (Surprising, right?)

So I am pretty sure that I have until the end of August to get myself together and actually look presentable walking down the aisle. 

So here's the plan:
  • Weight Watchers strictly - NO CHEATING
  • Just Dance 3 or my Zumba workout with the Wii at least 3 days a week
  • YRG (Yoga for Real Guys) LOL with Husband at least three mornings a week
You know that Starbucks and I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship for many years. I think it may be time to say goodbye to my frequent enjoyment of Iced, Venti, Nonfat, Chai Tea. Today, I chose a Trenta Black Tea (with no sweetener) instead. Maybe once a week I can do a Chai, but honestly, this could be a large part of the problem. 

Okay, fine. It was also the Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake too. I admit it.

So we will see how it goes. I thought about taking before and after photos but I swear, the thought of before pictures absolutely chills me to the bone. I am afraid that seeing a photo up close and personal to my own cellulite may not motivate me. It may paralyze me!

So here I go --- another goal to add to the mix but one that will be well worth it!

Photo by: Broken Piggy Bank's photo stream on Flickr.

Seriously - Never Worked a Day in Her Life?

Okay, you know that I am not interested in turning my blog into any type of political platform. I just want to write, review books, and be funny. However, I just can't let this one go.

Just updated my Facebook status and I figured I better post it here as well:

Hey Hillary Rosen, there is a reason I chose to stay home with my kids. Reason number one? So they do not grow up and end up like you.

Are you freaking kidding me?

And as a side note: Mom - Thanks for all that you did to stay home with me. You have left a legacy that I hope I am carrying on to my kids. You worked every day really hard. Sometimes you got paid for it and other times you did not. Either way, thanks for giving up part of yourself and the opportunity at a career to stay home with us.

And by the way - I hope that you are now enjoying the fact that you stayed home with us and now still enjoy the luxury of an amazing career. Apparently you can bake your cake and eat it too.

Okay, that's all. I am putting the soapbox away.

Field Trip to Saguaro National Park

So today over 100 first graders and a few parents and teachers ventured out into the Saguaro National Park.  Believe it or not, it was really fun and very, very interesting. (The rangers were sometimes more entertaining than the scenery.)

So, since I am "Back in the Saddle Again" I wrote an article about it. I haven't written for Examiner in about a year or two, so this is a serious step in the right direction. Check it out and be sure to leave a comment.

(I have to point out that Son is the photographer on all of the photos included in the article and slideshow!)

Take a Trip to Saguaro National Park: a Tucson frugal family fun adventure

Back In The Saddle Again

Today I was daydreaming about my perfect job. I would be able to spend time reading and reviewing new books. I would write in my blog and include they hysterical things that happen during the day instead of being lazy and just posting them to Facebook. I would be able to work on my ebooks and have at least one published by the end of May.

In an ideal world, right . . .

Then I realized. This is my life. I do get to spend time reading new books and reviewing them. ( I currently have 5 loaded onto the Nook that I need to read and review.) I can write for the blog and keep it up to date. I can even spend time writing the books!!!

It has completely changed my perspective. At my fingertips I have the tools to make all of this happen. Now, I just need to get things moving in the right direction.

So to keep myself motivated, I am posting the picture I have on my desk for a source of inspiration. This is a small house on Coronado Island. When I was young and naive I made a promise to B that  after publishing my first book, we would buy a tiny little house on the island and retire. We'll see how that turns out but for now, I am back in the saddle again.

Fresh Start: God's Invitation to a Great Life by Doug Fields

It doesn’t matter how old you are, how long you have been a Christian, or where you are in your life, Fresh Start: God's Invitation to a Great Life applies to you. This God-centered approach to making a change works in so many different situations. He always comes back to the idea that God loves you and His plans are always a lot better that we realize.

Everyone likes the idea of a fresh start when things aren’t going as expected and I am no different. In fact, that was part of my interest in the book. I was pleasantly surprised to read a book that held truths with practical applications that was coated in his sense of humor. While you want to take the topic and yourself seriously, be brings out a laugh in the most unexpected way

As I read, it was a lot like having a conversation with a friend that you really trust. He doesn’t mind keeping the mood light at times but when it comes to asking you tough questions, he goes for it. Instead of feeling put out by the difficult topics and self-reflection, the way he presented everything made me feel comfortable with the introspection. Wait till he talks about pride. You can’t help but see yourself on the pages, despite your best efforts. It made me think.

Anyone would benefit from this book. I think that if you are lacking in direction and you can’t figure out where to start, this book is a great resource. It unveils things you may not have considered before. The best part of the direction and advice is that fact that he supports everything in the Word.

** A complementary copy of this book was provided to me by Booksneeze.