Sunday, October 7, 2018

Book Review: Learn to Read for Kids with Dyslexia: 101 Games and Activities to Teach Your Child to Read by M.Ed Hannah Braun

Growing up in the 70s, I had a friend with dyslexia in elementary school and I understood that he perceived the letters in books differently than me and had therefore problems reading. I also realized that the teachers knew about this issue, but really did not do anything different for him, they just gave him more time when he needed to read something or just called on  him less than on other kids to read aloud in class. Of course, things have changed in the last 40+ years and so this book was of particular interest to me since I wanted to find out what could be done to help kids with dyslexia to improve reading skills. I do remember my mother telling me that I under no circumstances was to think of my friend as less intelligent, just that his brain was working differently just like I was left-handed while many other people were right-handed. Unfortunately, having problems reading can affect how well a child does in school and if classroom sizes are large, teachers may not have sufficient time to accommodate a dyslexic child. This makes it more important for the parent to be involved in the education and take time to work with a child on assignments.
This book is a collection of fun activities for a parent to help their dyslexic child with reading. And yes, I said fun - because the activities in this book while geared towards improving reading ability are fun and more like games than a reading lesson. From race games to coloring activities and funding matches, these activities are geared towards ages 7 to 12 in children and will require an adult or significantly older sibling to assist. This is not a book to hand to a child to work on their own. I found the activities in this book to have a nice variety of approaches to improve reading skills in the target age group using playful approaches that make the child forget that it is learning and instead make it appear as if the adult is playing a game with the child. Having fun while doing these activities is important in my opinion because it helps the child to stick with a routine of doing these activities regularly.
I highly recommend this book to any parent who has a child with dyslexia. But I also feel that this book can be used to improve reading skills in children that may be struggling for a number of reasons because they do encourage reading in a fun and entertaining manner.
available starting October 30, 2018 on

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Kroger Pet Products Review: Forever Your Fur Baby

Through the Kroger-affiliated My Magazine Sharing Network I received a selection of pet products that Kroger carries in their stores to sample, well actually, Floppy my labmix got to sample them. It was not hard to get him to try out the treats included. Milkbone ard his favorite and so he was happy to oblige, as you can see in the photo below, to sample the treats. Rather than the standard milkbones, they included a box with a variety of flavors. Did not matter, Floppy likes all of them and for once, he did not mind being the model. We also tried a new company to us - Nudges. We went and got a package of their softbakes with chicken flavor and they have about 40 calories in a cookie that is shaped like a Reeses. Again, Floppy was happy to sample them and found yet another treat that he likes. Overall, Kroger has some really good quality dog food. We have been using Kroger dog food for two years now, we like a grain free variety with sweet potato in it. We also buy all our treats at Kroger and will now definitely include Nudges brand treat on our shopping list.

 So if you are looking for dog food and treats, give Kroger a try. Reasonable prices and good quality, plus Floppy endorsed!
copyright Durhamonthecheap - Floppy enjoying one of his free samples, a Milkbone treat!

Disclaimer: #freesample #ad = I received free samples of dog products for Floppy in return for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this blog post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Book Review: Your Money, Your Marriage: The Secrets to Smart Finance, Spicy Romance, and Their Intimate Connection by Cherie & Brian Lowe

 This was an interesting book to read. It shows how finances can impact the quality of a marriage. Using as an example their marriage and their road to a better financial future, the authors not only provide sound financial advice, but also marriage counseling via this book.
As a couple, the Lowes managed to pay off significant debt in a relatively short time and felt that without the burden of this debt, their marriage had also improved. This should not come as a surprise since financial concerns not only affect an individual, but certainly a marriage if a significant time of your life as a couple is spent worrying about how to pay off bills. The one caveat I have for readers is that this couple is not average by any means. The husband is an attorney, not really average or low income and the wife is a financial blogger. While her job may not be the highest paying one out there, she is certainly more sophisticated in financial affairs than your average American, including middle-class American.
While I value the intent of the book, provide financial tools and advice to better the economic position of the reader and use that as a tool to improve the marriage. Any advice book must be taken with a grain of salt in how realistic and applicable these lessons are to the readers. Should the reader expect to be able to pay $100000 in debt in as short a time as the authors? Probably not, unless you are pulling in an attorney level salary and your wife just happens to be a financial whiz. Can you use some of the tips for living in a small budget and still enjoy life? Sure, if your average date night involves spending about $100. Only for most readers, a date night will already be cheap and very few of the readers will be involved in comparing their lifestyle with that of neighbors and likely be more concerned about paying off bills, while hoping that money is left over for school supplies and braces for the kids.
Again, I do believe that the advice presented in the book makes sense, but only if your economic potential and your financial acumen is in line with that of the authors. So be aware that many of the lessons may not apply to you and money saving on some things has already happened years ago - not because you decided to not spend money, but because money was not there for a date night and other non-essential items. At its core the book is correct though, if you lesson your financial trouble, your marriage will likely be stronger and more enjoyable.
available on

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Book Review: Through the Autumn Air (An Every Amish Season Novel) by Kelly Irvin

Even though this is the third book in a series, it certainly can be read on its own and still be enjoyed by the reader. The series is detailing Amish life through the seasons and so it makes sense for a Fall-themed book to be the third in the series. Kelly Irvin has managed to write a wonderful story that has many components of Amish life, love, friendship, family and of course lots of time around the dinner table.
The main actor in this book is Mary Katherine, a mother of ten children and now a widow, still full of life and willing to lend a hand wherever needed - she is taking a very active role in the Amish community. One of her joys is writing and she has a dream, opening up a bookstore. Normally not a big deal, but the Amish community leaders or elders have an issue with that plan since Mary Katherine plans to go through with this bookstore plan with the help of an English, i.e. non-Amish, friend and that must never happen. A friend offers her a job in his restaurant, but Mary Katherine does not give up on her dream that easily and when a stranger breaks into her house and makes himself a sandwich because he is hungry. Mary Katherine and her friend Ezekiel agree that this stranger named Burke may be better served with the restaurant work. And while getting Burke help with his life, Mary Katherine and Ezekiel find closer to each other. All of a sudden the 60 year old Mary Katherine realizes that life may have different goals for her than just a bookstore and her kids have to realize that their mother is not ready for retirement in a small cottage on the land owned by her eldest son, giving up the family home and large house as well as her independence. it is fun to see how the development between Mary Katherine and Ezekiel throws everyone for a loop, the adults realize that romance is still possible and the kids have to look at their mother like many parents look at their kids - what will be next?
This is a sweet story that reflects on adults finding a new goal in life and possibly also some romance. While it is set in an Amish village, the issues discussed could happen anywhere.

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this review is mine and has not been influenced by any third parties.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Book Review: Surprised by Love: An Amish Family Novella by Kathleen Fuller

Ever since living near the Amana Colonies in Iowa, I have been interested in the Amish and their way of thinking as well as their way of life. This book is a nice collection of four love stories showing that the Amish when it comes to love deal with the same problems that the rest of us deal with. There are moms pressuring kids into a marriage and then there is a mother, who thinks she absolutely needs to support her daughter when the baby comes because her daughter is blind. Mom of course does not realize that the daughter is no child and can handle the pregnancy like any adult.The overbearing and intrusive attitude of the mother is almost ruining the pregnancy and the happiness of having a child for the daughter. While mom may act out of love and concern, she needs to learn that her daughter is a functional adult and that is difficult to learn for many parents, Amish or not. Then there is a story of two friends who become lovers, of course after some obstacles, because without obstacles the story would only be half as much fun. The last story is "Building Trust"; a story about a couple that are planning to get married, but the wife's father will not bless their union. This of course is a major problem and while things turn out well in the end, as most love stories this story is not a smooth ride.
Overall, a nice selection of stories that show the variety of stumbling blocks one can encounter when one is in love. For those not used to Amish life and culture, there is also a glossary included that explains some of the terminology used. I would recommend this book for those of us that are hopeless romantics or just like a good love story.

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this blog post is solely my own opinion and has not been influenced by any third party.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Book Review: Auschwitz Lullaby: A Novel by Mario Escobar

This book presents an interesting twist of the story regarding survival  at Auschwitz. The author tells us about a pure German woman named Helene, who is married to a Roma and has five children with him. An unusual union given the time and the distrust between both Germans and Roma and that union is about to be tested even more. The year is 1943 and Helene is under no illusion what fate awaits them. While she as a German is free from prosecution, both her husband and kids are subject to prosecution by the Nazis. And so one day in 1943, the knock occurs at the door and the policy arrive to deport the family. Helene can choose to stay behind, but is determined to protect her family and her children as much as possible and so she does the unthinkable - she vo9luntarily joins the transport to Auschwitz.
Arriving at the camp after a ride of several days, they are greeted by chaos and mayhem. Her husband is separated immediately and so it is up to Helene to protect her children and ensure that they have a chance to survive. Helene is not only German, but also a trained nurse, a skill very useful in the camp that has rampant outbreaks of diseases. The author goes on to describe in vivid detail not only the horrific daily routine in the camp, but also the attempts by Helene to set up some kind of normalcy for her children and the other children in the camp.
Not giving in to the Nazis, Helene makes daily attempts to protect the children, not just from the horrors of Auschwitz, but also the horrors of war, by giving them glimpses of what a normal childhood outside of KZ and war would look like. This is a very moving book, that shows that hope can overcome many obstacles.

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this review is my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Book Review: Leaving Cloud 9: The True Story of a Life Resurrected from the Ashes of Poverty, Trauma, and Mental Illness by Ericka Andersen

While this book at its center is trying to push the message that God can save you, the actual story is one that people outside of the Christian religion can also find solace in. It describes the life of a boy growing up in poverty and a single parent household marred by abuse, drug addiction and neglect. From these roots, the boy after having a rough life himself is finally rescued by being diagnosed with a mental illness and once properly treated can find himself in much better circumstances as a father and husband. While religion may have played some role in this change, the real change came about when the mental illness was diagnosed and treatment was received.
it is widely accepted that homeless people have a higher percentage of mental illness and that mental illness not only contributes to homelessness, but also to drug problems and alcoholism. This book is yet another example of how important diagnosing mental illness is and how we as a society should seek to assist these people rather than pretend they do not want to fit in. Providing diagnosis and treatment can turn many of these former outcasts into productive society members.
I wish the book had focused more on the connection between mental illness and the number of issues that can derail a person and related to mental illness rather than see religion as the source of healing. The story told in this book needs to be told, but the focus on religion is actually a disservice to the message that this book exemplifies when pointing out that mental illness can cause a number of issues, each of which on its own can derail the life of the person afflicted.
available on

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The review is reflecting my personal opinion and has not been influenced by any third party.