Saturday, December 29, 2018

Book Review: The Gift That I Can Give by Kathie Lee Gifford & Julia Seal

This book is really too religious for me. While I raise kids with a belief in God, this book is almost like ramming religion down their throats. The book is cute, with nice drawings and the underlying message is a good one - everyone can find a gift to make the world a better place. But mentioning God in every sentence is in my opinion a little bit much for a book that is geared towards very young kids. Religion should be something that kids adopt as part of their life and when growing up, not by being constantly reminded that God is the center of their lives. The target audience, kids aged around 4 years, is too young to fully grasp religion as a concept and outside of church and the nightly prayer, I am not sure that religion should be that central to their lives.
So overall, I am disappointed with this book because the message could be phrased in a much more age appropriate way, which in my opinion would be the more Christian approach. 

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

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Book Review: Racing to the Finish: My Story by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

This book is not just about racing, but about how Dale Jr decided that after an accident and more than 15 years of racing, 2017 was it - the year to retire. It is a no nonsense book about racing, a career watched by millions and the legacy of three generations of race car drivers.
Whether or not you have been a fan of Dale Jr, this book is an interesting read from the world of race car driving and the story how legacy shapes a person, but Dale Jr manages to be his own person and create his own legacy. He is open and honest in this book, how accidents change him and what is planned for his next stage of life. While retiring from racing, Dale Jr. has his future planned. Not unexpected, it will not involve sitting on a porch and sipping sweet tea. Dale Jr. still wants to have meaning in his life and this book is a great start. He focuses on the difficult stage in his life, head trauma and his fear of a long-term effect. This book makes it clear that Dale Jr has thought about his life, his family and his future and that retirement was a way to make sure that he would have a quality of life and enjoy his family. He touches on very personal subjects and we realize that the race car sport is for us entertainment, but for the drivers there is significant risk and some like Dale Jr decide that for the sake of their future, they have to retire from the sport.

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

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Book Review: Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas (Stories Behind Books) by Ace Collins

A lot of people celebrate Christmas, but just as it is interesting to learn on how other countries celebrate the holiday because it teaches us something about the origin of the various traditions and also about how Christmas came about as a holiday season. This book will teach you about the history of Christmas from a truly historical perspective. Touching on items like the nativity scene and the extension of Christmas to begin now in November, this book covers a broad spectrum of items that we are now taking for granted as belonging to Christmas. A lot of the "traditions" came about recently, while some, like the use of live nativity scenes, go back centuries. Also the commercial aspects of Christmas, such as starting Christmas shopping right after Thanksgiving had initial reasons that were not that commercial, but are now seen as being driven by purely commercial goals. While some consider the stories just trivia, to me the historical origins of the holiday are interesting because they teach you about how we as people developed and why some traditions evolved and still stick around, while maybe others have been long forgotten.

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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.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Book review: When Do I Love You? by Thomas Nelson & Marta Cabrol

This is a cute book, appropriate as a first book for very young children, that attempts to show kids that parents of all types love their kids unconditionally. Using animals and then at the end a human, the toddler learns that parents of all species will be there to protect their young. Whether it is a cat or dog or a goat, parents all over the world are there to reassure their children and support and protect them. Despite a somewhat complex message, the drawings and text do a good job of translating the concept of parental love and support into short rhymes that entertain.
Add in the cute drawings and the sturdy format, this book is an investment that will last for a while, even in toddler hands and provide entertaining story time before bed.

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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.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Book Review: God Bless You and Good Night Touch and Feel by Hannah Hall & Steve Whitlow

I like this book because it is written for toddlers in mind and so the message about religion is phrased in age-appropriate language. The book does not attempt to drive the complex message of the Bible into the mind of children, but rather presents a simple adoption of religion as part of the good night routine. The toddler can feel how different the animals are based on the different furs and skins included in the touch aspect, but also sees that despite differences animals of various types have a lot in common. This presents the important lessons to look for things that we share rather than focus on differences and items that set us apart. The book is sturdy, has short text to the point of the story and the drawings are cute.

I recommend this book as a first story time book for kids and later on, since this book is sturdy enough to last a few years, can be used as a book that the toddler can read on their own. It is fun and the illustrations of the animals are adorable.

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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.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Bookreview: Let's Get Ready for Bed by Michael W. Smith and Mike Nawrocki

This is a really cute bedtime book for toddlers. And as a bonus, if the parent can sing, there is a song included that is perfect as a new lullaby to sing to kids as they try to fall asleep.
The story in the book is a simple one. A little puppy needs to go to bed and as we see him go through his bedtime routine, he gets a little help from two friends to fall asleep. Because nothing works better than two friends singing a lullaby to get the puppy to fall asleep. There is an online song, but in order to listen to the song you have to agree to be added to a mailing list. For that reason, this book only gets 3 stars from me. Normally, this book would get five stars since the illustrations are absolutely adorable and the story is a lovely one. But I hate the fact that mailing lists are asked for, whether the email is used for spam or not (and I have no doubt that the use of it would be limited to this mailing list), but I hate how people try to get you to sign up for items that you have maybe a one time use for and treat your email like disposable wipes. Emails are supposed to be private and I sign up for the book. Advertising a lullaby online as a ploy to get your email is not good business practice in my opinion since the lullaby that is advertised on the cover is protected and only available if you sign up for a mailinglist. So please, do not buy the book if you really want the lullaby online song, it has nothing do with it.

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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.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Book Review: On This Christmas A Five-Year Journal of Your Favorite Traditions, Memories, and Gifts by Zondervan

This is a perfect book for a young family wanting to keep memories alive and save them for when the kids are all grown up. This book is intended as a keepsake journal for a timeframe of five years and is a good way to keep the memories alive from when the family gathered and something funny or memorable occurred that everyone seemingly remembers. But as most of us know, life goes on and things are forgotten. This book will allow you to write down these little memorable tidbits that make a family gathering around Christmas unique and entertaining. Whether it is a funny comment from a child, a relative making a rare visit or a particular nice gift was exchanged - the journal is your memory stick that can be enjoyed years later.

 Having pre-printed daily entries for December 1 through 25 and providing topics of interest, such as which gift is particularly appropriate for a family member or what the Christmas dinner will be? This journal entries are suitable for families, individuals and communities. I like that the pages are just big enough to add a small keepsake, such as a sample of a really nice gift wrap paper or part of a picture from that year. The book is hardcopy, with the pages being on solid paper that can withstand regular handling over many years. Overall, a good way to start a holiday tradition.

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Disclaimer: I received a free 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.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Book Review: How Do You Say Good Night? by Thomas Nelson & Catalina Echeverri

This is book for toddlers that interweaves Christian belief to teach about diversity and acceptance in a fun, entertaining fashion. It deals with a zebra that wants to know how other animals say goodnight and their evening prayers. On its journey of discovery the zebra meets lions, monkeys and warthogs, among other species. The drawings are fun and cute to look at, the text is easy to comprehend and the Christian message, focused on evening prayer, is not too strongly worded to take away from the night-time story character of the book.
This is a book that a Christian family can add to their collection and use it to teach toddlers that we are different, but have things in common and rather point out differences as something negative, embrace them, even if as children, we are always glad to be home again.

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Disclaimer: I received a free 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.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Book Review: The Cow Said Neigh! Board Book A Farm Story By Rory Feek

This is funny children's book that can be read by parents to their toddlers. It is also a book that can be read by kids in pre-school or elementary school because the text is minimal and the drawings are a lot of fun and cute to look at.
The book is about farm animals who wish they could be different animals and it is funny to see how the animals are impersonating other species. The text is good to be read by a toddler or be read aloud to a toddler by an adult. The book is full of opportunities to make funny sounds and engage the kid in making animal sounds. the drawing are cute and the book is well made and sturdy, so it will outlast even the most rambunctious toddler.

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

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Book Review: Dinosaur Devotions: 75 Dino Discoveries, Bible Truths, Fun Facts, and More! by Michelle Medlock Adams & Denise Turu

This is a cute book and not only educations, but also fun for kids. While I normally am hesitant to endorse a book that uses overtly religion to educate kids since they are in my opinion too young to make up their mind about beliefs and concepts such as religious affiliation, this book has many positive sides. The book, as the title states, contains information about 75 different dinosaurs. Even an adult like me learned about new forms of dinosaurs from this book, which always a plus for me since it makes it interesting for me to read with my child or to my child. Each section is starting off with a bible verse, then explains how the dinosaur is related to the quote and provides a life lessons to the child. This life lesson is also the overall title of the section.
The text is child appropriate and the life lessons focus on behavior that a child can understand and apply. The fun graphics make this an entertaining book for kids starting around 8 years of age, just when many boys are interested in dinosaurs. I recommend this book if your child is growing up in a Christian household and has learned about God and the bible. He or she should be familiar with the biblical concepts as well as what religion means. If these things are true for your child, this will be a fun book that can teach the child some fun facts about dinosaurs, while reinforcing concepts from Christianity.
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Disclaimer: For purposes of this review, I received a free copy of the book. The opinion expressed in this review has not been influenced by a third party and only reflects my honest opinion.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Book Review: Delayed Justice By Cara Putman

While this is the third installment in a series, the book can be read on its own and readers new to the characters will be able to enjoy this legal novel. The main character is a defense attorney names Jamie Nichols, who went to law school to support women and women's rights. In the process, we learn that Jamie has had some bad experiences in the part and this in part pushed her into her current carrier and also makes her a champion of girls and women and an advocate for their rights. In her current case, Jamie has a case in which a young girl must testify. This girl is assisted by Chandler Bolton, whose work is support of crime victims and preparing vulnerable people to testify in court. All this work is done in conjunction with a therapy dog named Aslan. The story got high marks for me at this point since I used to perform pet therapy and owned a couple of therapy dogs; more people should look into training their dogs as therapy dogs.
But therapy dogs aside, through their work on the case, Jamie and Chandler get to know each other more and become closer. This case is difficult not just for the young girl but also for Jamie because the case shows many similarities to her own childhood trauma. Working on this case brings back a lot of bad memories for Jamie and reinforces in her the desire to seek justice for herself as well by bringing charged against her own uncle. As Chandler and Jamie diligently work on preparing the girl to testify, their relationship is starting to become stronger and supports Jamie in her quest to prosecute her uncle. Chandler is becoming more than just a colleague and a friend, but both Chandler and Jamie are reluctant to allow their relationship to deepen.
This book is a well written legal story that has a number of themes, one of them Jamie relationship to God. Overall, the book is good for fans of mystery stories and those interested in reading books that delve into legal proceedings and concepts.
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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this post have not been influenced by any third parties.

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.
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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.
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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.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Book Review: Once Upon a Farm: Lessons on Growing Love, Life, and Hope on a New Frontier by Rory Feek

Who does not know about the lovestory between Rory and Joey? The bitter sweet story of love found and lost and Rory now living with Indiana and the memory of Joey has moved so many people. This book is now Rory's way of not only dealing with Joey's death publicly, but also showing the readers that live goes on and there is always hope for tomorrow.
Rory describes his life on the farm with Indiana and his two grown daughters,  but Joey is always present in spirit. No one could have predicted what life would bring when Rory first moved into the farm with his daughters many years ago. There was no Joey and certainly no Indiana. In the years to follow, similar to how to describes on his Facebook page, Rory chronicles in this book the ups and downs of life since that day and while Joey plays a significant part, the reader learns that so many other people contribute and have contributed to Rory's life and his happiness.
The book is a collection of anecdotal stories that show how life on the farm developed for Rory, how first Joey and then Indiana entered his life and how he now realizes that grief can be overcome and there is a bigger plan for his life on the farm that he could have anticipated even a few years ago.
Even for people that are not a fan or not familiar with the story of Rory, this book is an entertaining read that show how the life of a single father evolved over the span of a couple of decades.

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

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Book Review: The Road to Freedom: Healing from Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits by Johnny Baker

The author used to be an alcoholic and in a very frank, no nonsense book tells about his road to recovery and how he managed to stay sober now for more than 20 years.  His Road to Freedom is the freedom experienced when not all his thoughts center around where to get the next sip from, but the lessons taught in this book can be used for any kind of addiction, whether it is alcohol, drugs, eating or gambling.

While God plays an important role in the road to recovery for the author, this book has sufficient general lessons that non-Christians can also learn from this book. The ten lessons included in this book have topics such as admitting you have a problem is not a sign of weakness. This is the important first step when seeking recovery. Acknowledging you have a problem is the beginning of every recovery because it shows that you admit to yourself that something in your life can and must be improved. Additional lessons include that people may be hurting in ways that you can not see and may never know about as well as a lesson on small steps may have a more prolonged effect than a quick overnight change.

While some of the lessons are clearly based on Christian principles and God, the majority of the lessons are general and the overall style of the book, despite the serious subject, if entertaining and at times funny. I can recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with an addiction or people with friends that may need help because this book contains steps that all of us can take to assist those struggling with addiction.
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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.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Book Review: The Faith of Dolly Parton: Lessons from Her Life to Lift Your Heart by Dudley Delffs

Dolly Parton has been well known for a number of years, even decades. But I am still learning new things about this singer, such as the fact that she provides books to a large number of children through her Imagination Library. This book also taught me some new insights into her person and character.

This entertainer write4s her own songs, still performs live after more than 50 years in the business and has built up a great amusement park in Dollywood. While she never hid her Christian faith, she is also accepting of other believes. This book is using Dolly's faith to generate life lessons that we all can adhere to - such as stay humble no matter how much success you may have now. Also have a belief that things will get better, no matter how hopeless a situation you may find yourself in now. This book is a great book to guide people through life because, even though Parton is a Christian, the guidance included in the book can help and be used by people of all faiths.

What really impressed me and still impresses me the most about Parton is the fact that she remained a human being throughout her life. Success did not change her into a celebrity persona, but Dolly remained Dolly. So take this book and enjoy it, it may teach you something new about Dolly and may give you some advice for life, but it will certainly entertain - it is like reading a story about a friend and neighbor.

available on

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

Monday, June 18, 2018

Book Review: Only One Life: How a Woman's Every Day Shapes an Eternal Legacy by Jackie Green and Lauren Green McAfee

I found it interesting that the book was written by a mother and daughter team because this writing approach fits very well the message that this book has. The main message of the book is the fact that what we as women teach our kids and the beliefs we instill in them will outlive us and form a strong basis for future generations. This underscores that crucial role that we as women play in shaping the future.
While this book has a very Christian slant, the overall message is still valid and very empowering for all women of any faith. The authors do pick some examples of women from the Bible, such as Mary Magdalene. But there are also examples of women such as Catherine Booth and Harriet Tubman, given the reader a variety of role models to strive after.
The authors use these examples to give us women an understanding about how these role models shaped future generations and therefore to some degree the world we live in today. I found this book and all its examples of great women to be very empowering because it gives us reason to understand that our influence, if not adequately reflected in the work environment, can still transcend our own life by focusing on the future. We can lead, by raising our children to be good citizens and live out our ideals, furthering the goal that we hoped to achieve with these ideals.
 This is good book to read for every woman, but especially for women who may be stay at home moms and maybe question what they are contributing to the world outside their home. You are contributing, raise your kids and send them out into the world - thereby you are changing the world too!

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

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Book Review: The Weaver's Daughter: A Regency Romance Novel by Sarah E. Ladd

 The author managed to write a traditional historical novel set in the Regency age that has all the components of a love story interwoven with enough drama to keep the reader engaged throughout the book.

Two families at odds in the village of Amberdale. The mill owners are the Stocktons and the Dearbornes, a family of weavers, find themselves often on opposing sides.  Two members of these families may be able to break the war between the families. There is Kate Dearborne, the beautiful and strong willed descendant of the weaver family. On the other side, Henry Stockton, around the same age at Kate, was believed dead, but managed to survive the war he served in and has now returned to Amberdale to modernize the family mill business and increase profits even more.

Of course no romance can spark between Stockton and Dearborne families or can there? Kate and Henry keep seeing each other often enough and despite Henry being pursued by a more fitting woman, the daughter of a business partner, Henry and Kate cannot deny the attraction that exists between them. Soon Kate and Henry realize that for the sake of the village and to ensure the livelihood of all, working together is needed rather than working against each other. The rest, as they say, is history.

While the story is not surprising with many twists, the book is a nice, relaxing read that is perfect for a holiday or a lazy afternoon. The author has a relaxing way of telling her stories and the story itself, while having some drama, is rather tame as a modern love story. Overall, a well done novel that is entertaining and perfect for a beach read this summer.

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

Friday, May 25, 2018

Book Review: I Can't Believe You Just Said That!: Biblical Wisdom for Taming Your Child's Tongue by Ginger Hubbard

Often what kids say is considered cute and entertaining. Some magazines have small sections dedicated to the innocent utterances of kids that can be very embarrassing some parents.
This book is intended to teach parents how to approach their kids and tame their tongue.
I am actually surprised by this book. While I agree with disciplining a child when it has a tantrum or tells lies, an innocent saying that may be embarrassing is part of growing up.
This author ties everything back to the Bible and not only sees these situations as a means to teach children what is right, but also bring Jesus into the conversation by calling this the ultimate parental goal.

I usually agree that as a Christian you want to embody Christian principles as part of your daily routine and needless to say, some of this will come out as you parent. But I do not consider my parenting style a failure if my child decides to embrace another religion or no religion at all.
This book seems to set out to be holier than the Bible and I quite frankly find that attitude to be very un-Christian. Jesus did not force everyone to follow his example, he desired it - yes. But to call parenting's ultimate goal to make every child a strong Christian believer is to me equating parenting with missionary work and that to me is not true. I want my children to grow up to be good citizens first. If they choose to embrace the Christian faith, I am happy. But this is not the only and ultimate measure of parenting skills. Do people of Hindu belief fail at parenting? I am not even sure how this book fits in with the idea of ecumene because this author seems to suggest that children must be reared in their parent's view of the Bible, when Christianity itself has many diverse ideas and believes.

Sadly this book is therefore a huge miss and a wasted opportunity to use parenting skills to teach children to be good citizens first and Christians second. I do not recommend this book since it is more in line with missionary principles than parenting goals.

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

Friday, May 18, 2018

Book Review: Honeysuckle Dreams (A Blue Ridge Romance) by Denise Hunter

While branded as a contemporary Christian novel, this book does appeal to people of all faith. It is very safe to read for people of ages regarding the language used and the topics covered.

The story describes the romance between single-dad Brady Collins and loner Hope Daniels. Brady must fight for custody of his nine-month old sun Sam against the wealthy grandparents. No matter what obstacles he faces, Brady is determined to fight for Sam and have Sam live with him as his son.
Hope on the hand has pretty much been on her own for most of her life. Determine to make a career in media, Hope thinks she had finally reached her goal and landed her dream job. But being a good friend with Brady, she had agreed to a pretend relationship and go through the motions of planning their wedding since Brady learned that getting married would give him better chances gaining custody of Sam. If news of this deal between Hope and Brady comes out, Hope may not get her dream job for a while and Brady will certainly not get custody of Sam. So the two weave their way through this mess and while the ending is not that surprising, the novel is nicely written and an entertaining read.

What fascinated me was that at the onset, Brady and Hope had very unusual characteristics for their respective gender. Hope being a loner is very different from how women are shown in most books and Brady as the dedicated father who is willing to risk everything for his son is also a somewhat unusual male character. How the two come close and handle the obstacles is definitely worth reading. And again, this book can also be enjoyed by people of a variety of faiths, which in my book is always a plus.
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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Book Review: Becoming the Talbot Sisters: A Novel of Two Sisters and the Courage that Unites Them

Two sisters having drifted apart over decades come together when a close relative dies and now try to restore their sisterly bond. This turns out to be more difficult than anticipated, but what well intentions cannot achieve on their own, the two sisters achieve when facing danger on a trek through Europe.
This book is describing in realistic terms that forming a family, even if you are siblings, is not easy after life has thrown you in different directions and other than parents there is not really much you have in common anymore. In the end the sisters are able to form a close bond yet again, but it is outside forces that bring about this change, not the sisters on their own, despite their best intentions. That blood is thicker than water is proven to be true, if only when danger threatens the sisters. So once again, when we fear for our existence, we learn that we can rely on family and be it as unromantic as it appears, the overall stark realism of the book makes it such as worthwhile read.
The author is not glorifying the travels of these sisters across Europe, no romantic voyage of discovery and certainly no big revelations occur to realize that sisters form a bond. What the author shows is that family is work and we have to strive to form and maintain that bond that makes us a family, even if at times it is not easy and certainly not something joyous. But in the end, having family is in itself a reward that should be cherished and nurtured.
Using two sisters living on different continents (US and Europe) as an example, throw in a business that needs to be saved and a baby that is thankfully born and you have a story that is riveting, realistic and rewarding. The background of the author as an aid worker comes into play and she touches on important subjects such as cross-border trafficking of women, while also showing that women are capable of doing big things if pressed and given an opportunity.
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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Harris Teeter Taste and Tell: Just Crack an Egg - Breakfast item for free (FB account required)

limited to 4000 free samples!

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Book Review: You Can Stay Home with Your Kids!: 100 Tips, Tricks, and Ways to Make It Work on a Budget by Erin Odom

I think most mothers envision staying home with the kids at least for some time. And then reality kicks in and the need for a second paycheck, the adult conversations and just being able to leave the house. This book attempts to address some of these concerns and wants to enable more mothers to stay at home with kids.

Coming from Germany, with 2 years of job security while allowing mothers to stay home, it always struck me as strange that kids in the US are dropped off at daycare within months of their birth. So I was interested in how this book attempted to tackle the habit of starting daycare before the kids are even one year old. Unfortunately this book only addresses one aspect of the stay at home dilemma, the budget question. The author presents a mix of making some money, not spending money and saving money on expenses while still enjoying life and spending time with kids. From assisting new moms with a budget that does not feel cutting short the needs of the family to finding honest and reliable work from home opportunities, the author does a good job of guiding moms throughout the book in a way that is to the point and easy to understand. Most importantly, the author provides enough hints, tricks and tips that every reader has options as to what to adopt without changing their life too much. There are some ideas about getting adult time in a well, just catalogued under the heading of not overspending.

Overall, I liked this book a lot. Not only is it good for new moms, but it can be used after the kids are grown and you simply want to save money. The tips are easy to follow, fit into most schedules - no matter how busy you are-, and you will end up saving money. Reducing the financial stress alone will often improve your outlook on life.

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

Book Review: Putting It Together Again When It's All Fallen Apart: 7 Principles for Rebuilding Your Life by Tom Holladay

 We all experience at some what seem like an existential crisis from which we need to recover. How to do that and find another purpose in life and being able to put one foot in front of the other may seem impossible, but somehow people manage. This book is intended to help find that new beginning after everything seems lost. The author suffered significant loss when the church and the houses of his family and those of his church members were destroyed. Based on the experience and how he and his community went about finding a new purpose and a new beginning, the author provides the reader with guidance on how to manage a significant crisis or loss.

The 7 principles are:
  • Find the strength to start
  • Take the first step
  • Appreciate others
  • Expect and reject opposition
  • Build on your successes
  • Celebrate to sustain your joy
  • Dedicate it to God
With the exception of the last step, the first 6 can be generally applied to people of all denominations and the book is written in clear and easy to follow steps. Using plain language, the author does intend to make the book useful for everyone and I believe he succeeds at that. I found the book almost like a guide to recovery from a personal crisis and I realized just by reading the book that no matter what obstacles you face, chances are someone else has been in a similar situation and recovered from it. 
I recommend this book to just about anyone, if you have not experienced a total breakdown, chances are you or someone else in your community will and can benefit from this book.

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

Friday, April 6, 2018

Book Review: Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God’s Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life by Jared C. Wilson

This book was rather disappointing to me because it was very focused on religion and Christianity. I cannot stress enough how focused this book is on religion. This is somewhat sad and actually disappointing because this book like other books provides generally good advice for people of all walks of life. Shortchanging the author by focusing the audience unnecessarily in my opinion on a specific group, such as Christians, will deprive others of getting the lessons in these books.

The author is a pastor, so that certainly explains the focus on Christians, but the thought behind the book is a book to provide advice to readers on how to handle the challenges in everyday life. Whether a mother has problems juggling housework and work and family or an office worker wonders whether he is just a number in the call center or is he really making a difference? These people, in the words of the author, nee to hold on to hope, even on their darkest days.

While the book is intended to be practical, it is only practical, if you have the bible handy and can read the bible. What surprises me is the fact that either the author thinks only Christians struggle with this issue or he thinks that only Christians can find a solution to the problem because they have the bible handy.

Overall, I cannot stress how much I would hope that these books were written in a more general way, so that more readers could enjoy the book and Christians are not perceived as such an elitist group.
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Disclaimer: I received a free book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Book Review: So Much To Celebrate: Entertaining the Ones You Love the Whole Year Through by Katie Jacobs

This is a cookbook with recipes and gorgeous food pictures. But what really sets this book apart from other cookbooks is the fact that it goes beyond the recipes and amazing pictures. The author does include seasonal party ideas and include some basic instructions for events such as a chocolate party or a harvest-themed party. I also liked the detailed instructions on some of the basics, such as how to make a really good pie crust.
Overall, this book is a great addition for the a beginner, but also for an experienced bake because the recipes include some more unusual items such as Peach Caprese Salad or Grilled Avocados with Picco de Gallo. Of course traditional recipes are also include such as cobblers, turkey burgers and chicken pot pie. I was thrilled to see a whiskey tasting party that we will use when the Kentucky Derby comes around and the Mother's Day tea Party that perfect for having a bunch of girlfriends over.
Love the many party ideas and also how well written and detailed the recipe guidance is. Overall, I am very happy with the book and while I bake a lot and cook meals every day, I still found some new additions to my recipe collection.

available on

available on

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

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Product Review: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent

I was excited to try out the new (to me) Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent  in convenient packs. While i have problems understanding a certain hype among some people with pods, I definitely was excited to try out the detergent for its intended use - to get some clothes cleaned in a traditional washer and dryer.

I did not have to measure and while there is slight scent from Citrus and Cedar through the addition of essential oils and botanical extracts, the packs are good for your laundry and good for nature as well. Plus they are safe for kids and pets because they contain 0% dyes, synthetic fragrances, and artificial brighteners. Another good thing, they work in both HE washers and standard washers, even my 14 year old washer had no problems getting the laundry clean and all stains removed
Talking about stains, I picked my dish cloth to see if the spots and stains from putting wet dishes on this cloth three times a day would be cleaned using the Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent  It worked fantastic. I used cold wash cycle temperature to be easy on nature and my household bills and the stains came out like nothing was ever there. Must be the Quadruple-Enzyme Formula that is to so though on stains and despite being or maybe because it has a USDA Certified Biobased Product ranking of 94%, Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent  was a hit in my laundry routine.

How can you beat a product that makes the job easy (pre-measured packs), efficient (all stains are gone) and does something good for nature at the same time? This is a clear winner in my book.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - dish dryer clothes is good as new thanks to Seventh Generation detergent!

copyright Durhamonthecheap

Disclaimer: I received free products in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Book Review: Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by Dana K. White

I call myself a neat freak, but I also feel that I could do with a lot less stuff in my house. Working full-time and having family obligations does not leave much time to declutter and start decorating rooms with a theme, so I was hoping this book would give me some ideas how I can clean up my house without needing to set aside time for projects etc.

The book does deliver on the basic promise that decluttering does not need to be a major undertaking that requires time set aside on weekends, but can happen as part of everyday life.  So for me this book was an excellent read.

One thing I like is that the author instills humor into the book. While the book is in general a hoe-to guide to clean up your act and your house, it is done so in an entertaining way that makes reading not boring, but something you actually enjoy to do. Which is important because I normally would not read a book in this subject since I also think that I do not have time to declutter to begin with. So after having started on this book, I made short mental notes about what to do in the breaks that I would otherwise sit around and drink coffee or wipe the kitchen counter for the 15th time that day. I use these breaks to declutter. If I see an old box in the pantry that I moved for the umpteenth time, I now take it and trash it. If it did not get used for the last year and the expiration date is way in the past, remove it. Same for clothing; I have in the past moved blouses around and around - still neatly hanging them in the closet, but now I have a second hamper in the bathroom for just these items that are intended for the donation door at the thrift store.

When I have more time, such as an hour, I actually tackle a closet in the kids room or a closet in the office and come prepared with plastic bag in hand. This gives me a reasonable timeframe to get something done and still does not require me to set too much time aside.

As you can see, the book is already paying off for me and I am sure it will pay off for most readers. Decluttering, I found, has another benefit. Now that I am removing items from the house, I also am very careful what is being bought. I do not want to reclutter my house and then have to go through the decluttering process again.

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

Monday, March 19, 2018

Product Review: Free & Clear Baby Wipes

I received recently a few sample packs of Free & Clear Baby Wipes. The sample packs were convenient sized to fit into a purse and use on the go. I took them along and found it is really nice to have clean wipes available, especially when you leave home with the kids. During flu season, it is handy to have wipes with you that are free of fragrance and can be used to wash hands before eating or wipe the table at the restaurant.

The Free & Clear Baby Wipes are not only good for you, but are also good for nature because they use 70% less plastic than the original wipes, thanks to the use of plant materials. In addition, they are free of alcohol, fragrances & dyes and the list goes on. They are also free of parabens and phthalates; and of course they are hypoallergenic. Despite they softness and the ease of which to use them on sensitive skin, the wipes are really strong, thick and a good size. We used them to wipe hands of the kids, then wipe the table and any seats at restaurants that were dirty. They never failed us, did not tear and still had plenty of moisture in them when we were done.

The kids prefer them to the antibacterial lotion that we normally use. So now, kids get the wipes, adult the lotion and we can hopefully avoid the flu for the rest of the winter.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - convenient small package to take the wipes along on the go

Disclaimer: I received free products in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Jesus Calling Adult Coloring Book: Creative Coloring and Hand Lettering by Sarah Young

This book is for the coloring enthusiast. While the theme is Christian and religion, the images are very nice and offer a variety of scenarios. Words, nature and animals - something for every taste. I found the book to be high quality, the paper is nice and thick and will handle some erasing without tearing.

I also liked the ability to tear out individual sheets because we often share books and this makes it easy to work in a group. Pictures are on both sides of the pages, so I do not anything other than colored pencils.

The words are lightly drawn in and allow you to either trace them and leave them open or trace and then color them in. I am not sure I would have not preferred a normal dark line to begin with because for exercising writing free hand, I would use other books. But this is no big deal and may appeal to others.

Overall, this is a nice adult coloring book that allows you to use it in the group setting and share the pages. I also thought the quality of both the paper and the drawing were nice. I really enjoyed the variety of subjects covered.

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

Friday, February 23, 2018

Book Review: Finish First: Winning Changes Everything by Scott Hamilton & Allison Fallon

With the Winter Olympics going on, this book was an interesting read on several levels. Mr Hamilton ended up winning a gold medal at the Olympics many years ago (not really that long ago, but in a sport that is dominated by a new crop of teenagers every four years, it does seem a couple of generations ago). He is using this book to excite people about demanding the best - of others, of themselves and of society. Figure skating was not a very successful sport this year for the US and some critics have said that the US skaters are not fighting enough and are not determined enough. Just today I was reading in papers that the skaters were missing their families and wanting to go home. While this is understandable, other nations have athletes too that are separated from their families and yet, these athletes seemed somehow more determined and more willing to compete for whatever it takes to win a medal.
Mr Hamilton in this book is addressing the fear that outcompeting and seeming too competitive is somehow a bad thing in this society, whereas other countries embrace. And not just in sports, but also in research and business. Competition is good according to Mr Hamilton and we should be excited to see where it takes us and when we hit the infamous wall. Seemingly appeasing people and trying to get along with people is not what brings out the best in us, competition will.
Will you succeed every time - No! But giving your best and trying your hardest to better than others is the only way that you will succeed in the end.
I think as a woman in a career dominated by males being too competitive is something that will seem negative to some supervisors. it is not expected behavior of women in the US and does not fit the female stereotype. You can either then settle for a middle of the road career that will never provide you with the chance to show your full potential. Or you can, and this is what I have done, do your best and push yourself, no matter what, showing excellence in as many things as you can. Eventually the environment will be right for you to shine and then you are ready, because you have striven for excellence all the time. I found this book to be very optimistic and inspiring. it does not paint the world as perfect, but it also makes sure that the only way you will find success is by trying your best every single time. 
available on

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