A Family Fun Game in a Book – You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior by Allen Wolf

You're Pulling My Leg! Junior Book
You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior

I accepted this book for review, something I’m not doing much anymore since I’m so limited on reading time, because it’s a book AND a game and that sounded like a great combination to me. This was everything I’d hoped it would be. I’d hoped that it would help Gage learn more about how to tell a story and it so did in a fun and creative way. He absolutely loved it and Jason and I loved watching his mind work. He was also good at guessing whether we were telling the truth or lying. I felt like he got so much out it that I counted it for some school time this week ūüôā

How it works… The book gives you the ‘cards’ with three stories to choose from. Card one choices are a job you would like to have in the future, something silly you have done, and an animal you thought might bite you. The storyteller secretly flips a coin (not provided) to figure out whether to tell a truth or a lie. They tell the story and the players individually vote on if it true or false. The storyteller gets a point for anyone they fool. Then the next person tells the story and so on until someone gets 21 points and wins the game.

This is based on the board game and put into book form just in time for those 2020 Zoom calls! It was nice to be able to throw it in a suitcase and take it with us on our road trip. There are variations on the rules you can try. Each 3 cards even has a place where you can record funny highlights so the book can become a memory book of happy times the more times you play.

Reactions from the boys. “I loved it! It was so much fun. Can we play again tomorrow?” “I loved being creative and telling stories. Educational for kids.”

I recommend this for any family with kids. Kids learn what makes a good story, how to decide what to risk (they risk 1, 2, or 3 points each time), and how to come up with a story quickly (something Gage often struggles with). We’ll be making this a weekly family fun activity!

Morning Star Games has more fun games I want to check out.

You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior

Thanks to PR by the Book for the complimentary copy.

This Blessed Mess: Finding Hope Amidst Life’s Chaos by Patricia Livingston

This Blessed Mess: Finding Hope Amidst Life's Chaos This Blessed Mess. Finished 8-7-20, inspirational, 5/5 stars, 141 pages, pub. 2000

This is a book about struggle. It is about how struggle overtakes us without our permission. It is about what lies within struggle and beyond it. It is about what we can do with struggle and what it can do with us. Material for this book has been gathering in me for thirty-five years, since I first faced reality as a young adult and strained to comprehend the dynamics of life’s difficulty. I write out of my experience, recognizing clearly that my life has been far less painful than the lives of so many around the world and across time. This book is simply an expression of my effort to understand my own events, shared in the hope that it might speak to the lives of others. A collection of what is especially meaningful to me is offered here–insights and images from my own life, from study and conversation, from songs and books. Mostly there are stories. All of them point to the same thing: Life is filled with struggle. Struggle is filled with Love. Life is, as the title says, “This Blessed Mess.”¬† ¬†from Goodreads

I used this as my morning devotional and it is a perfect read for this time in history, even though it was published in 2000.¬† I mean it’s all about dealing with chaos and it speaks to the crazy times we’re living in.¬† Livingston tells stories about her own chaos and how that led her to new discoveries and insight.¬† This would be beneficial for any woman, but especially those who like their inspirational stories told from a Christian viewpoint.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

Title: They Called Us Enemy, Author: George Takei  They Called Us Enemy. Finished 8-8-20, 5/5 stars, graphic memoir, 208 pages, pub. 208

Co-authors Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott.

Illustrated by Harmony Becker

Long before George Takei braved new frontiers in¬†Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.¬† ¬†from Goodreads

George was a small child when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and we entered WWII.  He lived in Los Angeles with his parents and younger brother.  As they were sent off to their first camp in Arkansas it was a scary adventure as they were forced to leave all of their possessions behind (except what they could pack).  They lived as a family in makeshift barracks with guards and fences surrounding them.  They were forced to make decisions, intimidated and misled, that have no place in a free society where one was born a citizen.

I knew of the Japanese internment camps during WWII but it was in passing with little knowledge of what really happened to those rounded up and held against their will.  By their own country in most cases.  I think this relatively short graphic memoir should be required reading for everyone.  I see there is an expanded hardcover version edition coming out this month and I plan on purchasing it since I checked this one out of the library.  Do yourself a favor and do the same.

Inhuman: Haiku from the Zombie Apocalypse by Joshua Gage

Inhuman: Haiku from the Zombie Apocalypse Finished 5-17-20, poetry, 36 pages, pub. 2013

“Zombies don’t do five-seven-five (so many fingers missing)! This fun book of masterfully written one-gasp poetry proves that the force and beauty of haiku–even those about a walking dead apocalypse–have nothing to do with syllable counting. Your flesh will crawl–but, hopefully, won’t crawl away!” — David G. Lanoue, President of the Haiku Society of America¬† ¬†from Goodreads

Joshua, who has strong thoughts on the availability of quality coffee at the workplace, proves that you can excite non-poetry reading zombie avoider about the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse.  Josh, who I may start calling haiku extraordinaire when I see him at the library, sent me my first chapbook and it was so much fun.  It is a perfect fit for sitting on the deck with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and enjoying the story that unfolds in a series of 91 haiku poems.  It was creative and visceral from beginning to tragic end.  I loved it.



The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Reissue with bonus short story) (Chaos Walking Series #1), Author: Patrick Ness The Knife of Never Letting Go.  Finished 4-3-20, rating 4.75/5, dystopia YA, 512 pages, pub. 2008

Chaos Walking Trilogy, book 1

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†fromGoodreads

When I started reading this one I hated it.¬† I disliked Todd and I didn’t understand why some of it was written phonetically.¬† By the end I still had the phonetic question, but Todd turned into a character that I loved.¬† Todd is being raised by two dads in Prentisstown, a town in the New World made up only of men, when he is forced to flee for reasons he doesn’t understand.¬† He is the last boy in town.¬† As he escapes he finds what he thinks is a girl, but doesn’t understand how this can be since all of the women were killed by the Spackle in the war.¬† And he is accompanied by his faithful dog Manchee whose thoughts you can also hear.

The unlikely threesome run for their lives and the chase takes them to new towns with facts long hidden from Todd and astonishing to the girl, Viola.  The men and women they encounter change their view of the world and shed light on the inclinations of people that is truly alive and well today.  Manchee, my favorite character, is all things a good dog is, loyal, clever, and loving.

This may not sound like it’s in your wheelhouse and I get that.¬† I remember reading all of the rave reviews when this came out 12 years ago, but didn’t think it sounded like something I’d be interested in.¬† I was wrong.¬† I got sucked in and the book kept it’s hooks in me the entire time.¬† The book is over 500 pages long and as I finished I still wanted to keep reading and immediately order the next book.¬† I’m still waiting for it to arrive.¬† Not that I’m impatient or anything.

I know a few of you have read this already and loved it, but if you haven’t I suggest you give it a try.¬† Please give it at least 50 pages before making up your mind.¬† You’re welcome.


The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Title: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, Author: Kim Michele Richardson The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.  Finished 1-8-19, 4.75/5 stars, historical fiction, 308 pages, pub. 2019

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government’s new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.¬† ¬† from Goodreads

Oh, I loved this book.¬† As I started reading about the blue people I did a Google search and this painting of the Fugates, the real-life family that settled in the Kentucky hills…Related image Martin Fugate came over from France and started his own blue family.¬† The story’s main character is based as a descendant of this family.¬† Cussy Mary, or Bluet, was also one of the Book Women of the Pack Horse Library Project…Related image a travelling group of women who rode their horses to the people who lived in the hills.¬† This was a project that came about from Roosevelt’s New Deal and the WPA and was meant to bring literacy to the Appalachian Mountains.¬† Both of these aspects of the story will have you doing more research after you finish the book and make it perfect for book club discussion.¬† We read this for my book group this month and it was well-liked by all.

I was surprised at how many issues were in the book.¬† These two I already mentioned plus discrimination, how little control over their own lives women had, the start of the unions in the coal mines, aggressive medical experimentation, and loving who you are.¬† Too much?¬† Nope.¬† Somehow the characters managed to shine through and what wonderful characters they were!¬† Richardson did an expert job of creating characters I’m going to remember and educating me, and encouraging me to educate myself.¬† I may have even shed a tear or two.¬† Bluet is one of my favorite characters in quite a while.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this book.

Guardians of Being by Eckart Tolle and Patrick McDonnell

Title: Guardians of Being: Spiritual Teachings from Our Dogs and Cats, Author: Eckhart Tolle Guardians of Being. Finished 8-27-19, 5/5 stars, 228 pages, pub. 2009

This wonderfully unique collaboration brings together two masters of their fields, joining original words by spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle with delightful illustrations by Patrick McDonnell, the creator of the acclaimed comic strip MUTTS. Every heartwarming page provokes thought, insight, and smiling reverence for all beings and each moment.

More than a collection of witty and charming drawings, the marriage of Patrick McDonnell’s art and Eckhart Tolle’s words conveys a profound love of nature, of animals, of humans, of all life-forms.¬†Guardians of Being¬†celebrates and reminds us of not only the oneness of all life but also the wonder and joy to be found in the present moment, amid the beauty we sometimes forget to notice all around us.¬† ¬†from Goodreads

I adore this book.¬† A beautifully written and illustrated book about the profound nature of animals and how our lives are better when we celebrate the pets in our lives.¬† This is a picture book with heartwarming insight.¬† “Just watching an animal closely can take you out of your mind and bring you into the present moment, which is where the animal lives all the time…surrendered to life.”¬† ¬†This is a perfect gift for the animal lover in your life.¬† I plan on buying a few copies for gifts and one for myself ūüôā

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Eat Dirt:Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It by Dr. Josh Axe

Title: Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It, Author: Josh Axe Eat Dirt. Finished 8-2-19, 4.5/5, health, 327 pages, pub. 2016

To keep us in good health, our gut relies on maintaining a symbiotic relationship with trillions of microorganisms that live in our digestive tract. When our digestive system is out of whack, serious health problems can manifest and our intestinal walls can develop microscopic holes, allowing undigested food particles, bacteria, and toxins to seep into the bloodstream. This condition is known as leaky gut syndrome.

In¬†Eat Dirt, Dr. Josh Axe explains that what we regard as modern ‚Äúimprovements‚ÄĚ to our food supply‚ÄĒincluding refrigeration, sanitation, and modified grains‚ÄĒhave damaged our intestinal health. In fact, the same organisms in soil that allow plants and animals to flourish are the ones we need for gut health. In¬†Eat Dirt, Dr. Axe explains that it‚Äôs essential to get a little ‚Äúdirty‚ÄĚ in our daily lives in order to support our gut bacteria and prevent leaky gut syndrome. Dr. Axe offers simple ways to get these needed microbes, from incorporating local honey and bee pollen into your diet to forgoing hand sanitizers and even ingesting a little probiotic-rich soil.¬† from Goodreads

Leaky Gut (also known as increased intestinal permeability, is a digestive condition in which bacteria and toxins are able to “leak” through the intestinal wall) is not a new term to me.¬† Any autism mom who has investigated causes or treatments will have invariably come in contact with the condition.¬† This book does a great job of explaining what it is and how you can help heal.¬† Again, much of this was familiar, but he did a nice job of laying it out and organizing the steps you can take to improve your health.

The way in which we live and eat does great damage to our guts and in turn, our brains.¬† While Dr. Axe focuses on the food and supplement aspect he also addresses the other culprits harming our bodies.¬† He educates on essential oils (something I’ve never felt comfortable delving into), but more importantly, provides recipes on how you can make your own home and personal cleaning products relatively easily.¬† If that sounds like too much he also give tips on what to look out for when purchasing everything from shampoo to laundry detergent.

The 5 steps to healing your gut? Remove, reseed, restore, release, reseal.  The food recommendations are not easy, but having spent so many years reading on this I feel like his recommendations can be game changers for some people and he provides an organized plan of getting it done.

More people suffer from leaky gut than most realize.¬† As a matter of fact, most people suffer from leaky gut without even realizing it.¬† If you have any kind of autoimmune issue I would recommend taking a look at this.¬† And why not eat a little dirt? ūüôā


Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh Peace Is Every Step. Finished 7-17-19,  5/5 stars, buddhism, 134 pages, pub. 1991

Lucidly and beautifully written,¬†Peace Is Every Step¬†contains commentaries and meditations, personal anecdotes and stories from Nhat Hanh’s experiences as a peace activist, teacher, and community leader. It begins where the reader already is‚ÄĒin the kitchen, office, driving a car, walking a part‚ÄĒand shows how deep meditative presence is available now. Nhat Hanh provides exercises to increase our awareness of our own body and mind through conscious breathing, which can bring immediate joy and peace. Nhat Hanh also shows how to be aware of relationships with others and of the world around us, its beauty and also its pollution and injustices. the deceptively simple practices of¬†Peace Is Every Step¬†encourage the reader to work for peace in the world as he or she continues to work on sustaining inner peace by turning the “mindless” into the mindFUL.¬† ¬† from Goodreads¬†

I have been reading Thich Nhat Hanh for my daily meditation this year.¬† This is the second book I finished and it’s my favorite of all his books that I’ve read so far.¬† He is a Vietnam monk who coined the phrase ‘engaged Buddhism’.¬† Engaged Buddhism¬†refers to¬†Buddhists¬†who are seeking ways to apply the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice. (wikipedia)¬†¬†Because of his peaceful protest belief he influenced Martin Luther King Jr. during the Vietnam War and was actually nominated by King for the Nobel Peace Prize that year.

Here’s a link to some quotes from the book.¬† They might not be the ones that touched me the most, but they will give you a sense of his writing.¬† I was raised from birth in the Christian church.¬† I’m still a Christian.¬† But if we all took to heart what Hanh has to say this world be a much better place.

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

Title: A Ladder to the Sky, Author: John Boyne A Ladder to the Sky. Finished 5-30-19, 4.75/5, fiction, 362 pages, pub. 2018

Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent – but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own.
Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel.¬†
Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall…¬† from Goodreads

Why am I only just now reading John Boyne?¬† I remember watching the movie The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and being heartbroken, but I didn’t read the book.¬† Now I want to read everything he’s written.¬† This is one of those novels with a main character so horribly delicious that it makes you want to look away.¬† It may even force you to shut the book and put it down for awhile, but you keep glancing at it and eventually you pick it back up and steel yourself for some ugly happenings.¬† Okay, maybe that was just me.¬† The storytelling for this book was just so good.¬† Love or hate the main character of Maurice, you have to revel in the way his story unfolds, first through the voices of those he had wronged and then through his.

You can read the above description for a taste of how the book begins, but know that the story after the ones mentioned is the most cruel and awful of the lot of them.  Oh, and did I mention that he managed to spawn?  The stories are complex, captivating, ruthless, and visit some of the darkest corners of the more ambitious among us.

I know this book isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it twisty and tragically captivating.¬† Does Maurice get his due?¬† You’ll have to read it to find out.