Category Archives: Book Of the Month

November Giveaway

Before November disappears entirely I want to make good on my monthly giveaway promise. I have so enjoyed doing these monthly giveaways. I recognise that generosity does not come naturally to me and so I have loved creating intentional opportunities (even if they are small!) to make it a habit.

Every December 1st I give my boys a book about Christmas so that over time we will gather up a large stash of them to read together during December on our lead up to Christmas. A while ago a friend recommended this book to me, I subsequently found a copy second-hand and then I found another one on TradeMe and because I liked it so much I bought the second one so I could give one away!

This book is about a little boy who lives in a caravan park and wants to enter the competition that the council is running for people to decorate their houses for Christmas. Being of meagre means he uses what he has and waits with great anticipation for the judges to come and visit his house (and they don’t)…. what could be such a sad story is in fact a beautiful and uplifting tale. I won’t spoil the ending but I think this is a story anyone could love and enjoy.

It’s also a New Zealand book which makes me very happy. There are so many great children’s books and I’m always thrilled to find New Zealand ones to add to the collection.

Currently it is unavailable on Fishpond, Book Depository, Trade Me and Amazon doesn’t appear to have it at all – so this could be your big chance!! :o)

If you would like to enter to win a second-hand (I know people have mixed feelings about 2nd hand and that’s okay just want you to know so you are informed!!) copy of this book, leave me a comment. Tell me a children’s book you love or a Christmas tradition you have.

I’ll draw the winner on Nov 25th so hopefully I have time to get it to your family before Dec 1st so you can read it during the Christmas build up too.

Because I love the journeys and friendships blogging creates if you want to enter and you follow my blog (any old way) then remind me in your comment and I will enter you twice.

Have a wonderful day

Miriam x


Confrontation and Encouragement

I must confess I got this book out of the library hesitantly – the unspoken thought of losing one of my babies is enough to make me cry without the harsh truth of reading the reality of another mother’s journey.

The book – ‘Hannah’s Gift – Lessons from a Life Fully Lived‘ by Maria Housden – is however, exquisite.

It details the lessons and the journey of her experience losing her daughter Hannah to cancer at 3 years old.

I cried (of course) but the book was so beautiful, so poignant and didn’t cause a moment of gripping fear about my own babies. It was an amazing mix of real raw grief and true, experienced-life full and beautiful.

The sections – Truth, Joy, Faith, Compassion and Wonder – are profound and moving. I consumed this book in an afternoon but I know I will be processing its lessons for some time.

Here are a couple of my absolute favourite quotes from the book

Joy is the magic and stillness that stand on the threshold of every moment, the experience of giving and living fully, without expecting anything in return. Because joy knows no rules, it isn’t afraid to be imperfect, and it can surprise us even in the darkest places.

It was the quality of presence and attention that I brought to what I was doing, not the activity itself, that made it what it was.

Hannah taught me that there is a death more painful than the one that took her body from this world: a soul suffocated by fear leaves too many joys unlived.

Even if you aren’t a parent or you have never lived the loss of a precious person in your life I think this book will move you, encourage you and make you delight in the really aware of the great gift that life is. It also enforces my desire to be a more intentional and delighted Mama.

Let Silence Speak

While we were on holiday I read 8 books in 2 weeks (this is why I hardly read during the year once I start a book I don’t want to put it down until I’m finished!).

Over the next couple of weeks I want to talk about a few of them.

Listening Below the Noise A Meditation on the Practice of Silence by Anne D LeClaire

I’m naturally a chatterbox. I tend to be the whole conversation at times and I make the lofty promise ‘Never an uncomfortable silence when I am in the room!’ So reading a book like this always feels a bit scary to me. I mean I know I should be quiet more but I have such a lot of good things to share with the world. (arrogance anyone??)

But I loved this book. It felt like a therapy and sometimes it even stung a little – like when the author challenges that sometimes we fill up the day with noise because we are afraid of what we might have to deal with in the silence. And that we think others need our wonderful wisdom instead of just needing someone to listen (boy I find that hard!).

Anne herself has for the past 9 years kept every second Monday as a day of silence and it has transformed her life.

As part of slowing myself down this year and listening to the voice of heaven I want to carve out some times of silence for myself.

This book is incredibly easy to read, a little like a diary in some ways. If you feel life is clanging too loudly and rushing too fast I would so suggest you take the time to read this book. Especially if you feel you have no time to enjoy life as it races past you.

Book Of the Month – July

This month I read ‘Better Off’ by Eric Brende

I SO enjoyed this book. The book is a social/technology experiment that the author tried on himself and his new wife as they attempted to live without any technology for 18 months.

The author was doing a degree in the impacts of technology on our lives and the way that the things we have in our lives that are so touted to make life easier and more convenient/relaxing/enjoyable can actually be doing the very opposite.

In order to try this out they lived in a community somewhere in the United States (location deliberately not shared by the author) that is considered extreme even by the Amish in terms of its stance on technology.

I found this book compelling to read it is challenging in terms of the impact no technology had on their lives – more leisure time, the manner in which relationships and community develops and the skills that are required. Brende says in the book our attitudes about people who live in these communities or in places in the world without technology is that the people will be unskilled labourers forced into a life of hard physical work. His experience was very much the opposite.

This book is gentle in its encouragement and attitude. There is no feeling of pious condemnation on those who use technology but it definitely challenged me about our cultural life values and how much we work and are enslaved by debt, money and the inability to provide our own needs without technology, mass-production, convenience stores….

In all this though it made me feel hopeful and excited about what we can do for ourselves when we exercise conscious choice about HOW we live in all areas of our lives.

The book is very easy – diary like – to read and I would thoroughly recommend it. I got my copy out  from the local library. Regardless of how you feel about the need for technology or otherwise it is a great glimpse into the lives and lifestyles of those who deliberately choose to live without it.

Book Of The Month June

This month I really enjoyed my read – c/o the library.

Made From Scratch is written by Jenna Woginrich.

In it she explores what it is to be a country girl in a city job and home.

Throughout the book she tries different things to make her ‘homestead dream’ come true.

The book itself is easily read and has some very good information and guidance for people wanting to explore chickens, bees, growing their own food and making their own music, amongst other things. Jenna also has a blog but I am assuming from the picture on the header (different now from when I first looked at it) that she now does have a homestead of her own.

The book is American so there are parts, particularly resources that don’t really relate to those outside of the US. Definitely a good read for anyone wanting to live a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle.

It has got some recommended reading though which has led me to discover a new author for next month’s book… more about that in July.

Book of the Month – May

As you may have noticed last month I didn’t read a book.

Well officially I read a couple of books of the New Testament but that’s not counted for my ‘reading a book every month’ goal.

This month I read a book called The Daring Female’s Guide to Ecstatic Living by Natasha Kogan.

It was pretty easy to read. The premise of the book is that it is full of ‘dares’ to challenge you to live more fully and take more risks with your life.

It had some sections that were great for me to read about trying things you know you won’t be good at (I never really do that) and doing something you love for 10 minutes every day and daring to take risks and detours along the way.

I guess I am in a place at the moment where I am very happy to be (bringing up my babies) so I don’t feel like this is the time for me to take risks in my career or pursue a passion that I’ve always dreamed of. Even so I think this book is a good encourgaer not to be afraid to make the most of your life.

It’s a good book to read when you are at a cross-roads or hitting a bit of a mid-year slump and need some motivation.

Book of the Month March – The Amazing Five Year Old

I was sent this book to review by the wonderful Sarah at KMB and I was thrilled.

Flip starts school in May this year and I was very keen to have a read through this book. It is written by a teacher who has many years experience with new entrants in NZ. I have to confess the teaching, parenting and wanna-be alpha mum in me were all curious as to what I would find.

The book itself is small and short definitely not a mighty tome that will take weeks to get through – an afternoon or 2 while the boys are sleeping were all I needed.

The book is broken into 4 sections: Physical Skills, Social Skills, Academic Skills and Getting Ready for School.

It is written in a clear concise style and not full of teaching or parenting theory. It has some checklists of key skills in it which made me happy – never one to neglect a good checklist! – but it is not over-hyped. There is no expectation you’ll have reading, addition, subtraction and physics done before day 1. I like that it has skills that aren’t just academic. I think there can be a tendency for parents (mothers???) to get a little over enthused with the academic readiness and forget about plain old manners and common fears like ‘where is the toilet’.

I think this book is a worthwhile read for people who want a bit of direction for their interactions with their child in terms of physical, social and intellectual development. It doesn’t make any great claims to present theories that are new or steeped in research it is more like a very helpful, long before-school interview with an experienced and friendly teacher.

If you aren’t familiar with school routines and the kind of skills your little one will need I think you would find it positive and encouraging – it may also help to settle any anxieties you have about the big start. And if like me, you like to feel ahead of the game you will get a great deal of satisfaction from going through and spending some time building the skills your little person DOES actually need before they hit the big 5.

Book of the Month February – My Life In France by Julia Child

Well of course reading this had to be a response to the movie!

The Book

In the effort to look after this mind of mine – or at least keep it working! I am reading a book per month, aside from the swath of craft books and home magazines that usually occupy my reading time.

I really enjoyed this book although there was a lot of French in terms of words especially when describing menus.

The thing that really struck me from this book was how hard Julia Child worked on her cook book testing and re-testing every recipe multiple times. Even before she had the book contract she invested hours and years into the cookbook and learning. She was obsessed with learning and deepening her skill level.

After reading the book I had such a respect for her and have definitely thought about the process of success. Julia Child never set about on her course to develop a name for herself or to become famous. She followed her passion wholeheartedly because it was her passion and for no other goal. I like that. I find that challenging.

The other thing I loved was the partnership between her and Paul. They were such a team and they obviously held one another with total affection. Both of them believed and lived the dreams each other held. I love that.

There was a lot in this book that you didn’t get in the movie but I do still adore the movie. There were lots more details about their friendships and the actual publishing process and even more about food. As my sister said you could have had a whole movie just about Julia Child’s without Julie blog at all.

I’d like to read the book of the blog as well this year. I just need to reserve it at the library.

Book Of The Month – January

As part of my plan to look after ‘this one brain’ I have I am aiming to read and review a book every month.

January’s book is ‘A Home Companion – A Year of Living Like My Nana’ by NZ author Wendyl Nissen.

Book Cover

Since I decided to read and review this it has been popping up all over other blogs I read. Which goes to show I am totally on the button!! (I really am so uncool!)

I bought this book after attending an evening with Wendyl Nissen last year. It is part biography of a year and part recipe book for all sorts of ‘alternative’ products.

This book is going to be instrumental in helping me to live more green this year. With its help I am planning to make my own washing powder, soap, moisturizer, bread, cleaning products…. Once a month a friend and I are going to get together and make all these for the month to come so we are not left racing to the supermarket because we ran out of time.

I like Wendyl’s writing style. She is very conversational in her tone. You can imagine catching up with her over a coffee and listening to the same tales.

I appreciate the fact that she has tried every one of her recipes and has in fact being living like a nana for some time but she is still attractive, cares about her appearance (at least in public) and doesn’t write her message like a condemnation to those who aren’t there yet with their own lifestyles.

I’ll let you know how the recipes go. If nothing else I enjoyed reading this book and I am going to enjoy a monthly ‘hippy’ session with my lovely friend Kyleigh. We plan to share the love and have a band of happy hippies on board by the end of the year. I guess that might come down to how well, or otherwise, my crystal deodorant stick works out for me!

If you’d like to try some natural recipes of your own she has heaps free on her website. The bread I made the other day was from this book too.