Category Archives: Gift Guide

The Ultimate Amazon Gift Guide: Books {2019}

Hi again! I’m back with the post where I tell you all about the books we’ve read, the books we’re reading, and the books we want to read…in hopes that you find something you want to read (or gift!) as well.

Here goes!

amazon book guide

For me, children’s books need to be an ideal balance between beautiful words and images, but I’m a pretty big sucker for quirky/creative illustrations.

I just stumbled upon this Little people/BIG DREAMS series on Amazon, and, while I have little to no interest in quite a few of the people about whom the books are written (I just don’t see myself sitting down to read my kids a book about David Bowie or Bob Dylan), there are quite a few options to choose from, and I like that each book comes in hardback or board book form and features simple language for younger readers and fun, imaginative illustrations.

Some of the titles that caught my eye:

L.M. Montgomery

Amelia Earhart

Rosa Parks

Marie Curie

(It just so happened that all of the titles that I was drawn to were women, but that was mostly because I felt like a lot of their male offerings were lacking interest for our family).

I mentioned The Wingfeather Saga in last year’s list, but we hadn’t started it yet. Well we read the entire series last year, so I can now say with resounding confidence that I. LOVED. IT. And so did my kids. The first book is a bit slow and glitchy (some unnecessary quirks like long, nonsensical footnotes) in parts, but persevere, my friends. Because, after Book 1, the series soars. It is phenomenally well-written, developed, and plotted with meaningful relationships and poignant, Biblical lessons taught in such a compassionate and complex way that you could read this series coming from any faith background and still be touched (although, I would argue its most significant from a Biblical standpoint of sin nature/redemption). I seriously can’t say enough good things about this series (obviously). Just buy it. You won’t regret it!

Another series that my boys, especially, got really into is Redwall. I think there are 17 books total, and they are fairly hefty, so they could keep your kids occupied for a good while. We (mostly Ezra and Simon) listened to at least 6 on audio book. I will say that there’s a great deal of fighting and death (the characters are talking animals), but the line between good and evil is always clearly delineated, and the action is non-stop. Great for adventure-loving boys. (Also, be warned that there is the occasional “damn,” so younger kids who are more prone to parrot dialogue should probably be steered clear).

Another favorite Audible listen this year was Matilda. I know that Roald Dahl books are well-known classics, but I had never actually read any. I loved Matilda, though, in no small part due to Kate Winslet’s superb narration. But I could tell from the prose that it would make a delightful read-aloud for the whole family

Kate Dicamillo is another classic children’s author that I hadn’t actually experienced much of myself, but we read The Tale of Despereaux together this year and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Next on our Dicamillo hit list?

Our current read aloud series is The Mysterious Benedict Society, which should keep us busy for quite some time and already has the kids on the edges of their seats with every chapter. Funny note: I love to do accents and started out this series thinking that it was British based on a red double-decker bus on one of the covers (and also on the style of the writing/dialogue, which has a decidedly English flair). I ended up having to switch accents a few chapters in when I read a line about “George Washington, the father of our country.”


Oh well. I still highly recommend so far!

After the Benedict Society, I want to get this.

Also on my hit list because I’ve read such good things about them…

The One and Only Ivan (which I may have to intersperse with Benedict Society, since I’m so eager to read it).

…The Family Under the Bridge

and A Long Walk to Water

As far as books that I have no intention of reading aloud but that my kids love, these are great:

The Imagination Station series is a great set of adventure books aimed at ages 7-10

And the Passages series by Paul Mccusker is another great one for tweens.

I’m all about books that teach my kids truth by engaging their imaginations, minds, eyes, and hearts. And I am loving the look of these options:

How Great is Our God

The Ology

A couple more that I’m ordering for my kids:

This is How We Do It

National Parks

The Big Book of Birds (there are other Big Book titles as well if you scroll; we love The Big Book of Bugs)

A Rock is Lively (we have several books in this series, and we love them!)

And let’s not forget that there are books for mamas as well!

I have both of Ruth’s books, and they are simply delightful. I think you or any other woman in your life would love them too!


Beholding and Becoming

Another great one from a blogging friend of mine, Just Open the Door has lots of great practical ideas for growing in Biblical hospitality.

Another good one to encourage the mamas in your life: Risen Motherhood.

This was not the year of the novel for me. But I did manage to read (aka: listen to a few good ones).

Before We Were Yours is a heartrending tale based on (incomprehensible real-life events). It’s captivating from start to finish.

Once Upon a River is a story with an almost Dickensian feel and some of the most beautiful, lyrical prose I’ve ever read.

Resistance Women is the continuation of my obsession with all things WWII. It’s not as emotionally engaging as some I’ve read, but considering that it manages to efficiently weave together multiple story lines, all of which are based on historical people, it’s an impressive and informative read.

And there you have it! Enough books to keep you and your kids occupied for a good long while. Hope you find something you love!

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The Ultimate Amazon Gift Guide for Men {2019}

“Tale as old as time, tune as old has song…gifts for men are strange, why won’t they just change…shopping for them feels so wrong.”


So maybe I don’t have a future in writing spoof lyrics for classic Disney songs. But! The fact of the matter is that men are HARD to buy gifts for. If they want it, they just go ahead and buy it without dropping any hints, and, regardless of how hard we try to categorize their clothes, they will still wear the *nice* shirts to do dirty chores in and then say, “What??” with genuine confusion when we get exasperated.

I don’t suppose all of that gets us out of having to buy them something anyway, though. Hmph.

Kidding, y’all! (Mostly). I actually like finding things for Shaun, but it is true that men are wild cards, at best, when it comes to gifts.


To help put all of us out of our collective misery, I’ve compiled a list of useful and/or stylish items that might just fill that gift-shaped void the man in your life doesn’t even know he has. M-e-r-r-y C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s!


Let’s start with the fun stuff, shall we?

Below is a list of my husband’s/boys’ favorite games. Chances are your man will like them too!


If your guy hasn’t gotten into Settlers of Catan yet, you need to hook. him. up.

Killer Bunnies is good, zany fun. Plus, it has a million expansion packs to add to the madness (think: birthday, Father’s Day, next year’s Christmas!)

Dominion is another favorite among the males at our house.

As is Acquire

This chess set is labeled as “junior” because it’s a bit smaller than your standard board, but it gets rave reviews for the handmade quality and craftsmanship.

Moving on to other forms of entertainment, I know that DVDs are totally passé these days, but if you’ve got an old school guy, then a physical copy of A Quiet Place would be a great option. I am NOT one for horror movies, but this fits more into the suspense/sci-fi category, and the sweet family dynamic is so refreshing. This is one of Shaun’s faves.

Oh! And we can’t forget books!

This complete works of Sherlock Holmes set would make for a great gift for a detective story lover.

This Leather-Bound Classics of 5 books by Mark Twain would be another fun one to gift.

And All the Light We Cannot See is one I recommend for all men, but especially WWII enthusiasts.

In the non-fiction category, this one caught my eye.

As did this one for a chuckle

Of course, in Shaun’s case, he’s unlikely to actually READ any of the above books, since he’s all about that audio book life and prefers to listen. These blue tooth ear buds are a bit pricey but come with great reviews.

Or you could go with these much cheaper (but still highly praised) wired versions.

I don’t know too many men who wouldn’t love to be presented with this big box o’ snacks. Sure, it’s way more expensive than it should be, but if you’re willing to shell out 70 cents a snack to have them picked/packaged and curated for you (as opposed to having to buy a box of pop tarts, granola bars, chips, etc. and pull out a few), then this just might be worth the extra dough.

A good leather toiletry bag is such a classic gift–especially if you’ve got a guy in your life that travels a fair bit.

And I don’t even know what half of this stuff does, but chances are, your guy does or is willing to pretend his does to look cool.

Got a guy who likes to keep his car clean? Then, he needs this cordless vac.

Oh, and the handy men (sounds better when it’s not a compound word) in your life might just *need* one of these wristbands to keep all of their nails close at hand (har har).

Beards are all the rage these days, and while I looooove me a good beard (I’ve literally never seen Shaun without his, since I won’t let him shave it), methinks it would take a pretty robust version to need all of the items in this kit. Still. If you’ve got a guy into beard culture, this is the setup for him!

Speaking of, I haven’t gone back to check, but I’m 99% sure I’ve put this ingenious creation on a past year’s gift list. But no matter. Since I can’t guarantee you’ll look at past lists, I’m including it again. If you are the one who cleans the bathroom sink, this beard bib will change your life.

I saw my father-in-law (who is a very handy guy) wearing this shirt recently, and it made me smile.

DUDE. You guys! Forget the men. *I* want one of these breakfast sandwich makers. I thought it might be too gimmicky to actually work, but the reviews are surprisingly solid.

This little organizer bag is another good one for the guy who travels or just has a lot of tech gear to wrangle.

Oh, and this wooden puzzle box is both entertaining and attractive enough to leave out. Win-win!

Apparently, the Yeti craze is still going because the reviews on this version are stellar (comes in a ton of color options)

I’ve got back issues, so Shaun bought me a similar massager to this one for my birthday. I think it was a bit pricier, but the reviews for this one make it sounds like it gets the job done!

What man doesn’t need a pair of quality work gloves?

Or a great pair of merino wool socks??

I think this leather satchel is just beautiful. If you’ve got a style guy, he’ll agree.

This Amazon basics hoodie comes in quite a few colors and gets bomb reviews.

Again with the beard paraphernalia. I should have grouped my items. But this little trimmer can actually serve quite a few purposes (comes with quite a few attachment options) and gets great reviews.

Have a man who insists on wearing sock with sandals? (Worst pitch ever, Abbie) Then, he needs these, since they’re about the only version that is socially acceptable to be worn with (black!) socks. (Oh, and they get awesome reviews for comfort).

Okay. So, this is kind of ingenious and would make a great stocking stuffer.

Not too many men are interested in carrying a lunchbox with them once they’re grown. But this insulated Carhartt option would be great for the man who packs his lunch but still wants to look manly.

This gym bag (with a specific opening for shoes!) gets good reviews for convenience/durability.

And, speaking of the gym, I recommend Brooks brand running shoes every year now. They are the only tennis shoes I will buy for myself anymore, and I’ve started buying them for Shaun and my two oldest boys as well. Yes, they are pricier than some, but they also last forever and legit feel like you’re walking on clouds. I like purchasing more expensive items like this for birthdays + Christmas, etc., since it provides an occasion for splurging a bit on something they need anyway.

Speaking of the gym again, if you’ve got a guy who lifts, these magnetic mounts make ideal additions to your phone when you’re using metal weight machines. Just pop it on the machine you’re using, and–tada–you don’t have to worry about where you set your phone down. Also, makes for a great, hands-free option in the car.

And again, for the exerciser. He needs one of these for his protein powders + BCAAs. Trust me.

This made me laugh. That is all.

Well, there you have it, folks! I hope  you find at least one thing on this list to help solve your man-gift conundrums. My book post is following close behind, since we’re creeping ever closely to Christmas, and the mercy of Amazon Prime can only extend so far.

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