Book Reviews

5 Stars Book Review on “Mel’s Shelves”

This is a parenting book that is FUN to read! I have read some parenting books where I have felt like such a failure, especially when my children were younger, and this one didn’t leave me feeling that way at all. I was glad to see that I already implement some of the ideas she gave. There were plenty more that I want to try to see if they will work for our family.

There’s a broad range of topics and not all of them applied to me but I still enjoyed hearing her advice in those areas. For example, co-parenting after divorce and parenting blended families. I also no longer need to worry about kindergarten readiness or potty training (thank goodness!). I’m starting to head into the teenage years and am open to advice in that area so I enjoyed what she had to say about that.

One of my favorite chapters was the one on positive v. pirate parenting. They are two different parenting approaches. I started out more authoritarian and “pirate-y” but either my children or my age has mellowed me out quite a bit and I try to use positive guidance these days. I still need to work on this in certain areas (like practicing the piano) and liked the examples she gave which will help keep me on course.

I liked the multiple chapters on how to enjoy children in each phase of life and make tons and tons of memories through games, traditions, mealtimes, hobbies and any other way you can think of. She gives plenty of suggestions so there’s no reason to feel stuck in any of those areas.

I also enjoyed her writing style–it was full of humor while still getting her point across in a succinct manner. If you’ve been parenting for several years now or are just starting out, there is something for everyone in here. This is a parenting book I highly recommend!

by Melanie Valderrama

the full post can be found at:

Book Review from Rachelle’s Writing Corner

As a mother of five kids, this book definitely looked enticing and I’m so glad that I got the chance to read it.

I liked the format of this book because it was easy to read in chunks here and there in between diaper changes, feedings, piano lessons, homework, etc., etc. Each chapter was short but chock full of great information, anecdotes, and scenarios that help teach the principles that Julie has collected. These 25 Tips are definitely on the top of my list of areas where I could use some extra help. I found myself marking and highlighting several tips and passages as I went along.

One of my children is four, but it still feels like we are in the terrible twos. He’s extremely difficult and headstrong, goes 100 miles an hour all day long and has complete freak-outs about the littlest things. My husband and I have pulled our hair out trying to figure out how to work with this child. Many days I have been in tears over the latest trouble he has gotten into and how to keep my cool and still show love to him. There just aren’t words, so in short, I’ll tell you that this book is so refreshing because I can tell that Julie really does understand the dynamics of parenting. She shares these tips in a way that doesn’t make me feel guilty because I haven’t always got it right, instead I feel hopeful and excited to try out the ideas. I’m already implementing them and in some cases, just a different way of looking at the situation has helped me immensely.
Here’s one thought that helped remind me of where we’re at with this kid:

“Prekindergarten children have difficulty understanding and putting labels on feelings and, therefore, can feel out of control. They don’t know what they are feeling or how to deal with problems. Parents increase a child’s self-awareness by allowing the child to express emotion in a safe situation, labeling the emotion, and letting the child know that you will be ready to talk when he or she calms down. I like to say, “When your voice is calm like mine, we can talk.”

This would be an excellent Mother’s Day gift, or for any day kind of gift as a parenting pick-me-up. The other day I was on the phone changing my baby’s messy diaper with a kid in the background yelling, “Mom, come wipe me!” If you’ve ever been in a similar situation, this book is for you. 🙂

By Rachelle Christensen

The full post and review can be found at:

Book Review at Wishful Endings

The first, short chapter immediately drew me in to this book and made me think: “Okay. I can do this.” Some parenting books feel like one huge long research, discussion, and/or lecture. Keep it Real and Grab a Plungerfrankly did not. Each chapter was concise, but also chalk full of great things, examples, ideas, definitions, etc. It’s definitely a book I’ll be keeping on my shelf to pull out when I need a little parenting lift or a reminder of what I should be doing when I fall into a rut or become frustrated.

Let’s talk a little about subject material. The author tackles some tough and can-be-frustrating (at least to parents) topics. There’s a chapter on potty training (I am so glad I’m done with my own children!) where one line sums it all: “Staying emotionally disengaged and putting the responsibility and internal reward on the child is fundamental.” Then she shares a rather humorous story that was unbelievable, but true. There’s another chapter on co-parenting after divorce that has some points for those not in this situation as well, primarily with “gatekeeping.” There is also a chapter on using technology wisely, which is definitely a hot topic these days.

You’ll find the usual topics as well, but presented in a way that I easily connected with and understood, which made them much easier to apply and implement. I loved the encouragement and praise chapter, the eight values that are common to strong families section of the values-based parenting chapter, the chapter on lifting children who make mistakes, and found the chapter on helping children overcome their fears especially helpful with one of our children. I could go on and on because I basically found gems of knowledge and applications for my own children in every chapter.

Keep it Real and Grab a Plunger was informative, enjoyable, but most of all gave me a lot of things to think about and implement as a parent to enrich my children’s lives. I liked that I didn’t feel each topic was repetitious or overly discussed, but got the point across in a way I could relate to, understand, and easily apply. This is definitely a parenting book I would recommend!

By Tressa Sherman

Find the original review and other post information in the link below:

Book Review from Utahtopia

It seems like I’ve read about a hundred parenting books in my time, and even worked for a while with a “parenting” company, and I’d pretty much lost hope on there being a truly good, applicable, healthy, and enjoyable book for the complexities of raising a family in today’s world. Too many authors want to be all-this, or all-that, blame the parents or blame the kids, while life often requires a more subtle approach. Which is where Keep It Real and Grab a Plunger comes in. I truly appreciate author Julie K. Nelson’s down-to-earth perspective. It’s not all tips or principles, but a bit of both, and a lot of perspective on life as a mom.

Many of us were raised by “housewives,” yet we want to be more “stay-at-home moms.” Are we keeping our house? Or raising our children? Both? Do we focus mostly on our family (#priorities) but still feel guilty about the messy house, especially when the family looks kinda messy, too? Many of us feel like that sometimes, and I think Nelson shares in that, too. Happily, her practical yet principled advice will help us “keep it real,” be more effective, and work through parenting decisions before they erupt in our faces. For example, many parents will appreciate the chapter, “Keep it Real… and and Take a Time-Out: How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids,” and I think our children would appreciate the good and valid advice she has to offer, too. The book covers a range of concerns that basically all parents face, and offers some clear advice in an easy-to-read format, that I found helpful, informative, and encouraging as well.

The original review can be found at: and on Amazon:

My Friend, Julie Nelson

Stacy Julian, a long-time friend and incredibly successful business woman, wife and mother of 5, was generous enough with her busy schedule to read and review my new book. I’ve pasted the review below as well as the link here:

Stacy’s Blog — a very fruitful tree

When Geoff and I moved to Chicago, IL in 1990 (so that Geoff could attend the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine we had been married just barely 6 months. We moved into an apartment in Forest Park and I was very eager to go to church and hopefully meet some friends. On the very first Sunday attending the Westchester ward (congregation) I saw a young father that looked familiar to me. Either that day or very soon after, we met Roland Nelson and his wife, Julie. Turns out Roland had lived in an apartment building very near one that I lived in at BYU, so I undoubtedly saw him walking to and from campus. Anyway, when we met, they seemed so “old” to me. They had been married 8 years and they had 2 children. I remember thinking, “Wow. I wonder what it will be like to be married that long and have children!” Julie was very welcoming and before long we were invited to dinner. As I got to know Julie better, I watched her closely. I liked the way she did things—I watched her relationship with her husband and I watched how she cared for her children. I was two thousand miles from my home and parents, and spent a lot of time alone, as Geoff was busy with school and studying. I was impressionable and I admired Julie a great deal. In 1992 I found out I was pregnant, which was a bit of a surprise, since we had planned to start our family closer to the middle or end of 1993, so that Geoff would be almost finished with medical school. Clark came in February 1993 and I needed to continue working full time to help support us. This meant I also needed to find someone to watch my baby, which especially with your first child is an overwhelming thought. Julie ended up being one of the people that tended Clark for me. I don’t remember all of the details, but I believe she watched him two or more days a week. I also remember that I wished she could watch him full time, because I knew her home was a wonderful place to be. She was kind and loving, but also confident and capable. I knew that she was not just watching Clark, but teaching him and disciplining him in a way that I approved of. I wanted to parent like Julie did. Anyway, the point of these recollections is that my wonderful friend Julie has recently authored her second book on parenting. After Julie left Chicago, she managed a large day care facility and eventually got her masters degree in marriage, family and human development. Oh, and she also had three additional children and continued to manage her own home.

It’s been extra fun to read Julie’s book, because I can hear her voice. She is funny and real and she uses personal stories to illustrate principles she is writing about. She reached out to me on Facebook to see if I would read her book and tweet about it, or share it in some way and now that I’m (nearly) done I want to do so much more.

This book is 100% AWESOME. I’ve been reminded of things I know and need to do better, I’ve felt inspired to implement new ideas and with each chapter I find myself feeling really positive about my desire and ability to improve. I think that’s most likely the goal, right? Sometimes you read (especially with marriage and parenting books) information and feel like “I just kind of suck!” You know? But that’s what I like most about Julie’s book. She is real. She uses humor and candor. She is clearly very intelligent and has done the research, but she just talks to you, as one who understands. She is, most importantly, a mother, who has been there and actually still is there. She’s like me. We’ve both “launched” a kid or two, but we still have a long way to go and so when you read, you get this very helpful mix of what’s proven and what’s practical. I find myself saying, “I need to try that!”

One of my favorite chapters is about family dinners, which with teenagers is something I really believe in. On many days, sitting down to dinner together (as difficult as that can be) is the ONLY time you will see, let alone talk to your teen. Julie reminded me of the things I already know (no electronic devices) but sometimes do not follow through on very well. She also gave me some great ideas for “Reprogramming the Script” which is needed, especially with teens, when conversations can become too much about homework or other unappetizing topics. She talks a lot about turning on your parenting power to influence your children in powerful ways. For example, you can make a secret goal with your spouse to sneak in at least one compliment to each child during the meal. Or you can increase a sense of awareness for each other by doing something a bit more intentional. I loved this idea:

“Family RAK. Start by putting a cotton ball under a dinner plate. When dinner begins, everyone looks to see who has the cotton ball (“Warm Fuzzy”). That person secretly chooses another family member that they will do Random Acts of Kindess (RAK) for before the next mealtime. The Warm-Fuzzy person secretly puts the cotton ball under the RAK person’s plate before the next meal, and you do another reveal to discover who had the RAK done to them. Have them share what RAKs were done while you eat. This person then becomes the Warm-Fuzzy person and chooses another family member, and so on. ”

A photo I took in 2007 when we made the effort to see the Nelsons on a trip to Utah. Our families had done some changing in the intervening years!

A photo I took in 2007 when we made the effort to see the Nelsons on a trip to Utah. Our families had done some changing in the intervening years!

I’ll end by sharing one other bit of wisdom. In the “Keep it Real and Call Your Grandma” chapter, Julie advises channeling your inner (or future) grandmother. In other words, at the brink of meltdown madness, try to step back and imagine what your grandmother would say or do. Grandparents are kid experts, they have survived the tough years, learned to overlook the stuff that won’t matter and relish in the little things that will. She says,

“One way we can summon that older, wiser version of ourselves is through journaling or photography. When your toddler has taken your favorite tube of lipstick and “painted” you a pretty picture on your bedspread, step back and grab a camera. Through that “lens,” we envision a grandma looking, laughing, and sharing this story in future years. Writing down this frustrating, funny or cute experience in a journal will help capture emotions in a healthy way. ”

As a scrapbooker, I’ve learned and used this approach many times, with toddlers and now teenagers, and I’m grateful for every single photo that has possibly prevented a less appropriate response.

I’m delighted that Julie sent me her book and that I can now recommend it to you.

Book Blog Tour May 1-28


The blog tour book review for my book “Keep It Real and Grab a Plunger: 25 tips for surviving parenthood” is May 1-15, with extended days until the 28th. If you are interested in reviewing it or reading reviews and interviews, here is the link.

If you read it, please post your feedback on Amazon and Goodreads for others to follow. Thank you!

"A Book A Day" Book Review 5/1/13

Have you ever wished that your kids came with an instruction manual? I know that I have. This book has helped me to see that the kids themselves didn’t come with an instruction manual, but I do have a manual that I have been given to help me to be a better parent to our kids. Julie K Nelson’s book talks about the power of parenting examples in the scriptures. She gives examples of good parenting in the Book of Mormon and in the Bible, including our greatest example, the Savior Himself.

I don’t always love to read non-fiction books, usually they take me way longer to read than fiction books and I get tired of them before I’ve finished. Not so with this book. I loved the way that Julie teaches how to find the Spiritual Power in the scriptures. She uses a mix of scripture references, stories from the scriptures and personal stories. I was able to read this book quite quickly, I was way interested in it. I plan to use it as a reference later on for Family Home Evenings. And the best benefit that I got from reading it was that I will never look at scriptures in the same way. I have had a couple of amazing experiences with the scriptures since I finished this book. Thanks tons to Julie K Nelson for helping to revitalize my scripture reading and find more answers than I ever have before!

by Cathy Jeppsen

Mormonmommyblogs Book Review 4/30/13

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am surrounded by stellar examples of righteous parents. Our church is very family focused, and since we’re going to be an eternal family, it’s important to build good relationships.

Parenting with Spiritual Power is a new book by Julie K. Nelson that uses examples from the Bible and Book of Mormon to teach eternal parenting principles.

This book has shed new light on some of my favorite gospel stories, and has paired them with parenting tips. It’s also good to see that even the most righteous parents have children who have gone astray… even with all the tools and knowledge that Heavenly Father has given us, our kids are going to make their own choices.

I’ve also learned a thing or two that has helped me in my Primary calling.

I’ve really enjoyed this book, and have already recommended it to a few friends. If you have children, or if you work with children, Parenting with Spiritual Power will help you implement gospel principles into their lives. If you don’t have kids, that’s okay too, because YOU are a child of God, and this book will help you to understand how much God loves you.

All in all, it’s a great book, you’ll definitely learn something, and I highly recommend it.

by Caroline Bingham

Book Review by Alice Gold

Monday, April 08, 2013

Alice Gold’s Review on:

Book Review: Parenting with Spiritual Power

Parenting with Spiritual PowerParenting with Spiritual Power by Julie K. Nelson My rating: 4 of 5 stars
You know the old philosophy that parenting doesn’t come with a manual? Well, it’s crap. If you have The Holy Bible, you have one of the greatest parenting manuals in existence.
If you add to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the teachings of the living prophets, and you are still struggling as a parent, Julie K. Nelson has written this book just for you. I have been so touched as I have read this book: God has given us great stories to help us with the most important work we are called to do as parents. If you, like me, need help in applying those resources, then you need to get your hands on a copy of this book ASAP. It is truly an inspired parenting manual.
I have long studied principles of parenting and found many of the most important theories I’ve learned over the years in the pages of this book. Truth just oozes from the pages of “Parenting with Spiritual Power.” Oozes. As I read I found myself amazed at how many modern-day applications there are in the ancient scriptures. I know that sounds lame, but it’s true. I have learned a lot of these truths already in my own study, but to find them gathered together in such an easily applicable format is almost too good to be true: but it’s not. This book is full of truth in one easy-to-read resource.
If you want to learn more about depositing into your children’s banks of self-worth, setting reasonable boundaries, how to positively correct your children, live sacrificial lives, stomp out anger and develop greater charity as a family, and how to show faith in your children this book is for you. Like me, I believe you will be totally shocked at all you’ve been missing when studying the scriptures. I’ve had the handbook in my hands all along, I just didn’t realize that I needed Julie Nelson to translate it for me.
Thank you Julie. I recommend this book for all parents, even those that aren’t Mormon. What a wonderful and much needed resource for all of us.
You can buy the book for just $11.04 at Amazon or $13.99 at Deseret Book. After reading this book I can honestly say I would spend double that. Really, can we even put a price on better parenting?

Book Review: Geo Librarian

Review found at:

First off I will admit that I am not a parent.  But I am a teacher and the principles that Julie Nelson highlights in this book apply just as much to me as to any parent.  The importance of focusing on the positive rather than the negative, giving warnings, offering doctrine to help children make better choices, and nourishing and encouraging them rather than trying to force them are all very important when working with people, not just with children.  I loved the way she used the scriptures (the LDS scriptures include the King James version of the Bible, The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price) and stories from the scriptures to highlight the points she was trying to make.  She also uses quotes from former and current leaders of the church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormon/LDS church) to highlight especially important points.
The chapter on developing and exercising faith in both the child and the Lord’s growth process I found especially comforting.  When it comes to children, results are not always immediate, it can take months or years to see the fruit of one’s labors, but one must never give up and continue to exercise patience, long-suffering, and diligence. The author points out that when a child is born there is a great deal of potential there, but the parent doesn’t know yet what that potential might be or the best way to bring it to fruition, the parent and child must learn and grow together.
For those who are parents or who work with children on a regular basis this book provides many principles and reminders about what is most important to remember and practice.  I can highly recommend this book to those who are frustrated or confused or exhausted.  The book is not only inspiring but a powerful reminder of just how much our Heavenly Father loves us and our children.