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Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Lying King

Publisher's Description of The Lying King:Can warthogs fly? Do tigers eat broccoli?

For answers, follow along as Warthog lies his way to the throne in this timeless, yet most timely, Tale from the Watering Hole.

Will the Truth catch up with the king?

Find out as Alex Beard’s whimsical animals come to life to illuminate real world truths for children of all ages. With a nod to Aesop and Kipling, this funny and pointed parable has lessons for everyone, from the playground to the boardroom and beyond!

My Review:
 Politics and children's books, not two things that I would expect to go together.  Yet Alex Beard, in The Lying King, weaves a story of a warthog that rises to power through a series lies and the (supposed) inevitable outcome of such actions.

While this tales is definitely a nod to Aesop and/or Kipling in its style, I found it a bit disturbing.  While I can't lay my finger on what exactly unnerves me about the story, I can say that the plot seems to be written more for adults than children.  While the illustrations are engaging and the rhyming prose keeps us turning the pages, the story just feels off to me.

I will say that Beard's tale is a cautionary tale of choosing to look the other way when faced with overt lies.  Children may be able to glean the notion that lying is bad from this fable, but in the end, it isn't one I would put on our bookshelf.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Crescent Stone review

Book Description:

 A girl with a deadly lung disease . . .
A boy with a tragic past . . .
A land where the sun never sets but darkness still creeps in . . .
A bargain that brings life, but may cost more than anyone can imagine . . .

Madeline Oliver has never wanted for anything, but now she would give anything just to breathe. Jason Wu skates through life on jokes, but when a tragedy leaves him guilt-stricken, he promises to tell only the truth, no matter the price. When a mysterious stranger name Hanali appears to Madeline and offers to heal her in exchange for one year of service to his people, Madeline and Jason are swept into a strange land where they don’t know the rules and where their decisions carry consequences that reach farther than they could ever guess.

My Review:

 This is my first foray into Matt Mikalatos' young adult writings.  Having read Night of the Living Dead Christian, Dinner with a Perfect Stranger and My Imaginary Jesus I was very familiar with his Christian works.  However, I had never read any of his young adult fantasy works. 

The Crescent Stone is the first it what looks to be an interesting series entitled The Sunlit Lands. Imagine a world divided.  One portion lives in beauty and sunlight and wealth.  And yet they are plagued with a second group that lives in darkness and crudeness and ugliness.  A war rages and this is where Madeline and her friends enter the story. 

What would you do when someone offers you life in exchange for a year of service?  Madeline barely hesitates to accept and is quickly swept into a world so different than her own along with her new friend Jason Wu.  Madeline is spellbound by the beauty that greets her, while Jason is skeptical.

Mikalatos, in this fantasy world, brings up some very interesting real world questions.  Is it ok to do something that harms someone in order to save someone else?  Is it ok to allow someone else to volunteer take on pain and hardship that should rightfully be yours?  Is your enemy necessarily your enemy, or is it a matter of perspective? 

I really enjoyed the characters and the world that Mikalatos has created in this story, and I look forward to seeing what happens next!

You can order your copy of The Crescent Stone on Amazon here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Lifegiving Parent Review

The Life Giving Parent
Book Desciption:In today’s world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and even paralyzed by the constant flow of parenting advice. We’re flooded with so much practical information that we wonder if we’re choosing the right way. And we may be missing the one thing God really wants us to give to our children: His life. God doesn’t include a divine methodology for parenting in the Bible, but He does provide principles that can enable any faithful parent to bring His life into the life of their home.

In The Lifegiving Parent, respected authors and parents Clay and Sally Clarkson explore eight key principles—heartbeats of lifegiving parenting—to shed light on what it means to create a home where your children will experience the living God in your family. Now parents of four grown children—each with their own unique personality and gifts—Sally and Clay have learned (sometimes the hard way!) that the key to shaping a heart begins at home as you foster a deep and thoughtful God-infused relationship with each child. Filled with biblical insight and classic Clarkson stories, The Lifegiving Parent will equip you with the tools and wisdom you need to give your children much more than just a good Christian life. You’ll give them the life of Christ.

My Review:I have been a fan of Sally Clarkson since Desperate: Hope for the Mom who Needs to Breathe.  So when I had the opportunity to review this book, I quickly downloaded and began reading.  In 10 short chapters, Sally and Clay Clarkson share some great pointers on how to not only create a home where children feel loved, but where they experience God's love as well. 

I love that this book is written to parents in general, rather than just moms.  So many parenting books direct all their advice to moms who already feel the pressure of parenting on their shoulders.  There is a woeful lack of parenting books directed towards fathers.  While this isn't specific for dads, Clay Clarkson's input definitely makes this a book that stresses the truth that it takes BOTH parents to create a home that gives children a view of the Biblical concept of an abundant life.

This book is a reminder that, "Lifegiving parenting is not about changing the culture we live in but about being a counter-culture to it."  It isn't our responsibility to shelter our children from the world and isolate them, but to prepare them to live a spiritually abundant life in the culture in which we live, without compromising God's truths.  Clay and Sally lay out the wisdom they have gained from raising their 4 children in the hopes that it will help you and I to accomplish this.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Night of the Living Dead Christian

Night of the Living Dead Christian: One Man's Ferociously Funny Quest to Discover What It Means to Be Truly TransformedNight of the Living Dead Christian: One Man's Ferociously Funny Quest to Discover What It Means to Be Truly Transformed by Matt Mikalatos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Description
What does a transformed life actually look like?
In his follow-up to the critically acclaimed Imaginary Jesus, Matt Mikalatos tackles this question in an entertaining and thought-provoking way—with MONSTERS!!! While Christians claim to experience Christ’s resurrection power, we sometimes act like werewolves who can’t control our base desires. Or zombies, experiencing a resurrection that is 90 percent shambling death and 10 percent life. Or vampires, satiating ourselves at the expense of others. But through it all we long to stop being monsters and become truly human—the way Christ intended. We just can’t seem to figure out how.

Night of the Living Dead Christian is the story of Luther, a werewolf on the run, whose inner beast has driven him dangerously close to losing everything that matters. Desperate to conquer his dark side, Luther joins forces with Matt to find someone who can help. Yet their time is running out. A powerful and mysterious man is on their trail, determined to kill the wolf at all costs . . .

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Night of the Living Dead Christian is a spiritual allegory that boldly explores the monstrous underpinnings of our nature and tackles head-on the question of how we can ever hope to become truly transformed.

My Review
Honestly, the first 2 chapters of this book were hard to get through. They didn't make sense and seemed REALLY out there. But I kept with it, and I am glad I did!

Zombies, vampires, mad scientists, robots and werewolves in a story about coming to Christ? I never would have thought that such an odd combination would touch my heart and cause me to do some serious self-reflection, and yet it strangely did.

I highly recommend this to anyone struggling with the idea of what it means to be a "real" follower of Christ, you might find yourself to be one of the monsters. Fortunately, "when human beings became sinful, or depraved, or whatever happened there--they never lost, somehow, being in the image of God. Which means that even at our worst, there's some piece of us that still reflects his image...and that's not something we can ever completely eradicate."

*I did not receive this book for review purposes.  I actually sought this one out to read.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Inspired Shawls review

Book Description:

Knitters of all skill levels will rejoice in this colorful collection of 15 original shawl patterns. These stylish, versatile designs will complement any outfit, formal or casual, while offering the warmth and comfort of a cloak. Perfect for any season, the patterns include varying yarn weights and textures that provide the pleasures of year-round knitting. Their unique designs, rendered in bold colors as well as in neutral shades, offer a rich assortment of knitting choices.

Author Laura Zukaite was inspired in the creation of these shawls by the vibrant handicraft traditions she observed during her South American travels. Beautiful full-color photographs illustrate the patterns, which feature herringbone and cable stitches, ruffles, stripes, geometrics, and other eye-catching motifs in an array of gorgeous, hand-dyed yarns. The diversity and abundance of designs guarantee that this book is one that knitters will turn to time and time again for an inspiring range of patterns.

My Review:There are some absolutely gorgeous patterns in this book.  Many of the shawls include interesting textures created by combining different weight yarns in the same pattern, use of cables, embroidery, and open lacework.  The instructions appear to be well written and several of the patterns include charts as well.  The photography is BEE-YOU-TIFUL! with many of the patterns including multiple photographs.

My only disappointment was the costs of the suggested yarns.  For example this pattern:

The Amazonia,calls for $70 worth of yarn to create.  Another pattern suggested a yarn that was $58 for a skein of 330 yards, and that pattern used 3 skeins of the yarn!  And while I realize that these are items that can last for generations, especially if you use quality materials, and that you CAN substitute less expensive yarns, it was disheartening to realize that it was going to be so costly to reproduce the beauty on the pages.

So, is it worth the $20 (physical copy) or $10 (digital copy) price tag for Inspired Shawls?  If you are willing to put in the time finding comparable yarns in beautiful colorways, or able to invest in some of the fabulous yarns suggested, then absolutely.  The patterns are gorgeous.

Monday, March 19, 2018

With Love, Wherever You Are Review

Book Description:  
Everyone knows that war romances never last . . .
After a whirlwind romance and wedding, Helen Eberhart Daley, an army nurse, and Lieutenant Frank Daley, M.D. are sent to the front lines of Europe with only letters to connect them for months at a time.

Surrounded by danger and desperately wounded patients, they soon find that only the war seems real—and their marriage more and more like a distant dream. If they make it through the war, will their marriage survive?

Based on the incredible true love story, With Love, Wherever You Are is an adult novel from beloved children’s author Dandi Daley Mackall.

My Review:
I am a sucker for a love story.  Everyone knows that.  And I am a sucker for books set in true history. So when I had an opportunity to review a love story that is TRUE and set in history. well, let's just say I couldn't say no.


This is a wonderful story of perseverance.  Despite everything that was thrown at them, despite the atrocities they witnessed, despite the depression, the anxiety, the doubt, the loneliness, Helen and Frank CHOSE to not give up on each other.  That's a great story.  Only this is more than a story.  It's the life that the author's parents led. 

I thank Mackall for sharing her parent's story and reminding us that love is a choice, and when we chose love nothing can separate us.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Brave Beauty review

Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You by Lynn Cowell

Publisher Description:


What will my life be like? Who will I be? Whether girls put these concerns into words or struggle anxiously with these thoughts, during this season of change, girls have questions. Sometimes these questions also come with fears and they need a safe place to process these fears. From Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and blogger, Lynn Cowell, comes Faithgirlz Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You. For girls 8-12, Brave Beauty brings tweens 100 courage-building moments to reflect on Scripture and find confidence in God, rather than in someone, some place, or some thing, as culture will all-too-soon tell them to. Lynn will also prepare girls to:
  • Overcome confidence-defeating thoughts and stand on who Jesus says she is.
  • Shape her self-worth on Christ and overcome the temptation base it on environmental factors.
  • Build a strong foundation to face the fickle and flippant opinions of others.
  • Find approval of herself even when she lacks the acceptance of others.
  • Find security by turning to Christ as she steps through the exciting, yet scary world of growing up
Formatted as theme-based mini chapters, these moments can be read as one-a-days, one-a-weeks, or at the reader’s own pace. Simple and empowering, Lynn’s voice is relatable and conversational, making it easy for girls to feel like they’re spending time with a friend.

My Review:

When I was given the opportunity to review this book I expected that it would appeal my 9 year old daughter.  What I didn't expect was for it to appeal to all of us! 

While this is definitely written as a conversation with younger girls - simple language, examples that connect with preteen experiences etc - the topics are such that apply to all of us.  Who doesn't need to be told they are loved (section 1)?  Or that they can be brave (section 2)?  Or that they can be confident (section 3)? 

Admittedly, some of the sections are more applicable to prepubescent girls (it actually talks about pimples!) but it opened the door to some great discussion between myself, my 17 year old and 9 year old about our experiences.  I don't know that these discussions would have come about without a starter story like this book offers. 

I love the "Becoming Brave" sections at the end of most chapters.  They are simple, little sections that encourage the reader reflect on what has been read, on God's truth about the situation and apply it to their own life, to internalize the truth of Scripture.  We use these as journal starters for personal prayer journals.  But not all sections have these.  Some have "Getting to Know You" sections with short little surveys.  These encourage the girls to examine themselves and see where they are in that particular area of discussion. 

And most importantly, I see my daughter not only drawing closer to God, but finding who she is as well.  That alone makes this a book that I would recommend to others, and that I wholeheartedly recommend to you.