Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. In addition, many of the books reviewed on this site were received free from the publisher through various book review bloggers programs. I am never required to write a positive review. On ocassion I will review a book that was not provided by the publisher. If that is the case I will note it on that particular post. Otherwise, assume that it was. All opinions I have expressed are always my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, December 26, 2011

First Date Review

Addy Davidson is the last girl in the country who wants to be on the new reality TV show to win a date to prom with the President's son. She's focused on her schoolwork so she can get a scholarship to an Ivy League college, uncomfortable in the spotlight, never been on a date, and didn't even audition for it.

But she got selected anyway.

 So she does her best to get eliminated on the very first show… right before she realizes that the President's son is possibly the most attractive guy she has ever seen in person, surprisingly nice, and seemingly unimpressed by the 99 other girls who are throwing themselves at him.

Addy's totally out of her comfort zone-but that may be right where God can show her the most about who she is . . . and who she was meant to be.

My Review:
This book has been given the title of a modern day Esther.  Addy, a beautiful young lady who doesn't see it in herself, is focused on school and not boys.  When her high school principal selects her to appear on a new tv show to win a prom date with the president's son she is anything but enthused.  She agrees, however, when her uncle/gaurdian reminds her that God has a purpose in everything.

Throughout the book Addy struggles with revealing her belief in Jesus with a group of girls who are more concerned with how they look and who's attention they can get.  Through it all, though, Addy discovers that doing the right thing isn't always easy, doesn't always end in the result we expect, but it can have a huge impact.

McGee's writing style draws the reader in and makes them feel right at home.  She captures the hearts and emotions of the teenagers she writes about.  The reading is light, pleasant, and enjoyable with a message that doesn't beat you over the head but still shines through.  A great read for young teenage or preteen girls.  The guys will find it a little to "girly".

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Replication: The Jason Experiment Review

A girl discovers her geneticist father is covering up multiple secrets---all of which are named Jason.Jason 3:3---known as Martyr---always believed his life had purpose. As one of the hundreds of clones living in a closed-off underground facility beneath an Alaskan farm, he has been told his genetics hold the key to saving humanity from an airborne pandemic aboveground, and his purpose will be filled on his upcoming eighteenth birthday. The problem is no such pandemic exists. Unaware of the truth, Martyr wishes for one glimpse of the sky before his expiration date arrives. His escape leads him to the home of one of the scientists, and to Abby Goyer. As she helps Martyr, she can't help but notice his uncanny resemblance to the high school quarterback. Abby soon uncovers the dark truth behind Jason Farms and her dad's work, and decides to show Martyr his true value and worth. As Martyr learns the truth behind his existence, he must decide if his God-given purpose is connected to the farm, or if it rests in a life with Abby.

My Review:
Jill Williamson has done a phenomenal job capturing teenage personalities in this book.  From the slightly geeky (but in no way nerdy) Abby, to the stuck on self jock J.D., and even the childish wonder of Martyr.  Each character comes to life.

I enjoyed Abby as she faced decisions about how to approach her father concerning his work, how to avoid the grope-y J.D., and her feelings of inadequacy explaining the concept of God to Martyr who had never heard of Him.

While some aspects left me a little confused, (Williamson almost obsesses over the amount of cologne J.D. wears-a comment on the new Axe movement?  No explaination was ever given.) and some seem to come out of no where (Abby's dad suddenly decides accept that the clones are people that deserve better) it was a good read with a good (but definately not subtle) Christian message reminding us that we each have a purpose in this world no matter what our background is.

When I requested to read and review this book I was looking for something my son might enjoy, I had hoped for a strong male lead.  This book would probably appeal more to the girls and seems to approach issues from a female persepective.  Will have to keep looking for him.  Still, well worth the read and with it's current price of $3.99 for the Kindle version, well worth the money!  I would definately reccommend Replication: The Jason Experiment.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hearts that Survive: A Novel of the Titanic

On April 15, 1912, Lydia Beaumont is on her way to a new life with a boundless hope in love and faith. Her new friendship with Caroline Chadwick is bonded even more as they plan Lydia’s wedding on board the “grandest ship ever built.” Then both women suffer tragic losses when the “unsinkable” Titanic goes down. Can each survive the scars the disaster left on their lives?

Decades later, Alan Morris feels like a failure until he discovers he is the descendant of an acclaimed, successful, heroic novelist who went down with the Titanic. Will he find his identity with the past, or will he listen to Joanna Bettencourt, Caroline’s granddaughter, who says inner peace and success come only with a personal relationship with the Lord?

Will those who survived and their descendants be able to find a love more powerful than their pain?

My Review:
I really wanted to love this book, afterall it has all the makings of a good romance.  It had tragedy, history, love between classes, overcoming disaster, secrecy etc.  Lehman had so many opportunities to really connect the reader to a character and really draw you in.  Unfortunately I wasn't. 

Now, don't get me wrong, it is a good story, but I feel like it could have been so much better had Lehman focused on one main character instead of jumping back and forth.  Lydia goes through so much in the book and there were so many places I really wanted to feel emotionally connected to her but she ended up feeling one dimensional.  It wasn't just Lydia, all of the characters did. 

The plot introduces characters and many times I was flipping back to see where they came from or how they fit into the story.  Caroline's husband dies aboard the Titanic, she rescues two children who then disappear for a large portion of the novel only to have them reemerge as the deceased relatives of Alan Morris who appears out of nowhere. 

I think had the author written this book as a series, one focusing on Lydia, one on Caroline, one of Alan's family, this would have been a much better experience and the characters would have really come alive.

Hearts that Survive is due to be released in March of 2012. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Christmas Singing

Looking for a good, Christian, Amish Christmas story to cuddle up with?  Cindy Woodsmall has a new one out you might be interested in.

Woodsmall spends a lot of time in the Amish community to ensure that her books are authentic.  Sound like something you might be interested in?  Still not sure.  You don't have to commit just yet, read the first chapter and see if you enjoy her writing style.  You can read it below:
The Christmas Singing (Chapter 1 Excerpt)

Still interested? You can get your copy of The Christmas Singing by clicking here

Friday, December 2, 2011

Stuck DVD study review

This review took longer to put together than I had thought it would.  I wanted to do more than just glance at the material and watch the DVD, I wanted to do the study, and I wanted some of my girlfriends to see it too. 

This is unlike any other group Bible study I have done.  Sure you watch the DVD and you get a personal workbook, but the neat touch to this one is that there really isn't a group leader.  A facillitator maybe, but not a leader.  You see, rather than someone standing at the front of the class after watching the DVD and asking questions, you break off into small groups (or in my groups case you just gather together since we are already small) and there are some business size cards scattered on the table.  You take turns drawing cards and discussing them.  It leads to more honest conversation and a much more relaxed atmosphere.  The questions are thought provoking and the discussion gets deep at times.

Another thing I like is the honesty that comes across from Jennie during the video presentations.  She doesn't come across as judgemental, but as someone who has been there, suffered through it too, and found a way to overcome that she just HAS to share with you.  This is only the second DVD study I have ever done (the first being one by Lyssa Terkeurst) and so far I find them very enjoyable as well as thought provoking.  The cinematography was beautiful and I felt at home with Jennie.

Then there are the workbooks.  They are set up with the busy woman in mind.  No pressure to finish on a certain day or to even finish before the group meets again.  You get out of it what you put in it so it is entirely up to you as to how much to do and when to do it.  No more guilt.  The down side to that is that for the unmotivated you may find yourself completing the study without ever having opened the book which would be awful considering how much it helps you to delve deeper into the subject material, to examine yourself, and to apply scripture.

So if you are looking for a good group study in the coming year, you should definitely consider this one.  It would be well worth the time!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Willa Bean's Cloud Dreams review


Most cupids have soft straight hair, rosy cheeks, and silky white wings. Not Willa Bean! She has a crazy mess of hair, a million-bajillion freckles, and bright purple wings with silver tips. And lately those bright purple wings with silver tips have been giving Willa Bean an awful lot of problems. They won't fly! Cupid Academy is starting soon, and what if she's the only cloudbound cupid there? Nope, nope, nopeity, nope. Willa Bean just has to make her wings behave!

My Review:

Willa Bean's Cloud Dreams is an adorable chapter book for little girls in mid to late elementary school.  Willa, our main cupid in training, just doesn't look like everyone else, which she seems to have no problems with.  What she does have a problem with is the fact that her wings just won't listen to her and FLY! 

I have not read Cecilia Galante's young adult titles, but after reading this book I intend to search them out.  Her writing is engaging (not only for the intended age, but I enjoyed reading it also.  Especially the character of Harper who often spouts out with "wizzle-dizzle-dodad", or "tooby-looby-skadooby" when she is surprised.)  Her story line reminds the reader that we aren't perfect, not even cupids, we sometimes make bad choices, we sometimes have to deal with things not going out way, but "the very best way to spend your day is to try to be kind, all the time".

Galante left a lot of growing room for this series.  With Willa just entering Cupid School she still has to learn how to fire an arrow, meet a human child, help a human child, learn to deal with Vivi (the cupid that just seems to rub Willa the wrong way), and hopefully see Vivi learn to be not such a "meanymouth".  I look forward to reading more in this series!

The Bone House Review

One piece of the skin map has been found. Now the race to unravel the future of the furture turns deadly.

Kit Livingstone met his great grandfather Cosimo in a rainy alley in London where he discovered the reality of alternate realities.

Now he's on the run-and on a quest-trying to understand the impossible mission he inherited from Cosimo: to restore a map that charts the hidden dimensions of the multiverse. Survival depends on staying one step ahead of the savage Burley Men.

The key is the Skin Map-but where it leads and what it means, Kit has no idea. The pieces have been scattered throughout this universe and beyond.

Mina, from her outpost in seventeenth-century Prague, is quickly gaining both the experience and the means to succeed in the quest. Yet so are those with evil intent who, from the shadows, are manipulating great minds of history for their own malign purposes.

Those who know how to use ley lines have left their own world behind to travel across time and space-down avenues of Egyptian sphinxes, to an Etruscan tufa tomb, a Bohemian coffee shop, and a Stone Age landscape where universes collide-in this, the second quest to unlock the mystery of The Bone House.

My Review:
You may have read my review of The Skin Map, the first book in this series, and if so you realize that the first book was just "okay" for me.  I felt like Kit was under developed and Mina was over developed for a secondary character.  The Bone House  fills in a lot of Kit's personality, although Mina still shines.

Lawhead's writing skills seem to have improved and as a reader I feel that the story lines are beginning to come together a little more than in the previous book.  There are still questions,  how did the Skin Map come to be? (How did he find his way around) but there are a few possibilities that are vaguely hinted at.  You get a history of Burliegh (founder of the Burley men), a trip back to cave men times, adventure, mystery, and a much improved story.

If you skipped the first one, with the addition of this book, it is worth going back and reading.  While you can follow the story line of The Bone House on its own, The Skin Map gives background that makes it much more interesting.  IMHO, give it a read!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gabby, God's Little Angel Review

This first book in a delightful new series offers a comforting message for young readers-God loves you very much and is always watching over you!

What little girl wouldn't love her very own guardian angel? Parents and children alike will be won over by this humorous tale of Gabby, a guardian angel in training who has much to learn about taking care of God's little ones. Her new assignment is to protect a young girl named Sophie, but Gabby soon realizes that watching after Sophie is a bigger challenge than she had expected! After a close call while riding her pony, Sophie learns what the Bible says about guardian angels: "He will put his angels in charge of you. They will watch over you wherever you go" (Psalm 91:11 ICB).

My Review:
Having read Angel Song, also by Sheila Walsh, I was intrigued when I had the opportunity to review her children's book.  I am pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed. 

With just the right amount of humor (" a playground," Raffles said...."They're playing with the ground.....really?" Gabby said.) and beautiful illustrations (thanks Marina Fedotova!) your little girls is sure to love this as much as you will.  Written for children ages 4-8, it engages the reader/listener with a story every girl will want to hear, with ponies, and angels, mishaps and protection.  Not only is the plot appealing, but the way the words move and swoop across the page keeps them reading as well.  Most important, God is kept at the center of it all.  Gabby is quick to point out that her purpose is to show Sophie how much God loves her by protecting her.  Ms. Walsh even makes sure that the story includes mom reading scripture to Sophie to reassure her that God has provided her with her own gaurdian angel as well as providing the scripture at the end of the book.  I love that!  We all need to be reminded that truth lies in scripture and that we should be willing to verify what we are told about God. 

So if you are looking for a book for your preschool through early elementary child, check out Gabby, God's Little Angel, you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Night with a perfect stranger review

Night With a Perfect Stranger: The Conversation That Changes Everything

Six years ago, businessman Nick Cominsky encountered Jesus the old-fashioned way—in a face-to-face meeting. And the Christian life seemed a breeze . . . for a while. But now, having done everything he knows to grow spiritually, he wonders where his closeness with Jesus has gone. Burned out and hopeless, Nick wails his complaints to God during a late-night interstate trip. Then suddenly he runs out of gas—and finds Jesus along the roadside carrying a gas can.
Jesus hops in the truck and offers answers Nick never heard in church . . . and a nighttime of adventures ensues beyond anything Nick could have imagined.

My Review

This is the sequel to Dinner with a Perfect Stranger: An Invitation Worth Considering
(you can read my review here). Most Christians encounter a period on their walk with Christ where they feel like they have drifted away.  This book addresses that in such a way that you feel like Jesus is talking to you.  While it makes a great sequel, it would also be a good stand alone book.

I think this title is much better than the first, addressing many of the things that we struggle with.  Does God loves us even when we sin?  Why were we created if not to serve? This book reminds us that we are a PART OF JESUS.  Not only is he part of our life, but we are part of his, joined to him.

The author does a tremendous job of getting us to understand through these characters just how much God truly loves us and just how much our own hang ups are responsible for any separation we may feel between us and Him.  David Gregory reminds us to let Jesus lead, even when we don't see Him in the circumstances. 

Truly an inspired book and well worth the read!  It won't be available until March 2012 but I am already recommending it to friends!  Sound interesting?  You can read chapter one by clicking here.

When God Whispers Your Name Review

Book Description

Do you find it hard to believe that the One who made everything keeps your name on His heart and on His lips? Did you realize that your name is written on the hand of God (Is. 49:16)? Perhaps you've never seen your name honored. And you can't remember when you heard it spoken with kindness. In this book, Lucado offers the inspiration to believe that God has already bought the ticket-with your name on it.

My Review:

If you haven't figured it out by now by perusing my reviews, I really enjoy books written by Max Lucado.  The way he writes helps me to see a different aspect of God in every book, from childrens, to fiction to study.  This book lives up to that, so much so that I have suggested it to my women's group at church.

There are 3 sections, the Song of the Minstrel, The Touch of the Master, and the Guest of the Maestro.  Each section has short chapters that can easily be read in a short amount of time (waiting for dinner to cook, waiting for the kids to come out of school etc) but they are really powerful.  The discussion guide at the end of the book includes questions for each chapter that will help you to reflect on what you read, gives you scripture to guide you into digging deeper and even suggests which chapters to read together due to a common theme.

I laughed out loud, I cried, I had "ah-ha" moments, but most of all I was reminded just how present God really is in our lives if I just hush up and look for Him!  Another Lucado winner!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The God Pocket Review

God wants to put a face on giving – and the face he has in mind is not yours, but his.
What if you could take something out of your pocket today that would make God wonderfully personal and absolutely real to someone who, only minutes earlier, had been secretly calling out to God for help, for an answer, for any shred of evidence that He cares?

Discover the incredible resource that’s small enough to fit in your wallet or purse, yet big enough to change someone’s life – starting with yours. In The God Pocket, Bruce Wilkinson tells you what that little something is, explains how to deliver God’s provision to someone in need, and shares how God is ready to reveal Himself through you.

You can read chapter one of this book by clicking here

 My Review:
This is a book that can easily be read in a few hours, with a very simple topic and a lot of explaination.  In my opinion, a bit to much information.  This could have easily been taken down to about a chapter rather than a book and I wouldn't pay the current $9.99 Amazon price for it after having read it.

Now, don't get me wrong.  It's a good book and a wonderful concept.  If you don't want to know what that concept is, stop reading right here becuase once you know, well, then you have pretty much read the book........

..........still here, okay then.  Here it is......the God pocket is nothing more than a pocket of money that you have set aside and consecrated to God for Him to use through you.  The authors mention several times that you can purchase God Pockets through their website (at the time of this writing the website was no operating, however, the book lists this as the official website.)  To me it felt a bit pushy but that may be my crafty side bristling at the thought of paying for something that can easily be made.

The concept is great.  You give God the money and ask Him to show you who it is for and then you simply be obedient and give it to him or her when they appear being sure to tell them it is a gift from God and not you.  The book is full of stories about how God ochestrated such events and how they can change the lives not only of the receiver, but of the giver also.  To be honest, we did something similiar at my church about a year ago by creating business cards to give out with our gift of either money or service to let the receiver know that it was from God. 

I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others if the price were lower.  I realize that it costs money to print the book as well as promoting it.  But for me, the price tag is to big for what you get.  That is really sad because this book has a great message and provides a way for even those who feel like they don't know how or where to serve God to do so.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Night Night Blessing review

Cuddle up with your little ones and count all the blessings God put in their day.

This book is a precious way to put your little ones to bed at night and fill their thoughts with the many good things that have filled their day. It's a great way to teach them gratitude and help them sleep soundly at night.

Whether it's Mommy's goodnight kisses, Grandpa's comfy lap, or pancakes stacked THIS high, there are so many blessings to count before bed! Written in rhyme and coupled with adorable illustrations, this follow up book to best-selling Night Night Prayer will be an instant bedtime hit.

My Review:
This is an adorable little board book with some very pretty illustrations.  The first time I read it with my 3 year old I was concerned because when I asked my daughter who the child was thanking she replied, "her mommy".  Fortunately the book clears this up about halfway through.  It was a reminder to me that God is so much more than a distant being, but He is like our parent wanting the best for us.

My daughter really enjoyed the book, and I did too.  It opens the door for us to examine what we are thankful for and tell God thank you for all of those things as well.  A really great book!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hermie, a Common Catterpillar

Hermie, a Common Caterpillar (Max Lucado's Hermie & Friends)
This Max Lucado’s Hermie & Friends® best-selling story now available in easy-to-read format!

Hermie and his friend Wormie have always felt common. They don’t have stripes or dots, they aren’t very strong, and they can’t find anything special about themselves. But every time they pray, God tells them that He loves them all the time just as they are and that He isn’t finished with them yet. When Hermie becomes a beautiful butterfly, he realizes just how special God’s plan is for him!

This classic story has been revised for kids to read and enjoy on their own as a Level 2 Reader. With fresh new art and a story kids can read themselves, plus a new, low price—this classic story will find a whole new generation of kids who love Hermie and his garden friends!

My Review:
Once again Max Lucado has written an engaging, Spirit filled book with a lesson for young and old to learn.  First, though, let me explain who a level 2 reader was designed for.  These books are for children who are able to read on their own with help.  The sentences are a little longer than beginner reading books, there are a few more complex words (answered instead of said for example) and the story line is a bit more complex.  The word count is also higher (90 words in the first 2 pages).  If you have younger readers, don't stop reading yet.

While your child may not be able to read this book on his or her own, or at all for that matter, this book is still well worth adding to your library.  Every child, and even some adults, can use a lesson on self-esteem and this book has a great one.  Little Hermie and his caterpillar friend Wormie struggle with being common.  They aren't strong like their ant friend, they don't have a home to carry with them like their snail friend, or beautiful spots like their ladybug friend.  They both tend to feel like they need to be or have a little more than God has given them.  Fortunately they take the time to talk to God about it.  God tenderly and patiently reminds them that He loves them just the way they are.  Besides, He isn't finished with them yet.  Being caterpillars you can guess what happens in the end.

What a wonderful way to remind us that God created each of us differently and for a different purpose.  We are uniquely and wonderfully made.  God's love is unconditionally and this book reinforces that with Him reminding Hermie and Wormie repeatedly that He loves them (and us) just the way we are:  big, little, strong, weak, beautiful, common.  And the special message for little ones who are so eager to be everything, God isn't done with them.  He has a special plan and purpose for each of us.  We don't always know what it is and can't see where our path leads, but God has a plan. 

The illustrations are beautiful, reminding me of watercolors or perhaps oil pastels.  The message is encouraging and Biblical, but most important - my daughter loved it.  After all, if your child won't listen to or read the story then it really isn't worth it.  Interested?  You can purchase Hermie, a Common Caterpillar (Max Lucado's Hermie & Friends) on Amazon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Desiring God dvd study review

Desiring God: Finding Complete Satisfaction and Joy in God
In this DVD version of Desiring God—the classic description of Christian hedonism—John Piper explains how the supreme calling of life is to "glorify God by enjoying Him forever."
Drawing upon Scripture after Scripture, Piper shows why pursuing maximum joy is essential to glorifying God and, in what may be surprising to some, how God is ready to pursue with all His might our pleasure in Him! The implications of this truth are discussed in regard to conversion, worship, love, Scripture, prayer, money, marriage, missions, and suffering.

   In ten sessions Piper teaches on:

• One Great Mission and Motivation
• A Summary of Christian Hedonism
• The Foundation of Christian Hedonism
• The Essence of Christian Hedonism
• The Grand Obligation
• How Then Shall We Fight for Joy?

Recorded in HD with subtitles in English, these video sessions are ideal for use in adult and youth Sunday-school classes, small groups, retreats, classrooms, and families. To get the most from this resource, use it along with the Desiring God DVD Study Guide.

My Review:
Let me begin with this, I AM college educated.  I am 2 semesters away from a BA in education.  I am an avid reader and I have a pretty extensive vocabulary.  That being said, I found this study to be entirely to intellectual, taking for granted that the everyday person viewing has an understanding, or at least knowledge of, many things I did not.  This made parts of the study difficult to follow.

I at first thought that perhaps it was just me, however I had my husband, who is also a pretty intelligent guy, view several sessions with me.  He quit watching them becuase he just couldn't follow them.  My 11 and 13 year old children watched the first session and asked to be excused because they had no idea what was going on or being said.

The sessions appear to be recorded classes and reminded me of college lectures.  Piper stands at the front, uses an overhead projector as a visual aid, and proceeds to talk, sometimes rambling, and at the end I really wasn't sure what his point had been.  I was also reminded of the Truth Project only this wasn't as visually appealing, didn't include as much as far as online resources goes, and wasn't as appealing.

I did not have the companin study guide, which may have helped me to better grasp or identify the point of each session.  However, if I need a study guide to understand the DVD I would rather just buy the study guide and save the money for the DVD.  I would hope that the book this study is based upon is better than this.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Crochet Prayer Shawl Companion

The Crocheted Prayer Shawl Companion: 37 Patterns to Embrace, Inspire, and Celebrate Life
The Prayer Shawl Ministry is an extraordinary group that has touched lives in extraordinary ways across the world for more than a decade. With their latest book, Janet Bristow and Victoria A. Cole-Galo continue to reach out to people of all faiths in sadness and celebration, this time with crocheted wraps, or prayer shawls. In their follow-up to the 2008 bestseller The Prayer Shawl Companion, the authors have once again brought together crafters, their inspiring tales, and comforting, thoughtful blessings. The Crocheted Prayer Shawl Companion features 37 beautifully designed prayer shawl patterns contributed by everyday crocheters and professional knitwear designers alike, including Nicky Epstein, Mary Beth Temple, and Doris Chan, among others. The instructions are easy to follow and the patterns represent a range of skill levels.

My Review:
If you are involved in a prayer shawl ministry, this is a book you should have in your library.  If you are simply a lover of shawls, this book will inspire you to join a ministry!

This book is so much more than just patterns, although 37 of those are included for some beautiful shawls that range from beginner to advanced and simple to complex.  It includes the story behind the creation of the prayer shawl ministry, as well as a wonderful "where to begin" section.  This includes helpful topics such as choice of colors and their symbolism, how to chose which yarn for your pattern, the spiritual component of each shawl, packaging ideas and so much more.  If you are new to making prayer shawls this section was written just for you.  There are even some pointers that experienced shawl makers may have forgotten or never considered.

I enjoyed the full color photographs of each shawl as well as the detailed information for each pattern such as skill level, finished measurements, and yarn suggestions.  I found the pattern instructions to be easy to follow as well.  I do wish that the crochet abbreviations chart had been included at the beginning of the book rather than the end to assist novice crocheters.  (The book uses standard abbreviations determined by the Craft Yarn Council of America).  A chart is even included for the Standard yarn weights to assist you in finding the perfect yarn.

What I enjoyed most though is that each pattern includes a little something written by the pattern designer whether it be the story behind its creation or some tidbit to help you with the pattern.  In addition there are letters interspersed throughout the book from those who make these shawls with stories about their gifts.

The book closes with ideas on how to start your own local prayer shawl ministry.  The patterns are worth it, the instructions are worth it, the letters are worth it.  Don't pass this one by!

The Story of Your Life Review

the The Story of Your Life: Inspiring Stories of God at Work in People Just like YouWhen Grammy-nominated recording artist Matthew West started writing his top-selling new album, The Story of Your Life (Sparrow, 2010) he asked fans to submit personal experiences. More than 10,000 tales of hope, perseverance, and redemption poured in. With friend and author Angela Thomas, West presents some of these powerful stories paired with meaningful devotions they inspired.

Wendy gave birth to her daughter in jail. When all seemed hopeless, she found God and her life transformed into something beautiful.
  • Cory, a married youth pastor, had an affair and his life fell apart. With God’s mercy, he and his wife gathered the broken pieces and started again.
  • Sheila always struggled with severe insecurity. Now she lives confidently in the purpose God has for her.
This unforgettable devotional journey inspires readers to discover God as the author of their unique lives and to share the power of their story.

My Review:

This is a touching compilation of just what the title indicates, the story of our lives.  Matthew West is a christian musician who decided to create an album based upon the stories of his listeners.  Over 10,000 fans submitted their stories and Matthew used them to create the album titled Story of Your Life.  From that project grew this book.  Matthew invited author and speaker Angela Thomas to join him on this book.

Together they selected stories to create a years worth of reading on topics such as Chosen, a Mother's Love, the family of God, and so much more.  Each of the 52 topics includes the letter(s) submitted, Bible verses that relate to it, and a response from either Angela or Matthew.  Many of these stories will touch your heart, whether you see yourself in them or someone you know.  You will find your heart breaking when Kristin tells you how close she came to taking her life and how she reached out for help from God, or find yourself in Melissa's letter that simply states "I don't have a very dramatic story.  I just love God".  (Matthew shows us how God can use that to do big things in the world.)  Or maybe you will find yourself in Kelli's letter.  A single mom raising two children who watched her son join the military and fight not only in the Gulf war, but be deployed six years later to defend our country again in Afghanistan. 

The stories are beautiful, the responses are inspired and this book is well worth the money to purchase it!

Kid's Bible Handbook review

Kids' Bible Handbook: Who, What, When, Where, Why-and What It All Means to You (Kids' Guide to the Bible)Help your kids understand scripture’s big picture with Kids’ Bible Handbook. This fully-illustrated guide for 8-to-12-year-olds provides age-appropriate, faith-building details on the greatest Book of all! Featuring a Genesis through Revelation tour, Kids’ Bible Handbook breaks the 66 books down into memorable segments: “In the Beginning” (Genesis through Deuteronomy), “His Story and Their Story” (Joshua through Esther), “Wise Words to Live By” (Job through Song of Solomon), and so on. “How Did We Get This Book, Anyway?” describes the Bible’s history, while kid-friendly sidebars feature important verses, places, and applications. Intriguing trivia adds to the fun, and it’s all wrapped up in a bright, colorful package that kids will love.
My Review:

Think of this as a children's Cliff Notes version of the Bible.  With simple descriptions of main events and ideas in the Bible, illustrations, Did you Know sections, fun facts etc this is a great way to get your child interested in what the Good Book is all about.  While this is by no means a Bible substitute (which the author or publisher NEVER suggested), it is a wonderful companion.  It includes scripture references and even tells the reader where in the Bible they can find each story that is mentioned.  It also does a good job of connecting OT and NT stories.  (While Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac in the OT, Hebrews in the NT suggests what his thoughts were at the time and this book directs you there!)

I like that this includes "what you'll find in..." headings which give an overview of the story or events in a particular book.  This would be great to use as part of family Bible study, reading it either before studying the chapter(s) to get children excited about what is going to happen, or after as a review tool.  I also like that the important characters are listed as well as who the author of the book is. 

The language is simple enough that a young reader can easily read on their own (2nd or 3rd grader) and yet the writing is interesting enough that preteens won't get bored or think it is a "baby" book.  The pictures and illustrations included spice up the text and help the reader to visualize the topic. 

A good companion book for young Bible readers.   If you are interested in puchasing Kids' Bible Handbook: Who, What, When, Where, Why-and What It All Means to You (Kids' Guide to the Bible) you can click here.

Thank You God for Loving Me review

Thank You, God, For Loving Me (Max Lucado's Little Hermie)God loves all of His creatures. Little Hermie explores all of the ways God loves him and his friends in this sweet board book with glitter on the cover.

My Review:

Little Hermie kneels to pray and begins by thanking God for loving him and continues with many of the ways that God shows his love for us from simply being with us, to helping us chose between right and wrong.  Hermie's prayer reminds us that God is everywhere and that He will always love us.

The rhyming pattern will draw your child into the prayer and the beautiful illustrations will capture their attention.  This book also opens the doors to discuss all of the many ways that God does show us He loves us.  A wonderful book to introduce or remind you child of God's never ending love! You can purchase Thank You, God, For Loving Me (Max Lucado's Little Hermie) on Amazon by clicking the link here.

Thank You God for Blessing Me review

Thank You, God, For Blessing Me (Max Lucado's Little Hermie)
Meet Little Hermie—the cutest baby caterpillar in the garden! Little Hermie’s thankful heart shows toddlers how to be thankful for God’s blessings.

Little Hermie is thankful for everything God has given him. He goes through his day thanking God for his many blessings in this adorable board book with flocking on the cover!

My Review:

This is an adorable book for children (and adults).  Little Hermie reminds us that we all have so much to be the thankful for in this world from our friends, to our food, from the stars to helping us to do what is right.  As usual with Hermie books, the illustrations are colorful and engaging.  This is a wonderful book to introduce the concept of God's blessings to young children and can be a prayer starter for preschoolers.  (What blessings has God given to you today?)

If you are interested in purchasing Thank You, God, For Blessing Me (Max Lucado's Little Hermie), please click here to see the current price on Amazon.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Read and Sing Devotions review

100 Devotions, 100 Bible SongsKids can read, sing, and learn while they spend time with God!

In 100 Devotions, 100 Bible Songs children can read a devotion, sing a beloved song, and say a prayer all while learning and spending time with God. Perfect for before school, bedtime, or anytime, these short devotions will be fun for kids and help parents grow their children’s faith.

With bright illustrations, great music, and powerful messages, kids will have fun while they learn to walk with God and apply the message of the Bible to their everyday lives.

My Review

Princess A loves to sing, and she loves to read, and I love for her to sing and read about Jesus.  This set combines it all so that both momma and the princess are happy!  Being a Tommy Nelson book I knew that the illustrations would be cute and that we would probably enjoy it so when I was offered the chance to review it I accepted, and wasn't disappointed.

Each of the 100 Devotions is connected to a song on the 2 CD's included with the book.  They even made it easy for us by not only telling us which CD goes with which devotion, but which song number as well.  Each song is sung sweetly by children which helped Princess A connect with them.  While I would have preferred more contemporary versions of some of the songs, Princess A seemed to love them all.  (As a matter of fact the first CD has become a permanent part of my van radio and when she is in the van, she wants to hear it!)

Each devotion is kept on two pages, which means when we read them we don't see the beginning of another which often leads Princess A to be more concerned with what is next rather than what is now.  I love that!  I also love that each one includes a Bible verse that is relevant and yet short enough that she can memorize it.  The book calls them "Word Watch".  They also include prayer starters.  Many of the devotions include questions in them ("Whose hands are we talking about?" when learning that He's Got the whole world in his hands) to help get your child thinking and working on comprehension skills as well as giving the answers ("God's hands") because lets be honest, sometimes mommy is tired and misses the point too!

The CD's store in plastic sleeves located on the inside of the front and back cover which makes it easy to keep everything together.  I imagine that the sleeves can be removed if you desire (they are attached with some double sided tape).  This would be a great resource for a preschool or early elementary class as well as for parents or even a gift book. 

Big Book of Bible Stories review

My Big Book of Bible Stories: Bible Stories! Rhyming Fun! Timeless Truth for Everyone!If your kids love Dr. Seuss, they’re sure to enjoy My BIG Book of Bible Stories—17 favorite stories, featuring hilarious rhymes and bright, fun illustrations, for preschoolers through early readers. Brand-new from award-winning author and illustrator Phil A. Smouse, My BIG Book of Bible Stories includes clever retellings of key scriptures, from Creation, Adam and Eve, and Jonah through the New Testament stories of the Good Samaritan, Jesus and Nicodemus, and Peter. My BIG Book of Bible Stories is perfect for reading to younger children, while early readers will enjoy working through the brightly-colored pages all by themselves.

My Review

I really like the rhyme scheme of this book.  I mean really, how can you go wrong with, "In the beginning, way back at its birth, God created the heavens and cooked up the earth.  Without a big-bang or a pop or a fizz-out of nothing at all-He made all that there is!"

With a little one I read a LOT of rhyming books and let me tell you, I get to the point that if I hear another rhyme I want to scream.  This one, however is fun to read.  I can't read it without taking on voices, softening mo voice in some places and bellowing in others.  I really get into it!  Because I really get into it, Princess A really gets into it, too.  That's the point isn't it?  When your little one sees that learning what the Bible says is fun, and good, and interesting then you plant a seed that will grow into true understanding and learning as they get older.  This book really helps with that!

With popular stories from both the old and new Testament such as David and Goliath, Jonah, The Good Samaritan and many others you and your child will enjoy reading, and re-reading for many days to come.  The best part is, even the illustrations are cute. 

You know how sometimes the story can be written well but the pictures just don't hold your little ones attention which leads to squirming and sometimes even early endings?  Not going to happen with this book.  From the cute little frog at the beginning to Adam and Eve hiding in the garden (Adam is upside down peeking out of a tree!) to the vineyard owner who looks vaguely French, your child is sure to be captivated while you read.

Definately a thumbs up from me ..... and Princess A!

Fall Mixed Up review

Fall Mixed Up (Carolrhoda Picture Books)"Every Septober,
Every Octember,
Fall fills my senses
with scenes to remember."
"Bears gather nuts.
Geese hibernate.
Squirrels fly south
in big figure eights."
Fall is all mixed up in this silly book from Bob Raczka! Can you find his mistakes in the words and pictures?

My Review

Truly a silly, fun book to read with your children!  The illustrations are gorgeous, the rhymes are witty, and the nonsense abounds.  Princess A and I had a great time giggling over then silliness, discovering what just wasn't right, and talking about what would be right.  What a great way to encouage children to pay attention to detail! 

Bible Animal Stories review

Bible Animal Stories for Bedtime
For spiritual “quality time” with your five- to eight-year-old children, check out Bible Animal Stories for Bedtime—going a step beyond the traditional Bible story book! More than five-dozen Bible stories are included, in fun, easy-to-understand stories that your kids will love. From “God Created the Animals” in Genesis 1, through the accounts of the frogs that plagued Pharaoh, Balaam’s donkey, Solomon’s baboons and apes, and the lost sheep of Jesus’ parable, Bible Animal Stories for Bedtime unveils truth in ways that young hearts can easily grasp. Each chapter is accompanied by full-color illustration and design, making Bible Animal Stories for Bedtime an ideal book for learning and fun.

My Review

This is a really great short story book that would be perfect for bedtime, standing in line time, ride to school time, or just about any time.  I love that all of the stories include a Bible verse and a prayer starter.  I also like that many of them take the time to explain things to the reader (a lamb is a baby sheep, A raven will eat almost anything, sheep are cute but not very smart etc) that he or she probably does not already know.  In addition it opens some door for some real conversations between parent and child (Knowing what you know now, why do you think Noah chose a raven and a dove to send out?)

While this is recommended for children ages 5-8 I can honestly say that my 3 year old LOVED the stories and I even caught my 11 and 13 year old listening in from time to time.  This has been a great addition to our library and one we plan to use frequently!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Things kids need from Mom Review

52 Things Kids Need from a Mom: What Mothers Can Do to Make a Lifelong DifferenceBestselling author and mother of four children Angela Thomas brings her trademark storytelling and biblical teaching to this book of encouragement for moms who, in the daily whir of busyness, long to connect with their kids in new ways.
With compassion and creativity, Angela presents 52 inspirations to help moms experience intentional mothering, intentional living, and intentional joy as they:
talk to their child as though he is fascinating
learn to play one video game
plan activities that set a child up for success
be the groovy mom once in a while
make memories and savor them

Moms at all phases of parenting can adopt one idea a week or try several at once. This is a fun, guilt-free resource to help every mom lead with God’s love and delight in the small moments that make up an abundant life.

My Review
First, I really enjoy Angela Thomas.  I heard her speak for the first time last year at a women's conference and I was really touched by her honesty, sincerety, and her love for God.  Then I read Do You Know Who I Am?: And Other Brave Questions Women Ask and I was hooked.  When I had the opportunity to review 52 Things Kids Need from a Mom: What Mothers Can Do to Make a Lifelong Difference I jumped at it, and I wasn't disappointed!

This book is written so that mom can read a chapter a week and then incorporate the theme into her daily life with the goal being that by the end of the year she is doing them all.  Some of the ideas seem pretty straight forward and I even caught myself thinking that I was already doing that consistently (such as let my yes mean yes and no mean no) only to discover that I wasn't doing as well as I thought when I started paying attention.  Others are a little more difficult such as teaching them not to be easily offended (okay, maybe that was difficult for me because I struggle with being easily offended). 

Angela approaches each topic with an open heart and life, admitting that she isn't the perfect mom, that she doesn't always do it right and that it is okay for us to mess up too.  She writes to encourage and to renew inspiration and to remind us that no matter what we do, the most important thing for us to do is to love our children "with all your heart, soul and might".  

I won't say this book will help you be a better mom, but it will show you how to show your love to your children in a different way, it will show you how to show them God's love in your life and actions as well as theirs.  What will help you to be a better mom is to first allow God to lead your life, then to seriously pray, and then to ACT on the concepts presented in this book.