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Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Book Description:

Dane and Mandy, a popular magic act for forty years, are tragically separated by a car wreck that claims Mandy’s life—or so everyone thinks. Even as Dane mourns and tries to rebuild his life without her, Mandy, supposedly dead, awakes in the present as the nineteen-year-old she was in 1970. Distraught and disoriented in what to her is the future, she is confined to a mental ward until she discovers a magical ability to pass invisibly through time and space to escape. Alone in a strange world, she uses her mysterious powers to eke out a living, performing magic on the streets and in a quaint coffee shop.

Hoping to discover an exciting new talent, Dane ventures into the coffee shop and is transfixed by the magic he sees, illusions that even he, a seasoned professional, cannot explain. But more than anything, he is emotionally devastated by this teenager who has never met him, doesn’t know him, is certainly not in love with him, but is in every respect identical to the young beauty he first met and married some forty years earlier.

They begin a furtive relationship as mentor and protégée, but even as Dane tries to sort out who she really is and she tries to understand why she is drawn to him, they are watched by secretive interests who not only possess the answers to Mandy’s powers and misplacement in time but also the roguish ability to decide what will become of her.

My Review:

I had read This Present Darkness as well as Piercing the Darkness by Peretti and loved them both. They were actually my first foray into Christian fiction. I had high expectations for this book but I wasn't sure how the science fiction/time travel would fit into a Christian fiction book.    Peretti managed to keep my interest throughout.  I even fell asleep reading this one because I just HAD to see what happened next.  Yepp, lying in bed holding one eye shut because I couldn't focus on the words being displayed on my Kindle Fire if they were both open only to discover that the blink had turned into snoring and it was now morning!  It's that good!

Peretti drew me in to all of the emotions in such a way that I felt as if I was experiencing them myself. Confusion, hurt, loneliness, love, disappointment, loss, being scared and so many more. The characters are so well fleshed out you almost feel like they have been your friends for forever!

I loved this book, I really did, but two things bothered me.  First is that several times throughout the book Mandy uses the word Guy where many would interpret it in context as being a misprint of God, and not in a good way.  For example, "It still amazes me.  And computers? Guy, it's unbelievable!" and no she isn't talking to someone named Guy or even a male.  (in the above case she is talking to a woman and no males are present at all.)  It is directly addressed as being odd when one character says, "Guy! I haven't said that in years.  Where'd we get that, anyway?' Mandy shrugged. 'A take off on gosh or golly?'" and that is the end of it as the conversation shifts away from that.  I didn't really understand it unless it was a slang word from the late 60's or early 70's.

The second is that the time shifting thing is never really explained other than a machine was built that can somehow create new timelines and transport people to them.  Not a major deal and perhaps Peretti is leaving an opening for a second book.

I did enjoy the several layers involved in this book.  There is the love Mandy has for God, the love between Mandy and Dane and the all encompassing, never stops trying to connect love that God has for us.  Peretti tells us that this book is about more than a love story between two illusionists.  It is about "being lost in this weird and sinful world, trying to discover who we are and where we belong;  the deception and lure of this world that we overcome as we reach for heaven, our home; the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit and His quiet assurances that we have a place in this world as well as a holy and eternal destination; and our longing and lifelong quest as the bride of Christ to be united with Jesus, our bridegroom".  This is a great love story, but it is also a great LOVE story!

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hide and Seek Devotional


Hide God's Word in your heart, and seek Him in your life!  Best-selling author and Grammy-nominated artist, Stephen Elkins, has created an exceptional product that includes everything parents need to get their children excited about spending time with God.

This book contains 52 Bible stories, devotions, verses, prayers, and a link for a free audio download of Scripture memory songs children will love singing along to. Narrated by Kirk Cameron, this full-length album reinforces the Bible verses and helps children commit them to memory.

My Review:

First, let me say that if you already own The Memory Bible: The Sure-Fire Way to Learn 52 Bible Verses that had been published in 2003 you already own this book.  Hide and Seek Devotional contains the same text with updated pictures. The earlier version includes 2 cd's with the same songs that you are able to download for free with this book.

That being said, this is a great resource for parents of young children.  There are two memory verses for each letter of the alphabet.  This makes it easy to use when teaching the alphabet, one story and verse for the capital letter and another for the lowercase letter.  This is especially great for homeschoolers and preschool teachers. 

My 3 year old really enjoyed the stories and was able to relate to the devotions.  Her favorite part was listening to the music.  The songs are more than just songs.  Kirk Cameron reads the Bible story from the book, tells children where they can find the story in the Bible and then the memory song is sung by a group of children.  My little one enjoyed hearing someone other than mom and dad reading and I even caught her following along in the book!  (Great pre-reading practice!)

The updated illustrations are cute, but I am partial to those in the older version myself.  Still, it is really difficult to get a copy of the older version in good shape with the CD's.  This is a great addition to my preschool home library and I plan to get another copy to keep in the preschool classroom at church as well!

Parenting with Scripture


This book equips parents with scriptural guidance and activities for teachable moments. It's inevitable that children from toddlers to teens will misbehave. It's tempting to discipline them and let the moment pass. Kara Durbin's passion is for parents to capture those teachable moments and use Scripture to shape their children's behavior. She offers Parenting With Scripture, a unique topical guide to prepare parents with scriptural teaching and helpful activities on 100 specific behaviors.

My Review:

This book has become indespensible in my house!  We have tried for several years to connect God's word to behaviours we exhibit, both good and bad.  That means a lot of time looking up verses and a lot of times I say "God tells us in His word......." but I can't remember the exact verse.  This book makes it quick and easy to find verses that relate to everything from sharing, to anger, to compassion, to honesty, to so much more! 

Before you start thinking this is just a compilation of Bible verses, let me fill you in.  Each quality includes a definition to begin with so that you and your children really know what the word means.  This is especially important for little kids.  Then there are several Bible verses that include the quality.  This is followed by a few discussion questions and then a Take Action section that encourages you to do something with what you have learned.  Then there are parenting tips for both young and older children.  This is followed by a listing of any related topics that are also in the book so you can cross reference them.

The design of the book lends itself to topical family Bible studies.  We used the Family Character Assessment from We Choose Virtue to identify our weak spots and started studying from there using this book as a resource.  It has really helped me to lead my children and myself towards more biblical behavior.

The Parable of the Lily


Maggie, the farmer's youngest daughter, loves getting gifts, especially mysterious ones. One wintry day, she receives a package in the mail. She excitedly opens the package to find a bulb buried in a crate of dirt. This was not what Maggie expected. She had hoped for a doll or a game, not a bulb that would one day become a plant. When spring comes, she finds the bulb in the cellar and tosses the lifeless thing into the garden, never to think of it again. . . . Until she walks outside on Easter morning and finds the most beautiful lily she has ever seen. Through the unique gift of a bulb, Maggie discovers the power of grace and forgiveness and the true meaning of Easter.

My Review:

Beautiful illustrations by Nancy Munger bring this story to life and engage even an excited 3 year old little girl.  I love that Liz Curtis Higgs includes scripture throughout the story to show how it connects with God's message to us, these make great talking points.  My 3 year old didn't really make the connections on her own, but with some guidance she was able to see that we to have been given something beautiful if we allow it to grow. 

There is a lot of symbolism in this book.  the girl represents all of us while the lily bulb represents the gift of Jesus who was also secretly given to us by our father (God).   There are lots of good Easter books out there for children but this one really breaks it down into a wonderful parable of the true gift and meaning of Easter. 

the Secret Life of Copernicus H. Stringfellow


Copernicus H. Stringfellow, a.k.a. Nick, is not your run-of-the-mill genius. His mind is so powerful it can stop a speeding automobile or stem internal bleeding. As Nick goes about quietly doing good, he discovers that his powers are greatly enhanced by the nutrients present in Twinkies. Follow Nick on his amazing adventures in this humorous and exciting action-packed book for all ages.

My Review
Any book that portrays Twinkies as brain food is aces in my book!  Copernicus H. Stringfellow, otherwise known as Nick, is an interesting character that is never really fully explained in this book.  He has a literal photographic memory and remembers everything (including his birth) with such clarity that he can not only tell you what he ate at his second birthday, but what everyone else was wearing and what they ate also.  No tricks involved. 

Nick wants to use his ultra, Twinkie fueled intelligence to help others improve their lives.  He does so with the assistance of an unknown corporation that seems to have unlimited money. 

I really liked this book.  Nick is a down to earth guy with a huge heart.  The story kind of ambles along and when you reach the end you really expect for there to be more.  A lot of questions are not answered and it almost feels like someone left the last chapter on the printing room floor.  I want MORE!  Then again, maybe that was the point.  We (the readers) are left with just as many questions as the characters seem to have about Nick.  At the same time we also feel like Nick is one of our close friends as well.  I hope there is another book detailing the further adventures of Nick!