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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: The Thank You Stone

The Thank You Stone
The Thank You Stone by Kathryn T. Hegeman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A young boy learns two lessons in this tale. First, there is pleasure to be found in helping others, and second, "your kind heart and helpful way can help everyone have a happier day".

A simple story with a moral message set in a time of motorcars and year 5 (rather than grade 5) school. It didn't rate higher with me due to the confusion in the writing style. The first several paragraphs are rhyming while most of the rest of the story is not.

The book includes a glossary at the end which I found wonderful to use with my daughter. Great teaching tool! I also enjoyed the "what might happen next?" section and the way it challenges the reader to continue the story.

I received an ARC copy of this book for review purposes.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Review: God Calling for Kids: Based on the classic devotional edited by A. J. Russell

God Calling for Kids: Based on the classic devotional edited by A. J. Russell
God Calling for Kids: Based on the classic devotional edited by A. J. Russell by Phil A. Smouse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With short daily devotions and a Bible verse this is the perfect daily devotional for little ones. The illustrations are charming and I like the way the devotions are written as if God is speaking directly to your child. For example:

I am with you. Follow Me and do not be afraid. Marvelous things are about to happen. Remember, miracles are what I do naturally. Nothing is ever too big or too difficult for Me. (July 19)

It is a great way to remind your child of who God is, what He is capable of, and how much He loves each of us.

I received an advance reader copy for review purposes.

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Review: More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts

More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts
More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The adorable hat on the cover of this book is what first drew me to it and caused me to agree to review it when offered the chance. Fortunately there are several other patterns included that make it well worth the purchase. Among them is an adorable huggable house, an easy baby cardigan, some beautiful fingerless gloves and scarves.

The patterns are broken down based upon the amount of time needed to complete them. The shorter the time the more simple the pattern. To be honest, the less time, the less I liked the pattern. Still, the patterns that take more than 4 hours to complete are gifts that I would be proud to give.

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Review: Lace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace

Lace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace
Lace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace by Judith Durant

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the whole "one skein" series and this is a wonderful addition! With projects from baby leg warmers, hats and blankets to adult hats, wristlets and shawls and scarves how can you go wrong? The yarn weights vary from lace weight to worsted making the projects and with the variety of projects there is something for the novice to the advanced!

My only complaint is that yarn weights are not included with the patterns. Instead specific yarns are included leaving the knitter to search the yarn out to determine the yarn weight and an appropriate substitute if desired. Still, that is not enough to keep this from gracing the shelf of any knitters library.

Thank you for the advanced copy for review purposes!

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Review: Shadow Chaser

Shadow Chaser
Shadow Chaser by Jerel Law

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The quarterlings gather from all over the earth for Angel School to learn how to battle. Little did they know what they were preparing for.

In this, the third of the series, Jonah faces a loss so great that he questions God. I have to be honest in that I didn't feel like Law spent enough time exporing Jonah's feelings in this (it occurs at the end of the book) and that it is kind of glossed over. All the "right" answers are given to him and all the "right" emotions are displayed but the process feels rushed. If a young person who has experienced such a loss were to read this they might feel cheated.

Other than that this is another good installment in a positive series for young people looking for action and adventure.

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Review: Wonderfully Made

Wonderfully Made
Wonderfully Made by Joyce Meyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"God gives all of us unique gifts. We just have to discover what they are."

Joyce Meyer's children's book reminds us that everyone is special in God's eyes, and we each have a unique gift and talent if we just take the time to discover it. Hayley Hippo is so busy trying to imitate the talents of her friends that she becomes frustrated that she can't find her own talent. When a friend reminds her, "God didn't make you to be like everyone else, He made you to be you!" she finally discovers her own gift.

The illustrations are cute and the story is endearing. It captured the attention of my 4 year old and opened the door for some wonderful discussions.

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Review: The Reason

The Reason by William Sirls

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that you finish reading and just have to tell everyone about! I'll be honest, it lingered on my Kindle for a while before I finally gave it a go. I wasn't sure how good it would be after reading the description. I'm glad I read it!

This is one of those books that will make you cry, both in the sad and the good kind of way. While the characters won't surprise you, and neither will the message for that matter, the story is one that will speak to your heart.

A man who experienced loss at a young age and as a result has given up on God.  A woman who has spent her life being self sufficient, who has never failed at fixing the problem encounters a problem she can't fix.  A single mom struggling to get by with a son who has become ill.  A blind pastor, his wife and their son who is mentally challenged attempt to minister to a congregation that has dwindled.  And a woman with a past that she doesn't think she can escape.  All have their lives change when a lightning bolt strikes a cross in front of a church and they join a carpenter in repairing it.

 The message is clear, God wants to be a part of your life, He wants to be here with you - if you only believe!  Not only does the author make the characters in the book come to life, but we are able to identify with them and I venture to say you will find parts of yourself in one of them, which is probably the point.

William Sirls, the author, has graciously agreed to give 5 Sunflowers at Home's Book Review readers an autographed copy of this book. If you would like to a chance to be one of those recipients enter below or you can purchase a copy of The Reason on Amazon by clicking here.

Still not sure if it is for you?  Read the first two chapters here.

Review: Why We Give Gifts at Christmas Time

Why We Give Gifts at Christmas Time
by Corine Hyman

Book Description:
Christmas gifts … a Christmas tradition as old as Christmas. However why do we give gifts to each other at Christmas time if it is Jesus’ birthday? This is a question that everyone has wondered at least once in their life. However, few have been able to come up with an answer. Join Evelyn and her friends as they discover the reason why we give gifts to each other at Christmas time if it is Jesus’ birthday. 

While “Why We Give Gifts at Christmas Time” is Christmas picture book geared towards children 3 to 8, it is a book that the whole family will enjoy. Why We Give Gifts at Christmas Time also uses Biblical passages to explore the reasons for Christmas giving. By the end of the book, you and your little one will know that there is a gift in giving and will want to practice generous giving.

My Review:
The setting of this book appears to be a church classroom, full of children.  The story consists of each child introducing him or herself and answering the question of why they give gifts at Christmas time.  I'll say that if you have been involved in church, the reasons aren't new, but they are presented with some cute illustrations by Julie Bryant.  Each "reason" is also accompanied by scripture, which I liked.  

Hyman includes reasons we would expect such as: it will please God,and it reminds us of God's gift to us.  However, many reasons were simply repetitions of "it will please God" with a shift in how we should be presenting the gifts.  I.E. with a cheerful spirit, we should share them with others, give to those who have less.  I think that the title is to narrow for the material covered in the book and that something like "Christmas Gifts, a lesson in giving" would have been more appropriate.  Still, that isn't enough to deter me from reading this with my daughter again this Christmas as the lessons included are a great reminder.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Review: The Maze - The Lost Labyrinth

The Maze - The Lost Labyrinth
The Maze - The Lost Labyrinth by Jason Brannon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading the description, I wasn't sure this was a book I would enjoy. Near death experiences, trapped in a maze created by angels and demons, a race to save the lives of those he loves... sounded a bit much to me. But when the author, Jason Brannon, asked me to consider reading and reviewing the book I decided to give it a shot. I don't regret it!

This is one of those books in which the reader learns just as much about him/herself as they do about the characters. Jamie, the main character, is just your average everyday guy. He has a family he loves, a job he is really good at, and a casual knowledge of God. He lives his life like many of us do, comparing how good we are to others and finding that he isn't so bad.

However, when he comes across his first high school flame he contemplates the possibilities, and when Jamie's thought life starts to become more concrete he nearly dies and is transported to the maze. A labyrinth that forces him to choose the kind of man he wants to be. A labyrinth that no longer allows him to just go with the flow, but causes him to intentionally consider his actions, and their consequences. In order to escape he must die.

As we read we begin to consider our own lives, what our own maze might look like. It isn't always pretty. The writing reminds me of Matt Mikalatos in the way he draws you and and brings you to self-contemplation. The story is excellent, including the spiritual warfare aspect. I liked it so much that I have already passed it on to a friend to read!