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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Princess Addison Gets Angry review

Princess Addison Gets Angry (Princess Heart) description:

Princess Addison is used to getting whatever she wants. But when it starts raining and she can't go outside with her dogs, she gets very angry. Princess Addison becomes Princess Angry and must learn how to deal with her emotions.

My Review:

Princess Addison gets Angry is a part of  the Princess Heart series, which addresses emotions such as anger, happiness, sadness and being scared.  It was written for young children, preschool or younger.  As such the sentences are short and the story is simple.

I understand that in order to address anger, the princess must have something to be angry about, but this particular princess just strikes me as being spoiled.  The story opens with the fact that she has a butler.  I suppose all 'princesses' do, but explain to a 4 year old princess of your own what a butler is and then why she doesn't have one and you will see how this could become an issue.

Then Addison becomes angry over not being able to go outside with her dogs due to rain.  There are a HUGE amount of things that a preschool child might become angry about: a friend takes a toy, someone takes your turn in line, having to clean up before you are done playing.  Not many preschoolers I know are going to get angry about not being able to go outside when it rains.  This may just be me though.

Mom does give some good, universal advice though.  It's okay to get angry, but never hit people or break things.  You can take a deep breath, go for a walk (but it's raining so I'm not sure how this would work within the story??), read a book, and/or tell someone about it.  Being angry doesn't last forever.

The illustrations are adorable, reminiscent of Mary Engelbreit.  The story has a good moral and some practical advice.  It is going to take some work on the parents part to help your preschooler to draw similarities between Princess Addison's situation and their own angry situations though.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Spirit Well review

The Spirit Well (Bright Empires) Description:

The search for the map—and the secret behind its cryptic code—intensifies in a quest across time, space, and multiple realities.

But what if the true treasure isn’t the map at all . . . what if the map marks something far greater?  Something one world cannot contain? Those who desire to unlock that mystery are in a race to possess the secret—for good or evil.
Kit Livingstone is mastering the ability to travel across realities using ley lines and has forged a link from the Bone House, a sacred lodge made of animal bones, to the fabled Spirit Well, a place of profound power.

His friend Mina is undercover in a Spanish monastery high in the Pyrenees, learning all she can from a monk named Brother Lazarus. Still determined to find Kit, she is beginning to experience a greater destiny than she can fathom.

Cassandra Clarke is overseeing an archaeological dig in Arizona when a chance encounter transports her to 1950s Damascus. There, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to the Seekers—the last living remnants of the Zetetic Society who need her help to track down the missing Cosimo Livingstone and his grandson Kit.

But there are darker forces at work in the universe whose agents always seem to be one step ahead of the rest—and they’re all desperate to gain the ultimate prize in this treasure hunt where the stakes increase at every turn. At the heart of the mystery lies the Spirit Well.

My Review:

The series began with The Skin Map, which if you recall I wasn't overly impressed with.  For some reason I kept with the series and read the second installment, The Bone House, where there characters were becoming more real and the story line was starting to come together.  That brings us here, to the third of what will be five books in the series.

In this edition we learn how the skin map became, well...a skin map.  A gruesome concept but one that seems less so when we get the whole story.  We again have some interesting time travel and are introduced to a new character and a new organization on the hunt for the map.

I honestly don't yet understand Cassandra's part in the story line.  What I can say is that with the introduction of Cassandra we finally begin to see some of what makes this book worthy of a Christian publisher.  While God may have been absent from the previous books, He definitely has a presence in this one.  

Kit manages to find his way back to more modern times and we get a glimpse of the complexity of  ley travel when we discover that Mina's rescue of Kit in the previous book hasn't yet happened for Mina on her current time line!  All in all I have to say that the series keeps improving and I look forward to the next installment!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bible Stories that End with a Hug review

Bible Stories that End with a Hug! Description:

Little children love getting—and giving—hugs! Hugs generate warmth, affection, and a feeling of acceptance. Show your little ones just how much you treasure them while teaching them about the Bible and God’s unconditional love for his creation. Bible Stories that End with a Hug! features 75 easy-to-understand Bible stories with charming illustrations, lessons on how to apply the stories to your child’s daily life, memory verses from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, and a special “Hug Time” during which you can share a great big hug with your child.

For children ages 2 and up

My Review:

First I really want to say thank you to Tyndale for allowing me to review this book and participate in their blog tour.  I have LOVED Stephen Elkins books (see my review of his Hide and Seek devotional here) and was tickled pink to know this one was coming in the mail.  I just knew that Princess and I would love it.
The bad.  This arrived Christmas Eve and my regular postal delivery woman was on vacation.  I really wish I knew who had delivered my mail because had this been a gift I would have been very disappointed.  Where I live we don't get mail delivered to our door, or even to a mailbox by the driveway.  I get mail at boxes like the one below that are stationed throughout my subdivision.

Usually when a package arrives that doesn't fit my totally awesome mail lady just drives to my house (which she has to pass anyway to get to the next community mailbox) and drops it off at my door.  Whoever delivered my mail this time decided to fold the package in half and force it into the box.  This was an intentional act of destruction because this is a HARDBACK book.  It took some effort to fold it.  So now this really beautiful book has a crease down the back cover.  Hopefully that doesn't happen to you.

On to the book.  It was written for young children, and as such my precocious Princess found some of the stories a bit simple.  Not a huge deal since this is more of a devotional type book rather than a story book.  For example, here is the entry for Luke 2:41-52 entitled Growing by Knowing:

When Jesus was a boy, what was He like?  Did He like to sing or draw or read?  Did He play with friends or chase butterflies?  We don't know for sure.  But we do know Jesus loved to go to church (called the Temple) to talk about God, His Heavenly Father.

What does the Bible tell us about Jesus as a boy?
When Jesus was 12, His family took Him to the Temple.  For three days Jesus listened to the teachers there and asked questions.  He was growing by knowing.  This pleased God! ...

And that is the end of the story.  The book goes on to discuss how we can start growing by knowing and then give a suggestion to "Give the one who is growing by knowing God a great big hug!"

A perfect place to start for a very young child, but for us this is more of a recap or a story introduction.  Now just because I say she found them simple don't think she didn't love them.  They are just short enough to fit in before bed but as you can see from the excerpt above there is lots of room to take it deeper.  You can discuss with your little one all of those questions.  Each entry gives the Bible verses it is from so you can also read the original text and compare.  Simon Taylor-Kielty does a beautiful job illustrating the book.  

The illustrations appear to be oil pastels and are soft.  All of the characters are portrayed child-like.  For me this is a drawback.  While visually appealing to my daughter it gives the wrong impression at times.  (Mom, why was Esther married before she grew up?)

What I really like it the give a hug element to each devotion. While it can be used to reinforce what you just read to your child, and that it is a quality they possess ( you can hug your child every time), we chose to use it as an opportunity to encourages princess to be observant of those around her, to look for the qualities discussed in others.  I LOVE that.  You can never start too young teaching them to look for the good in others and to focus on someone other than themselves.

All in all, a great addition to Princess's bookshelf, and I bet it would be in yours also.  

Find it on Amazon at the link below

Monday, January 14, 2013

At the Feet of Jesus Review

At the Feet of Jesus: Daily Devotions to Nurture a Mary Heart Description:

You were made for more than serving God; you were made to know Him. 
Intimacy with God—to know Him and be known by Him. It is what our hearts desperately need, but somehow life conspires to keep us busy and distracted. 

For anyone who struggles when it comes to daily devotions, At the Feet of Jesus extends an irresistible invitation to set aside your duties and find the amazing peace and incredible joy that come from time alone with Him. Drawn from Joanna Weaver’s beloved Bethany trilogy, each reading in this 365-day devotional includes a Bible reading passage and reflection question. All-new material and “Going Deeper” sidebars are also woven throughout.

Discover for yourself the riches that come from spending a portion of each day alone with God. At the feet of Jesus—where true life begins!

Includes a unique One-Year Bible Reading Guide.

My Review:

Now that you have had a chance to start your new year's resolutions, and possibly decide that some of them just aren't going to happen, you may be looking for a devotional to lift you up, to start your day with God, to help you in your Christian walk.  Here is one you should consider. 

This is a daily devotional in which Joanna Weaver has "interwove excerpts from [her] three Bethany books:  Having a Mary Heart in a Martha WorldHaving a Mary Spirit, and Lazarus Awakening."  So if you have read one of those you may see some familiar material in this devotional.  But it isn't simply an amalgamation of excerpts. It includes previously unpublished materials, "read and reflect" sections with relevant Bible verses, and "going deeper" sidebars "to help you develop a daily quiet time".

The topics are relevant and definitely applicable to life today, and the devotional will help you to draw closer to Jesus, if you allow it to.  I have always liked Ms. Weaver's writings (read my review of Lazarus Awakening here) and this is no exception.  It is well written, personal, and you don't feel judged.  A great devotional in my opinion. The only drawback is that some days build on previous days readings (if you miss a day you better go back and read or you are lost), and being that they are excerpts from previously written books, there are some devotions that can be confusing since you do not have the full story from the actual book it was taken from. Still well worth the read though!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Praying Circles around your Children review

Praying Circles around Your Children Description:

Mark Batterson shares a perfect blend of biblical yet practical advice that will revolutionize your prayer life by giving you a new vocabulary and a new methodology. You’ll see how prayer is your secret weapon. Through stories of parents just like you, Batterson shares five prayer circles that will not only help you pray for your kids, but also pray through your kids.
Batterson teaches about how to create prayer lists unique to your family, claim God-inspired promises for your children, turn your family circle into a prayer circle, and discover your child’s life themes. And he not only tells you how, he illustrates why.

As Batterson says, “I realize that not everyone inherited a prayer legacy like I did, but you can leave a legacy for generations to come. Your prayers have the power to shape the destiny of your children and your children’s children. It’s time to start circling.”

Description from Zondervan's website.  Read more here

My Review:

Do you have about 2 hours?  Do you have children?  Then you need to read this booklet.  More a guide than a step by step how to, Batterson details the importance of praying for your children and suggests areas and ways to do so.  

Batterson begins with honesty, "you'll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent.  Prayer is your highest privilege as a parent."  We are reminded that, "you don't become a praying parent by default.  You do it by design, by desire, by discipline."  While this may be a quick read, the implementation requires time, effort, and work.  This isn't a name it and claim it idea.  This is a pray it for as long as it takes program.

We are reminded that throughout the Bible are promises that God has made to us.  Promises like Psalm 37:5 "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act" or James 1:12 which tells us that "blessed is the man who perseveres under trials...he will receive the crown of life".  As a parent, with God's guidance and instructions, we should be using these promises to pray for our children, to guide us in training them in the way they should go.

Included in this booklet are what Batterson calls 5 prayer circles.  These are Circling the Promises of God (literally circling them in the Bible), Making Prayer Lists (individualized lists for each of your children), Creating Prayer Mantras (short sayings or verses that help you to focus on God's truths), Forming Prayer Circles (inviting others to pray with you) and Praying through the Bible (allowing God to lead your prayer as you read His word).

While there may not be a lot of meat to this booklet, the bones really do give you something to chew on.  My only complaint is that at times it feels like an advertisement for the book this spun off from, The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears.  I haven't read it and therefore can't comment on the content.

Sound like something you might want to read?  Zondervan, in addition to providing me a copy of this book for review purposes, has graciously given me a copy to give to one of you lucky readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Desperate...not anymore!

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe Description:

"I just can't be a mother today."
These words have been whispered to God in quiet desperation by mothers who love their children to the depths of their soul, but who are struggling with how hard motherhood is.
Motherhood turns you inside out. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed by how tired you feel; the days go on and on, and you want to be a "good" mom, but you feel like a failure so much of the time. What happened to all your ideals? When did you end up feeling so...lost?
Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson have been to the edge and back. Desperate is the story of one young mother’s trials and one experienced mentor’s priceless exhortations. Desperate is not a book about despair, nor is it a rule-laden mothering manual. It is a bouquet from a friend who has been there, reminding us that we are not alone. Sarah Mae’s unvarnished account of her own struggles mothering three feisty young children is a lesson in learning patience, loving idiosyncrasies, accepting help, and—most of all—leaning on God.
Each chapter includes a brief Bible study with journal exercises to help you find your own quiet center, and get you back into the fray soul-filled and refreshed. Written with candor, empathy, and faith, Desperate is like coffee with a trusted girlfriend; one who knows how hard being a mother can be, and how to navigate the often turbulent road.

My Review:
Where was this book when I had 3 little ones age 5 and under?!?!  This book would have saved me so much heartache and would have dramatically affected my parenting.  In all honesty, this will now be included in my gift at every baby shower in the future!

You may think that despite the fact I have "been there and done that" I still struggle with the need to breathe while parenting my princess (age 4) and 2 teens (13 and 15).  There isn't a magic formula that makes you that parent that seems to always have it all together.  You know the one I mean, the parent who has children that never seem to get dirty, that are polite, that love God, that obey, while mom has every hair in place, dinner on the table and a house that could grace the cover of a magazine.  Sarah Mae reminds us that we aren't alone when we feel we fall short of this ideal.  

Throughout the book she is honest, and my heart would break remembering the times I felt just like she did.  

Dear Sally,
My sweet baby girl is so resistant to my training and I feel like I'm losing my's wearing me down.
love, SM

I was there, depending on what day it is, I am STILL there at times.  Not only does Sarah Mae share her thoughts and questions honestly, but she also gives us real hope that there is a light and it isn't at the end of a tunnel!  Using Bible verses and her own experiences she shares how she overcomes the situations and emotions associated with being a mom.  And while that is great, this book doesn't stop there.

Sweet One,
No matter how hard your try, or how mature you become, you, your husband, and your children will always fall short of perfection.  If you expect perfection, you are bound to become angry more often, with yourself and with your children.  If you want them to know the real message of Jesus, then you need to live out His life of gracious, forgiving love while becoming more mature in His ideals as you grow.  If you accept the limitations of this fallen world within your own home, you will not be as tempted to depression or anger.  As my son said to me, "Mom, just lighten up and be happy."
Fondly, Sally

Not only does this book gift us with the wisdom of a woman in the trenches, but with the wisdom who has come out the other side of the battle!  Sally softly mentors us, encourages us, shares her stories of success and reminds us that above all, God loves our children more than we do and He enTRUSTed them to us for a reason.

I also love that each chapter includes a "Your Turn" section to help you dig deeper as well as a "Something to Do" section to put it into action.  What I REALLY love is that each chapter includes a link to a short (about 3 minute) video interview with both Sarah Mae and Sally.  And in addition to all of that, at the end of the book Sally takes the time to answer questions that weren't addressed specifically in the book sent to her by moms just like you and me.

I really think EVERY mom of little ones should read this book, and I wish someone had told me these things when I was a younger mom, and I pray that one day I am in a position to offer wisdom to younger women as well (Titus 2).