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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cable left, cable right review

Book description:

Knitted cables, with their three-dimensional twists and turns, are a common element in lots of patterns -- but most patterns don’t include directions for executing them. Cable Left, Cable Right, by expert knitter Judith Durant, eliminates the mystery with detailed, in-depth instructions for creating 94 different styles of cable, from perfectly plain to fantastically fancy. Close-up photos and clear instructions teach you the techniques you need, including design options like braids, diamonds, and pretzels so you can make your cables truly one-of-a-kind. This book is the perfect companion to any knitting pattern featuring cables, giving you the information and skills to make polished, beautiful, and unique cables for any project.

 My review:  

 If you knit, you should own this book!  I knit hats for a charity organization and found the cable patterns in this book can bet there are going to be several donated hats sporting patterns from this book.

I found the directions easy to follow and the step by step pictures were beautiful as well as helpful.  What I really enjoyed was the time that Durant took to include all of the possible chart symbols and what they mean as well as most of the abbreviations included in cable patterns.  This makes is easier to understand both written and charted patterns, including those not this book, not that you will need to look elsewhere.

With everything from beginner (how to do both left and right crossing single cables) to the more advanced (knitting cables WITHOUT cable needles) and tons of gorgeous patterns you will find yourself pulling this book down quite often.  And while I will be using the patterns for hats, I can easily see these incorporated in blankets, sweaters and even socks!  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Crochet One Skein Wonders review

Crochet One Skein Wonders for Babies Description:

Irresistible! This collection of 101 projects makes it easy and fun to crochet adorable clothes, toys, and accessories for the babies and toddlers you love. Each project uses just one skein of yarn, many take just a few hours to complete, and plenty are suitable for beginners. Hats and caps, bootees and socks, mitts, dresses, tops and bottoms -- plus blankets, bibs, soft toys, bottle cozies, diaper bags, and more -- there’s something here for every baby! These original patterns were contributed by 54 designers around the world, and each one comes with complete instructions, charts, schematics, and beautiful photographs.

My Review:

If a baby or toddler needs it, mom could use it, or it just looks adorable there is a pattern for it in this book!  Full of projects using both charted and written instruction as well as patterns for all ability levels you are sure to find the perfect project to give as a gift or make for your own child.  And the fact that each project can be made with one skein of yarn or less you just can't go wrong!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Eve Review

Eve Description:

When a shipping container washes ashore on an island between our world and the next, John the Collector finds a young woman inside—broken, frozen, and barely alive. With the aid of Healers and Scholars, John oversees her recovery and soon discovers her genetic code connects her to every known human race. She is a girl of prophecy and no one can guess what her survival will mean...

No one but Eve, Mother of the Living, who calls her “daughter,” and invites her to witness the truth about her story—indeed, the truth about us all.

Eve is a bold, unprecedented exploration of the Creation narrative, true to the original texts and centuries of scholarship—yet with breathtaking discoveries that challenge traditional misconceptions about who we are and how we’re made. As The Shack awakened readers to a personal, non-religious understanding of God, Eve will free us from faulty interpretations that have corrupted human relationships since the Garden of Eden.

Eve opens a refreshing conversation about the equality of men and women within the context of our beginnings, helping us see each other as our Creator does—complete, unique, and not constrained to cultural rules or limitations.

Thoroughly researched and exquisitely written, Eve is a masterpiece that will inspire readers for generations to come.

My Review:

Let me begin by saying I enjoyed reading The Shack and I truly felt like it gave me a new perspective on God.  So when I was given the opportunity to review Young's new novel, Eve, I decided to do so.  Eve is a quick read, I finished it in a matter of hours.  The story is engaging and I found that I couldn't put it down as I was compelled to see how it would unravel.  

That God was able to take a severely physically and emotionally broken Lilly (the main character) and not only make her whole again, but help her to recognize just how loved she was by God was a redeeming quality of this book.  Unfortunately I found that many of the other aspects of the book caused me concern.

First, which considering that this is a novel it may seem inconsequential to some, is that the book is written from the point of view that the account of creation in the Bible is not a literal account.  Specifically that it took millions of years for God to create the world rather than the Biblical account of 6 days and a day of rest.  While this is more of a personal belief it was something I found disturbing.

Second, Young's interpretation of the creation of Adam and Eve take a lot of liberties with the story.  Adam was created as an infant, whom God nursed.  Eve was born as an infant after Adam's pseudo-pregnancy with her and then Adam raised her to adulthood.  God's decision to create Eve was not so much because "it is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18) but because Adam was dissatisfied with being alone.

A third concern with the story is that Young incorporates the fable of Lilith in the storyline, turning Lilly into Lilith-who offers herself to Adam as a substitute wife.  While the characters do state twice that Lilith is a "fable", the inclusion of this fable in the story of creation that was "thoroughly researched" is disconcerting to me.  I realize that it is fiction, but should someone who is not strong in their faith read this it could create a stumbling block.

There are a few other concerns that I had, such as Eve not leaving Eden when Adam did (Genesis 3:23-24), Eve's rejection of Adam after God confronted them (another liberty taken as there is no mention of this in the Bible) and others.  There were enough that I am uncomfortable recommending this book.  While it does seem the author's purpose was to empower women (in the acknowledgements Young writes, "Thank you to the myriad of voices being raised world-wide that will make this century the Century of the Woman...") it is my opinion that to do so by distorting God's word is an injustice.

Friday, July 10, 2015


Anything Book Description:
What if you told God you would do anything . . . and he took you up on it?

In the years since the initial release of Anything, God continued to stretch Jennie Allen and her faith because of the courageous prayer of surrender that she and her husband, Zac, prayed, "God, we will do anything. Anything." Previously caught in the dizzying haze of worldly happiness and empty pursuits, Jennie went on to begin living out the adventure God had written for them—to include becoming the founder of IF: Gathering, an organization to gather, equip, and unleash the next generation to live out their purpose.

Anything is a prayer of surrender that will spark something. A prayer that will move you to stop chasing things that just make you feel happy and start living a surrendered life that matters.

This newly revised edition is updated throughout to include a new introduction and an in-depth Bible study component for those who have been wanting to lead a study on this topic.

Join Jennie on an adventure to discover your anything, those things that actually mean nothing until you know the God truly worth giving it all up for. And when you do, that will change everything.

My Review:

Some of you may remember my first encounter with Jennie Allen, when I was given the opportunity to review her DVD study, Stuck.  I enjoyed that study and I have to say that this one was a great experience for me also.

It came to me at a point in time where I was questioning my part of the relationship I have with God.  Was I doing enough?  Was I doing what I should be doing?  Was I missing something?  So when I was offered the chance to review this book my interest was piqued and I accepted.  In a world where people are bombarded with the message that God is here to make your life better, Jennie Allen's Anything sets the record straight. While He truly does want what is best for us, we have to completely surrender to Him and His will to receive it, and what is best often doesn't look the way we imagined it. The first three chapters, which dealt with unbelief, pretending and shame in relation to our walk with God, had me in tears as I faced some of my own issues that I had buried.  The study guide at the end of the book not only caused me to dig deep into my own feelings, but it prompted me to look at how God felt as well by examining scripture.

And once the journey began I couldn't stop.  Allen breaks the book into three parts: Everything keeping us from anything, Praying anything, and Living Anything.  Each brought me to serious moments of reflection and stirred a desire to take the next step.  Isn't that what a good Bible study is supposed to do?

Allen shares her own failings and insecurities openly and honestly, making this an "I'm in the trenches with you" rather than a finger pointing "You should be doing better!" experience.  And this updated version includes a section at the end in which she shares how her life has changed as a result of her personal Anything prayer, demonstrating just how God can take what you offer and make it into something wonderful for His kingdom.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Pharaoh's Daughter

The Pharaoh's Daughter is a fictional account of the story of Moses' early years.  While the Bible doesn't give us a lot of information beyond his rescue from the river by the pharaoh's daughter who adopted him as her own, Andrews gives it depth.

Her research efforts into the time period and lives pay off in a richly detailed story.   I found it interesting that many historians place the life of Moses in sync with that of Pharaoh Tutankhamon.  Andrews masterfully weaves Moses life into the secular history of this boy king, giving a glimpse not only of what life was like as Egyptian royalty, but also what life might have been like for those Hebrews bound by slavery.

I was a fan of Andrews before The Pharaoh's Daughter and I am even more so now!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Holiday Hats for Baby

Holiday Hats for Babies Description:

These sweet and sassy baby hats will bring a smile to your face! 25 adorable patterns for every celebration of the year: Birthday Cupcake Cap, Halloween Hat, Holly Holiday Hat, Baby Chick Cap, Crystal Party Hat, Firecracker Topper, Leaf Peeper Cap, and more.

My Review:

I found many interesting patterns in this book with well written instructions.  The full color pictures throughout are a plus.  Each pattern includes the hat circumference, yarn weight, needle size and the yarn used to make the model.  I really liked that as it makes it easier to substitute yarn choices knowing the weight used.

Patterns are available for many different knitting abilities, although it would have been nice had they included something in each pattern to indicate skill level needed.  However, don't let that deter you from giving a particular pattern a try.  This book does include a section in the back detailing instructions for "special stitches" which should help even the novice knitter to complete these hats.

Personally I found many of the hats to be very eccentric.  If you are looking for a run of the mill, cute hat for your child this is probably not the book for you.  Take a look at some of the patterns offered in this title:

One of the things I did not like is that none of these hats are traditionally sized.  Most baby hat patterns list sizes such as newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6 months etc.  These patterns only list hat circumference which may make it difficult to choose the correct size if you are making hats as a gift for a child that you can't stop and measure for.  Also, most of these patterns are for babies older than 6 months.  I realize that many pattern books do this since younger babies tend to grow so fast, but it would really be nice to have more options for unique hats for younger babies.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Marriage 101

Book Description:

The most important subject that the Bible speaks about is Christ and the Church. The Bible teaches that God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to be crucified for us, that we might be reconciled unto Him. It teaches that Christ loved us so much that He was willing to die on the cross and pay the expensive dowry, that we could be His bride. Therefore, if Christ and the Church is not only the main theme of the Bible but the most important truth in the Bible, then where does this place marriage? God patterned marriage after Christ and the Church. Therefore, Christ’s relationship to His Church shows us how important marriage is in the eyes of God.

My Review:

Ward, drawing from Ephesians 5, attempts to present some Biblical advice for successful marriages.  While I agree with most of his scriptural points, it was difficult to complete the 57 pages of this book due to the poor writing of the materials.

It is obvious that Ward has a deep love for God, and it should be obvious from the opening of chapter 1 (a long passage from Ephesians) that this is a book with a Christian perspective.  And if that doesn't give it away the introduction should. "This book must be read through the lens of two married Christians..."  That being said, Ward seems determined to remind you at every step.  For example variations of the phrase, "God blesses/blessed" occur 22 times in this short book, 11 of them in the first two chapters.

I found that his writing made me feel as if he had some serious issues with women - He states that husbands are, "less likely to be deceived by the devil" than their wives, quoting 1 Timothy 2:12-14 which simply states that Adam was not the one deceived in the Garden by the serpent, rather Eve was.  I am not sure how one situation can become ALL men are less like to be deceived but Ward jumps to that conclusion.  His primary point, that the husband is the head of the family, is absolutely, Biblically true.  However, his supporting example comes across as offensive.   In a later chapter discussing Moses' reluctance to circumcise his son, Ward seems to beat the reader over the head with his opinion that Moses wife was the reason he did not do so because she objected to the practice.  Although Ward does admit that "he (Moses) may have simply neglected doing what he knew to be right...:"  The point that he harps on the most (at one point  in 4 our of 5 consecutive sentences!)  is that Zipporah didn't like circumcision and Moses chose the wrong path as a result.  Again, his point in this chapter was valid (husbands can make wrong choices in an effort to appease/please their wives even when it goes against God), Ward instead seems to focus on how the wife did the leading and not the husbands responsibility as the head of the family should take precedence.

I also found Ward's writing style difficult to read.  He switches repeatedly (often in the same chapter) from first person to third person. For example, "The author also knows that.....Therefore this situation between Kenny and me...." At first I was unsure if Ward, when using "the author", was talking about himself or the author of the Bible passages he was discussing.  In some places I am still unsure.  But after several instances I came to the conclusion that he was indeed talking about himself.  Highly distracting.

The final two chapters are less Biblical advice about marriage.  Instead they are more about Wards successes and failures as a step-parent and as the husband of a previously married woman.  While there were a few good points (love your step-children and spend time with them, be patient with your spouse as he/she works through issues from a previous marriage) I again found the delivery to be tedious.

My final complaint, and it is really just a pet peeve, is the use of "done" in this book.  "...but you done a wonderful job," "And when we done certain things".  Wards Kentucky upbringing shines through despite his use of "unto" throughout the book.  (Does anyone still say 'unto"?)

The book has it's good points.  It is, in my opinion, biblically accurate, and the principles included will help your marriage if you implement them, but there are better ways to discover them than this book.  I wanted to like it, I really did - I just couldn't make myself do it.

The Berenstain Bears-God Bless Our Country

Book Description:

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”  Matthew 5:14

In the newest Berenstain Bear Living Lights 8x8 title, the glorious fourth has arrived and the Bear family is busy decorating with flags and bunting. Brother, Sister and Honey are anticipating the big parade and all the fireworks but aren’t really thinking about the true meaning of the day.

But Mama and Papa make sure the cubs know just how much Bear Country is blessed with a quick lesson about the first Fourth of July.

My Review:

What a great way to introduce the reason we celebrate the founding of our country! We have always been a fan of the Berenstain Bears and this only confirms that love. The gentle introduction to history, the fun activities listed at the end of the book and especially the discussion questions make this a book that will remain on our bookshelf for some time. This would be a wonderful addition to a preschool and elementary school classroom library.

Friday, April 24, 2015

It was Me All Along Review

It Was Me All Along Description:

A heartbreakingly honest, endearing memoir of incredible weight loss by a young food blogger who battles body image issues and overcomes food addiction to find self-acceptance.

All her life, Andie Mitchell had eaten lustily and mindlessly. Food was her babysitter, her best friend, her confidant, and it provided a refuge from her fractured family. But when she stepped on the scale on her twentieth birthday and it registered a shocking 268 pounds, she knew she had to change the way she thought about food and herself; that her life was at stake.

It Was Me All Along takes Andie from working class Boston to the romantic streets of Rome, from morbidly obese to half her size, from seeking comfort in anything that came cream-filled and two-to-a-pack to finding balance in exquisite (but modest) bowls of handmade pasta. This story is about much more than a woman who loves food and abhors her body. It is about someone who made changes when her situation seemed too far gone and how she discovered balance in an off-kilter world. More than anything, though, it is the story of her finding beauty in acceptance and learning to love all parts of herself.

My Review:

If you have ever struggled with weight, or loved someone who has struggled with weight, then you need to read this book.  I don't say that lightly.  It took me 3 months to finish this book, which is a long time for me since I can devour a book in a week if I so choose.  Mitchell's total honesty struck home with me in so many ways and forced me to stop and take a look at my own journey.  Many times it was just to much and I put the book down and walked away.  I didn't want to read about someone else who was turning to food for comfort, who was hurt by insensitive comments, or who saw weight loss as a battle of numbers.  It was convicting.  And yet each time I set the book down I knew that I would be back, that I needed to know how it all worked out for her, how she managed to be a food blogger after struggling with weight for most of her life.

It is the story of one woman's mission to find herself rather than identify herself by the number on the scale.  To accept who she is and what she looks like-fat or thin.  And it is a story I hope to one day be able to write myself-not in a published book, but to finally be able to write that last page and be able to say that food and my weight no longer define me.  Mitchell reminds us that it is possible to reach that point if we are willing to work through the things that brought us to where we currently are.  She is honest about the difficulties, the set backs and the successes and that is what I love about this book.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Easy Bootees to Knit review

Book Description:
Easy Bootees to Knit is a delightful book with detailed instructions on how to create stunning bootees to keep the most teeny tiny toes warm. There are funky animal boots, nostalgic lace patterns, simple slippers, snug cuffed bootees (guaranteed to stay on the most restless feet) and classic cables among the collection - indeed, something to suit any baby, from newborn to 18 months. For beginners there is an easy-to-knit practice pattern, and a size chart allows you to decide which size to knit. Each pattern is accompanied by appropriate charts and diagrams, embellishment tips and full pattern instruction. Easy Bootees to Knit is part of the brand new Make Me! series - a collection of books packed with easy and beautiful craft projects.

My Review:
The majority of the 41 designs are for 3-6 months, but there are a few 0-3 and 6-9 month patterns thrown in to give it some variety.  A few of the patterns begin with a basic design and then include ways to alter the basic pattern to customize it. 

My favorite are the animal patterns, the duck slippers, zebra bootees, bee bootees, sheep bootees, and the tiger bootees.  That being said, there are several lace bootees that called my name as well. 

You will find techniques such as fair isle, entrelac, lace, and bobbles throughout.  And while the title of the book states the patterns are "easy", I would venture to say that many of them require some experience with knitting and that they aren't for the novice.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review: The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen

The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen
The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen by Tosca Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An interesting look at what the relationship between Solomon and Sheba's queen might have looked like. Lee does a great job of combining research and human nature to give these two depth of character.

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Review: Two Renegade Realms

Two Renegade Realms
Two Renegade Realms by Donita K. Paul

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book picks up where the first left off, the quest to save the realms from both the evil council members and from invasion. Again, I enjoyed the book, despite it's predictability. I found it a light read, even if it felt like this novel was longer than it needed to be and attempted to stretch the story so that there could be a third book. However, it is a book I am comfortable letting my kids read and it could open the door for some great conversations- Relationships, blind obedience to tradition, fulfilling your purpose, the effects of greed. That alone makes this a good book to share with my children.

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Review: One Realm Beyond

One Realm Beyond
One Realm Beyond by Donita K. Paul

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Teenage bravado, dragons, trials, the ability to transport between worlds- what more could you ask for? This is an easy read that remains interesting, if not very challenging. A great casual read.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Celebrate Easter review

The Beginner's Bible Come Celebrate Easter Sticker and Activity Book Description:

The Easter story comes to life through age-appropriate puzzles, activity pages, and stickers in this friendly and fun The Beginner's Bible Come Celebrate Easter Sticker and Activity Book featuring classic art and simply written content from The Beginner's Bible.

My Review:

Marketed for children ages 4-8, this is a great way to talk about the Easter story with you child.  My 6 year old daughter loved being able to add stickers to scenes, spot differences between pictures, and solve the codes.  I felt like some of the activities were very young for her (trace the word RAN, dot-to-dot puzzle was very simple and only went to 12) but she didn't seem to mind.  With a price tag of less than $5 this would be great to add to a quiet bag for church or to add to an Easter basket.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Saving Amelie

Saving Amelie description:
Increasingly wary of her father’s genetic research, Rachel Kramer has determined that this trip with him to Germany—in the summer of 1939—will be her last. But a cryptic letter from her estranged friend, begging Rachel for help, changes everything. Married to SS officer Gerhardt Schlick, Kristine sees the dark tides turning and fears her husband views their daughter, Amelie, deaf since birth, as a blight on his Aryan bloodline.

Once courted by Schlick, Rachel knows he’s as dangerous as the swastikas that hang like ebony spiders from every government building in Berlin. She fears her father’s files may hold answers about Hitler’s plans for others, like Amelie, whom the regime deems “unworthy of life.” She risks searching his classified documents only to uncover shocking secrets about her own history and a family she’s never known.

Now hunted by the SS, Rachel turns to Jason Young—a driven, disarming American journalist and unlikely ally—who connects her to the resistance and to controversial theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Forced into hiding, Rachel’s every ideal is challenged as she and Jason walk a knife’s edge, risking their lives—and asking others to do the same—for those they barely know but come to love.

My Review:

I was worried that this was going to gloss over the real aspects of the war and become a love story.  I am pleased to say that I was wrong.  Gohlke does a phenomenal job of bringing the atrocities that were inflicted during the war to life in a personal way.

Although Gohlke walks the reader through the fears that many citizens faced, and the bravery of others, she leaves a lot of questions unanswered.  Whether this was done to open the door to a second book, or because much of the questions truly do not have an answer I will not speculate.  I will say that this book has been added to my daughter's required reading list for the WWII time period, along with Anne Frank's Tales from the Secret Annex.

a Father's Love review

A Father's Love (I Can Read! / Adventure Bible) Description:

A Father’s Love is a level two I Can Read! based on the NIV Adventure Bible. In it, young readers learn about how great a father’s love can be for his child. At this read-alone level, newly independent readers follow a young man who decides to go out on his own, with his inheritance. He wastes his money and makes bad choices but eventually realizes that home and family are more important than anything. When he goes home to make amends, his father welcomes his son home with open arms and joy.

Written for the newly independent reader, vocabulary and content is at a more advanced reading level, making this series appropriate for children almost ready for their first chapter books.

This I Can Read! series of Bible stories makes use of the unique features found in the NIV Adventure Bible such as “People in Bible Times” and “Words to Treasure”.

My Review:

As a fan of the NIV Adventure Bible I was eager to take a peak at this book.  It is my first expose to an I Can Read book based upon a Bible story and after going through this, I doubt it will be my last.

My youngest is probably at a level 1, simple sentences for eager new readers according to the back of the book, yet she was able to read this book with some help from mom or dad.  There were about 20-25 words per page and the words were spaced well to make reading easy.  The illustrations by David Miles fill the entire page, including the area where the words are written on some of the pages.  I was worried that this might be a distraction but my princess managed without a problem.

I liked that it included a key Bible verse at the end (Luke 15:32) and I especially liked the "words to treasure" section which helps to the reader on God's plan.  I do wish that the story had included the Bible reference for the story since the story is written with developing readers in mind.  This to me indicates independent readers and I am big on referring them back to the actual Bible text whenever possible.

That being said, I found that the story remained true to the Biblical account, and was written in an engaging way.  I like that this is a way to get God's stories in the hands of a child without handing them the complete Bible, which would definitely overwhelm young readers.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Review: Capturing Jasmina

Capturing Jasmina
Capturing Jasmina (India's Street Kids Book 1) by Kimberly Rae

Description:  Capturing Jasmina, fiction for young adult readers by Kimberly Rae, is the story of Jasmina, a young girl in India, and her brother, Samir. The children are sold by their father to a man promising them an education and good jobs.

But, as Jasmina and Samir soon discover, the man is providing an education, not in a school, but as a slave in his sweatshop garment factory. While Samir quickly submits to his new life of misery, Jasmina never stops planning an escape.

She comes to realize that escape doesn’t always mean freedom.

My Review:

Capturing Jasmina is a tale of slavery and bondage of body and soul. Sold by a father who saw her as less desirable due to her gender, Jasmina enters a world of slavery. At first determined to escape, she eventually succumbs to anger and resignation...until a chance encounter gives her hope.

Although a short story, this book gives insight into human trafficking from the perspective of the victim, and does so elequently.  Although the book does move fast, and many of the situations are only dealt with supperficially, it is still difficult to not become attached to this little girl.  My heart broke for her, I found myself unable to put the book down until I knew she was safe.  Then, upon finishing the book,  I wanted to jump into action, to assist in ending the horror of human trafficking.  I wish some organizations or resources or something had been included towards this end.

After some internet research, I did discover the author's website, which does include resource information.  You can find it here.