Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Break For July

I'm taking a break from my blog during the month of July.

At some point last year, I had full intentions of no longer reviewing books if I couldn't involve my children in the reading and reviewing of them. I don't know what happened, but I ended up with a ridiculous stack of books. Thankfully, I finally saw the light of day, and stopped requesting again. I made a goal to be done with everything by July 1st, so I could escape from the internet just a bit during July. I'm exhausted and my head and my eyes hurt from so much reading, but I'm done. Hallelujah! :D (Now you know why so many posts went through today....I had a GOAL to accomplish!) ;)

It should remain quiet around here, unless I've forgotten a commitment, in which case you'll see that pop up.

I'll leave you with a few of my favorite books from the past few months. Despite the HUGE amount of reading I've done, it seems very few of them have made it to my blog.

The Glass Casket by Mccormick Templeman

This book is beautiful, but dark and creepy. Don't judge it by its horrible cover, though! It's so much better than that, and I loved it. It's a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red. Just don't read it at night!

The Riverman by Aaron Starmer

Though I don't recommend it AT ALL for the target age, I think it is an amazing story for adults to read. I was quickly turning the pages, and couldn't figure out what was going on. It's very strange, but thought provoking.

The Boys of Fire and Ash by Meaghan McIsaac

This one has more of a science fiction feel to it than average old YA fiction. It's unique, and another one I loved.

Lord willing, I'll see y'all in August! Have fun! I'm simply preparing for some rest and play now. :D


A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer


A teacher on the run. A bounty hunter in pursuit. Can two enemies learn to trust each other before they both lose what they hold most dear?

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan's Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the orphaned girl entrusted to her care. Charlotte promised Lily's mother she'd keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When Miss Atherton produces documentation that shows her to be Lily's legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he's been led to believe. Is she villain or victim?

Then a new danger forces Charlotte to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone vows to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he's ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte's heart.

My Thoughts:

Romance books just aren't my ideal reading material right now. I'm not sure what has happened to me, but I find myself sarcastic and my eyes roll more and more while reading. It's not my husband's fault, in case you want to blame him. (Husbands are typically the first place of blame when a woman admits such things.) ;) I'm hoping it's just a stage I'm going through!

Karen Witemeyer is one of my most favorite authors, though, so I couldn't resist reading her newest work. I gave myself a pep talk before diving into the pages, and prepared to read a sweet romance. There were still moments of eye rolling as she admired his muscles, and he admired that she was the perfect height for kissing, etc, etc. But, even in my stage of sarcasm, I enjoyed it.

As I've came to expect with Witemeyer's books, I got a very sweet romance! I loved the characters, and even though I don't typically like kids to be a part of the romance books I read, Witemeyer makes it work!

This is definitely a book I'll revisit when my sarcastic phase has subsided, but I really did enjoy it this reading round, too. If you enjoy Christian romances, read each and every one of Witemeyer's books! They truly are treasures.

*I was provided a review copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.


Purchase Link:

A Worthy Pursuit


NIrV Study Bible for Kids


An updated study Bible with an all-new design for kids ages 6-10 using the NIrV written at a third-grade reading level.

The bestselling NIrV Study Bible for Kids starts early readers ages 6-10 on the rewarding path of reading and studying God's Word. This Bible uses the complete text of the New International Reader's Version® (NIrV) which is written at a third-grade reading level and is perfect for those learning to read. With colorful artwork, easy-to-read Bible text, and fun features, kids will engage with the Bible in a way that makes it stick.

Features include:

*Presentation page for personalization and gift giving
*32 full-color pages include illustrations to bring Bible characters and events to life plus helpful study information about the Ten Commandments, how to become a Christian, prayer, and more
*Check It Out: sketches and descriptions of what life was like in Bible times
*Brain Game: questions to help kids remember important Bible themes
*Soak It Up: great verses for kids to memorize
*Book Introductions: brief overviews of each book with an outline of key events
*Dictionary: Bible words for quick reference
*Map section

My Thoughts:

As my Grasshopper is getting older and getting closer to reading on his own, I've started debating on what Bible for him to use as a personal study Bible, as opposed to one with us. I love my NKJV Study Bible, and greatly appreciate the extra study features. I want a Bible that he can understand and that is targeted more for younger people. I also would love one that will give him those extra little study features. Most of the children's Bible that we've reviewed through the years have been passed on, since Grasshopper wasn't reading yet, and so I don't have them to look over for our current season of life anymore. (It wasn't until a friend asked for recommendations on children's Bibles that the light bulb fully clicked on wanting the study feature for my children, by the way. As of right now, for Bible class and Worship Services, they have simple NKJV Bibles, though Grasshopper has been using my ESV Slimline Bible. At home, we're more varied.)

As far as the NIrV goes, please don't take my post as a recommendation for it. I'm pretty new to it, and while I don't love the NIV, I don't avoid. I imagine I can say the same for the NIrV. I'm just a momma winging it! I want my children to understand and love God's Word, but they'll always need to be on the lookout for false teaching and false translations. I hope we can always discuss what they're reading and answer questions. Never rely on only one traslation! (From what I've understood, the ASV is the closest word for word translation from the original.)

As far as the extra features, I really like them. The pictures are the same as in 101 Bible Stories from Creation to Revelation, done by Dan Andreasen. Actually, as I was debating hard whether to even try this particular Bible out, it was the pictures that swayed me to give it a try. I DO very much love Andreasen's illustrations! As far as I could tell, there aren't any new ones, though, if you have the other book. Actually, I think there are more pictures within the book than in this Bible.

There's lots of different study helps. There are full color/page illustrations, along with some smaller illustrations throughout. There also full color charts of various kinds and reading plans. ((Beware that there are plenty of "faith only" references in these charts, so if you believe as I do...that baptism washes away our sins(Acts 2:38)....then you'll have to do as we will, and edit a bit.))

As far as the full color, thick, glossy pages, here's what you'll get:

There's 4 pages that have 3 different reading plans to read the whole Bible. These pages also have several illustrations, along with Bible references to place them. There's a two page spread teaching about worship, and page with a few definitions. There's a page dedicated to The Bible, Books of the Bible, The Ten Commandments, God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, Love, Prayer, The Lord's Prayer, Miracles, The Parables of Jesus, the ABCs of Becoming a Christian(editing for us)and 8 maps. There's also full page color illustrations within these color pages.

There's more color charts throughout, but on the same thin pages as the rest of the Bible. Each chapter will give you "good verses to read". There's little bits and pieces put into the text, too, like "Brain Games", with questions, "Soak it Up", which is Bible verses, and "Check it Out", which is like a super mini devotional.

Overall, it's a nice Bible, as far as extra features go.

*I was provided a review copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.


Purchase Link:

NIrV Study Bible for Kids


Spiritual Parenting in the First Five Years: God’s Plan for Early Childhood Christian Development by Callie Grant(Freebie Alert)


Parents have nine months to prepare for their new baby. From birthing and breastfeeding classes to researching the perfect brand of diapers and the safest crib, much time is put into making sure parents will meet the physical needs of their children. But what about the spiritual needs? The first five years of life are fundamental to development. Could parents be missing out on a key time when they could not only teach about shapes and colors but also share the heart and nature of God?

Graham Blanchard is the only Christian publishing house that specializes in board books to help parents teach their kids about God from infancy. Now, to continue that mission it has produced its first book for parents, Spiritual Parenting in the First Give Years: God’s Plan for Early Childhood Christian Discipleship, (May 15, 2015), written by Graham Blanchard company founder Callie Grant, with the involvement of pastors, Christian educators, and parents.

In Spiritual Parenting in the First Five Years, Grant lays out five Bible-based principles for the care and feeding of a new child’s inner life. Drawing from Scripture and the inspiration of great Christian teachers, Grant shows how new and expecting parents can maximize this vital development window—an opportune time to teach children about who God is and who they are in him.

My Quick Thoughts:

Y'all probably know by now that we greatly enjoy the Graham Blanchard books around here. They have a new parenting book that as of right now, you can grab a PDF copy of the book for free at their website. If you'd rather have the kindle version, it's 4.99 at Amazon.

It's a super quick read at only 36 pages, but it might give you a little boost of encouragement as far as making sure you teach your little ones. It will also encourage you to listen to your little ones, and be prepared to answer their questions in a heartfelt way, as opposed to memorized answers. Children are smart, and know when something is from the heart!

So, if you've got little ones, grab yourself a copy while it's free! ;)


The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery

My Thoughts:

The copy I borrowed from my public library was very old and the only one, and the best I can tell is actually a 1st edition. After finishing it, and loving it so much I wanted to hug it(despite its textured cover, with no book cover...the horror!), I was saddened to realize that I was only the 4th person to have ever checked it out. (1 in 1999, 2003, 2009, and myself here in 2015) Because I loved it so much, and due to the apparent lack of interest, at least in my little part of the world, this will now be one of those books I try my best to get people to read.

The copy I read was translated by Katherine Woods, thankfully. I always search around for kindle versions before checking actual books out of the library. By doing so, it didn't take long to discover the strong distaste for this book's fans concerning the newer translation by Howard. Though I haven't read his translation in full, based on the quote comparisons I've seen, I highly recommend locating Woods' translation of this book!

After finishing the first time through, I still felt like I had missed a great deal of what the author was trying to say. I decided to activate my audible trial, and use one of the picks for this book, and so I listened to it, too. I also downloaded a free study guide for the book from a reputable site. (It had the full text of The Little Prince, along with all of the illustrations at the end of the study guide. Is this legal? I didn't think so, but I don't fully understand all things legal wise.)

I still don't understand what each person/thing within the story was supposed to represent, so I'm hoping I get some answers reading other people's reviews. :) I typically love reading books that remind us adults to think more like a child, though, and this one was no exception. Books like these are special. While it's a children's book, and a sweet one, it feels like there's so many lessons written for adults.

One thing I did learn after reading the story is that baobabs are real. I'm showing my ignorance here, but I thought they were a made up component of the story. Some of them are quite odd looking, and truly look like something added to a fictional fantasy story, but are very much real. As far as looks go, I like them. ;) I also did a little research on the author, and was sad to learn that he died and/or disappeared soon after this book was published. The more I read, the more curious I became to read his other works, even if I don't think I could appreciate them as much as The Little Prince.

It seems as though I've rambled on and on without really saying anything about the book.

So. Here are some of my favorite things within the book.

The illustrations! They were odd, to say the least, but they warmed my heart. My favorite was the fox, because he really didn't look like a fox at all, and his ears were indeed too long.

I also loved the whole "taming" experiment.

'"To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world..."'(page 66)

I just really loved the little fox!

I loved that the little prince even cleaned out his extinct volcano, because "One never knows!".

"I have good reason to believe that somewhere on my planet there is an old rat. I hear him at night. You can judge this old rat. From time to time you will condemn him to death. Thus his life will depend on your justice. But you will pardon him on each occasion; for he must be treated triftily. He is the only one we have." (page 39)

"Well, I must endure the presence of two or three caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies."(page 34)

There are so many quotes I loved within the book that made me think, and I now want to get my own beautiful copy to admire, and maybe a raggedy copy, so I can highlight my favorites.

Have you ever read The Little Prince? What did you think? If not, go grab a copy! ;)


Purchase Link:

The Little Prince (This was the only one I could find that specifically had Woods as the translator.)

The Little Prince Deluxe Pop-Up Book (This is my birthday request from Jonathan, even if it is Howard's translation.)


Reading to Know - Book Club


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Laugh Out Loud Pocket Doodles for Boys/Laugh Out Loud Pocket Doodles for Girls by Rob Eliiot, and Illustrated by Jonny Hawkins


Rob Elliott's Laugh-Out-Loud joke books have brought laughter to more than half a million households. His last book invited kids into the action as he teamed up with cartoonist Jonny Hawkins to create Laugh-Out-Loud Doodles for Kids. Now the dynamic duo is back with two brand-new books for boys and girls who love to draw and love to laugh! Packed with jokes that will keep boys and girls giggling for hours, and unfinished doodles for them to complete any way they want, these books keep little hands and minds busy. Perfect for road trips, lazy summer days, or anytime the kids say, "I'm bored!"

My Thoughts:

These books are small. If I lay my hand flat on the top of each one, my hand is bigger, just to give you an idea. There's a book for both boys and girls. Flipping through, they're mostly the same style, though with different pictures and jokes. You might expect the girls' book to have rainbows and butterflies throughout, but it's not like that. The only differences I saw in the two books are the covers, the characters inside the girls' book are female and the names are for girls. The boys' book has male characters and male names. Otherwise, you can't really tell one is for girls vs. boys.

Each page has a joke, the beginning of a picture, and a drawing prompt.

Other than reading books, my next in line wishful hobby is learning to draw/paint. I haven't dedicated the time to it like I would like so far. I recently added a couple of drawing classes/lessons to our "curriculum" line-up for this coming school year. I figure if I want to learn to do something, I better involve my kids! ;) I've tried to encourage drawing here and there for them, but I hope there will be more confidence, particularly with my Grasshopper in the coming months/years with his creations. He has an imagination that regularly amazes me, but he is always more hesitant to draw, at least lately, claiming he can't do it. It seems more of a confidence issue vs. lack of interest.

For that reason, I love that these books give one's imagination a little head start, but ultimately the drawer is free to come up with what he/she wants. It gives me a chance to sit down with my little ones and tell them a joke or two, and encourage them to practice drawing and stretching their imagination. Not only will it ultimately build more confidence over time, but it's also a neat little keepsake for me. I've tried to write little notes on each page about conversations that were happening while drawing and what was being drawn.

They've been a fun way to spend some special time together and laugh together, even if my little ones didn't really get most of the jokes. One of the great things about my children is that they don't need a reason to laugh other than someone else is doing it,though my goal is always to teach "with", not "at". (Recently, one of my children pointed and laughed at a woman, proclaiming she had "clown" hair. I was horrified to say the least.) Many of the jokes went right over their heads, but if I laughed, they laughed along with me.

For older children that can read the jokes themselves, these would also be great drawing/imagination practice, but could be great for car rides or doctor waits. Even though my little ones are below the target age, we've still enjoyed them. The best thing of all is that one does NOT have to be a great artist to enjoy themselves with them, as we are proof! :D

*We were provided review copies of both books, in exchange for our honest opinions.


Purchase Links:

Laugh-Out-Loud Pocket Doodles for Girls

Laugh-Out-Loud Pocket Doodles for Boys