Monday, October 28, 2013

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Zonderkidz (September 22, 2013) 224 pages

My Thoughts:

When I put together that the author of this book is the same author as The Jesus Storybook Bible, my conscience automatically went on high alert. I didn't like The Jesus Storybook Bible. A couple of years ago, I passed my copy on to someone I thought could enjoy it more than me. I don't regret that, but at the same time, it is driving me absolutely *insane* that I really don't remember why I didn't like that book!!! I seem to recall that the author was a little more liberal in her translations of the Bible than I cared for, but I can't recall specifics.

I actually liked THIS book, though! Despite not remembering why I didn't like The Jesus Storybook Bible, I trust myself enough to realize I had to have had a reason. I had to move past that feeling that something was wrong(and yet couldn't put my finger on it) with this book in order to enjoy it for what it's worth.

The author IS a bit liberal with her translations of Bible verses at times. There may be certain pages you want to skip. I've enjoyed it, though!

It's almost like a mini devotional book. (The book itself is not mini sized. It's normal!)Each devotional/thought is given a two page spread. Some of these require turning the book on its side to read. There's always a *gorgeous* picture included. I *loved* the artwork! That's another thing that is driving me insane! The artist of this book is the same artist as The Jesus Storybook Bible, and I can't remember the artwork from it. This is a beautiful book, though! I was given a leather bound edition to review, and if you think this is something you would enjoy, I'd actually recommend getting the leather bound version! It makes the reading experience so much more for me when I'm holding a leather edition of a book. (or an *old* copy of anything)

This book is recommended for 6-9 years olds. I tried reading a few of these devotionals to the boys(Grasshopper(5) and Firefly(2)) They adored the pictures and keep asking me to see them. They were especially taken with the "planet picture". It's their most requested. But, these are mostly just too much for them. I ended up reading through the book myself, and I'll try it again in a couple of years with them.

There ARE some of the devotionals that work well with them now, but you'll most likely have to pick and choose for younger children.

The author uses many people from the past to help create these thoughts, such as Corrie Ten Boom, John Calvin, Martin Luther, and C.S. Lewis. (Of course, I don't share the same beliefs of all of these people, just to be clear.) She also uses events from the past to create them. There's little history lessons woven into these short thoughts throughout the book. There's also a little index of sorts in the back where the author gives credit to everyone she's used to help her in this book.

Just to give you an idea of what you can expect with this book, here's an example of one I liked:

Miraculous World

A giraffe can clean its ear with its twenty-one-inch tongue! A hippo isn't yawning at you-it's showing off its teeth so birds will clean them. No two zebras have stripes exactly alike. Fifty thousand cells in your body will die and be replaced all while you read this sentence.

We live in an incredible, miraculous world!

The Bible says nature is just a shadow of what it will be when God comes back to mend this broken world.

If this beautiful world is just a shadow of what it will be like when God comes back...what on earth will you be like?

"The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!" Isaiah 55:12(NLT)

Overall, I do think some of the author's translations of verses could have this book ripped apart in the right hands, but ultimately, I *really* enjoyed it, and feel pretty safe recommending it to you.

*Thank you to Charleen at DJC Communications and Zondervan for sending me a review copy! All thoughts expressed are mine and my *honest* thoughts about the book.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Adventure Bible Storybook(Deluxe Edition)

Adventure Bible Storybook Deluxe Edition

Adventure Awaits!

The Adventure Bible Storybook starts children on the journey of a lifetime, introducing them to some of the greatest stories of the Bible! Bold, beautiful illustrations bring the fifty action-packed stories to life as readers encounter fun, exciting themes of discovery, imagination, and suspense---everything you’d expect from a fantastic adventure. This deluxe edition enhances the Bible reading experience with audio CDs that include multiple character voices, music, and sound effects. The Adventure Bible Storybook Deluxe Edition stimulates children’s minds and fills their hearts with love for their heavenly Father.

My Rating: 3/5 stars(most of that for the pictures!)

My Thoughts:

I got this Bible Storybook due to liking Adventure Bible Book of Devotions so much. Unfortunately, I didn't care for this one so much.

The pictures in this book are *gorgeous*! I'll keep it on our shelves solely for the pictures, and due to the fact that the boys are continuously picking it up to look at them. I actually wish there were pictures like this in the devotional book! But, they are very different books!

The stories? I'm not so crazy about them. They're really a big mesh of fact and fiction. If you've been around here long, you may remember that I don't care for Biblical fiction. (That was simply something I had to learn about myself through experience.) This book kind of comes off as Biblical fiction, to me. Really, a large majority of it is fact based on the Bible, but there is still more than I cared for as far as what *might* have happened and what someone *might* have been thinking. I can deal with a bit of this. The Action Bible is a great example, since it does have some of the *might of* things going on. It wasn't overwhelming, and I wasn't uncomfortable with it. There was too much liberality taken with Adventure Bible Storybook, *for me*, though. (I noticed as I was linking that this is the *storybook* and there's actually simply an Adventure Bible. I see my confusion now, but I haven't seen Adventure Bible and can't say what I think of it.)

It's not that I'm against thinking about what *might* have been going on at any given time, but my tolerance level of passing it off as fact is VERY low. I actually really enjoy thinking about what a person might have been thinking or doing during Bible events. It helps me to put the events into better perspective. Maybe that was the author's goal with this book? Still, it crossed my comfort level. Honestly, I think most people will be perfectly fine with it!

Just to give you a couple of examples: In the story of Esther, she twirls her skirt around and smiles at the king to win the beauty pageant. Before crossing the Red Sea, a little girl hugs her doll. In the story of Noah, I'll just give you an excerpt:

"Even though it was dark, Noah knew exactly where he was. He heard his wife's footsteps. Her basket of eggs clunked his back as she walked by. 'Oops, sorry,' she said. 'Breakfast will be ready soon, if I can keep these eggs in the pan. The storm sure is strong today!'"

See! I have a low tolerance! ;)

Another issue I had with the stories is the fact that they needed more details, in my opinion. They ARE simply worded, and great for a toddler. As far as simplicity, they were perfect for Firefly(2), even with his almost non-existent attention span these days. Each story, though done in Biblical order, left too much room for confusion. You might not get the real ending or beginning of one story before you're thrown into a completely different one. I think that even if it meant losing a few stories to keep its length, more details for many of them would have been more beneficial. Of course, as is true for ALL Bible storybooks, this is best used as a supplement to the real thing!

In this deluxe edition, you will get a copy of The Adventure Bible, 2 CDs in a little paper case, and a cardboard case to hold those items together.

The CDs contain an audio version of the whole Adventure Bible Storybook. There IS music and side effects in the background, just in case that influences your decision at all. The narration is a little slow and sometimes dreary. I caught myself thinking, "Let's get on with it!" Of course, then I felt guilty. I read much quicker than the narration on the CDs, though, and I'm nowhere near a speed reader.

Overall, I'll likely just use this storybook as a picture supplement. It's not horrible, and I actually did like some of the wording, but it was more often than not too liberal for my tastes.

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

Friday, October 18, 2013

Flora and Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate Dicamillo

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Quick Thoughts: It's not what I was expecting. AT ALL. It ended up being a cute little story, though!

Full Thoughts:

As I was thinking through all of my "odd potential" books this month, I thought this one was somewhat of a black sheep. Of course, as usual, I hadn't really read the description. I grabbed this one purely based on the author. She has a great reputation around the reading world and Grasshopper is really enjoying her Mercy Watson books. Odd potential, though? I didn't see it.

Be prepared for an odd little read when you pick this one up! It fit perfectly with my reading goals this month!

I really don't want to give you a description at all! I want you to pick this one up without knowing a thing about it, like me, and just let the story unfold, one little strange moment at a time.

I will tell you this much, though. Flora is a cynic. She enjoys reading comic books. She's quirky, and I liked her! She's the opposite from me in many ways, but she's a unique person trying to make the best of her situation. She meets a squirrel, and the adventure begins!

The story is mostly told in very short chapters, but occasionally we get to read parts of the story in comic book form, which I thought was fun! (And clever, considering how much comic books mean to Flora.)

There's lots of discussion/lesson potential in this book, so bonus points from a parent's point of view. It's just plain fun, so bonus points from a child's point of view, too. Honestly, I was expecting something completely different from it. I don't think that everyone will be able to appreciate it. I can easily appreciate a "weird" book, but even this one wasn't my favorite. I DID enjoy it, though! I guess I was just expecting more, considering the high praise that always follows Dicamillo's name.

Overall, it's cute! And odd!

*I was provided an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks

Quick Thoughts: A big dose of Ghostbusters + little dose of Sherlock Holmes + 1870s London, England = one of my favorite books of the year!

Full Thoughts:

I've had an *amazing* month of reading this month! I've made it a point to at least attempt keeping my focus on "odd" books. It's paid off! I don't think I've ever read this many books I enjoyed so much in one month. Even so, THIS one is still my favorite of the month so far. I'll have to read some amazing books through the remainder of the year for this one to not be on my list of favorites of the year!

I can't recommend this one to ALL of my readers. Most of you, yes. I think you'll love it. Despite being a middle grade book, it's very mature, in my opinion, and I think even fans of YA will end up loving it. It is dark, and a bit creepy at times. I'd say it's more suspenseful than horror. If I'd read the description before grabbing it, I most likely wouldn't have read it. I would have missed out, though.

Birdie McAdams is a 10 year old bogler's girl. She's an apprentice to Alfred, which is a bogler. Together they catch and kill the bogles that have been hiding and feeding on children. (A bogle is a monster or bogeyman.)They're very poor and they depend on each job to put food in their stomachs and to keep Alfred's brandy flask full. Things start changing when Miss Eames arrives in the picture, though!

Seriously! I loved this book! I didn't want to put it down and pretty much flew through it. It's mysterious enough that I couldn't wait to see what happened next. There were a few characters I kept going back and forth on what side they were working for. I thought it was a well written, challenging book for young readers. There is a bit of content I could have done without, especially considering this is a middle grade book, but otherwise it was wonderful.

One part of me was disappointed to learn this is the first in a trilogy. I don't want to have to wait 2 years to finish the series. Almost nothing bugs me more than having to wait that long to finish a story. ;) On the other hand, I'm thrilled there will be more to Birdie and Alfred's story.
If you don't mind a bit of "street" language and lifestyle,(They live on the streets of 1870s London. They talk a little rough at times.) and a brief stroll through the creepy lane, I *highly* recommend you give this one a chance!

There is some mild profanity throughout. There are a couple of curses to of which is a plea for God to send the person there. To kill the bogles, things such as salt and "holy water" are used. Children are being eaten, so there's lots of murders, but no details as far as I remember. (I know! It sounds much worse here than while reading, though, I assure you!)

*I was provided an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root by Christopher Pennell(Illustrated by Rebecca Bond)

The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root by Christopher Pennell

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Quick Thoughts: This is a quirky, clever little story, with a fairy tale feeling. It kind of reminded me of Alice in Wonderland at times, which is what I'm now reading on my kindle. I liked it!

Full Thoughts:

It was the title of THIS 2 star review at Amazon that made me grab The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root, without a moment's hesitation! ("Bad" reviews aren't always such a bad thing, even if I didn't read the whole review!) Labeling a book "weird" is pretty much a sure way to get me to read it, though. I've found some of my favorite books that way.

This story starts out with us meeting Carly Bean Bitters. She can't sleep at night. It's utterly impossible. She can only sleep during the day, and staying awake is something she can barely control, and sometimes can't, when the morning arrives. She meets many animals and people throughout the book, but Lewis, a musician rat, is among the most influential to her. Most of the musician rats are being taken by the owls, which at one point loved to dance to the music the rats played. Carly is on a mission to find out why they've suddenly changed.

The griddlebeast is the "monster" of this story. He's a villain through and through, but he still manages to add a bit of humor.

I found the story imaginative and quirky, but not as "weird" as I was expecting. Don't get me wrong. There's plenty of oddness in here. It was enough that I greatly enjoyed reading it. In a couple of years, this will be a *perfect* read aloud to Grasshopper(5).

The story is magical, but it's subtle magic. I have to go back to Alice in Wonderland to describe it. I really don't want to say too much, because I think this is a wonderful book to let the reader figure out for themselves about certain aspects. I enjoyed getting to come to my own conclusions.

It's a quick read, and I flew through it. The pictures scattered throughout the whole story definitely added more pleasure to this reading adventure.

Overall, this is a wonderful little story for young readers! I highly recommend it!

*I was provided an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, October 14, 2013

NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions by Robin Schmitt

Adventure Bible Book of Devotions, NIV: 365 Days of Adventure by Robin Schmitt

My Quick Thoughts: I've grown to love this devotional book! It's a *wonderful* tool to use with character studies.

My Full Thoughts:

This has proven to be a wonderful addition to our days! With Grasshopper(5) going to preschool right now, we're *learning* to use the time we have with him in the best way possible. It is a work in progress adjusting, though! This is a great devotional book to use with him just before school each day.

You may(or may not) remember that I'm not overly fond of the NIV of the Bible. This book *does* use the NIV throughout. That's the great thing about devotional books, though. There are so many options! Each devotional has 1 to 2 Bible verses included. I can easily read from the translation of my choice, since the verses are provided for me. It's never a bad thing for our children to see us reading from the actual Bible, after all. It *is* so handy that each verse is written out within the devotional, though. And, admittedly, I've taken advantage of its convenience more often than not. ;)

There are 365 devotions included in this book. Back to the options I mentioned earlier. If there's ever a devotional I(or you) don't like....we can skip it. We haven't made our way completely through all of the devotions just yet, but so far, I've been *very* pleased. You can use these devotions in many ways. They are dated, so you can use one for each day of the year. There's also a couple of indexes, so you can also study them by subject/verses.

The "Contents" section lists each and every devotional title by month and day. The devotional itself starts with a Bible verse. Then there's a story to help your child put the lesson into modern day/everyday context. After that, there's a "lesson". The ending varies by day. It might be another Bible verse, or a trivia fact from Bible times, a definition, or a challenge, etc. At the end of the book, there's a topic index(alphabetical order) and a Scripture index(Biblical order).

As I read through many of them, and looked through the indexes, I realized what a wonderful tool this book is in connection with character/virtue studies. We recently created a "morning board" and included a "character study" portion. This book is a *perfect* addition. There's also many other wonderful lessons included, though.

Overall, this is a great devotional for little ones. The recommended age is for 9-12 year olds, but in general, I think younger ones can greatly benefit from them, too. It a great, *quick* way of getting a little Bible lesson into the day when time is short. Of course, I think we could ALL use more time in our days! ;)

*A huge "Thank you" to Charleen at DJC Communications and Zondervan for sending me a review copy in exchange for my *honest* opinion! We've enjoyed our time in it!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lucy the Dinosaur Books by Joey Album

The Lucy the Dinosaur books are a set of digital books that I think are really cute. These are only some of the books available right now.....

Lucy the Dinosaur: Nice to Meet You!

Children's Book: Lucy the Dinosaur: Count with Me

Lucy the Dinosaur: Learns Opposites

Lucy the Dinosaur: Summer Games

Lucy the Dinosaur: Playtime Fun

Lucy the Dinosaur: Day at the Beach

These are so simple, you just can't go wrong with them! The pictures are bright and grabbing. They're quick reads, but still fun and educational.

They're aimed at 3-5 years olds, but I'd actually recommend them to 1-3 year olds. They were perfect for Firefly(2). He doesn't have the best attention span when it comes to books(well, anything, really!), and these were simple and short enough to benefit him. Grasshopper(5), although very delayed for his age, can handle a bigger challenge. He DID enjoy them, though! The number book was especially great for him, because he does struggle greatly with them. Again, though, I'd recommend them as read alouds for the younger age group. I have no experience with beginning reading yet, but there are some harder words scattered along. They might work as beginning readers with some help.

We enjoyed reading these! If you want a few cute books on your kindle for your little one, grab these!

*Just to give you a hint, when you get to the end of a book, you have a free offer for the next one! ;)

To learn more about the Lucy the Dinosaur books, check out her main page HERE.

*I was provided e-copies of these books in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Homeschool Mom's Bible-KJV (WITH GIVEAWAY!)

Homeschooling mothers will be encouraged by heartfelt, practical readings from the 365 devotions this KJV Bible offers.

This hardcover KJV Bible offers 365 encouraging devotions for moms who educate their children at home. Homeschooling mothers will be encouraged by heartfelt, practical readings that cover topics such as avoiding burnout, staying focused and committed, navigating the needs of toddlers, setting boundaries, and, most importantly, maintaining proper soul care while juggling educational and household responsibilities.

Features include:

•365 daily meditations with prayers written by Janet Tatman, a veteran homeschooling mother with more than 25 years of experience homeschooling
•The full text of the classic King James Version (KJV) Bible
•Foreword from Vickie Farris, author, homeschool mom, and wife of Michael Farris, founder of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association
•Topical index

My Thoughts:

First of all, I have to say, I almost feel wrong having this Bible for review. My oldest(newly 5) is in preschool full time right now. I'm not a homeschooling mom. When I got this Bible, though, I had full intentions of being in our practice year of homeschooling, with Grasshopper only going to preschool a few 1/2 days a week. Things changed, and while I'm not doing so well with this new schedule, it is what it is. I won't give up hope of being a homeschool mom until the final decision is made, though. ;)

I ended up with two copies of this Bible, so I'm going to pass one of them on to one of you. Make sure you read to the end or skip to the end for the giveaway!

When I first saw this Bible, I was a little disappointed, because the version I saw was NIV. I don't care for that version, despite its popularity. I was taking that version on for review, and then passing them on, or keeping a few around for the devotions, but I've stopped even doing that. Devotional Bibles generally only come in one translation. My heart leapt for joy at seeing this one was also offered in the KJV. I generally prefer the NKJV and ASV these days, but I did need a good copy of a KJV Bible on my shelf(meaning, one that hadn't been chewed by a crazy dog). The fact that it has homeschooling momma devotions was icing on the cake!

I was a little disappointed in the devotions, to be honest. They are perfectly fine as a quick read, and something to get you thinking, but there wasn't much "meat" to them. They were very simple and didn't relate to the verses around which they were placed. For example, a devotion placed in between the pages of Genesis was based on Proverbs. I would have been much happier if the devotions were related to the Bible reading surrounding it.

I did like that at the bottom of each devotion, you were directed to which page the next devotion was located. That was much easier than flipping through the pages looking for the next one.

If you're a homeschooling mom, this *would* be nice to have for a quick devotion!

Now for the Giveaway!

**If you would like a hardcover copy of the Homeschool Mom's Bible or know a homeschooling mom that would like it, just leave a comment (with email)below to be entered.

Extra entries:
-Follow me in any way.
-Share about this giveaway in any way.

Feel free to put all entries in one comment or separate. Your preference. Winner will be chosen by

-US only please.
-Must be 13 or older.
-I'll close the giveaway on the 15th.

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

The Jungle Book By Rudyard Kipling

Reading to Know - Book Club

I read the free Kindle version, but I really like that particular cover.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

It took great effort to finish this book, to be honest. It was much different than I expected. I really have no Disney connection with The Jungle Book. I haven't watched it, but I have saw the dancing bear, Baloo, singing the "Bear Necessities" song. When I first starting reading the book, and saw how the wolves adopted Mowgli, I kept wondering where on earth the gorillas were. It took far longer than I care to admit to finally realize I was thinking of Tarzan.

While I didn't really know anything about Baloo, other than the song, he was far different than I expected, considering he "beats and bruises" Mowgli. Endearing, huh?! I didn't care for the stories involving Mowgli. Kipling was really just too harsh for my tastes, I think! I realize we live in a harsh world, but when I escape into the world of fiction, I want happy thoughts! I'll save the little "real world" reading I do for non-fiction. It seemed that the animals were constantly being punished with kicks or slaps or beatings.

It wasn't ALL harsh, though. I didn't realize that The Jungle Book is really more like several short stories, songs, and poems, involving different characters. I did greatly enjoy the story of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. It was with this story that I actually thought the book might have a chance with me.

All of that said, I AM glad I read this book. In the end, I grew to appreciate what Kipling did with it. He's not my favorite author, and it did take effort, and I still don't overly like his writing, but I DO appreciate this book! That's more than I thought I'd be able to say starting out. Lord willing, I have full intentions of reading this book, along with Kipling's other works, with my boys in a few years!

Make sure you go read Sky's review. She was the host this month. Honestly, it was her review that made me push through and finish! I think it was her thoughts that gave me the appreciation of the book I was able to get. Plus, she quotes a Tim Burton movie, which just warmed my heart! ;)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

The Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple Mysteries) by Agatha Christie

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Short and Sweet Thoughts:

I think I have a new favorite author on my hands. I loved this mystery and can't wait to read more!

Full Thoughts:

When the Vicar finds a dead body in his study, the search for the killer begins.

Growing up, when I heard the name Agatha Christie, I thought of those cheap, trashy romances. I don't know why! It wasn't until more recent years that I realized she was actually a mystery writer and a Classic author. The urge to read a great mystery, along with Juju's mention of Miss Marple gave me just the push I needed to crack open this one. Oh, how I loved it! I can easily see why Christie was put in the hall of Classics, unlike some Classics I read in bafflement. She knows how to weave a mystery plot, I tell you!

This is the first book in which Miss Marple makes her appearance. Her role was much different than I expected. Instead of front and center, she's doing her solving as a secondary character, in the background, which is just how she prefers it! It's obvious she's still important, though. Murder at the Vicarage is told from the point of view of the Vicar. One particular sermon he gives provided a few laughs! There was actually random bits of humor throughout that only endeared me to the book more. The Vicar's wife, Griselda, as annoying as she was, was actually quite humorous, too!

Throughout the whole story, I had my murderer picked out, and was feeling a little proud that I already knew who he/she was. I was wrong! ;) Reading this story, you will be provided with plenty of suspects from which to pick from, but good luck picking correctly! It's a very "cozy" mystery. I lost no sleep and suffered no nightmares during its reading. If I can say that, I think just about anybody else could, too!

I always feel so unqualified to say anything at all about Classics. I will say, though, I can now highly recommend you give this one a try. My hands are itching to get ahold of the next one, The Body in the Library. It looks like an order from Abebooks at some point, since my library doesn't have it!

Content: Mild profanity