Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Can’t-Miss Black Friday Deal from Adventures in Odyssey

Christmas time is nearly here, and the excitement is in the air. But rather than waking up before the sun on Black Friday or having to fight the massive crowds, you could get a special present for your kids or grandkids from Adventures in Odyssey: a subscription to their online Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC)!

Offering 24/7 access to 25 years’ worth of Adventures in Odyssey episodes, the club is a safe and fun environment where children can explore, create and imagine, all while developing their faith and learning biblical truth.

When you sign up between 11/26 and 12/1 (promo code: BLKFRDAY) not only will you receive a special introductory price of $5.00 for your first month of club membership, you’ll also receive a special gift worth $50, including:

  • Imagination Station #12: Danger on A Silent Night book (mailed to you in December)
  • A Family Christmas Volume 1 of Timeless Classics on CD (mailed to you in December)
  • Radio Theatre: A Christmas Carol digital download
  • Radio Theatre: Traveling Home For Christmas digital download
  • 101 Surefire Ways To Strengthen Your Child’s Faith ebook
Membership provides:

  • 24/7 streaming access to more than 750 Adventures in Odyssey episodes (a $1500 retail value).
  • A new, members-only Adventures in Odyssey episode every month.
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine delivered to your mailbox.
  • A web quest of video stories and online activities reflecting the biblical theme of that month's episode.
  • On-the-go access with the OAClub mobile iOS app.
  • Growing access to Odyssey books, a daily devotion, access to select Radio Theatre dramas and more.
A portion of each Odyssey Adventure Club membership benefits Focus on the Family partner relief organizations such as Operation Christmas Child and Compassion International, providing parents with an opportunity to teach children about the value of giving and serving others. 

This Christmas, give a present that will not only entertain throughout the year, but will provide a lifelong spiritual foundation.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Look Inside the Time of Jesus by Lois Rock

My Thoughts:

We love this book!

The whole book is somewhat like a large board book, with lots of flaps. It gives us a peek at what everyday life might have been like during Jesus's time on Earth. I'm always curious about what a typical day was like for people of various time periods and places, so it's been fun sharing that with my boys.

We've pretty much kept this book in our "diaper" bag for the past month, and its been enjoyed by all three of my boys, along with one of my nieces and nephews. It's been perfect for carrying with us to church service(for at least a few minutes of quiet...We struggle with quietness right now, though!)

Overall, this one has been a huge winner!

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

Purchase Link:

Look Inside the Time of Jesus

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Windows on the World: 50 Writers, 50 Views by Matteo Pericoli

The Penguin Press (November 13, 2014) 152 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Windows on the World is a simple, but inspiring book. 50 authors give us a little peek into their lives, and tell us a bit about what they see outside their window. It goes past the physical, and touches on the sentimental of what their views/windows mean to them. Matteo Pericoli, with pen and ink, shows us those windows. At first, I was disappointed that the windows weren’t done with colors, but I grew to appreciate the simplicity of the black and white drawn pictures.

This is a short book. Most of the authors’ writing only takes up one page, though a few go to 2 pages. They also get a page for their windows. Due to time restrictions, I read it straight through, but I’d recommend just savoring it with a slow read. The amount of time that I’m sure went into this book deserves more than a quick read. I found it inspiring to “see” through the eyes of each of the authors. I hadn’t heard of a single one of them, but it didn’t matter. I got the chance to travel around the world and see new people and new landscapes, all in such a short amount of time. I’m inspired to appreciate my window view more and even to write.

Windows on the World is a lovely book!

*There was one mild word of profanity in one of the essays.

**I was provided a review copy through Amazon Vine.

Purchase Link:

Windows on the World: Fifty Writers, Fifty Views

Monday, November 10, 2014

Robots in Children's Books

HMH Books for Young Readers (October 7, 2014) 208 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

When I first started reading this book, I thought it was super corny, and I didn’t think I would like it at all. Thankfully, it won me over pretty quickly. Even though there are people in this story, I was constantly reminded of the movie, Robots, which I love! I also got a Meet the Robinsons vibe. (I JUST wrote a review saying how much I have a love/hate relationship with these kinds of comparisons!) There were still moment of corniness, but overall, I enjoyed it.

Since this is a short book, the reader quickly realizes that this book is a mystery. Also, it’s action-packed, with a battle for humanity. The ending leaves you knowing there will be more books in this series. I think my boys will have fun reading it a couple of years down the road.

*I was provided a review copy through Amazon Vine.

Purchase Link:

The Junkyard Bot: Robots Rule, Book 1

Scholastic Inc.; Revised edition (April 29, 2014) 112 pages

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Ricky is a small mouse, and he’s always getting picked on. That is, until he meets Robot!

Grasshopper is really small for his age. Though he's 6, he’s the size of a small 3 year old. I thought he might connect with Ricky. As a parent, I can’t say this was my favorite book. Grasshopper liked it okay, though he became a little confused with parts. I think this is one he'll probably enjoy more a bit down the road, when he's reading by himself.

This is somewhat of a combination book/comic book. Grasshopper really enjoyed the book part, but became confused during the comic book parts. We don’t read much in the “comic” realm just yet. There was one point where the scenes are viewed by flipping 2 pages back and forth really quick. There were 5 scenes like this. He didn’t really get it. I tried to explain to him what was going on, though.

The whole book is in full color, so we enjoyed that part! It’s also a very quick read.

Overall, we both thought it was okay, but not a favorite. Again, though, I think Grasshopper will most likely end up revisiting this book, and enjoy it more later. I really think it will appeal to beginning readers, particularly in the boy realm.

*I was provided a review copy through Amazon Vine.

Purchase Link:

Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot (Book 1)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Armchair Cybils: A Few Easy Reader Nominations

The Armchair Cybils is hosted by Amy @Hope is the Word.

HMH Books for Young Readers (September 2, 2014) 176 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Don’t let the cover fool you. This book is perfectly great for boys, too!

Maisie lives with her grandmother, and together they run a boardinghouse, though Maisie’s part is mostly cleaning and running errands. She adores Detective Gilbert Carrington and is convinced she has the detective skills to someday help him. When money is discovered stolen and Maisie’s friend has been falsely accused, she sets to work to find the real culprit.

I’m a sucker for lower class books set in London, especially mysteries, so I was thrilled about the possibility of sharing that world with my boys. I loved it, though I’ll hold off a couple of years to share it with them.

There’s just so much to love within this too brief little mystery. There’s fun characters, friendship and loyalty, humor, and the cutest little dog there ever was. The pictures are also a pure pleasure, with the perfect amount of sweetness. My reading heart jumped from joy at seeing the “map” of the boardinghouse in the front of the book.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

*I was provided a review copy through Amazon Vine.

Purchase Link:

The Case of the Stolen Sixpence (Maisie Hitchins)

Random House Books for Young Readers (October 14, 2014) 96 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

In Emma and the Blue Genie, Emma takes a walk one night when she can’t sleep. She finds a genie named Karim, but he’s much smaller than she imagined, and he has no magic. A powerful genie has stolen the source of his power…a nose ring. Emma and Karim set out on a mission to retrieve his nose ring.

I’m always on the lookout for books with genies in them, because they’re not overly common. I was thrilled to get the chance to read this one, and hopeful that it could be one I could share with my boys(6 and 3) soon. I’m even more thrilled that it passed the test, and will promptly go on our reading list. (I'm hoping to watch Aladdin first.)

Emma and the Blue Genie has a fairy tale quality to it. It has beautiful FULL color illustrations liberally spread throughout the story. The ending makes me believe that this is the first book in the series, so I’m eagerly waiting to see if that’s true.

It was purely a pleasure to read Emma and the Blue Genie!

*I was provided a review copy through Amazon Vine.

Purchase Link:

Emma and the Blue Genie

Candlewick (August 26, 2014) 96 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Grasshopper LOVES the Mercy Watson series by Dicamillo! When I saw this one at the library, I quickly added it to our stack of books. We ended up reading it in 2 sessions, but it might have benefited us to break it up a bit more.

I think the fact that I told Grasshopper Mercy was at the end of the book was the only way he made it through to the end. He was ready to give it up. His love for Mercy won out, though. Once he realized this was connected(even if slightly) to his beloved Mercy books, he ran to the bookshelf and pulled them off, and then gazed through them admiringly. ;) His favorite part was the end, though. If you've ever read the Mercy books, then you know how this one ends, too. Grasshopper *expects* that ending now!

As far as my thoughts, I thought is was super corny, but also super cute. It's kind of a sappy, heartwarming little story.

Honestly, the only thing about this book that would give me hesitations as far as recommending to others is the large amount of (made-up) slang language used. Words of profanity have never been purposely spoken from my mouth. (I don't count the time as an innocent child speaking a word I didn't know.) ;) BUT, I DO use slang language. (I know some people consider them the same, so if you're one of them, definitely don't read this book with your little ones.) Still, I wasn't comfortable reading them, and therefore, I ended up skipping over most of them. (Yep...I realize how hypocritical that seems.) The ones I did say made Grasshopper laugh, which I imagine was the purpose of them. All of that to warn you that you might want to look through the story a bit before reading it aloud.

It was still a sweet story, though!

*Thanks to our local library for loaning us this book.

Purchase Link:

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up: Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Volume One

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Upcoming Books I'm Most Looking Forward To Reading

These are the books being published at various times in the next year that make me want to squeal in excitement, and maybe do a little dance of happiness.

Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Rooglewood Press (November 10, 2014)

How a Star Falls by Amber Stokes

Seasons of a Story (November 18, 2014)

Rogue Knight (Five Kingdoms) by Brandon Mull

Aladdin (November 18, 2014)

(AND, I just saw that Book 3, Crystal Keepers releases March 17, 2015) (I'm loving that I don't have a wait a whole year in between books!)

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

Bethany House Publishers (December 2, 2014)

A Plague of Bogles (How to Catch a Bogle) by Catherine Jinks

HMH Books for Young Readers (January 6, 2015)

Dearest (The Woodcutter Sisters) by Alethea Kontis

HMH Books for Young Readers (February 3, 2015)

Mist of Midnight (The Daughters of Hampshire) by Sandra Byrd

Howard Books (March 10, 2015)

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

Greenwillow Books (May 19, 2015)

(Entwined is one of my favorite books ever, and I've been constantly checking in on when I'd get to read another book by this author. FINALLY! :D)

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

Bethany House Publishers (June 2, 2015)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Balance Keepers: Fires of Calderon by Lindsay Cummings

Katherine Tegen Books (September 23, 2014) 352 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I have a love/hate relationship with comparing a book, like this one, with other books, in an attempt to draw in readers. I saw this one compared to Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and a Brandon Mull book. With all those comparisons, I automatically put it on my must read list.

Unfortunately, comparisons like that usually end up making a reader go in with too high of expectations. I really don’t think this is fair to a book, but that’s just the way it is.

I think, due to my expectations being too high, it took me well into a third of this book to get into it enough to actually want to finish it. I had to set it aside different times in hopes of liking it more when I picked it back up.

That said, though it took a little while, I DID get into it enough that I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. And, I can see how the other book comparisons come into the picture within this story, though I would have liked to have seen more fleshing out within it. I had a hard time picturing the world that was created, along with some of the creatures.

Overall, this is a fun story with friendship, loyalty, and adventure. Just be prepared to give it a little time if it doesn’t click at first.

((Even though this wasn't my favorite book ever, I'm pretty surprised it wasn't nominated for the Cybils!))

*I was provided a review copy through Amazon Vine.

Purchase Link:

Balance Keepers #1: The Fires of Calderon

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Christmas Light by Donna Van Liere

St. Martin's Press (October 14, 2014) 225 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

It's time for Christmas books now, right?! (I actually read this one at the beginning of October.) :)

I have come to firmly believe that you shouldn’t go through a Christmas season without reading something from Donna Van Liere. Her books are short and sweet, with a light romance. They’re clean, and always bring people together in unexpected ways. Small little connections turn into big ones, and heartstrings are always pulled. I’ve yet to make it through one of her books without tears.

I’ve read (and enjoyed) almost everything Van Liere has written. My momma has, too, and she’s not even a big reader. This book has characters and connections from her other Christmas books, but it’s been so long since I’ve read them, that I didn’t recognize everyone like I would have liked. That means I need to spend this Christmas catching up with some re-reads!

In this particular story, the focus is mainly on 4 groups of people, though we DO get to know many more, both old and new. Jennifer has a 6 year old daughter that can’t move past her dad’s death. Ryan and his daughter are looking for a new place to live, while still learning to deal with his divorce. There’s also Kaylee, who is pregnant at 16, and feeling guilty at the changes happening to her family. Stephen and Lily befriend Kaylee and try to cheer her up with all jokes, but she soon learns that the have their own heartbreak happening.

I can easily recommend this book. Add it to your Christmas line-up, for sure!

*I was provided an ARC through Amazon Vine, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Purchase Link:

The Christmas Light

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

My Thoughts:

First, a little about the physical aspects of this dictionary.

It's is about the size of a regular hardcover book in length, and overall size, but its page count makes it a very thick and *heavy* book. I don't know how much one can tell from seeing the picture online, but the front of the book looks textured. It is not, though. It's perfectly smooth to touch. Though I know that won't matter to most, for people with severe texture issues, like me, that might be important to know. (Touching books that are textured has resulted in those books not being read by me.)

Inside, it is filled with pictures, charts, maps, outlines, and of course, definitions. There's even a Bible history timeline in the front, which is nice.

I love that it's been made into so much more than a dictionary, making this an excellent Bible study tool. It's truly a nice book, and packed with Bible information.

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

Purchase Link:

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary: New and Enhanced Edition