Thursday, December 17, 2015

Whatever is Lovely: A Coloring Book for Reflection and Worship

WaterBrook Press (December 15, 2015) 96 pages


Color your way to peace and worship.

We live in such a busy, hectic world—but what waits for you inside this cover is a way to quiet the noise, express creativity, and spend some sweet time with God. Each page features an original design from one of a dozen different artists, beautifully illustrating a contemplative quote from an inspirational writer, a beloved hymn, or Scripture.

When we create, we echo the heart of our Creative God who designed everything and gave us the capacity to recognize beauty.

So go ahead! You have permission to pick up your colored pencil and be reminded of truth in a fresh way.

My Thoughts:

I started trying a bit of scripture journaling awhile back. I was super excited about it at first, but I don't do it near as often these days. While I know "practice makes perfect" and all, sometimes one must admit that a talent for something just might not be in one's future. That's the way it is with me and art, and crafts for that matter. While I'm not quitting by any means, it IS nice to just color and reflect on scripture with the help of another person's beautiful artistic talent. (I use the phrase "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" much too often, especially teaching reading to allow myself to quit anything these days.) ;)

There are Bible verses, quotes, and hymns within the pages, all by various authors. The coloring pages are also drawn by various artists. They're all lovely, though, as the title suggests.

The coloring pictures within this book aren't near as detailed as many coloring books these days. They're much more simple. That might be a positive or negative for you, depending on your tastes. Personally, I have a couple of more detailed coloring books already, so I don't mind this one being a bit more simplistic.

Each picture is only on the front of the page. The back is empty, other than the name of the artist(s), and a bit of information about the page/quote/hymn, etc on the front side(NOT the page beside it, as I initially thought).

Overall, I'm thrilled with this coloring book! I'm also thrilled that adult coloring books have become so popular, giving me so many choices. I don't typically care for jumping on bandwagons and all. I actually detest it a bit! :P I already loved coloring before this bandwagon came rolling through, though, so I don't mind so much in this case. ;)

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


Purchase Link:

Whatever Is Lovely: A Coloring Book for Reflection and Worship


Invest in Your Community With Help from Adventures in Odyssey!


Tired of the Christmas shopping, the baking and sugar overload, the Christmas festivities that keep you away from your family during the season? Take time special time to spend with your loved ones and invest in your community—with Focus on the Family's help!

You can download a fun gift to give to your friends, family, and community! Each Christmas stocking stuffer card directs you to a special place to hear an Adventures in Odyssey Christmas episode. Plus, you’ll be able to read a special excerpt from Imagination Station #12, “Danger on a Silent Night.” Sign up here to download the free cards.

Plus stop by this page for a slew of crafts, recipes, and stories to share with your family during this special time of year!


If you're still looking for one last gift to give your kids this year, give the gift of the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family, including an Advent calendar, a broadcast download with tips to create a memorable Christmas, AIO cutouts, and Christmas stocking stuffer cards. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:

  • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
  • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
  • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
  • A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.
To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Get Your Town of Odyssey Freebie!

The holidays are a busy time . . . but life can be even more hectic! In the midst of work, after-school activities, grocery shopping, and business trips, how are parents supposed to find the time to build within their families a lasting foundation of faith?

Focus on the Family wants to step in and give you some tips. Sign up by clicking here for a free e-book called 101 Surefire Ways to Strengthen Your Child's Faith. With creative ideas on weaving faith into everyday conversations, turning family activities into learning opportunities, and having faith-filled holiday celebrations, this book is jam-packed with fun and interesting, easy, faith-building ideas for your family.

Another way to invest in your child's faith is through the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family, including an Advent calendar, a broadcast download with tips to create a memorable Christmas, AIO cutouts, and Christmas stocking stuffer cards. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:

  • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
  • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
  • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
  • A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.
Another fun way to build your child's faith: have a family craft night and use it as a faith-building opportunity! Click the image below for a printable Town of Odyssey cutout set. Bonus points if you listen to an Adventures in Odyssey episode while you put together your town!

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 11.55.13 AM.png 
To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Trim Healthy Mama Plan: The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison


Harmony (September 15, 2015) 338 pages


Forget the Fad Diets, Join the Food Freedom Movement

Counting calories is out. All the food groups are in. Becoming trim and healthy doesn't have to be difficult or painstaking anymore. After trying almost every fad diet out there, Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett, creators of the Trim Healthy Mama movement, took matters into their own hands. Through trial and error and much research, they created the TRIM HEALTHY MAMA PLAN, the breakthrough lifestyle program to help readers of all ages and stages get healthy, slim down and keep off the weight once and for all.

Based on the authors’ successful self-published book, this simplified, improved, practical plan shows readers a unique way to lose weight and get healthy by eliminating sugar, and still eating hearty, delicious food. The biblically-sound and highly effective eating approach centers on Satisfying meals (which include more fats and protein) and Energizing meals (which include more carbs and protein), as they are the key to success. Scrumptious whole, unprocessed foods, including fats, blood sugar friendly grains, proteins, fruits, and vegetables, are eaten in a way that boosts metabolism, yet still fits into anyone’s hectic lifestyle. It’s family friendly and effective for pregnant and nursing mothers, pre or post- menopausal women, and also those without weight or health issues—even men and growing children.

The book includes menu plans, a list of key super foods to eat on plan, time-saving tips, and pantry stocking and lifestyle advice to help readers successfully reach their goals.

Join the Trim Healthy Mama movement and along with thousands of others, discover the groundbreaking, easy-does-it, and delicious way to eat for health and weight loss.

My Thoughts:

Long post warning!

At the end of October, I reviewed the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook. Really, though, the cookbook doesn't do you much good without knowing about the plan. I immediately requested the plan book, Trim Healthy Mama Plan, afterwards.

First, I'll tell you a bit about my journey so far. Before my scales got broken by a sweet little boy, they were telling me I had already lost 15 pounds. I'd be happier if my clothes were fitting different, but I have so far to go, 15 pounds is only the tip of the iceberg. I'm EXCITED about those lost pounds, either way, though, especially in such a short amount of time. This is the beginning of my journey and I'm happy I'm finally along for the ride, instead of sitting in my sugar obsessed life.

I've taken baby steps with the plan. Sugar was my most difficult step, which is why I did it first and focused on nothing else until I succeeded in this area. There was some trial and error, mainly revolving around caffeine. I NEED it, y'all! ;) Plus, my taste buds had a hard time adjusting to Stevia. I'm grateful to say that bad sugar is gone from my life now, and I don't want anything to do with it. I've even mostly kept my fruit intake in the berry range for now. I told Jonathan it was like a fog had been lifted from my brain, and I see just how addicted to it I was, and just how damaging it was to my body. I still have sweet cravings occasionally, but not enough to eat the sugar. (Note: There are plenty of recipes for sweet things. I haven't tried any of them yet, since I haven't splurged on the "Super Sweet" and "Gentle Sweet" blends the ladies have, and which most recipes call for. I hope to soon, though!)

Next, I worked at cutting out the soy products that I was relying on way too much. Unhealthy breads were next to go, and I'm now at the stage of fixing my meals in the recommended way, which revolves around protein, fats, carbohydrates, and non-starchy fruits/vegetables. (That process is described a bit more in the description up top.) As a vegetarian, this has been a little challenging at times, but I'm grateful for the extra help from other Trim Healthy Mamas, mainly from Pinterest posts.

So, the plan works! To God be the glory that I'm finally trying to get healthy! :D

Now about the plan and the ladies behind it.

I'm thrilled that I've had the opportunity to get to know Pearl and Serene through their books. They're humorous, and so very encouraging. They have tons of tips for success, and you can tell they're rooting for you to succeed. They also have health in mind, over weight loss, though that will most likely happen. They want us to take care of our bodies, and they describe several super foods that will help on the journey to health.

At first I was turned off by the fact that they had specialty foods for sale at their website. I felt like I'd been suckered into a money making scheme. The more I read, though, the less I felt this way, and it truly seems like they've tried to give us the best options for the least amount of money. I haven't bought any of the specialty products yet, but after Christmas, I DO hope to work an item here and there into the budget.

I was also a bit turned off by the fact that it doesn't seem overly vegetarian friendly at first, but so far I've been able to work around this part. I've been experimenting with cooking way more than I have in a long time, and my Grasshopper has made sure to compliment me plenty on my efforts. ;) I've actually had fun with it, and I'm cooking most things from scratch now. There's been some failures(sweet potato oatmeal soup...blech!) and some successes(cauliflower crusted grilled cheese...yum!).

I do love that with this plan, it's easy to cook the same thing for my children, and just add a little something extra to make sure they don't lose weight(like extra fats or breads and I DO make meat for them). We're all starting to eat better, though, and I'm grateful to God and to Pearl and Serene.

I could gush on and on, but I really do highly recommend this plan. It has already been a dramatic change for us, and I can't imagine that anyone would regret it, especially if you've been relying on junk food too much and/or have weight to lose.

(Lord willing, I'll keep y'all updated on my journey!):D

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


Purchase Links:

Trim Healthy Mama Plan: The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook: Eat Up and Slim Down with More Than 350 Healthy Recipes


Sunday, December 6, 2015

The One Year Home and Garden Devotions by Sandra Byrd

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 24, 2015) 400 pages


The One Year Home and Garden Devotions offers an encouraging, applicable, sometimes humorous, and always personal word each day for contemporary women of all ages who delight in being busy at home. The devotions are written in first person, offering transparency and personal life lessons like the following:

“There is something poignant and meaningful about upcycling an abandoned planter with its well-earned patina while considering how the lines life has etched on us actually make us more appealing.”

My Thoughts:

Sandra Byrd is one of my most favorite authors, and I always enjoy reading more about her in the blogging world. I've greatly enjoyed all of the books of hers I've read. When I found out she'd written a book about her life, devotional form, I was beyond excited. I couldn't wait to get to know more about Sandra, and spend a little time with her each day.

The devotionals within this book focus on home, garden, family and really anything most women could easily connect with. At the beginning of each month, there's a tip or a recipe or something fun. Then there's a devotional for each day of the year. Each devotional takes up one page, so it's a quick read for each day.

I think the fans of Sandra's will most appreciate this book. It's personal, and it was thrilling to learn about little things from her days. I can't say for sure about those that aren't familiar with Sandra, but I really do think most women will appreciate the little lessons, and will probably connect with many of her experiences. While the devotionals aren't super deep, they are encouraging and appreciated. I have enjoyed my time within this book very much!

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


Purchase Link:

The One Year Home and Garden Devotions


Faith Builders Bible, NIvR

Zonderkidz (October 27, 2015) 1152 pages

Book Description:

A new NIrV Bible for kids 6-10 that follows the popular brick-building trend.

The Faith Builders Bible, NIrV uses the popularity of brick-building pieces to engage children with the Word of God. Includes 24 full-color pages of illustrations plus the complete New International Reader's Version (NIrV) of the Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) in a very readable, 9-point font size.

My Thoughts:

My children are finally old enough that I feel comfortable having Legos around. This was pretty exciting for me! I enjoy them myself, too. We've mostly relied on the sets with instructions so far, but we have Grasshopper a very large bucket of "classic" Legos this year for Christmas. We've been encouraged to use more creativity when building, so we've started looking at Lego books for building ideas.

We recently had the chance to browse through a history one, called Medieval Lego. In it, there are scenes and then a brief summary of the part of history that the scene is connected to. For some reason, I thought that is what this Bible was. I was expecting more of a Bible summary book. It's actually a full Bible, though(NIrV).

There are 12(double sided, so 24 total) thicker, glossy, full color pages with Lego scenes or simply an item(like a Bible) on them. These are scattered throughout the Bible. As always, depending on your beliefs, you might need to edit a bit. Some of them have devotional type messages on them. When you get opinions thrown in the mix, it's impossible to find one that one will completely agree with, though.

Even though this wasn't what I was expecting, and we probably won't be using it as a full time Bible, it does have great inspiration in it. If you have a Lego fan in your home, and you like the NIrV Bible, you'll probably enjoy this one. Even if you're not a fan of the NIrVersion, it still has great inspiration for building Bible history scenes with Legos. I'm excited to use some of the ideas for Bible class(both my own at home and the one at church services with our 2s and 3s).

(Note: I don't think this particular Bible ever uses the word "Lego". It repeatedly says "brick/brick builder/etc", so this isn't a "Lego" specific Bible. You can get inspiration for any kind of brick building. We're just particular to Lego.)

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


Purchase Link:

Faith Builders Bible, NIrV


Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Carols of Christmas: A Celebration of the Surprising Stories Behind Your Favorite Holiday Songs by Andrew Gant

Thomas Nelson (September 15, 2015) 224 pages

Book Description:

From Oxford professor and renowned British composer, a joyous account of the history behind our favorite carols.

Everyone loves a carol-in the end, even Ebenezer Scrooge. They have the power to summon up a special kind of mid-winter mood, like the aroma of gingerbread or the twinkle of lights on a tree. It's a kind of magic.

But how did they get that magic? Andrew Gant-choirmaster, church musician, university professor, and writer-tells the story of twenty of our favorite carols, each accompanied by lyrics and music, unraveling a captivating, and often surprising, tale of great musicians and thinkers, saints and pagans, shepherd boys and choirboys. Readers get to delve into the history such favorites as "Good King Wenceslas," "Away in a Manger," and "O, Tannenbaum," discovering along the way how "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" came to replace "Hark, how all the welkin' ring" and how Ralph Vaughan Williams applied the tune of an English folk song about a dead ox to a poem by a nineteenth century American pilgrim to make "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

A charming book that brims with anecdote, expert knowledge, and Christmas spirit, this is a fittingly joyous account of one of the best-loved musical traditions.

My Thoughts:

I couldn't resist giving this book a try. I like having little random facts in my head. Sure, it probably makes me a pain at times, but it's fun. ;) I thought it would be interesting to learn the stories behind some of the holiday songs.

It turns out that this book is more on the textbook kind of education side, as opposed to the just good fun kind. It's still interesting, but I'd recommend taking it day by day throughout the holiday season, instead of reading straight through. It can easily get boring if not taken slow, just to warn you. It could even be a great "school" kind of assignment for older students.

The chapters are broken down in sections. Some of them are more subject specific, like advent, angels, shepherds, the journey to Bethlehem, etc. Some of them have actual dates attached to them. Christmas is obviously set for Dec. 25th, but there's also St. Stephens day for Dec. 26th, Holy Innocents for Dec. 26th, Twelfth Night for Jan. 5th, etc.

If you don't mind reading it slowly, or you're in the mood for education revolving around Christmas songs, give this one a try!

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


Purchase Link:

The Carols of Christmas: A Celebration of the Surprising Stories Behind Your Favorite Holiday Songs


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Bach, Casals & The Six Suites for 'Cello Solo: Volumes 1-4 by Steven Hancoff ((Book Spotlight and GIVEAWAY))

Bach #1

Bach #2

Bach #3

Bach #4

Book Details:

Book Title: Bach, Casals & The Six Suites for 'Cello Solo: Volumes 1-4 by Steven Hancoff

Category: Adult non-fiction, 1189 pages

Genre: Biography / Music

Publisher: iTunes

Release date: June 2015

Tour dates: Nov 30 - Dec 18, 2015

Content Rating: G

Book Description:


A Totally Immersive Multimedia Experience

Richly Detailed Text Embedded with More Than 1,000 Illustrations Illuminating Bach’s Masterpiece, from Its Creation to Its Legacy

Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo and 3-CD set Audio Recording of ’Cello Suites to be Released June 23rd

Exclusively on iTunes and CD Baby

Includes Hancoff’s Complete Recording Of His Acoustic Guitar Transcription of Bach’s ’Cello Suites

From tragedy to transcendence is the theme that embodies the essence of the life and work of Johann Sebastian Bach. “This man, ‘the miracle of Bach,’ as Pablo Casals once put it, led a life of unfathomable creativity and giftedness on the one hand and neglect and immense tragedy on the other,” says Hancoff.

Bach’s life was rife with hardship and tragedy from the start. By the time he was nine years old, he had witnessed the deaths of three siblings and then, within a year, his father and mother also passed away.

For all his education and talent, however, his first job was serving as a lackey for a drunkard duke. Subsequently, he spent the next fifteen years in the employ of Weimar’s harshly ascetic Duke Wilhelm Ernst, who cared little for music. When he was twenty-two, he married the love of his live, his distant cousin, Maria Barbara Bach. During the thirteen years they were married, she bore him seven children, three of whom died at birth.

In 1717, Prince Leopold of Cöthen offered Bach a position as the musical director for Cöthen. Bach jumped at the chance. The officials of Weimar, however, threw him in jail for “the crime” of daring to resign his present position. Still, Bach was on the verge of a career breakthrough.

Three years into his happy and contented tenure in Cothen, Prince Leopold and Bach visited the spa town of Carlsbad for a month of vacationing and music-making. Unfortunately, upon his return Bach learned of the death of his wife and then only when he entered into his home. Imagine the shock, the impact. He never even discovered the cause of death.

Yet this tragic setback in Bach’s life was a major turning point because he came to grips with his personal tragedy by unleashing a flood of masterpieces for which he is and will be forever revered. First came the Six Violin Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo and then the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo.

In the ’Cello Suites we hear Bach expressing his own seeking, yearning, love, loss, sorrow, grief and determination and their overtones of surrender, resolution affirmation and transcendence. He aspired to articulate an ultimate personal confession, a revelation, entirely unique, entirely sublime, as an ultimate act of artistic and creative testimony, a heavenly statement about his own life and even of life itself—as a final gift and an enduring, heavenly send-off for his beloved wife.

Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo invites readers and music lovers into a unique experience, contained in an immersive four-volume e-book from Steven Hancoff – a virtuoso musician’s restless, passionate, multimedia exploration of a musical masterpiece that only grows in stature almost three centuries after it was written.

The many fascinating and inspiring aspects of the book include:

• How Bach struggled and overcame adversity and the lessons his example offer us today.

• The ultimate meaning of the Six Suites for ’Cello.

• How almost all of Bach’s works would have nearly sunk into oblivion were it not for the extraordinary efforts of Sara Levy, the great aunt of Felix Mendelssohn, to rescue them.

• How Felix Mendelssohn singlehandedly created with the performance of the St. Matthew Passion a Bach renaissance and a legacy that continues to be enjoyed to the present day.

• The miraculous discovery of the six ’Cello Suites by Pablo Casals in a Barcelona thrift shop and why he studied them for twelve years before performing them in public.

• What Pablo Casals meant when he spoke of “the miracle of Bach.” Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo promises to be an adventure for anyone fascinated by the enduring power of music, art and why they matter.

Buy the music & ebooks: iTunes

Meet the author:

Steve Hancoff began playing guitar when he was 13 years old, captivated by the folk music craze of the 1960s. Within a year he was performing in coffeehouses around Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

For nearly 15 years, he toured the world—about 50 countries—as an official Artistic Ambassador representing the United States of America. His recordings include Steel String Guitar, New Orleans Guitar Solos, Duke Ellington for Solo Guitar, and The Single Petal of A Rose. He is also the author of Acoustic Masters: Duke Ellington for Fingerstyle Guitar and New Orleans Jazz for Fingerstyle Guitar. He is a graduate of St. John’s College, home of the “100 Great Books of the Western World” program and has a Masters degree in clinical social work. He is a psychotherapist, a Rolfer, and a practitioner of Tai Chi. An avid hiker, he is also a member of the Grand Canyon River Guides Associations.

Connect with the author: Website   ~  Twitter  ~   Facebook

Subscribe to Steven's Hancoff's work on YouTube

Enter the Giveaway!

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Interview with Steven Hancoff

Do you remember the first book you read?

No. I don’t remember any time when I was not reading a book. But I remember that in first grade, the class was divided into three reading groups: the teacher, Miss Bean, assigned me to be the teacher of the group of kids who read least well!

What makes you laugh/cry?

Beth, my other half, makes me laugh – a lot. She somehow sees humor almost everywhere. She’s really the one who brought laughter into my life. I tend to cry over the experience of deep connection or deep feeling rather than deep pain. So, my tears tend to be tears of poignancy, or of being moved, rather than tears of rage or pain.

Is there one person past or present you would like to meet and why?

Way more than one. Bach, of course. Shakespeare, Newton… I would love to have been on the Beagle with Darwin. Why is obvious… theirs are the shoulders of modernity upon which we all stand. Euclid – I would love to know what motivated Euclid to spend his life constructing proofs of apparent reality.

What do you want written on your head stone and why?

I don’t know. I’ve once heard that Mel Blanc (the cartoon voice of Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, et al, had inscribed Th-Th-Th-That’s All, Folks! on his) How about: He lived a long, creative and adventure-filled life with his beloved, his soul’s twin. Many people the world over were touched by his music and his writing.

Other than writing do you have any hobbies?

No hobbies. Back in 1981 I had to make the choice whether to be a full-time guitarist or a full-time whitewater guide on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. I chose guitar. But I still love to get on the water.

Beth and I love to look at art together. Living these years near to Washington, DC, we haunt the National Gallery of Art and the Phillips Collection.

What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?


Favorite foods?

On tour in so many countries, many times people insisted on taking me to their favorite restaurants, or cooking their favorite dishes at home. Favorite of all time was centolla (kind of like Alaskan king crab) in Ushuaia, Argentina; certain vegetable dishes (whose names I have no idea of) all over China, goat prepared over an open wood fire in Yemen, sushi, & in Israel the way restaurants put out about half a dozen different exotic salads on the table as soon as you sit down. I discovered I did not much go for kangaroo in Australia or pickled pigs ears in China!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Do what you love (whether you are a writer or not). And delve deeper, even when you think you have already gone as deep as you can. There is always more. As Paul Verlaine once said, “A great work of art is never completed; it is only abandoned.”


Note from Me:

As a gift, I was sent the CD set, The Six Suites for 'Cello Solo, for Acoustic Guitar by Steven Hancoff. While I'm not required to review it, I did want to briefly mention how much I've enjoyed it! As a way to relax, I frequently turn to classical type music these days. This music has been relaxing to me, and has also been a pure pleasure to listen to!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Reef Libre, an In-Depth Look at Cuban Exceptionalism & the Last Best Reefs in the World by Robert Wintner


Cuba reefs host apex predators and coral cover at optimal levels. While Cuban reef vitality may be linked to economic default and no shoreline development, no agricultural pesticides or fertilizers and limited human population growth, the Castro regime is aggressively developing its reef potential.

Seas to the south are now 100% shark protected.

Most Cuba travelogues advise “getting off the beaten path,” but Reef Libre examines that path, to see where it might lead as things change. Will Cuba reefs remain protected? Or is this perilous age of natural decline a last chance to see a healthy reef system?

Robert Wintner and the Snorkel Bob Jardines de la Reina Expedition herein provide narrative insight with photos and video. First stop is the baseline: Havana urban density. Down south at Cayo Largo, reef collapse seems imminent with 600 guests changing daily, and the phosphate-laden laundry water flowing directly to the deep blue sea. Will Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism step up with the Jardines de la Reina paradigm? Rising from the Golfo de Ana María, Jardines is a thousand square miles of mangrove estuary, for ages compromised by constant extraction of its biggest predators, taken as food. Protected, it now rises on the world reef stage.

A DVD comes with the book in a paper sleeve glued to the inside cover. Reef Libre, the movie, runs about an hour.

My Thoughts:

This is a gorgeous photography book/DVD combination! The book comes with a DVD(that slips inside the front cover), and I was able to appreciate the book more by watching the video. While there's more covered in the book, the DVD does cover a great deal that's mentioned in the book. I'd recommend watching it first, just so the photography means more. I loved that throughout the DVD, as a new fish was shown, its name shows up on the screen, too. With the music in the background, it was a peaceful video, and filled with such beauty that I plan on happily watching it again.

Throughout the book, the author is warning readers against the aquarium trade. Many times, I'm ashamed of how ignorant I am of certain subjects, and this book brought to my attention to the aquarium trade. It's obvious that the author feels love for these "little fishes", and wants them to thrive in their natural environment. It was a very eye-opening experience for me on many levels, though. I'd never even heard of many of these creatures! The book also talks about life in Cuba. We get a cultural lesson, too, so this is by no means only about the fish.

I mention details below, but the book isn't for children, as is. A black crayon would turn this into an excellent learning/teaching tool for kids, though. To be honest, I thought about passing it on, but the value of it is simply too great, so I'm marking out words, and putting it on my children's nature shelf. They love looking at pictures of God's creations, and this is probably the most beautiful nature-type of book we've had the pleasure of admiring. Again, though, there's really much more to the book, so it could be a great book that could grow with them. 

Aside from my content warnings, this is a book I can easily recommend. It is beautiful, and a book you need to see in person!


The book is NOT for children(as is). There's profanity, including F-bombs. (While some of those are "beeped" out, others aren't.) There's also various artwork featured that isn't overly appropriate for children. There's one involving a man and woman in a nude pose.

The DVD looked as if it was mostly made so that children could enjoy it. There is one section featuring an artist and her artwork, and I'd highly recommend parents looking at the art before letting your children watch it. It might or might not be a big deal to your family. It is abstract nudity, and the breasts are mentioned by the narrator. (There is more of the artwork featured in the book.) I didn't hear any profanity.

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

Watch the Trailer:


Purchase Links:


Barnes and Noble


About the Author:

Best known as Snorkel Bob in Hawaii and around the world, Robert Wintner captures Cuba above and below the surface with urgency and hope. As a pioneer in fish portraiture, Wintner demonstrated social structure and etiquette in reef society. Reef Libre goes to political context, in which human folly will squander Cuba’s reefs as well—unless natural values can at last transcend political greed. As pundits joust over who did what to whom and why, Wintner ponders reef prospects in view of political changes.

Robert Wintner has authored many novels and story collections. Reef Libre is his fourth reef commentary with photos and his first overview of survival potential in a political maelstrom. He lives and works in Hawaii, still on the front lines of the campaign to stop the aquarium trade around the world.

Connect with the Author:





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To see what others are saying about Reef Libre, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Adventures in Odyssey: Give the Gift That Lasts All Year


What’s on your children’s Christmas wish list? As excited as they might be about that new toy, as every parent knows, the thrill of the gift will eventually wear off. Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey have created the perfect gift for those who want to give their children or grandchildren a present that will provide year-round fun with eternal impact.

The Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) offers families 24/7 access to 25 years’ worth of Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) episodes in a safe online environment where children can explore and learn. Christmas really is the perfect time to tap into your children’s imagination while infusing faith and fun into their day . . . and every day of the year.

To celebrate the holidays this year, the OAC is offering free content for everyone, including an Advent calendar, a broadcast download with tips to create a memorable Christmas, AIO cutouts and Christmas stocking stuffer cards. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:

  • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
  • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
  • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
  • A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.
In keeping with AIO’s rich heritage of teaching children about biblical principles — such as the importance of giving — a portion of each OAC membership benefits Focus on the Family partner organizations. Here are a couple of examples of what has been accomplished through Odyssey Adventure Club members:

The Odyssey Adventure Club wants to reach beyond fleeting entertainment this Christmas, partnering with parents in helping their kids grow deep in faith and find their place in God’s story.


Speaking of the holidays, you can prepare for Christmas with Thriving Family's 2015 Advent Activity Calendar — Tales of Christmas Past: 25 Inspiring true stories of the season. Assemble a beautifully designed Advent poster to help your kids focus on Christ this Christmas. Then read Scripture passages and stories that relate to individual flaps on the poster. You can also create easy-to-fold booklets for each story. Get more information about this year's free Advent calendar at, or sign up to download it.

To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest by J.A. Myhre, with Illustrations by Acacia Masso

New Growth Press (October 2015) 160 pages


A Boy Named Mu, an African Journey, and You

Mu, a ten-year-old orphan, has lived his entire life in the heart of Africa. For as long as he can remember he has served in the household of a great-uncle where he is unloved and ignored. In his drudgery-filled life, Mu has little hope of happiness, and little hope that anything will ever change.

But one day, everything does change. On his way to draw water one morning, Mu is astonished when a chameleon greets him by name and announces that they will embark on a quest together. And what a quest it turns out to be! Mu faces danger and finds unexpected allies as they journey through a fascinating and ever-changing landscape.

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest blends magical realism with a compelling story. The exciting story line combines an orphan's journey to find a home with the plight of child soldiers and the dangers of the Ebola virus and, along the way, highlights universal themes of integrity, loyalty, faith, and love. Written by long-time medical missionary J. A. Myrhe, the artful story is laced with subtle gospel themes and handles cross-cultural issues with grace and sensitivity. Kids will encounter good and evil and learn the truth about hope, happiness, and what it means to be human in this page-turning first book in a new series.
My Thoughts:

This book was written as a Christmas present for the author's children. I couldn't resist reading it knowing that. I imagined wonderful little lessons and conversation starters tucked within the pages. Really, that's just what I got. This is a book I won't mind keeping around for my boys! It's full of adventure and bravery, and even bad choices and forgiveness.

The story seems to be an allegory. No, those aren't usually my thing(at least in connection with Biblical teaching), but it mostly worked for me with this one. I can't overthink things, because then I start thinking about differences in beliefs and all that, so I didn't try to figure out what each thing meant. (Yes, I realize I'm missing out there, but I've also had to abandon other allegories when I overthought them.)I really liked this one, though.

I love that the book is set in Africa. I could do a unit study about Africa with my boys down the road with this book as the center source of information. It has wonderful detail concerning the landscape and the people, including daily life and many of the difficulties they face. There are some scenes, one in particular, that are tough to read. I don't think my boys are ready for some of the content right now. Younger children that are very sensitive might not be ready for it, either. I will gladly tuck our copy away on the shelves for the right moment, though!

It wasn't until the end, while I was reading the author's note, that I learned that this is the first book in a series. I'm super excited to read the others! This really is a beautiful book.

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


Purchase Link:

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest


The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the October pick for the Reading to Know Classics Book Club, chosen by Sky. Obviously, I'm behind getting my post up.

A few years ago, I bought one of those complete collections books for Sir Conan Aurthur Doyle. I'm almost positive I read some within it, and greatly enjoyed it, but now I can't remember anything specific, so I'm not completely sure. For that reason, I think this was my first journey into one of the mysteries that Doyle imagined.

I really enjoyed it, and I left the book excited to read more. Just like most classic mysteries I read, though, I'm always hesitant to say very much. I don't want to ruin any surprises. I will say that I didn't figure out the main mystery, but I did figure out one of the side mysteries, which made me pretty proud of myself. ;) Eventually, I'm determined to figure out the main portion before it's revealed in one of the older mysteries, though. I'm not the best at putting clues together just yet.

I've watched and LOVED the two Sherlock Holmes movies(starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law). I'm pretty sure I was disappointed that Downey was picked as Sherlock, but just like with Ironman, he made it work, and I can't picture anyone else now. I couldn't help but picture Downey and Law in my mind as Sherlock and Watson while reading the story. That said, I'm not even sure how close the movies are to the stories.

I hate to admit that I had a hard time picturing the described moor. I was especially curious when a pony enters the story. I ended up doing a little picture search, so l could better visualize it all. Still, after finishing the book I was hoping to watch a movie based on this particular book. The only thing available to me at the moment was an episode of Sherlock. I wasn't fond, though I did watch it to the end. There was ONE brief part where I thought they might keep it remotely close to the book, but then I could hear the writers laughing, "Nah! Just kidding. We're going to keep it as far from the book as possible!" I left it wondering if that was purely coincidence, because I can't imagine that any of the writers actually read the book. I don't recommend that episode if you're looking for something remotely close to the plot that Doyle created. Even though I think I might have watched an episode when it first came out on TV, I wasn't overly familiar with the show. I don't plan on watching any more, because it got on my nerves.

I DO hope to locate a copy of one of the other movies based on the book, and hopefully it will be closer to the story. Any recommendations?

Have you read anything by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Reading to Know - Book Club

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New by Marty Machowski


A Page-Turning Storybook of Theology for Kids

In the cellar of the old stone cathedral, Carla and Timothy uncover a life-changing treasure, a carefully wrapped ancient book known as The Ology. What adults might describe as a beautifully illustrated storybook of systematic theology, the kids discover to be a story of adventure, mystery, and wonder that leads them to the truth about God, themselves, and the world around them.

Truth is for kids, not just for adults! So The Ology gives kids of all ages a beginner s theology book to help them understand who God is and how we, as his children, relate to him. Arranged within a traditional systematic theological framework, each truth in The Ology is also connected to the larger redemptive story of Scripture. The doctrine of God, for example, is presented in the larger framework of creation, where the attributes of God are on display and easier to understand. Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, this flexible resource includes built-in adaptations for use with younger or older children, so that entire families can enjoy it together.

Read The Ology to preschoolers, read it with grade-school kids, and let older kids discover the hidden truths by reading the corresponding Scripture passages for each section. However you read it, The Ology will give your children a gift that will last a lifetime a solid foundation of life-changing biblical truth that will point them to the God who loves them and gave himself for them.

A beginner s book of systematic theology in the form of a beautifully illustrated storybook.

Clearly explains life-changing theological truths with everyday examples and simple language that kids can understand.

Uses illustrations, analogies, and word pictures to help kids understand God, the world, and themselves.

Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, with built-in adaptations for use with younger or older children, so that entire families can enjoy it together.

My Thoughts:

I've been using Leading Little Ones to God for our devotional the past few months, and it's changed the way I look at devotionals. It is awesome and has answered questions for my children, especially my Grasshopper, that I wasn't sure how to answer in an appropriate way for their mind to understand. I was dreading the end, because I didn't know what book I would go into next. After receiving The Ology, my problem was solved, and I think it will fill the devotional spot quite nicely for us.

The Ology starts out as a fictional story of two children finding an ancient book. We get to read that ancient book, which is many "meaty" devotionals. At the end, it shows that the children realize that this book should be read WITH the Bible, and so they go home to read it again alongside their Bibles. I think that's awesome! Each chapter has several Bible verses to go along with the lesson. I've tried really hard to make sure we read from our Bibles throughout our devotionals, just to stress the importance of it, so I like that several Bible verses are listed to help us out.

For each 2-page spread, one page is a full picture, with Bible verses placed within the picture. I love that the pictures are gentle, and somewhat vintage in style. Each lesson is short, so it works well for a variety of ages. While my Grasshopper can sit much longer and listen quietly, it's still a huge struggle with my little Bumblebee. Even if he sits through nothing else, I make him attempt to listen through our Bible times. (Any advice on becoming successful through this struggle would be welcomed! It seems the struggle has become greater with each child.) :) The short lessons make Bible time more successful with my littlest guy, though.

Just like with Leading Little Ones to God, there ARE spots that will be edited for us within The Ology. For the most part, I've loved what I've read of it, though. I haven't had this book very long, so I'm still reading through it, and making notes of edits and all. Overall, I'd say this is a great devotional for 6(ish) and older children(on average). I'm thrilled with it and grateful for the fact that it doesn't water things down, but makes Bible truths child friendly.

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


Purchase Link:

The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New


Friday, October 30, 2015

My First Hands-On Bible


This Bold Blue deluxe edition of My First Hands-On Bible is the preschooler version of the popular Hands-On Bible, which has sold nearly one million copies. Jesus taught with hands-on lessons and illustrations; My First Hands-On Bible uses the same experience-based learning to communicate God’s Word in an active, understandable way.

My First Hands-On Bible is a fun and simple, yet meaningful way to engage preschool, prekindergarten, and kindergarten children (ages 3–6) with the Bible while helping them build a solid faith foundation. Each lesson focuses on a specific Bible point through a variety of activities in order to reinforce and help young children remember the stories and lessons. Using common household items, you can help your children have a “hands-on” learning experience while engaging them in 85 key stories from the Bible.

My First Hands-On Bible doesn’t just retell the Bible stories; it also includes actual Scripture from the easy-to-understand and easy-to-read Holy Bible, New Living Translation. In addition to the stories and activities, there are fun illustrations, prayers, and a special Jesus Connection feature.

My Thoughts:

A few years ago, we got to try out the hardcover version of My First Hands-On Bible. We loved it! It's perfect for the youngest little Bible learners. I'd say 0-3 is probably an ideal age for this Bible, overall(even though 3-6 is the recommended age). When I saw that there was an imitation leather version of it, I thought it would be perfect for my Bumblebee to use. While we tried the blue colored one, because my home is filled with little boys, there's also a pink one for the little girls out there(even if I prefer the blue one, either way). ;)

This Bible uses real verses to tell a Bible event, from a New Living Translation standpoint. It doesn't use every verse, though. For example, within the chapter about the history of Joseph and his brothers, one part shows that verses 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30 are used from Genesis 37, and then it skips to verse 36. It also doesn't cover every event within the Bible. The Old Testament has 39 events covered, and the New Testament has 46 events covered.

The great thing about this particular Bible is that it gives the parent directions that would appeal to a little one while reading it. It might tell you to count an object within a picture with your little one, or act like an animal that is being discussed, maybe by making that animal noise, or actually acting like one. It might tell you to march around the room, getting your little one to follow you. Everything is simple, and doesn't require buying tons of things, but it gives young children a visual lesson to go with the Bible history lesson. There's also plenty of sweet pictures that can teach little ones when they're looking through the book by themselves.

Also, at the end of each chapter, there's extras, like songs, questions, and activities. In the chapter about Jericho's Falling Walls(Joshua 6), the book suggests you build a wall with your child with blocks, and then march around it 7 times, letting your child knock it down after the 7th time around. It also suggests that you show your child how to make a horn by cupping their hands over their mouth and blowing. Each time that week they see something amazing that God has done, the child could blow on their horn.

It's a really sweet book, and has tons of potential for making precious Bible related memories with small children, and I definitely recommend it.

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


Purchase Link:

My First Hands-On Bible


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Parable Treasury by Liz Curtis Higgs, with Illustrations by Nancy Munger

Book Description:

Bestselling favorite Parable books bring fun throughout the year in this new four books in one format.

With more than 1.1 million units sold in the Parable Series, Liz Curtis Higgs has given parents and kids alike beloved parables they can read throughout the year. This adorable compilation, Parable Treasury, allows families to get all their favorite stories in one value-packed book.

For nearly twenty years, Liz Curtis Higgs has made the holidays a little brighter throughout the year with her Parable Series. In a lovely padded hardcover format, the Gold Medallion–winning books from the Parable Series will include:

The Pumpkin Patch Parable,which focuses on the harvest season and shows that we can let God’s love shine through us

The Pine Tree Parable,a heartwarming tale of the farmer and his family, who nurture tiny seedlings into fragrant Christmas trees

The Parable of the Lily, which helps children understand the power of grace and forgiveness and the true meaning of Easter

The Sunflower Parable, which helps children discover the value of planting seeds, not only in the ground but also in the hearts of those around us

With simplicity and creative storytelling, this is sure to be a family favorite.

My Thoughts:

I was looking for "fall-y" type books that were also inspiring, and ended up finding The Pumpkin Patch Parable. Very soon afterwards, I heard about this treasury with all the "parable" books by Higgs. I couldn't resist! This book proved to be perfect reading material for us, and will be a seasonal tradition for us now, Lord willing.

There's a story to read for each season. The Parable of the Lily focuses on Easter, and The Pine Tree Parable focuses on Christmas. (I've mentioned many times before that we don't celebrate the birth and death of Jesus on specific days of the year, and instead try to keep the focus year round. Even so, these parables still worked out well for us, and I'm thrilled with them. We'll just use them as Winter/Spring reads, as opposed to focusing on a specific day, and most likely edit those particular words within the story in the future, even though I read it as is this time around.) The Pumpkin Patch Parable is a alternative to Halloween, and really is a special treat. The Sunflower Parable is one for summer. After reading The Pumpkin Patch Parable, my Grasshopper ended up asking me to read the other three stories, too. He loved the whole book, and especially loved that the same farmer was in all four stories. Each story revolves around the farmer and his family, along with the plants that they grow.

As you read through the story, there's Bible verses that coordinates with each page placed at the bottom. I loved this, and tried fitting these verses into the reading a couple of different ways. I felt that reading the story straight through, and then coming back reading the Bible verses worked out best. It allowed for more discussion. I'm loving reading aloud more and more, because as my Grasshopper grows, he's adding more and more to the discussions they lead to. He's a very talkative little guy!

The book truly is a treasure! We loved it, and highly recommend it! It's a great way to add an inspiring lesson and discussion into each season.

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


Purchase Link:

Parable Treasury


Friday, October 23, 2015

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison


In their debut cookbook, the Trim Healthy Mama’s share hundreds of delicious, healthy recipes to help readers successfully slim down while eating well. This companion cookbook to the bestselling Trim Healthy Mama Plan is just what readers have been waiting for. It features simple, mouthwatering, recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner—including slow cooker and one-pot meals, hearty soups and salads, omelets and waffles, pizzas, breads and more. No Trim Healthy Mama should be deprived, so there are also favorite snacks, delectable desserts, and the smoothies, sippers and teas fans love. With pantry-stocking advice, time-saving tips, and information on how to cook for the entire family, the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook offers a delicious and nutritious way to make trim and healthy meals with less stress—so you have more time with your loved ones.

My Thoughts:

I've been hearing about the Trim Healthy Mama Plan for awhile now, and I have to admit I've been curious. I knew the book associated with the plan was self-published, but it was so popular even a used book was out of my price range(at the time). I'd also read that the book didn't have any pictures and was a bit hectic to find things within it. It seemed to be such a great plan, though, that ladies were willing to overlook the negatives.

Still, when I saw that the Trim Healthy Mama Plan had been republished, and the cookbook had color pictures, I kind of looked the other way. I was thinking that I know what to do to lose weight. Eat less sugar, more fruits and veggies, and exercise more. Putting it into practice is always the hard part! I was swayed, though, by the following these ladies have. In *this* particular case, the more people going by the plan and having success, the more encouragement. We could all use encouragement! Plus, the "Breads and Pizza Crusts" section has this. "Why would we be so cruel as to take bread and pizza from your life? Enjoy!" ;D

When I first flipped through the cookbook, I thought I'd made a mistake getting it. There were ingredients that aren't really realistic for me right now, and things that I had no clue what they were. Super Sweet Blend? Gentle Sweet? Baking Blend? A "doonk" on Pure Stevia Extract? It looked overwhelming. Thankfully, I turned to the front of the cookbook, and read what Pearl and Serene had to say. First of all, they recommend reading the "plan" book first, titled Trim Healthy Mama Plan: The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline. It has all the details of the plan and what it's all about. I haven't read that book yet, though I plan to, Lord willing. They are also very forgiving. They don't recommend going and buying all new ingredients at once. They actually list which new products they recommend starting with, and which ones to add when the budget allows. They also recommend forgiving yourself when you "cheat". One of them follows the plan closely, and one isn't as strict.

The cookbook itself is chunky. (512 pages, y'all!) A great deal of recipes have been packed into it, which I appreciate in this instance. There are color pictures throughout, both of recipes and Pearl and Serene with their families. (Not every recipe has a picture with it, though.) Though some of the recipes looked complicated at first, after reading the beginning, they don't look so overwhelming. They look much more simple and doable for me the more I read. Also, I've already heard great things about the newly republished books from long time fans of the plan.

Pearl and Serene have already won me over, and I have to admit that I'm looking forward to reading the other book, not only for the plan, but to get to know these ladies better!

Do any of you follow the Trim Healthy Mama Plan? Do you have any tips/suggestions for this mama starting out?

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


Purchase Links:

Trim Healthy Mama Plan: The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook: Eat Up and Slim Down with More Than 350 Healthy Recipes


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Thankful by Eileen Spinelli


Bestselling and award-winning children’s author Eileen Spinelli combines charming rhymes and whimsical illustrations to convey the importance of being thankful for everyday blessings. Thankful, by bestselling and award-winning children’s author Eileen Spinelli, combines charming rhymes and whimsical illustrations to convey the importance of being thankful for everyday blessings. Like the gardener thankful for every green sprout, and the fireman for putting the fire out, readers are encouraged to be thankful for the many blessings they find in their lives.

Spinelli exhibits her endearing storytelling with this engaging poem, reminding children how blessed and special they are. Meant to be read aloud, this heartwarming picture book will be a treasured keepsake for parents and children alike.

My Thoughts:

I hate to admit how disappointed I was with this book. It IS cute, but it was so different than what I was expecting with the great reviews it had when I grabbed it. I guess I was expecting much more from it.

During our morning "table time", I've been trying to add in a picture book of some sort after our devotional. Character building books are my preference. I thought this would be a good book to teach thankfulness. And, it is, in its own way. It just wasn't what I was expecting.

The book goes through various professions that people have, and tell what that particular group is thankful for. For example, a poet is thankful for words that rhyme, a waitress for comfortable shoes, etc. I guess I was bugged more than I should be that the book said a "pastor"(we call him minister, or more often preacher, around here)is thankful for "God's loving word". I had to stop reading and add that ALL Christians should be just as grateful for the Bible as the minister is. Again, I'm probably being too hard on the book for that, but it really did bug me.

If you're looking to talk about some of the professions out there, and a bit about thankfulness, this is a cute book. We enjoyed the illustrations. It just wasn't our favorite book.

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


Purchase Link:



Sunday, October 11, 2015

Aspen Everlasting by Kathryn Cooper

Cedar Fort, Inc. (September 8, 2015) 220 pages


Water splashed on all sides then took control of the tires. The car swerved right toward the river.
“No. NO. NO!” I turned the wheel toward the road. It didn’t work. Fast running water pulled the car into the flooded river.

Aspen Foster thinks she’s just a normal sixteen-year-old, but when her car’s caught in a flash flood, Aspen and her sister discover the superhuman strength they never knew they had.

Soon Aspen learns she’s not normal at all. She’s an Evermortal fairy, with powers beyond her wildest dreams. But the more Aspen finds out about her family’s past, the more dangerous her future becomes.

This riveting fantasy is full of action, adventure, and romance. Suspenseful and exhilarating!


My Thoughts:

I think I "met" Kathryn soon after I started blogging. I've always greatly enjoyed her blog, and her book recommendations. She's someone I'd love to be friends with in person. She has 4 little boys, and she seems like such a genuinely sweet person. Recently, she battled through brain cancer, and it was amazing to watch her strength through this time.

For those reasons, I'm extra super proud of her for having this book published.

In Aspen Everlasting, we're taken into the world of Evermortals. Aspen discovers she has strength much greater than the average person, and will age much slower as an adult. Her family has the same powers. She also discovers that things have been hidden from her, and all is not as it seems.

Aspen Everlasting is a quick read, and packed full of action and suspense. There's even a romance, and while I admit romance isn't at the top of my reading list lately, I genuinely enjoyed it. It was sweet, and I found myself smiling different times while reading. I loved the close family relationship between Aspen and her parents and brother and sister, too.

I can't wait to read more from Kathryn! I want the next book NOW! ;)

*I was provided an e-copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.


Purchase Link:

Aspen Everlasting


About the Author:

Kathryn Cooper lives in the heart of Texas with her husband and four young boys. She has read and blogged about other authors' books for years. She is excited to finally have her own book out for readers. Aspen Everlasting is her first novel.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Owls: Our Most Charming Bird by Matt Sewell

Ten Speed Press (September 22, 2015) 128 pages


An enchanting illustrated guide to owl species of the world.

The owl is one of nature’s most captivating creatures. In this enchanting guide, artist Matt Sewell brings to life fifty species from around the world. From the adorable Eurasian Pygmy Owl, small enough to fit in your pocket, to the Great Gray Owl, celebrated for its size and elegance—these charming illustrations are sure to delight anyone intrigued by these wise and wonderful animals.

My Thoughts:

The word "charming" is used different times in connection with this book, and really, it's impossible for me to look at it and not do the same. It truly is a charming little book! I love birds, period, but owls are one of the most interesting birds out there(to me, anyway). I never knew there were so many different kinds of owls! The fact that this little book opened my mind to more owls, combined with the lovely illustrations, make this a book worthy of the keeper shelf.

The owls are divided into 4 sections. (Woodland, Tropical, Wilderness, and Desert) Each owl gets a 2 page spread, with its name, and a short amount of information about it on one page. It doesn't go into great detail, but gives you just enough to separate it from other owls. It's done so with sweet humor. The other page gets a precious illustration of that owl.

It's a super cute book, and very helpful for those studying owls. I plan on using this with my boys as part of an owl study soon, and hope that we can see a real owl, in its natural world, as opposed to zoo owls. I've only got to see 1 live owl in the wild in my whole life, and it's a pretty memorable thing! I also just discovered that Sewell has several other bird books, and they are on my "top" wishlist now! I love this book so much, I can't wait to see more from him!

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


Purchase Link:

Owls: Our Most Charming Bird