Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Asbestos Awareness Week(April 1st-7th)

I was asked if I was interested in writing a post concerning asbestos for Asbestos Awareness Week. Obviously, it's a bit past April 7th, so I'm late to the game. I was assured that asbestos awareness is an important topic any time, though, so it's better late than never in this case! ;)



Jonathan loves to watch those remodeling shows. Fixer Upper and Property Brothers are his favorites. Truthfully, I enjoy them, too, though I catch them in bits and pieces. Jonathan is one of those people that change the channel every couple of minutes, so I try not to pay too close attention to the TV when he has the remote. (Frustrated sighing is guaranteed when the channel changes mid-scene!) ;) I have noticed on many of the episodes that asbestos is a huge concern with the old houses. I know it's serious stuff, because they bring in the professionals with extreme protective gear.



Until doing a little research I didn't know much about it, though, other than the fact that it's very dangerous and it was used in insulation in older houses. Did you know that it was also used in roofing shingles, floor tiles, ceiling materials, cement compounds, textile products, and automotive parts? I didn't. I was surprised to discover it was used even more widely than I first thought, and find that more scary.



While I assumed that our home was built well past the "danger" timeframe, I was horrified to learn that asbestos still isn't banned in the US, even now. There are still about 30 million pounds used each year, and asbestos exposure is STILL the number one cause of occupational cancer in the US. While I'm not surprised to know that asbestos is still within homes, I'm disappointed to know that it is still within many schools and buildings. Imagine all the teachers and children that are at risk!



While no amount of exposure is safe, it turns out that asbestos must be inhaled to pose an immediate danger, and therefore must be loose. Asbestos is invisible to the naked eye, so you won't even know you're inhaling it. Tiles, where the asbestos is intact, isn't super hazardous, unless one is sawing/cutting it, sending the fibers into the air. This is why those that worked in factories before it was discovered how dangerous asbestos was, were put in great danger. Their families were put in great danger, too, since these fibers were brought home on clothes. Asbestos fibers from things like insulation and ceiling tiles are more easily breathed in, though, and I imagine are much more dangerous within one's home and within schools. These tiny fibers get inside one's respiratory system, and they aren't easily broken down by the body. They cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. It's pretty scary to think about!


After knowing more about asbestos, I can't help but think about older houses/buildings catching on fire, or being torn down by DIYers, and the amount of asbestos fibers that are sent into the air. I can't help but be concerned about family members that are living in older houses right now, and think about the old house falling apart very near our home.



If your home was built before 1980, or you believe there might be asbestos in your home, DO NOT try to remove it yourself! You will need to contact an asbestos consultant for testing to see if there is asbestos, and if so, hire an asbestos removal contractor. Asbestos isn't something you want to be careless with.



Do you have any history with asbestos, or any stories/information to share? I'd love to hear from you!






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Sources: (I used these to do my research for this post.)



Visit these sites to learn more about asbestos, and how you can help spread awareness.



http://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos-cancer/what-is-asbestos.htm


This site will answer questions, such as "What is Asbestos?", "Why is it Hazardous?", "Who is at Risk?", and "What Health Conditions are Associated with Exposure?". There's all kinds of information here!



http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/awareness/#.VR2W80J_ljp

Here you'll learn some ways you can help spread the word through social media.



http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/


This site will teach you more about mesothelioma.


There are also many links within each of these places to learn more!



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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant



Random House Books for Young Readers (April 28, 2015) 320 pages

Description:

Anastasia is a completely average almost-eleven-year-old. That is, UNTIL her parents die in a tragic vacuum-cleaner accident. UNTIL she’s rescued by two long-lost great-aunties. And UNTIL she’s taken to their delightful and, er, “authentic” Victorian home, St. Agony’s Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

But something strange is going on at the asylum. Anastasia soon begins to suspect that her aunties are not who they say they are. So when she meets Ollie and Quentin, two mysterious brothers, the three join together to plot their great escape!
My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

This book was advertised as a mix between Roald Dahl and Mysterious Benedict Society, so there was no way I wanted to pass on reading it! I'd say it's more of a mix between Dahl and Joan Aiken, and what I like to call "wonderfully weird". Even with the liberal mention of "flatulence", I still adored this book!

Anastasia is an ordinary almost 11 year old that adores Francie Dewdrop mysteries and has "tragic flatulence". She has a loving dad, and a not so loving mom. One day she finds herself whisked away to a creepy old Victorian insane asylum, where she spends her days with her "aunties". Things get more and more exciting, yet creepy and even gross, as Anastasia takes a cue from her favorite fictional heroine, Francie, and starts investigating.

The narrator of this book talks to the reader as if telling a story in front of a campfire. We are called "gentle reader" or "alert reader" or something similar throughout the story. There are little breaks in the tale to address extra information pertaining to the story or tips for our lives should we ever find ourselves in Anastasia's circumstances. Although that might sound annoying, it was done beautifully within this book, and I adored it all the more because of it.

As I mentioned above, there is plenty of oddness within this book, and it won't be for everyone. I adore the odd worlds Dahl creates, but he's not for everyone. I imagine the same for this book and author.

The ending of this story leaves so many loose strings that I can't imagine there won't be another one. I'm very much looking forward to reading it!

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


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Purchase Link:

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Unplanned by Alana Terry(Book Spotlight)

A first-year college student adjusting to life in the States.
A brand-new pregnancy center desperate for new volunteers.
A mysterious phone call from a girl who's far too young to be pregnant.




UNPLANNED
from award-winning suspense novelist Alana Terry


After volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, Kennedy Stern finds herself a pawn in a deadly game of intrigue, at the mercy of those who consider a few innocent lives a small ransom to pay for victory.


(Be sure to see below to get your own pre-release copy of Unplanned before it hits the bookstores.)





Get a Free Sample

(a free gift for you from Alana Terry)


Unplanned will release in May, but you can download the first five copies for free today!



WANT YOUR OWN COPY OF UNPLANNED NOW?


Unplanned is the newest Christian suspense novel from award-winning author, Alana Terry. PRE-ORDER the $2.99 ebook today, fill out the form below, and receive:

  • a pre-release copy of Unplanned (no waiting for launch day)
  • the Unplanned Bonus Materials (go behind-the-scenes with deleted scenes, bloopers, character studies, and more!)
  • 30 Days of Prayer to End Abortion devotional
  • an exclusive 20-minute video from the author answering readers' frequently asked questions (includes  the story of the mysterious phone call Alana received that was the basis for the novel)
Sound like a good deal? Pre-order Unplanned from amazon, then fill out the form below. You will receive your free pre-release copy and the extra bonus pack materials in one to two days.







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Form not working? Submit your information here, or forward your amazon receipt to alanaterrybooks@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Genuine Sweet by Faith Harkey



Clarion Books (April 7, 2015) 288 pages

Description:

Twelve-year-old Genuine Sweet, of tiny Sass, Georgia, can grant any wish . . . except her own. It's a peculiar predicament, considering how much she could use a few wishes. New friends help Genuine give her family a boost--and then she takes her gift global! Life finally seems to be on the mend. But when she's faced with unexpected trouble that no amount of wishing can fix, Genuine must puzzle out the difference between wishing for a better life and building one.

Told in the engaging, irresistible voice of Genuine Sweet herself, Faith Harkey's debut novel spins a remarkable tale of a small-town girl with big-time magic and an even bigger heart.

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My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

In this story, we meet Genuine Sweet. Don't forget to add in the southern accent, and pronounce her name correctly! Gen-u-wine. She lives in the tiny town of Sass, Georgia(population 523) with her Pa and Grandma. Her Pa lives his days in a drunken stupor, and jobs are rare, so she's hungry. There's just not enough money to stretch where it needs to go, like for that unpaid power bill. When Genuine discovers she's a 4th generation wish fetcher, things start looking up, until she discovers she can't use her abilities for herself. How will that put food in her belly?

This is a precious "magical realism" kind of story. The fantasy element is mild, but still there. I couldn't help but think of it as a Sarah Addison Allen type of book, except for children. The story is written as if Genuine is writing a letter to you, or even telling you about her life while sharing a cup of tea. It's filled with quirkiness and southern charm. There's plenty of corny southern phrases to bring a smile to your face throughout.

While the book is sweet, and mostly upbeat, there's still plenty of heartache inside, too. Even though Genuine has a tough life, it was fun to see new friendships being made and creative wheels being turned.

I enjoyed reading Genuine Sweet, and I can't wait to see what other stories Harkey brings us!

Content:

Romance in middle grade books is usually super mild, so I'll mention that Genuine dates within this book. There's kissing and hand holding and all that. That element made the book seem a bit older than if it wasn't in there, but in the grand scheme of things, it's still mild.

Religious expletives

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

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Purchase Link:

Genuine Sweet

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Loch Ness Punster by Kate Klise, with Illustrations by M. Sarah Klise



HMH Books for Young Readers (April 7, 2015) 144 pages

Description:


In the seventh and final installment of the popular 43 Old Cemetery Road series, twelve-year-old Seymour Hope has inherited a castle in Loch Ness, Scotland. It could be the perfect summer vacation spot for Seymour and his parents, Olive C. Spence and Ignatius B. Grumply. But Iggy wants nothing to do with the castle. Why? Because it was owned by his uncle Ian, a world-famous psychiatrist and the world’s worst punster. So Iggy stays home to write, and Seymour and Olive set off for Scotland—each with a secret.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

This is the final book in the 43 Old Cemetery Road series. Unfortunately, it was the first book I've read within the series. I liked this one so much, I fully plan on going back to the beginning, though. I read it perfectly fine without reading the other 6, and I feel that things were explained enough that I wasn't lost, but I am curious to see the adventures within the other books.

In this adventure, Seymour inherits a castle in Loch Ness, and travels there to see it. We discover just why Ignatius B. Grumply is so grumpy, and we get to meet a very old turtle.

The Loch Ness Punster is told through letters, newspaper articles, and tickets/pictures/illustrations. I really enjoyed it! I can easily imagine myself falling in love with this whole series as a young child. With all the pictures and the somewhat scrapbook-ish feeling of it, I would have been on Cloud 9! There's plenty of humor throughout, and I found myself snickering quite a few times while reading.

I can't wait to get ahold of the other 6 books now!

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

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Purchase Link:

The Loch Ness Punster (43 Old Cemetery Road)

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Kidnap: Guy Erma and The Son of Empire(Part 1) by Sally Ann Melia


Book Description:

I don’t want to go… Do I have to go?

13-year-old Prince Teodor of Freyne knows his duty to the memory of his father and his kingdom. Always, he must help those less fortunate than himself. Yet a frightening nightmare fills him with foreboding, but still he must do - into the Dome.

13-year-old Guy Erma lives in the shadow of the Dome, he has no father and no mother and his future is uncertain, he must start earning a living when he turns 14. He knows not where he will live or even how he will eat, and his only dream is to enter the military academy - at the heart of the Dome.

Two boys as different as any two boys might be. One act of cruelty will throw their lives together, but who dare they trust?

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My Thoughts:

I've been experimenting lately with reading more books in the "science fiction" realm, as opposed to "fantasy". Most of these have been space related. There's been some hits and some misses. Thankfully, this one was a hit, and I enjoyed it.

When the story starts out, we're introduced to several characters, and it took a bit of time to get everyone settled in my mind. By the end, though, I had my favorites. There's still mysteries as to who is good vs. bad or anywhere in between, and I tend to love having that guessing game throughout books. I enjoyed the pictures included throughout the story. I was having a hard time visualizing some of the characters, and I greatly appreciated having a vision to hang onto. I also appreciated scrolling through Sally's Pinterest boards. This helped me even more! Within this story, there are gorans and shape-shifting/telepathic aliens and battle borgs, so from that, you can imagine why I appreciated the pictures so much! ;)

I also enjoyed the fashion aspect of the book. Now when it comes to fashion, I stick with the basics and what I like, and really couldn't care less about what's "in". So, it may come as a surprise to anyone that knows me to discover I like reading about fashion(at least these days), even if I don't necessarily care about it in real life. ;) I recently added another book to my reading list purely because of the fashion aspect, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it in this book. Of course, there's so much more to this book than the fashion aspect, which is really minor in comparison to the rest. There's blades and battles, a kidnapping, secrecy, and lets not forget the gorans! This is a perfect book for fans of science fiction, whether male or female.

Kidnap is part 1(of 3, I believe), so it does end with a cliffhanger. I'm curious how everything will play out in the end.

Content:

Very mild profanity, religious expletives, mild violence

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

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Author's Bio:

The author was born in Wallasey, England, in 1964, and moved to the South of France when she was eleven. She spent her teenage years living in the cosmopolitan city state of Monaco and became immersed in its many languages and cultures. An English girl in a French school, for three hours each week she would sit at the back of the class as her colleagues learnt English. To pass the time, she wrote stories. This led to a lifetime of writing novels, scripts, stories and articles.

In her working life, Sally writes marketing communications and manages large international websites.

In 2010, Sally joined the Hogs Back Writers, a club located on the outskirts of Guildford, and she set about turning an old manuscript into this novel: Guy Erma and the Son of Empire. Sally currently lives in Farnham, and she is married with two children.


Connect with Sally:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest


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Purchase Link:

Kidnap: Guy Erma and the Son of Empire, Book 1

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iRead Book Tours


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Friday, April 17, 2015

Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller


Thomas Nelson (January 27, 2015) 261 pages

Book Description

Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN, teach parents how to help children form the internal strength they'll need every day as they grow older.

Parents have the greatest influence on their children's character. Mom or Dad's words, choices, actions, and reactions mold a child's view of almost everything. It can be a terrifying thought. But there is hope.

Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanna Miller have spent years helping parents cultivate a healthy conscience and a vibrant faith in their kids. Motivate Your Child is a straightforward guide to doing this at home. Every chapter includes practical examples of families applying the Bible to their current issues, such as backtalking or being mean to siblings. From the "Integrity Package" to the "The Family Challenge," they offer words to say, plans to implement, and ideas for working it out day by day.

With God's help, it is possible to train and direct a child's internal motivation-motivation that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

We carried the boys out to Toys R' Us a couple of weeks ago. It's a pretty big deal, since we don't have one in our little town. A lady stopped, and sweetly told me, in amazement, how good they were all being. I cut off the negative remark in my mind about what a rare moment it was, and simply said, "Thank you!". What I really wanted to do was hug her for her sweet encouragement. She will never know how much that simple moment meant to me. I've left worship services and grocery stores in tears, because I was so frustrated and overwhelmed. The truth is I spend more time than I'd care to in tears, because I don't know what to do. Our schedule has been especially difficult the past few months, and has stretched out a little longer than we first anticipated. I'm exhausted and impatient, and just an old "grumpy pants"! I feel as if there's a nervous breakdown around every corner, waiting to smother me. My children are sweet and precious and I love them dearly, but, just like me, they have areas that need better training. There have been plenty of methods I've used that just don't work. This book has reminded me to get to the "heart of the matter", and has given me many new ideas to try. It's also reminded me that change takes time, and to keep it up.

One thing that I love about this book is the fact that it doesn't just focus on the child, but it also focuses on ME. It reminds me to be a better example to my children, and to put the time and energy into doing it right. The best way to discipline isn't the easy way! Within this book, not only are there examples of various situations that need guidance, and what could be done to help, but there's also Bible lessons and verses, and discussions of events/people within the Bible. I felt like I was getting little mini Bible studies as I read through the book. I was grateful every time I saw an example and a possible solution for situations I'm struggling with, concerning both me and one(or all) of my boys.

The first half of the book focuses on discipline/training. The second half focuses on the "Family Challenge", which is "a practical plan to pass the faith on to your kids". I enjoyed getting fresh ideas for teaching the boys. For example, I got the idea to turn off all the lights in the house and follow a treasure map with a flashlight, in order to illustrate Psalm 119:105: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.". My boys would love that! This section reminded me to put more effort and creativity into "Family Time".

This book has been a blessing! I feel like I need to start right back at the beginning, and reread, just to settle it all in my mind more deeply. I'm sure I'll be turning to this book many more times through my parenting years.

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


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Purchase Link:

Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin and Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk by Liesl Shurtliff



Knopf Books for Young Readers (April 9, 2013) 272 pages

About the Book:

In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone's joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.

((There are no spoilers within either review for either book.))

My Quick Thoughts:

Once Upon a Time is one of the few TV shows I make sure I watch (through DVR), even if I'm behind a few weeks right now. Probably due to that, but Rumpelstiltskin has earned a place in my heart. I can't help but cheer and hope for the guy. I couldn't wait to see Shurtliff's take on the young Rump, though. (By the way, this book was written before OUAT, from what I've read.)

Although Rump sticks to the main plot of the original fairy tale, I greatly enjoyed the creative twists added to the "true" story. Rump won me over completely! He's really small for his age, and has a hard life, but he keeps going. With my little Grasshopper being so incredibly small for his age, my heart goes out to fictional characters with the same trait.

I definitely recommend giving this one a try if you like fairy tale retellings at all!

*Thanks to my local library for lending me an e-copy!

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Purchase Link:

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

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Knopf Books for Young Readers (April 14, 2015) 304 pages

About the Book:

All work and no play makes Jack extremely bored. And when Jack gets bored, he makes mischief. It’s not that he’s bad; he just longs for adventure—and there’s nothing adventurous about toiling day and night to grow yucky green stuff.

Adventure finally arrives one day in the form of giants, and soon Jack is chasing them to a land beyond the clouds, with his little sister, Annabella, in tow. The kingdom of giants is full of slugs the size of sheep, venomous pixies as tall as grown men, and a chatty cook with the biggest mouth Jack has ever seen. There’s giant fun to be had, too: puddings to swim in, spoons to use as catapults, monster toads to carry off pesky little sisters. . . .

But Jack and Annabella are on a mission. The king of the giants has taken something that belongs to them, and they’ll do anything—even dive into a smelly tureen of green bean soup—to get it back.

My Thoughts:

As much as I loved Rump, it's with this book that I decided I'll read anything Shurtliff writes!

I highly recommend reading Rump before reading Jack. I read Rump just before going into the pages of Jack. At first, it seemed that they were completely standalone from each other, but about a third of the way through Jack, the two books are connected in a really fun way. I'd hate for you to miss the moment your brain clicks with the connection!

Just like Rump, Jack is really a mix of fairy tales. I love fairy tale retellings, and I love it even more when several are mixed into one. Jack is mostly a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, though. Jack is a mischievous little boy, and always getting into trouble. When the giants invade his home, taking his papa into the sky, he decides it's time to make things right.

I've loved both Rump and Jack, and highly recommend them for fans of fairy tale retellings! I can't wait to read more about Red in the next book!

*Thanks to Amazon Vine for providing me with a review copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Purchase Link:

Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bridges of Paris by Michael Saint James(With GIVEAWAY!!!!)



Book Description:

Bridges of Paris is a large-format coffee-table book, with over 350 original color photographs, which casts new illumination on the City of Light. The 37 bridges over the Seine River emerge as beautiful, historic destinations rather than unnoticed thoroughfares. The book features stunning portraits of each bridge as well as intimate riverside moments. Once you’ve experienced this river tour, you will never see Paris the same way again.

Living as a Parisian for a year, author Michael Saint James left his American lifestyle and spent his days and nights capturing images from over, on, beside and under the bridges of Paris. With over 30 years experience as a photographer, educator and world traveler, Michael immersed himself in French culture to search out his authentic artist self. The result is a visual treasure to share with everyone.

My Thoughts:

Warning! This book will give you the travel bug!

I've never traveled outside my little Southern world, and most of the time I'm okay with that. I'm baffled how planes stay in the sky, and I'm terrified of them. Why on earth would I want to get on one?! ;) Every once in awhile, though, I get the urge to travel out of my little cocoon and see the world. Bridges of Paris gave me that urge. It made me dream of seeing the beauty up close and in person one day. As I was admiring the book one night, Jonathan asked me what I was doing. "Dreaming of traveling one day." In the meantime, though, I've been enjoying looking through this gorgeous book, and learning more about each of the bridges.

This is a large coffee table kind of book. It's much wider than even the average large book, making the pictures bigger, and even more admirable. There are various photos of the featured 37 bridges. You might see the bridge from a distance, or up close, in the daytime, or at night, from above or from below. You'll see multiple photos of each one, to get a greater appreciation of the beauty. Not only do you get to see lovely photos of the bridges, but you also get to learn more about each one. This is really so much more than just a photography book. You'll also get a great deal of history surrounding each bridge.


While the bridges are gorgeous, I've also enjoyed looking at the people within the photos, and even the transportation. I love watching people and the expressions on their faces and their body language, and guessing what they might be thinking or doing. I've enjoyed getting to see everyday life of the residents of Paris and the tourists, both in connection with the bridges. It's fun guessing which one is which. Ultimately, this is a book about bridges, but there's many layers within each photo that could be studied and admired.

In case you can't tell, I've highly enjoyed this book, and imagine I will continue to do so. If you want to enjoy a bit of Paris, give this book a try. It's definitely a treasure!


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

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Purchase Links:

Author Website

Amazon


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Author's Bio:

Michael Saint James’ artistic pursuits include award-winning book design, film editing, and sound recording, as well as his first love, photography. Saint James is a world traveler, having visited more than 50 countries - doing everything from photographing penguins in Antarctica to trekking the Himalayas.

As an educator with California teaching credentials, he has taught media production and technology arts as well as photography, art history and visual storytelling. He is an expert speaker on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Indeed, he walked in Vincent Van Gogh’s footsteps through the Netherlands, Belgium, and France in order to immerse himself in that troubled master’s vision.

The father of two grown children, Saint James once owned a café in Berkeley, California. He has bicycled from Las Vegas to Washington, D.C. and is rumored to play a mean blues harmonica.


Connect with Michael:

Website

Twitter

Pinterest

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Book Trailer:



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The Giveaway:

Lest you have any doubt, this is a giveaway you definitely want to enter! ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway




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iRead Book Tours

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Crossroads by Cathy Bryant(Book Spotlight, Author Interview, and GIVEAWAYS!!!)


About the Book:

a Miller's Creek novel and Christian contemporary romance

A former soldier battles for the soul of a prodigal...After a devastating divorce, a bitter single mom and atheist starts her own real estate company in the nostalgic and picturesque town of Miller’s Creek, Texas. Then her young daughter’s disturbing symptoms lead doctors to discover that her leukemia has relapsed. With her new life now turned upside down, Mara Hedwig struggles to keep her business afloat. And her daughter’s worsening condition forces her to rethink her beliefs about Carter Callahan and his God. Will Mara make the return to Christian faith in the face of life’s greatest challenge? An ex-military operative struggles with the return to civilian life while coping with his rebellious teen-aged daughter. During a house-search, Carter meets Mara, a headstrong Realtor who wants nothing to do with his God. But when Mara’s little girl is diagnosed with leukemia, the clock begins ticking for him to convince Mara to return to a life of faith. Just as he seems to be making headway, circumstances beyond his control throw his efforts into a tailspin. Can Carter learn to rest in the sovereignty of God?
Would you like to read the 1st chapter?

Just go HERE.

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About the Author:

Amazon best-selling author Cathy Bryant writes Christian fiction set in the heart of Texas. Her popular romance and romantic suspense novels take place in the fictional town of Miller's Creek, where folks are friendly, the iced tea is sweet, and Mama Beth's front porch beckons. Allthe Miller's Creek novels have been on the Amazon Best-Seller list and are rated at 4.5 stars or higher on Amazon. Her debut novel, TEXAS ROADS, was a 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist. Since then five other stand-alone novels have been added to the series, one of which was a reader-nominated 2013 Grace Award nominee (PILGRIMAGE OF PROMISE). Readers have compared her work to that of Karen Kingsbury and Nicholas Sparks. A native Texan, Cathy currently resides in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico with her minister husband of over thirty years. She's written devotions for The Upper Room devotional magazine, two devotional books in collaboration with other Christian authors, and for online sites. She also has released a Bible study book, THE FRAGRANCE OF CRUSHED VIOLETS. In addition to her writing, she enjoys thrift store shopping, romping in the great outdoors, and mini-farming.

To learn more about Cathy and her books, visit her website at www.CatBryant.com or make contact with her in these places:

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Goodreads

Amazon

YouTube

Google+

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Interview With Cathy Bryant

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a Christ-follower, wife, mom, Nana, daughter, mini-farmer, and Christian writer. I enjoy just about anything outdoors, including hiking, canoeing, camping, and gardening. I also enjoy creative activities—home improvement projects, scrap-booking, painting, composing, and of course, writing. I love to watch movies and read, though since becoming a writer, I can’t stop analyzing what I’m watching and reading. I’m a big reality TV fan, my favorites being Survivor and The Amazing Race–both great material for analyzing human behavior for my books! In addition to fiction, I also write Bible studies and devotionals.

Where do you write?

We currently live in the lovely Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico, but will soon be making the move eastward to get closer to our family. Our current home has an upstairs sleeping loft that has served as my writing space. It’s one large open room with the best view in the entire house. My writing desk is there, but I force myself to write in a corner facing a wall to keep myself from being distracted. (It works most of the time…)

What are you writing now?

I just finished writing Crossroads, the sixth book in the Miller’s Creek novels. The book tells the story of a bitter single mom and atheist and the former soldier who battles for her soul. Her little girl’s life-threatening illness forces her to re-think her beliefs of Carter Callahan and his God. Will she return to Christian faith in the face of life’s greatest challenge? What inspired you to write CROSSROADS? All of the Miller’s Creek Novels feature a spiritual theme that is relevant to me for different seasons in my life. In Texas Roads it was Christ being our home rather than placing our security in a place or building. A Path Less Traveled was about finding enough faith to follow God even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. (Boy, has He used that lesson in my life, and proven His faithfulness through it all!) The Way of Grace was my spiritual journey of learning how perfectionist tendencies can be a real hindrance to spiritual progress. The spiritual theme of Pilgrimage of Promise followed right along with my hubby and I stepping out in faith in a bad economy and high unemployment rates to do what we sensed God telling us to do, and the resulting joy and peace spurred on by the Lord’s faithfulness. A Bridge Unbroken follows my own quest to be obedient to Christ in the matter of forgiveness. The spiritual theme of Crossroads came from watching the movie God’s Not Dead and realizing that we all know someone who has defected from the faith. As believers, we need to love them unconditionally, pray for them consistently, and never give up in our efforts to lead them back to God. What do you want readers to take away from this book in particular? I hope that readers will realize the importance of living out the faith we profess. My prayer is that God will embolden us and make us ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15), so that we can win back these prodigals from the faith.

Tell us how you come up with characters.

The characters actually introduce themselves to me. (I know, I know, they’re not real. I promise I’m not certifiable…) After they make their appearance, I fill out extensive character charts, including taking online personality tests for them! (Hmm, maybe I am certifiable…) But no matter how much preparation I put into the characters in the pre-writing process, they always reveal another facet of their personality during the actual writing of the book. Of all the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite and why? Without a doubt the answer would have to be Mama Beth, the wise woman/matriarch of Miller’s Creek who makes an appearance in all the books. She’s also the main character in the fourth book of the series, Pilgrimage of Promise. She is everything I want to be when I grow up—wise, kind, and loving. Just so you know, I’m not alone in choosing her as the favorite character. When I asked this question to the Miller’s Creek Reader’s Group on Facebook, the majority’s answer was Mama Beth, followed closely by Matt Tyler, the hero from The Way of Grace.

Have the books received any special recognition or awards?

I’ve been blessed to have all the Miller’s Creek novels make the Amazon Kindle Best-Sellers list. The first book Texas Roads was an American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis finalist. The fourth book Pilgrimage of Promise was reader-nominated for the 2013 Grace Award.

What do you hope to accomplish through your writing?

I want my writing to honor and glorify God. If only one person is touched and moved closer to God as a result of my writing, then the hours of hard labor (and numb backside!) are worth it. One early reader of Texas Roads (the first book in the series) told me the story brought healing to her life. I can think of no higher compliment.

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The Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Rules:

-Must be 13 or older.
-Open Internationally!

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CROSSROADS Facebook Launch Party; Kindle Fire HD6 Giveaway!



Click HERE to get to the Launch Party.

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Florence Travel Guide by Laura Morelli (Book Spotlight and GIVEAWAY!!!)


Hi Everyone! If you like to travel, especially to Italy...and especially to Florence, then you have to take a look at Laura Morelli's new Authentic Arts series. Today, I am spotlighting the second set of books in this series.





"Laura Morelli has set out to make you an expert in handmade crafts." --American Style Magazine













About the Book





Going to Florence, Italy?





Don't buy anything in Florence until you read this book!





If you're traveling to Florence, Italy, you want to go home with a special souvenir: a leather handbag, a piece of gold jewelry, hand-printed stationery, or one of the city's famous luxury fabrics. But selecting which jacket or which wallet to buy can be an intimidating experience. How do you know if you're buying something authentic, something made in Florence, something made in a traditional way? How do you determine if you've fallen prey to one of the city's many tourist traps?





Florence boasts some of the most famous artistic traditions in the world. Here's what you need to know about them.





Laura Morelli leads you beyond the souvenir shops for an immersive cultural experience that you won't find in any other guidebook. This indispensable guide includes practical tips for locating the most authentic goods in one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world. Packed with useful information on quality and value, and with a comprehensive resource guide, Laura Morelli s Authentic Arts: Florence is the perfect guide for anyone wanting to bring home the unique traditions of the capital of the Renaissance. 





Artisans of Florence is the companion to Laura Morelli's Authentic Arts: Florence: A Travel Guide to Fabrics, Frames, Jewelry, Leather Goods, Maiolica, Paper, Woodcrafts & More . Put both books together and you'll be the most knowledgeable traveler in Florence!













About the book





Artisans of Florence is the companion to Florence: A Travel Guide, bringing you inside the workshops of several dozen of the most accomplished makers of Florentine fabrics, hand-carved frames, and other treasures. Put both books together and you'll be the most knowledgeable traveler in Florence! 





"Laura Morelli has set out to make you an expert in handmade crafts." --American Style Magazine





Laura Morelli, an art historian and trusted guide in the world of cultural travel and authentic shopping, leads you to the best of Florence's most traditional arts. Laura Morelli's Authentic Arts series is the only travel guide series on the market that takes you beyond the museums and tourist traps to make you an educated buyer--maybe even a connoisseur--of Florentine leather, ceramics of the Amalfi Coast, Parisian hats, Venetian glass, the handmade quilts of Provence, and more treasures. 





Bring Laura Morelli's guides to Florence with you, and you'll be sure to come home with the best of Florence in your suitcase. 








Where to buy the books
















Meet the Author












Laura Morelli holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and contributes pieces about authentic travel to national magazines and newspapers. Laura has been featured on CNN Radio, Travel Today with Peter Greenberg, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, House & Garden Magazine, Traditional Home, the Denver Post, Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, and other media. Recently her art history lesson, “What’s the difference between art and craft?” was produced and distributed by TED-Ed.






Laura has taught college-level art history at Trinity College in Rome, as well as at Northeastern University, Merrimack College, St. Joseph College, and the College of Coastal Georgia. Laura has lived in five countries, including four years in Italy and four years in France.





Laura Morelli is the author of the guidebook series that includesMade in Italy, Made in France, and Made in the Southwest, all published by Rizzoli / Universe. The Gondola Maker, a historical coming-of-age story about the heir to a gondola boatyard in 16th-century Venice, is her first work of fiction.









Giveaway



a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Monday, April 13, 2015

The Start of You and Me by Emery Lord



Bloomsbury USA Childrens (March 31, 2015) 384 pages

Description:

It's been a year since it happened-when Paige Hancock's first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her-the perfect way to convince everyone she's back to normal. Next: Join a club-simple, it's high school after all. But when Ryan's sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?
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My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Sweet and full of nerdy goodness! Such fun!

I don't read a great deal of YA contemporaries, but there was something about this one that had me eager to get in its pages. When I do read YA contemporaries, I love nerdy-ness within them, and it was such a pleasant surprise to find lots of nerdy fun throughout the pages.

Despite being a fun read, there's still a great deal of grief dealt with. When the story starts, it's been about a year since Paige's boyfriend has died. She's trying to start over, and get past the grief and the nightmares, so she makes a list of things to do to help in that effort. She also receives some news from her parents. I'll admit that I gave her a hard time while reading for her reaction. I thought the news was thrilling, but she went into "crisis" mode. It took some time to see things from her point of view, but I finally saw how hard things must be for her. On top of it all, her beloved grandmother is living with Alzheimer's, and though Paige tells her everything, her grandmother doesn't remember.

The romance was initially unexpected, but sweet, and perfect for my tastes. It also warmed my reading heart to see many scenes within a bookstore. I was dreaming of visiting one myself! Paige's friends were some of the best I've read about!

Overall, this is a lovely and sweet story that doesn't hesitate to deal with the tough things in life. I'm looking forward to adding Open Road Summer to my reading list now!

Content:
Mild profanity, but a great deal of religious expletives.
No sex, only kissing, but there is a part that jokes about a hot dog/male part. (Of course, I could have done without some parts within the book!)
General things, like sneaking out, lying, partying, etc.

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

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Purchase Link:

The Start of Me and You

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Apron Strings by Mary Morony(Book Spotlight and GIVEAWAY!!!!)



About the Book:

When a grown-up tells you not to worry, you had better start—first rule of thumb, Sallee Mackey, age seven. She is already more than a little bit wary of the adults in her segregated, Southern world with good reason. Sallee’s mother Ginny is flat out dangerous; her father Joe is on his way out the door; and Mr. Dabney the bigoted neighbor seems to be just a little too interested with the goings on at Sallee’s house—like he knows something no one else does.


The only adult to be trusted is Ethel, the family maid, who has known Sallee’s mother since Ethel and Ginny were both girls. That complicated relationship started the day Ethel spied Ginny kissing the black stable boy years ago.

While Ginny has conveniently forgotten that she even knew Ethel back then, Sallee has not as she constantly lobs questions at Ethel about her mother’s girlhood.

From Sallee’s oft times humorous and always guileless vantage, grownups have a most mixed up view of the world.

Ethel gives her very own biased account of her shared history with Ginny while Sallee hones her vigilance and stealth, skills she and her brother and two sisters have acquired in an attempt to understand the drama that swirls around them.

Rocks are thrown through windows, a car filled with angry white men shout racial slurs at the children at play and a tragic poisoning threatens the entire family’s sense of security. When Joe Mackey asks Ethel to testify on his behalf in a custody suit, her conflicted loyalties throw the entire family into even more turmoil. Fortunately for Sallee no one took the time to teach her to hate a person based on the skin color.


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About the Author:

Mary Morony author of Apron Strings is one of six children. She was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and had the good fortune of being raised by her family’s maid Lottie. She taught me love and acceptance with warm, loving humor and unending patience. It was a time and place of segregated schools and water fountains, as well as restaurants and movie theaters that prohibited black customers. She remembers the hurled epithets and smashed windows of a society boiling in hatred.

Besides five siblings she had four children of her own. As if that didn’t provide sufficient material about family chaos, at the age of forty-something, with a high school daughter and a four-year-old girl still at home, she decided to get a college degree. Mary likes to say she earned, and she does mean earned, a bachelors of arts in English at the University of Virginia, with a concentration in creative writing. More recently she has pursued additional studies under the tutelage of her seven-year-old granddaughter. Her refresher course in childhood perspective was invaluable in writing this book.

The author lives on a farm in Orange County, Virginia, with her husband, four dogs, and her daughter’s cat.

Mary says, “The relationship I was privileged to experience taught me much about the human heart and the redemptive power of love, especially between races.”



Connect with Mary:

Twitter

Website

Goodreads


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Purchase Links:

Apron Strings-Kindle


Apron Strings-Paperback


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The Giveaway:


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Rules:

Open to US and Canada
Must be 13 years or older

Good Luck! :)

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas



HarperTeen (February 24, 2015) 357 pages

Description:

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.
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My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Thoughts:

A Wicked Thing is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. In this story, Aurora doesn't fall madly in love when her prince wakes her up with a kiss, though.

This book is mostly a "set-up" book for the rest of the series. It moves on the slow side, and it has a dark and gloomy kind of tone, as Aurora decides her next move. We're introduced to several characters, and instead of a love triangle, there seems to be 3 possibilities for guys within Aurora's future(if there is a romance in her future at all). Since characters are mostly just being introduced, I'm not even strongly rooting for one over the other right now.

Very Slight ****SPOILER**** Possibility Ahead!!

As I left this book, I got a strong hint for adventure and fun within the next book. It was almost like breathing a breath of fresh air myself, and now I'm greatly looking forward to seeing what decisions Aurora makes and where she goes. While I like the cover of this book, I'm excited to see the next book's cover. I feel like it will be brighter and happier.

End Spoiler.

Overall, while this book does move on the slower side, it still kept my interest throughout, and I can't wait to see how things play out in the end.

Content: Clean! I only recall one word of mild profanity. There's no sex scenes, and mild violence.


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Purchase Link:

A Wicked Thing

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Tapper Twins go to War(With Each Other) by Geoff Rodkey



Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 7, 2015) 240 pages

Description:

This brand-new series by a popular screenwriter is a pitch-perfect, contemporary comedy featuring twelve-year-old fraternal twins, Claudia and Reese, who couldn't be more different...except in their determination to come out on top in a vicious prank war! But when the competition escalates into an all-out battle that's fought from the cafeteria of their New York City private school all the way to the fictional universe of an online video game, the twins have to decide if their efforts to destroy each other are worth the price.

Told as a colorful "oral history" by the twins and their friends, and including photos, screenshots, chat logs, online gaming digital art, and text messages between their clueless parents, The Tapper Twins is a hilariously authentic showcase of what it's like to be in middle school in our digitally-saturated world.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars (This is one of those books that I've been back and forth on what rating to give. I started with a 3, decided on a 4, then debated on going back to 3. I'm going to just try to settle on a 3.5 star.)

My Thoughts:

When I first looked at the cover, I wasn't too interested in reading this book. Then I saw that the author was the screenwriter for RV and Daddy Day Care, both being movies that I LOVE. I didn't hesitate to put it on my reading list at that point.

This book is funny! I laughed out loud a few times, and it was entertaining. That said, I firmly believe I would have enjoyed it SO much more as a movie. (Maybe I have that in mind because of how much I liked RV and Daddy Day Care.) It gets a little chaotic within the story. It's written to be an "oral history". The characters go back and forth talking. It mostly seems like a conversation. I kept imagining how much funnier everything would be as a movie, though. It's mostly written by Claudia, but Reese gets a great deal of page time, too. There's also several other characters that put their side of the story within the book, too.

I enjoyed the illustrations and pictures throughout, also. The mohawk portion of the story, along with the picture was probably my favorite part!

Overall, this is a funny book. It has a sweet sibling relationship underneath all the pranks, and a good message, overall(again, underneath all the pranks). There's lying and sneaking around behind the parents backs and all. Yet, I still like it, overall. There's lying and sneaking around behind parents' backs and all, which I typically don't care for. Yet, I still liked this one, overall. Maybe I'm just in desperate need of laughs! ;) I imagine the targeted age(that enjoy "notebook" style books) will love it, though. I have four nephews that I believe will love it.

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

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Purchase Link:

The Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other)

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Words to Dream On: Bedtime Bible Stories and Prayers by Diane Stortz, with Illustrations by Diane Le Feyer



Thomas Nelson (February 10, 2015) 224 pages

Description:

Start a bedtime Bible story tradition with your little ones tonight!

Young children thrive on routine and rituals, and a Bible story at bedtime is one of the best routines to establish! A combination Bible storybook and book of prayers, Words to Dream On is the perfect bedtime storybook for young children, with a “once upon a time” voice that is also true to God’s Word. Over 50 stories—from the Old and New Testaments—create an overview of the entire story arc of the Bible. Stories are selected and retold for young children with a focus on God’s love, care, protection, trustworthiness, and power.

Each story includes an engaging title, a Bedtime Blessing (a short summary thought), Words to Dream On (a brief Bible verse), and a Sleepy-Time Prayer (a good-night prayer tied to the theme of the story). The book also includes a short letter to parents that includes tested ideas for establishing a good bedtime routine with young children and tips for reading aloud to children at bedtime.
My Thoughts:

I've made it no secret that I adore sweet Bible "storybooks" We have many of them, and I can't seem to resist trying out new ones. My little ones love trying them out, too!

I love this one, Words to Dream On. Really, there's just something about books specifically made for bedtime that have a soothing quality to them. This one is no exception! It's a beautiful book, and it focuses on making God the focus in one's mind before drifting off to sleep. And, although this book is specifically made for bedtime reading, it can work perfectly fine for anytime of day. One would just not end their prayer with "Good night, God." ;)


Each Bible event re-wording starts with where it can be found in the Bible. You'll also get a Bible verse that somewhat ties into the lesson focus within the "story". There's the re-wording of the Bible event, along with pictures, a prayer to help your little ones along with their own, and lastly, a "Bedtime Blessing". A couple of examples of the "Bedtime Blessing": "God will fight for you." and "God's Word will give you wisdom."

The pictures are gorgeous! For my preference when it comes to Bible illustrations, these are at the top of the list. I seriously love them!

The re-wording within this book reminds me of how a teacher would tell a story in a Bible class. (My momma and I teach the 2 and 3 year old class for half the year at the congregation we attend.) It feels like active reading, not boring, monotone reading. The wording within this book makes it easier for me to stop and elaborate on something or ask a question(some are written within the lesson). It gets my little ones more involved, as opposed to just listening(or drifting off into la-la land). Of course, one could do all that with any book, but Words to Dream On makes it easier on me, and I appreciate that.

Overall, I just really like this book!

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


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Purchase Link:

Words to Dream On: Bedtime Bible Stories and Prayers


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