Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book Review: The Heretic

I tried to read The Heretic, but found it to be too dry and complex for me.  I decided  to hand it off to my 13-year old son who is an avid reader, and often likes books like this.  So this is his review:

Plot: 5 stars
Writing style:  4 stars
Characters:  5 stars

I liked all of the action - hiding, pursuing...  adventures at every turn.  The characters are very diverse.  There is a monk, a leper, and 3 children with heretic parents.  The story about how the children hide from the authorities who have wrongfully accused their parents.

It's definitely written for an academically mature audience.  The vocabulary is advanced - readers will need a dictionary on hand as they read! The Old English setting might be unfamiliar to readers, so like me, it might be challenging to understand some of the storyline.  The author sometimes takes a round-about route to get to his point - that's probably why the book is so long!

I would recommend this book for adult readers (perhaps 16+) that have a dictionary on hand!

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review: The Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

I was sad to finish this light-hearted and captivating historical christian novel from Carrie Turansky.  The author whisks readers away to London in the early nineteen hundreds and lets us experience the struggles and aspirations of high culture and people living in poverty.  The main character is young Kate, and her coming of age in the glamour of London society, but she is surrounded by family, suitors, maids and people living in poverty.  She does a great job developing her characters and readers will easily identify with some of the struggles characters faced.  I especially appreciated the themes of vocational calling, essential qualities to seek in a marriage partner, service to the poor, and family relationships.  I look forward to reading Turanksy's next book!

I would recommend this book to any female reader age 14+.  The content is appropriate for 12+, but I'm not sure younger girls would be interested in the storyline.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Bible Review: Plush Bible

First impression - huge wow factor for a girl who likes sparkly pink. I've never seen a bible this soft and cute!  It has a padded hardcover so it's still quite sturdy.
Inside. This is a very simple nirv bible.  It has small print with no footnotes or cross references. The only extra features are the 5 page dictionary (cool feature because bible words can be tricky sometimes) and the list of 92 great bible stories with their scripture references.  It also has a very pretty and girly presentation page.
Overall.  Girls will be very attracted to the look and feel of this bible. If that will encourage them to carry and read it, then great!  Just don't expect the inside layout to be inspiring.  It's bland inside.  
I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Book Review: Adventure Bible

This week I got to review the

NKJV Adventure Bible

edited by Lawrence O. Richards. 
I was very impressed!  It's a very inviting book with a brightly colored hardback cover.  It's sturdy and ready for wear and tear.  As described by the publisher, it has great features throughout the Bible:
"Life in Bible Times - Articles and illustrations describe what life was like in ancient days;
"People in Bible Times" - Offers close-up looks at amazing people of the Bible;
"Did You Know?" - Provides interesting facts that help you better understand God's Word;
"Let's Live It!" - Includes hands-on activities to help you apply biblical truths to your life;
"Words to Treasure" - Highlights great verses to memorize
Each book of the Bible has  a one page introduction describing the author, the book's purpose, and overview of the book's content, key players in the book, and when the writing took place.
There are 20 brightly colored safari themed pages scattered throughout the Bible with tidbits such as a reading plan for kids, who was Jesus, famous children in the Bible, how to pray, and a timeline of Jesus' life.
he back of the Bible has resources you would expect in an adult study Bible, but designed for kids:
8 pages of color maps and a map index
a concordance for help with finding verses
a subject index for help navigating topics in the Bible
It's a great Bible for 8-12 year old boys and girls.  I would recommend it as a gift for any child that wants to learn more about the Bible!
I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Review: The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka

I was so excited to get The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka in the mail.  It's beautiful!  It's full of favorite dishes that have been "skinnyfied" (made healthier).  Most recipes can be made with ingredients that are usually in my fridge/pantry  It's mostly simple cooking.  I dog-eared so many recipes to try!

In addition to the 300+ pages of pictures and recipes, there are 19 pages o tips for healthy cooking/eating.  The recipes are also connected to icons to let you know if recipes are vegetarian, gluten-free, slow-cooker, or freezer friendly.

This would be  great gift for the chef that loves to cook but wants to be thoughtful about the waistline!

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

9 Party Activities with a Soccer Theme

I was helping a friend brainstorm creative fundraising games to play at an upcoming soccer event.  These would also use these for a soccer party or a birthday party with a soccer theme.  I thought you soccer-crazed families might enjoy building off the ideas.  And of course, I'd LOVE to hear your ideas!
  1. have a kick off (like a free throw competition).  have 2 kicking lines- one for adults & one for kids.  each person gets 3 kicks.  if one of the kicks goes in, you get a prize.  every player is entered into a drawing for a XX.
  2. punting competition  (punt, retrieve ball, get prize based on how far the punt is)
  3. kick and hit the goalie ghost for a prize
  4. kick and knock over the 2-liter ghosts in the goal  (like bowling)
  5. a combo of cake walk/musical chairs.  $ to enter. kids on spray-painted & #ed circles. play Halloween song.  freeze when music stops. draw # from hat. person standing on that #ed square gets a prize.
  6. a modified bean bag toss.  put a netting over the goal with holes cut out.  designate points for various holes. kickers tally points by kicking in certain holes.  prizes awarded by points earned.
  7. a make-and-take soccer craft.  buy foam/wooden frames, paint and stickers.  let players decorate art for their rooms.
  8. sell helium soccer balloons.  or decorate your own helium soccer balloon.
  9. finger soccer competition.  "kick' soccer ball (ping pong ball) into a mini goal by shooting with your index finger.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

book review - Just Sayin' - a devotional by Carol McAdams Moore

Write ‘em, Draw ‘em, Hide ‘em In Your Heart

From the publisher:  "Just Sayin’ isn’t your typical 90-day devotional for girls. It’s an all-out open space for you to explore and learn more about yourself and your faith. Prompts get your mind thinking, ideas flowing, and help turn your thoughts and emotions into dynamic doodles and so much more! Let that God-given gift of creativity shine each and every day!"

This paperback devotional has a short & sweet activity for each day.  It opens with a scripture and an analogy, then the creative reflection is a bit different each day.  Girls might find space to doodle, journal, make a list, solve a puzzles, take a quiz, or even fill-in-the-blank for a prayer.  It's simple black/white art that is inviting for tweens.

I would recommend this to any girl age 9-13 who is interested in learning more about God and how he wants to be a part of our everyday lives.  I can't wait to share it with my daughter!

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Book Review: Thief of Glory

I read Thief of Glory: A Novel by Sigmund Brouwer while I was traveling last week.  Wow! 

From the publisher:  "A boy coming of age in a time of war…the love that inspires him to survive.  For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows—his frail, troubled mother.  Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.  When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all."

I've never read a book about the Japanese/Dutch side of WWII, so I was riveted by the storyline.  It's very sad and hard to read, but also full of friendship, hope, faith, and determination to survive.  I was inspired by the characters as I could feel their pain, their struggle and their fierce spirit.  Brouwer has obviously done tons of research and he painted the pictures in living color. 

This is not a light beach-read, but if you're looking for a captivating story that will illuminate a different side of WWII than we traditionally hear, you should pick up this book.  I recommend this book for readers age 16+.  I think it would be great to read with a friend, then discuss the questions at the end of the book.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Review: Big Book of Quizzes by The Editors of Faithgirlz

Every girl loves quizzes that reveal more about herself and her friends! This book has quizzes about personality, change, workouts, pressure, learning styles, money, friends, dating, family, and faith.  For each quiz, you tally your score and read a summary, which is full of good solid advice for growing up (not what your daughter will read on a tabloid in the grocery store!).  Some even include scripture, but it's never preachy.  I loved the section on faith, too, because it gives answers to tough questions. The book has a tween friendly design that's fun and full of energy.

I highly recommend this book for girls ages 11-14.  I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The One Year Devotions for Active Boys

This is a great devotional for older boys and tweens!  Like any good devotional, it has a story to capture the reader's attention and introduce the scripture, it has a related prayer and a scripture reading.  But what makes this devo stand apart is the engaging activity in the middle of the lesson.  There are puzzles, checklists, mindbenders, crosswords, jokes, tongue twisters, weird fats, science experiments, recipes, quizzes, service idea and physical challenged that help the reader dig into the Bible lesson for the day.  I could easily imagine my children reading ahead to explore the activities!

I love this resource!  It's a great way to get older boys and young teens to dig into scripture.  I would recommend this for boys ages 10-15.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: Tried and True by Mary Connealy

I love a good clean historical fiction novel that I can lose myself in.  Mary Connealy scored with this novel - Tried and True is creative, adventuresome, and enjoyable all in one.  Set in the wild west in the post civil war era, it's labeled as a romantic comedy or a cowboy comedy, but it also has good messages on self identity, family relationships, and community.  I enjoyed reading every page and I've already passed it along to a friend to read.  I would recommend this to any female reader age 15+.  I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.