Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey

Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey is the newest book in the Quilts of Love series.

Taryn has felt a lot of hardship in her life. Abandoned by her parents as a young child, and left behind by her highschool sweetheart, she feels as if she's gotten over all of those things. But it's not until Taryn's first love returns to town, that she realizes that she really has not gotten over all of those heartaches. Seeing Justin again is like opening a fresh wound.

Taryn's grandmother, Jemma is like the parent she never had. She has always taken care of her. After all of these years, Jemma is in bad health, and Taryn worries that the secret that Jemma has held onto for so long will suddenly come to the surface.

I have read multiple Quilts of Love books and so far I have not read one that I didn't like! Quilted by Christmas is a heartwarming story of love, and forgiveness. The end of the book emphasizes that love is not something you earn but must be something that is freely given and accepted. If you are looking for a nice book to curl up with this winter season, Quilted by Christmas is a great choice! This book is sure to become a Christmas favorite!

I received this book for free from Litfuse in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion. I rate it as 4 stars.

Expectant Parents by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin

When I saw Expectant Parents by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin was available for review, it sounded super interesting to me. There are thousands of books on the market for Expectant Parents, but most of those have more to do with the development and care of the baby before and after it is born. Expectant Parents does touch on that subject, but focuses more on the key issues related to the arrival of a new child in the home.

This book provides parents with a way to write their own practical instruction manual for their children. Gosselin explains the importance of strengthening your marriage relationship, setting expectations for parenthood, increasing communication and preparing for this new stage of life.

I thought this book was a refreshing change from most child care/parenting books. Considering I have three girls, I have read a lot of parenting books with subjects ranging from maternity care, to potty training, to building lasting relationships with your children. I think this is a wonderful book and is mostly aimed at first time parents (although I think there is something in it for any expecting parent).

I rate this book as 5 stars. I received thsi book for free from Litfuse in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

"Willie's Redneck Time Machine" Giveaway!

I am very happy to announce the winner of my "Willie's Redneck Time Machine" Giveaway! 

The winner is Nicole H.! I will get your book to you soon! 

Thanks everyone for participating and keep checking back for more giveaways in the future!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tamales: Fast and Delicious Mexican Meals by Alice Guadalupe Tapp

In Tamales: Fast and Delicious Mexican Meals by Alice Guadalupe Tapp, there's a little something for everyone. Whether you're a expert chef or just a beginner, there are recipes for Masa, Sauces and Salsas, Inside-Out Tamales, Meat Tamales, Nose-to-Tail Tamales, Vegetarian and Vegan Tamales and Dessert Tamales.

I have enjoyed Mexican food for a majority of my life and I have always wanted to make Tamales. The task always seemed too daunting and time-consuming. I was sure I would mess something up it would turn out disgusting. This book gives me hope that I can actually create a delicious tamale that my family will love. Sure there are a few recipes included that take me out of my comfort zone, but I guess that's half the fun.

The beginning of the book gives a bit of an introduction to Tamales. It also includes a chart on how to save a little time on preparation, such as using canned foods and frozen ready-to-use condiments. The author thoroughly describes how to assemble, wrap and freeze tamales. Most of the recipes include a picture of the ready-made dish and they all look amazing! There are recipes for more traditional tamales, and some that are less common, but they all look equally appetizing and delicious. I think my first attempt will probably be the Chicken and Chorizo Tamales or the Red Chile Beef Tamales as they look fairly simple.

I would definitely recommend this book to other Mexican food lovers! I rate it as 5 stars! I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Willie's Redneck Time Machine by John Luke Robertson

If your family enjoys Duck Dynasty as much as mine, they will love this Duck Commander book series by John Luke Robertson and Travis Thrasher! It even has all of your favorite Duck Dynasty characters!

Willie finds a mysterious "outhouse" in the middle of the warehouse and thinks someone is playing a big joke on him. Little does he know, the "outhouse" is actually a time machine that can transport him to the past or future!

There are a myriad of different places Willie can visit because as the title of this book states, you can be your own Duck Commander! Once you reach the end of the chapter you have a choice. Whatever path you choose has a corresponding page number to go along with it. You go to that page number to find out what happens next. If you don't like the way the story ended, no problem! Go back and read it a different way!

I thought this book was pretty cute for a first try at writing. I wouldn't say that it is one of the best children's books I have read, but I am a fan of Duck Dynasty and I did enjoy it quite a bit.  I would say it is aimed at children from second to third grade depending on their reading level. I think younger audiences would also enjoy it if they were being read to. It's not a terribly long book. My third grader could probably read through one of the stories in a half hour or so, but I imagine she would probably want to go back and read other versions of this story.

I have no complaints about this book, and I look forward to reading more books by John Luke Robertson in the future! I rate this book as 4 stars!

I received two copies of this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

For your chance to win a copy of this book, comment below with your favorite  Duck Dynasty character! :)

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary: New and Enhanced Version by Ronald F. Youngblood, F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison is a wonderful new addition to my library! This Bible dictionary includes: Cross-References to Major Translations, More than 7,000 up-to-date entries, more than 500 enhanced full-color photographs and maps, and enlarged type size for ease of use.

I have wanted a Bible dictionary for a long time but to be honest, I didn't know exactly what to shop for. I didn't know what characteristics would be useful and beneficial to my family and I, so it was very hard to decide on one to purchase. Earlier this month, I saw that I was able to receive this Bible dictionary for free through Booklook bloggers, so of course I was ecstatic. I am one of those nerdy types who enjoys reading dictionaries for fun. I immediately flipped through the colorful pages of this Bible dictionary and found that I loved it!

The book itself is rather large, which I consider to be a great thing for a dictionary. It ensures that there are a variety of names, places and subjects described. The book begins with a visual survey of the Bible. This includes the number of years of history covered in both the Old Testament and New Testament, the number of books, the themes, key words, and how Jesus Christ is conveyed in each Testament. For example, in the Old Testament Jesus is seen in over 300 Prophesies, The Passover lamb, and The priesthood and sacrifice. In the New Testament, He is seen in Flesh and blood, The Teachings of the apostles, and His coming return.

The beginning of the book also describes the History of the Early World, Israel, The Early Church and lists the names and themes of The poetic and prophetic books of the Bible. It also gives a brief description of The life of Christ as well as a larger description in the entry of Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, there was nothing I disliked about this book! It was excellent in every way that I could see and I will definitely be using it often with my Bible studies and quiet time. I will highly recommend this Bible Dictionary to others and rate it as 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bend your Brain by Marbles: The Brain Store

"Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips and Tricks to Blow and Grow Your Mind" includes 151 puzzles to enhance memory, reduce stress and build problem-solving skills. The puzzles are divided into 5 brain categories: visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination and memory. They range in difficulty from mind-warming to mind-blowing, and can take anywhere from 5 minutes to days to solve!

Being a big fan of puzzles and games, I really enjoyed this book! Beginning the book, I thought the puzzles were really easy, not taking much thought to solve them. But as I went farther into the book, each puzzle took longer and longer to solve. Sometimes I had to think it through for awhile and then go back later to solve it.

I really liked that there were so many different types of puzzles included in this book. I could easily enjoy the puzzles I am good at, and then slowly work on those than I am not as good with. I will be interested to see if this company creates more books like this. I will definitely be interested if they do.

I rate this book as 5 stars. I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Star for Jesus by Crystal Bowman

"A Star for Jesus" by Crystal Bowman and illustrated by Claudine Gevry is an adorable board book aimed at 2-5 year olds!

The book begins with present day children looking out at the night sky in wintertime. It then goes on to explain that long ago, a new star appeared in the sky. People wondered what it could be. Some men from the East figured out the answer because they were wise. They followed the star to find Jesus, the newborn King.

When they finally reached Jesus, He was already a little boy. They gave Him gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.

The book ends with present day children opening gifts on Christmas, explaining that next time you see the stars shining bright, remember the star that glowed in the night announcing the arrival of our Savior's birth.

I really enjoyed this Christmas story! I have many Christmas stories for my children, but I think "A Star for Jesus" is one of our new favorites! I especially enjoyed that this book was so short. Perfect for keeping a young child's attention, but still explaining an important part of the Christmas story. My 2 year old was actually next to me when I received this book in the mail, and was super excited to see it! We actually read through it 3 times before she got bored with it. The book itself is actually pretty short, as it is only 12 pages, with words on only 6 of those. We absolutely loved it! We rate it as 5 stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun

"Thunder: A Stone Braide Chronicle" by Bonnie S. Calhoun is the newest up and coming Science Fiction series! If you are a fan of dystopian novels such as The Hunger Games or the Divergent Series, you will absolutely love these!

"Thunder" is a dystopian novel set in post-apocolyptic America. After the earth was ravaged by war, families had to be careful what they hunted as not all animals were safe to eat anymore, due to radiation. Selah has always lived in the shadow of her older brothers and has always been treated differently by her father, but never quite knew why. She longs to capture her own lander, the strange people who land on the beaches after their boats crash. These people are always in a sort of delirium and can't seem to remember much of their life before the crash. If she could capture a lander and turn him in, she would earn a valuable profit and her father's favor.

No one knows what happens to the landers after they are turned in, and not many people end up caring. That is, until Selah meets Bodie. She comes too close and makes contact, and the next morning wakes up with the same lander mark on her own skin. How could this happen? Selah is not a lander. Or is she?

The only thing I disliked about this book is that I felt that it lacked a certain depth. You could pretty much guess what was going to happen next. Also, the relationship between Selah and Bodie was an odd one. One minute she couldn't stand him, and the next she was in love with him. I guess I will suffice to say that Selah was young and somewhat naive, so she really didn't know what love was and that probably explains her flighty attitude.

The chapters alternated between many different characters, but yet it was never really confusing to me. I think it was nicely written, with just a hint of mystery. It is definitely written more for young adults and teens than for adults, which I really enjoy. I think this series has great potential and I can't wait to see what happens in the next book.

I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times by Kelly Pulley

"Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times" by Kelly Pulley is the new favorite Bible story book in our home. Our 2 year old absolutely enjoys the rhymes and colorful pictures, and the 352 pages definitely hold her interest!

According to Amazon, this book is aimed at 4-8 year old children, but I would say that it was more suited for 2 to 6 year olds. My 8 year old was a little beyond this type of book, but my 2 year old absolutely loved it. This book consists of 20 well known Bible stories, and as the name suggests, tells the stories in rhymes and poems. I was happy to see that certain not-so-pleasant details were omitted from the stories. The sizes of the stories were wonderful for preschoolers. My 2 year old could easily sit through a couple stories without getting bored.  I particularly enjoyed the idea of the rhyming, since that seems to grab my 2 year old's attention more than most story books.

"Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times" would be an excellent resource in children's sunday school, homeschooling, or even just story time at home. I would highly recommend this book and I give it 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Litfuse in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.   

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Mason Jar by James Russell Lingerfelt

"The Mason Jar" by James Russell Lingerfelt is truly a story of beauty. The author truly has a gift for words and I would say his writing is very reminiscient of Nicholas Sparks, but without the inappropriate content!

What if your old college roommate called to tell you about a book she just finished reading, saying it was the most beautiful thing she's ever read? There's one catch though. The book is about you, and the author is your college ex.

Clayton was heartbroken after his girlfriend, Eden left him to go to college. To help ease the pain of Eden's absence, Clayton's grandfather began exchanging letters with him in a simple mason jar. Later on, Clayton becomes a missionary and travels to Africa, but his mind is never far from Eden. During this time, Clayton continues to correspond to his grandfather through letters. Five years later, Clayton returns home to attend his grandfather's funeral, but finds himself asking questions about his first love. Little does he know, his answer is in the mason jar from so long ago.

"The Mason Jar" is a sweet love story that will tug at your heart strings. It is written more like a memoir, which I enjoyed very much! The story is written in kind of an old-fashioned type of way, which was refreshing from most books I have read lately!

I rate this book as 4 stars. I received this book for free from Litfuse in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford

"The Sea House" by Elisabeth Gifford is the dual narrative story of Reverend Alexander Ferguson and Moira Gallies in 1860, and Ruth and her husband Michael in 1992, both of whom live in the Sea House, many years apart.

Alexander is a young Reverend in the Hebrides of Scotland. Despite the fact that Alexander is a supposed Christian, he is an Evolutionary Scientist who is obsessed with tales of "Selkies" (half human, half seal) and Mermaids. He has lived his entire life reading books and researching to prove that they do exist.

Moira is Alexander's maid, a woman who has faced severe hardships in her life because of one prominent man who controls much of their little town. He has taken away everything and everyone that Moira has ever loved, and she is determined to one day pay him back for his evil deeds.

Ruth is a 29 year old woman who recently moved into the Sea House with her husband, Michael. Together, they have plans to turn the old Sea House into a beautiful bed and breakfast, but it is in need of much work. But what Ruth refuses to talk about or even deal with is her past, and it's costing her her future. Ruth has very few memories left of her Mum and she never met her father at all. Her mother died when Ruth was about 10 years old, and she was left to go to a girls' home. Ever since, Ruth has suffered a tormented life. She suffers with depression and feelings of resentment towards her mother for leaving her.

There were parts of this book that I really enjoyed and then there were parts I disliked very much. At times, the book was very dark and dreary due to Ruth's upbringing, and I was not impressed with Alexander's character. I found it hard to fathom that he could be a Christian yet still believe in darwin's teachings. It seemed ridiculous to me.

I think the idea of the book was very nice. The storyline had a good plot, and there was quite a bit of suspense wondering what was going to happen next. Some people might be a little put off by Ruth's condition, but the fact is that people live like that every single day. And though it seems dark and dreary, it gives readers a good perspective on how life might be like for someone who was rejected their whole life.

I rate this book as 4 stars. I received this book for free from Litfuse in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Once A Day NIV Bible for Women

The Once A Day NIV Bible for Women is unlike any other Bible I've used before. I wasn't sure what to expect when I read that it has a reading plan included in it. This Bible is not a Bible you can just flip through to find the passage you want. Instead it is separated into 365 daily readings.

Each reading contains a passage from the Old Testament, New Testament, a small passage from Psalms or Proverbs and a short devotional. The Bible also includes a section explaining the plan of Salvation, and several examples of how to grow your relationship with God.

I found that I really enjoyed using this Bible. I think it's unique that it offers some Old Testament and New Testament each day instead of just one passage. I think it adds a little variety to your reading and helps keep it exciting!

There's no rhyme or reason to the reading schedule. You can either begin on day 1, or follow the calendar in the back if you choose to begin in January...whichever works best for you.

This is definitely not a Bible you would use to just look up Bible references. It is made to be somewhat of a devotional, except that it's mostly Bible that you're reading. I really enjoyed the set up of this Bible and will continue to use it daily! I rate it as 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

940 Saturdays

There are 940 Saturdays between the day your child is born, and the day they turn 18. "940 Saturdays: Family Activities and a Keepsake Journal" by Harley A. Rotbart is a fun way to document those Saturdays!

"940 Saturdays" is a surprisingly large journal which consists of 480 pages. Each page contains 2 Journal entries which are numbered from 1 to 940, with a space to write the date and write about what you did that day. The journal also comes with a small activity book which is divided into age groups and lists of activities to do with your children. The activities listed are pretty basic, and most of them are things I have already done with my children.

I think the concept of this book is great! I think it's a wonderful idea to document your days with your kids. I think the message that the author is trying to convey is that we should make everyday count. And while I think this is excellent advice, I would push that statement to go a little further to say "Make everyday count". Why wait for the future? Why wait for the weekend? Document everyday with your kids.

I knew what this book was about when I requested it, but it is not exactly what I was expecting. I didn't realize that a majority of this book was blank pages. That's great and all, but I just expected a bit more input from the author. Great concept, but it falls a little short. I rate this book as 3 stars.

I received this book for free from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Before Amen by Max Lucado

In "Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer" Max Lucado shares about all of the different types of prayer, and how to pray when it's hardest. He shares his "Pocket-size Prayer", an easy to remember prayer to help you get started. He explains that prayer isn't for a select few. It's the way all of us were designed to have a heartfelt conversation with God!

In "Before Amen", Lucado explains that prayer doesn't have to be so formal. It can just be a simple conversation. When you talk to your earthly father, do you use "thee", "thou", and make your requests sound like something out of the renaissance? Yes, you can pray that way, but God still hears you when you talk to Him like you talk to your earthly father. Prayer is an intimate conversation. God wants to hear from us!

The Pocket-size Prayer is not some gimmick. It's simply a tool to help us learn how to pray. It can be expanded to cover any communication with God.

I really enjoyed this book! In fact, I have not yet read a book of Max Lucado's that I didn't like.His writing is very easy to read and understand. When I read his books, I feel like I am reading something written to me by a friend. I highly recommend this book and rate it as 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Litfuse in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Good News for Weary Women by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

It's disheartening to see exactly how much pressure is applied to women in our culture today. In "Good News for Weary Women" by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, Elyse explains the multitude of reasons why women are so weary, and what we can do to stop it from happening.

Women are constantly hearing messages about what they should be doing, what they should be wearing, how they should treat their husbands, how they should be a good mom...the list goes on and on. Women have become weary with all of the world's views and sad to say, the church's view on how women should act. It's impossible to live up to everyone's standards. We're ridden with guilt because we don't quite measure up to the other mom's or women we know. Facebook only adds to this problem as we only get to see the positive qualities in our friends. We don't see their failings and shortcomings. This can actually leave us feeling like we are the ones who don't quite measure up. 

Tucked into each chapter is a list of answers describing some of the dumbest advice women had ever received on how to be more godly. Some of these answers include "Never say no to a ministry opportunity", "Never let anyone see your true self", and "Be at church every time the doors are open" just to name a few. Elyse explains how ridiculous it is for us to try to compare ourselves with other women, and how God doesn't expect us to be perfect. I think this is a wonderful book that most women could benefit from. I don't know one woman who hasn't experienced weariness at one point or another. Very well written.

I rate this book as 4 stars. I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

For a sneak peek at "Good News for Weary Women", keep reading!

I have a daughter, two daughters-in-law,and two granddaughters, and if there is anything I want them to know, it is this:
There is good news for you. You don’t need to learn
secret steps, try harder and harder, wear yourself out in
an attempt to be beautiful, snag Mr. Perfect, or raise
perfect children. You are already welcomed, loved,
forgiven, and completely okay. You can laugh and rest
and resist all the ways the world lies to you and tells
you you’re not good enough. And you can love God
because He has already loved you. You can be free to
fail, to rest, to love, to be weak, to grow, and to know
that everything is already given to you in Him.

I know that women (and men) have been overwhelmed
by to-dolists, steps, and bad advice since the beginning of
time. Even five hundred years ago, Martin Luther didn’t need
to read his Facebook friends’ posts about their having fun
without him to realize that there was something wanting in
his life. He was aware of his inability to obey God’s law from
the heart, and he knew he didn’t have his own self-approval,
let alone God’s. But I do think there is something a little
more desperate, more frenetic about our present wilderness.
There are so many messages being broadcast at us from every
direction about “How to be perfect in 149 simple steps” or
“How your life will become a self-inflicted Armageddon if
you don’t follow these rules.”
As a woman who loves Christ, the gospel, her family, her
church, and her country, I’m standing up to scream, “Stop this
madness! Be done with the fluff, the bricks, and the despair-breeding, anxiety-multiplying self-righteousness!
It’s time to trust in Christ—and Christ alone! He has already done it
all. Everything you need has already been given to you.” Or
in the words of the writer to the Hebrews, “Whoever has
entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did
from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews

Instead of freeing me to love and serve Christ and my
family, all this “good advice” loaded me down with guilt and
shame over my ongoing sin and piled on more and more
wearisome rules. The very thing I was taking as an antidote
for my failure was making me more and more ill. Instead of
finding freedom, I was a slave to self-justification.
And judging from what I’ve heard from other women, I don’t think
I’m the only one who has ingested this poisonous brew.

The problem comes when women (and men) haven’t
learned how to differentiate between law and gospel—when
we don’t understand how the good news of Jesus’ perfect life,
death, resurrection, ascension, and reign is meant to impact
us. When we don’t see the connection between the righteous
life Jesus lived and our standing before a holy God, we are setting
ourselves up for bondage. Many women don’t understand
the freedom that has been purchased for us, and we often get
tangled up in legalism or moralism. We don’t know what it
would look like for obedience to be motivated by gratitude.

I believe there are specific instructions in Scripture regarding
gender roles, including those in Genesis 2–3, Proverbs
31, Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3. I believe
that these truths remain valid for today and that we ignore
them to our great harm. But I also believe that much of what
has been dished out to women under the guise of “biblical
gender roles” has failed us in at least two ways. It has gone
way beyond Scripture’s bounds, while at the same time closing
off much of the Bible’s message of comfort and hope. In
these ways, much of this teaching resembles Jesus’ description
of the Pharisees’, for it gathers unnecessarily heavy burdens
and lays them on women’s shoulders (see Matthew 23:4).
Meanwhile, those who teach these things effectively “shut the
kingdom of heaven in [their] faces” (verse 13).
When we define gender roles too narrowly, overemphasizing
a limited number of texts while completely ignoring the breadth of Scripture— when we try to make Scripture say more than it actually does or tell any segment of people that only certain parts of the Scripture concern them (whether we
intentionally communicate this message or not)— we do so to the detriment of women and men, and to the detriment of the church and its mission in the world.

and soul crushing to tell a woman that the only worthwhile
activity she can do is to birth children and serve a husband
and a family. This mind-
also creates an idol out of the
family structure, making success as a homemaker/mother the
most important vocation in a woman’s life. And although
this is a high calling, it should not trump our first and foremost
calling: to believe in Christ.

In response to the evils of radical feminism, which shamed women who didn’t work outside the home, the radical femininity movement has shamed Christian women who work outside the home (for a variety of reasons) or who are not married or who have been divorced. Many Christian women have been taught that motherhood is not only their highest calling but also that it is the only calling they should aspire
to. It seems a little like the drunk man who falls off his horse on one side and climbs back into the saddle, only to fall off on the other.

Taken from Good News for Weary Women by Elyse Fitzpatrick copyright © 2014. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Riley Mae and The Sole Fire Safari by Jill Osborne

"Riley Mae and The Sole Fire Safari" by Jill Osborne is the third book in The Good News Shoes series. My 8 year old has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book so she was super excited when she found out I was getting this book to review!

In "Riley Mae and The Sole Fire Safari", Riley Mae is on another adventure! This time she is headed to Kenya with her mom, the Swiftwater team, and her good friends: Faith, Hope and Grace. Riley is having a fantastic time in Kenya! She's making new friends, trying new foods and learning what life is like all the way across the world! But at the same time, Riley misses her dad and her crazy little brother! When will she get to go home?

Throughout the weeks Riley is in Africa she learns a lot about herself, and most importantly, what God is trying to teach her. By the end of the trip, Riley even has a good idea of what she wants to be when she grows up!

There are so many reasons why I love this book series! I love that Riley is a strong role model for young girls. I don't have to worry about what my daughter is reading when she reads this series. Riley is an average 13 year old girl, but she doesn't obsess over boys like a lot of tween books I see. It's refreshing to see a girls' book with morals and values.

I rate this book as 5 stars! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How to Survive a Sharknado by Andrew Shaffer

"How to Survive A Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters" by Andrew Shaffer (with contributions by Fin Shepard and April Wexler) is a hilarious survival book on the most insane off-the-wall natural (or unnatural) disasters known to man. In this book, you'll read the encounters of Fin Shepard and his attempt to help others survive unnatural disasters such as an Arachnoquake, Firenado, Bigfoot, Dinoshark and even a Redneck Gator!

Throughout each chapter, you'll learn excellent skills and some tasty recipes! Like "How to Escape from a Spiderweb", "Electronics to Avoid during a Polar Storm", "How to treat Manticore Poisoning" and recipes such as "Fried Gatoroid".

If you're looking for a fun, hilarious read, this book is perfect for you! Each chapter is relatively short, ranging from 4-6 pages. It's the perfect length to be able to just read a quick chapter here and there and not have to devote an immense amount of time to reading.

I love that any excerpt from Fin Shepard is written as a real life encounter! It just makes the book that much more funny! I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion. I rate this book as 4 stars.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney

In "Home to Chicory Lane", Audrey Whitman is living her dream. Her five kids are grown and have moved out, and Audrey and Grant are busy creating a bed and breakfast out of their family home. All of the kids have come home for the grand opening...all of them except for Landyn and her new husband Chase. So imagine Audrey's surprise when Landyn pulls in the driveway with a big Uhaul trailer, and no Chase in tow.

Unbeknownst to Landyn's parents and siblings, Landyn is home to stay awhile. Only home is not what she remembered and there is no "home" to return to. Only a bed and breakfast with no room for her. Eventually Landyn has to reveal the problems between her and Chase and she comes to the realization that she really does want her marriage to work. She just doesn't know how to forgive her husband.

Can Landyn and Chase look past each other's mistakes and make their marriage work?

I loved this book from the very beginning! It is actually the first book I have read by Deborah Raney but I just couldn't put it down! The book was fast paced and kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next! I'm so excited that it's part of a series, because that means I will get to read more of the Chicory Inn stories!

I received this book for free from Litfuse in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion. I rate this book as 5 stars!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fried and True by Lee Brian Schrager with Adeena Sussman

In "Fried and True: More than 50 Recipes for America's Best Fried Chicken and Sides" by Lee Brian Schrager with Adeena Sussman there's a little something for everyone!

Really, who doesn't love fried chicken? This mouthwatering book is sure to appeal to cooks of all ages and expertise levels. The book begins with a chapter entitled "Fried Chicken 101" which is basically an introduction to cooking fried chicken. This is wonderful for someone like me, who has never made homemade chicken in her life! It explains the definitions of Brining, Deep Frying, Skillet Frying, and Seasonings as well as many other important necessities to get started with. It explains what tools you need at home to begin your deep frying experience! What I also thought was unique to this book, was an introduction on how to cut up your own chicken.

The chicken recipes are put into one of three categories in the book: "Southern Inspiration", "American Originals", and "Pacific Rim Flavors". Each chapter focuses on that specific food foundation, unique with their own native spices and seasonings. The last chapter focuses on "Sandwiches, Wings, Li'l Bits, and Special Diets" including a gluten free fried chicken. 

This book really does include every kind of fried chicken you could ever want: Hattie B's Hot Chicken, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Coconut Fried Chicken, and General Tso's Chicken just to name a few. "Fried and True" also offers many side dish recipes that fried chicken lovers are sure to enjoy! Velvety Mashed Potatoes, Hash Brown Casserole, New Orleans-Style Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice, Tomato Pie, and Classic Buttermilk Biscuits! Doesn't that sound amazing? Maybe I just love a good southern dish!

Either way, readers will not be disappointed in this cook book! The author has really done a terrific job of putting these recipes together and sharing little stories about how they came to be. I can't wait to try some of these out! I rate this book as 5 stars!

I received this book for free from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Get to Know Mary by Nancy I. Sanders

Some of my favorite books to review are children's books, so you can bet I was pretty excited to read this book! I had previously read "Get to Know Jesus" by Nancy I. Sanders so I had a good idea of what to expect from this second book.

"Get to Know Mary" by Nancy I. Sanders is a full-color biography made just for kids! There is nothing boring or plain about this book! It has fun graphics, full color pictures, maps of where Mary lived and raised Jesus, and pictures of items that were native to that time period. We also get to read about what it might have been like to have Jesus for a son, and how Mary and Joseph also had other children after Jesus was born. The back of the book includes a glossary of terms used and also a timeline of the life of Mary.

I think this is a great book to show children that Mary and Joseph were just an ordinary family that God chose. The writing is perfect for a 2nd to 6th grader. I plan to use this book this year to go along with my homeschool curriculum for my third grader.

I rate this book as 5 stars. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vegan Ice Cream by Jeff Rogers

Don't let the title intimidate you! "Vegan Ice Cream: Over 90 Sinfully Delicious Dairy-Free Delights" by Jeff Rogers is not just for vegans! Personally, I was drawn to this title because for my entire life I have been allergic to dairy in all forms. Ice cream, milk, cheese, etc. I can tolerate tiny amounts of each, but I have never been able to fully enjoy ice cream! I've always had to settle for a tofu or rice substitute, and let's be honest here...most just don't measure up!

Jeff Rogers has created a recipe book with over 90 amazingly delicious dairy-free "ice cream" recipes! I was super excited about this book and eagerly thumbed through it's pages! Some of the recipes looked a bit daunting to me. For example, some of the recipes call for Vanilla Beans split and scraped, but if you read the "Basic" section at the beginning of the book, the author explains that you can just as easily use natural vanilla flavoring. I thought it was interesting to note that he suggests using extracts that do not contain alcohol as alcohol can had an adverse effect on the ice cream. I also think it's interesting that a lot of the bases for the ice creams are ground up nuts and cashews. That is something I never would have thought of adding to ice cream!

The ice cream flavors in this book look absolutely amazing! Some of my personal favorites included in this book are Apple Strudel, Banana Blueberry, Raw Black Forest and Blueberry Peach.

I rate this book as 5 stars! I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Surviving Henry by Erin Taylor Young

Surviving Henry: Adventures in Loving a Canine Catastrophe by Erin Taylor Young is the story of one family's adventures with their crazy yet lovable pooch!

Erin Taylor Young thought life would be perfect with a new addition to their family. After all, Henry was the same kind of calm, lovable dog she grew up with....or so she thought. Instead of playing fetch or taking a nap like a normal canine, you'll find Henry destroying the house or failing doggy obedience school. 

This book is filled with hilarious stories of Henry's escapades. Erin has a writing style that is easy to read, and makes you want to keep reading until the end. Despite Henry's many flaws that keep his owners on their toes, you can't help but want to cuddle him! I'd love to meet this dog. He definitely adds spice to their lives. :) 

When I first began reading this book, I was worried it might be a little too reminiscent of "Marley and Me" by John Grogan, but instead "Surviving Henry" exceeded my expectations. It was hilarious, and I found the author to be quite witty with her stories. I would definitely recommend this book to all dog-lovers everywhere, as I think everyone would get a chuckle or two out of Henry. I rate this book as 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

First of all, I have been waiting to read this book for MONTHS, so you can imagine my excitement when I saw that this book was available for review! I'm sure most of my readers have heard of the comedian Jim Gaffigan. He is one of the few who are actually family-friendly and clean! He is probably best known for his "Hot Pocket" bit he does at his shows.

This guy is hilarious. Seriously. I do most of my reading after my family is already sleeping, and at times this book had me laughing out loud. I am surprised my laughter didn't wake my family!

Throughout this book, and with much comic relief, Jim introduces readers to his family. His wife Jeannie, and his 5 children. Hilariously, he shares the reactions he receives when someone finds out he has five kids. Or what it's like living in a 5 story walk-up in New York City with 7 family members. Probably one of my favorite chapters was when Jim shared about the children's books that he reads to his kids.

"A critical analysis of children's literature: The Very Hungry Caterpillar- I'm sure I'm not the only one who is concerned that maybe the main character has an eating disorder. Hey, I identify. Five Little Monkeys- I'd think that after the second little monkey jumped off the bed and bumped its head, the doctor who the mama called would have been tempted to call Children's Services. Yet the doctor's advice remained "No more monkeys jumping on the bed." Really? Didn't that doctor take an oath at some point? I smell a lucrative malpractice suit."

Not only was Jim hilarious in his book, but the stuff he writes about his wife is actually pretty endearing. I know a lot of comedians that have used their wives as the butt of their jokes, but not this guy. No, he pretty much says that he is a schmuck most of the time, and he would be lost without his wife. She is the glue that holds their family together. He may make jokes out of his crazy kiddos from time to time, but he is a father who genuinely cares for them and respects them for the little people they are.

I was not disappointed with this book and I believe that it truly lived up to all of it's hype. It's hilarious, but yet sweet as Jim shares his greatest treasures- his kids. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a good laugh! I rate it as 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book in ebook form from Blogging for Books in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Get to know Jesus by Nancy I. Sanders

"Get to Know Jesus: A biography for Kids by Nancy I. Sanders" is the perfect book for curious little ones who wonder what life was like for Jesus!

The book has 10 chapters in all, beginning with a chapter called "The Important Plan" which explains how we know the Bible is true. It goes on to explain where Jesus grew up, and the difference between Romans and Jews. Next we learn about Jesus' lineage and how the Bible tells us who Jesus' grandparents and great-grandparents were, all the way back to Adam and Eve.

Throughout the rest of the book. we see maps of where Jesus lived, learn about the 12 disciples and learn about Jesus' death and resurrection. Definitions are included for big words and names, and there are small facts (Eyewitness Account, Bible Heroes, and Did You Know?) throughout the chapters.

I think this Biography is perfect for kids ages 5-10. There is so much information packed into this little book! I plan to use it this Fall with my 8 year old, as a Bible supplement for school. Chapters are short, so reading could be divided into multiple days or lessons. I loved that there were many colored pictures of maps, historical landmarks, and common household items and what they looked like back then.

I cannot say enough positive comments about this book. I really enjoyed it and can't wait to show it to my kiddos! I rate this book as 5 stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

She Calls me Daddy by Robert Wolgemuth

There's so much I could say about this book, but just let me start with Wow! This book should be a prerequisite for anyone expecting a little girl! I can not say enough how much I enjoyed it! I know it's for daddy' says so in the title. But I found that as a mom, I really enjoyed it too.

In a lot of ways, people really underestimate the father/daughter relationship. They fail to realize that a daughter will use her daddy's example as her standard for men. If her daddy treats her mom well, she is much more likely to look for a mate that does the same. If she receives love, attention and tenderness from her daddy, it's unlikely that she'll seek it elsewhere, especially in inappropriate ways.

A daughter's relationship with her daddy has the potential to shape what kind of woman she becomes. So Robert Wolgemuth wrote this book to give dads a first hand look at the 7 ways to do just that. To build a complete daughter. These 7 characteristics are: Protection, Conversation, Affection, Discipline, Laughter, Faith and Conduct.

Robert explains the importance of talking with your daughter, spending time with her, and letting her know that she matters to you. All too often, once girls hit their teenage years, dads tend to back away a bit. But Robert explains why your daughter needs you just as much now as she did when she was a little girl. The father/daughter relationship is a precious one.

I especially loved that the author addresses daughters of all ages. Whether you have a newborn at home or a daughter in her teenage years, there's something here for everyone. I would say that this is one of my favorite parenting books of all time! Robert's writing style is very easy to read. Chapters were filled with humorous stories and expert advice, but I didn't feel like I was reading a manual on how to raise girls. It definitely kept my interest. With that said, I think I know what I'll be buying for every baby girl shower I attend. :)

I rate this book as 5 stars. I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cloak of the Light by Chuck Black

If you're a fan of a good page turner, "Cloak of Light" by Chuck Black is a must read! I would say his writing style is somewhat of a mix between Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti, so you can bet that Cloak of Light ranks pretty high up on my list!

As a young boy, Drew's father passes away. Knowing Drew would need a male role model growing up, Jake, a friend of his father's steps up to the plate as sort of a father figure in Drew's life. He takes him on camping trips, treats him like a son, and makes sure Drew and his mom are taken care of. Drew faces numerous obstacles growing up, but because of the efforts of his mother and Jake, he grows into a man that knows the value of hard work and integrity.

In college, life knocks Drew down once more when he is involved in a lab accident and loses his eyesight. To make matters worse, his best friend Ben goes missing. What follows next is a battle of spiritual warfare that will keep you glued to your seat!

I cannot say enough positive things about this book! As I said above, I would classify his writing with Ted Dekker....I think both are literary geniuses. I can't wait to read more books by Chuck Black! I rate this book as 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Multnomah Waterbrook Publishers in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Odyssey Adventure Club

I don't know about you, but when I was a kid I loved listening to Adventures In Odyssey! I find that even as an adult with children of my own, I still enjoy listening just as much as I did when I was a kid! As a child, I had a routine of getting my pajamas on, brushing my teeth, and then picking out an Odyssey to listen to. We have begun this same tradition with our own children now...first with our 7 year old and now with our 2 year old. The stories give them something to look forward to at bedtime, and they eagerly pick out a story.

If you haven't heard of Adventures in Odyssey, you're missing out! Most of the stories take place in a small town called Odyssey, with the main character, John Avery Whitaker (or as the kids call him "Whit"). Children are delighted to visit his shop "Whit's End" and visit "The Imagination Station", a creation of his that places children in the middle of a story such as the birth of Jesus, or the story of St. Patrick.

Not all of the stories have to do with the Imagination Station. Sometimes it's just a great lesson about values and friendship, but in any case Adventures in Odyssey were a big part of my childhood, and I'm glad my children can say the same.

So the question is "How can I listen to Adventures in Odyssey?"

Well, when I was a kid, cd's had JUST come out. I mean, a lot of my friends still listened to Adventures in Odyssey on cassette tapes or on the radio. (Which you can still do by the way. Our local radio station still plays them every night). So for quite awhile, my brother and I requested Adventures in Odyssey cd's. For birthdays, name it. We took care of them, but as you can guess, cd's don't last forever. They get scratched and nicked, and sometimes have to be replaced. Unfortunately, they are not cheap to buy. I mean, you do get 4 cd's per set, so it evens out pretty well. But even if I buy them while they're on sale, they don't last forever.

That's why I'm excited about the newest thing from Focus on the Family. It's called Odyssey Adventure Club! For $15 a month you get:
  • Unlimited streaming of Adventures in Odyssey episodes. (There are currently over 700 episodes!)
  • Daily Devotions
  • A behind the scenes look at the production of Adventures in Odyssey
  • A free subscription to Clubhouse magazine! (I received this magazine as a child and I LOVED it!) 
  • Beginning in July, club members will be able to hear a brand new Odyssey story before it's even released! 
$15 may seem like a lot of money, but it really isn't when you think about what your child is benefiting. Think of how much you spend a month on cable tv! My kids would much rather be listening to Odyssey! And think of how much better it is for them! Not only that, but a portion of your payment goes to support other organizations such as Operation Christmas Child and Compassion International! 

And for a limited time, you can join the Odyssey Adventure Club for only $5 for the first month! 

focus on the family adventures in odyssey odyssey adventure club

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Love, Skip, Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Yes" by Shelene Bryan" is the story of how one woman decided to step out of her comfort zone and start saying yes more often. Throughout the book, Shelene takes us on an incredible journey! The title of her book gives us just a small glimpse into what her story is all about.

"Love" stands for her favorite Bible verse: John 3:16. "For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only Son..." Shelene believes that giving always follows loving.

"Skip" demonstrates the act of giving. Shelene's idea is to skip something that we would normally do or buy and instead donate that time or money to someone who really needs it instead.

"Jump" has a more obvious definition. :) Meaning to jump at opportunities that God presents us with!

I found this book to be an impressively inspiring read. Shelene actually lives what she speaks. It all started one night when Shelene was throwing a party. One of her friends noticed pictures on her fridge of children that Shelene was sponsoring in Africa. Her friend said "How do you even know those children are real? How do you know you're not paying for some 40-year-old guy's Porsche?" Shelene couldn't get the idea out of her head so she did the craziest thing she had ever done. She packed her bags and hopped on a plane to go meet her two sponsored kids! What follows is her amazing story of Love, Giving, and Jumping.

I think everyone could learn something from Shelene's story. It's easy to think you can change the world, but quite another to actually set out to do it. I rate this book as 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Wholehearted Wife by Erin, Greg & Gary Smalley

Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege of reading "The Wholehearted Wife: 10 keys to a more loving relationship by Erin, Greg and Gary Smalley". I say weeks because with three girls in the house, and the youngest being just 8 weeks old, I don't get as much reading time anymore. But that's okay because I wouldn't want it any other way! :)

I was especially excited to read and review this book as I have always been a fan of Gary Smalley's! This is the first time though that I have read anything by Gary's son and daughter in law, Greg and Erin. I found that a majority of this book is actually written by Erin, which makes a lot of sense to me considering this book is written for wives. There are small tidbits here and there from Greg and Gary.

There are 10 chapters in this book which focus on subjects such as Honoring our husbands, Accepting Personality Differences, and Connecting Spiritually (just to name a few). I found it really easy to read from Erin's point of view as she frequently uses illustrations with stories to get her point across. I also loved that the book included a Personality Quiz to help wives figure out their strengths and weaknesses, which could be very beneficial in marriage.

The only thing I disliked about this book is the way it switched from Erin, to Greg to Gary's point of view. I found it to be a bit confusing at times since it often switched right in the middle of a chapter. I still found this book to be a favorite of mine and would definitely recommend it! I rate it as 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers to give my honest unbiased opinion.

About the Authors:

Erin Smalley and her husband live in Colorado with their 4 children. She currently works at Focus on the Family and enjoys speaking at women's conferences. Erin has published numerous articles for ParentLife, HomeLife, and Marriage Partnership magazines. She co-authored her first book in 2007, entitled "Grown Up Gitlfriends" and she also wrote a premarital book with her husband called "Before you plan your wedding, plan your marriage" before co-authoring "The Wholehearted Wife" with her husband and father-in-law.

Dr. Greg Smalley serves as executive director of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family. He is the author of 11 books including "The Wholehearted Wife" which he co-authored with his wife and father.

Dr. Gary Smalley is a family counselor, the president and founder of the Smalley Relationship Center and the author of 40 books on marriage.