Saturday, December 26, 2009

When Moms Pray Together by Fern Nichols

There is power in prayer. I've known this, but to read the stories of this book amazed me and touched my heart.

When Moms Pray Together by Fern Nichols is a collection of 25 stories written by moms who have seen God answers to their prayers for their children. Prayers for healing, growth, protection, prodigals to come home, and many others. These stories show how God answered prayers and in the process changed the hearts of the praying moms.

Moms in Touch is a group of moms who pray for their children and their schools. You can find out if there is a group in your area at the MIT website.

I'm so glad to have read this book. It blessed my life and I recommend it to you.
Thank you to Tyndale Blog Network for providing this book to review.

Have a day of blessings!

The Church of facebook by Jesse Rice

The Church of facebook by Jesse Rice is the latest book I've finished reading.

In case you haven't noticed, Facebook is extremely popular right now. What started as a social network for college students has turned into a "community" for all ages. This book explores the aspects of Facebook that has made it so popular in such a short amount of time.

The author takes what I found to be an interesting approach with this topic. He does not speak against Facebook. He includes many historical examples as well as psychological studies and applies these situations and lessons learned from them to the Facebook phenomenon.

I enjoyed reading this book. It was different from many books I read in its focus and style. I learned some new information by reading it.

We need to consider the ramifications of participating in online communities. Are we being our true selves or pretending to be something we aren't? Are we being intentional in our interactions and relationships? Some times we need to stop and consider how we are spending our time online. This book has caused me to think about my online relationships in a new way and the relevance of them to my life.
Thank you to David C Cook for providing this copy for review.

Have a day of blessings!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Miracles by Karen Kingsbury + Giveaway

Are you looking for a nice book for a Christmas gift? Let me recommend Karen Kingsbury's book Miracles.

This is a book of 52 different stories of miracles compiled from five of Karen Kingsbury's other books. Each miracle also includes a scripture passage and two other verses related to the miracle.

I enjoyed reading these miracles. There were all different types of miracles. Many involved unexplainable visits from angels. There were stories of healing, safety, and answer to prayers. It really did encourage me to read this book and see how God is at work all the time around us.

Would you like to win a copy of this book? Hachette Book Group is giving away five copies of this book! Please leave a comment on my original post about this giveaway at Raindrops & Rainbows for an entry. Here are the rules: 5 winners, no PO Boxes, US and Canada only.

This would make a great book for you to read or to give as a gift (The publisher is not guaranteeing shipment to receive by Christmas but possibly.) Five winners will be chosen this Friday, December 5.

Have a day of blessings!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Levi's Will

Levi's Will
W. Dale Cramer
ISBN 978 07642 07129

Contemporary fiction


WIN this book! Leave a comment on this post any time before Wednesday next and you could win the book.

This was a very good book about an Amish family and the choices they face. I have read a lot of fiction books about Amish and Mennonite people and sometimes they can be a little patronizing of the faith that these communities hold. Sort of an "aren't they so cute?" attitude. I admit I was worried that this book would be similar in that regard.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, to see the true respect and care that the author took towards the Amish faith. There was little, if any, patronizing attitude, and I felt that the author really loves and adores his Amish heritage. I appreciated the realism that was present in the book. The author speaks about his ancestry and I could really tell that this was a near and dear topic to his heart.

The book flips back and forth between two or three times in the protagonist's life in which pivotal things happen. He ends up leaving the Amish faith in a way that means he ought to be shunned. I felt this was a great book.

Recommended

WIN this book! Leave a comment on this post any time before Wednesday next and you could win the book.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Mothering Heights: A Novel Approach for Christian Mothers

Mothering Heights: A Novel Approach for Christian Mothers by Keitha Smith and Susan Brereton is a new novel from Judson Press that I'm happy to share with you.

From the website:
This encouraging book uses the charm of timeless literary works and the wisdom of the Bible to reconsider what is seen today as a classic role.

My thoughts:
I found Mothering Heights to be an enjoyable book that was easy to follow. Each chapter is titled after a classic literary work, such as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Great Expectations. A few quotes are used from these books throughout the chapters. One thing I appreciated was the comments from mothers relating real experiences to the information discussed in the chapter. Each chapter ends with a short list of questions. One of the chapters I enjoyed was about the expectations we face as mothers...expectations of our spouses, our children, others, ourselves and God. What I learned from this book was to be reminded of my role as a Mom is valuable even in the tasks that seem menial at the time and taking care of my family is a way I can serve God right now. This book was encouraging to me, and I would recommend it to other Mom's. It seems it would be a valuable book especially for new moms to read so they will realize that they are valuable and what they are doing is important. We all need to be encouraged from time to time and reminded of our purpose. This book does that.

Thank you to Kim Shimer at Judson Press for sending me this book for review. You may purchase it at this link.

Have a day of blessings!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Bringing Up Boys + GIVEAWAY

James Dobson is a practical author who deals with philosophy of family and parenting matters from a Christian perspective. His book Bringing Up Boys has some ideas of how to teach your sons to be great men.

I haven't personally read it but my friend told me that it has more to do with philosophy and less to do with specific strategies.

If you would like to own this book please leave a comment and I will randomly choose a winner on Thursday next.

Chapter Books for children

I have spoken before about my quest to find appropriate books for Emlyn to read. She's a few grade levels ahead of her actual age, so it can be difficult to find books that aren't too mature and that are enjoyable to read. I've compiled a list of some of my favorite authors that I've discovered. I'm not going to include most of the well-known and popular authors because most people can find them fairly easily.

I don't have the time today to put these in reading level order; you may have to go look and figure it out yourself. I would still suggest reading one from each author before you let your kids free with that author, to make sure their stories are not too mature for your kid. Most authors have many books that they've written. If your child likes one they most likely like the rest.

Here we go:
Ralph Moody "Little Britches" and following series
Lois Gladys Leppard "Mandie" books
"Encyclopedia Brown" series
Brisley "Milly-Molly-Mandy"
Nesbit
Spyri "Heidi" books
Frances Hodgson Burnett "A Little Princess," "Secret Garden," and "Lost Prince"
Speare "The Bronze Bow"
Carolyn Haywood
Eleanor Estes "Ginger Pye"
Elizabeth Enright "Thimble Summer" and "The Saturdays"
George Selman "The Cricket in Times Square" and series
George MacDonald "The Princess and the Goblin," "The Light Princess," "At the Back of the North Wind"
Old Nancy Drew
Old Hardy Boys
"The Penderwicks"
Maud Lovelace "Betsy-Tacy"
Julie Andrews Edwards "The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles"
Andrew Lang "Fairy books"
Baum "Oz books"
Grandma's Attic series

The following are recommended by my dear friend Shannon but I have not read them:
"All of a Kind Family"
Marshall history books "This Country of Ours"
"Trumpeter of Krakow"
Padereic Colum
"Hans Brinker"
Howard Pyle
Robert Lawson
Porter "Pollyanna"
"Little Pilgrim's Progress"
Susan Coolidge
Dodie Smith "101 Dalmatians"
Susan Bauer "The Story of the World"
"Johnny Tremain"
"Plain Girl"
Elizabeth Goudge "The Last Unicorn"
Arthur Ransom

Go forth and read! Rest assured, at least one of these authors will pull your child out of Junie B Jones and Magic Treehouse and Judy Moody. I promise.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Snow Melts in Spring by Deborah Vogts


I have finished another book! It is called Snow Melts in Spring by Deborah Vogts and published by Zondervan. It is in the Seasons of Tallgrass series.

Main character Mattie Evans is a young veterinarian who is trying to save a horse named Dusty after he was badly injured in an accident. Dusty belongs to the quarterback of the 49ers Gil McCray. Mattie's close friend John McCray is Gil's father. Gil ends up back home at the ranch, exactly where he doesn't want to be, because of Dusty's injury and his father's failing health. He wants to return to California but there are issues at home that he realizes he needs to confront. Mattie is somewhat stuck in the middle of trying to help both Gil and his father.

One thing I appreciated about this story was the important role of a couple of the minor characters, Jack (a ranch hand) and Clara (Mattie's friend). This is a well-written story of love, renewal, and forgiveness.

This one was enjoyable from beginning to end. It made me think of my friend from elementary school, Kelli, because her family raised horses and always went to horse shows. I apologize that it took me a while to actually read it. I had several I've been reading and this one got pushed aside. I do recommend this book and look forward to more from this author.

Have a day of blessings!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall

by Emily Bearn
ISBN: 9780316 027038


This collection of three stories is about two mice who live in a rather nice mouse house inside a human house. I enjoyed reading about the mouse adventures. While clean, I did feel that the stories were a little too involved and too dark for my 7 year old daughter. I think when she's in third grade she may appreciate them more.

The first story tells us about the mean human Aunt who hates mice and wants to kill them. The mice prevail in the end but they have to call on other helpers within the rodent community.

The second story tells us about a rat friend who is caught and taken to school by the children who live in the house. Terrible things are about to happen to the rodents at the school because the teacher doesn't like them.

The third story is about the mice going on a camping/boating adventure. The evil pirate rats try to keep them prisoner but they prevail in the end.

I guess I would have preferred for at least a couple of the human adults in the book to be kind and supportive of the animals. We have the dad who is absent-minded and hardly takes care of his kids, the aunt who actively hates the mice, the teacher who isn't overly malicious but still mean, and the custodian who is willing to kill the whole lot of rodents rather than set them free. There are nice adults in this world!

Recommended with reservations

How do you feel about children's books with negative attitudes toward adults? Are parents and authority figures really as bad as these books say?

The Stolen Voice: a Gil Cunningham Murder Mystery

by Pat McIntosh
ISBN 9781569475829

I read two historical mysteries this week, and of the two this one was not quite as good in terms of the writing. They are both parts of series, and I had never read the previous books in either series. It was interesting to be able to compare two books like that. This one is about a community in which people are disappearing and reappearing, and no one knows why. They are mostly all part of the singing community, hence the title. This takes place in the 14th or 15th century; I never was very clear which.

I felt that the way in which we were introduced to past events in other books and to some of the characters was a bit smug. I don't know how to describe it exactly, but some authors seem to have troubles with writing subsequent books and "casually" letting us know about prior events. I don't know how to change it for the better, but as a voracious reader it's jarring when I feel out of the loop or confused, yet I don't like being patronized with a two paragraph description, like they did in the Sweet Valley Twins books.

At any rate I enjoyed the story and especially the fact that the gore level was pretty low considering it was a murder mystery.

Recommended.

Do you ever experience the same thing when reading books that are part of a series? How do you think the author could fix the issue?

Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister

by Liz Kessler
ISBN: 9780545208147

Philippa Fisher is 11 and a half and of course unhappy with life. Thankfully she still believes in fairies because one evening, after her best friend moves away, she picks a daisy that she is sure will turn into a fairy.

Turns out, the daisy is a fairy godsister (instead of godmother), and both of them have lots of things to learn.

This book was fun- three wishes in a modern society. There was a little bit of teasing and "the in-girls vs. outsiders" but not too much. My 7 year old daughter enjoyed it.

Lessons learned are accepting your parents and self the way you are, and being more compassionate and understanding toward others.

It's a fourth grade reading level and I think appropriate for that age.
Recommended.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Last Word by Kathy Herman + Giveaway

I’ve finished reading The Last Word, book two of the Sophie Trace Trilogy by Kathy Herman. I had been excited for this to come out after reading book one The Real Enemy. I was not disappointed! This is another great read, and I found it hard to put down.

Sophie Trace Chief of Police Brill Jessup must be on guard at all times because someone she convicted years ago is now out of prison and has threatened Brill. He’s already gone after others and Brill is next on his list. Besides this danger, Brill’s daughter Vanessa comes home from college seven months pregnant. I thought the author did an excellent job telling this story and making a strong point through the book about the importance of the witnessing as Christians.

One thing that I liked about this second book of the series is that the author did not spend pages and pages referring to the first book. She did make mention of events from book one. It wasn’t necessary to read book one to enjoy this book though. I’ve read some books in a series that I feel spend too much time repeating what happened in previous books which is information I don’t want to reread. I really liked how Kathy Herman mentioned things from book one but didn’t dwell on it in great detail.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to number three!

****Also I am giving away a copy of this book. Visit this post at Raindrops & Rainbows for your chance to win!

Have a day of blessings!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Generation Warriors + GIVEAWAY

by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon
ISBN: 0671720414

This is a volume with two stories in it about Dinosaur Planet.

Generally I love Anne McCaffrey's books, and I even like the Sassinak ones usually, but this volume didn't ring with me very much. I love sci-fi/fantasy but more along the lines of fantasy. Spaceships running around is not my favorite.

At any rate these books follow very closely along with the other Sassinak books and Lunzie books. Both of them are featured in other volumes. After getting into the story about 35 pages into it I started to enjoy it and wanted to know what would happen next. There's lots of action and adventure.

Lunzie is on a spaceship whose goal is to map out a planet. As soon as they arrive they notice that strange things are happening.

One other thing I didn't like about this book, and most of the other Lunzie/Sassinak universe, is the problems between "heavy-worlders" and regular people. This race is human but has been genetically bred to be able to handle being on high-gravity planets, and they are resentful of this. I see that the author is trying to explore the idea of racial tension and why it happens and how it can play out, but it just doesn't work for me, maybe because it is SO overt. Most racial tension is not talked about or discussed.

I recommend these books, but my favorite books by Anne McCaffrey are the Pern books.

GIVEAWAY: Comment by next Saturday, October 24, and win this book. Tell me if you usually read Sci-fi/fantasy and what your favorite author in that genre is.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Giveaway!

I recently reviewed The Marriage You've Always Wanted by Gary Chapman. I'm giving away this book and study guide on my blog.

If you'd like to enter, please visit this post at Raindrops & Rainbows. Thanks!

Have a day of blessings!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Book Thief Winner

Linna is the winner of "The Book Thief." Congrats Linna!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Marriage You've Always Wanted by Gary Chapman

You may be familiar with Gary Chapman as he wrote the popular book The Five Love Languages. I have read another one of his books called The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted as well as The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted Bible Study.

I enjoyed reading these together and appreciated how they complimented each other. I didn’t find the study guide to be just a repeat of the book, which is often the case I’ve found with books/study guides. They went together but with new information and stories. One thing I really liked about the Bible study was looking up the answers to the questions in the Bible. Some of the verses are included in the text but some you have to look up yourself. It seems many times in other Bible studies a Bible reference is made and then the answer is given. The reader has to think and come up with his own answers in this study, which I liked. I found the questions to be appropriate and thought provoking.

Topics covered include forgiveness, positive response to anger, sexual fulfillment, money, listening, agreeing, and prayer.

I enjoy Chapman’s writing style because it is easy to read and has stories from real couples related to each topic. It is easy to relate to him and understand the points he makes for marriage.

I highly recommend this book and study guide for you. It would be great to do as a husband and wife or with a small group.

Have a day of blessings!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book Giveaway: The Book Thief

I reviewed "The Book Thief" last week and found it to be a powerful book to read. It was very hard to get through, because it's about the Holocaust, but still a good read.

If you would like to enter, please leave a comment on this post. The contest is open until next Thursday, the 1st of October.

Winner of Love Has a Face

The contest to win "Love Has a Face" is over.

Using random.org I generated a number between 1 and 6. It came up with the number 3.

Number 3 is Kim P, a friend from a church I used to go to. And it just so happens that I already have plans to see her today! So that's handy. Thanks everyone for participating! I will be posting a new giveaway soon. Take care!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Wonder Why

by Ruth Hummel
ISBN 0570084768

"The Concordia Sex Education Series"

I believe this book has also been revised and republished under another name but am not sure which. This book is for ages 6 to 8. It is the second in the series, after "Each One Specially".

As a parent of a 4 and 7 year old, I know it will be part of my job to teach my children how to view their bodies in relation to God's will for their lives. I looked at this book to see if it would be a good resource to teach my children about their bodies.

After comparing two series of Christian sex education books I have to say I prefer these over the others. I believe the authors do a good job of teaching children age-appropriate information without giving too much away. These editions are pretty dated in the illustrations but I think they have been republished with new illustrations.

This book is in a story form, with a dialogue between a mommy and her daughter. The mommy is pregnant and getting ready for the new baby. We learn that families have more love to give no matter how many live in the family, and that all families look different and are at different stages of growing up.

The family goes to the museum and learns about the miracle of birth. We learn that a woman has a uterus and that babies grow there, and that the mommy grows bigger as the baby grows bigger. We learn that when it's time for the baby to come out, the opening in the uterus gets bigger too. We learn that only women can be mommies, and only men can be daddies, but that everyone can be a pilot, or a cook, or a fireman.

We learn that babies need lots of care and lots of love, but that mommies and daddies have extra love for the older kids too.

We learn that every baby begins with a sperm from the daddy and an ovum from the mommy. When a man and a woman love each other, they get married, and sometimes hold each other very closely, and their bodies "fit together in a wonderful way." This is when a new baby can begin. I think that this is an age-appropriate amount of information to share about creating babies.

We also learn new vocabulary, such as v**gina, uterus, vu**va, p**nis, and te**ticles, and scr**tum.

We learn that new babies sometimes get their milk from their mommies breasts (an illustration of this is shown) and sometimes they drink from a bottle (also illustrated). We learn that this is all part of God's plan.

Overall I think that the amount of information given in this book is very appropriate for ages 6 to 8. I would definitely read this and discuss it with my children at this age. I would like to see the revised versions of these to see how the text and illustrations compare.

highly recommended.

How God Makes Babies

By Jim Burns
ISBN: 978 0 7642 02100

"Laying the foundations for healthy sexuality: an age-appropriate resource for ages 6 to 9"

This is the second in the series by Bethany House Publishers. The first one is "God Made Your Body."

As a parent of a 4 and 7 year old, I know it will be part of my job to teach my children how to view their bodies in relation to God's will for their lives. I looked at this book to see if it would be a good resource to teach my children about their bodies.

I have to say I had high hopes for this series but this one was just too mature for 6 to 9 year olds. I know I am old-fashioned and overly modest and all that, but I think that this age group is not yet ready for all the topics covered in this book (and it would be too hard to skip the affected pages). I prefer the book "I Wonder Why" for ages 6 to 8.

From the beginning:
We first learn about God's plan for families, i.e. that a man and a woman get married and love each other.

Then we learn that a husband and wife do many different things together, like praying and holding each other "in ways they would not do with any other person". Then we learn the term: making love, or having sex. WHAT? Telling a child of this age those terms? Am I this sheltered? I don't think that my children need those terms. Perhaps they will hear them in school and want to know what they mean, but I don't think it's a good idea. I would love to hear from my readers as to their opinions; am I over-reacting here?

We learn more about girl and boy-specific parts, such as v**gina, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, p**nis, scr**tum, and t**sticles. We learn that these parts are private, covered with swimsuits, and who should look at those parts (parents and doctors). We talk about keeping those parts private from everyone else.

The next thing that I think is too mature is that we learn that the husband puts his p**nis into the wife's v**gina. I just think kids of this age (6 to 9 year olds) are too young to need the details here. How many inquisitive kids are going to try to figure out how that works? We then learn how the sperm travel to find the egg, and that not every session of "making love" results in a baby.

Then there are more details about pregnancy, all of which are pretty neat and not too mature, how the baby grows at different stages of pregnancy. There are nice illustrations and pictures.

We learn about contractions and that labor is hard work, and that most babies are born at the hospital.

Then we learn that sometimes a c-section is called for, and what that is. I think this is too much detail for a child of this age group.

We learn that most babies get nourishment from the breast (a real picture is shown here but it is focused enough that it doesn't look sexual at all), and that some babies use a bottle. We learn that new babies are learning and growing a lot. God made all different kinds of families, including adoption.

Overall I loved the pictures and illustrations and thought that they were very age-appropriate and well done.

I did not love the vocabulary at all. I will not be telling my children about "making love/having sex", c-sections, and p**nises entering v**ginas for a long time. I think 10 or 11 years is a good time for that.

You decide for yourself if your 6 to 9 year old is ready for this book.

Each One Specially

By Carol Greene
057008475x

Concordia Sex Education Series for ages 3 to 5
This is the first in the series; the second is "I Wonder Why."

I believe this book has been revised and republished to be "How Boys and Girls are Different" with the ISBN 978-0758614155, but I'm not sure how well they compare.

This book is the one my parents had when they were teaching me about my body, and I personally prefer it to the other one I reviewed today, "God Made Your Body."

As a parent of a 4 and 7 year old, I know it will be part of my job to teach my children how to view their bodies in relation to God's will for their lives. I looked at this book to see if it would be a good resource to teach my children about their bodies.

This is the first in the series and is specifically geared towards children ages 3 to 5, although especially with this type of book I recommend previewing the book on your own first to make sure it only has topics you think your child is ready for. Each child matures at a different rate and it's important to stay slightly ahead of them in their understanding, yet not give them information that is too mature.

This book starts off by saying that different kids like to do different things, but that God made all kids.

Then we learn that God gave us different parts of our bodies (mouths, ears, etc.).

Then we learn that God gave girls a v**gina and boys a p**nis. (I have to put asterisks or I will be in google's search engine for topics that I don't want this blog to be focused on).

Then we learn that there are lots of "shes" and "hes" in our lives and that they do all kinds of different things, like paint or drive a truck.

How did God make us? We learn that sometimes a man and a woman love each other, get married, and decide to have a baby. Then the baby grows inside the mommy, and that after nine months the baby comes out of the mommy's v**gina.

Then we learn about different types of families, small ones and big ones, etc. They do different things together. God also puts us into a church family (I liked that they talked about this).

I appreciated that the book gives children some proper vocabulary without giving too many details. I recommend this book for ages 3 to 5. You decide for yourself if your 3 to 5 year old is ready for this book.

God Made Your Body

By Jim Burns
97807642117

"Laying the foundations for healthy sexuality: an age appropriate resource for ages 3 to 5"

This is a new book from the Bethany House publishers. They sent it to me to review.

This is the first book in the series; the second one is "How God Makes Babies."

As a parent of a 4 and 7 year old, I know it will be part of my job to teach my children how to view their bodies in relation to God's will for their lives. I looked at this book to see if it would be a good resource to teach my children about their bodies.

This is the first in the series and is specifically geared towards children ages 3 to 5, although especially with this type of book I recommend previewing the book on your own first to make sure it only has topics you think your child is ready for. Each child matures at a different rate and its important to stay slightly ahead of them in their understanding yet not give them information that is too mature.

This book starts off by showing pictures of kids in all shapes and sizes. It talks about facial features and skin color and hair types all being different. Then it tells us that different kids like to do different things. Then we talk about what features God gave to both boys and girls (toes, etc.)

Then we find out that little boys have a p**nis and tes**icles (I have to put asterisks or I will be in google's search engine for topics that I don't want this blog to be focused on).

We find out that little girls have a v**gina and a womb. Each of these pages has a cartoonish diagram of the body parts talked about.

Then we find out that mommies and daddies come in all shapes and sizes.

One thing I think is a little too mature for even my 7 year old yet is the idea of "making love". I don't believe young children are ready for any types of euphemisms. For example I refused to teach my kids a euphemism for boogers for a long time because I didn't want them to use any of the vocabulary. I don't think my kids need to be asking me about "making love." This book just says that the mommy and daddy "come together" and giving parts of themselves to make a baby (sperm and egg).

Then it talks about babies growing in mommy's tummies and that most babies are born in hospitals. The way the author talks about these topics is, I think, very age-appropriate. Then we talk about different types of families, including adoption, grandmas and grandpas, and single parents. The idea of non-mainstream families (same-sex marriages, etc) is not specifically introduced.

I loved the pictures and illustrations in this book, and without the phrase "making love" I would wholeheartedly recommend this book. You decide for yourself if your 3 to 5 year old is ready for this book.

I personally prefer the book "Each One Specially" for this age group.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Love Has A Face

By Michele Perry
ISBN: 978 0800794781

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself."

Michele Perry's book "Love Has A Face" is a reminder of God's great love for us and a testimony of what his love is doing in Sudan.

Michele is a missionary at an orphanage and she shares stories and lessons learned from her time there. She is constantly reminding us that Jesus Christ died on the cross to redeem us from our sins and give us eternal life. He's coming back to take his believers to heaven.

This book helped me remember the faces of people I help, and that they are individuals, not just good deeds done.


Recommended



Win this book! Leave a comment on this post before Tuesday, September 21, and let me know what intrigues you about the book. I will randomly draw a winner on Tuesday next week.

The Saturdays

by Elizabeth Enright
ISBN: 0805070605

I know I keep writing about this author but she is just so excellent. If Carolyn Haywood is my new favorite author for 2nd and 3rd graders, Elizabeth Enright is my favorite for 4th and 5th graders. She treats children and their ideas with respect and with just the right amount of independence.

In this book the Melendy family decides to pool their resources and send one person with all of the family's allowance into the city each Saturday. This way each one has enough to do something really great. I loved the adventures that each child went on and I loved the way the author deftly deals with problems and issues the children encounter.

Highly recommended. 8 and 9 year olds.

The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak
ISBN: 978 0375831003

young adult fiction

This book is haunting and sad. It's written from the perspective of "Death," a poetic narrator who watches one particular German girl throughout the second world war.

I have mixed feelings about the book.

On the one hand I think it's important for children and everyone to know about the Holocaust and about the atrocities that were done during that war. On the other hand it's hard to know which details to tell which age. I would definitely say this book is for at least 13 year olds and should be read with an adult who can explain some of the themes and issues. It's very mature but I can see that some details were left out so that it might be okay for a teenager. It's definitely got more details about the Holocaust than Number the Stars, or The Hiding Place, but it's not nearly as horrific as Schindler's List.

An interesting perspective in this book was that not all of the Germans were entirely supportive of Hitler. The author definitely treated the plight of the Jews with respect while at the same time helping the reader realize that life was really crummy for Germans during the war as well. I appreciated that the main characters helped hide a Jew and feed some people even with the threat of punishment.

Thimble Summer

by Elizabeth Enright
ISBN 9780312380021
Juvenile Fiction

Garnet Linden finds a thimble one summer and amazing things start happening. Is the thimble magic? The drought is ended, new friends arrive in the area, and many other amazing simple things happen.

I enjoyed this small chapter book. It reflects the careless free feeling in summer and the kids go on some fun adventures. One of the themes was a little more mature; probably would be good for a 9 or 10 year old rather than a 7 or 8 year old. One of the friends of the family has a mean guardian who often gets drunk and mistreats the boy. Nothing is described but it is not the most innocent of books.

Recommended for 9 and up.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Four-Story Mistake

by Elizabeth Enright
ISBN: 0805070613

juvenile fiction

The Melendy family has four children and a widowed dad, similar to the Penderwick series I mentioned yesterday. This quartet of books was written in the 40s during World War II.

I really enjoyed the story in this one; the family moves to a new house and of course it's a fabulous house with forests and hidden rooms and attics and all the sorts of things that a kid would love to encounter. The descriptions are wonderful and not too frilly. (I am not a big fan of long frilly descriptions).

Even though the words and reading level was more for a 5th or 6th grade level, there were no mature themes that would limit a younger advanced student from reading it. As I look for books for Emlyn to read I am more and more impressed by these books that were written back mid 20th century. Maud Lovelace's books are another series that is similar. There are few gratuitous sketchy events, and they seem to help kids feel adventuresome anyway. Call me old-fashioned but I really like them. There are three more books in this series about the Melendy family and then some collections of short stories by this author. I will be saving these for about another year for Emlyn and then let her read them.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

by Jeanne Birdsall
ISBN 9780375840906

I enjoyed both The Penderwicks and this companion novel. The family of four little girls who are being raised by their widow family encounters a new idea: dating. Daddy is being pressured to date and the girls are unsure of this development.

I love the spiritedness of the girls and the way the author develops their different personalities. They are 12, 11, 10, and 4 in this book. They sorta remind me of "Little Women" in the fun ideas they have and the family togetherness.

I definitely think these books are for middle school or above. Some of the themes addressed are death, dating, lying, and growing up.

Recommended

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Are We Living in the End Times?

Tim La Haye and Jerry Jenkins
ISBN 0842336443

By the same authors of the Left Behind series, this book interprets prophecies and Scripture in a factual manner instead of fictional.

I appreciated their many Scripture references and attention to detail, as well as their candid attitude.

As far as whether I agreed with them or not as to their conclusions, I found that the deeper I got in the book the harder it was for me to follow their line of thinking. The first third or so answers the question in the title, and I was able to follow their interpretations fairly well. The rest of the book interprets exactly what the end times will look like and the characters that will be present. I didn't appreciate this part as much and didn't agree with all they were saying.

However throughout the entire book the authors humbly admitted they couldn't know exactly how things would come about, and did present alternative viewpoints. They were careful to keep most specific dates out of the book.

This is an interesting read and good introduction into studying the prophetic literature in the Bible. It definitely made me want to study those parts of the Bible in more detail.

The Lacemaker and the Princess

By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
ISBN 9781416919209

Young adult historical fiction

Isabelle is a tradesperson lacemaker in France just before the Revolution. She becomes friends with the princess and has to face her ideas about fairness, revolutions, and freedom.

I thought this book taught a lot about the French Revolution and was an intriguing story with suspense and beauty. At times the fact-presenting seemed a little overt to me, like having the girl talk about how she did enjoy being flea-free while at the palace but disliked being flea-ridden at home. I know there were differences between the classes but some of it felt forced. On the other hand this was a fairly tame introduction into class struggles and French history.

Recommended for 10 year olds and up

Libyrinth

By Pearl North
ISBN 9780765320964

Young Adult Fiction
Not recommended

I thought it was only fair that I put a review up of a book that I was not impressed with.

The basic premise of this book was intriguing: in the future there is a city that cares for books of the Ancients. One girl can hear the words (think quotes from Charlotte's Web for example) of all the books. There is one particular book that can save the "good" people from the "bad" people.

All good so far.

Then suddenly we have a torture scene. This is supposedly a young adult book but the author is going into great detail about the electric and knife torture.

I have enough crummy stuff in my life without reading a torture scene. That ended this book for me. I will never know if good triumphs over evil in this book.

NOT RECOMMENDED

Betsy Books by Carolyn Haywood

We have recently discovered some chapter books from the 40s and 50s that my second grader loves and I happen to love them as well. Since that is such a rare occurrence in many households I wanted to share them with you.

Carolyn Haywood was a prolific writer in her time. She wrote books about little kids doing what little kids did back then, and as someone not raised in that time I was surprised and discomfited with the idea that our children these days are sheltered.

Ten year olds were building large projects with real tools, taking their four year old siblings to their friends' houses, delivering papers, going on rides in the local ice cream truck, and any number of exciting times. The stories are wholesome and fresh. Some of them were re-published with exciting "up-to-date" covers so they are attractive to kids who might not want to read an old book.

I love love love them and so does Emmy. The average reading level is AR 3.5.

Some of the books we have read in just the last week are:
Back to School with Betsy
Betsy and Billy
Betsy's Play School
Betsy's Winterhouse
Betsy and the Boys
"B" is for Betsy

There are many many more and they are not all about Betsy.

Latter-Day Cipher

By Latayne C. Scott
ISBN 9780802456793

Fiction/Suspense

I have admired the writings of Latayne Scott in the past and when I found out about her new book I was immediately intrigued.

This is a murder mystery that also draws the reader into little-known facts about Mormonism. I found myself unwilling to stop reading each night to find out the conclusion to the story.

Set in Utah, the protagonist is an out-of-state journalist who is roped into reporting on a group of murders. She uncovers clues about the murderer and deals with some issues in her own life as well.

I was very impressed with the writing and the story. I cannot recommend this book any more highly.

Fields of Grace

by Kim Vogel Sawyer
ISBN 9780764205088

Historical Christian Fiction

Fields of Grace is a bittersweet book about making the best of hard situations. Reinhardt and Lillian Vogt leave their home in Russia to make a new life in America. The family encounters many hardships on their way to Kansas but their faith in God stays strong. I liked the Mennonite history although sometimes the italicized vocabulary got a little old. I would have preferred the new words to be in the back for me to look up if I wanted to.

I also really enjoy stories of pioneering. It's neat to see how different communities could have been formed and how families adjusted to life on the prairie.

God's grace is a major theme in the book. Not only does He save us from our sins, but this grace also means that He is continually renewing us, day by day.

I was able to glean some wisdom about dealing with grief. I appreciated that.

Overall it was definitely worth my time and fit in nicely with its genre.

Monday, July 27, 2009

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Allison Bottke

Author Allison Bottke has a new series for women called “Va Va Va Boom,” and I’ve just finished the first book in this series , You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.

From the publisher:
Did you realize that there are over seventy-eight million baby boomers alive today? There has become a growing demand for women’s fiction that deals with age-appropriate issues in recent years. Out of the ever-increasing number of novelists that feature characters in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, best-selling author Allison Bottke is a standout in the genre of “boomer lit”.

This first book centers around Susan, who owns and operates a popular, successful salon in Las Vegas, the Disco Diva. It is filled with memorabilia from the disco era that she has collected through the years. Her life is full with running the salon and everything related to it where she encounters many young showgirls whom she encourages and mentors. She also has an online group of friends, the Boomer Babes. Susan and her husband will be celebrating their twenty-fifth anniversary the same year she turns 50, her husband turns 60 and is preparing to retire. She is given an amazing business opportunity by her dear friend that is just taking off when Susan’s world is shaken when she comes face-to- face, literally, with someone from her past. She is not sure her marriage will last or that she’ll be able to fulfill her dream.

This book is a wonderful read, and women will find it easy to relate to Susan and her friends. This is a story about relationships, communication, pride, secrets, and self. Although it is written for an older audience it was enjoyable to me as well because of the variety of characters and the various issues they faced. I look forward to other books in this series.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Fields of Home

by Ralph Moody
ISBN: 0803281943

Non-fiction, autobiographical

If you've ever enjoyed a pioneer book, this series is for you. Fields of Home is the second in the series of about 8 books by Ralph Moody. They are similar in feel to Little House on the Prairie books, but written for a slightly older audience and from a man's perspective.

Fields of Home is about the time when Ralph Moody is 14 and 15 years old. He gets in trouble in his new town and is sent to work on his grandfather's farm. Grandfather is old and cantankerous and no one gets along with him. Can Ralph figure out how to cooperate and help his grandfather?

I love this series of books. There are details about churning, raising a barn, plowing a field, and making machinery such as plows. It makes me think that I could possibly do some of those things some day if I needed to. The story is bittersweet at times but hopeful and Godly.

I highly recommend this series for high schoolers and adults, or for parents to read to their children as a family time story. The series starts with Little Britches.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finding an Unseen God by Alicia Britt Chole

I have finished a unique book from Bethany House Publishers called Finding An Unseen God by Alicia Britt Chole. I'll admit this book is different from most books I read, but I found it to be very thought-provoking and interesting.

This is the story of how the author, a former Atheist, found God. I found myself wanting to keep reading chapter after chapter. Her writing style really holds the readers attention; the book format is unique as well in the way the short (normally 2-3 pages each) chapters are ordered in the book, alternating between Alicia's flashback to her past up to her point of belief and information regarding religion, beliefs, and God. She challenges the reader to consider their own beliefs and offers some questions that will force the reader to examine their faith.

My husband read this book before I did and found it to be an enjoyable read for him as well. I enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it to others. I like the creative puzzle on the cover too.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Turning the Paige by Laura Jensen Walker

I finished reading Turning the Paige by Laura Jensen Walker, which is a "Getaway Girls Novel" and a new release from Zondervan. This is a new author for me, and I did enjoy reading it once I got familiar with the characters.

The Getaway Girls is a book club of women. The group reads books and then participates in various adventures from the stories, like hot air ballooning and a trip to Paris.

Paige Kelley is one of the "Getaway Girls." At 35 years old, divorced and childless, she isn't really sure what she wants to do with the rest of her life although she thinks working in a call center isn't it. She is responsible for caring for her ailing mother as well since her two siblings have escaped the responsibility by moving away.. Paige feels the weight of this responsibility growing heavy on her shoulders as she must take her mother to doctor appointments, fix her meals, and do household chores for her. Her girlfriends encourage her to set some boundaries with her Mom and not feel guilty about having a little bit of freedom for herself.

I enjoyed getting to know Paige as she struggles with her past, her divorce, her desire for children, and her difficult relationship with her Mom. She wants to be there for her Mom, but at the same time desires to have her own life too. The characters are believable and likable. It seems like the Getaway Girls would be a good group of friends to have. I look forward to reading more from Laura Jensen Walker.

The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Have you ever read a book that you really wanted to share with others because the message touched your heart? That is how I feel about the latest book from Thomas Nelson Publishers called The Noticer by Andy Andrews. This ten chapter book will grab the attention of the reader from the beginning and hold it until the last page.

The story is written from the perspective of a younger Andy and is about his encounter with a man named Jones. Jones comes into Andy’s life unexpectedly at a time when he needs him the most. It is a life-changing meeting actually. Andy continues to tell the stories of other people who encountered Jones and how he helped change their perspective.

I absolutely loved this book and would recommend it for everyone. There is a story and lesson here for everyone at any stage of life, old or young, married or single, male or female. The reader will be able to relate to the characters in the book. It teaches a valuable lesson about the importance of perspective when dealing with problems in life. This book would make a great gift for your personal library as well as a great gift for a family member or friend.

Catching Fireflies by Patsy Clairmont

We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining-- they just shine.

Dwight L. Moody

Catching Fireflies by Patsy Clairmont is an excellent book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I first heard of the book back in March when we attended the Women of Faith conference. It was a joy to hear Patsy speak, and I knew I'd enjoy her book if it was anything like the bright, spunky gal who shared at the conference.

This is one of those books that is so enjoyable to read that you want to keep reading to find out what stories and little flickers of encouragement the author will share next. Each chapter focuses on a different type of light source, such as lamplights, candlelights, flashlights, Christmas lights, starlight, lighthouses and of course fireflies to name a few. The chapters begin with a story of some sort about that particular type of light, has a few thought-provoking questions, and then concludes with "Bright Ideas" which relates that light to a Bible story.

I can say this book taught me a lot. First of all, it reminded me of all the references to light in the Bible. My theme verse for my life is Matthew 5:16. This book showed me that everyone can be a light. Even a simple act done for another can offer a flicker of hope to keep someone from giving up. Some people in our lives are strong towering lighthouses while others just consistently give us rays of sunshine amidst the regularity of daily life. Both types of people are necessary. The important thing is to SHINE.

Thank you to Patsy Clairmont for this excellent book and enjoyable read. As Patsy says, "Shine, girlfriend, shine!"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
Genre: memoir

During these tough economic times, it may be difficult for people to see humor in being unemployed. Jen Lancaster’s first published memoir, Bitter is the New Black, chronicles her career’s demise from on-the-fast-track to out-of-work loser-dom. Funny, sarcastic, and fully willing to be brutally honest about her narcissistic tendencies, Lancaster’s story is a quick read.

From the late 90’s to 2001, Lancaster worked in sales for a variety of companies in Chicago. Her work ethic is admirable, but she is very clear about her motivations for working so hard: shopping. She paints herself as a mouthy know-it-all who cares desperately about proving herself.

After September 11th, Lancaster is laid off and cannot find work. Her life quickly goes from fast-paced to pathetic. People who have recently been laid off may find her tales difficult to read, as she gets turned down job interview after interview, as she deals with Unemployment Office red tape, and as she gets evicted from her apartment. These accounts may ring too true for some readers.

For readers able to laugh at the desperate side of things, this book may serve as exactly the right catharsis. Lancaster’s humor is continuous. Her ability to mock herself will remind readers of authors like David Sedaris and Sloan Cassidy. And, readers will be happy to know that even though she did not find another position in sales, she became a successful, published author.

Her book is filled with quirky additions, like her footnotes. They are the gems of the book. One will be reading along, see a footnote, go to the bottom of the page, and see a witty little rejoinder, most inappropriate for this review. Highly enjoyable. Also, her letters at the beginning of each chapter give readers funny little snapshots of her world and its decline.

Recommendation: Recommended for those gainfully employed or those job-challenged with thick skins.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How Much is a Book Worth?


Tomorrow we're leaving for a trip to Arkansas to see a new baby and an old friend and aunts and uncles and cousins.

Tonight as a little break from the frantic packing and cleaning I will be a little philosophical.

How much is a book worth?

I am cleaning our bookshelf dedicated to chapter books. Books for children ages 8-16. Which I don't have any of yet.

The bookcase is overflowing and part of my personal organizing philosophy states that you dedicate a certain amount of real estate to something, and then you stick to that space. So, there are too many books.

I glance through the books. Some of them I have read over and over and over. Some of them were gifts from special people. Some of them I bought at bookfair prices (read: overpriced). Some of them I purchased for a quick read and thought they were worth keeping.

But how much is a book worth? Is it the price of the real estate it takes up on my bookshelf? Do I need to listen to my hoarder heart telling me "this is a classic. what if the apocalypse comes and there are no more libraries and you want some good material to read?"

Did I enjoy reading it? Is the story so vivid I can tell it to you?

Did I keep it because it was by a favorite author but maybe not as good as others by that author?

Did I keep it because it's a multicultural book and if I ever teach 7th grade I will need multicultural books on hand?

Does it have good morals?

Do I regret spending so much on a book that was so stupid and that's why I keep it?

Is this a treasure?

Is it a book my children will love?

How much is a book worth?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Green Goes with Everything

I finished my fifth book of the year. I checked this one out from the library. It is called Green Goes With Everything by Sloan Barnett. Since I have been thinking about "green" lately with one of my goals for the year to be more conscious of what I'm doing to take care of the planet, I thought this book would be an interesting read.

It was very alarming actually to read all the dangers lurking everywhere on products we use daily. Many are things I knew about because of my husband's experience, like pesticides on the lawn or home cleaning products. But other things were included in the book I had not given much thought to the dangers, like the mattress, carpet, and air fresheners.

The author's son developed asthma. This started her on her quest to learn to "live green." In this book she discusses dangers involved in using everyday products and alternatives for them. The topics include food, water, baby products, personal care products, air, and energy.

She has a list of online resources at the back of the book as well which I scanned over. I have not checked these out yet. Here is a list of some I wrote down though:

Shaklee This is her husband's company and is mentioned a lot throughout the book. At times it seems like the book is a big advertisement for Shaklee products.

The Green Guide She mentions this one several times throughout the book. It is a good resource to find what to look for when purchasing new products for your home and family.



Reading this book has been beneficial to me. I don't plan to rid my house of every product she mentioned in the book, but I do feel I can take steps to being more "earth friendly." We are using up our nonrenewable energy so quickly. This is something we can all improve on by taking simple steps, like recycling, taking shorter showers, turning off lights, and unplugging appliances that aren't in use. I would recommend this book.