Saturday, January 31, 2015

Psalm 23 {a BookLook Blogger review}

I've recently had the chance to review a really wonderful board book, simply titled Psalm 23.

Oh, my.

The author is David, of course.  And that is the only text, in the King James Version.

Illustrator Richard Jesse Watson really makes this a book to keep.  The illustrations are fascinating, intriguing, memorable, and realistic. 

The cover image, shown here, is the image for the last line:
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
I thought, when I requested this for review, that we would go through it and then donate it to church.  But after seeing the beautiful images, I'm not sure I will do that.  This may be a keeper book, even though my kids are all 'too old' for board books.

Watson also has a book out on The Lord's Prayer, and now I want to find that one too.

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, January 29, 2015

Motivate Your Child Review

As a mom of five, ages 8.95 (she wanted me to express how she is really, really close to being NINE now) to 17.75, I have to say that I don't generally bother reading general parenting books.  I'll occasionally find something on parenting teens to be worth reading, and I'm always up for a book on parenting dyslexic kiddos.

But general parenting books are always saying things I already know, or they are speaking with authority about theoretical parenting (as the author's either don't have kids, or only have one), or they are guilt-inducing.  It boils down to -- they just aren't worth my time at this stage in my life.

Motivate Your Child appealed to me because I have seen other resources from National Center for Biblical Parenting, and I liked those.  I cannot say that I went into this book launch with a lot of excitement though.  I was explaining to friends yesterday that right at this moment, we're at a pretty comfortable point in the parenting gig.  My kids are mostly getting along with each other, they are mostly getting schoolwork done, they are helpful and cooperative at the moment.

So right at this moment, I don't have a high desire to be reading about how to be a better parent.

But that will change.  I'll be back to a point where the kids are at each others' throats, where I feel like they don't do anything unless I yell or nag, where school isn't happening and chores are not being done.

Of course, after I joined this launch team, I started questioning why I was doing this.  Until I started reading.

The basic premise of the book is that parents should be working to build faith and a good conscience into our kids.  Self-motivation, instead of the kids being motivated by externals (like Mom harping on them, and those are my words, not theirs).  That parenting is about the journey, not the destination.

Early on, there is plenty of encouragement that this is something you can start where you are.  Whether your children are teens or preschoolers, there are things you can do now.  And assurance that as you read through the book, you will probably find things you are already doing.

What I haven't seen is a lot of guilt-inducing junk about how I've messed up my kids.  Just encouragement on some things I can change, some things I can tweak a bit, and some things I can continue to do as I have been. 

A big thing that I need, with my teens in particular, is solid suggestions about encouraging them in making choices that are "the right thing" as opposed to just the short-term, I want it now, options.  My kids do a decent job of that, a lot of the time.  I need to not take that for granted, and I need to encourage them to continue and to do it in other areas as well.

I need practical.  Not theoretical.

Motivate Your Child has both.  And I confess that I do need a bit of the theory too, to encourage me to follow through.

There is a Facebook Party going on tonight at 9:00 pm EST, where you can learn more about this book.  And of course, the deal with getting extra resources is only good through January 31.  Click the banner above for info on that.


Monday, January 26, 2015

The Electrifying Nervous System {a Moms of Master Books review}

Anyone who follows my blog even a little knows that we are a science-loving family.  So learning that the newest Moms of Master Books title was going to be a serious science resource was exciting.

God's Wondrous Machine is a brand-new series by a homeschool mama physician, Dr. Lainna Callentine.  The first title is The Electrifying Nervous System, and it is a winner.

This series is planned to include NINE books in total, with The Breath-Taking Respiratory System being next, and The Complex Circulatory System coming third.

I can't wait for more.

And I don't even know where to begin in describing this book.  I've seen various ages mentioned as far as who this book is for.  K-8.  Grades 4-6.  Elementary (lower and upper).  3rd-6th grades.

Personally, I wouldn't choose to use this with a child in younger elementary ranges, except as a tag-along with an older sibling.  And I can totally see this as a middle school resource.  I'd peg 4th-8th grades as being ideal.  But maybe I'm just out of practice with younger elementary ages.

And I haven't actually used this.  January has been an insane month, plus I really want to get the Parent Lesson Plan to go with this book.  And I want to get some "stuff" to go with the book too.  I want to be doing some dissections, and a whole lot of hands-on.  So I read it myself.

So what do I love?

First off, there is some serious vocabulary in here, and that is color-coded so you know which words to emphasize with the younger learners, middle learners, and older ones can do them all.  The first level includes about a dozen words like neurons (the easiest word on the list, I think), cerebrum, and parietal lobe.  Level 2 is even shorter, with words like blood-brain barrier, corpus callosum, and homunculus.  Level 3 is much longer, including even more specific words like diencephalon, ventricles, and hypothalamus.

All of these words are defined in the beginning of the book, and they are explained in context when you get to them as well.

Another great aspect of the book is the illustrations.  Dr. Callentine explained somewhere that she is very image-oriented, and she always illustrates her notes in class or even her sermon notes.  The examples she showed were mostly drawings with very few words.  That visual aspect comes through in the book too, and it is wonderful.

Like this page, showing some of the technology used when studying the brain today.

This page has images of the machines used, it shows what the results look like, plus plenty of explanatory text.  Seriously, I'm learning a ton.  Can't wait to actually use it with the kids.

What I really love, though, is just how thorough this is, while still being so engaging.  She covers history, including naming a whole lot of people (I love when I can get scientists into my science studies!), she covers the biology aspect, she covers medical aspects, she covers health and nutrition, she covers careers, and she even includes sections with dumb jokes, great quotes, and crazy trivia-types of facts.

This is my new favorite for upper elementary/middle school science.

Go see what other Moms of Master Books have to say about The Electrifying Nervous System.

There is a Book and a Treat Facebook party coming up tonight, January 26 at 7:00 pm Central Time, where you could win cool prizes -- and discuss the nervous system too. 

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group as part of the Moms of Master Books program.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Advocate {a Family Christian Blogger review and giveaway}

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Family Christian Stores through the Family Christian Blogger program, along with the certificate I am giving away. This post does contain affiliate links.  I was not required to write a positive review, and any affiliate relationship does not impact my opinions. 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.”

A friend of mine raves about Randy Singer's books, and I keep meaning to read one.  Now I have.  It won't be my last.

Why yes, I did read most of this book in the car
The Advocate, by Randy Singer, is the story of Theophilus, you know, the "most excellent Theophilus" in the book of Luke.  The story starts with him being trained by Seneca in Rome, takes him to schools in Greece, back to Rome, and then to Judea, where he is serving as a lawyer (assessore) to Pilate... including at the trial of Jesus.  He ends up back in Rome, and the majority of the story takes place there.  Eventually, he ends up representing Paul in his trial in front of Nero.

Along the way, Singer paints a pretty vivid picture of life under three Roman Emperors -- Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero.  I've studied some Roman history, and all of that seemed well-researched and well-written.  The legal stuff, well, I can't say I know a lot about that, but everything certainly felt realistic.

There isn't much known about the "real" Theophilus.  There is even debate about whether or not Theophilus was an actual real person.  But one of the theories is that Luke and Acts read very much like a legal brief, and that Theophilus could very well be Paul's Advocate, the guy who would have represented him in his trial in Rome.

That is the theory that is fleshed out in this historical fiction title.

Singer mentions in notes at the end of the book that there are extensive notes on what is historically accurate and where he took liberties on his website.  I'm going to be spending a fair amount of time there over the next days.

My opinions -- I had a hard time getting into the story initially, but once Theophilus was an adult and dealing with the politics of Rome and then of Judea, it was far more interesting.  At that point, I was hooked.  Singer has a very engaging style, and the suspense and intrigue kept me turning the pages.

I've told my 17 year old that he needs to read this next.  Do you want to as well?  I have a copy to give away, courtesy of Family Christian!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Stitch in Crime {a Litfuse Blog Tour review}

I have read a number of books in the Quilts of Love series, and all have been light, pleasant reads.  A Stitch in Crime by Cathy Elliott is the latest.

Clearly, from the title, this one is a mystery.

From the publisher:
Thea's first quilt show is coming apart at the seams!

Thea James has accepted an assignment as co-chairperson for Larkindale's first quilt show extravaganza. Juggling the new assignment with running her antique business, she's already feeling frayed when things start to unravel.

Mary-Alice Wentworth, a much-loved town matriarch, respected quilt judge, and Thea's dear friend, is covertly conked on the head during the kick-off Quilt Show Soiree, throwing suspicion on her guests. It also appears that a valuable diamond brooch has been stolen during the attack. The family is furious. But is it because of their mugged mother or the missing diamonds?

When a renowned textile expert goes MIA and the famous Wentworth heritage quilt disappears, Larkindale's reputation as a tourist haven is at risk. Thea attempts to piece the mystery together and save the town's investment in the quilt show before Mary-Alice is attacked again . . . with far worse results.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.
I read this while traveling, and it was a very nice diversion.  Elliott drew me in pretty quickly.  Thea was pretty likable, with a best friend who is now being snarky and rude to her, a guy she is interested in, and she is a bit over her head as co-chair of the quilt show.

Boy, could I ever relate to that.

Somehow, I seem to find myself in positions that I feel completely unqualified to tackle. 

Of course, Thea's situation involves things like crime scene tape.  I can't say I tend to get that over my head.

This is not my favorite Quilts of Love title, but the story kept me guessing. 

Don’t miss the newest Quilts of Love book, A Stitch in Crime by Cathy Elliott. Thea's first quilt show begins to fall apart at the seams. Will she be able to piece the mystery together and save the town’s investment in the quilt show before another attack happens . . . with far worse results.

Enter to win a Kindle HDX!


One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle HDX
  • A Stitch in Crime by Cathy Elliott
  • Masterpiece Marriage by Gina Welborn
  • Swept Away by Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven

Enter today by clicking the button below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 8th. Winner will be announced on the Quilts of Love blog February 9th.



Enter today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Disclaimer:  I received this book through LitFuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Jesus Is ___ Student Edition {a BookLook Blogger review}

I'm always interested in a resource that I can use with my teens or tweens in talking about a real faith and what Christianity really is.  So, I eagerly signed up to review Jesus Is ______. Student Edition, by Judah Smith.

This title is geared towards the 10-14 age range, but I think it works well with kids outside that range as well, such as my nearly 9 year old daughter.  Even my 16- and 17-year-old sons are finding it to be interesting.

Right off the bat, I have to say that we found the bright color to be appealing, without being patronizing.  So many tween/teen resources out there just look like they are trying too hard, and my teens balk at giving them a real look.

You can only say, "You can't judge a book by its cover" so many times.  My teens have determined that Christian books that look patronizing on the outside almost always are even worse inside.  So I loved that this one just looks bright and fun.

From the publisher:
The New York Times bestseller shows students that discovering who Jesus is will change who they are!

In Jesus Is _______. Student Edition, popular speaker, author, and former youth pastor Judah Smith reveals the character of Jesus and the importance of Christ's message. Adapted for a student's age and life experience, this compelling book will get younger readers thinking about what Jesus means to them.

Judah Smith, pastor of the City Church in Seattle, Washington, is a former youth minister. He understands kids and writes as if to a friend. With enthusiasm and humor, Smith shows that Jesus is life, Jesus is grace, and Jesus is your friend. The student edition includes new content for younger readers ages 10-14-humorous lists, callouts of key text, sidebars with additional information, and discussion questions. This is a book for kids who have grown up in the church, are new to faith in Jesus, or are seeking to know more. This book will allow students to grow with Jesus from a young age and to know that the point of life is having a real, honest relationship with Jesus.

In the introduction, Judah Smith tells us who he is.  A 33-year-old pastor, who isn't perfect and isn't going around judging everyone else.  He also talks about the "Jesus Is" campaign that they started at their church, with the idea of getting people thinking about Jesus, and how that is the mission of their church.  Nothing in the introduction is remotely patronizing or condescending, and THAT gets my kids' attention.

The book is split up into 15 chapters in six sections.  None of the chapters is particularly long, which is wonderful for tweens.  Most are in the roughly 10 pages range, with some being a bit longer, and some being a little shorter.  That is something that we can read and discuss without losing them.

The language is fairly casual and friendly, without being a lecture or without a whole lot of over-the-top "when you get to be my age" stuff (which my kids also hate, especially coming from anyone under about age 35).

When approaching an idea like how Jesus hung out with sinners, and not just sinners, but those with a reputation for being the bad crowd, Smith is careful to distinguish a why there.  He outright states that your parents might forbid you from hanging out with a certain crowd and that you have to respect that.  Let me quote that paragraph:
Don't misunderstand me here.  I'm not talking about hanging out with bad people because you want to do bad things, or because they are cool, or because it's exciting.  I'm talking about spending time with people others usually reject because you love them and want to help them.  Remember, there might be times when your parents will ask you not to hang out with certain people because they are a bad influence or they are making dangerous decisions.  It that is the case, you need to trust they they know what they are doing.
Each chapter ends with some discussion questions, and these are questions that don't prompt a lecture.  They actually promote discussion. 

I am very impressed with this resource.

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, January 17, 2015

Masterpiece Marriage {a LitFuse review}

I've read quite a few books in the Quilts of Love series, and I have enjoyed most of them.  Each of the books features a quilt, many feature quilting, and they all have a love story.

Beyond that, they can be pretty different.

This one, Masterpiece Marriage, by Gina Welborn, is set around 1890, and while not exactly historical fiction, the historical setting and detail is quite good.

Here's what the book cover says:
She thinks studying the growth pattern of her tomato seedlings is more time-worthy than pursuing a mate. When she needs illustrations of her prized plants Mary turns to Priscilla Dane Osbourne for help.

Zenus Dane also seeks help from his Aunt Priscilla.  In order to salvage his flooded textile mill, he wnats to sell her hand-drawn quilt patterns alongside his repurposed fabric scraps.  No quilter has national name recognition like his aunt, but Priscilla is fiercely protective of her patterns.  Convincing her will not be easy.

It seems Priscilla is the answer to both their prayers.  But Priscilla would rather weave a masterpiece marriage for her nephew than save his flooded business.  Trouble is, her plans don't include Mary, whose own growing attraction for Zenus could jeopardize Priscilla's goodwill toward her.  If faced with a decision between love and ambition, will Mary be able to choose?
I found the characters to be quite likable, particularly the main three: Zenus, Mary, and Aunt Priscilla.  Mary is English, and has been all over the world, earning degrees and trying to become a professor.  That is not an easy task for a woman at the time.

Zenus worries about his employees, who are mostly single mothers, and he's also interested in finding a wife.  He has his eye set on Arel Dewey, so his trip to get help from his aunt also gives him a chance with Arel.

Priscilla is a wealthy widow, quite used to getting her way in everything.  I wasn't quite sure what to make of her initially, but she really grew on me and is probably my favorite character in the book.

Like most other titles in the Quilts of Love series, this is a pretty light and easy read.  Perfect for a lazy Saturday.  You can see what other LitFuse reviewers thought of the book too.

Don’t miss the newest Quilts of Love book, Masterpiece Marriage by Gina Welborn. December’s QOL release celebrates the ebb and flow of marriage.
Enter to win a Kindle HDX!

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Masterpiece Marriage by Gina Welborn
  • Swept Away by Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven
  • Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey
Enter today by clicking the button below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 18th. Winner will be announced on the Quilts of Love blog January 19th.


Enter today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Disclaimer:  I received this book through LitFuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.