Friday, October 9, 2015

Faithgirlz! Bible {a BookLook Blogger review}

My daughter's Bible completely fell apart.  I wish it was because she spends so much time reading and studying from it.  To some extent, she does -- but the real issue is just that she sets it where it falls off the couch, her bed, the table, and it ends up lying open on the floor.

I feel like a horrible, ungrateful person who doesn't appreciate how amazing we have it in that we have so many Bibles available that we don't treat ours with the respect it deserves.  But then part of me also doesn't want to make her afraid to read it on the couch, in bed, while hanging upside down, etc.

Bottom line is that when I saw the NIV Faithgirlz! Bible available for review, I knew we needed to grab it.  It's cute, which my 9-year-old loves.  It isn't overly pink, which we both love.  And it magnets closed.  Something else we both appreciate.

The publisher describes it like this.
Bestselling NIV Faithgirlz! Bible with a fun, new magnetic closure binding.

This special binding of the NIV Faithgirlz! Bible offers a trendy and unique magnetic closure. Packed with exciting features that help tween girls better understand themselves and Scripture, the NIV Faithgirlz! Bible teaches girls that the Bible is real, relevant, and, best of all, that the story of God and his people is also their story. With in-text features written by tween expert Nancy Rue, the NIV Faithgirlz! Bible uses the bestselling New International Version (NIV).

Features include:
  • Book introductions-Read about the who, when, where, and what of each book 
  • Dream Girl-Use your imagination to put yourself in the story 
  • Bring It On!-Take quizzes to really get to know yourself 
  • Is There a Little (Eve, Ruth, Isaiah) in You?-See for yourself what you have in common 
  • Words to Live By-Check out these Bible verses that are great for memorizing 
  • What Happens Next?-Create a list of events to tell a Bible story in your own words 
  • Oh, I Get It!-Find answers to Bible questions you've wondered about 
 The complete New International Version (NIV) Features written by bestselling author and tween expert Nancy Rue

I decided to go ahead and let Trina dictate this review.  She's 9.
I like that there are little blocks with memory verses in them.  I haven't really read that many of them yet, because there aren't that many of them and I'm only partway into Genesis.  I definitely like the two I've found.

Some of the boxes are a recap of some parts, and they give you examples and have you write part of it yourself.  That makes me think.

The Bible itself is really fun with all the little flowers and birds sometimes.  The Bible text is just words, just printed words, no little heart dots on i's or anything.  All the fun stuff is in the extra parts.

There is cursive in some of the extras, so littler kids might have trouble reading that.

I really like the magnet part of the cover, so it closes up like a journal.  And when you open it there are another owl on the cover.  You can even use the flap as a bookmark, and at least when you are still in Genesis it will magnet to the cover on the inside.  I think my Bible stays nicer with the magnet thing, because, well, I tend to knock things around and I'm hard on books.  The magnet keeps it together.

I love it.
Really, need I say more?

Well, yes.  Trina talks above about liking the sections (In Your Own Words) where you are supposed to recap the story.  I like that it has her writing, and thinking, but the examples they give make me crazy.  Each recap section starts out with "them" recapping a portion of the story.  Something like this:
"Abigail knew that her whole household was in BIG TROUBLE because of what her husband had said, so she gathered up like 100 loaves of bread and some sheep and some raisin cakes (ew!) and rode out to meet David. Da-da-da-DAH!"
This makes me want to bang my head against a wall.

That being said, I wasn't finding anything I disagree with theologically.  Grammatically, however, let's just say that this isn't for me.

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, October 8, 2015

Getting ready for the 2016 Schoolhouse Review Crew year! cannot believe it is already time to be applying to be part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew for 2016!  Didn't 2015 just start?

I'm sure it did.

While I really don't want a do-over for this year, and I am ready to move to another year, there are at least a few moments of 2015 I'd love to go back to.  Like going back to my February 16 conversation with my mom and making sure I said "I love you."

Anyway, that has NOTHING to do with this post.  I'm posting here because the Schoolhouse Review Crew year is winding down, and now the 2016 year is starting up.  And I want to be sure YOU know how to apply.

Click the handy-dandy little button there, and that takes you to the blog post, and that post will take you to the application.

If you go to a post from last week, you can also learn about what some of the current Crew members think about being a part of this group.

I have been part of the Crew since June of 2009.  This amazing group of homeschoolers has greatly impacted my life over these years.  And the amazing products are a huge blessing as well.

If you do go and fill out an application, feel free to mention that Debra sent you. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Finding Noah in Theaters on Thursday {a FlyBy review}

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One of the really fun things we get to do as reviewers is that sometimes we get to watch a preview of a movie coming out soon.

I'm not a big fan of movie theaters.  Some people love going to the movies.  My husband, for instance.  I love the chance to watch at my convenience, without strangers around, and without driving an hour to get there.

He thinks I'm crazy.

None of that really has anything to do with this particular review though.

Finding Noah is going to be in theaters on Thursday, October 8 only.

You can check out other YouTube videos about the movie too.

The publisher describes this film:
For over 2,000 years, man has been searching for the final resting place of Noah's Ark.  Though there have been many attempts, few have been able to fully explore the one place specifically noted in the Bible: Mount Ararat.  Located in Eastern Turkey, Agri Dagh or "The Painful Mountain" is the tallest mountain in the region and lies in the very center of a centuries old, geo-politically unstable hot spot.  With constant threats of deadly rock slides, hidden crevasses, and glacial ice falls, the Kurdish Rebel held mountain poses great risk to any explorer, let alone those performing a thorough scientific investigation. 

Join director/producer Brent Baum and the FINDING NOAH film crew as they follow an expedition of intrepid explorers on a perilous trek up to Mt. Ararat's desolate summit.  There, using state of the art technology and real-time satellite imagery, this team of archaeologists, scientists and professional mountaineers will begin a grid work of exploration unlike any before, hoping to finally resolve the age-old question:  did Noah and his Ark actually exist?

Our Thoughts:

We did enjoy this film.  It was a bit confusing at first, as it was discussing things like finding King Tut's tomb and finding the Rosetta Stone.  In retrospect, that did set up the ideas of .adventure and challenge and discovery.  After that, there was some discussion of all of the flood legends throughout the world, with some really nice visuals.

And then we got into the actual explorers and this particular trip.

There was a fantastic blend of live footage, after-the-fact interviews, and other experts chiming in.  That kept things moving forward and gave it a bit of a reality show feel, without any of the bickering or voting off the island aspects.

Watching the scientific process of this exploration was fun. 

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

May the Faith Be With You {a BookLook Blogger review}

I have a house full of SciFi geeks.

So a devotional that makes the kiddos think of Star Wars has to be a good thing.  The description of May the Faith Be With You sounds intriguing:
For intergalactic fans and beyond, this 180 devotional will teach readers about the awesome power of God. Life in the Spirit isn’t about cushioned pews and easy living—it’s about adventure, risk, daring, and the pursuit of wisdom. It’s about letting the awesome power of God work through you to do things you never thought possible.

In this brand-new 180-day devotional, you’ll learn the highest, truest, and most rewarding way to a life of wisdom, apprenticing with the Ultimate Master himself—Jesus Christ. May the Faith Be With You features section headings like “Master Moment,” “Use the Force,” and “Ways of Wisdom” to give you a devotional experience that’s out of this world.

Each of the 180 days of devotions includes:
  • Scripture - one or two verses that are printed in the book.
  • Master Moment - a pithy little sentence that gives the main idea of the devotion.
  • Ways of Wisdom - a few sentences giving a bit more information about the verses or about the main idea.
  • Use the Force - a 2-3 sentence prayer, that is probably my favorite part of the devotion.
All total, each devotion is a verse or two, and up to about ten sentences about it.

My thoughts:

I love the idea of something short that can absolutely be fit into a child's day without overwhelming them.  For a child trying to get into a devotional habit, this might be perfect.

My kids (ages 9 and 11) are just both too old for this.  Our thoughts were mostly "Is this all?"  Looking at Amazon, I see it recommended for ages 6-10, and I think that would be a far better fit.  For a young beginning reader, I think this could be a really fun devotional, particularly if the parents remembered to ask them about it, as I think some conversations about it would flesh it out a bit.

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, September 29, 2015

Intersect {a Litfuse Blog Tour review}

I love being able to use DVDs as part of a Bible Study or as a way of engaging people in a group setting.

The idea of Intersect: Where Your Story and God's Story Converge is just that -- to use stories, real stories from real people -- to engage people and to make it so conversations about some important matters are easier to make happen.

I was intrigued.

From the publisher:
Follow the journey of five individuals as they tell authentic stories of circumstances that have forced them to examine how God might fit into their lives.

This five-week small group resource helps spark spiritual conversations. Starting spiritual conversations with those outside of the church is a worthy, yet often difficult and intimidating task. Intersect was designed to help overcome those barriers. It is an easy-to-use resource, perfect for sharing with co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family to enter into meaningful conversations.

Each film is accompanied by thought-provoking questions designed to encourage participants to examine the world in which they live and the life they are pursuing, always ending with a conversation on how Jesus intersects the current topic. Allow this powerful new film resource to engage those you are in relationship with and then propel them forward in their next step with Jesus.
This DVD and Study guide is material for five weeks of small-group activities.   Each week has you talking about some initial questions, watching a few minutes of someone's story on the DVD, and then getting into some follow-up discussion.

The initial questions are pretty personal.  The segment on Control starts off with the question(s):
What are some specific areas/compartments that you are juggling in your life right now?  How well are you managing all of them?
They are all questions that make you think and analyze your life.

The DVD segments include someone telling his own story, whether that be about an unexpected divorce (Disappointment) or a drug problem (Trust).  These are clearly real people, talking about real things in their lives.  As this is produced in the UK, the backgrounds and the accents give it a bit more of a "hey, check this out!" factor.  Exotic isn't the word I want, but rather it is just a bit unusual and out of the ordinary, while still feeling very ordinary.

The follow-up discussion questions have you talking about specifics from the video, reading an (included) Bible section (quite short) in The Message and talking about that, and applying all of the above to your life now.

This is designed to engage with 20- and 30-year olds, but I think it can work with a wider age range than that.  I wouldn't necessarily go a whole lot younger, but high school/college age teens could find it engaging too, and certainly it can work with older adults.

This is a neat resource that isn't overly preachy and can certainly lead to interesting discussion.  You can see what other people had to say about this at the Litfuse Blog Tour site.

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Giants: Legends & Lore of Goliaths {a Master Books Review}

I love the Legends & Lore series.

A year ago, I reviewed my favorite EVER book about the flood -- The Flood of Noah: Legends & Lore of Survival.  We all loved it, with all the little mini-books and flaps and doors and other such interactive fun.

Seeing the newest title in this series, Giants: Legends & Lore of Goliaths by Charles Martin, I knew I had to get my hands on it too.

What fun.

Here's how they describe the book:
The word “myth” has come to mean “fiction” in our minds, and so some people take Bible accounts, Aesop’s fables, and Greek myths and place them all in the same category. But what if some of the old legends are true? Rather than dismiss these narratives, perhaps we should investigate them. In this case, the world is filled with giant legends that speak of heroes and wars. In this highly engaging book of giants you will discover
  • Unique glimpses into the ancient accounts of giants from around the world
  • What does the Bible say about giants?
  • Full-color artistry developed in an interactive format with fold outs and flaps, booklets, and more!
  • A spectacular center spread stretching 4-feet across!
It is fascinating that the ancient world agreed on many aspects of the Bible, one of these being that early in the history of mankind, a race of violent, yet intelligent giants walked the earth, were destroyed by the Flood. Through historical records, the pre-Flood and post-Flood worlds are reconstructed, with giants re-emerging in and around Israel, and you’ll see one more reason that the Bible can be trusted.

Our thoughts:

This book is just as much fun as the others in the series.  The big fold-out page in the middle looks like this:

David and Goliath, in a huge and massive scene, gives a fun perspective on the shepherd boy vs. the giant.  It is just fun to pull that open and look at it.

The other pages have more information though.

The above page is right as you open the book, with basic info about local giants underneath each of the flags.  It is fun to run across some we've heard of, and many we haven't.

The basic idea of the book is to explore giants, stories and legends of giants, and biblical accounts of giants.  What is real?  Are the Bible stories really that far-fetched?

I enjoy reading through this with my kids, as we can read the main text at one point, and pull up little booklets or flaps at a different time.

Tales of giants are everywhere.  It was fun to explore them.

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from Master Books.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

'Til We Meet Again {a Tyndale House Blog Network review}

I'm incredibly excited to talk today about an absolutely fantastic book that I've recently read.

'Til We Meet Again by Ray and Betty Whipps reads like a novel, possibly even like a historical romance novel, but it is the true story of this amazing couple.  The bulk of the story is told from Ray's point of view, with letters from Betty inserted between chapters.

Ray and Betty met in Europe during World War II, after Ray had been wounded, ending up being cared for by Betty. 

The book had me at the opening chapter.  It starts in the present, with Ray having nightmare/flashbacks to the war.  He heads down to breakfast, and Betty says something to him about having a tough time of it again last night.

That was the point where I identified with Betty.

Let's see how the publisher describes this book:
Ray and Betty Whipps both served in Europe during WWII: Ray as an infantryman under General Patton in the trenches of Normandy, Paris, and Belgium, and Betty as a field nurse in Cherbourg, France. The two met when Betty tended to Ray after he was injured in a mortar blast. Both strong Christians, the two bonded over their shared faith, and as Betty nursed Ray back to health, they fell in love and vowed to marry after the war. However, soon after Ray returned to his unit, he was captured by German forces and held captive in Stalag VII, Germany’s largest prisoner of war camp. It was there that Ray’s faith was put to the ultimate test as he endured the most horrific weeks of his life—weeks marked by brutality, malnutrition, back-breaking labor, and near-constant death. The only thing that kept him alive was the dream of someday reuniting with Betty.

Told in first person from Ray’s perspective, with personal wartime letters from Betty interspersed throughout, ’Til We Meet Again is a sweeping love story set amid the backdrop of WWII. The perfect combination of “in the trenches” battlefield accounts and classic 1940s romance, this memoir reads almost like a novel. It is an epic story of faith, hope, and love, and a nostalgic look back at one of the most memorable periods in American history.
Following Ray's story is just amazing.  He dreams of being a pilot, is on track to do so... but he is hindered by his math skills, or rather his lack of math skills.  While changing gears, he ends up drafted into the Army.  After Basic Training, and a stint in helping to train others, he ships off to England right about the time of D-Day.  He ships over to France about a week later, and starts the crawl of trench warfare towards Germany.

His story-telling feels so real, so I had to read parts of it to my husband to get his take.  Now, my husband is far too young to have fought in World War II, but his grandfathers did.  His father was in the Navy in Vietnam.  And Dale was a grunt in Operation Just Cause in Panama.  I read this part, at the end of chapter 10:
Despite the fact that it was an Army tradition, griping never really seemed to help all that much.  I still felt just as cold and just as unsafe.
Dale laughed.  And said, "He definitely knows something about being a grunt."

You simply MUST watch this video. 

I loved this book.  I am making my teens read it as we study World War II.  In spite of my categorization above that this is a good historical romance novel, it is totally appropriate for teen boys.  There is a lot of battlefront action that conveys not just the horrors of war, but also the everyday heroes.
Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.