Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (October 6, 2015) 256 pages

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

This might be the oddest book I've ever read. I highly recommend reading it just to experience the tremendous amount of odd that it possesses! Don't read descriptions of the story! Just go into it blindly, and experience the weirdness with a fresh mind.

That could probably be enough of a review, but if you want more......

I knew going into The Nest that it was supposed to be a creepy book. I don't read creepy books, unless it's children's, and then I'm too curious to stay away. As I read along through this book, I kept thinking it wasn't near as creepy as I thought it would be(though creepy, for sure). It was after closing the last page that the story kept running through my mind, and little bits and pieces of creepiness spooked me a bit. And, I'm an adult! For that reason, I wouldn't recommend this book to sensitive children or those prone to nightmares(like me)!

Within this book, I learned more about wasps than I ever really cared to know. Still, it was interesting. One of my children and my mother-in-law is allergic to wasps. I don't like the creatures! I believe the feeling is probably mutual with most people, making wasps the perfect creepy focus of this story. I left this book disliking them more than ever!

Wrapped up in all the oddness and all the creepiness, there are hug worthy moments as the author touches on issues, such as perfection and disabilities within the world. I won't elaborate on that too much, but it was this that made the book "hug worthy" to me. The main character, Steve , has OCD issues and suffers from nightmares. He has his struggles. I was the weirdest child you could ever dream of meeting back in my childhood days, so children that are labeled "not normal" by the world always pull on my heartstrings. Steve was no exception.

I highly recommend this book! I thought it was amazing and creative and beautiful, and don't forget, creepy and odd. ;)

*I was provided an ARC, in exchange for my honest opinion.


Purchase Link:

The Nest


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Celebrate the Whit Award with Adventures in Odyssey


Most people can think of one or two figures whose love and life example had a great impact on the formation of their spiritual foundation. It might be a coach, a Sunday school teacher or a parent or grandparent. Whatever the role, it’s hard to put a value on the investment these people make on a daily basis. In an effort to bring honor to these countless, quiet heroes, Adventures in Odyssey announces the John Avery Whitaker Award. Named after Odyssey’s resident leader and the namesake of Odyssey’s most famous attraction, Whit’s End, the award will be bestowed annually on one deserving mentor.

Like the Adventures in Odyssey character John Avery Whitaker, or “Whit” as he’s known by fans of the show, the person should be someone who is passionate about innovatively teaching children the truths expressed in the Bible. Those who create Adventures in Odyssey know that while Whit might be a fictitious character, there are thousands of real people just like him. “Our hope is that by bringing those people into the light, others will be inspired to follow their example,” says Dave Arnold, the executive producer of Adventures in Odyssey. “If we can spur mature believers in Christ to mentor and influence a generation being barraged with messages of compromise, we can turn the tide and encourage revival in our youth.”

Nominations are being accepted now through October 31 for the “Whits” out there in the world. Beginning on November 1, one nominee will be selected daily and awarded with a prize package including Adventures in Odyssey's latest album, Taking the Plunge, and a DVD of the movie Beyond the Mask. One grand prize winner will be chosen and announced on November 20. This worthy recipient will receive more than $500 worth of Focus on the Family resources, including an Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) membership. The OAC offers 24/7, on-the-go access to more than 800 episodes of Adventures in Odyssey, as well as a new, members-only episode every month. It is a safe, fun environment where the whole family can explore, create and imagine, all while learning biblical truth.

Nominations can be submitted via this form, or the information can be emailed to contest@whitsend.org. (See the Official Rules for all the details.)

To learn more about the John Avery Whitaker Award, visit www.whitsend.org. Discover the Odyssey Adventure Club at www.oaclub.org or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

15-FOTF-0297-482513_PM_AIO_Whitaker_Award_Web_Ads_Disk_525 x 300

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Time Garden: A Magical Journey and Coloring Book by Daria Song


A dazzlingly beautiful coloring book for all ages, The Time Garden will sweep you away into a whimsical cuckoo clock–inspired world, created in intricate pen and ink by the internationally best-selling Korean artist Daria Song.

Journey through the doors of a mysterious cuckoo clock into its inky inner workings to discover a magical land of clock gears, rooftops, starry skies, and giant flying owls—all ready for you to customize with whatever colors you can dream up.

Cuckoo . . . cuckoo . . . cuckoo . . . When the clock strikes midnight, you’ll wonder, was it all a dream?

The Time Garden features extra-thick craft paper, ideal for non bleed-through coloring, and the jacketed cover with flaps is removable and color-able. Special gold-foil stamping on the cover and spine and a To/From page make it perfect for gifting to adults and kids alike.

Then, explore the magical world outside the clock through the eyes of a fairy in the sequel, The Time Chamber: A Magical Story and Coloring Book!

My Thoughts:

I enjoy coloring! I've saw many posts recently where people seemed ashamed of the fact that they were coloring, and I want to tell them there's no need. Coloring is relaxing. When my Grasshopper went into the NICU, I bought myself a coloring book to help pass the time in a calming kind of way. Coloring books are also excellent gifts for cancer patients, both children and adults, and their families, as they wait through their many tests and treatments. They're excellent gifts, period, in my opinion. Really and truly, there's no need for shame when it comes to adults coloring. ;)

This coloring book, The Time Garden, is set up like a book. There's not a ton of words, but there are some used to tell a quick story. The story is mostly told through the coloring pages, though, with each scene taking up a 2 page spread. I find this both exciting and intimidating. Exciting, because it will give me a lesson in patience. Instead of coloring one page, and being done, I'm working on a whole book. Also, it will be a wonderful treasure when I'm done, and something I wouldn't mind keeping on the shelf. Most coloring pages I color are torn out and thrown away. You won't want to tear out pages from this book, though! If you think there's even the smallest chance that someone will want to "borrow" a page, keep something else to give them with you.

On the other hand, having a whole book to color that tells a story is a bit intimidating, because I feel like if I mess up one page, I've ruined the whole book. To tear out "bad" coloring, I'd ruin the story. Of course, maybe that's a good lesson in letting go of what doesn't matter, as long as I've tried my best. I also feel the need to make sure all the colors line up. For example, it's more realistic that her dress stays the same color throughout. I started out using a fine tip marker to color with, and started with the girl's dress. I quickly discovered marker isn't the best option for this book, since it bleeds a tiny bit and shows through the other page just the slightest bit. The pages ARE thick, though. Now the colors will be off a bit. (The lines are much too detailed for crayons, so I prefer using colored pencils in this book to color with.)

This is truly a gorgeous book, and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend. I recently tried out another coloring book that was so far past my love of oddness that I just feel uncomfortable having it in my house. I wouldn't dare give it to anyone. The Time Garden is sweet and elegant and relaxing, though, and I love it.

*I was provided a review copy through Blogging for Books, in exchange for my honest opinion.


Purchase Link:

The Time Garden: A Magical Journey and Coloring Book


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Where Christ is Present: Book Spotlight And GIVEAWAY!!!!

About the Book:

Five hundred years ago, the church of Jesus Christ underwent a Reformation.

A lot happened after Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the castle church door in Wittenberg. But the fallout was not simply the start of Protestantism. The Roman Catholic Church also recast itself in response to Luther’s call for reforms. And contrary to common belief, Martin Luther did not set out to start a new church. Rather, he was trying to reform the church that already existed by reemphasizing its essence—namely, the “good news” (the gospel) that Jesus forgives and saves sinners.

The unity of the church was broken when the pope rejected this call for reform and excommunicated Luther, starting a chain of events that did lead to the institutional fracturing of Christendom and to a plethora of alternative Christian theologies. But, as many – including conservative Catholics – now admit, the church did in fact need reforming. Today, the church – including its Protestant branches – also needs reforming. Some of the issues in contemporary Christianity are very similar to those in the late Middle Ages, though others are new. But if Luther’s theology can be blamed – however unfairly – for fragmenting Christianity, perhaps today it can help us recover the wholeness of Christianity.

In the hope of that wholeness, Dr. Montgomery and Dr. Veith commissioned these essays celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, gathering some of the best contemporary voices the Lutheran church has to offer.

And we need these voices! The religious climate in the early 21st-century is simultaneously highly religious and highly secularized. It is a time of extraordinary spiritual and theological diversity. This book will propose the kind of Christianity that is best suited for our day. The remedies offered here are available by way of the same theology that was the catalyst for reforming the church five hundred years ago.

(Note: I have NOT read this book. I'm also NOT Lutheran, so my beliefs are different. I'm a Christian, plain and simple, and I believe The Bible, God's Word, will plainly tell us the kind of Christianity that is best suited for our day! That said, I AM curious to read more thoughts about the book.)

You can see a tour schedule HERE.


Buy the Book:

Where Christ Is Present: A Theology for All Seasons on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation


Authors’ Bio:

John Warwick Montgomery is the author of more than sixty books in six languages. He holds eleven earned degrees, including a Master of Philosophy in Law from the University of Essex, England, a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, a Doctorate of the University in Protestant Theology from the University of Strasbourg, France, and the higher doctorate in law (LL.D.) from the University of Cardiff, Wales. He is a Lutheran clergyman, an English barrister, and is admitted to practice as a lawyer before the Supreme Court of the United States and is a practicing avocat, Barreau de Paris, France. Dr. Montgomery currently serves as Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy at Concordia University Wisconsin.

Gene Edward Veith is the Provost and Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

Connect with the Authors:






Win 1 of 10 copies of Where Christ is Present (open to USA & Canada)

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Middle Grade Biographies about Noah Webster and Mary Mallon

It seems that right now I'm in a phase of reading a great deal of history and science related books during my personal reading time. I'm sure the fact that we officially added American and World history into our "school" days has strengthened my appetite for them. I'm reading a great deal of those types of books to the boys. They actually LOVE history and science, which makes me happy! I hated it in school. Of course, I hated just about everything about school, period.

I've learned middle grade biographies/history books typically have enough information to satisfy me, at least for now, as I slowly educate my pitiful brain that is greatly lacking in history. Plus, they're cleaner, which is always nice. I've picked up a few middle grade biographies lately that I enjoyed.

Noah Webster: Man of Many Words by Catherine Reef

This is a great book for middle grade readers, or even adults like me, that want to know more about Noah Webster, but don't want to read a huge biography. It not only covers the life of Noah Webster, but also many of the events going on around him during his life. Some might not like that, but I did! It gives the chance to see why certain choices were made.

At first, Noah comes off as a snobby know it all(at least a bit), but by the end, I couldn't help but like him. He loved children, and thought they deserved a well rounded education. What's not to like about that?! He was passionate about his ideas, and he seemed like a genuinely sweet man that had a mission to accomplish. He wanted to make learning the English language as painless as possible, attempting to make it less confusing. Many of his ideas stood the test of time, and we still use his changes now. Others, not so much. I've always thought that some of the words in the English language were spelled in ridiculous ways, and Noah thought so, too! (Is there anyone these days that doesn't think so, though?) ;)

Most people remember Noah Webster as the writer of Webster's Dictionary. There's more to him than just that, but it's not until the end of the book that we get a good look at his journey to its completion. It was a long journey, and one that required patience and persistence!

I enjoyed learning more about Noah Webster, even if I didn't agree with all his opinions. (No one will agree with someone else on everything, after all.) This is definitely a book that I'll keep on the shelf for my boys!


Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

I was completely fascinated with this book! Before going into it, I had shamefully never heard of Mary Mallon, or don't remember it if I had. It turns out that quite a few books have been written about her, but I don't imagine that they all give her such a sympathetic viewpoint as this one. Bartoletti has a way with words that completely pulled me into the book. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more from her!

In the back of the book, we get a timeline and photo album, along with pages and pages of notes concerning where information came from. Aside from Mary Mallon, there's plenty of other things within the book that can be topics of extra study, like the spreading of germs and the study of how it happens. Civil rights could definitely be explored with this case! There were plenty of other cases worse than Mary's that didn't get the treatment she did.

If you've never heard of "Typhoid Mary" or have only heard her story from a negative standpoint, I definitely recommend giving this book a try!


Do you have any middle grade history books/biographies to recommend?

At our last library visit, I grabbed To Be a Princess: The Fascinating Lives of Real Princesses, which I've enjoyed so far. I also grabbed Gwinna, which looks to possibly be a beautiful fairy tale type story. The other 9 books were dedicated to the boys' studies, with 1 pick for the movie, Paddington. ;)

*I was provided an ARC of both books through Amazon Vine, in exchange for my honest opinion, and taxation on the books. :P


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Snuggle Time with Bible-Related Books for Toddlers

I hate to admit it, but it's taking some dedicated effort to make sure that I get snuggle time reading in with my youngest little guy right now, and sometimes even my Bumblebee. Grasshopper loves for me to read to him, and I'm reading more and more with him, attempting to make sure we're getting in all his "schoolwork". It's too easy to leave out my younger two right now. Most the time, they're all too happy to jump in my lap with a picture book, though! Here are a few we've enjoyed recently.

First up,

Say and Pray Bible: First Words, Stories, and Prayers by Diane Stortz, with illustrations by Sarah Ward

This book is perfect for the littlest of learners. It would be a great book for the nursery class age, but my Bumblebee(2 1/2) has enjoyed it, too. Each "story" gets two pages, with a brief little "story", a Bible verse, and a prayer. Some of the pictures are labeled with words, so it's a great way to introduce words to little ones. My bumblebee has enjoyed pointing at pictures, and attempting to say the words. He's a late talker, so his words are still in the super precious stage(when we can understand them).

This definitely isn't a book to use exclusively for Bible lessons, by any means, but it is a sweet way to get in a little Bible lesson(and snuggles) with younger babies/toddlers.

*We were provided a review copy, in exchange for our honest opinion, from BookLook.



The Plans I Have For You by Amy Parker, with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

We have a couple of Amy Parker's other books on our nighttime bookshelf(Night Night Blessings and A Night Night Prayer), and they're some of my most favorite books to read to the boys before bed. They're short and sweet and comforting. I have to admit I don't like this one quite as much, but it's still a nice read. I like the illustrations most of all. They're fun!

This is a good book to introduce some of the professions out there that they might not have heard about yet. Mostly, though, it's a reminder that God has a plan for your child(for EACH of us), and it's an important one(even if someone else doesn't think so).

The story is written as if God is talking directly to your child, which I didn't know before getting it. I didn't really care for it at all in that format, so I changed the words a bit. Instead of saying "I" as if God is talking, I just changed it to "He" and we discussed how God DOES have a plan for each of us.

Overall, it's a fun read.

*We were provided a review, in exchange for our honest opinion, from Booklook.


And, finally(for today)

Jesus Calling for Little Ones by Sarah Young, with illustrations by Antonia Woodward

I've never read any of the Jesus Calling books, and to be perfectly honest, I have no intentions of doing so. As you may already know, the Jesus Calling books are written as though Jesus is talking directly to you/your child. This isn't really my thing, but I've learned if I'm willing to edit a few words here and there, we get in on some great books that we'd miss out on otherwise. (Dinosaurs come to mind here!)I knew that the 1st person narrative wouldn't be super hard to edit within a board book, so I gave it a chance. I'm really glad I did, too! It's a sweet book.

The pictures are the sugar sweet kind, which I can't seem to resist. They also appear to be within Bible times, though a few could pass for present.

We love precious little board books around here. They're perfect for throwing into bags to carry to various places for entertainment AND perfect for quick little snuggles here and there. This one is a sweet reminder that Jesus loves each of us, and He's always with us.

*We were provided a review copy, in exchange for our honest opinion, from Amazon Vine.