Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lucado Treasury of Bedtime Prayers by Max and Denalyn Lucado


This collection of classic prayers, as well as brand-new prayers by Max and Denalyn Lucado, will help parents who want to make prayer a daily part of their children's lives.

Prayer is the foundation of a believer's life. This collection of prayers from Max and Denalyn Lucado offers parents a resource to teach little ones how to talk to God. This prayer collection includes classic prayers that have been updated for today's young readers, introductory stories for each section, as well as twenty new prayers for little ones written by Max and Denalyn.

Max and Denalyn open the book with an expanded introduction that instructs parents on teaching their children to pray. A helpful prayer builder taken from Max's trade book Before Amen teaches kids that there are four different kinds of prayers: worship, trust, compassion, and gratitude. This collection of new and classic children's prayers are divided into ten sections. Children will find it easier to learn to pray with examples showing that prayer is a dialogue with God for all times. Beautiful art by Lisa Alderson complements the keepsake style of the book.

It's never too early to lay a strong foundation for a child's faith, and the Lucado Treasury of Bedtime Prayers will help parents do just that.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I was a bit hesitant at first to get this treasury. Even more so since the start of my blogging days, I'm pretty suspicious of "big time" preacher/authors. I guess that's yet another fault of mine. ;) In my efforts to surround ourselves with only things we love, though, we've gotten rid of quite a few books on our bedtime shelf that were more filler than anything. We wanted something else we could possibly love to add to the mix, and this looked like it had great potential.

My first thought was what a soothing and lovely book this is. It's a bit bigger than an average book, with a soft, padded front and back cover. There's a ribbon bookmark, and the pictures are so sweet. It very much has a classic feel to it.

Though, overall, I love this book, I think the title is a bit misleading. Some of the prayers/poems can be used for bedtime, but I've found myself toting this book up and down the stairs. Many of them just don't seem appropriate for bedtime, like when we're thanking God for a new day. The book is actually divided into sections. There's prayers and poems and Bible passages/verses to read for morning and night, thankfulness and forgiveness, and even for different holidays and seasons. It's a year round, night AND day kind of book. I also like that there's many, many different authors within the book.

As always, there's some that we don't care for. We just skip over those, or change a word or two. For example, there's one that starts out "Daddy God". I'm not comfortable with that, so I change it to "Dear God". There's so many poems and prayers in this book, disliking a few is just to be expected, and everyone has different styles and preferences.

Overall, this book truly is a treasure! I've already read a great deal from it to my boys, and it's one of those books that has stayed close by. I've enjoyed adding it to our days.

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


Purchase Link:

Lucado Treasury of Bedtime Prayers: Prayers for bedtime and every time of day!


Monday, March 2, 2015

I Can Learn the Bible: 52 Scriptures Every Kid Should Know by Holly Hawkins Shivers


Memory verses and devotions that will write God’s word on your children’s hearts.

In this 52-week devotional for children, author Holly Hawkins Shivers adapts the gift book The Joshua Code (written by her father, O.S. Hawkins) into a devotional that will help kids learn and live the scriptures. Using kid-friendly language, I Can Learn the Bible teaches scriptures in a way children can understand. Each week, kids will commit a new scripture to memory by reading a fun, engaging devotional that’s doable for a child. Matthew 7:7 will remind kids to always ask God for help. Philippians 1:6 will teach them that God is always working in their lives. And 50 more scriptures will continue to write the truth on their hearts so that they will remember it forever.

Parents using the gift book will love using the kids’ book as a discussion tool for the entire family. A great gift for baptisms, confirmations, and any special occasion, I Can Learn the Bible includes clever tips for memorizing scripture. Each new day and each new verse will reinforce to young readers that “God’s Word is FOR ME and TO ME, it is IN ME and working THROUGH ME, and just like His love, it goes on and on forever!”

My Thoughts:

Bible memory is something that we are greatly lacking in our home. I know I need to memorize more verses, so that I can turn to them more easily during times of extra stress, especially when "mean mommy" is coming through. I want my children to get a good head start on memorization. Still, it's something that I don't fit into our days on a regular basis.

I thought this book would be a good fit for us, and help encourage me to work on Bible memory more often. I really like the approach of this book. It uses the Joshua Code method(which is new to me), only on a level for children. Each week, we get a new memory verse, with a devotional to help us retain the verses in our minds. Each verse is broken down into parts, mostly with questions and mini devotionals. There's a prayer at the end of each week. Some of the verses are a bit long for my little ones right now. I'm all for challenging little ones, but there's quite a few that will get pushed until the end, or down the road a bit longer. While these devotionals are set up in a specific order, you can skip around. The targeted age group is 4-8, but I think older children can benefit, too.

There's cute pictures throughout, which I believe will appeal to children and mommies like me. :)

Overall, this is a sweet devotional book that helps promote Bible memory.

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


Purchase Link:

I Can Learn the Bible: The Joshua Code for Kids: 52 Devotions and Scriptures for Kids


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Q&A a Day: 5 Year Journal

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

It seems my journaling ended when I met my husband, other than my blogging adventure. Based on the craziness that I encountered when I re-visited my journals from 10+ years ago a week or so ago, I'm almost glad I stopped. :P Cringe-worthy, head-shaking craziness, I tell you! I even cringe at some of the craziness I've written on my blog in the past (almost) 5 years. Even so, I would like to get back into some sort of journaling. I want my boys to have special things like that to look back on(without being too personal, of course!)

That's exactly why I like this journal so much. It will create a precious keepsake, for both me and my loved ones, without getting TOO personal.

This is a 5 year journal. Each day of the year will get its own page, with its own question. All 5 year's worth of each day is on the same page, with the same question. There are only a few small lines for each answer, so you have to keep your answers short. I'm not sure if I like this or not. I DO tend to write on and on when given the chance, but that's probably not for the best. Maybe this journal will teach me to keep my thoughts short and sweet. ;)

Just to give you a sample of the questions, the first 3 are:

-What is your mission?
-Can people change?
-What are you reading right now?

I think it will be interesting to see how my answers change through the years. I don't like that I will be seeing the previous year's answer each time I write a new answer. I would like to answer each year with a clear mind, not remembering what I wrote before. Maybe I can cover it up before answering.

The size of this journal is much smaller than I was expecting. It's slightly bigger than a 4.4X6.2. It states this clearly on the Amazon page, but I rarely pay attention to book measurements, sadly. The plus side is that it won't take up much room. I also wish that it had an attached bookmark to keep my place.

Overall, this is a lovely book, and a perfect gift! I'm keeping it in mind for when my mind draws a blank on what gift to give. It has high potential to turn into a treasure.

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


Purchase Link:

Q&A a Day: 5-Year Journal


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Scholastic Press (February 24, 2015) 592 pages


Music, magic, and a real-life miracle meld in this genre-defying masterpiece from storytelling maestro Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Lost and alone a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, ECHO pushes the boundaries of genre and form, and shows us what is possible in how we tell stories. The result is an impassioned, uplifting, and virtuosic tour de force that will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

This is a beautiful book, but I suspect it will be more of a hit with parents, as opposed to its target age group. It feels more like a "required reading" sort of book. I was under the impression that there would be more of a fantasy focus within the story, but the fantasy element ended up being *very* mild. There was a bit of fantasy at the beginning and a bit at the ending, but this was really more of a historical novel, with a strong focus on music. More specifically in the music realm was the focus on a particular harmonica that passes into the hands of different children.

Echo follows the lives of 7 people in various decades, along with their families. The story starts out with young Otto, as he meets 3 sisters, Eins, Zwei, and Drei, and learns their fairy tale story. This is the beginning of the harmonica's journey. Along the way, we meet Friedrich in 1933 Germany, as he struggles with the world Hitler is trying to create, Mike in 1935 Pennsylvania, as he fights to keep him and his brother, Frankie , together, and Ivy Maria in 1942 California, as she struggles with the effects of the war and the prejudices towards the Japanese and Mexican Americans.

Echo is broken up into parts. The beginning is where Otto and the sisters are introduced, but they don't get a large part of the book. Part one is given to Friedrich, part two is given to Mike, part three is given to Maria, and part four ties up all the loose strings in 1951 New York. Each child's story is not given an ending until part four. That means it's almost like starting a whole new book before getting to have an ending for the first one. I appreciate the way the book was done, and it IS beautifully done, but I can easily see this being a frustrating and difficult book for younger readers. At almost 600 pages, even if it does have large print, and lots of extra space on each page, it's a chunkster for its target age group.

There is a great deal of educational opportunity within this book, though, and I highly recommend it. It gives us a look at the prejudices towards various races and religions throughout time and in different parts of the world. It also gives us a little education in music, and the journey it has made. There are song lyrics, along with the accompanying music notes for various songs. It's a great way to create a greater appreciation for music, and teach the healing and encouragement it provides.

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

Purchase Link:


Monday, February 23, 2015

Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale

Bloomsbury USA Childrens (February 24, 2015) 336 pages


After a year at the king's palace, Miri has learned all about being a proper princess. But the tables turn when the student must become the teacher!

Instead of returning to her beloved Mount Eskel, Miri is ordered to journey to a distant swamp and start a princess academy for three sisters, cousins of the royal family. Unfortunately, Astrid, Felissa, and Sus are more interested in hunting and fishing than becoming princesses.

As Miri spends more time with the sisters, she realizes the king and queen's interest in them hides a long-buried secret. She must rely on her own strength and intelligence to unravel the mystery, protect the girls, complete her assignment, and finally make her way home.

Fans of Shannon Hale won't want to miss this gorgeously woven return to this best-selling, Newbery Honor-winning series.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed The Princess Academy a few years back. I recently attempted The Stone Palace, but ended up setting it aside about a third of the way through due to lack of connection and interest. I went into this one a little guarded, but it has ended up being my favorite of the three books!

In this book, Miri meets lots of new people in a swamp village, making both friends and enemies. Even though she has been looking forward to going home to her family, she takes on the challenge of tutoring a set of sisters, far from her home, and far from Peder. Miri faces a great deal of challenges and battles during her journey.

Some of the connections made, especially when pulled from the other books, really pulled on my heartstrings. Since my husband was sitting beside me as I read, I tried hard to curb the tears, but it was hard! ;) This is a super sweet book, but it's also full of action and politics and war, and even heartache. Within its pages are so many wonderful lessons for little girls. The value of education and reading and learning are constantly brought to attention. Any book that makes me want to pick up a history book and LEARN after reading it is a treasure, in my opinion. This one does just that!

Since swamp life is through a good portion of the book, there were some pretty gross "gag-worthy" moments. At one point, one of the girls suck the roasted eyeballs out of an animal(fish or rat...I can't remember now). I had to put the book down to get the vision out of my mind before continuing.

Miri grows, both in age and maturity, throughout the 3 books, so the romantic aspect also grows a little more with each edition. Thoughts of marriage and love grow more abundant, but it still takes a backseat to the rest of the story.

I've now read several of Hale's books. Her fantasy books, like this one, have such a mild fantasy element to them, I almost hate to label them so. This series IS fantasy, though mild.

Overall, this is a wonderful little series, I can highly recommend it for young girls!

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


Purchase Links:

Princess Academy

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone

Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters



Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Ten Speed Press (October 14, 2014)


This #1 New York Times best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.


My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Thoughts:

My family has been on a journey of surrounding ourselves with only things that serve a purpose or bring us joy, and ditching the rest. I've read a lot of books on minimalism! I reach for them for extra inspiration and to remind myself why this journey is important to me. Thousands of items have left our home(much more to go, though!), and every time I see a space cleared, I feel lighter. (I won't leave the impression that we don't bring things back in, because we do. I get to review products, and we have fun with this. We just try to remove things as other items come into our home. Also, don't imagine my house neat and tidy yet, because it's not, though I have hopes for soon.) This book left me a little concerned, though. The author shares stories from her childhood and up, and I just felt like there was some severe OCD issues, which I've never felt about minimalism authors before. But, hey, the author has turned it into a very successful business and a bestseller, so what do I know?!

This book has some wonderful ideas on both minimalism and "cleaning" methods, like how to fold socks, not how to clean a toilet. I left the book with extra inspiration and some ideas I want to try. The author makes it clear that this is an all or nothing method, but I'm not going to think of it that way, or it would be a "nothing" for me. I think this book will be best for single folks. There's a couple of mentions of children, but really, there's not much advice specific to children. You won't find any advice on toys or schooling, or anything like that. (I just began reading Joshua Becker's Clutterfree with Kids, which I assume is more specific to the children realm of minimalism. I'll try to let y'all know my thoughts when I finish, but I'm liking it so far. ) The author recommends you do an "all at once" decluttering. That sounds wonderful, and I have no doubt that's the way to go, but I have 3 little ones that I take care of and teach, and there's not the time to devote to an "all at once" cleaning. There's just a definite vibe that this book is meant more for single folks.

This author goes into more detail than most minimalism authors about certain areas that are difficult for people to part with, like books. I've parted with hundreds of books, maybe even more than a thousand at this point in the journey, so I appreciated the extra lesson in clearing books I don't absolutely love. Even so, I can't imagine not having lots of books(that we love and read!) always surrounding us. If you ever visit my home, books will be the thing that would make one question my minimalism efforts. ;)

There's also sections that I skipped, like how to minimalize Buddhist charms and shrines and all. I'm a Christian, so of course, those parts didn't apply to me, or interest me. I thought some parts of the book were a little corny. She believes that we should treat our objects like people. When you get home, greet your house. When taking off your shoes, thank them for their service. When you empty out your purse(because it has worked hard and deserves the rest), thank it for the good job it did today. Any out of season clothes should be stored in drawers, and they should be opened occasionally, so your clothes can get a little air and breath. You should also rub your hands across them, so they know they're loved, and that they will be back in use soon. See? A bit corny. ((That said, since childhood, I've felt to need for stuffed animals to look comfortable(which just can't happen in the bottom of the toy box). I've always struggled with stuffed animals being a little bit real. Maybe that's a bit hypocritical of me! ;))) I DO think we need to appreciate our items more. I would like to get in the habit of thanking God for blessing me with shoes when I take them off, or for the coat that kept me warm. I don't think we appreciate what we have enough in our spoiled country! I DID benefit from this book, though, despite my concerns!

Again, there's some really good advice in here, and plenty of things I hadn't read about before, like storing everything vertical, even carrots in the fridge, and storing purses inside of another purse. Especially if you're single, this is a beneficial read, if you don't mind skipping over the different religious customs.

As a side note, so far, my all time favorite minimalism author is Lorilee Lippincott. I've read two of her books, Simple Living - 30 days to less stuff and more life and The Simple Living Handbook: Discover the Joy of a De-Cluttered Life. I love her non-judgmental attitude, which appears to be super hard in the world of minimalism. If you want a jumpstart on minimalism, I highly recommend her books!

Also, to show you that I DID gain encouragement from this book, I spent the next day decluttering. I filled 5 big bags with garbage, along with 4 small bags. I also filled several bags and boxes for donation. Not too bad, considering I was also taking care of 3 little ones, and there's already been many rounds of decluttering! ;)

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


Purchase Link:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing