Saturday, September 13, 2014

Slave Again by Alana Terry (Book Spotlight and GIVEAWAY!!!)

Special Discount ~ Limited Time Only
Special Time-Sensitive Giveaway! The first 25 readers who enter the giveaway below will receive a free audiobook from award-winning author Alana Terry. She's also giving away a $100 amazon card, a hundred free audio downloads, and a free ebook to anyone who signs up! 

About Slave Again: After escaping a North Korean prison camp, Mee-Kyong is
hustled over the border and sold into the Chinese underworld. She vows to
survive, but sheer determination and willpower won’t save her this time. Is she fated to remain a slave forever?

Slave Again is a Christian suspense novel from award-winning author Alana Terry, whose debut novel, The Beloved Daughter, won awards from Women of Faith, Grace Awards, The Book Club Network, and Readers' Favorite.

NEW BOOK RELEASE: Slave Again by Alana Terry is hot off
the press, and both the ebook and paperback are at a steep (30-60%)
discount!! Prices will go up soon, so grab your copy today.

 Slave Again book trailer (contains one mildly violent image)

About the Author: Alana is passionate about human-rights issues in North Korea and has devoted her writing to raise both awareness and funds to help North Korean refugees find freedom and safety. You can learn more about her work with Liberty in North Korea at

Check out Slave Again now before the price goes up, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Draw-A-Saurus: Everything You Need to Know to Draw Your Favorite Dinosaurs by James Silvani

Purchase Link:

Draw-A-Saurus: Everything You Need to Know to Draw Your Favorite Dinosaurs

My Thoughts:

As I've recently mentioned here at my blog, I have the desire to learn to draw/paint/color. I've been practicing with some of the step by step drawing books. Nope. I'm still not any good at it, BUT I did draw a Viking a few days ago, and without me telling him, Grasshopper knew what it was and seemed pretty proud of me. ;)

When I saw this book, I couldn't resist! I knew if I could learn to draw a dinosaur, my boys would automatically think I was a little more fun. Who doesn't want to be a fun mommy?!

When it comes to dinosaur books, I expect to read about evolution. Most of the time, I can ignore it. There's only been a few that were so overwhelming with the "millions of years ago....." that I decided to just remove them from our home. This book DOES include a bit of evolution talk, but a young Christian artist can still learn from the drawing lessons without very much "overlooking". There's little dinosaur facts mixed in with the drawing lessons.

This book is definitely targeted towards children! It's filled with bright and fun colors, and lots of humor and silliness. I didn't notice it until the book was in my hands, but there's a dinosaur skipping along with a basket of blueberries. There's lots of fun things like that throughout.

As a beginner myself, I don't think this is the best book to get a child just learning to draw. I definitely think it would be best for a child that already knows some basics. I've been using super beginner step by step books. This one has far fewer steps, along with much greater detail, and even lessons in coloring the dinosaurs. That's definitely not a complaint! I just think I will benefit from it a little more into my journey. That hasn't stopped me from practicing the dinosaurs within this book, though. Mine just don't look anywhere near the finished product(and that's okay, right now).

If you have a young person in your life that has a bit of drawing practice already, this is a fun option! 4 of my nephews have requested drawing books/supplies for Christmas within the past few years, so I'm keeping this one in mind should they request another one.

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

About the Author:

JAMES SILVANI is an artist and illustrator and has drawn characters for Disney, Warner Bros., Dreamworks, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Comics. Currently he is a comic book illustrator for titles like Disney’s Mickey Mouse, DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, and The Muppets. Silvani has drawn dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts since childhood, and now puts those skills to use in art workshops at libraries, schools, and comic book conventions. Silvani is a resident of Kihei, Hawaii.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Your Core by Callie Grant

My Thoughts:

We've greatly enjoyed the other Graham Blanchard books, so I was more than thrilled to give this one a try, too.

Your Core is a simple book, with very few words within it.

"A core is something on the inside.
Balls have a core.
Apples do too."

(5 page spread)

Each page has bright, colorful pictures to illustrate its point, and the book ends with a Bible verse.

Ephesians 3:16-17

"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."

In Your Core, your little one gets a lesson in cores, tying it to their core(soul). Admittedly, tying the core lesson to souls was difficult for my 3 and 5 year olds to grasp. They understand cores, in general. They realize an apple has a core, and that's where the seeds are. Telling them that their core is their soul was confusing for them. We haven't really talked about "souls" as a topic, though, and the fact that they have one. I hope it would go without saying, but we DO talk about God and Heaven(even though we get questions sometimes we don't know how to answer). We just haven't taught using the term "soul" very much. (I don't know whether to feel horrible about this or not now!) ;)

That said, I still appreciate this book! We got a mini science lesson(like some of the others in this series), and what's not to like about that?! I also like that you can go to the Graham Blanchard webpage and get extra resources for each book. I downloaded a "tip sheet" with various ways to help teach the book's message to my little ones. This is a perfect, gentle way to add a science lesson into our day, and it's been a great way to encourage me to teach my little ones about what exactly a soul is. Challenging their minds is a good thing, so I'll keep talking with them about it.

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

**Just a heads up: There's 8 copies being given away at Goodreads, so make sure you get your name in the hat!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Berenstain Bears: Blessed are the Peacemakers by Mike Berenstain

Purchase Link:

The Berenstain Bears Blessed are the Peacemakers (Berenstain Bears/Living Lights)

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

You may remember a couple of weeks ago, I posted about how The Berenstain Bears are hit/miss for me. Since we enjoyed God Shows the Way, I thought we could give this one a try, too. Also, we recently talked about how Joseph(Son of Jacob) was a peacemaker while he was in prison, attempting to tie that to how we shouldn't fight with our brothers. I thought this book would be a good read to reinforce that lesson.

In Blessed are the Peacemakers, we meet two "gangs". One gang is a group of troublemakers, and one is a group of smart kids. Since Brother and Sister Bear like to get along with everyone, they weren't a part of either group. They become the peacemakers when these two groups are fighting. At one point, the fighting becomes so bad that a few adults have to step in and be the peacemakers.

Bullying is such a tough topic! In this story, Brother and Sister step in between two *groups* of fighting bears and Cousin Fred says a Bible verse, which stops the fight. In reality, that most likely would have bought him a punch in the face, instead of peace. Even so, I think the author did a pretty decent job of getting the message across, especially with such a short read. With bullying, I would recommend to my children that they find an adult, if possible, especially when so many others are involved. Of course, I don't ever want them to stand by and do nothing at all. They're still so young(Grasshopper isn't an average 5 year old) that I haven't really got into what they should do if someone is being bullied. Again, it's a tough topic, and there's so many possibilities to consider.

For the most part, I focused on how we don't fight with our brothers, and how we don't make fun of others because they are different than us, or like different things. We're all God's children. Grasshopper is very sensitive to things like that. Typically when I explain that we don't say certain things that could embarrass or hurt someone's feelings, he takes it pretty seriously. I like when books like these give us openings to discuss different topics that don't come up in everyday life for us. With many things in life, it's better to discuss things before it happens, as opposed to after. (There's also some discussion questions listed in the back.)

Overall, while not perfect, I appreciated this book and the discussions that resulted from it.

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

The New Colored Pencil by Kristy Ann Kutch

About the Book:

Learn to draw and paint using colored pencils in The New Colored Pencil: a how-to guide for creating vibrant, textured, and easy art illustrations by best-selling author and teacher Kristy Kutch

Master the Latest Breakthroughs in Colored Pencil Art

If you want to create colorful, radiant works of art, colored pencil and related color media (wax pastels, watercolor pencils, and so on) provide you with limitless options for adding vibrancy to your creations. In The New Colored Pencil, artist and instructor Kristy Ann Kutch guides you through the latest developments in color drawing media with examples of and recommendations for the newest pencil brands, drawing surfaces, and groundbreaking techniques (including using the Grid Method, grating pigments, blending with heat, and more). Supported by step-by-step demonstrations and showcasing inspiring art from some of today’s best colored pencil artists, The New Colored Pencil shows you how to use color theory to your advantage, combine color media, create and enhance textures, and experiment with surfaces to create interesting effects. Whether you use traditional wax-based, or watercolor colored pencils, The New Colored Pencil will take your art to the next level.

Purchase Link:

The New Colored Pencil: Create Luminous Works with Innovative Materials and Techniques

About the Author:

KRISTY ANN KUTCH has taught more than two hundred colored pencil and watercolor pencil workshops to artists and students nationwide. She is the author of Drawing and Painting with Colored Pencil, and is a contributor to several colored pencil publications, including The Best of Colored Pencil, Creative Colored Pencil, and Colored Pencil Explorations. Her work has appeared in International Artist Magazine and Pratique des Arts. She also authored a DVD called Colored Pencil Landscapes: Beyond the Basics, released by Artist Palette Productions. Kutch is a resident of Michigan City, Indiana.

My Thoughts:

I'm new to the world of drawing/painting/art. Very new! My momma was blessed with a beautiful, natural talent to draw and paint. I grew up seeing her practice this talent and expand it. She has created beautiful pieces, and though I've always admired it, and wished I had been given that talent, I didn't get it naturally. That said, I DO want to learn to draw. It may not come naturally, but I've been feeling the pull in the artistic direction lately, and I really want to see what I can do with it. (Note: Even those blessed with natural talent have to put in hours/years of hard work and practice to grow and strengthen that talent, so please don't think I'm implying that's not the case!)

I decided to give The New Colored Pencil a try to see what it could teach me. There's all kind of beginner information in here! It's not really a step by step kind of book. Don't expect it to teach you how to draw step by step and color step by step for all the pictures. There ARE some steps on how to do certain techniques, but if you're wanting it specifically for that purpose, I think you'll be disappointed.

The book starts out explaining what kind of colored pencils are best. (Go for quality over quantity!) I loved that the book has different charts explaining different products, with characteristics(and price level for some). For example, the chart for colored pencils compares 13 different products. You can see how many shades each brand offers(these shades are shown in the appendix), price level, and characteristics for that particular brand. There are also other charts for materials you will need to create art with colored pencils. From there, you will see all kinds of definitions, directions, techniques, and many other things related to drawing with colored pencils. Honestly, for my beginner self, it's a little overwhelming at first, but I know that as I learn and grow, I'll get more and more benefit from this book.

As far as pictures, there are many of them to encourage you(or intimidate you)along the way. They have been created by various artists, and I'm amazed at the talent within this book! There's great beauty in these pages!

I DO recommend this book for beginners. If you're an old pro at colored pencil artistry, I imagine you'll already know most of this stuff. Then again, you might learn something new, too! :)

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

The Zoo at the Edge of the World by Eric Kahn Gale

Amazon Purchase Link:

The Zoo at the Edge of the World by Eric Kahn Gale

Balzer + Bray (August 26, 2014) 240 pages

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

This little story had me rapidly flipping the pages, and I really didn’t want to put it down when I had to!

Marlin stutters. He has an extraordinarily hard time moving words from his mouth when he is around humans. He lives in the jungle with his father, Ronan Rackham, and his brother, Tim, where they own and run a zoo/resort, with the help of the natives of the land. When Marlin talks to the animals, words come freely from his mouth. The moment a human comes in the picture, the words freeze.

Tim is a bully. He especially gives Marlin a hard time, and with their father’s encouragement, compete with each other for a monkey paw. The one with the honor of holding the paw is the one who has gained favor in their father’s eyes at that given time. Thankfully, Marlin does have animal friends, especially his pet monkey, Kenji. He also meets a new girl, named Olivia, who gives much support through the story.

At the ending, a little light bulb of recognition went off in my mind, and I had to smile. It made me love the book so much more. If this light bulb doesn’t go off for you, I imagine you’ll hate the ending. The Zoo at the Edge of the World, to me, seems to be a prequel, of sorts, to a classic in the children’s realm. (Honestly, I don't know if that's what the story is suppose to be, but it came off that way to me.) I adore re-tellings, and if I’d known, I’d have picked it up even sooner than I did. I won't give details, because that would ruin things for you, but this story IS a fantasy!

From a parent’s viewpoint, there is plenty within this book to open discussion and thinking. From a child’s standpoint, there is plenty of action, adventure, and courage to keep them(and me) flipping the pages. I won’t hesitate to put this book on my boys’ bookshelf for a few years down the road! (perfect for girls, too, should you have any of those!) ;)

In case you couldn't tell, I highly recommend The Zoo at the Edge of the World! I loved it.

*Thanks to Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for providing me with an e-ARC, in exchange for my honest opinion.