Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Armchair Cybils 2014

It's time for the Cybils again! Amy @ Hope is the Word is hosting the Armchair Cybils again this year, and I can't resist joining in, despite that fact that I'm horrible at challenges. Horrible! Y'all already know that, though, right? (Remember the Summer Reading Challenge I tried? Reading some REAL Jane Austen was yet again a fail for me. I can't give up hope, though!)

Every once in awhile, I bravely venture out of the safe(ish) world of children's and Christian books into the world of secular and adult books. That phase always leaves me running back to my safe little world. (Don't get me wrong! Children's and Christian books can be challenging, too!) As a challenge to myself, though, I read several secular non-fiction books and one adult fiction(Bitter Greens) that has left me so disturbed, that I'm seeking refuge in middle grade fiction to recover(as soon as I make my way through Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured, that is).

My goal for the Armchair Cybils is to spend most of my time focusing on the middle grade categories, in particular the speculative fiction category, which is probably my most favorite reading category. Between my library, Edelweiss, and Amazon Vine, I already have quite a few of them in my reading pile, both "real" and e-books. I've already read several of the nominated books, especially in the middle grade realm, too.

Don't forget to get your nominations in! Tomorrow is the last day. I'm excited to print off my final Cybils reading list for the next several months.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Made by God: Weird and Wonderful Creations

About the Book:

Weird and Wonderful Creations is a bind up of the nonfiction Made By God series. With photos and facts showing children the wonders of God’s creation, this collection includes four complete early reader titles as well as over 200 additional facts throughout the book. Some of the creatures featured include whales, tarantulas, bats, sea turtles, and more. All facts align with the Common Core Standards for informational reading for young readers.

Weird and Wonderful Creations includes:

Spiders, Snakes, Bees and Bats
Big Bugs, Little Bugs
Sea Creatures
Poisonous, Smelly, and Amazing Plants

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Zondervan has been reprinting these "Made by God" easy reader books into "treasuries", which contain 4 books in 1.

Grasshopper LOVES these books! We've spent a huge amount of time within their pages. He had already fallen in love with the Curious Creatures treasury, so he's been thrilled to have this one on our shelves, too. They are full of facts, so even I learn new things. There's also lots of pictures. Grasshopper is FULL of questions these days, and these books provide tons of learning opportunities for him, and fill his mind with even more questions to ask.

In this particular book, we're learning about some of God's more unusual creations, like the Venus Fly Trap and fireflies. We have a "bug jar" that we regularly put creatures in to observe and do some research on before letting them back into nature. The Wheel Bug and Preying Mantis have been the most fascinating so far. Feed a preying mantis a grasshopper and you'll find yourself both fascinated and disturbed! The giant garden spider that has been living outside our living room window the past couple of months has been pretty fascinating, too, especially since she's been a HUGE help in the wasp department. Creatures similar to those are found in this book, so it's a new little research book for when we have a creature in the bug jar(or outside our window). I've found myself fascinated as we learn, right along with Grasshopper.

The best part is the constant mention of God and HIS creations. I always edit and try to add in God when I'm reading from "evolution" books, but it's nice to not have to do that within the pages of these books. It's like I can relax more as we read and browse through these books. (As much as one can relax with questions flying around at 60 per minute.) ;)

I have no hesitations recommending these "Made by God" books for your curious little ones! We can't wait for more!

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

Purchase Link:

Weird and Wonderful Creations (Made By God)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Good Music Brighter Children by Sharlene Habermeyer


Good Music Brighter Children

Good Music Brighter Children

Good Music Brighter Children is written for parents, educators or anyone who wants to build a bigger, better brain using music. Scientific studies indicate that children introduced to classical music at a young age read earlier and perform better on achievement tests. Adults can also revive tired brain cells using music. This book gives you a step-by-step program that any parent or individual can follow. You’ll discover how introducing your children to good music can accelerate language development, improve math and science skills, enhance physical coordination, strengthen memory and reading retention, and benefit children with learning disabilities. Discover how to choose an instrument and music teacher for your child; how to get your kids to practice and how character traits such as confidence, responsibility, creativity and teamwork are taught when learning a musical instrument. Learn how to introduce your child to the music community and how to appreciate all kinds of music. Last, if you want to advocate for music in your schools, this book gives the ammunition and data to do so. Also includes a 35-page Resource Section on the best music, books, and DVDs for kids.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble


My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books that deserve lots of gushing! There is so much encouragement and guidance in this book concerning classical music.

I started homeschooling Grasshopper this year, and I knew I wanted to add classical music to his days, but honestly, I didn't know how to go about it. Even if I hadn't already wanted music in our days, after reading this book, I would have been convinced to add it. It provides tons of resources and tips for easily adding music to a child's day, whether through education or play. The advice is so simple, too, but I never would have thought to do the things suggested.

Within this book we also learn the benefits of little ones listening to classical music, even while still in the womb. There's even a section on it benefiting premature babies. Grasshopper was born extremely premature, weighing only 1 pound, and 8 ounces. I wish so much that I'd read this book much sooner! My little guy turned 6 yesterday, and he still struggles with certain parts of education, especially math. He's so incredibly smart in some ways, and he has the most creative and imaginative mind you could imagine, but I'm now hopeful that adding music will help him in the areas he struggles with. I'm not forgetting about my other little guys...the super emotional ones(just like their mommy!) ;) There's advice for them, too, and even advice for as they get older. It doesn't matter how old children in your home are, this book has advice and resources to add music into your life.

At the back of the book is a large resource guide. It is packed full of specific information to guide you in adding music to your days, like composers, songs, CDs, DVDs, and books. Even if I didn't have the benefit of the rest of the book, the resource guide alone would have been a huge help. (Of course, I still recommend the rest of the book!)

This is an amazing book, and if children are in your life in any way, I highly recommend it!

*I was provided a review copy through I Am a Reader book tours.


Author Sharlene Habermeyer:

Sharlene Habermeyer, MA has spent over twenty-five years researching the effects of music in the brain development of children. She is passionate about how people of all ages learn and how music is a catalyst for learning. She holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Art from Utah State University and a Masters degree in Education from Pepperdine University, Malibu, California.


In 1999, she started the Palos Verdes Regional Orchestra (now the Palos Verdes Regional Symphony Orchestra). It currently boasts over one-hundred members.


Sharlene’s initial inspiration for Good Music Brighter Children came from the extensive work she did with her severely learning disabled son, and finding that music was his strongest catalyst for learning she began passionately researching the effects music had on the developing and mature brain.

A college instructor, a popular speaker, and a consultant, she is the mother of five boys and lives with her husband in Torrance, California. She has spoken at parent conferences around the United States including the Parents as Teachers Conference (PAT) and the Crucial Years Conference in Missouri. In August 2014, she will be speaking at BYU Education Week.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest


Praise for the Book


Largest Independent Book Reviewer in the U.S.: Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media, LLC

“With a scientist’s eye and an artist’s voice, Habermeyer examines everything from the benefits of music for the developing brain to music’s ability to improve cultural awareness. This is an encyclopedic, invaluable resource for anyone who believes in music education. A magnum opus, fact-filled and inspiring on the benefits of music.”

-Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media, LLC


National Music Organization: Music and the Brain

“A great resource for both parents and teachers. Anyone interested in music or the overall well-being of children will not be able to put this book down.”

-Lisha Papert Lercari, Director, Music and the Brain


University Professor: Dr. James Catterall

Sharlene Habermeyer outlines why music is important to learning, and provides parents with excellent suggestions for launching and sustaining a musical influence in the lives of their children.”

-James S. Catterall, professor of education and co-director of Imagination Project at UCLA

Mother/Lawyer/Ballet Teacher: Shauna Bird Dunn

“Carefully researched and highly readable, Good Music, Brighter Children is written for musicians and non musicians alike. It is filled with wisdom, insight and helpful tips to bring music into the home for all ages and stages of childhood.”

-Shauna Bird Dunn, JD, MPA

Utah Young Mother of the Year, 2010




Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/15/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


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Monday, September 29, 2014

Whiny Whiny Rhino by McBoop with GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!

About the Book:

Can Tiny Tiny Rhino have a fun day?

Or will all of his whining get in the way?

If you've ever been worried to try something new,

then Whiny Whiny Rhino is the book for you!

The story’s message is like the Mark Twain quote, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” We all get apprehensive when encountering new experiences and this often leads us to avoid ever trying anything new. Just having a little courage to try new things can often lead to a much more exciting and enriching life.

My Thoughts:

"Tiny Tiny Rhino
never seemed to have fun.
He was easily frightened
and worried a ton."

This little adventure is about Tiny Tiny Rhino and his worrying. His 3 big brothers pick on him, and tell him he needs to toughen and roughen up. This makes him worry more and it keeps him from having any fun. Will Tiny Tiny Rhino learn what having fun is all about?

Even though I loved this story as I read it to myself, I was a little worried about reading it to Grasshopper. It's one in which there's a story going on, and then lots of little "quote bubbles". It's somewhat of a mix between a book and a comic book. We've tried a couple of these recently, and he gets a little confused sometimes. I always try to point to each character as I quote them, and I take full credit for the confusion. I don't claim to be the best read alouder out there. ;) If I could keep better track of my voices, I'm sure he wouldn't be so confused.

That said, he did really well with this one and enjoyed it.

We LOVE the pictures in here! They drew Grasshopper in right away, and since he's in "1,000 questions a day(at least)mode, he asked lots of questions about them. They are bright and cute and FUN! Again, they add to the comic book mix feel of this book. I seriously love them, though!

This is a fun and quick adventure, especially for little ones that are struggling with letting fear and worry get in the way of having fun. Grasshopper and I give it 4 thumbs up!

*Thank you to iRead Book Tours for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the Author:

McBoop is the creative team of Carmin Iadonisi & Amanda Iadonisi-Word. This father-daughter duo co-wrote and illustrated Whiny Whiny Rhino. They currently live in New England where they enjoy making art, reading comics, playing board games, eating fancy chocolate and whining about the weather.

Connect with them here:




Purchase the Book:

Whiny Whiny Rhino


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Friday, September 26, 2014

A Few Books I Liked!

Despite my inactivity around here, I've been reading a great deal! Though I had determined to not take on any more review books, I've had moments of weakness, and several have made their way into our home. Most of them are future releases, so I'll hold off on them for a couple more months. I've also put several down, unfortunately, mostly due to language. I've had the craving for biographies lately, and I've read several of those. A few have been short and written for middle grade kids, but I'm still counting it! ;) I'm learning that sometimes it's best to not know too much about some people. (I'm looking at you, Roald Dahl and Charlie Chaplin.)

These books, I enjoyed, though:

The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillen Smith

I kept eying this book, but never enough to pick it up. One day, I was browsing my library's e-books, and decided, spur of the moment, to grab it. I'm so glad I did!

Myquillen and I don't have the same tastes in decor at all, BUT I love her creativity. She's inspired me to take chances in my own home, and not worry about if it's "accepted" or not. When we were putting our cabinets into our kitchen, I debated on stain versus paint. I really liked the light stain on oak. Every time I went to pinterest, I only saw how to get rid of those "ugly" oak cabinets. I almost painted them, just because it was more popular these days, but I LOVE my natural stained oak cabinets! Our counter top is pretty much the same color as the cabinets, and though that's a "no-no" in the decorating world, I love it. I'm glad I didn't go with the crowd on those decisions, and I'm glad that Smith made me realize the beauty of being different in full.

She's also taught me to look past the obvious and see the potential. Paint goes a long way!

I love our little house, but it is quirky, and off center. There's not a single wall in this house that was built straight. (We bought it already built, by the way.) I'm learning to love the imperfections and quirks, and this was just the book I needed. I'm now pumped up to decorate our home in way that is more fitting to our tastes and lifestyles.

Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys by Hal and Melanie Young

This book was such a blessing to me! It is filled with tons of advice for raising young men. Sometimes I feel so lost, and I appreciate the advice within this book. The advice concerning guns and heroes was especially useful in my current stage of parenting.

There's advice from childhood all the way to college. A great deal of the book doesn't apply to me right now, but I know I have this book to turn to when that time comes. Of course, I don't share all the same opinions and beliefs as the authors, but there was still plenty to gain from reading it.

This book is written with homeschooling moms in mind. I officially started homeschooling Grasshopper last month, so I'm glad I got to read it at the start of our journey.

This is an excellent book for homeschooling moms of boys! I don't hesitate to recommend it. I'm looking forward to listening to some of audios the Youngs have recorded!

(Thanks to a sweet friend for sending me this book!!!)

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Earlier this year, I read and loved Sky Raiders by Mull. (There's no doubt it will make it onto my "Top 10 of 2014" list!) I determined that I HAD to read all his other books.

I enjoyed it, but not as much as I thought I would. I feel completely unqualified to say this, but I think that Mull's writing has greatly improved since writing Fablehaven. It was still fun, though!

Just like Sky Raiders, Fablehaven gives us an ending without a cliffhanger, but it's still obvious that there's much more adventure to come. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the Fablehaven series, but I'm looking MORE forward to reading the rest of the Sky Raiders series.

(Thanks to my local library for lending me e-copies of Fablehaven and The Nesting Place!)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley

My Thoughts:

I feel like I need to defend myself with this book. When I told Jonathan that I was offered a “rhyming Bible”, he cringed a little.

“But, no, I accepted it! And, I’m excited about it!”

Before giving you my reasons for accepting, I do want to point out how much I dislike the fact that this book is being promoted as a book for parents to not get tired of reading the same Bible event over and over. Shameful. I’ll refrain from my soapbox, and just leave it at that.

Now, I’ll give you my reasons for wanting to give this book a try, just like I gave them to Jonathan.

First of all, I’m a firm believer that rhyming promotes memory. Plain and simple.

Secondly, I grew up hearing rhyming songs in Bible class. My children are hearing those same songs in their Bible classes, plus some new ones. I have a binder FULL of these kinds of songs that I sing with them. Almost all of them rhyme.

One of my childhood favorites:

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
And a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree,
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed that way,
He looked up in that tree.
And He said, ‘Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I’m going to your house today.
For I’m going to your house to stay.’”

This one is Firefly’s all time favorite.

“Day One, Day One
God made the light when there was none.
Day One, Day One.
God made everything!

Day Two, Day Two
God made clouds and skies so blue
Day Two, Day Two
God made everything!”

(and so on)

Surely I’m not the only one who loved those songs as a child, and now as a parent. ;)

Lastly. *Supplement* is always the key word when it comes to God’s Word!

I’ll get to the book now. It only arrived Monday, so I haven’t had the chance to be as thorough as I’d like. I have read through several of the “stories”, and I like it, so far!

That said, it isn’t really what I was expecting it to be. I imagined a book with lots of little rhymes pertaining to Bible events and people, as opposed to the longer rewordings that it really is. There are 20 Bible events in here. I would have preferred the smaller bits and pieces to supplement our lessons, but again, I DO like this book, so far. The rhyming really isn’t as noticeable as one would think with “Dr. Seuss” being thrown about in some descriptions.

I love the pictures in here. They are very cartoon-y. If you know me at all, you know I love sweet, cartoon-y pictures in children’s book. They are a weakness of mine. I’m finding myself in a constant tug of war lately as to whether this is wise with Bible events/people, but for now, we’re still using pictures like in this book: bright and fun and attention grabbing.

Overall, don’t let the “rhyming” part get to you! If you and your little ones read other “Bible story” books, give this one a chance!

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

Purchase Link:

Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times (Magnificent Tales Series)

Celebrate the Treasury of Bible Stories by entering the Rhythmical Rhymes Kindle Giveaway!

Part of the Magnificent Tales series, Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times will delight children ages 4–8 with rhyming Bible stories pairing spiritual truths with playful illustrations.

Enter the Rhythmical Rhymes Kindle Giveaway 9/15 – 10/12.

Treasury of Bible Stories Kelly Pulley
One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A Kindle HDX
  • Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 12th. Winner will be announced October 13th at Kelly's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Kelly's blog on the 13th to see if you won!