Friday, January 30, 2015

Prudence Pursued by Shirley Raye Redmond(Book Spotlight AND GIVEAWAY!!!!!)

About the Book:

At the advanced age of twenty-seven, Prudence Pentyre is on the shelf. Content to occupy her time by attending meetings of Mr. Wilberforce’s Abolition Society, Prudence is resolved to see that her younger cousin Margaret, shy and plain, does not share her own unmarried fate.

Despite her best efforts, all of Prudence’s matchmaking attempts fail. Margaret proves reluctant to accept Sir James Brownell’s marriage proposal, and fears being “bovinised” if she undergoes the controversial cowpox vaccination he recommends. And the dashing baronet—with his sunburned skin, eye patch, and unfashionable attire—seems more concerned about the plight of headhunters in Borneo than Margaret’s stubborn refusal of his offer.

Prudence, on the other hand, finds herself unexpectedly smitten with the man. Can she trust that God’s plan for her life is richer and more rewarding than the one she had planned for herself?

Excerpt from Prudence Pursued:

“You should not wear that to the pox party,” Prudence Pentyre said, indicating her younger cousin’s dress of light green Italian silk. “I recommend something with short sleeves which allows you to expose your forearm to the lancet.”

Margaret shuddered. Her plain face, pale and lightly freckled, appeared downcast. “Oh, Pru, I wish I didn’t have to go.” She stood, slender shoulders drooping, in front of her open wardrobe.

“Truly, Meg, there’s nothing to worry about,” Prudence assured her, slipping a comforting arm around her cousin’s slim waist. “Papa had all of us vaccinated with the cowpox when we were still in the school room—and the servants too. I’m quite surprised my Uncle Giles didn’t do the same.”

A glint of disapproval flashed in her soft brown eyes. Silently, she fumed. Uncle Giles had held too many old-fashioned notions. Such an old stick! He was dead now, having suffered an apoplexy two years ago. Her mother, if she knew of Prudence’s unspoken condemnation, would have reminded her not to speak ill of the dead. This dictate had never made sense to Prudence. Why were some of life’s most unsavory characters deemed to be saints after their deaths? Not that Uncle Giles was unsavory, but he had been shamefully old-fashioned.

“Look, Meg, there’s not even a scar.” Prudence held out a white arm for her cousin’s perusal. “Mr. Jenner’s procedure is almost painless and quite safe, much safer than buying the smallpox and enduring the dreaded disease.”

“Papa didn’t believe in it. He said it was God’s will some people should die of the smallpox,” Margaret said, turning away from her to examine an array of dresses hanging in the wardrobe.

“God is not so cruel,” Prudence insisted.

“Some say the vaccination will cause one’s facial features to resemble those of a cow,” Margaret ventured, her forehead creasing with anxious wrinkles.

Prudence laughed. “Neither John or Patience have any cow like features, and you can see for yourself I do not.” Slightly unsettled by her cousin’s close examination, Prudence shrugged.

“Yes, look at me, Meg! Do I resemble a cow? I can assure you I don’t have a cow tail hidden beneath my skirts either. None of us have bovinized, as you fear. I believe Mr. Jenner’s procedure to have been God-inspired. Truly. Papa has preached this same opinion from the pulpit. Mr. Jenner took notice how milkmaids and dairy farmers did not succumb to the deadly smallpox plague when there was an outbreak in their village. It was because of their exposure to the harmless cowpox. It was an amazing observation which will benefit us all.”

Like her parents, Prudence was an ardent admirer of Edward Jenner. In fact, her father, the Reverend Henry Pentyre, was a member of the Royal Jennerian Society and helped to raise money to give free vaccinations throughout England. Prudence enjoyed accompanying her father when he rode out to the rural areas to administer the vaccine himself to those members of his parish willing to undergo the procedure.

“But what if you should marry and have children?” Margaret hinted, unconvinced. She clutched her hands at her waist. Prudence, noting the slight tremor, realized her cousin was trying not to reveal her agitation.

“Both John and Patience are married with children, and none of my nieces and nephews look like heifers, I assure you!” Prudence insisted. She gave Margaret a reassuring pat on the shoulder “You’re making a great fuss for nothing.”

With a sigh, Margaret retrieved a short-sleeved muslin gown from the wardrobe and held it up before her. As she considered her image in the mirror, Prudence stepped up behind her, peering over her cousin’s shoulder. Smiling at Margaret’s reflection, she noted the similarity of their features. They were much the same height—too tall and thin to be in fashion. They had dark brown hair, pert noses, and generous mouths, much too wide to be considered beautiful. But each had soulful brown eyes, heavily fringed with thick, dark lashes.

Prudence considered her eyes her best physical feature. They were large and expressive. When she had been much younger, an infatuated suitor had once written a poem for her, referring to the subject of his adoration as the, “lovely, ox-eyed Prudent Athena.” Smiling, she recalled this bit of poetic nonsense, but decided not to mention the particular compliment to Margaret. At least not until after the girl had been vaccinated with cowpox and quite recovered from her current state of anxious misery.

About Shirley Raye:

An award-winning nonfiction writer and former columnist for The Santa Fe New Mexican.

Shirley Raye Redmond has sold 27 books and over 450 articles to a wide variety of publications, including The Pacific Stars and Stripes and Cosmopolitan as well as Highlights for Children and The Christian Standard. Two of her nonfiction children’s titles have sold more than 200,000 copies each.

Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President (Random House) was a Children’s Book of the Month Club selection. Pigeon Hero! (Simon and Schuster) won an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award. Patriots in Petticoats, Heroines of the American Revolution was named one of the best children’s books of the year.

Connect with Shirley:




Purchase Link:

Prudence Pursued



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Thursday, January 29, 2015

TombQuest: Book of the Dead by Michael Northrop

Scholastic Inc. (January 27, 2015) 208 pages


From the team that brought you The 39 Clues and Spirit Animals comes a brand new epic Egyptian adventure!

Nothing can save Alex Sennefer's life. That's what all the doctors say, but his mother knows it's not true. She knows that the Lost Spells of the Egyptian Book of the Dead can crack open a door to the afterlife and pull her son back from the brink. But when she uses the spells, five evil ancients--the Death Walkers--are also brought back to life.

An ancient evil has been unleashed. Mummies are awakening. New York is overrun with scorpions. And worst of all for Alex, his mom and the Lost Spells have both disappeared. He and his best friend, Ren, will do anything to find his mom and save the world . . . even if that means going head-to-head with a Death Walker who has been plotting his revenge for 3,000 years.

Read the book, then continue the adventure online! Build an Egyptian tomb of your own, hide treasure and protect it with traps, then challenge your friends to play through!

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Thoughts:

TombQuest is the first book in a series, and while it does have an ending, there's still a cliffhanger. You know without a doubt that there is more coming, and there are loose strings left untied.

Alex suffers with horrible pain. He doesn't know why, though he's been through so many tests, he hates the thought of going back to the hospital. He's dying, and no one knows how to help him. His mom has a secret that could save his life, but all good things come with a price.

I enjoyed the Egyptian theme within this story. Alex's mom works at a museum and it was fun to learn a bit of history. It's definitely fantasy, with moments of action and suspense. It's a book that I can easily recommend for younger middle grade readers. It has plenty of corny moments, but it's a fun and quick read. I read a great deal, so I don't feel guilty saying that I think I would enjoy it more as a movie, though.

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

**I recommend reading the review for this book at This Kid Reviews Books, too. He goes more into detail concerning the game portion of the book, which I didn't explore.

Purchase Link:

TombQuest Book 1: Book of the Dead

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

Scholastic Press (January 27, 2015) 240 pages


The debut of a phenomenal new middle-grade talent.

In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He's got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.

But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.

So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier--even if it's the last thing he ever does.

The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.
My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Thoughts:

My review is full of spoilers. Due to wanting to warn parents about certain areas, it's really unavoidable.


Grab some tissues before you settle in with this one! The main character, Mark, has cancer. He's just discovered that the cancer has came back, and he's sad and angry, and he makes some horrible decisions. He runs away from home, so that he can climb Mount Rainier. The Honest Truth is the story of a boy and his little dog, Beau. Beau might just be the best dog there ever was! This is truly a beautiful book, in certain aspects, but I'm torn. I appreciate what was happening within it, but as a parent, I just had so many issues with it. Please understand the huge impact and influence that books/movies have on children. I can say that from experience!

Mark's goal to climb Mount Rainier is a suicide mission. He doesn't plan to return. His friend, Jessie, knows this, but she doesn't tell anyone. Mark is her best friend, and she wants to keep his secret. I don't want any child to ever think that's a secret they need to keep. This book makes the vow of secrecy blurry, in my opinion, and while I'm not saying that it will teach a child to keep such a secret, it MAY. Therefore, I'm a little concerned about it. Knowing someone is planning a suicide is *never* a secret to keep. Period. Also, the whole "I can do this alone" was a big factor. It's okay to depend on people, especially those that love you! There would have been nothing wrong or less special about the whole mission if Mark had got his dad to come with him, and made it NOT a suicide mission.

There's also an adult within this story that knows Mark has run away from home, and that he's sick, and that he's about to head up a mountain in the middle of a horrible snow storm, with nothing but a backpack and a little dog. He just drives his truck away, leaving Mark to finish his mission. Even if the man struggled with the decision, he made the wrong choice. As a parent, I would have a hard time forgiving such a decision if it was my child in such danger(or any child for that matter!!). I understand that a little boy was on a mission and he wanted to prove something, but there was some very stupid decisions made in this book, and Mark's life was put on the line *many* times, along with his precious little dog's. Beau deserved better. Ultimately, it was due to Beau that Mark lives.

Don't get me wrong! I flew through this book. I enjoyed it, and I cried, and I cheered Mark on, in a "go home" kind of way, but not so much a "keep going" kind of way. I could never, ever cheer a child to commit suicide. This just wasn't a mission that should have been attempted alone. I appreciate the whole "determination" factor, but I say put that determination to better use!

I understand Mark was working through anger, and he wasn't sure how to handle it, but for the targeted age group, I don't think this book is the best idea. For adults? Absolutely! I wasn't sick as a child, so I don't know how accurate the feelings expressed were, but I imagine they were realistic. Mark is sad and angry and determined. He just forgets or doesn't care who he hurts along the way. It doesn't matter how sick someone is, it's not okay to forget loved ones. For adults, it will absolutely pull on heartstrings, and the love of a little dog will pull the tears out of you.

So, overall, I don't recommend it for the target age group, but absolutely for adults. Just be prepared to be a little angry about some of the decisions made.

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

Purchase Link:

The Honest Truth

Monday, January 26, 2015

NKJV Note-Takers Bible


Finally, a hardcover Bible that has plenty of room for taking notes during public or private worship, small group fellowships, or any other time or place you feel the need to make comments on the Bible. No more cramped writing in tiny margins—the NKJV Note-Takers Bible makes it easy to stay organized and neat. Personalize the text of God's Word to your life as never before, and treasure this record of your spiritual journey. Includes the complete text of the popular New King James Version


•Deluxe wide margins for note takers
•Complete NKJV text
•Double column text for easy reading
•Words of Christ in red letter

My Thoughts:

I've been attempting to simplify my Bible study. My goal has been to greatly limit the amount of non-fiction books I read, as far as Biblical topics go, and simply rely on God's Word. There are exceptions, because I greatly value mommy encouragement, and I DO need a certain amount of guidance. That's why I greatly value my Study Bible with background information on people and places, even though I don't always agree with what they think. I don't think I could ever completely remove non-fiction from my life. Still, there's no encouragement like God's Word, and I find myself discouraged more and more at the amount of opinions and "feelings" that are at work in non-fiction books, and the disregard of what is truly in God's Word.

I've been greatly enjoying various Bible marking topics within my Bible. In case you don't know, Bible marking is where you write a topic in the front of your Bible, with a verse. When you turn to that verse, you will write a brief note, and an arrow with the next Bible verse. And, then keep going, doing the same. This means that with nothing but my Bible in hand, I'm always ready for a brief devotional, when motivation is especially low.
I like for Bible marking guidance. They are simply guiding you through the Bible, keeping opinions to a minimum. Aside from Bible marking topics, they also have lots of Bible studies. (You don't need anyone to create your own Bible marking topics, but I do like using some of their suggestions!) I also like for Bible study guidance. When I do search out Bible guidance, I mainly depend on them right now.

All of that to say, my Bible is getting more and more crowded with my notes, and I thought this Bible would be a good option. It turns out that it's not, unfortunately. The print is tiny. I think it will even be an issue for those who aren't so picky about font size, like me. Also, the space for note-taking wasn't quite as much as I imagined it would be, though there is a great deal more than the average Bible. (It's also *not* lined, in case that's important to you.)

I've been hanging onto it, trying to decide what I want to do with it, and honestly, I'm still not sure. With the space for note-taking, it IS beneficial, just not as a full time Bible for me. Within the top two main options I've been debating with is the wedding present Bible. I've saw recommendations for these kinds of Bibles to write notes and memories and give it to a child at a certain age, or even as a wedding present. I'm also considering using this Bible for the sole purpose of "child training" time, particularly to go along with our "virtue cards" and Bible learning time. I would write each virtue in the front, along with various Bible verses to go along with it, so I could easily locate the best verse to help with whatever lesson/discipline I happen to be working on at the moment. In the note-taking area, beside the verses, I could write songs, poems, activities, and even crafts ideas to go along with the lesson I'm working on passing through my little ones' minds(whether it's discipline time or simply Bible lesson time). With this method, I could still gift it to a set of parents down the road, after my children are grown. I dream of a simplified organization for our family, and I feel like this Bible has potential to help with that.

I know this is a lot of rambling. Imagine the jumbled state of my mind! This is just a sample. ;) I DO want to stress how much value this particular Bible could have, despite my disappointments for its intended purpose, though.

As a side note, this is a hardcover Bible, with a dust jacket, but there is an imitation leather edition available, too.

As another side note, I *highly* recommend Pigma Micron 01 pens for Bible marking/note taking!

Do you have any ideas for a note-taking Bible? I'd *love* to hear them!

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

Purchase Link:

NKJV Note-Taker's Bible


Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold, with Illustrations by Emily Gravett

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (October 23, 2014) 240 pages


Rudger is Amanda's best friend. He doesn't exist, but nobody's perfect. Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend - until the sinister Mr. Bunting arrives at Amanda's door. Mr. Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumor says that he eats them. And he's sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn't there survive without a friend to dream him up? A brilliantly funny, scary and moving read from the unique imagination of A.F. Harrold, this beautiful book is astoundingly illustrated with integrated art and color spreads by the award-winning Emily Gravett.
My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I loved this book. But first, a little warning. I encourage you to take the comparison to Coraline seriously, as far as the creepy factor goes. I've saw lots of "for all ages", and that concerns me. I loved this little book, but there's not a chance in the world I'll read it to my children just yet. There's mainly one part that I thought was creepy, but depending on how sensitive your child is, the whole thing could be pretty dramatic for them. The scene involves a lightning storm, a blackout, and a creepy girl. There's a picture of the scary girl placed at just the right/wrong moment to look extra creepy, and *could* cause some nightmares. I'd read it before either reading aloud to a child or handing it over to children prone to nightmares, though. A bedtime story might not be the best use of this book.

This book is a precious shout out to the world of imagination. There are limitless worlds out there to travel and people to meet with the use of imagination. My oldest little one has lots of imaginary friends, and that made this book extra special for me to read. I imagine it will tug on the heartstrings of adults more so than the targeted age. It was fun to see the support of some people concerning imaginary friends, the overreaction of others, and everything in between. There was one precious part that had tears flooding my face, and I enjoyed the way certain things tied together. That part just made me want to hug the book.

With the touching, even if creepy, story, lovely illustrations, the cover, AND the extra little doodles on each page, this is a book worthy of treasured book space. I was provided an ARC, but I plan on adding a final copy to our shelves!

*There are 10 full color illustrations, along with more black and white illustrations throughout the book. My ARC had a sample with 7 of the illustrations. (A 2 page spread of one big picture counts as 2 pictures, by the way.)

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

Purchase Link:

The Imaginary