Thursday, July 23, 2015

Passport2Purity

I have heard for some time now how great Family Life's Passport2Purity program is for families.  When I was given the chance to review the program - I jumped at it.  I love the whole concept - time away with your preteen to talk through tough topics like sexuality and purity.  We need that and often don't make the time to do it with our kids.

The kit comes with  a CD Set, a travel journal, and a tour guide.  It is so well laid-out that a parent can really spend very little prep time to make the weekend a success - prep is important, but I wanted to encourage parents that it won't be a huge effort that will bog you down.  You walk through the tour guide page by page and pre-view the videos they feel the parent should view ahead of time to be ready for the weekend.  The weekend is laid out so carefully - I love the time set aside for fun activities and yet, they do give you a great timeline of how to effectively get everything accomplished within the time frame.  All of the parts of the kit are updated and not only look modern, but even the DVD's are well-done and will appeal to our teens.  Having a tool like this is such a blessing.

Our daughter is a bit young for this and we have not used it yet, but I can not wait to spend this time together learning and growing.  I highly recommend this easy-to-follow way for parents to guide their children into sexual purity.

 

I was sent a copy of the kit for review by the publisher for an honest review on my blog.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Chronicle Books

I got a couple of Chronicle Books today that I really HAD to share!

Swan by Laurel Snyder is one of those beautiful books that I think any young child will be entranced by.  The illustrations by Julie Morstad are amazing - the soft colors and intricate designs are stunning.  The story, the life and dance of Anna Pavlova, is one that is not well-known, and possibly not one that young children may be drawn to, but I think when they find this gem, they will open a world they didn't know existed.  Our young dancers and ballerinas will LOVE it as well!



Kate Messner has written Tree of Wonder that is a delightful story about the rainforest and how many animals can live in one tree - the Almendro Tree - in the rainforest.  The illustrations, by Simona Mulazzani, are colorful and yet realistic.  And on each spread, you can see the number of animals or insects housed in that one tree all displayed visually as well - it puts 1,024 leafcutter ants right into perspective.  Great new picture book on the rainforest - welcome addition.



I was sent both of these books, by the publisher, for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Never Say No

Mark and Jan Foreman have written a book called Never Say No:  Raising Big-Picture Kids.  I can tell you that this couple KNOWS their stuff.  They are all about having a relationship with our kids - not just getting them to behave.  Their book is full of useful, practical ways to encourage your kids to be creative, imaginative, and cultivate their unique gifts.  It's all about bringing the love and nature of God to the world and that's what they focus on in parenting as well.  Their advice is tested and has been successful with their two boys - both singers in the group Switchfoot.  I encourage you to pick this one up - it's WELL WORTH the read!



*I was sent a review copy by the publisher for a blog review.

Plumb CD - Exhale

The new Plumb CD - Exhale - is one that I unabashedly recommend and KNOW it will be enjoyed.  I did not find ONE SONG on the entire album that I did not love.  These songs just sing of hope and thankfulness - you can tell that her life now is one of surrender after her complete brokenness and healing experienced when she wrote a previous song, "Need You Now".  Her sound is strong and full of vibrancy as she pours out her heart through song.  I am thoroughly enjoying this CD as I know you will as well!



I was sent a copy of the CD for review purposes by Propeller/FlyBy Promotions.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Chronicle Books Newest Titles

I got a Chronicle Books box - ALWAYS a good day!
And I wanted to share a few of the goodies with you!

How to Read a Story by Kate Messner
Simple, Step-by-step teaching kids how to read a book!  Fabulous, funny and yet right on their level.  The illustrations are light-hearted and fun as well.  Step 1 - Find a story, Step 2 - Find a reading buddy, Step 3 - Find a cozy reading spot - couldn't agree more!!

I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
This is an author combo that time and time again writes and illustrates books that are endearing and make kids smile.  This is a simple story of what we wish for - either for our kids or for each other.  It is certainly not a story to read aloud in storytime, I don't think.  But one to cherish together, side-by-side, and talk about as you go.  It would also make a lovely coffee table book or gift for just the right friend.

Beach House by Deanna Caswell and illustrated by Amy June Bates
Here is a book that makes you feel sure you've been transported to the beach!  I love this - it's told in rhyme which is fun and different - the simplicity and flow of the words tied in with the amazing illustrations give the reader a beach experience all from the comfort of home.  I think this would be a fun read-aloud and one kids will explore all on their own again and again.



**I was sent preview copies of these books from the publisher for honest reviews of the titles.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Don't Go

Don't Go by Lisa Scottoline - 
Although I felt that this one started slower and made it more difficult to stay involved - it ended strong! I came away surprised and shocked - and it felt resolved....great read! Scottoline has the ability to keep you on your toes while you read and take you for a great ride. This is the story of Mike, an army doctor serving in Afghanistan, who comes home to find his wife, Chloe, dead. His life and baby daughter are almost too much for him to bear. He is on a mission to find out how his wife died and becomes even more entrenched in the mystery when his wife's best friend is killed. It is at this point that his sister and brother-in-law try to get full custody of his baby daughter, Emily which becomes a large court case. Mike has to come to terms with the loss of an arm and, seemingly, his entire life as he knows it as he deals with the challenges in his life.

 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Red Butterfly

There are some stories that are SO tender that you finish them and want to pick it up and start over.  That is what A. L. Sonnichensen's Red Butterfly was to me.  It is a very touching story of Kara - a baby abandoned at birth and taken in by an american woman living in China.  What we find out a ways into the story is that Kara's "mama" is not legally in China and Kara has never been officially adopted.  Kara is immediately taken away, at age 11, and sent to an orphanage to start over with her life.  Her emotions are tender and raw and her anger and hurt is real.  When another family, from Florida, is chosen to be her new family, Kara doesn't desire to be a part of their family and her confusion and frustration are so real that I ached right along with her.  The novel is told in prose and I loved literally EVERYTHING about it - tender, touching and oh so wonderful!

 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Daredevil Duck

Here is a children's book that you will NOT want to miss!  This is a riot that sitting down and sharing with your little ones will not disappoint.

Daredevil Duck by Charlie Alder is nothing but fun - it follows the story of D.D. - Daredevil Duck - as he goes out into the world and is literally afraid of EVERYTHING!  He tries so hard to be brave - but his fears always seem to get the best of him.  The story is humorous and told in a fun way as the layout of the book leads to some half pages, some foldout, etc. and it all just lends to the lovability of the story!  You really must follow his sweet story as D.D. tries to find something that he can do that is BRAVE.

 **I was provided a copy of the book by the publisher for an honest review.

Monday, May 12, 2014

How We Fall - Cover Reveal

I am honored to take part in the cover reveal for a personal friend!  Can't wait to read the rest of her novel - she's a master at her craft and this is sure to be a captivating novel!
HOW WE FALL by Kate Brauning
YA contemporary
Publication date: 11/3/2014
Publisher: Merit Press, F+W Media Inc.
ISBN-13: 9781440581793
Hardcover, 304 pages

About the Book:
He kissed her on a dare. She told him to do it again.


Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle’s sleepy farming town, she’s been flirting—a bit too much—with her cousin, Marcus. She pushes away the inevitable consequences of their friendship until her best friend, Ellie, disappears, and the police suspect foul play. Just when she needs him most, Marcus falls for the new girl in town—forcing Jackie to give a name to the secret summer hours she’s spent with him. As she watches the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance start to break, Jackie has to face that she’s fallen in love at an impossible time with an impossible boy. And she can’t let Marcus, or Ellie, go.
The Reveal!


 
Sneak Peek Page:
Chapter One

Last year, Ellie used to hang out at the vegetable stand with Marcus and me on Saturdays. This year, her face fluttered on a piece of paper tacked to the park’s bulletin board. Most weeks, I tried to ignore her eyes looking back at me. But today, Marcus had set the table up at a different angle, and she watched me the entire morning.
The day that photo was taken, she’d worn her Beauty and the Beast earrings. The teapot and the teacup were too small to see well in the grainy, blown-up photo, but that’s what they were. She’d insisted sixteen wasn’t too old for Disney.
The crunch of tires on gravel sounded, and a Buick slowed to a stop in front of the stand. I rearranged the bags of green beans to have something to do. Talking to people I didn’t know, making pointless small talk, wasn’t my thing. My breathing always sped up and I never knew what to do with my hands. It had been okay before, but now—surely people could see it on me. One look, and they’d know. Chills prickled up my arms in spite of the warm sun.
Marcus lifted a new crate of cucumbers from the truck and set it down by the table, his biceps stretching the sleeves of his T-shirt. Barely paying attention to the girl who got out of the car, he watched me instead. And not the way most people watched someone; I had his full attention. All of him, tuned toward me. He winked, the tanned skin around his eyes crinkling when he smiled. I bit my cheek to keep from grinning.
The girl walked over to the stand and I quit smiling.
Marcus looked away from me, his gaze drifting toward the girl. Each step of her strappy heels made my stomach sink a little further. Marcus tilted his head.
He didn’t tilt it much, but I knew what it meant. He did that when he saw my tan line or I wore a short skirt. I narrowed my eyes.
 “Hi,” she said. “I’d like a zucchini and four tomatoes.” Just like that. A zucchini and four tomatoes.
Marcus placed the tomatoes into a brown paper bag. “Are you from around here?”
Of course she wasn’t from around here. We’d know her if she were.
“We just moved. I’m Sylvia Young.” The breeze toyed with her blonde hair, tossing short wisps around her high cheekbones. Her smile seemed genuine and friendly. Of course. Pretty, friendly, and new to town, because disasters come in threes.
“Going to Manson High?” Marcus handed her the bags.
She nodded. “My dad’s teaching science.”
Finally, I said something. “Three bucks.”
“Hmm?” Sylvia turned from Marcus. “Oh. Right.” She handed me the cash and looked over the radishes. “Are you here every day?” Her eyes strayed back to Marcus.
“Three times a week,” he said.
“I’ll see you in a day or two, then.” She waved.
I was pretty damn sure she wouldn’t be coming back for the radishes.
____

About the Author:

Kate spent her childhood in rural Missouri raising Siberian huskies, running on gravel roads, and navigating life in a big family. Now living in Iowa, she is married to a videographer from the Dominican Republic, and still owns a husky. She loves bright colors, fall leaves, unusual people, and all kinds of music. Kate has written novels since she was a teen, but it wasn’t until she studied literature in college that she fell in love with young adult books.  Kate now works in publishing and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she’d want to read. Visit her online, on Facebook, or on Twitter.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Wonder

I had a highly-respected reading friend suggest the book, Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  So I promptly got a copy and began reading - and thus begins a wonderful story.  I can hardly even relay how strongly I feel about this book - it hit me as a mom, it struck strong cords as a friend, and it moved me deeply on a human level in general.  This is the powerful story of August Pullman, a fifth grade boy born with a severe facial deformity, who is just trying to make his way through middle school - just like all the other kids.  However, his way through school is not at all easy - which can be normal for all kids - but even worse when you look like an "orc".  My heart ached for August as he tried to be like all the other kids - but he was very rarely accepted for who he really was.  What you do come to see through a few close friends, are strong friendships that are based on looking beyond the outward and looking inside to see who our friends REALLY are.  I just LOVE this book - and feel so strongly that I even think it should be required reading in middle school!  I mean that - let's see each other and how we are alike - not how we are different - let's see each other's hearts!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Snow Child

Eowyn Ivey has written a novel, The Snow Child, that is sure to be a gem for many readers.  This is based loosely on the children's novel, The Snow Child, by Freya Littledale.  And maybe that's what caught me - I loved it that it was based on a child's fairytale and yet turned itself into a novel that had me riveted from very early on.  I was drawn right into the story of Jack and Mabel and their life on the Alaskan frontier.  I felt for them when they lost their first child, and I was so excited for them when they had a little girl show up on their property - it just seemed perfect.  However, the story takes quite a twist when their little Faina grows up.  It was pure fabulousness on the part of Ivey to take the story in the direction she did - she follows the premise of the fairytale, but takes you in a round-about way.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Blackberry Winter

I finished another of Sarah Jio’s books – Blackberry Winter. Jio is a writer that gives you a fabulous story from page one! You are drawn in immediately – and she takes you full circle until you hit the last page and are left wondering if you really wanted it to end! This novel is one of my favorites of hers so far – it ties in the stories of two women – Vera Ray, who lived in Seattle in 1933, and Claire Aldridge, also a mom that lives in Seattle during present day. The moving story shows the loss of children and the impact it had on these two women’s lives. Their stories are profoundly different and yet SO much alike. It is well told – the characters are real and become people you care about as you read. Jio has done it again – another enthralling read!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Love Anthony

Love Anthony is the latest novel by Lisa Genova. You may remember Genova has written Still Alice and Left Neglected, both intriguing novels that showcase Genova’s expertise in neuroscience. Love Anthony is much the same in nature – a novel that focuses on autism from the mind of the autistic child. I thought just getting into the mind of the autistic child was fascinating. When we observe autistic children, we often wonder how much they are relating to our world. According to Genova, they are VERY MUCH involved and have strong feelings about how they are treated. I thought that aspect of the novel was riveting – in fact, I could have used more of those thoughts/feelings throughout the novel. The other story lines, family-related issues, were good, but, I didn’t think they were as strong as those of her other novels. I think it’s worth a read – just maybe not one of my “top-of-the-list” of Genova’s novels.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Afterwards

When I first started, Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton, I thought for sure I would not like it - it was just too odd.  I could hardly get past the fact that two dead people were talking to each other - but when I figured out that it was a mother and daughter, both of which went through a fire and are near-death, who are talking with each other - learning about each other - trying to put together pieces to the mystery of the fire - it was enough to keep me going.  I loved that this book is told unlike any other I have read - a mom and daughter - hovering on the brink of life and death - learning how to really love each other.  I thought it was a great read - a super mystery and a strong novel that delves into family relationships as well.

Love what Amazon's review says:

The school is on fire. Her children are inside.
   Grace runs toward the burning building, desperate to reach them.
   In the aftermath of the devastating fire which tears her family apart, Grace embarks on a mission to find the person responsible and protect her children from further harm.  This fire was not an accident, and her daughter Jenny may still be in grave danger. Grace is the only one who can discover the culprit, and she will do whatever it takes to save her family and find out who committed the crime that rocked their lives.  While unearthing truths about her life that may help her find answers, Grace learns more about everyone around her -- and finds she has courage she never knew she possessed.
   Powerful and beautiful, with a riveting story and Lupton’s trademark elegant style that made Sister such a sweeping success, Afterwards explores the depths of a mother’s unswerving love.



Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

Jenny Wingfield's debut novel, The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, is a book that is guaranteed to keep you reading.  I was taken in immediately by the intricacy of her characters and the plot that unfolds simply as you read.  It is the tender story of the Moses clan - Willadee, Moses' daughter, and her husband, Samuel Lake, and their three children, that head back to Arkansas every June for the Moses family reunion.  This year, the reunion starts out like any other but tragically takes a turn as they lose an important family member.  What unfolds after the loss, becomes the major crux of the story - and it revolves around Swan, Willadee and Samuel's eleven year old daughter.  She is a fabulous character that you will love from the start.  I was drawn to her simple and yet very complex line of thinking - she is a wonderful eleven-year-old.

There were some tough parts to the novel - abuse of animals and children - but it wasn't drawn out so much that I couldn't get through it - and the end is redemptive.  The novel left me in tears - I would highly recommend this one!  I agree with this review:

“It’s all here. Faith. Honesty. Sin. Redemption. . . . Anyone who loves Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird will delight in Swan, the Lakes' eleven-year-old daughter.”—USA Today 

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Age of Miracles

I had heard lots of talk about Karen Thompson Walker's The Age of Miracles.  That is what prompted me to pick it up when I saw it sitting on the shelf.  It is in interesting premise - Julia, a teenager, wakes up to find that the world is changing - drastically, in fact.  The earth is slowing - days and nights are growing longer, gravity is also being affected, and it affects every part of her life.  Even her mother, already not coping with the change well, contracts a disease related to the slowing of the earth.  I have to say that it kept me intrigued - great idea for a book.  But I have to admit that it didn't draw me in as much as I had hoped.  The characters didn't grab me - even though the storyline is a great idea.  Give it a whirl and let me know what you think - I love to hear what others think!

Monday, September 17, 2012

An Unmarked Grave

My first encounter with Charles Todd as an author was a hit!  An Unmarked Grave is a "Bess Crawford Mystery" which means almost nothing to me as I've never read a Bess Crawford Mystery nor have I ever heard of them.  But now I have and you can be sure I am on the lookout!  This is a wonderful mystery set in 1918 - I loved the history AND the plot.  Bess Crawford is a battlefield nurse that is drawn into a baffling mystery because people she worked closely with are now dying or being killed - she has to decide which.  Because of Bess' family background and inability to leave a mystery alone, she is determined to get to the bottom of this rash of deaths.  It was suspenseful and well-written - great World War I intrigue and history to boot!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ivy and Bean - Week 3

Here is Week 3 in our countdown to Ivy and Bean Day!

This week - leave a comment to win Ivy and Bean Break the Fossil Record AND some Ivy and Bean Mini Notes!!!  If you've read Ivy and Bean books before, leave me a comment telling me why you enjoy them.  If you haven't read them - tell me one Ivy and Bean title that looks good!

I will choose a winner on Sunday, September 2.

Last week's winner was Comment 2 - Jasmine Ko - so Jasmine, I need your mailing address!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back to School Books!

Here is a fabulous post with some back-to-school books!

Over a Steaming Cup of Tea



*I was sent all of these as review copies by the publisher.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ivy and Bean Countdown

There's a new Ivy and Bean Book out SOON!!  And in honor of that - we have fun prizes!!


So leave a comment and tell me your favorite Ivy and Bean title, OR, if you have not read them yet, tell me which you'd like to read!  Winners will receive a copy of Ivy and Bean and the Ghost that Had to Go and some mini notes too!  So comment away - winners will be announced 8/26/2012!!

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