Thursday, December 31, 2015

Children's Book Review: Super Heroes of the Bible Sticker And Activity Book

Book Description:
Bible heroes come to life through age-appropriate puzzles, activity pages, and 50 reusable stickers in this friendly and fun sticker and activity Book featuring The Beginner’s Bible classic art and simply written content.

My Review:
All the children I know love stickers and super heroes. This a wonderful book for kids who enjoy activities and like to do puzzles. The colorful format will keep them engaged as they learn about Bible characters. Great for those cold winter days.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.  

The Year of Trust

This has been a year of trusting God for answers. Through health issues for myself and people close to me, challenges at work, decisions on where to worship, and happy times--my daughter's wedding and the addition of more family have brought me to my knees so many times. Both in praise and request, I've sought out God's wisdom and the Holy Spirit's nudgings. I thank God for tending to me and my loved ones. 2015's word for the year was "follow." And I tried my best to walk the path God rolled out before me.

For 2016 I want to "keep moving forward." That sounds easy enough. But I know I can get stuck in a rut and ignore the prompts to move, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. By moving forward I hope to grow in wisdom and faith.

I'm not one to make resolutions but I do want to be aware of my need to grow and learn through this new year.

I pray you have an excellent year ahead.

What are your thoughts on resolutions and goals in the new year?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Children's Book Review: Little Love Letters from God

Book Description:
What child does not love to receive mail? What if that child could receive, open and read his or her own personal mail from God? The Little Love Letters from God board book will invite them to do just that! Accompanying each of the eight stories in this unique children’s Bible is a very special and encouraging letter tucked away in its own lift-the-flap envelope. With a padded cover for little hands, Little Love Letters from God introduces children to God’s Word with eight of the most popular Bible stories—including creation, Noah’s ark, the birth of Jesus and more. Following each story the child will find his or her own letter from God. Children will love the excitement of opening the letters and parents will love how each letter elaborates on the Bible story being told. A very special Bible verse, entitled God’s Wonderful Words To You will accompany each story and letter. Much more than a mere memory verse, each carefully chosen promise will be God’s very own personal words of love, encouragement, and hope.

My Review:
This beautiful book will be one to treasure. Glenys Nellist poems tell the Bible stories in a lovely way. Each of the little letters speak to the soul and will be valuable teaching tools for the person sharing this wonderful book. British artist, Sophie Allsopp's illustrations are outstanding. The techniques she uses add a whimsical and delightful element to the pages. I love this book, and I think you will, too.
I received this book in exchange for a fair review.  

Two Childrens' Book Reviews: Joseph the Dreamer & Facing the Blazing Furnace, pictures by David Miles

Book Description:
Joseph may be his father’s favorite son, but his brothers feel differently and sell him into slavery in Egypt. In this Level 2 I Can Read written and illustrated in the tradition of the bestselling Adventure Bible, find out how God turns a bad situation into a big blessing. Perfect for beginning readers ages 4-8, learning Bible stories on their own.

My Review:
I like the I Can Read! Adventure Bible series. Joseph the Dreamer is especially wonderful for boys. In the story Joseph suffers at the hands of his brothers, goes on to fulfill God's plan and learns to forgive. The story is simple, yet holds a great message. If you have an early or independent reader, this series is a great addition to their library. David Miles creates colorful illustrations that enhance the story.
I received this book in exchange for a fair review. 

Book Description:
When King Nebuchadnezzar orders everyone in his kingdom to worship a golden statue, three young men refuse to obey. They disobey the king and risk death in the fiery furnace. Find out what happens in this Level 2 I Can Read written and illustrated in the tradition of the bestselling NIV Adventure Bible. Perfect for beginning readers ages 4-8, learning Bible stories on their own.

My Review:
Facing the Blazing Furnace is a good teaching tool for children to explain what it means to worship God. The story is exciting and intense and should be read together. With the characters walking into a fire, an adult will want to explain what the times were like for Daniel and his friends. As always David Miles illustrations add a great deal to the story.
I received this book in exchange for a fair review.  

Far Better Things Ahead

Check out my post at Putting on the New where I talk about moving forward despite setbacks.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Children's Fiction Book Review: Woodford Brave by Marcia Thornton Jones, Illustrated by Kevin Whipple

Book Description:
Cory Woodford, aka “The Kid”, is determined to live up to his intimidating family legacy of bravery. While his father is off fighting in World War II, eleven-year-old Cory and his friends spend the summer building go-carts, drawing comics, playing baseball . . . and tracking down Nazi spies. Right and wrong are more complicated than in Cory’s beloved comics, and he and his friends soon learn that the world isn’t as black and white as they thought. In an age when friendships are deep and complex, Cory makes mistakes and hurtful decisions. Based on the author’s personal experience and research, Woodford Brave is a deeply satisfying novel of summer and friendship, but also explores what it means to be a son, a friend, a neighbor—and truly brave. Includes an author’s note and selected bibliography.

Book Review:
First of all, Kevin Whipple's illustrations add so much to this book. He's created a comic book within the story lines that will entertain readers. I love the 1940s children and their view as they deal with the reality of war and how it affects them, their town, and their families. As I read the story, I felt I had a better understanding of what my parents went through as WW2 hit home. This would be a good book to help kids understand the history, the value of friendship, and family. A word of caution, there are some swear words in the book and some sad events. Overall, I'd recommend the book to kids 4th-8th grade.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Not a Creature is Stirring

Luke 2:28-35
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
   which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
    a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

The day after Christmas and all through the house not a creature is stirring...

This morning I picked up the remnants of last night's party. My fridge is full of left-overs and my heart overflows with the joy of family. We shared gifts. Some hand-made, some made for spending later. And I loved every one. We added new family this year and watched a sweet 18-month old enjoy the magical chaos. And in the midst, we read of the angels who announced to the shepherds, the birth of the man who would be Savior.

Yes, Jesus came to earth as a baby. And I love celebrating his birth. But more than that I love remembering his life. He walked the earth for thirty-three years. In his last three years he taught his followers and all who would listen about God. He spoke the beatitudes. He preached of light and salt. He was tempted and baptized. He lived so he could die for me and all who walk on earth. But most important, as I told my grandchildren last night, he rose from the dead to offer new life after this one ends. I love Jesus and thank God for his son. Praise God for the gift of life!

Monday, December 21, 2015

December in a Small Town

Santa and Frosty came from the Marathon gas station in Lynchburg
candy canes grace
small town
Main Street.
Santa's coming,
Jingle Bells plays,
Nativity's in place.
Carolers jostle down the street 
Christmas tea.
Evergreens twinkle 
in windows,
on street corners.
Christmas lives
in small town.

Small town.
My town.
Your town.
Grow up
And grow memories

In small town.

This is part of the poem "Small Town" I wrote about growing up and raising my children in Lynchburg, Ohio.

To read the whole poem go to: 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree

Luke 2:11
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Christmas trees adorn the windows of the stores and businesses. Some twinkle with white lights, others don red ribbons. I've even seen a few pink ones. In the morning, while the dark still covers the day, tree lights peek from behind curtains. In our home a silver tree lights the corner with multi-colored lights. And what a fun sight to see a car zipping along the highway with a fresh cut tree tied to the top.

The evergreen tree has been a symbol of hope since ancient times; a reminder that spring followed winter. Since the evergreen doesn't lose its leaves and remains green all winter, it's also a great symbol of life. Because Jesus Christ died on a wooden cross, sometimes referred to as a tree, I'm reminded of his sacrifice every time I see a Christmas tree. The evergreen has life through the winter when other trees stand stark. Jesus offers life in heaven, where God reigns and life flows abundantly. This Christmas as I look at the beautifully decorated trees at a time when I celebrate Jesus birth, I'm reminded of his death and resurrection. Praise God for his son.

Merry Christmas! May peace and joy fill your days.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Tim & I wish everyone a Christmas filled with peace & joy!

Children's Book Review: Angels in the Bible Storybook by Allia Zobel Nolan, illustrated by Alida Massari

Book Description:
Where were the angels when God created the world? Why did an angel force a donkey off a road? Who did the angels get out of jail twice? Young readers will find answers to these and other questions in this exciting storybook, written by bestselling author Allia Zobel Nolan with illustrations by Alida Massari. Angels in the Bible Storybook gives children a fascinating look into how God’s powerful behind-the-scenes helpers interacted with Bible greats from Abraham, Lot, and Gideon to Zechariah, Mary, and Jesus himself, acting as messengers, protectors, warriors, and more.
TheAngels in the Bible Storybook, written by bestselling author Allia Zobel Nolan and illustrated by Alida Massari, is filled with vibrant illustrations and engaging text that brings beloved Bible stories to life.

My Review:
This sweet book filled with amazing stories about the angels in the Bible will entertain young people. Nolan has done an excellent job telling the stories of the incredible miracles the angels were a part of. I think as humans we forget the part the angels have played and continue to play in the lives of believers. The narratives have everything a child would want from a story; excitement, entertainment, and truth. Massari's whimsical art adds beauty to the stories. I'd recommend Angels in the Bible Storybook for children 10+. My grandmother loved the stories of the angels and often shared them with me. This would be a great way to share angels with a special young person in your life.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Twinkle and Sparkle

John 8:12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Along the village streets twinkling wreaths hang from the light poles. The new trees in the medians are decked with strings of multi-colored beauty. Greenery twined with lights drapes along the concrete bridge. I get to see this beautiful sight every morning on my way to work. The other night Tim and I took a spin around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights. Some homes looked like gingerbread houses. Sparkling trees peeked through the windows.

Every light I see reminds me of why we celebrate Christmas. The true light of the world came as a baby and grew into the man who would sacrifice his life so I might have grace. I love what Jesus said to the people, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Even when circumstances bring despair and gloom, I have Jesus' light inside me. He guides my path with his light. Praise God for light!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Those Brown Paper Bags

We were shopping after church at Aldi's today. As usual we bought more than we had boxes for. My husband grabbed two paper bags and placed them on the conveyer belt. At that moment, I flashed back in time.

As a child, I remember going to William's grocery store with my mom in December. My little girl eyes sparkled when I watched the bagger place bread and milk in brown paper bags stamped with Merry Christmas, and the baby in the manger, Santa, or a Christmas tree.

Those simple brown paper bags, printed with an offset holiday design, ushered in the beginning of the Christmas season. I knew they'd be filled with chocolate chips, marshmallow cream and butter for my mom's fudge. Candy canes and the smell of popcorn would soon fill our home. Just the sight of them brought joy to this little girl's heart. The magic of the season had begun.

That moment of memory reminded me of the childlike joy I love at Christmas. Amidst the hustle and bustle, I want to keep my eye out for the simplest touches of the season. The ones that remind to keep a smile on my face.

I love finding the beauty in every day things.

What simple Christmas memories do you have?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Historical Fiction Book Review: Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

Book Description:
Just months after the closure of the Chicago World’s Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.
Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn’t merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.

Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder. She must determine who she can trust, who is innocent, and if Sebastian Marks—the man so many people fear—is actually everything her heart believes him to be.

My Review:
I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but this one intrigued me because the main character, Lydia, is a librarian and the story is set in Chicago. I like Lydia. She's spunky and goes against the societal rules of the day in order to stand for her beliefs. She's also got an insatiable curiosity about life, which leads her to get to know a man she'd most likely not give the time of day. Sebastian Marks is a self-made man with a mysterious past. The two are an unlikely match which makes the story that much more fun to read. Part of The Chicago World's Fair Mystery Series, the book stands as a read alone. Shelley Gray does an incredible job placing the reader into the scenes of the city, both the good parts of town and the seedy. I learned a great deal about the time period, which I wasn't familiar with.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Purchase a copy

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About the author: 
Shelley Gray is the author of The Heart of a Hero series. Her Amish novel (written as Shelley Shepard Gray), The Protector, recently made the New York Times best seller list. A native of Texas, she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in Colorado and taught school for ten years. She and her husband have two children and live in Southern Ohio.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Promise of the Angels

Luke 2:9-10
An angel of the Lord appeared to them [the shepherds], and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people."

I snuggled on the couch with my seventeen-month old granddaughter, Ella Cate, on my lap and my grandson, Eli, beside me. On TV the Grinch tortured his poor dog, Max, by plopping reindeer antlers on his head and forcing him to pull the sled. As Max flipped and flopped through the air Ella Cate giggled. The more the poor dog struggled and acted goofy the more she laughed out loud. The tinkle of her laughter filled my heart with joy. And isn't that what Christmas is all about. The joy of the season.

Too often the stress of the holiday and the sadness of life overwhelm. Then I hear the sweet sound of a child's laughter or the tender voice of a grandchild saying he loves me. I see friends hug as they greet one another. I watch a mom love on her kids. Jesus came to earth to bring peace and joy. Though the world is not at peace right now and sometimes joy is not obvious, peace and joy remain in my heart because the Holy Spirit dwells in me. As Christmas draws near, I'll cling to the promise of the angels. Jesus brings good news that will cause great joy. Praise God for his precious gift.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A New Writing Gig


I've joined a lovely group of ladies on the blog Putting on the New. I hope you'll take a look at this wonderful, encouraging site.

Finding beauty in everyday things,


Friday, November 27, 2015

The Best Gift

Ephesians 2:8-10
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Black Friday, the craziest Christmas gift shopping day of the year. Some of my nieces love going. They enjoy the thrill of the hunt. I'm content to do a little online shopping, or maybe wait for cyber Monday. My husband would tell you, I'm a bit painful to shop with. I put items in the cart, take them out, put more in, take it out and usually end up with what I chose in the first place. And yes I do that online, too. I've never been particularly good at choosing gifts, but I try my best to find something the recipient might like.

I've received many wonderful gifts through the years, but there's one that's changed my life. Jesus gave his life to save me from the deprivation of this world. His death and resurrection gives me the freedom to live with peace and joy even amidst the despair and worries of life. Having Jesus in my heart gives me the hope of eternal life in heaven. I love Christmas, the gift giving reflects the best gift God gave. And that's a beautiful thing.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nonfiction Children's Book Review: The Rain Wizard: The Amazing, Mysterious, True Life of Charles Mallory Hatfield by Larry Dane Brimner

Book Description:
In December 1915, San Diego’s leaders claimed the town’s reservoirs were nearly dry. Knowing the city would not survive and grow unless it had water, they hired Charles Mallory Hatfield, whose skills at making rain were legendary. But when torrents and torrents of rain came, disaster struck. Roads were closed, people drowned, and dams burst. The town elders blamed Hatfield and refused to pay him. Was Hatfield really a rain wizard, or simply a fraud? Renowned author Larry Dane Brimner examines the man and the myth by relying on personal recollections from growing up in California, as well as extensive research. Readers will be captivated by Hatfield—a man once known as the Frankenstein of the air—and his secret rainmaking formulas. Includes author’s note, source notes, and bibliography.

My Review:
I received The RainWizard in a box of books to review for Boyds Mills publishers. Unfamiliar with the Charles Mallory Hatfield and his attempts to make rain, I was curious to read his story. Along with the a great job portraying Hatfield and his brothers, Brimner touched on others who attempted to control the weather. Although much of the story takes place in San Diego, the concept of a person trying to create rain with chemicals will engage readers.  This well-written, brief history would be a good start for a young person interested in weather, science, or American history. A seldom addressed piece of scientific history, this would be a nice addition to a school or public library.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Children's Nonfiction Book Review: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus: A Believe Devotional for Kids by Randy Frazee

Book Description:
This 90-Day devotional, written by Oak Hills Church pastor Randy Frazee, is part of the church-wide Believe campaign and encourages children to follow the footsteps of Jesus. Think, Act, Be Like Jesus; A Believe Devotional for Kids shares the message that the more you believe, the more Jesus can change you from the inside out to become the best person you can be.

My Review:
This a great devotional book for tweens and teens. I like the layout that shares a scripture, story and explanation, and a prayer. Each devotion ends with a positive action that encourages the reader to show their love for Jesus. Steve Adams' illustrations are interesting and give a good reflection of each theme. The book is divided into sections that offer enough writings to help the reader understand each concept. This would make a great Christmas gift. And could be used for family devotions.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Beauty in Everyday Things

The Goodness of God

Psalm 9:1-2
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
    I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

"And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."-Edward Winslow

After a long difficult voyage, arrival in an unfamiliar land in the cold of December, and a devastating loss of family and friends, the Mayflower travelers settled into their new habitat. Try to imagine spending months on a ship, no showers, no comfortable bed, illness, and sea sickness. Then landing in the wilderness, with no house to move into and no grocery store to shop in. These courageous folks spent the winter trying to stay alive, spring and summer they were literally building their small colony, and fall harvesting what they'd planted. Finally in November 1621, 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans gathered together to give thanks for the harvest, good health, new friends, and the stored up provisions for the winter. Life had been backbreaking for the past year, yet they found reasons to say thank you to God.

This Thanksgiving I have much to be thankful for. I rejoice in the blessings, the stresses, the difficulties, and the beauty of life. I am thankful the Pilgrims paved the way for the freedoms I have today. Thank goodness for the Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims survive.

God has given so much and yet I thank him so little. I'm glad for this holiday as it reminds me to be appreciative and give gratitude to my Lord and Savior, Jesus who gave his life for my salvation.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Winslow, Edward. "Mourt’s Relation." Pilgrim Hall Museum. Pilgrim Hall Museum, 1621. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <>.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Children's Novel Review: Andi Unstoppable (An Andi Boggs Novel) by Amanda Flower

Book Description:
Andi Boggs and her best friend Colin Carter are at it again … in this third book of the Andi Boggs series, Andi Unstoppable, school has begun for the two Killdeer middle schoolers and the science teacher has a great idea! He is an expert birder and wants his class to share in the fun. In a birding group with Colin and her biggest school rival, Ava, Andi sets out to be the first student in class to spot the elusive Kirtland warbler but ends up spotting the town’s resident ghost instead!

Together with her friends, Andi takes on another small town mystery—is the legend of the ghost of Dominika Shalley more than just a story? And does her sudden appearance have anything to do with the holes the friends find in the Shalley graveyard as they look for the rare bird?

My Review:
I haven't read the first two novels in the Andi Boggs series, but I can tell you I enjoyed the third one. This mystery can be read as a stand-alone, but I think the kids who read it will want to read the others as well. Amanda Flower knows how to write an engaging book for intermediate through middle graders. The characters are delightful and have just enough spunk to seek out answers without getting into too much trouble. Andi Unstoppable sets Andi and her friends Colin and Ava in the woods searching for a mysterious bird. But that's  not the only mystery they need to solve. Even though the plot involves tales of a ghost, the supernatural isn't the emphasis nor the truth. If you're looking for a fun, entertaining read for your children, I'd recommend the Andi Boggs books. I might even read the other two myself.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Use this coupon for 30% off at

Use this coupon for 30% off at

Fiction Book Review: Rescuing Finley (#1 book in A Forever Home series) by Dan Walsh

Book Description:
Amy Wallace has made plenty of mistakes in her young life, but she didn’t see this one coming. Chris Seger is a marine serving in Afghanistan. His life is forever altered by a single, fateful step. A mother of another Afghan war vet suffers a devastating loss, which changes the course of Finley’s life for good. Finley is a mostly golden retriever, who suddenly finds himself alone and confused in a dog shelter. Later, he’s brought to a local prison to be trained in a special program for female inmates. Could this prison actually become the place where Finley finally finds his freedom? Rescuing Finley tells the story of how one rescue dog powerfully impacts three tragic lives and puts all of them on a road toward redemption and healing.

My Review:
I stayed up past my bedtime to finish this wonderful story of love and redemption.  There are so many things I enjoyed about this book. Finley has his own point of view in this heart-warming story, which shows animals have feelings, too. Dan's characters  are realistic with honest emotions and issues. I learned about a program for dogs I had no idea existed, and witnessed how God places people in each other's path on purpose. Each person's story evolved as they put their trust in one another but mostly in Finley, and finished with a satisfying ending. Anyone who loves dogs and appreciates character-driven stories will enjoy reading Rescuing Finley. Another aspect of Dan's book which touched my heart was his wife's input. She's a dog trainer who knows the ins and outs. Bottom line-this is the type of book that reminds me why I read fiction. I just love it and 
look forward to the rest of the series.  Rescuing Finley would be a great gift for a dog lover or a military family. I received this book in exchange for a fair review.
Learn more about Dan Walsh and his books.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Two New Children's Picture Books from Boyds Mills Press

Book Description:
“One day. . . I went to school. I came home. The end,” says our storyteller—a girl with a busy imagination and a thirst for adventure. The art tells a fuller tale of calamity on the way to school and an unpredictably happy ending. The genius of this picture book is that each illustration captures multiple, unexpected, and funny storylines as the narrator tells her shorter-than-ever stories, ending with “One day. . . I wanted to write a book.” An original and incredibly deep combination of text and art invites readers to make up stories of their own.

My Review:
If you've ever wanted to write a story, you'll enjoy sharing this book with a child. Every turn of the page reveals a new story with comical, cartoonish illustrations. The little girl in the book is having so much fun, I want to join her. This would be the perfect book to prompt little ones to write or tell their own small tales. If you teach early elementary or have an elementary child at home, this would be a great addition to your library or a wonderful gift.
I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

ThisOrq. (he says "ugh!") by David Elliott, illustrated by Lori Nichols

Book Description:
This companion to This Orq. (He Cave Boy.) pits Orq and Woma against a couple of stone-age bullies. Dorq is big, strong, and mean . . . and his pet, Caba, is even worse. But when Caba smashes a giant egg on Woma, Orq is so incensed he bangs two rocks together over and over, creating a spark. Like all good scientists, Orq recognizes an important discovery when he sees it. As he raises a flaming torch triumphantly, Dorq and Caba flee. Small Orq is the inventor of fire—and is a hero to his beloved Woma. An ode to the power of standing up for oneself, this book is the perfect antidote for any child who has ever felt small.

My Review:
In a few words, David Elliott shows how to stand up to a bully. Be smart and not cruel. This Orq. (he says "ugh!") is a well written story that addresses a common problem. Orq is frustrated with the meanness of Dorq, but he doesn't become angry until the bullies pick on his friend Woma. The book prompts discussion about treating others with kindness rather than meanness. Lori Nichols delightful drawings are spot on and add great fun to the story. I especially like the turtle fort and the turtle challenge. I read it to my five-year-old grandson. He enjoyed the story and pictures and liked how Orq was able to scare off the bullies.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Brothers and Sisters

Phil. 4:1, 4-7
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Brothers and sisters!
Along with my parents, my siblings took good care of me. I was their baby sister, with eleven years difference between me and my brother (the youngest of my sister and two brothers.)  As we've all grown older we aren't together as much, but I know if I need anything they'll be by my side. We do live close enough together to spend some time on Thanksgiving with our mom at my brother's home. The day will be filled with food, fun, and talk of the memories we share. I'm thankful for the love and history I share with my siblings.

In Philippians, Paul speaks to his brothers and sisters in the church. He loves them and tells them how much he misses them. As Paul writes to his friends, I love what he pens. Rejoice, be gentle, trust the Lord, pray with thanksgiving. Oh what joy to have the peace of God cover the heart and fill the mind. I've gained many brothers and sisters in Christ through the years. We still share a love of Jesus. I'm thankful for the encouragement I've received from my spiritual siblings.

With Thanksgiving near, pray with me for brothers and sisters, those close at hand and those across the world. Praise God for relationships! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Very First Christmas: The Berenstain Bears by Jan and Mike Berenstain

Book Description:
Join the Bear cubs as they learn all about Jesus’ holy birth. From the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary to the visit from the three wise men, join Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister, and Honey as they discover the story of the very first Christmas.

My Review:
A classic retelling of the Christmas story. I am so happy that Mike Berenstain has continued his parents' work and new generations will enjoy the Bear family. The Bear cubs excitement about Jesus' birth will encourage children to embrace the beautiful story. Of course the illustrations are delightful. If you've enjoyed the Berenstain Bears add this sweet book to your library. If you haven't introduced them to your children, this would be an excellent start. 

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Legend of the Christmas Cookie by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey

Book Description:
The Legend of the Christmas Cookie tells the story of a young boy named Jack who learns from his generous mother the story behind the Christmas cookie. The family who began the tradition of baking the special cookies gave them to the needy and shared the story of the very first Christmas. This sweet holiday book offers inspiration for readers to become cheerful givers themselves and encourages them to share the true tale of Jesus' birth. A delicious recipe is included on the jacket flap so readers can make their own Christmas sugar cookies.

My Review:
This old-fashioned story, set during the Great Depression, is a breath of fresh air. Jack not only learns the history of Christmas cookies, he also sees what a blessing it is to help someone else. Richard Cowdrey's detailed illustrations compliment the story perfectly. Every year since my daughters were old enough, we've made homemade Christmas cookies. They're adults now with children of their own. Even though we cut our dough with plastic and metal cookie cutters, I loved reading the story of how the cookies were originally made by pressing dough in to hand-carved molds. I can't wait to read The Legend of the Christmas Cookie to my grandchildren before we make our cookies this year.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Children's Book Review: The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New by Marty Machowski, illustrated by Andy MacGuire

About the book: 
In the cellar of the old stone cathedral, Carla and Timothy uncover a life-changing treasure, a carefully wrapped ancient book known as The Ology. What adults might describe as a beautifully illustrated storybook of systematic theology, the kids discover to be a story of adventure, mystery, and wonder that leads them to the truth about God, themselves, and the world around them.

Truth is for kids, not just for adults! So The Ology gives kids of all ages a beginner's theology book to help them understand who God is and how we, as his children, relate to him. Arranged within a traditional systematic theological framework, each truth in The Ology is also connected to the larger redemptive story of Scripture. The doctrine of God, for example, is presented in the larger framework of creation, where the attributes of God are more clearly on display. The Ology takes abstract theological concepts and makes them easier to understand with the use of creative examples, illustrations, and analogies. The goal is not to say everything that could be said about a theological topic, but rather to share the key thoughts behind a theological concept. The Ology is a starting point to learning theology and aims to create a hunger and desire in children to learn more as they grow older.

Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, this flexible resource includes built-in adaptations for use with younger or older children, so that entire families can enjoy it together. Read The Ology to preschoolers, read it with grade-school kids, and let older kids discover the "hidden" truths by reading the corresponding Scripture passages for each section. However you read it, The Ology will give your children a gift that will last a lifetime---a solid foundation of life-changing biblical truth that will point them to the God who loves them and gave himself for them.

My Review:
The Ology is not a Bible story book. Instead it's a great tool for teaching children the truths of the Bible. Divided into ten chapters and seventy-one sections, the flexibility of the book lends to easy use and can be shared in order or by topic. Machowski uses easy to understand examples of common things children would understand to introduce concepts. He also includes a parent's guide, glossary, numerous scriptures, and a questions. The Ology is a good source for parents, teachers and anyone wishing to share the Bible with young people. This even a good resource for adults.
I don't see this as sit down and read through kind of book, but more as an open up and let's look at the concept type of book. The illustrations are beautiful and add pleasing aesthetics. There were a few concepts I differed on with the author, but even at that, they can be used as a jumping off point for discussion. I'm giving the book five-stars because the author took on a large task and did a meticulous job providing examples and explanations. Also the illustrators work adds so much to the text.
I received this book in exchange for a fair review.
Check out this preview!

A companion 
The Ology CD from Bob Kauflin and Sovereign Music will also be available.

About the author:
Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over twenty years. He is the author of the Gospel Story for Kids series, which includes The Gospel Story Bible, Long Story Short, Old Story New, and the Gospel Story Curriculum, as well as the Advent devotional and curriculum Prepare Him Room. He and his wife, Lois, and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Find Marty online: 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Fiction Book Review: Every Girl Gets Confused by Janice Thompson

Book Description:
Katie Fisher and Brady James may be a match made in heaven, but that doesn't seem to guarantee them a happily ever after accompanied by angelic choirs. In fact, the sounds being heard at the bridal shop where she works are on the contentious side lately, as a bride- and groom-to-be try to mediate the growing rivalry between their basketball-obsessed families in the middle of play-off season. On top of that, Katie's parents are nagging her to get out of Dallas and come home to tiny Fairfield where her former boyfriend Carson is waiting for her, ready to rekindle their relationship. Oy vey! What's a girl to do? And will she ever be able to wear that gorgeous wedding dress she won?

My Review:
Thompson's second book in the series A Brides with Style Novel is as funny and enjoyable as the first one. One of the things I like about the series is the inclusion of several generations of Katie's family and the folks who work in the bridal shop. The interaction between the younger and older characters leads to some humorous and insightful scenes. Aunt Alva is my favorite yet I relate to Katie who contemplates what's best for her in her young life. Where should she live, who should she date, what should she do for a living? The tension between Katie and Brady threads throughout the book and adds to the sweet romance. If you enjoy romantic comedy, you'll love Janice Thompson's, Every Bride Gets Confused.  The series is a fun and relaxing read.  

Read more about Janice Thompson.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Children's Book Review: Goodnight, Manger by Laura Sassy, illustrated by Jane Chapman

Book Description:
Goodnight, Manger, written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by New York Times bestselling artist Jane Chapman, tells the story of Mary and Joseph as they try to lull Jesus to sleep in the noisy stable after his birth. It's bedtime for Baby Jesus, but who knew a manger could be so loud? Mama, Papa, and all of the animals try to lull the baby to sleep, but between itchy hay, angels' joyful hosanas, and three kings bearing noisy gifts, it's just too loud. Until Mama finds a way for everyone to work together to shepherd Baby into peaceful dreams under the twinkling stars. With sweet, rhyming text in the style of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, Goodnight, Manger offers a unique twist on the classic manger tale, deftly weaving together the comforting and familiar routines of bedtime with the special magic and wonder of the manger story.

My Review
Laura Sassy's light-hearted rhyming text will delight little ones and encourage a giggle or two. Goodnight, Manger brings an interesting mix of characters to the stable. I love the angels Jane Chapman created. Her colorful illustrations bring the story to life. The cover is beautiful. In the book the wise men come to the manger. Although this works in the book, the Bible shows that they came much later. But that's a minor detail to a delightful telling of a night in the manger for baby Jesus. This would be a perfect story to read to children on Christmas Eve. 

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Let the Trees Sing!

1 Chronicles 16:33-34
Let the trees of the forest sing,
    let them sing for joy before the Lord,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Several times this week I've notice how beautiful the autumn skies are. One afternoon white wispy clouds floated against an azure blue sky. Walking into work I've been greeted by majestic pinks, reds, and dark blues painted behind the shadow of trees as morning wakes. Yesterday evening orange streaked across navy blue as the sun went to sleep for the day.

God is the most amazing artist. Just looking at his creation brings joy to my soul. I'm thankful for the natural world around me. Not a day goes by without me noticing something God has created. Walking out of work yesterday, I spotted holly bushes, with the crimson berries hiding among the waxy green leaves. Beautiful!

As Thanksgiving approaches I want to share some of my thankful moments. I would be remiss if I didn't include the wonder of nature and the artistry of the Creator.

I'm thankful for the changing seasons, the woods, the lakes and ponds, the ocean, the incredible array of flowers, the trees, the animals; all of the amazing life that exists around me. Praise God for all he's made.