Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Believe Devotional for Kids: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus By Randy Frazee

They know the story of the Bible, but do they know what it means?

This 90-Day devotional, written by Oak Hills Church pastor Randy Frazee, is part of the church-wide, ground-breaking 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.

As children ages 6-10 walk through 90 devotions from the Old and New Testament—they’ll complete a journey that will take them closer to the heart of Jesus and deeper into the words of Scripture. They’ll learn what the Bible has to say about everything from the nature of God and the identity of Jesus, to prayer, worship, and the fruit of the Spirit. Foundational and faith-building, this book can be used by individuals or in conjunction with the all-church campaign.

My Review:

As I opened the colorful cover of this hardbound book, the first good idea I noticed was the presentation page, making this a perfect gift idea. Following are two detailed pages listing the Table of Contents. This devotional covers a wide-range of topics.

Each devotion begins with a Bible verse, followed with an interpretation, and concludes with a short prayer.   Beautifully illustrated by Steve Adams.

Thank you to Booklook for my copy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Precious Moments 5-minute Bedtime Treasury By Precious Moments

Create a Bedtime Tradition in Just 5 Minutes

Delight your little ones with these sweet Precious Moments® characters as you share beloved Bible stories and comforting bedtime scriptures with them.

The five-minute format helps parents create a meaningful bedtime. With paraphrased stories from the International Children’s Bible®, you’ll nurture a love for God’s Word.

Take five minutes before bed to create a special connection with your precious child.

About Precious Moments

Since 1978, Precious Moments has grown into an evergreen brand recognized worldwide, with more than 12.5 million books and bibles sold through Thomas Nelson.

My Review:
How special! Bible stories told in language that little people can understand. Each story ends with a comforting Bible verse.

This is no small book; it's 8" x 11" with a padded cover. It weighs 2.5 pounds. This fully illustrated book opens with a presentation page, making it a perfect gift idea. Two pages are devoted to a family tree. Another page allows the owner a place to record his church record. And there are two pages where prayers may be written. Why, even a sweet ribbon is attached so that you might save your place!

 I can envision parents pulling it from a convenient shelf each night to read a short devotion to their small children. (The publisher suggests ages 3-7, but I think toddlers would welcome a nighttime ritual too.)

Thank you to Booklook for my copy.

Friday, September 11, 2015

My Give Thanks Bible Illustrated by Christine M. Schneider

Easy-to-read storybook Bible for Thanksgiving and throughout the year—perfect for little ones ages 4-8 learning thankfulness. My Give Thanks Bible brings beloved Bible stories such as Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, and the birth of Jesus to life for beginning readers. The stories chosen for this padded cover board book show children how people in the Bible were thankful for God’s great blessings and remind us that we should be thankful for the blessings in our lives too.

My Review:
Each Thanksgiving, we all hear, "We should be thankful every day, not just on one day a year." Well, this precious book takes care of that issue. It includes sixteen Bible stories that give reasons for us to be thankful to God, and it can be read year-round.

Each story lists Bible verse(s) and then thanks God for that gift. The topics include:

  • How the World Began
  • Adan and Eve
  • Noah's Ark
  • A Baby in a Basket
  • Moses and the Red Sea
  • David and the Giant
  • Wise King Solomon
  • In a Den of Lions
  • Mary and the Angel
  • A Star Lights the Way
  • Jesus Is Baptized
  • Jesus and the Disciples
  • Food for Five Thousand
  • Jesus and the Children
  • Jesus' Sacrifice
  • Jesus Goes to Heaven

The cover is padded, every page is colorfully illustrated, and the Board Book is perfect for ages 5-8.

Thank you to BookLook for my copy.

Friday, May 22, 2015

In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot

She's lost her dream job--but has she found the man of her dreams?

Devastated by a downsizing, Marisa St. George has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it means a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow's End resort. The only silver lining: Blake Kendall, a new guest who might make her believe in love at first sight. But will Marisa's dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers Blake's real identity?

This warm and witty story of dreams deferred and mistaken identity will have you believing in second chances.

My Review:
If it's romance you want, this is the novel for you. Cupid is so busy that he's sure to run out of arrows! Romance begins with the wedding of Kate and Greg. They leave on their honeymoon while more love blooms in the small town of Dupree, Texas.

Love at first sight is experienced when Marisa St. George first spots Blake Kendall; sparks really fly. However, love does not run smoothly for this couple. Both wrestle with challenges. Marisa's abandonment issues stem from her alcoholic father who disappeared seven years ago. Now she grapples with an inability to trust any man. Blake, a prolific writer, cannot manage to put a single word on paper, and his agent becomes impatient. With the frustrations these two face, it's no wonder they fuss and fight!

Marisa's best friend, Lauren, grieves over the loss of her husband, Patrick. Lauren is a likable young mother so the reader hopes that a Prince Charming will appear.  Does Cupid have an arrow left for her? Marisa's mother, Carmen, still loves her absent husband, and she insists that he'll return. You'll need to read the book to see the romantic conclusions.

I found that the characters are not believable.

This is book #2 in the Texas crosswords series. It is a stand alone novel.

Thank you to Revell/Baker Publishing Group for my copy.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.

Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together. But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.

Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?

My Review:
We get two stories in one with this novel. There's Gracie's tale. She's a troubled teen who seems determined to keep people at a distance. How will she ever feel included? Then there's her half-sister Carmen, the perfectionist. The only thing missing in Carmen's life is a baby, and goodness knows, she does everything she can to become a mother. However, nothing works. Will her marriage survive this stressful time?

With two such interesting characters leading the way, the novel moves at an interesting pace. I really liked the way the author ends the book. It certainly is different from the way most would expect. I also like the way the author realistically handled the church people.

Details make any narrative come alive. It was fun reading about the restoration of the Treasure Chest. I especially liked the description of the hospitality room with its wall of wisdom.

I recommend this thought-provoking read.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and WaterBrook Press for my copy.

If you'd like to read a chapter, click here.
If you'd like to buy a copy, click here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Passing Strangers by Angela Hunt

A train roars over the rails, carrying passengers on a trip that will change their lives. Among the many people aboard the 97 Silver Meteor are Andie Crystal, a lonely young woman hiding from her youth as a reality TV star; Matthew Scofield, a widower trying to balance his career and his responsibilities for his two young children; and Janette Turlington, a middle-aged mother running from a troubled home and marriage. These three form a makeshift family on an Amtrak tour through the Southern seaboard, a journey that just might heal their wounded hearts and restore them to the people to whom they matter most . . .

My Review:
Here is one novel with three relatable characters who connect while escaping from their three distinct lives. They meet while traveling for ten days on a Southern Heritage Tour via an Amtrak train. Janette Turlington is a woman of mystery, trying to hide her black eye. Andie Crystal hopes to avoid paparazzi, and attorney, Matthew Scofield wrestles with the grief of his wife's sudden death. In addition to his firm's obligations, he's responsible for his two small children.

Each of the stories are enough to hold the reader's attention, and each has a hidden twist. Angela Hunt never disappoints!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Really Woolly Nighttime Lullabies by Bonnie Rickner Jensen, illustrated by Donna Chapman

Sweet bedtime lullabies and prayers . . . just before you turn out the light.

A case-bound padded board book from the Really Woolly® brand gives children sweet lullabies to help them fall asleep. Little ones will love the charming Really Woolly illustrations, engaging verse, and Scripture from the International Children’s Bible® that allow them to drift off in sweet dreams, knowing they are loved and safe. Prayer starters also encourage children to end their day talking to God.

Other books in the series regularly appear on bestseller lists and have sold more than 850,000 copies.

Really Woolly products by DaySpring® include cards, videos, and gift and are Dayspring’s bestselling children’s brand.

My Review:
This is the ideal before-bedtime book to read to a little one. Although the suggested age is 2 - 5 years, I think that an infant would enjoy seeing the colorful pages while the rhythmic verses are read aloud. (I began reading to my children and to my grandchildren when they were babes in arms.)

My favorite verse is titled, Who? because it reminds me of William Blake's The Lamb. It assures the reader/listener that God will hear our prayer and watch over us. What a treasure for every child!

The cover of the padded board book is an eye-catcher with a sweet lamb in a hammock reading to a yellow duck and a fuzzy bunny. The book is just the right size (5 x 7) for little hands to hold.

Thank you to BookLook and DaySpring for my copy.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Berenstain Bears God Made You Special by Mike Berenstain

Series: Berenstain Bears/Living Lights

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
Matthew 5:8

In this newest 8x8 softcover title in the Berenstain Bears Living Lights collection, the Bruins join the Bear family for a cookout and bring their cousin Tommy along. It isn’t long before the cubs start up a game of baseball and Sister soon notices that Tommy doesn’t play like the rest of the group. 

When Sister asks about Tommy, Mama takes the opportunity to talk to Sister about how God makes each of us unique in our own way. And that we all have special gifts and talents to share with the folks around us.

My Review:
I love that Mike Berenstain is following in Stan and Jan's footsteps by writing children's literature. The illustrations are colorful and "spot on." The storyline handles the complex issue of diversity in an easy-to-understand manner. The Bruins join the Berenstain family for an outdoor cookout. They bring along a special guest, Tommy, who seems to be like Brother and Sister except he acts young for his age.

During a game of baseball, Tommy loses interest and begins finding joy in the beauty around him. Sister speaks to Mama about Tommy's difference. Mama explains that we are all made special by God, and we can learn from others. This sets up the perfect platform for discussions with children.

Grammar is important, especially in children's books; after all, they're learning from what they hear and read. The book contains a glaring error that I hope will be corrected in future publications: "lead him to the backyard" should read "led him to the backyard."

The age group is 4 - 8 years old, and the back page is dedicated to "Activities and Questions from Brother and Sister Bear," a wonderful idea!

Thank you to BookLook and ZonderKidz for my copy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

God Bless My Boo Boo by Hannah C. Hall, illustrated by Steve Whitlow

God Bless My Boo Boo is the perfect remedy for healing little hurts with a healthy dose of love!

Even the smallest scratches, bumps, and scrapes can sometimes be traumatic for children. When simple injuries happen, God Bless My Boo Boo is like a warm hug that helps ease the pain. Comforting, sweet, and sometimes silly rhymes guide readers through adorable scenes of baby animals and their boo boos and remind children that God is there to help. Just like Mommy Zebra makes a scraped knee better or Mommy Walrus helps tend a toothache, real moms will be able to use this book to make their little ones' boo boos all better too!

A perfect gift for new parents and a great addition to every mom's first-aid kit!

My Review:
This is an excellent picture book for children ages 1 - 4 years. It's a board book with a padded cover. It is made to survive rough treatment. Each colorful page has an adult (father, mother, or grandparent) loving a wounded baby. In addition, the text points out that God loves and cares too; therefore the title, "God Bless my Boo Boo."

I especially like the choice of animals used. There's a zebra with a boo boo, a bunny with an ear ache, a monkey with an injured tail, an elephant with a stuffy nose, a gator with a splinter, a flamingo with skinned knees, a bear with a belly ache, a porcupine who has been stuck with a needle, a walrus with a tender tooth, and a sloth with an "owie" on its toe.

The text is rhyming and fun to read. I imagine it being chosen to read over and over again.

Thank you to BookLook and Thomas Nelson for my copy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bunny's First Spring by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by David McPhail

A baby bunny discovers hope is at the heart of things.

When a bunny is born in spring, the world is green and new and full of hope. But as the months pass the breeze turns cold, the leaves on the apple tree fall, and the swallows leave the barn. The little bunny begins to worry that everything is dying.

Illustrated by New York Times Bestselling award-winning illustrator, David McPhail, Bunny’s First Spring celebrates the joy-filled rebirth and renewal at the heart of Springtime. As the earth thaws and the robins return to their nests, the little bunny discovers hope, transformation, and the miracle of new life everywhere around him.

My Review:
This delightful story of a baby bunny learning about the change of seasons will help children learn about the seasonal changes of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Bunny has a supportive mother and father who assure him that just as he is growing beautiful and strong, so is the world. When the bunny's world turns cold, he fears it is dying and scurries into his burrow where he sleeps until Spring returns. His parents then tell him that the world celebrates his birthday.

Written for children ages 4 -8.

I'm including a copy of a page with text so that the reader can appreciate the beautiful illustrations.

Thank you to BookLook and Zonderkidz for my copy.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Esther: Royal Beauty (A Dangerous Beauty Novel) by Angela Hunt

When an ambitious tyrant threatens genocide against the Jews, an inexperienced young queen must take a stand for her people.

An ambitious tyrant threatens genocide against the Jews in ancient Persia, so an inexperienced beautiful young queen must take a stand for her people.

When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king's heart and a queen's crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king's permission to exterminate all Jews--young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people...and bind her husband's heart.

Esther marks bestselling author Angela Hunt's return to biblical fiction. In each novel she explores an example of a Hebrew Old Testament tob woman: a woman whose physical beauty influences those around her--and can change the course of history.

My Review:
Angela Hunt has long been a favorite author of mine. When she writes, I cannot help but admire her commitment to biblical truth and her extensive research.

This work of Christian fiction reads as truth. The story is told in two voices: Esther (Hadassah) and one of the king's eunuchs, Harbonah. Chapters alternate between the two, allowing a deeper perspective.

I've loved the story of Esther since I first read it in the Bible. This novel opens up the tale with so many details. For instance, talk about beauty! Esther was so gorgeous that even when she was a young girl, people stopped to stare. I found myself impressed with the description of the Queen's carriage scene.

However, she was not born into privilege; rather, she was born a Jew, outside the palace walls. This was a challenging time. I feel that a really good action film should be made from this book.

I recommend this one!

Thank you to Amy Green at Bethany House Publishers, A Division of Baker Publishing Group for my copy.