Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Story of loss and love

The Road Home  -     By: Beverly Lewis

Lena Rose could never have imagined the tragedy that would strike her and her siblings the day her parents went to work.  It was the first day of school for her little brother, Chris, and she was the one responsible for seeing the boys off to school.  Before they returned from school,  all of them were orphans.  Looking all over the Michigan Amish community for a family to take them all in, there was no one willing to take them all.  Lena Rose needed not only a home but a job and that was most difficult to find.  Only an aunt and uncle in Lancaster, PA was willing to open their home so, not only were the children split into multiple homes, Lena had to leave them all behind to go work with her aunt as a seamstress, hoping to locate someone in Michigan soon so she could be reunited with her siblings.

Lena Rose didn't expect to find such a precious aunt and uncle, ones who watched over and treated her as their own.  While they couldn't replace her parents, she grew to love them but still longed to return to her brothers and sisters and the beau she left behind in Michigan.  Will opportunity present itself for Lena Rose to return or will she find her place and friends in Lancaster?

I have never read anything Beverly Lewis wrote that I didn't thoroughly enjoy and this novel is no exception.  When life seems a bit harried, I enjoy escaping to the Amish world where life seems a bit simpler.  Lewis' characters are always well developed and her descriptions vivid enough to make me feel as if I am part of the story.  Even though Lewis has written a number of Amish fiction stories, many of which are part of a series, I had not indication that this is part of a series but could easily become one, following the remainder of Lena Rose's siblings.

I did receive this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and am in no way obligated to write a positive one.  Thank you again, Mrs. Lewis, for another heartwarming story.

Bedtime board book

Go to Sleep, Sheep!

The baby sheep on Suntime Farm have come to the end of their day and Mama is wanting them to return to the barn to go to sleep and dream the night away.  Just like your own child, the four little lambs come up with every excuse they can to not go to bed....they aren't tired, they want a story, they are thirsty, and they are hungry.  But Mama insists, says their prayers with them and stays close by as they fall asleep.

Shaped like the barn that houses the animals for the night, this little board book is sturdy and a great little bedtime story for very young children.  I loved how the illustrator put glasses on one of the sheep and has both male and female lambs represented.  The title and moon on the front also have a glittery like finish, adding a bit of sparkle to the cover.

It is hard, in my opinion, to go wrong with a board book that permit young hands to enjoy being read to when so small and the reader doesn't have to be concerned with torn pages if the child wants to be engaged in page turning.  These playful little lambs are so cute, the excuses not to go to sleep so relate-able, this book is sure to be a favorite go-to for toddlers up to age four or five.

I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and am in no way obligated to write a positive one.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Perfect for young readers

The Beginner's Bible Bedtime Collection

Fresh off the press is the newest volume in The Beginner's Bible story collection with twenty-three of the best known Bible stories from both the Old and New Testaments, perfect for those last moments before lights out.  Each brief story ends with a prayer you and your child might choose to say as well as the scripture reference related to the Bible story and prayer topic.

I have always enjoyed the sweet wide-eyed, colorful illustrations in this series.  This volume follows along with those same illustrations. The cover is a softly padded glow-in-the dark one with rounded corners perfect for little hands.  The pages within are a slick finished sturdy paper but not board book style.  The text of the stories is large print and words not so difficult that I think this is the perfect Bible story book for children ages four to eight who are just beginning to learn to read on their own.  I also like how the scripture is set apart in red.

Perfect for every child's library, The Beginner's Bible Bedtime Collection is perfectly sized for smaller hands and the first book from this series designed as bedtime stories.  What better way to end your day with your child than with a Bible story crafted just for them and a prayer right before they close their eyes?

I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and am in no way obligated to write a positive one.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Get rid of the clutter in your life

Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff  -     By: Dana K. White

I love to shop, whether it be at the outlets, yard sales, thrift stores...wherever I am I can always find someplace to shop and most likely a bargain to be found.  Thus, I can easily become overwhelmed by all the "stuff" in my life.  I have throw away/give away sessions often but I can talk myself out of giving away almost anything that isn't trash.  Unfortunately, it seems to be a battle I will never win.

Dana K. White has just released Decluttering at the Speed of Life and I must say she makes some excellent points in the book.  I have fallen prey to some of those items that are advertised to help organize but she addresses the lack of proof that they achieve what they advertise.  She also suggests ways to find places to donate your items as well as how to help others declutter their own homes.  I did enjoy that White broke the tasks down by room, starting with the living room where everyone gathers including family and friends and will find it more relaxing in a decluttered, well-organized space. Before any of us can begin to tackle the clutter, it is essential to modify how we think about "stuff" and White suggests we begin slowly, making an effort in only five minutes if that is what you have.

The book is easy to read and I loved how White shared stories of her own journey.  It will take some time and I think I will give myself a year to walk through the rooms step by step but this book inspires me to make a change in my own home.  As White says, I don't need a bigger home, just less clutter.  I suppose the proof will be this time next year.  I do think Decluttering at the Speed of Life  was released at the perfect time--spring cleaning.  This is  a book I will read more than once, when the motivation in me dies and I need to refocus and find encouragement.

I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and am in no way obligated to write a positive one.  I highly recommend for others like me who can enter a room and shake their head at all the "stuff" in it, my closet being the worst.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Perfect gift for grads

NKJV God's Promises for Graduates, Class of 2018, Navy                    -     By: Jack Countryman

Many times in my life I have had topics and circumstances come my way that I was uncertain regarding a decision or where I stood.  Fortunately, God's Word provides guidance every step of the way.  Whether you are uncertain about God's presence, making poor choices, needing encouragement, searching for who Jesus is, or simply wondering what Scripture has to say about a topic so you can make certain your thinking is in line with God, this small purse/backpack sized book provides both Old and New Testament scripture in New King James with a few in New International version answers to your questions.  Each topic is addressed by approximately 8-12 scripture verses.

This small book has been published with a few focuses, God's Promises for Your Every Need, God's Promises for Women, and several newly published color options for the Class of 2018.  The soft, leather like cover and the silver gilded pages are very attractive and a perfect gift for someone special in your life who is graduating this year.  What better way to send them out than with the promise that God's word is reliable and true and that, one day we will all who are believers graduate into our heavenly home.

While maybe just a simple thing, one surprise for me when I received this book was the ribbon marker decorated at the end with a graduation tassel.  Nice touch.  As a Christian teacher in a public school setting, I plan to use this book as gifts for students hoping that the life my husband and I have displayed before them was a seed and this book will water that seed so that fruit may be revealed. Maybe combine this book with a nice pen and journal for an extra special gift?

I did receive this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and am in no way obligated to write a positive one.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Entertaining ideas galore

So Much To Celebrate: Entertaining the Ones You Love the Whole Year Through  -     By: Katie Jacobs

Life is worth celebrating.  Whether it be big events like birthdays and holidays or maybe just a simple victory such as doing well on a test or meeting an exercise/health goal.  In my opinion, it is actually the more unexpected small celebrations that are the most fun to plan and execute.

I love Katie Jacobs' new So Much To celebrate: Entertaining The Ones You Love The Whole Year Through.  No matter the season or occasion, she has provide recipes that don't require a list of special ingredients and tips on what you can make ahead, d├ęcor and table setting ideas with beautiful photos, and theme options.  The one thing that I was a bit disappointed in was the number of drink recipes containing alcohol.  However, I think I will try some of them without the addition.

The volume is a sturdy hard-bound one with a ribbon marker to hold your spot.  While some hard-bound recipe books frustrate me, this one opens nicely and lays flat enough that I am not fighting pages while creating the recipes.  The exception would be only the very final recipes in the back but it is still okay and I have those at the top of my "must make lists"--Peppermint cheesecake and chocolate eclairs.

Another feature I like about the book is that it is broken down into seasons with suggested menus.  How many times to I want to entertain and can't figure out what to serve?  Get ready for a lot of dessert options in those menus though.

I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and was in no way obligated to write a positive one. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Jungle board book

Night Night, Jungle

One of my favorite moments of each day when my children were small was bedtime.  Sometimes it was just that glorious moment when they calmed down and I could have a moment to do what needed to be done but it was also a special moment for bedtime stories.  It seems often their hands would reach for the same story that was their favorite but I loved all books that either pointed them toward the love of their heavenly Father or helped them unwind and be ready for a good night's rest. 

Night Night Jungle by Amy Parker uses jungle animals such as the sloth, lemur, and parrot for just such a bedtime story.  In rhyming text, the animals are praying before they eat, brush their teeth, take one more splash in the water, beg for one more story.....all rituals our children go through every night then say "night, night". 

The bright colorful illustrations by Virginia Allyn will engage the youngest "reader" and the sturdy board book pages will stand up to small hands turning them.  The lightly padded cover also makes it a bit easier for small hands to grip and carry.  I love that the text ends with reminding us that God loves us and the animals then a "night night" to God.

I am a huge fan of all board books as I don't think it is ever too early to begin to engage your child in the pleasures of reading.  I am particularly fond of these sturdier volumes for children up to age 4 so that they can hold the book and turn the pages just like they see their parents doing without any concern of damage.  I also like the fact that the author used some pretty obscure animals that can be used as a teaching tool.  I may have been a young adult before I knew much of anything about a sloth.  And a toucan was simply something on the front of a cereal box but I didn't know anything about its living environment.   This book provides a good jumping off for children to investigate and find out more about the animals in the illustrations.

I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and am in no way obligated to write a positive one.