Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Surprised by Laughter by Terry Lindvall

This blog post will be a review of the book Surprised By Laughter, The Comic World of C S Lewis, by Terry Lindvall, PhD. Well, where to start? I could be facetious and say that if this book inspires laughter, it would certainly be a surprise! Let me go on and give you my review.

When I received this book for review, I was anxious to begin reading—my kids and I have just finished the Narnia series and I was interested to learn more about Lewis. Upon beginning the book, however, my anxiety switched to the kind which was regretting committing to reviewing it. The book makes a study of the writings and spoken word of Lewis (and also those of GK Chesterton). The topic is humor, its many facets, and its uses in real life, literature, and entertainment, as relating to and related by Lewis.

Upon reading the first chapter (which was a bit dull) I retained hope that this book would be interesting to me, especially since the author tried to emphasize that Lewis’s humor and wit shouldn’t be “autopsied” throughout the book. As I read more chapters, the thought that kept recurring in my mind was, “Oh man, this is a loooooooooong book, how am I ever going to make myself keep reading it?” As I had received this book for review, I felt I needed to make it through the entire thing, and therefore kept reading. It didn’t hold my attention, and upon finishing, I didn’t really feel like I knew any more about Lewis. It did make me want to find a biography of Lewis to fill me in on what I had thought I’d learn through this book (I’ll have to check at the library on our next visit!)

The book, though long, was full of interesting quotes and sayings, but they were buried in lots of verbiage. Many different areas/aspects of humor were discussed and illustrated, and Lewis appears to be very well-rounded in his appreciation of these.

So—final thoughts—the book was certainly not for me. It is an academic-type book, not the type I am interested in reading at this point in my life. Let me temper my review by saying that as a homeschooling mom of 3 kids, the time available for me to read is very precious and sought out. There have been times in my life when I have enjoyed reading deeper treatises, but this is not one of them. I can’t suggest this book for just anyone, but I’m sure there are some who will enjoy it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Couch to 5K update C25K

So, what kind of crazy person begins running in the winter in Vermont?! Yikes!

But--amazement of all amazement, I'm on week 7 of the running plan!! Whew! The level is 5 min walking, 25 (!) min running (!), 5 min cooldown walking! Woweeee!! Can you tell I'm impressed with myself?

And, guess what? I'm liking running!!

But--it's COLD some days! But--I'm still liking running!

Maybe it'll be even better when it's a bit warmer! :)

Ouchie, I fell yesterday on the ice while in mid-run, hopefully it won't hurt more!!

SO--enough of tooting my own horn. BUT--really, the couch to 5k plan? It's great! So do-able and I'd really suggest it! The one I downloaded was the Christian music one--found here.

Really! Give it a try!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

101 Bible Adventures The Ultimate Quest for Truth

Are you looking for a Bible study tool for your 9-10-11 year old (or thereabouts) child? If so, you may wish to give this new book by Tyndale Kids a try! This book has a nice format of 101 daily devotionals ("adventures")--easy to follow, easy to read, attention catching, and each one delivers a good deal of Scriptural truth!

Each day's reading has a catchy title (for instance: Danger at the Red Sea, Cloudy with a Chance of Manna, Achan Blows It, etc.) followed by the "What's Up" section, which gives some background/introductory information to the Bible story for the lesson. This is followed by the actual Bible passage (from the New Living Translation). A "key verse" is highlighted, there is a little comic-style illustration, and at the end, a "Now What?" segment, which gives an application/opportunity for further thought.

I love this book. I'm going to have my 10 year old use it as a daily devotional **all by himself!** He's excited to be able to use it as his very own devotional :) We may expand that usage in the future--it would make a great "read at the breakfast table" book to start our day as well.

I would recommend this book for you to buy for yourself, your family, or as a gift!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

A is for Adam by Ken and Mally Ham

A is for Adam is a multi-purpose book. It has a neat format, a stand-up "easel" style book with spiral binding, which enables the parent/teacher to look at/read the information from one side while the child/children view the pictures on the other side. There are lessons all through the alphabet, from A to Z, teaching the Gospel based on lessons from the book of Genesis. The parent side of the page lists things about what to teach on that topic, what to discuss, what the child needs to remember from that page, extra activities/stuff to do (related things to do that will enhance/expand the topic), and "quick review" questions at the end.

After all of the letters of the alphabet have been moved through, the second section in the book is a more in-depth investigation of the topics. More teaching, discussion starters, and a "core truth takeaway" which summarizes what the child/children should be learning/retaining from this lesson.

I can see many uses for this book. When I first saw it, my thought was to use it in a Sunday School/children's church setting. The different depths of coverage would allow it to be used with a wide range of ages. The pictures are colorful and eye-catching and certainly are appropriate for each topic. After going through it further I can see its use as a homeschool tool, or even just as a reading/talking tool to use with your kids. How about an after-dinner read/discuss? Lots of possibilities.

As I had this book sitting out waiting for me to read it, my 7 year old picked it up and started reading through it (looking at the pictures and the text too) and she asked if we could use it for devotions--another great way to use it!

This book is creation-oriented, full of Biblical truth. Lots of Scripture references for reinforcement and further study. I think it is a great addition to any family with children; it would also be a great purchase for a Sunday School or Children's Church curriculum coordinator--either to use as a series or just as an easy option for a substitute teacher (it's that user-friendly!)

I'd recommend this book for sure!

I received a free copy of this book to review from New Leaf Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

What a Son Needs from His Dad by Michael O'Donnell

This book, What a Son Needs From His Dad by Michael O'Donnell is a nice easily readable book, split into fairly short chapters. The book is written for fathers, emphasizing the huge role a father plays in his son's life. As a mom it drives me crazy that I cannot have the same type of influence on my son, but I do understand that it is a true concept. O'Donnell gives great examples and ideas of different areas which a dad influences his son.

There are chapters on spiritual life, work ethic, play/free time, creativity, friends, and others. O'Donnell gives ideas of how to encourage good characteristics and discourage bad. Of primary importance is the example that a father shows his son through his own lifestyle, relationships, and interactions.

Each chapter concludes with a "For Thought and Discussion" section which lists questions which can be used for self-examination or for starting points for discussion with a study group (or a buddy!)

I really enjoyed this book. We'll see how my husband likes it. It's not a crazy long book, it's not a "devotional" book per se (there are not many Scriptures referenced throughout)--but rather it's a great encouragement for men, emphasizing their huge role in their son's lives. I think often a dad goes to work all day, comes home tired at night, and then wonders exactly how much influence he has in the life of his son, since he sees him so much less than his wife does. This book highlights his own important role in the development of his son to a responsible man. It's not a book full of criticizing, but rather encouraging.

I would certainly recommend this book.

I received a copy of this book for free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fun Classification/Taxonomic level activity : Homeschool fun

Wow! What a fun and effective activity today! We are using the My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures curriculum (which we love) and today had an activity/game which illustrated the Taxonomic levels (like Kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species) but for the kids and their understanding, we made up our own classification system. At the end of the time, they all (7 yr old, 9 yr old, and 11 yr old) understood the importance of classification, and the process for forming and using a classification system.

Here's how it went:

I had the kids each go get 12 items from the house, whatever they wanted. They came back with a jumble of stuff, from clothing to toys to kitchen implements to a rock :) Next I told them to divide the items into only two groups. From there they divided those groups into smaller divisions, then those divisions into smaller subdivisions, and on. They did these cooperatively without me! We charted out their classification system and then they chose six items to have their siblings classify using this chart. When this was done, we did a "game" to guess what the item was when I gave them its classification. They sure enjoyed it!

For example: using their classification system a spiderman pillow was classed as:

item: pillow
classification: Cloth
bedroom item
non-blue item

and the dog was classified as:

item: dog
classification: non-cloth
things from outdoors
non-tree product

Hope this makes sense! It was a great project and they all learned a (hopefully) lifelong lesson! Can you tell I'm a science geek that I loved this as much as them? :)

Thanks My Father's World ECC for another super fun learning activity!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Answers Book for Teens by Bodie Hodge, Tommy Mitchell, and Ken Ham

The Answers Book For Teens (AB4T) is a small-sized book, very un-intimidating-looking, and reads on the front cover, "Your Questions God's Answers." Upon reading through this book I will say that I give it a very high rating. The book covers topics relevant to all of our Christian lives. The "normal teen book" topics such as sex and related topics are touched on, but so are other topics which are equally relevant in the lives of teenagers and adults--topics such as creation, Jesus being "the one and only way", the flood, "pain and bad stuff" in the world, the authority of Scripture, dinosaurs and dragons, etc. The answers are based in Scripture and are very fundamental Christian interpretations.

The topics are covered concisely, in a short but thorough way, accompanied by Scripture references which apply. There's not an overwhelming amount of wordiness on each topic, just enough to inform, clearly and truthfully. It's neither "fluffy" or overly deep, very well done. If a person wishes to look more deeply into any of these topics, he or she may do that elsewhere, but this gives a good quick overview.

The suggested ages for this book are 13-17, but I believe that is too narrow. I think this book is a wonderful resource for college-age kids--good to have for those searching/questioning times. It's a good quick resource for adults as well!

The illustrations are simple, monochromatic, kind of understated--they don't detract or draw attention to themselves, but they do add to the quick readable feel of the book. The book may be used as either a read-through or as a reference.

I highly recommend this book--for teens, for college kids, and for adults as well! This might be one of those books to purchase in a large quantity to have on hand to share with others!

I was given a copy of this book for free by the publishers for the purposes of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Uncommon Life by Tony Dungy and Nathan Whitaker AND A GIVEAWAY

Tony Dungy--what a great example of Godly manliness (or should I call it manly Godliness?) My husband has followed his career and his wonderful example for years. Not only as coach of the Colts, but now as commentator at NFL games, and also as author of several previous books, Quiet Strength and Uncommon.

We heard of this book on the radio, actually, and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to review it. This book's full title is The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge, and what it is is a daily devotional for men. Each day's reading has a Scripture for the day, a discussion, and "key" which gives a challenge to think and act on throughout the day. Though written by a football guy, the lessons are not all football related, as a matter of fact, I believe even a non-sports-fan would enjoy and learn much from this devotional! Different themes are covered, such as family issues, outreach/mission ideas, friends, peers, faith, and more.

There is a reading for every day of the year, though the introduction emphasizes that if you miss a day, don't worry about "catching up"--just pick up with the day you're on.

These writings are interesting, relevant, deep, Scriptural, and important for our lives today. They're not feel-good sound bites, but rather things that hit hard, say it like it is, and can/should be mulled over all day.

It's an easy thing to add into your day--they're short readings, with the Scripture printed out on the page. It would be a great addition to a devotional time or even just a great kick start for the day!

It's a great book, a reasonable price, and I will say I'm very pleased with it. I'll also say that it's not just for men! I do believe that women will enjoy using it as well.

For more info on Tony Dungy, check out this page!

Now here's the fun part! I have a certificate for a free copy of this book to give to a lucky blog reader! In order to be eligible for the giveaway, just become a follower of my blog and leave a comment on this post. On Saturday (Jan. 7) I'll pick a winner and notify you! If for some reason I haven't heard back from the winner within 3 or 4 days I may have to pick another winner, but hopefully that won't happen :)

A couple other sites of interest to the reader are Dungy's website (www.coachdungy.com) as well as the Tyndale website (www.Tyndale.com) on which you can find a variety of wonderful books published by Tyndale.

I was given a copy of this book for review purposes by the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. (I just really loved it!!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

How much is just psychological? :) Couch to 5K

I've just begun week 5 of the Couch to 5K (yay! today it was three 5 minute runs interspersed with 3 min walks). For Christmas my husband gave me 3 items by underarmor cold gear--headband/earband, gloves, and longjohn top--and really, it makes me feel more like a "runner"!! :) How silly is that?!