Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ by John Piper

This book by John Piper, Filling up the Afflictions of Christ, contains the stories of three men who brought Christ to other cultures at a huge cost to their own lives and those of their families. The 3 men whose ministries are included in this book are Adoniram Judson, John Paton, and William Tyndale.

As biographies go, I actually did not care for the writing style of this book. It wasn't arranged chronologically, and seemed to skip back and forth in their lives. There was a chapter for each of the men. I had not heard the story of John Paton before (missionary to Vanuatu), but had heard of the others. The focus was on the life sacrifices each of these men made to bring the Gospel to those who had not heard.

With the wide range of biographies available today, I probably would not recommend this one. I didn't care for the writing, it was not easy for me to read, and I tend to get more out of something more read-able.

So--I didn't love this. I probably wouldn't buy it or give it as a gift. We love hearing missionary stories in my family, but this one. . .I'd rather read a different one.

I received a copy of this book through the Crossway Homeschool Book Review Program for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Chronological Life Application Study Bible published by Tyndale

I LOVE this study Bible!! I did not have a study Bible, and I sure didn't know what I was missing! This Chronological Life Application Study Bible published by Tyndale is a wonderful new addition to our Bible study materials!

Some of the wonderful things about it ~~ Chronological ~~ so cool to have the passages arranged as they occurred in history. Last year the kids and I started studying ancient history and WOW! it was amazing to see the Scripture in its historical context -- made some of the passages so much more easily understandable and just clearer! With this layout of the Bible, it's easier to connect those historical dots. There is also a table in the front of this edition that lists the canonical table of contents (the "regular" way that the Bible is arranged, book by book) and shows the pages that they can be found in this edition.

The study part of this Bible is multi-faceted. There's a timeline that runs along the upper margin of each page, showing which era in history the section of the Scripture that you're looking at falls into. There are maps and explanations, drawings along with other explanations, introductions, titles, little historical facts (for example on p. 1111 in the Ezekiel section, the sidenote says that in 585 BC the Greek astronomer Thales predicts and eclipse). There are outlines, summaries, . . .I just cannot give a full explanation of all the study helps available in this! You can see some more detail on the website for this Bible, found HERE.

I definitely recommend this Study Bible. I know that it will be a great help in our family's Bible studies this year and in the future!

I am so thankful to have received a copy of this Bible for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review, but I really like this study Bible! Get one and use it yourself!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The New Answers Book 4 by Ken Ham

The New Answers Book 4 by Ken Ham is in the series of "Answers" books by Master Books. It is a lengthy book, a good resource, filled with essays on different topics of interest to Christians and those curious about Christian beliefs. Some of the topics include: dragons, creation, the size of the universe, GMOs, the ark, mutations, and many more.

I tried to just read through this book, cover to cover, and frankly--it's a LOT to read straight through. I found myself putting off reading and not reading (which I really enjoy) because I felt guilty about not finishing this book yet :) I would suggest reading a chapter at a time at your leisure, or using this book as a reference, when questions come up, you'll have this to refer to and learn more about those topics.

I have read and reviewed Answers Books for Teens before (here) and (here) and for reading through, I prefer those :) However, this "big" Answers Book 4 is a good reference, with sources cited and plenty of thoughtful research to consider.

I WOULD recommend this book, to be used as a reference, or as a "slow" read -- to get the most out of it. I will keep it on the shelf for myself and my family to read as the need arises.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

An Amish Miracle by Beth Wiseman, Ruth Reid, and Mary Ellis

An Amish Miracle is a collection of three fiction stories of Amish life, written by three different authors. The great surprise is that they are all set in the same community, with intertwining characters!! I guess I didn't realize that until I was starting on the second story--it made the book even better!

The stories are about three different women in an Amish community, one who has given up a child for adoption when she was a teenager, one who struggles with young widow-hood, and one who struggles with self-image (in view of her weight). They are sweet stories, nice, clean, with happy endings :) They are definitely enjoyable to read!

If I had to choose, I think I'd say that "Always in My Heart" was my favorite of these three. This story revolved around Hope, who had a son years before she was married, and longs for some kind of peace about that. He returns in some sort to her life and. . . :) You didn't think I'd give it away, did you? :)

I don't want to tell much more about these stories, because I don't want to give the story away! :) I will say that I recommend this book. The individual stories in it are enjoyable, but even so much better in that they intersect. Give it a try! Pick up a copy and read and enjoy!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Strait of Hormuz by Davis Bunn

International suspense, CIA-type intrigue, Christian publisher . . .sounds like a good book!

In the book "Strait of Hormuz" by Davis Bunn, the major character, Marc Royce, becomes involved in a story of international theft and murder, with possibilities of terrorism. He has a background with the State Department, and quickly jumps into this dangerous puzzle. Marc is a Christian, a Christ-follower and interacts with Christian Jewish folks as well. International Christian community is glimpsed at different stages of the story also.

It's a story of suspense and a bit of action. I think that the blurb on the back of the book hinted at maybe a bit more action than there actually is in the book. Not that it was bad, it WAS interesting, it just wasn't riveting, not the kind of book I'd stay up late to read.

I appreciate a Christian suspense/action book -- nice to not have all the bad language and sexual stuff -- but this one felt a little milder (a teeny bit boring?) than I thought it'd be. It wasn't bad, wasn't un-interesting, just didn't "grab" my interest. My husband is reading it right now, maybe he'll like it better, we'll see. I think it had a bit more human-interaction/relationship type stuff in it than I thought it would, but not enough for it to be classed any kind of a "romance" book.

Would I recommend it? Yes, I would -- some people might find it a bit more thrilling than I did. Don't get me wrong, I DID like this book, I think I was just expecting a little more.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The War on Christmas by Bodie Hodge (general editor)

In this day and age there is plenty of controversy and "fighting" over Christmas. You know what I mean. . .the "happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" that many people use (and many others loudly exclaim against) among other things. Those who believe in Christ and those who do not, all wishing to celebrate the same holiday, some claiming Christ and His birth, others just wanting to celebrate a time of love and giving.

And then there are the "Christian" debates revolving around Christmas, should we even celebrate it, is it a pagan holiday, is a Christmas tree not good, Santa (okay, I think we're pretty much all on the same page that Santa isn't the central figure!), and other thoughts you hear thrown around when Christians of different backgrounds get together and talk about the holiday (whoops! I used that "H" word -- well, it IS a holiday!!)

The book "The War on Christmas," edited by Bodie Hodge, addresses many of these topics and many more. The subtitle of the book is "Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression." The book covers many ideas, with Scriptural backing, such as the wise men, the virgin birth, the date we celebrate Christmas/is or is not Christ's birth date, the "inn" and "manger" and many others.

I think this book is written to people who are already believers in Christ and the Bible. It seems to be a book to teach Scriptural truth in the context of Christmas. There are interesting discussions and pretty illustrations. It sounds a lot like other books by Answers in Genesis :) So -- did I like it? There were interesting parts, good reminders, and some of the authors convictions backed up by why he believes that way. I did enjoy reading it and might read it again! I think it gives some good conversation starters and background info for them as well.

Would I recommend the book? Sure, it was an interesting, easy read. Gave points to think about. It didn't really change my mind on any thing, but it was good info to read and think about. It used Scripture to draw many of the points from. I will say that it's not a reflection of completely how my family celebrates, but I am one to read and think. It's a book to make you think!

I received a copy of this book from Master Books for the purpose of review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish

Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish is a very interesting read. The heart of the story is very moving, and it is told in a style that makes your brain work a little :) Liesl (the main character) is a woman whose passion in life is bread. She is an artist and a scientist, with bread her art form, her chemistry project.

Liesl's childhood/adolescence/young adulthood was poisoned by (oops! I almost told you and spoiled part of the story for you!!) something, and her relationships suffer due to this. She lives in Vermont and owns an artisan bakery. The book follows Liesl as she lives her regular life, forms relationships, makes bread, experiences sorrow and heartache, and deepens her relationship with God.

A theme throughout the book is bread and its history, science, and much more about bread. I bake bread for our family, but truly I don't know anyone who is as passionate about bread as Liesl! It was very enjoyable to read about someone's passion and how they get to live it.

The book skips back and forth, from Liesl's "current" story to her history to the history of bread -- keeps your mind engaged while you read (!) but I think it's a great balance. I enjoyed the book and definitely would recommend this book!

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall

This book, Christmas in Apple Ridge, is actually a collection of three of Cindy Woodsmall's Amish fiction books, The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, and The Dawn of Christmas. The names sound really Christmas-y, don't they? Well the books are not about Christmas!! Surprise!! :)

Now don't let that make you think that I did not like this book, I did! I just thought that it was funny that they were all "Christmas" titles, in a large book entitled "Christmas in Apple Ridge" when the only bit of Christmas was that the stories each ended around Christmas time. Sounds like a marketing ploy to me!!

HOWEVER!!!! I loved these books :) Each of the books were an Amish fiction love story, different characters (though some of them intersected minorly across the stories). Each of the main characters were Amish women, seemingly with no hope of true love, who find true love. :) Yes, that's over-simplified, but it's kind of the point of each one. They are sweet, clean, gentle, happy-ending stories, written by a great story-teller. They are easy to read and the kind of book you want to just read through to the end without too many interruptions. Yes, they're kind of predictable, but hey! I like that. :) The characters are interesting and different enough that you don't feel like you're reading the same story three times over.

I'd definitely recommend this book. If you're a fan of Amish fiction, you'll like this. . .and if you like (clean, sweet) love stories, you'll like this. . .and maybe if you're looking for a book to read over the Christmas holiday--you could even read it in a time that matches the title! (haha) It'd make a great gift too (maybe even a Christmas gift! haha again) Jokes aside, it really is an enjoyable, quick, easy read.

I received a copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower

Looking for a fun read? Here's one for you!! :) The book A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower is a mystery within a kind of an Amish environment~~characters include some Amish, some who have left the Amish religion (but still remain a part of their family's lives) and non-Amish.

The main character of the book, Chloe (an Englischer), and her boyfriend Timothy (who has left the Amish faith) discover the dead body of an Amish girl and help the local authorities to find out who has killed her and why. That's the basic theme of the book. :) It's a great story, sprinkled with lots of humor and interesting facts about Amish families and beliefs, and a growing relationship between the two main characters. The book is the third in a series, and I had not read the first two, but it was no problem in understanding the story or the relationships between the characters (though it may have been a teeny bit easier to understand some of the attitudes had I read the first two).

There was adventure, excitement, romance, cross-cultural dealings, and great cooking :) It is set around Christmastime, but it is a book which is enjoyable at any time of the year. I don't want to give away the plot or even more info about the book because I want to highly recommend it! It's a great fun easy read, which will keep you wanting to read and read some more, till it's at the end! I definitely want to read the previous two books now, as well as any others that this author produces!

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

Exploring the World of Astronomy by John Hudson Tiner

We are a homeschooling family and when I read that Master Books had come out with an elementary-middle school age book about astronomy I was very excited to check it out!! We are studying astronomy this year (with the Apologia book) and I am happy to say that we will be using this textbook (Exploring the World of Astronomy) as well!

The book is written in a very easy to understand form. For our family, it is a read-aloud, discuss, and answer the questions type of book. It's a black and white book and the chapters cover topics such as the moon, Mars, other planets, stars, telescopes, how we study space, and more (yes, Pluto too!) There are historical topics as well as very timely topics. Each chapter begins with three "explore" questions which are answered "discover" at the end of the chapter. At the end of the chapters are review questions as well as an "explore more" section (see picture below)

The book is very well-written. I think it could be easily used by a middle school learner as a self-study book. It is scientific information, written to be easily understood and learned. I would definitely recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Don't Miss the Boat by Paul Taylor

I've always been a biologist at heart, and believing in the Biblical God, I believe in the worldwide flood of Noah's time, as stated in the Bible. Along with these two points, I enjoy hearing explanations about how the world today was possibly/probably molded by this Flood.

I was happy to get the chance to review this book, "Don't Miss the Boat" by Paul Taylor, published by Master Books. It looked like a nonfiction book I'd be happy to read. When I began reading the book, though, I was not so sure. . .I got really bogged down, distracted, and overwhelmed in the introduction and chapter 1. Too many subjects were touched upon, kind of randomly seeming, rabbit-trail style--I thought this might be a tough book to complete.

Happily, upon reading more and more, the chapters to come were much more interesting and stuck to the topics they were supposedly about. Chapters were about many topics relating to the Flood, combining Scripture with scientific observations and explanations. Theories about what might have happened during and after the flood were explored, supposition and guesses, but backed up with information from different sources. Topics included such things as ice ages, re-population of the earth, carbon dating, how the animals got to the ark and which animals did, and the biggie -- uniformitarianism and problems with that.

The end part were stories (fictional) which were written about 4 different people as it could be imagined they were in the pre-flood world. This part was interesting in the sense that it made it easier to visualize some of the things/thoughts/emotions and look at it from a different viewpoint.

So -- I would say that I would recommend this book -- BUT don't get bogged down/discouraged/put off by the first chapter! Just skip it if you want!!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

City on Fire by Tracy L Higley

This book, City on Fire by Tracy L. Higley is subtitled "A Novel of Pompeii." When I saw this book, I was very interested, as in our homeschooling this year we are learning about ancient Rome--I thought maybe it would be a book that we could read aloud from, I mean, it is a Christian novel. . .about Pompeii and ancient Rome. . .

Well, after finally finishing the book I will say loudly, "NO WAY" would we read this book with the kids. As a matter of fact, my oldest child saw the cover and mentioned it as well, asking, "Mom, when you're done with that book, can I read it too if it's appropriate?" Well, it's NOT!

I really really did not like this book. First of all, it is very long,slow, and b-o-r-i-n-g :) Hey, this is my review, I can give my honest opinion, right? And ancient Rome was a harsh, immoral society--and the story reflects that.

The story has two main characters, whose stories are told independently and then they intersect about two-thirds of the way through the book. Ariella is a Jewish girl whose family was killed at the burning of the temple at Jerusalem and then she ended up as the servant of a vile and horrid Roman man. She escapes that man by running away and passing herself off as a gladiator. She learns to fight and the story goes on from there. The other main character, Cato, is a sort of honest businessman who moves from Rome to Pompeii and slowly begins to move against the cruelly powerful leading nobleman of that city and his practices. I'm not going to give you more info than that. . .the story moves on and on. . .

I would not recommend this book to anyone, regardless of age. . .certainly NOT for a child or teen. In my opinion, it was long and boring, lots of lurid details, and the volcano action occurs in the last sixth of the book or so. Had I not committed to reviewing the book I probably wouldn't have read past the first chapter or so.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Thomas Nelson) for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Homeschool t-shirt review!

I know I have mentioned this company before, a company that sells "homeschool" tshirts. Here's another review of another one of the shirts from there!

Check out the pictures -- it's the royal blue shirt with the saying "THIS IS WHAT AN AWESOME HOMESCHOOLER LOOKS LIKE!" on the front.

My kids LOVE these shirts and they last really well! We have had great success with the graphics staying good through more than a year of washing/drying (well, wearing too, obviously!)

(here's a shirt that's a year old and still looks great!

I'd highly recommend these homeschool tshirts which are made by www.shopgreatproducts.com for your homeschooled child or as a gift! There are also shirts for moms and dads (and Grandparents!!) of homeschoolers -- AND also Christian tshirts, not just homeschool!

So check them out - here's the link to the shirt I am reviewing (HERE) -- but honestly, there are LOTS of great shirts -- check them all out!! :)

(Oh, as a side note -- shipping -- really fast!)

Click on over and buy some today!! Until September 15th most of their shirts are only $5.99!!!! Amazing sale! Stock up NOW!!

I received this tshirt for free from the Great Products company for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

For Every Season by Cindy Woodsmall

Okay, well, this book was a shocker for me! Not in a good sense, however.

I have read other books by Cindy Woodsmall and have enjoyed and recommended them, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this book, For Every Season. It's an Amish fiction, and I usually find such books to be interesting, clean fiction reads.

I knew, going into this, that this book is number 3 in a series~~and I was pleasantly surprised to find a foreword of sorts which began "The story so far. . ." and gave a brief overview of the happenings in books 1 and 2 of the series. I felt like this overview prepared me nicely to begin this book without wondering about what was going on.

The story focuses on several Amish young adults who have moved from Pennsylvania to Maine to begin a new Amish settlement and to recover from the financial difficulties brought upon their families by a tornado's destroying their apple orchard business back home in PA. Many families hopes are tied up in the success of the Maine orchard. Along side of this, there are several interpersonal issues going on -- Rhoda, who is engaged to Jacob -- who also has a very huge mysterious back story -- and Samuel, his brother, who is in love with Rhoda also -- and Leah, who is considering leaving the Amish society for a non-Amish boyfriend, and then there's Rhoda's friends/people she stays with -- and their unfolding dramas -- and, and, and!

To my point of view, there are just TOO many main characters and too many conflicts for the reader to really be able to focus on one or the other. Yes, real life is full of lots of side stories, but the author does not treat these as side stories, but all as competing main stories. What was the main story of this book?

But all that aside, I still would have said that I liked the book -- BUT for the aspect of one of the main character's (Rhoda's) magical mystical visions of the future and past, her "gift". I was really uncomfortable with this in a book which is supposedly a Christian book. These supernatural visions. . .not for me.

For this reason, mainly, I would not really recommend this book. I am not planning on reading any of the other books in this series either. I have liked this author's books in the past and might again in the future, but not this magical supernatural, other-than-God stuff.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

I Am Ruth: A Story of Loss, Love, & Redemption by Berg and Duff

The book I Am Ruth; A Story of Loss, Love, & Redemption is written by Brenda Duff and the photography is by Kenneth Berg. It is the book of Ruth from the Bible, illustrated and expanded.

When I first read about this book I wasn't too excited. I thought it was just a book with photos of people re-enacting the scenes from the book of Ruth from the Bible. Well, it IS that, partially, but even more, it is filled with explanations and expansions of information relevant to the book of Ruth.

Information such as how Lot and Abraham's story relates to that of Ruth and Naomi. Stories of other Biblical characters "Returning Home." Explanations of some of the traditions which are a part of the book of Ruth (Boaz's sandal, for one!)

All in all, I think this book was a nice help to read alongside the book of Ruth. Actually, the text of the book of Ruth is included in this book.

I would recommend this book as a gift or a study aid, or even as a homeschool book to use while studying the book of Ruth. My teenage daughter actually picked up this book and read it before me and really enjoyed it, so it appears that its appeal is pretty broad.

You can see more info about this book, including a video trailer here.

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Advice for Seekers by Charles H Spurgeon, published by Attic Books

This is a review of the book Advice for Seekers by Charles H Spurgeon, originally published back in 1896 (4 years after his death, incidentally). This publication is by Attic Books (http://www.nlpg.com/imprint/attic-books/), which is a segment of New Leaf Publishing.

When I received the book, I was all prepared to dislike it due to its cheesy look. The cover looks really fake-y like it's pretending to be an old book, and the pages, which look torn out kind of (here's a picture:

which truthfully, I think looks pretty stupid and distracting.

Add to this the old language, which reads kind of like King James version . . . Yup, I was prepared to dislike it, just from these superficial things.

Well, then I began reading it -- and once I got into the pattern of reading the old time writing style, I began to enjoy it! Really surprised myself on that one!!

The book is a series of messages by Spurgeon, aimed at people who are not yet believers in Christ but are searching for the Truth. As I was reading through it, struck by the deep truths that are presented in such a friendly manner, I was thinking that I wished the language was updated so that it would be an attractive, easy book for a nonbeliever to read. However, I suppose that someone who is truly seeking might not be put off by the language and plow through to see the wisdom.

I would also recommend this book for a believer in Christ. It is an encouragement and a reminder of the truths found in the Word of God regarding salvation, security, sin, and more.

So -- though I originally thought I'd not like this book, turns out that I do! I would recommend it, but understand that you'll have to get into the rhythm of reading the old-sounding writing.

I received a free copy of this book from New Leaf Publishing Company for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

She's Twelve Going on Twenty by Kim Camp

Well, here's my review for the book She's Twelve Going on Twenty by Kim Camp. Hmmmmm. Not my favorite. I really did not care for this book! I have a new teenager and a couple of preteens, so I was very excited to check out this book, but as I began reading, I had to make myself read the book since I had promised to review it. It's a re-release of an earlier book, with additions made to the book since the author has become divorced--her new thoughts based on single parenthood, I guess.

The book is topics which relate to preteens/teens such as diet, exercise, faith, music, friends, family, and more. Lots of examples make up the bulk of the book, along with words of wisdom from the author.

I really didn't find this book to be really original, and not a whole lot of Scriptural principles/references. I don't know quite what it was that made me dislike it so much. It was hard for me to follow, first of all. I felt like the author was just sharing her opinions or observations rather than using the Bible as the authority behind it. Little snippets of ideas, but no real unifying theme. Sprinkled with the names of famous people the author is friends/acquaintances with.

Well, though I don't have major objections, I would not really recommend this book. I didn't enjoy reading it and did not feel that I gained any wisdom to help us through the teen years. So -- that's my two cents' worth!

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

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Toasted cheese sandwiches REVITALIZED!!!! :)

We love toasted cheese sandwiches here. I've always been one to add "stuff" to the cheese, stuff like salsa, tomatoes, or even onions.

This spring we went out to lunch and had the BEST toasted cheese you can imagine!! :) (Well, they were paninis~~pretty much kind of glorified toasted cheese, right?!) -- so what was the secret?


Yup! One piece of the bread was spread with jelly!

Ever since that lunch, I've been making ours with jelly on one of the bread pieces, and let me tell you, YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!

All kinds of wonderful tasting sandwich combinations! I usually use Cabot Sharp Cheddar cheese, and some of the great addition/combos we've had were such as:

raspberry jam/onion
hot pepper jelly/apple
dandelion jelly/cowboy candy
apple jelly/onion

and so many more!

Give it a try!!!!

Sisterchicks Do the Hula by Robin Jones Gunn

Sweet, fun, easy , enjoyable read :) So there!

I enjoyed reading Sisterchicks Do the Hula by Robin Jones Gunn. The story is sweet and happy :) and little bits of wisdom about life and God were sprinkled throughout!

It's a story about college roommates reuniting and taking the trip of a lifetime at the age of 40. They fly to Hawaii and spend a vacation together, experiencing different adventures. Throughout it all they work through some decisions/feelings and reinforce their need for and praise of God.

I think part of the draw of the story is the two ladies' relationship. Who doesn't think that rekindling a relationship with their college roommate would be so amazingly fun?! :)

The book has some funny parts, some sweet and tender parts, some historical Hawaiian info, and more. I would definitely recommend this book for a nice light read. I have read other books in the "sisterchick" series and have enjoyed them as well :) One thing, I kind of think the term "sisterchick" is weird, but, oh well, I can get past that!

So -- pick it up and give it a read! You may just enjoy the lighthearted feel or you may pick up a tidbit of wisdom along the way!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the "Blogging for Books" program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Christian Guides to the Classics "Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter" by Leland Ryken

Quick review of a thin little book :) The book "Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter" by Leland Ryken is one of the series of "Christian Guides to the Classics." I want to tell you that I was impressed with this little book/guide! The author guides the reader through the Scarlet Letter chapter by chapter, bringing attention to literary devices, Christian references, symbolism, and practices of the day. For each chapter there are 3 sections: plot summary, commentary, and "for reflection or discussion."

I wish I had read this years ago! What a different look at The Scarlet Letter! It is very thorough and highlights different aspects of the story which could be overlooked. This book/guide could be used by a teacher, a student, a discussion group, or just by someone seeking to better understand this classic piece of literature.

I would definitely recommend this book and I look forward to checking out other books in this series.

Thank you Crossway books for the opportunity to review this book. I received a copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive recommendation.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Homeschool T-shirts! **GIVEAWAY!!! **

I'd love to share about these awesome t-shirts for homeschoolers! Last year we bought these for our kids to start out the homeschool year~~the kids loved them! The place we bought the shirts was called Great Products (funny name, huh?!) and their website is www.shopgreatproducts.com . The 3 designs we bought last year were these:

We have been happy with these shirts, the kids love them and get lost of comments about them :) They have worn well and come through the wash with the designs intact. So very happy to "share the word" about this shop which sells them!

SALE -- right now their homeschool tshirts are on sale for $5.99 each!!! We bought some for our kids to start the schoolyear with :) Here's the link to the site: http://www.shopgreatproducts.com/homeschool-adult-children-t-shirts/ The sale goes from August 15 - September 15 (2013)


The Great Products store would like to offer YOU a chance to win a homeschool t-shirt! The winner will be allowed to choose the design, color, and size of their choice! So -- how to enter? Just leave a comment on the end of this post! You can get more entries by doing any of these things: 1) "like" their Facebook Page 2)follow them on twitter, or 3)check out their website. Please add this info onto your comment for more chances to win :)

The winning entry will be chosen on Wednesday night, August 21. Please make sure that I have a way to contact you in case you are the winner of this! Good luck!

One Year Devos for Teen Girls from Tyndale Publishers

Are you looking for a great birthday or Christmas gift for a teen girl? Check out the One Year Devos for Teen Girls! This book, written by authors Dannah Gresh and Suzy Weibel, is a non-threatening way for a teen girl to be reminded of Scriptural truths every single day. With Dannah Gresh as an author, I knew before even going through it that I would like it!

The layout is that each day of the year has a Scripture, an explanation/narrative/challenge, and a question for personal reflection. Each day is one page, and it's written in an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand manner. The topics addressed are widely varied, but definitely in tune with today's issues. Some topics include forgiveness, poverty, self control, boys, integrity, persecution, sex, facebook, worship, family, the Bible, spiritual gifts, and many many more. There is NOT a place to write responses, and at first I thought that was something it was lacking, but as I thought about my own daughter, I know that she is not usually likely to write down her true thoughts/feelings of her heart in a place which her siblings could potentially discover! So, maybe this is good, giving them a chance to think through/process the message in the daily devotion at least mentally. If done with a parent or a group this "Action Step" at the end of each day could certainly spark some good discussion!

I also liked that the authors instruct the reader to just start on today's date and read the one for today. No pressure to begin on January 1st and no insinuation of failure if you happen to miss a day!

I would recommend this book. As a mom, it is great to have things that are relevant for daughters that they actually like to read :) I can definitely see this book as something that girls will enjoy reading and it'll give them Biblical truths, applied to their lives, to think on all day long. I think it might be a great mom/daughter devotional book as well!

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Burning Sky by Lori Benton

I was a little hesitant to read Burning Sky. . .reading the summary on the back it sounded kind of just like a love story of some sort--but as I began reading it I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself loving the book! I'll say right here at the start that I definitely liked this book and would recommend it for sure!

The book is about a woman who, as a young girl, was abducted in an Indian raid and lived the next 14 years of her life with the Wolf Clan, as a daughter/sister/wife. She has lost her (Indian) family and is returning to the land of her birth family, the life she was taken from. Her homecoming, however, is not a cause for rejoicing on the part of most of the people involved: her parents are gone, the land is scheduled to be taken and sold, lives have been changed by war with the British and the Indians, and much more. She finds a Scotsman who is injured and nurses him back to health; her Wolf Clan brother Joseph finds her; she reunites with her childhood friend Anni; she meets up not so happily with other childhood friends; and on and on. I do not want to give away any more. Read it!!

I was very taken with this book. It is kind of a long book, and definitely not just fluff. It was VERY well-written, and the author gave just enough twists and turns to keep the reader seeking more and more. I think the whole premise of the book, this girl who had been kidnapped and then adopted into another culture, then returned to her previous culture -- was treated very gently and respectfully.

It was a nice clean story, yes, it was a love story, but much more than that. Nothing racy or inappropriate. It was certainly not overly-predictable, and a happy ending :) which I do like!

I would recommend this book for sure. Read it, give it as a gift, lend it to a friend! One of my favorite fiction books I've read this summer!

I received a copy of this book from the Waterbrook publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The World of Jesus by Dr. William H. Marty

This past year, in our homeschooling, we studied the ancient world, the curriculum is entitled "Creation to the Greeks." This book, The World of Jesus covered a teeny bit of what we learned about (the end of the year stuff) and covered a lot of what we'll be covering next year in "Rome to the Reformation." All that to say that this book will be a useful tool in our homeschool year next year!

The World of Jesus opens up/reviews/introduces the history of the time of the end of the Old Testament through and past the New Testament. It's great background information that will help during your Bible reading/Bible study times.

I WILL say that the book is a bit, ummm. . . full of information-- I have been reading it for a month and a half -- it's not the kind of book that you can zip through -- if you want to digest the info. I think it's a good tool, a good reference, and we will be using it as such. It's not necessarily organized or laid out the way I would do it, but the information is there.

I would recommend this book. Don't get turned off by the amount of information in it; if you try to read it straight through, you might get bogged down. Read it bit by bit. Or use it as a reference.

I received this book for free from Bethany House publishers for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Follow-up info on mulching in garden!

Well, I think I'm totally a convert to using mulch in the garden!! My earlier blog post (HERE) talked about my beginning with the mulching in the garden. Now, here it is, almost August, and the garden is SO much more weed-free (or at least light on weeds) than it usually is! Usually about this time, there are so many weeds that we can hardly find the plants :)

We've used grass clippings and straw for mulching; straw for mulching some of the pathways, and grass clippings for some of the other paths and around the plants. I guess the free aspect of the grass clippings makes them much more appealing! :) Thanks to my children for being willing to help collect the mulch matter.

It's my prettiest garden to date. I will definitely be using mulches in the garden from now on!!

As a side note, some of the other new or new-ish stuff that we're using this year is the weave method for staking tomatoes (read it in Organic Gardening magazine-- HERE ) and also did half the garden in beds like the article in Mother Earth News this spring (here).

Here are some pictures of our garden at this point! So far from the garden we've harvested and enjoyed broccoli, basil, cilantro, a few beets, swiss chard, and about 6 little grape tomatoes :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Little Pilgrim's Progress by Helen Taylor

When I was a child in the '70's my parents read Little Pilgrim's Progress to the family around the supper table; we all loved the story. Now, as a parent, I am happy to say that my children are equally loving the story!

This printing, by Moody Press, features a great cover illustration, which adds to its appeal.

The story follows Christian, a pilgrim going to the Celestial City. Along the way he encounters many situations and meets many people. I'm not really going to re-cap the story, because it's so well known. I do want to say, however, that it is a great tool as a read-aloud. The language IS a bit dated, but that's great for this purpose, the kids get to hear these terms in context and it enriches their language experience. Also -- the names of the characters, such as Faithful, Obstinate, Mistrust, Prudence, Discretion, Talkative, Diffidence, Despair, Mercy, and so on -- bring up great conversations with our children. They describe character traits which we either wish to claim or to shed.

There is excitement and drama in the story, and the chapters are very short. If you're reading a chapter a night, there will be lots of time for discussion! I love to hear my kids discussing the characters and events on their own also.

I would definitely recommend this book as a great read-aloud for a family. It's good for a whole range of ages, just be ready for lots of explanation and discussion!

I received a copy of this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

kids and gardens

My daughter walks in, looking kind of sneaky, holding something kind of to her side/back. Quickly mommy asks what she's hiding. Her response -- just a snack, Mom. . .


Now, what kind of mom would I be if I tell her not to eat the vegetables?! :) Ah well, that's why they don't end up on the table. . .

Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home by Gloria Furman

The book Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman is a book written by a mom, to other moms. She speaks of frustrations that we can relate to, whether identical to situations in our lives or just kind of like it. She has so many challenges in her life and her family; she uses these to illustrate living through God's grace, with the Gospel foremost.

The "treasuring the Gospel in your home" is, I think, our response to God's mercy and grace in sending His Son to die for us. He did this for us, so of course we can/should/will live for Him, with this foremost in our motivations.

The book is not a list of some sort, of things we ought to and ought not to do, but rather illustrations from the life of the author of how she lives according to the Gospel.

Different topics focused on in the book include things like hospitality, generosity, pain, the mundane(!), our broken-ness, idolatry, and other things that challenge our day-to-day lives. The author speaks candidly and gives the reader so many things to think about. It is good to be reminded of this truth by which we should be living our lives.

I would recommend this book; it is a good book for an individual, but I think it would also make a good book to discuss as a group.

I received this book for the purpose of this review from Crossway (crossway.org/blog) as a part of their Homeschool Book Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Lead Me Home by Stacy Hawkins Adams

Lead Me Home is a fictional book, the story of a stay-at-home mom and pastor's wife. A woman who lives with a life-crushing secret. The main character, Shiloh, has many roles. She is the mom to 4 boys, aged 9-17. She is the wife of a pastor, the daughter of a pastor. She is active in the church and leader of a women's Bible study. She is a sister who wishes she had a better relationship with her sisters.

Throughout the course of the book Shiloh is stretched in many different ways. She finds joy substitute-teaching music; she fights envy/competition of another woman in the church; she is offered opportunities to tighten family bonds. I guess the largest conflict in the book is a conflict within her. With God's help, she comes clean of the big secret which has been seemingly running her life for too many years. It is a hard thing for not only her, but for her family as well.

I don't want to give too much away, so I won't say more on that matter. You'll have to read the book. :)

It's not a "fluffy read" in the sense that it does require a bit of processing, it covers several thought-provoking topics. It's well-written and you'll find yourself reading quickly through it (and maybe staying up later than usual to read a little more!) It feels very honest and you will just delight in the freedom given to Shiloh upon her confessions and opening herself to God's plan.

I would definitely recommend this book. Give it a read!

I also want to highlight something in the beginning of the book. I don't know if you are a person who reads the dedication in the front of the book, but in case you are not, this one struck me, so I wanted to make sure you read it! :) Here's what it says: "This book is dedicated to you, wherever you are and whatever your circumstances. May you not only be entertained by this story, but also inspired to recognize and embrace the blessings borne from your life's broken places. May your soul be refreshed and your spirit filled with peace." Thank you Stacy Hawkins Adams, for caring so much about your readers!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

The Real Win by Colt McCoy and Matt Carter

The Real Win, written by quarterback Colt McCoy and Matt Carter is a book written by men, for men! :) I got a chance to read and review this book and though I am not a man, I did enjoy it and recommend it to a male audience. My husband is already enjoying it, and he is not a big reader.

The book's authors focus on different topics of importance in a Christian man's life, such as your legacy, your role as spiritual leader in your home, being tempted, idolatry, trials, and others. They are topics that are relevant and important.

The way this book is written is using illustrations from the lives of the authors. They are little windows into their lives, which many people can identify with. They are not all illustrious, from little to large pictures of how we fail in our own strength, but how God can use us and grow us. There is Scripture and Scriptural principals used throughout the book, not just these men's ideas, but teaching from the Bible.

I think that one of the best aspects of this book, to me, is that it is very readable. What do I mean by that? It's not dry, trudge -through-it reading, but rather is written in an interesting fashion. This is a great way to teach. I would definitely recommend this book; it would also make a great gift for a man you know!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summertime :)

Ah, the views of summertime! :)

The garden looks lush, full of weeds :)

The bees are working hard

Meat birds, survived the recent crazy rains :) But almost ready for the freezer.

The layers are happily cruising the yard

The meat rabbits, growing nicely

The kids garden, where they're growing stuff for the food shelf

And a hive buzzing with activity.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Rainy rainy rain!

Wow! I cannot believe how wet it is here! We've had so much rain that the ground is saturated and everything that falls just runs off rather than soaking in. Sounds like spring, right? Not like July!! Strange! Hot temps, high humidity, and lots and lots of rain! Yesterday after the 4th of July parade it was soooooo hot and humid; when the sky darkened a little we figured it would be a good time to butcher some of our broilers (chickens). We were planning on doing a dozen. As soon as we began the rain started. Not just a little rain, a HUGE deluge :)

It came down and down and down! We were standing there dripping wet and the water began running around our feet, then up to our ankles! It was coming through the lawn and through our butchering area so strongly that we didn't let the kids or the dog near the ravine, because it was soon a raging river! Weird weather!

Our poor laying hens also! Their coop was flooded, way flooded! Ahhh! They had all been just foraging around the yard till the water started flowing -- poor girls, they were huddled under a cedar bush, up to their bellies in the water! We carried them over to their coop and put them in. They happily stayed in there till the rain stopped and the water diminished.

At least the garden's liking this influx of water! :)