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.