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    The Newest Adventures in Odyssey Book

    Book Review - The Imagination Station: Captured on the High Seas Book 14 by Marianne Hering and Nancy I. Sanders   As ...

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    Teaching young children big truths from God's Word

    Book Review: The Berenstain Bears God Shows the Way by Stan and Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain Recently I was maybe ...

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    Excellent Book on the Historical and Biblical Support for Elder-led Churches

    Review: Elders in the Life of the Church: Rediscovering the Biblical Model for Church Leadership by Phil Newton and Matt ...

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    Great new novel

    Book Review: The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron As a historical fiction lover, I loved the connection between the ...

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    Hitting the reset button

    In case you were wondering, no, I have not dropped off the edge of the earth.  With the holidays and ...

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Book Review: My Happy Pumpkin

Just in time for the fall season is My Happy Pumpkin board book written by Crystal Bowman and illustrated by Claudine Gevry. This children’s book tells the story of a family growing a pumpkin and then carving it into a Jack-o-lantern. But instead of focusing on a Halloween theme like you would expect by looking at the cover, the author explains how we can let our light shine for Jesus just like your pumpkin will glow from the light placed inside of it.

The author has created a fun rhyming story that small children are sure to enjoy. If you are looking for a Christian alternative for Halloween books that will leave out ghosts and scary creatures then this might be the right one for you.

“Cute” is probably the best word I can use for it. The illustrations are well done and the story is sweet but not particularly memorable.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Zonderkidz as part of the Booklook program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

Fun Children’s Book but What’s the Point?

Book Review: Jonah and the Great Big Fish by Rhonda Gowler Greene and illustrated by Margaret Spengler
_225_350_Book.1286.coverWe have quite a few children’s books that revolve around favorite stories from the Bible, but these are often not the ones that our children want us to read and reread. Why is that? Well, they are usually just not very memorable. Jonah and the Great Big Fish seems to break the mold by exciting illustrations and a fun, rhyming storyline. Since it is a nice hardcover book with big colorful pictures, and few lines to each page, you will be able to read it to children as young as toddlers and up.

However, if you read the book, you may want to add your own thoughts at the end lest your children get the wrong idea. Consider this. The book tells how God told Jonah to do something, he disobeyed, and he was swallowed by a big fish. Jonah prayed, the fish spit him out, and Jonah now decides that he will obey. So what will your children take away from this as the point of the story? Obey God or else something bad will happen to you (e.g. get swallowed by large fish). I wish that the author had not left the story where she did. Jonah went on to preach to Ninevah, they repented, and God forgave them. This is a great chance to teach your children some great truths about God.

In summary, our children enjoyed the book, and with some guidance from the one reading the book it can be a great resource for “training up our children in the way they should go.”

4 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Zonderkidz as part of the Booklook program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

Drama in the old west

Book Review: Truth Be Told by Carol Cox

 

What comes to mind when you think of a town in the old West?  If you picture a road going through the center of town with a few businesses on either side (think Dr. Quinn, medicine woman) then you kind of have the setting for this book.

Amelia Wagner becomes the new owner of the Granite Springs Gazetter, but she has no clue what she is doing.  But somehow she believes she needs to take over for her deceased father.  And that includes picking up wher he left off on an investigation of the Great Western Investment Company.

 

The story follows a predictable plot with a rather quick and tidy ending.  I would have liked to have seen some more subplots developed rather than such an abrupt “happily ever after” ending.

3 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friendship beautifully illustrated

Book Review: The Blessings of Friendship Treasury by Mary Engelbreit

 

You have probably seen the artwork of Mary Engelbreit pop up in various places. Her children’s books are well-loved in our house and we have the falling apart and taped back _240_360_Book.1289.covertogether books to prove it.  And so I think that is how it will be with her newest book, The Blessings of Friendship Treasury.  Each illustration is simple and sweet, but there is so much to be found on the pages that your children will have fun pointing out the things that stand out to them.  I love how Engelbreit creates so many different children in her books expressing such an array of emotions.

 

With about 40 pages total, this beautiful hardcover book contains poems, quotes, Bible verses, and memorable sayings about friendship.  Many pages are illustrated so nicely that they seem as if you could pull it out and frame them individually.  Because of the content of the book, you can read it to a wide variety of ages, from the very young (perhaps skipping over the longer portions if they are on the squirmier side) to young school aged children.  Even as an adult I could appreciate much of what this book has to offer.

 

And what a great way to start a conversation with your child about forming lasting friendships.  I highly recommend this book.

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book from Zonderkidz as part of the Booklook Program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Try something new and you might just like it

Book Review: Shadow Hand by Anne Elisabeth Stengl Tales of Goldstone Wood #6

 

210284I have not read much in the Fantasy genre because I figured I wouldn’t like it.   Then a while ago I read Starflower, another one of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, and I loved it.  So I was already enthusiastic about jumping into Shadow Hand.

 

Stengl certainly did not dissapoint.  If you have not read anything by her before, you need to.  Just the very style of her writing is very engaging and her adventurous plots will keep you guessing.  The storyline of this particular book revolved around Lady Daylily and Foxbrush.  Lady Daylily is rather unhappily betrothed to marry the awkward Foxbrush, but on the day of the wedding she flees to the world beyond, a place of legend few returned to tell about.  Foxbrush determines to follow her but the reader may start to wonder who it is that needs saving.

 

It had been so long since I had read Starflower, book number 5 in the series, that I began to get a bit confused with all the additional characters and themes running through this book.  But at a certain point it all comes together and a beautiful tale is woven together.  I especially enjoy the authors sense of humor sprinkled throughout her writing.

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

 

Historical fiction

Book Review: For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

You would never know that For Such a Time is Kate Breslin’s first novel as she draws you 211607into her Queen Esther-like story set in 1944 in Czechoslovakia. Though the Biblical account of Esther is recounted in snippets at the beginning of each chapter, don’t expect to be able to predict the plot or even the outcome of this drama.

Hadasseh is able to conceal her Jewish nationality, and for better for worse, has been made the secretary for a rather moody SS Kommandant Colonel Aric Von Schmidt. As you would suspect of a novel set during the Jewish Holocaust, the story is intense. For this reason I would caution younger readers as they will encounter depictions of brutality and promiscuity that was common behavior for Nazi soldiers of this time period.
However, rather than just being saddened by the story, I was challenged by the author’s message of God’s power and faithfulness.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Newest Adventures in Odyssey Book

Book Review – The Imagination Station: Captured on the High Seas Book 14 by Marianne Hering and Nancy I. Sanders

 

977751As with all Imagination Station books, Captured on the High Seas provides a great fast-paced action book for children to learn about history and their walk with God.

 

Patrick and Beth end up on an enemy ship during the Revolutionary War.  The two are often faced with ethical dilemmas that help readers begin to apply biblical truths to real life situations.  Because of the way the story continues from the previous book, your child will probably want to read Book 13 first, if they haven’t already.

 

This book has lots of great illustrations and short easy chapters.  The back of the book recommends it for children ages 7 and up.  I hope Focus on the Family keeps producing many more these books.

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

If you are interested in reading reviews I have done on other Adventures in Odyssey books click here or here.  I have also reviewed their 90 minute devotionals for families which you can read about here.

Teaching young children big truths from God’s Word

Book Review: The Berenstain Bears God Shows the Way by Stan and Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain

_225_350_Book.1290.coverRecently I was maybe kind of a little bit excited when our 4 year old showed a big interest in my stack of well-loved Berenstain Bear books from when I was a little girl.  I was even more excited to see the newer Berenstain Bear books being published by Zonderkidz that have some Christian themes in them.

God Shows the Way is a sturdy hardcover book which actually features 3 books in 1.  They are:

Faith Gets Us Through

                Do Not Fear, God is Near

                Piggy Bank Blessings

This book is also a level 1 I Can Read book which contains “simple sentences for eager new readers” as noted on the back of the book.  But with its engaging illustrations, the book makes a great read aloud book too.

 

I was pleasantly surprised to see how many Bible verses are interwoven into these cute stores.  Very simply, our children are learning Bible truths while reading about a family they are already love, the Bear family.  I would recommend this book to anyone with children  roughly 4-6 years old who wants to use the stories as a springboard to teach their children some great biblical concepts.  We particularly liked the middle book about fear and trusting in the Lord.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the Thomas Nelson Booklook blogging program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Excellent Book on the Historical and Biblical Support for Elder-led Churches

Review: Elders in the Life of the Church: Rediscovering the Biblical Model for Church Leadership by Phil Newton and Matt Schmucker.
What did polity in the early church look like? Aren’t “elders” just for Presbyterians? What does the Bible say? How do I actually go about leading my church through a transition to an elder led model? All of these questions and more are addressed in Newton and 442728_1_ftcSchmucker’s newly revised work. In recent years there has been a resurgence among evangelicals who are considering the biblical argument for a plurality of elders/pastors/overseers in the local church. Newton and Schmucker begin by dealing with the historical ramifications of the position. They go back in Baptist history and demonstrate that early Baptist churches actually had a plurality of elders as part of their polity. Schmucker also shares his personal experience as Capital Hills Baptist Church made their transition from a single pastor to a plurality of elders. These chapters share some valuable insights from the experience of this local church.
The authors move on to address some of the key biblical texts dealing with eldership. Addressing Acts 20:17-31, I Timothy 3:1-7, Hebrews 13:17-19, and I Peter 5:1-5, Newton and Schmucker press for a biblical pattern of polity that includes a plurality of elders in each church. Their work in these chapters dealing with these specific texts is possibly the most valuable portion of the book. Throughout, the story of Capital Hills continues to be told, both the good and the bad. This is valuable as well, as the reader is not given a “just do everything this way and it will turn out great.” The authors are very clear about some of the struggles they faced in implementing what they believed to be biblical.

 
The final section of the book covers ideas for a church looking to transition into an elder led model. This section is valuable, but also carries the material that I would consider to be weaker than the rest of the work. The authors delve into the area of establishing this model overseas in missionary church plants. However, since neither of them are missiologists or former overseas church planters, the section leans heavily on outside sources. Maybe having a veteran overseas church planter write the final chapter or two would have strengthened the section.

That being said, this is a great resource, and a well written book that I can easily give five out of five stars.

 

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Great new novel

Book Review: The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

As a historical fiction lover, I loved the connection between the history and the 690595contemporary in this quick moving novel.  I was initially struck by the beautiful cover of the book, and was rewarded with an equally beautiful story.  You will not be disappointed either.

Sera James is an art dealer intent on finding a painting she glimpsed as a child while with her father on a trip to Paris.  She is intrigued by the woman depicted in this portrait from the 1940′s and eagerly hunts down the story.  It doesn’t take long for her path to intersect with the handsome and wealthy William Hanover, who not only wants to find the painting but very much needs to find this painting.

 

Interwoven in their story is the beautiful depiction of the life of Adel Von Bron, a violinist from Austria during the years of the second World War and amidst the cruelty enacted against the Jews even of Adele’s hometown.  However, she is largely shielded from the suffering that goes on until she is directly confronted with it.  And her choice will change everything for her.

 

This delicate story of love is amazingly the first  novel for this author, and I almost wonder if she left it open for a sequel.  I hope to see much more from Kristy Cambron.

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson as part of the Booklook blogging review program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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