Thursday, November 19, 2015

Monsterland by Michael Phillip Cash

The hottest tickets in town are for the opening of the new amusement park, Monsterland. The new park has real vampires, zombies, and werewolves, all properly contained in this massive new project.  An eclectic group of local teens score tickets to the opening night which turns out a little more exciting than they expected.

Of course things went a little crazy or it would not have been such an exciting read. I was especially impressed with the way the characters were crafted. Each was unique and the teens dialog was true to their ages.  The step-dad trying to relate with the children was a nice addition.

Although it was written for a younger audience, I thoroughly enjoyed Monsterland.  I think it may be my favorite from this author so far!

I received a copy of Monsterland from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is Camino by Russell Moore, Allison Hopelain, with Chris Colin

I have to admit that this is of the oddest cookbooks I have reviewed yet.  The recipe chapters are
broken down into The Basics, Vegetables, Fish, Chicken and Egg, Duck, Lamb, Pork, Dessert, and Cocktails. The book consists of recipes with many unusual ingredients that are not readily available outside of areas with specialty stores.

If you regularly visit Camino, then you may be interested in the people described and recipes included in this book. Chapter 3, A Week at Camino, is diary of the daily chores and duties involved with the running of Camino. For example, Wednesday 4:18 p.m., Becca the hostess, works a feather duster around the room.  Thursday, 5:32 p.m. Allison readjusts the lights. It isn’t very interesting unless you are familiar with the people and restaurant.

I was excited to find one recipe “Fried Hen-of-the-Woods Mushrooms, Scallions, and Herbs with Yogurt and green Garlic, although it contains ingredients I have yet to find.  I was a little less excited to find the Pig’s Head and Trotter Fritters. I did learn quite a bit searching for the definition of ingredients like Trotters, Jaggery, Korean Perilla and Shiso.  Just in case I decide to build an outdoor kitchen, there is a lesson on cooking over a wood fire.

I suspect that restaurant insiders will love this book, but I didn’t find it interesting or useful.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 2, 2015

How the Grandmas and Grandpas Saved Christmas by Richard J. Gausselin

Santa’s elves catch a cold a week before Christmas and can’t work on the toys! Joe, an elder elf, was listening to Santa talk about his grandfather when he came up with the perfect solution – Grandparents.

How the Grandmas and Grandpas Saved Christmas is an absolutely delightful Christmas tale.  The story is beautifully written and illustrated.   The story emphasizes love, friendship, family and does it brilliantly. It is a perfect book to read on Christmas Eve, or to break up into sections to read each day leading up to Christmas. 

It also has very nice full-page illustrations. Some of them are very detailed, and younger children would have fun picking out toys and tools in the pictures. I highly recommend this thoughtfully written book. Reading this book with your children or grandchildren could be a fun yearly tradition.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Let's Go to theMarket by Dullingham, Hertzog, and Honeck

This is not your ordinary child’s book. There is not story in this book, but a series of questions to inspire creative, critical, and mathematical thinking.  On one page is a photograph of a child in a food market, and on the next page are questions about the photo or about a market.

While I like the concept of creating discussion and creative thinking, some of the questions just did not seem to go with the age group recommended for the book (3-5). For example, one of the questions was: “Create a story in which you are a type of bread (for example, baguette, ciabatta, Challah, pita, focaccia).   Is a 3-5 year-old going to understand different types of bread?

The photos were at times a distraction to the questions. One of the pages had a photo of two girls in a bakery case with questions about the desserts. The girls are blocking the view of the case and the desserts on the case so blurry that it was difficult to get an answer to the questions about the desserts in the photo.  

It also should also be noted that this was not about a child’s trip to a supermarket visit. The photographs appear to have been taken at open-air markets and a fish market.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

God Gave Us Sleep by Lisa Tawn Bergren


God Gave us Sleep is another in the wonderful God Gave Us.. series by Lisa Tawn Bergren and illustrations by Laura J. Bryant. Youngsters usually don’t like going to bed and Little Cub is no different.  Mama Bear explains why God created us to need sleep and how we need it for energy and patience.  Little Cub learns the hard way what happens when you don’t sleep well.

This book is beautifully written and illustrated, and it is just the right length for a good bed-time story. I loved that the story ends as Little Bear is having soothing and calm dreams and then waking refreshed. That is helpful for the child just settling down to sleep. I highly recommend this for young children.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Berenstain Bears Harvest Festival By Mike Berenstain

It is autumn and Mama, Papa, Brother, and Sister are all enjoying the outdoors.   The Chapel in the Woods is holding a Harvest Festival at a local farm and the Berenstain family decides to go.  On their walk to the Festival the family takes in the sights, sounds, and smells of the season, and talked about God’s blessings for all of the things He created. They arrive at the Festival and it was everything you would see and do at a country festival.

This is a wonderful book of a loving family of bears with subtle lessons of life, love and doing right. The cubs learn about seeing God’s blessings all around, growing food, eating healthy and giving thanks. The illustrations are very nice with a lot of detail that adds to the story.

 I think the Living Lights Berenstain Bear books are such a refreshing addition to the existing line of books. The topics are always about doing good, kindness, and love, with a touch of faith.

I received a copy of this book as part of the BookLook blogger program.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Goodnight, Ark by Laura Sassi

It is bedtime on Noah’s ark and the animals are ready for bed. It is raining outside and the animals run to jump in Noah’s bed. They cause quite a fuss as two by two they flock to be by Noah. Kindly and soothingly Noah gets them all back to their own bunks and feel safe.

This is a beautiful padded cover board book with wipe-clean pages. Goodnight, Ark is the perfect story for youngsters getting ready for bed especially if it has been a busy hectic day.  It takes the busyness of the day and through rhyme brings a calm conclusion.  The illustrations by Jane Chapman are excellent and help tell the story.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Author Spotlight - Carole P. Roman

Author Spotlight
I would like to spotlight the work of one author that never fails to impress me.  Although I have never counted them, over the past couple of years, I have reviewed quite a few children’s books by author, Carole P. Roman.

 I was first introduced to her work with her If You Were Me and Lived In… series of children’s books. In each book she introduces children to different countries and cultures around the world.  All of the books in this series explore what is of interest to children.  Each book follows a similar format. They begin with information about the country’s location, important cities, and landmarks.  They also answer questions that children would ask. What do you call your parents? Where do you go for fun? What kind of toys do you play with? What kind of foods do you eat?  The book also describes holidays, local events, schools, and much more.  I am not sure I have covered them all, but I know the following countries have their own books that start If You Were Me and Lived In….India, Australia, Mexico, Kenya, South Korea, Russia, China, Scotland, Peru, Hungary, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Turkey, and France. 

Another fun and interesting series is Carole’s Captain No Beard pirate books.  Alexander has a vivid imagination and with each book he fades into an imaginary adventure aboard The Flying Dragon pirate ship. He has a crew of friends that have great pretend escapades.  There is always a subtle lesson that emphasizes friendship, teamwork, cooperation, and doing what is right.  Although I haven’t read all of them, these are the books that I know are in this series:

Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life
Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience: A Captain No Beard Story 
Stuck in the Doldrums: A Lesson in Sharing- A Captain No Beard Story
Captain No Beard: Strangers on the High Seas, Book 4 of the Captain No Beard Series
Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles: Captain No Beard (note: my personal favorite)
Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis (Captain No Beard Stories)
The Crew Goes Coconuts!: A Captain No Beard Story Volume 6
A Flag for the Flying Dragon: A Captain No Beard Story

Another book of Carole P. Roman, not part of a series, is I Want To Do Yoga Too. A young child, Hallie, goes with her mom to yoga class, but isn’t allowed to join in.  When she tells the babysitter how much she wants to do yoga, the sitter teaches her four yoga poses.  This is a very fun book for young children that will immediately want to play along and do the poses.

Carole also presented a book Whaley's Big Adventure: Presented by Carole P. Roman written and illustrated by her 5 year old grandson, Alexander Luke. It is an interesting book that teaches children about different kinds of whales.

Her blog
Her Amazon site

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Fold by Peter Clines

This is the type of science fiction that I enjoy. It is set in a time in which I can relate and with people I can understand.  Mike Erickson seems to be an ordinary small town guy, but he is hiding behind his very unique talents. He is quite satisfied teaching high school English, but he is finally offered an opportunity to use his talents for something so much more important.

I liked the character of Mike, and as the story progressed understood the references to ants that the character used to describe what was going on in his brain. I thought the pace of the story was very good, building up steadily to the climax. There was a bit of a mystery added to the story, and I did not guess the outcome until it was revealed.

My only complaint about the book is the totally unnecessary language.  One character in the book uttered the phrase “f- me” so many times I decided she was just not even a relevant character to the story and should have been left out.

If You Were Me and Lived in China by Carole P. Roman

The next stop in Carole P. Roman’s trip around the world is China. A little more detailed than previous If You Were Me… books, and it contains many more details about the country and people. As in the previous books, I learned about location and landmarks in China, favorite foods and games, and festivals and customs. All of the information a child would want to know about children far away is answered, including naming conventions for the children and what children call their mothers and fathers. The illustrations are always bright and colorful and the text is an easy-to-read size. These are a series of informative and interesting books that bring places around the world to life. I recommend the entire series of books for parents, grandparents, day care, and early school years. They would also be helpful for Sunday School groups to create interest in missions.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Witches Protection Program by Michael Phillip Cashw

After failing in his position working for his father in a special federal undercover department, Wes has been reassigned to an even more undercover position with the Witches Protection Program.  I rather felt sorry for Wes as he just could not seem to live up to his father’s expectations. Would he be able to prove himself with his new assignment? His new job was to help protect the good witches, keep the bad witches under control, and keep it all secret from the public. The bad witches have a devious plan to control women around the world.

I liked the characters and the humor sprinkled throughout the book.   It is a fast-paced and fun story although I usually stick to stories that have even a toe in reality. Michael Phillip Cash is a good enough writer to make me believe in the Witches Protection Program

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Princess Joy Sticker & Activity Book by Jeanna Young & Jacqueline Johnson

Once upon a time, there lived 5 princesses: Joy, Grace, Faith, Hope, and Charity. This book is about Princess Joy. The book has 16 pages containing a word find game with a word bank for a little help, color pages, a maze, a secret code game, a hidden object page and a counting page.  There are two pages of stickers (50 stickers) in the center of the book, and since the pages are a heavy glossy paper, the stickers are reusable! I found a couple of problems, although minor. The lamb sticker does not match up with the picture where it is to be placed. It is about half the size it should be. Also, in the Spot the Differences puzzle, the princess is crying with no explanation as to why. At one time the dog was missing, but in the photo it is in front of her.

There isn’t too much of a story to the book, but the captions for the pages are about loving God and family and about giving to others.  This is a very nice little workbook for 4-8 year old girls.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Reason for My Hope - Salvation by Billy Graham

Billy Graham, evangelist and  preacher has probably led more people to know Jesus Christ as their personal savior than anyone else in my lifetime. He is a great story teller as is obvious in this newest book.   

I think it is accurate to call this a Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of salvation told in stories about Billy’s own life, about friends, and stories about Jesus and His saving grace. In the chapter I am a Christian because…, he explains what it means to be a Christian, and the misconceptions many people have about what makes them a Christian.  It is well documented with scripture and with notes at the end of the book. Whether a new Christian or mature believer you will be encouraged  and challenged by this book.

I also highly recommend his previous book Nearing Home for those who are reaching their older years and for younger people who want to learn how to age with grace.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Everyone Belongs to God by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

Everyone Belongs to God is a series of letters written by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt to his missionary son-in-law, Richard Wilhelm. The wisdom and guidance in his writings are just as relevant today as they were in 1898.  Although initially some of what he says sounds shocking, he explains his message with scripture and the wisdom of a man with a heart for Jesus Christ. Blumhardt knew that he had a great influence over his son-in-law and felt a responsibility for his guidance. He wrote over a hundred letters to Wilhelm between 1898 and 1914.

I found the book so challenging and encouraging that I plan to go through again and read each chapter as a devotional.  It offers practical spiritual advice encouraging the reader to look where Jesus is already moving and our contributions are to have a quiet influence. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hiding in the Light by Rifqa Bary

This was a book that was hard to put down. Uplifting and challenging, Rifqa details her life as a child of a Muslim family called by God at an early age to follow Jesus.  I knew some of the story from when it hit the news, but much of it was new or made much clearer by her explanations. I also had no idea of the health challenges she faced following her freedom.

I was a little put off by some of her statements and behavior but then I realized that even though she was a Christian, she was also a typical teenager.  I was disappointed to see what was left out of the book and that left me with more questions than answers, especially about the senior pastor that lost his church because of the events surrounding this event. My hope is that she has a peaceful life now and has been able to reconcile with her family.
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