Friday, February 27, 2015

The Mineral Book {a Moms of Master Books review}

It's time for another Moms of Master Books review.  This time, it is for a new title in a series we know and love.  The Wonders of Creation series is fantastic, for multiple ages, and we own every title in the series.  This review is about the newest one, The Mineral Book.

The newer books have a feature I really, really love.  There are different colored backgrounds for different "age levels" of material.  Theoretically, that means I can go through the book with all of my kids, but have the younger ones drop out as I add more complex information.  Or, I can go through the book multiple times with the same child, just adding a new colored background as they get older.

Both of those options are cool.
  • Level One has a dashed blue border, and is "basic" information and visuals.  This is great for elementary ages, I think.
  • Level Two is on an off-white background, and gets into more vocabulary and deeper information about identification of minerals, and collection of them.  This is great for middle school ages.
  • Level Three is on a green background, and has more advanced concepts/theories, and is meant to inspire students to dig deeper into other sources too.  This is great for high school ages.

For my family (of science geeks), the 3rd grader is good with the Level One material, and she really doesn't care to get any deeper. Though once in awhile I catch her listening to Level Two stuff

The 5th grader is good with the Level One and Level Two material. 

The teens (8th grade and up) are all ready for the Level Three information too.

I am hoping -- even though it will mean spending more money -- that more of the Wonders of Creation books are going to be coming out -- and that more are going to be updated to this format, as I really love it.  The Weather Book is being updated, and that definitely excites me.  Watch for a review of that one in June!

Go see what other Moms of Master Books have to say about The Mineral Book.

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group as part of the Moms of Master Books program.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My American Heritage Girl

 I posted about two and half years ago about how intimidated I was to be taking Trina to her first ever American Heritage Girls meeting.

I'm not a girl mom.  I'm a boy mom.  But I have this beautiful little girl, and I am her mother.  So as intimidating as I find a room full of females, well, I sucked it up and we went.

Trina has loved it.

And now, as she is nearing the end of third grade, my baby girl is going for her Sacagawea Award.  There is a fair amount of effort required to earn this award, and she is really close.

One requirement is to create a presentation about what she likes about AHG, and put it up in a public place like her church or school.  Well, school isn't very public.  And there aren't that many people at church who would truly be interested (and those who are will find me on Facebook too).

So, she created a video, to post publicly at her mama's work.  You know, my blog.  And my Facebook page.

We'd love to hear your comments :)


Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Story for Kids {a BookLook Blogger review}

I'm always looking for something a little different for working through the Bible with my kids.  I've heard a fair amount about The Story, but I haven't ever actually seen it.

I had the chance to review the kids' version, The Story for Kids, written by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee, and thought that would give me a good opportunity to figure out what this is about.

Bottom line first:  I really like this.

From the publisher:
Revised edition of The Story for Kids for ages 8-12 using the updated New International Reader’s Version (NIrV); part of the church-wide campaign, The Story.
Now God’s great love story is told in a format for kids ages 9-12. The Story for Kids parallels the adult and teen edition of the book and can be used as part of The Story campaign or on its own.
The adventure, humor, and drama found in The Story for Kids compel kids to see the Bible as relevant and transformational. It’s the perfect resource for parents, grandparents, and teachers to use to introduce their children to the Bible as a complete story—one that tells about God’s great love for his people.
  • Characters, events, and teachings of the Bible arranged chronologically
  • Interior line art to engage the imagination
  • Transitional paragraphs set off in italics guide you through the stories
  • Discussion questions for small group or book clubs
  • Includes Scripture portions from the easy-to-read text of the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV)
Okay, apparently just like in the original version, the teen version, and the little kid version, the Bible is split up into 31 "chapters" or stories.  The chapters average around eight pages, usually with a half-page illustration in there. 

This is in NIrV, so the text is fairly easy to read.  It also looks like most other books, so all the verse numbers, or two column formats don't go confusing anyone.

Most of the chapter consists of actual text from the NIrV, and then there will be some transitional material in italics.  The part in italics is usually summarizing the 'skipped text' to keep things going in a story format, not getting bogged down in a lot of detail.  For the book of Genesis, for instance, which is covered in the first three chapters, you read about Creation and the Fall, then there is some summary text to jump you to Noah.  Parts of that are summarized as well.  That ends chapter 1.

The second chapter tells of Abram and Sarai, with most of the chapter being NIrV text, and only a couple summary sections. 

Entirely missing are events like the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, Hagar and Ishmael, etc.  Which is okay with me, as this will not be the only exposure my children get to the Bible.  The "plot line" moves ahead, without veering off into all sorts of other stories. 

Each chapter includes a few discussion questions that seem appropriate for this roughly 8-12 age range.

My thoughts:

I'm really liking this, and I'm seriously looking at getting the Teen version, and possibly the curriculum items as well.  We've read the Bible straight through.  We've read the Bible in a chronological version.  I love the idea of working through something systematic, and something where my kids and teens can be on the same page, reading from age-appropriate materials that mesh together but aren't identical.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Runaway Radical {a Family Christian Blogger review and giveaway}

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ARC proof, and a copy for a giveaway, free from Family Christian Stores through the Family Christian Blogger program. This post does contain affiliate links.  I was not required to write a positive review, and any affiliate relationship does not impact my opinions. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Some reviews are a lot harder to write than others.

This is one of those harder ones.

Runaway Radical, by Amy Hollingsworth and Jonathan Hollingsworth is a challenging read.  I'm going to share the publisher's description of the book, and then chat a bit about it.
Runaway Radical serves as an important and cautionary tale for all who lead and participate in compassion activism, in the art of doing good— both overseas and at home— amidst this new culture of radical Christian service. 

You'll read about a young idealist who heeds the call to radical obedience, gives away all of his belongings and shaking off the fetters of a complacent life, travels halfway around the world. There he discovers, among the poor and the fatherless of West Africa, that he has only surrendered to a new kind of captivity.

There is no doubt that young people today are fully invested in social and human rights issues. They start their own nonprofits, they run their own charities, they raise money for worthy causes.

This book highlights the painful personal consequences of the new radicalism, documenting in heartbreaking detail what happens when a young person becomes entrapped instead of liberated by its call. His radical resolve now shaken, he returns home to rebuild his life and his faith.
I was interested in this book, mostly because I have a couple of fairly idealistic teens of my own, and while none of my kids (currently) seem set on giving away all of their belongings or sleeping in a closet, I can see them leaning towards this "new radicalism" and sometimes that gives me pause.

I finished reading this book a week and a half ago and there was simply no way I could write a review at that point.  I had committed to reviewing it by Feb. 13, but I wrote and basically begged for more time to think about what I had just read.

You see, this is a story co-written by the young radical (Jonathan) and his mother (Amy), detailing the events in their lives.  This isn't one of those feel-good stories where you marvel at the faith of the missionary who prays, thanking God for their breakfast even though there is no food in the house, and before he finishes the prayer, there is a knock on the door with someone bringing breakfast.

No, this is a story that involves a young missionary who is thwarted and exploited at almost every turn, and who ends up coming home early... broken... only to be shamed into silence by his church.  The kind of stab-a-mom-in-the-gut story that makes you want to never let those radical young idealists out of your sight.

My youngest idealist, posing for a Care and Share ad campaign

Or at least that was how my review would have sounded last week.

After letting this story sink in over the past days, some other lessons are starting to emerge for me.   Because there isn't anything wrong with young people wanting to change the world, or with them trying to change the world.  That is a very good thing.

Connor, especially, is passionate about rural hunger.  He's in this crowd of volunteers.

What I want to be doing, as a parent, is making sure that my young radicals aren't focusing on the results.  It isn't about doing something idealistic and huge so that God will love you.  It's about doing something idealistic, radical, and maybe even huge because God loves you and you know that is what you are meant to do.  And leaving the results with God.

And knowing you are loved.  Loved not because you did great things, but because God simply loves you.

Family Christian provided me with another copy to give away to one of my readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Twisted Innocence {a Litfuse Book Tour review}

I love reading books by Terri Blackstock, but apparently, I haven't reviewed any of them yet.  That changes today.

Twisted Innocence is the third book in the Moonlighters Series, and it makes a great final chapter.  This series features a group of adult siblings (a brother and three sisters) who keep ending up in the middle of criminal investigations, and Lenny Miller seems to pop up repeatedly.

This time, the many storyline relates to the youngest sister, Holly, who is trying to go straight after a pretty reckless lifestyle.  But you can read how the publisher describes it:
Holly Cramer's past choices have finally caught up to her, but she never expected them to endanger her baby.

Though Holly's stumbled through most of her adult life as a party girl, she longs to live a more stable life for her daughter. Then police show up to question her about the whereabouts of Creed Kershaw, Lily's father. She has kept his identity a secret from friends and family---she never even told him about the pregnancy. Now he's a person of interest in a drug-related murder case.

Determined to keep him out of their lives and turn him over to police, Holly uses her private investigating skills to search for him. But her bravado backfires when he turns the tables and takes her and the baby hostage. As desperate hours tick by, Holly realizes his connection to Leonard Miller-the man who has gunned down several members of her family. Creed claims he's innocent and that Miller is after him too. His gentleness with Lily moves her, but she can't trust a man who has held her at gunpoint . . . even if he reminds her so much of herself.

Dangers old and new threaten Holly and her baby, and lives are demanded as sacrifices for love. Through a complex web of mistakes and regret, redemption is the one hope Holly has left to hold on to.

My thoughts:

This book was fabulous, but don't start here.  The book does stand alone, so I guess you can if you must.  But really, go get Truth-Stained Lies and start at the beginning.  This book is so much better if you know the backstory.

One major message in this story has to do with past mistakes and past events, and how you have to work from where you are now.  You can't keep going back to the "if only's" and wishing you had made different -- or better -- choices.

It isn't just choices you make either, it is also the choices made by the people around you.  Holly, the baby of the family, was the one most hurt when their family was abandoned by their pastor father, and then basically betrayed by their church.

Holly is told at one point that, "God knows where you started and how you got here." 

That really hit me.

The other thing that really hit me in this book is at the very end.  Don't worry, this isn't a spoiler.  The author talks a bit about persecution and how in "the West" we don't usually have to actually be worrying about things like being beheaded for our faith.

But that doesn't mean that we don't endure tough times and refining fires.  It is just a different thing here.  We are pruned, and God can use that to deepen our faith.  That is happening to various people in the story.

Now I need to find another Terri Blackstock series.

In Terri Blackstock’s third and final book in her Moonlighters series, Twisted Innocence, readers are in for a story of suspense and redemption. Dangers old and new threaten Holly and her baby, and lives are demanded as sacrifices for love. Through a complex web of mistakes and regret, redemption is the one hope Holly has left to hold on to.

Celebrate the series' final release by entering Terri's Nook giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Nook GlowLight
  • The entire Moonlighters series
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 8th. Winner will be announced March 9th on the Litfuse blog.

Disclaimer:  I received this book through LitFuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Keeping it Real: Of Mice and Library Books, Part 3

This is another one of those keeping it real posts.

Because the best way for me to keep it real is to talk about the library.  And mice.

And why they haven't sent me a cease and desist order and told me I can never check another item out E.V.E.R is beyond me.

Here's my current account online:

Other than the Jamaica DVD in the middle (the only one without big red warnings), I don't have clue #1 where any of the other books are.  Honestly, I am nearly certain that I returned the Native American History, Southwestern Indian Arts, Squanto, and Southwest Archaeology, but the librarian did a whole bunch of digging and she did not locate those three at all.

I know I did not return the three novels.  I have no idea about Echoes of the Elders.

Regardless, though, I have eight totally missing library books.

I just don't understand WHY I can't find them.  <sigh>

On a just as frustrating note, in the search for the above books, I ran across a dead mouse.  <shudder>  And Thomas found a dead mouse in one of those cartons of seafood broth.  You know, not something I'd normally purchase.  If the mice have to commit suicide by drowning themselves in broth, couldn't they choose chicken broth?

With the amazing weather we've had lately, we've had an influx of mice.  Again. 

I hate mice.  I also hate missing library books.

I'll update and give you the ghastly total I end up owing to the library.  Those are some expensive books there, so it is going to be awful.

I'm sure the fact that I'm still sick doesn't help my attitude toward either the books or the mice.

Feel free to tell me I'm not the only one losing things.  If you are perfect, just move along.  This is not the blog for you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What should I blog about?

I keep having posts swirling around in my head, but I don't seem to get them ever written up.  So some of the things I'm thinking about:
  • I'd love to start blogging about some of the stuff Trina is doing with American Heritage Girls.  She is keeping busy, and we have been incorporating a lot of it into our schooling.  I'm not sure if anyone would be interested though.
  • One image of what Trina's been up to with AHG
  • I've failed at reading aloud this year.  A trip, illnesses, whatever excuses I can come up with.  I'm debating blogging about what we are reading aloud as a motivation to actually do it.
  • I've been thinking about blogging about some of the food we're eating.  We don't spend much on groceries, especially lately, and I do get people asking me just what we DO eat.  I'm not very good at food pictures, so I'm just afraid to stretch into that.  (Honesty, here.  I do try to keep to honesty.)  Plus, our food is pretty boring.
  • As part of my Crew responsibilities, I'm constantly trying out new stuff that I don't end up using long enough to write a review, or I'm not needed for a review, or it isn't really age appropriate for my kids... and I also keep thinking that it might be fun to write up some impressions on some of those products.  
Foreign Language for Kids by Kids is one program we're doing right now
Of course, I have lots of other random thoughts too, about things I ought to write about.  I think mostly I need to just get back in the habit of blogging regularly.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Roadmap Genesis {a FlyBy review and giveaway}

This week, my family had the opportunity to view an online screening of a new documentary, Roadmap Genesis.

We really had no idea what to expect.  I was a bit distracted when this review opportunity came up, to be quite honest.  Usually I read the description to my family and they vote on whether we should go for it.

This time, I just said "yes" without talking to them at all.  Which meant I really didn't read this description either.

About the film:
Roadmap Genesis is a film documentary that makes the case that the Book of Genesis is a roadmap containing guideposts on how to live a productive, fruitful, and fulfilling life that will help our society lift itself out of its current decline and return it to prosperity, promise, and accomplishment. 
When Filmmaker Nolan Lebovitz found himself at a crossroads in his life, he knew he had to choose between continuing to make the Hollywood suspense thrillers that were his livelihood and trying to make the world a better place for his new young family. After much struggle, he found his answer in the Book of Genesis. 
He decided to combine his love of the Book of Genesis with his passion for filmmaking and set out to travel the United States, interviewing clergy and public figures in order to build an undeniable argument about the continued importance of the Book of Genesis as guiding force in our Judeo-Christian country.

Roadmap Genesis invites Americans of all faiths to engage in a dialogue about the relevance of the Bible in the modern age. Through interviews ranging from Gov. Mike Huckabee of Fox News Channel to Rabbi David Wolpe, from Alan Dershowitz to the Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Francis George, from Erick Stakelbeck of the Christian Broadcasting Network to Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, and many, many more, Nolan explores the rules that God has set forth to help us maintain a successful and working society.
We did enjoy the documentary.  The action bounced around a lot, and no one segment was overly long.  There were man on the street interviews, input from nearly 30 experts (going by the list in the end credits), movie clips, clips from talk shows and comedians, and so much more.

The experts cover a whole lot of ground within the Judeo-Christian community.  Many branches of Christianity were covered as well as Judaism. 

The basic theme was that 'Society faces so many problems, and Genesis addresses them all.'  This hits on some tough issues -- racism, environmental problems, hunger -- but it does it in a way that isn't too harsh for my kids, anyway (ages 8 to 17).

I have a DVD to give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dandelion Field {a Litfuse Blogger review}

Recently, I had the opportunity to read and review Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer.  Now, this isn't exactly the type of book I'd normally pick up, but I did really enjoy the book.

This story takes place in present time, and I usually go for historical fiction.  But something in the description grabbed me.

From the publisher:
This handsome firefighter makes a living coming to the rescue, but Gin doesn't need a man to fight her battles.

After Raine's dad walked out, Ginevieve Lightly never lived in one place too long, a rambling lifestyle that defined her daughter's youth. When their car dies in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises Raine they can stay until she finishes her senior year of high school. Gin will do anything to make sure her daughter has a bright future . . . a future that's compromised when Raine reveals she's pregnant.

Dan Moretti has only ever called Banister Falls home. After losing his best friend in a tragic accident, Dan devoted himself to responding to fires, rescuing the helpless, and guiding Cody Bennett, his best friend's son, through life. With Cody being the epitome of the good kid, it was an easy job. Until he says four little words: "The baby is mine."

Knowing gossip of Raine's pregnancy will erupt sooner or later in the small town, Gin's reflex is to grab the suitcase and escape to a new city, a new life. But with each passing day, Gin's feet stay rooted in Banister Falls, and she falls a little more for this local firefighter who shows her not all men abandon women at the first sign of smoke.

As Gin and Dan do the best they can to guide the two teenagers through their early entry into adulthood, they discover together that romance can bloom in the rockiest of situations. And God can turn the pieces of a broken past into a beautiful new beginning.
What intrigued me is that this book takes place roughly in "my" part of the country.  And as the parent of a 17-year-old boy, who is a pretty good kid, there was something about the Cody part of the story that pulled me in.

Springer does a good job of writing believable characters, both male and female.  The action bounces around a bit from the present time to the recent past.  A couple of times, those transitions weren't smooth. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. 

Get ready for Valentine's Day with a new story of romance and falling in love in Kathryn Springer's The Dandelion FieldThe handsome firefighter makes a living “coming to the rescue,” but Gin is used to fighting her own battles. Can a woman who doesn't believe in happy endings take a chance on a new beginning? 

Celebrate a second chance at love and family with Kathryn by entering her Kindle Fire giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Dandelion Field
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 15th. Winner will be announced February 16th on the Litfuse blog.


Disclaimer:  I received this book through LitFuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

You Have a Brain {a BookLook Blogger review}

When I saw that You Have a Brain: a Teen's Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. by Dr. Ben Carson was a possible review item for Book Look Bloggers, I immediately called my 17-year-old over to read the book description.

He wanted it.

When it arrived, he started reading immediately, and finished it quickly.  He loves the book and thinks that it is a perfect book for any teen to read.  Especially older teens about to head off to the 'real world' soon.

Let me give you the publisher's description of the book:
Throughout his life, renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson has needed to overcome many obstacles: His father leaving the family; being considered stupid by his classmates in grade school; growing up in inner-city Detroit; and having a violent temper. But Dr. Carson didn't let his circumstances control him, and instead discovered eight principles that helped shape his future.

In You Have a Brain: A Teen’s Guide to Think Big, Dr. Carson unpacks the eight important parts of Thinking Big—Talent, Honesty, Integrity, Niceness, Knowledge, Books, In-Depth learning, and God—and presents the stories of people who demonstrated those things in his life. By applying the idea of T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. to your life, and by looking at those around you as well, you too can overcome obstacles and work toward achieving your dreams.
Connor enjoyed the autobiographical first part of the book.  Dr. Carson talks about his growing up years, his experiences as a teen in the 60s, with lessons about things he learned along the way.

The second half is more of the advice part, with THINK BIG serving as an acronym for the eight principles Dr. Carson used to succeed. 

The truly great part of this book is that Dr. Carson talks to teens as though they really are people.  He isn't being patronizing, he isn't trying to use flashy graphics or jargon in some attempt to be relevant.  He talks to them as though he respects them.  As though he thinks they can take information like this and apply it to their own life without a lot of condescending handholding.

Connor found this to be inspiring, and he recommends this book to all teens.  I do too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, February 1, 2015

NIV Bible for Kids {a Family Christian Blogger review}

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this Bible free from Family Christian Stores through the Family Christian Blogger program. This post does contain affiliate links.  I was not required to write a positive review, and any affiliate relationship does not impact my opinions. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I have two children who participate in AWANA programs.  Trina, the 8 year old, has a great Bible for "Young Women" that is nice and pink and orange and she loves it.

Richard, the 10 year old, does not have a NIV Bible of his own, so he ends up borrowing from his sister most of the time.  Pink and orange aren't exactly his favorite colors.

You can imagine how excited he was to get the NIV Bible for Kids from Family Christian!

First off, this is pretty boy-friendly.  Grayish-blue leather cover, with the words from Psalm 25:4-5 embossed in the cover.  It looks pretty grown-up too, which is a huge plus.  It is only about an inch thick, which is also a huge plus.  And then it also lays flat.  Oh, that is amazing and wonderful.

He was pretty thrilled to discover that all the words spoken by Jesus are in red.  Apparently, he's never seen that before.

Since it is a NIV version, he is easily able to complete pages in his AWANA book.

Another thing I really love about this is that despite the small size, the font is actually reasonable.  Even my old eyes can read it. 

Awesome Bible, I tell you.  I think it is just perfect for AWANA.  Just the text, readable, thin enough to carry around, plus a few pages of maps.