Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Review: The Bible Explorer's Guide

 One of the blessings of living in the modern era is access to information.  Photographs, diagrams, artifacts, and scientific research have helped illuminate Jesus followers and bring Scripture to life.  I find there can be so many resources, you are paralyzed by where to even begin or what questions to ask.  I also want to encourage my daughters to develop their curiosity for the stories of the Bible and the history of our faith.  The Bible Explorer's Guide is a new resource from ZonderKidz is a great addition to the home library to bring visual understanding and build natural curiosity on things concerning the Bible.  

This beautiful hardcover book has 80 pages of full color maps, photographs, diagrams, and descriptions.  From creation through the history of how our modern Bible came to be, the team at Zondervan have put together a resource using visual aides to help shed further light on God's story.  Glossy pages, high quality writing, and Biblically/Historically sound tidbits are also highlights in this book.  I cannot wait to use this in our homeschool lessons.

My only wish is that they included scripture references for some of the topics/characters.  For example, on the page that talks about David and Goliath have the Bible reference so a child knows where to read more from actual scripture.  

You cannot go wrong with this awesome resource.  It's a must have for every family!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Book Review: Faith Girlz Promises for You

Detailed / adult/ mandala coloring is the latest trend in activities and hobbies that has now spread to the devotional market.  FaithGirlz has published one particularly for girls ages 8-12 (though I think teens would love this as well).  

A beautiful hardcover book with high quality, thick pages, the Promises for You: Coloring Devotional is a charming and eye catching devotional.  I have not yet seen a quality coloring devotional as nice as this one.  There are 60 verses and thoughts complete with their own coloring page and journal area. The verses point tween girls to an all knowing, powerful, loving God while leading the direction of recognizing our human weakness and need for a Savior.  The written prompts and questions lead to some great questions and options for journal response.  Because of the high quality, I could see girls using this book multiple times, finishing coloring pages over time or flipping back through to enjoy their colored pages and verses from days past.
The illustrations are varied, but all wonderful works of art.  Plenty of room to color and make it unique to their own, girls will find connection and enjoyment on every page.

This devotional is beautiful and of high quality.  It would make a fabulous gift.  If I was looking for something to nitpick it would be that many of the verses to do not have context shared within the contemplative portion.  Removing context can make the verse lack its full meaning or easily then be taken out of context.  

Overall, I highly recommend this devotional book for any older girl or even teen.  (Hey, I might even join my daughter in the fun!)

*I received a copy of the devotional in exchange for my unbiased review.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Book Review: Adult Coloring Books from Bethany House

I had the opportunity to receive and review two new adult coloring and devotional books from Bethany House Publishers.

The first is The Glory of the Messiah.  This unique coloring book is written from the Jesus following Jewish women.  The Hebrew word study and verses point the reader towards who the Messiah is.  The characteristics of Jesus and things that point us to him are all highlighted verse studies with an accompanying coloring page.  The paper is high quality so the artist can choose any coloring tool they wish without risking bleeding through the paper.  There is a variety of pages of scenes to enjoy and reflect on from abstract, animals, to people.  While the people pages are not my favorite from a worshipful coloring experience (it felt a little child Sunday school like to me), the artwork is excellent and well done. I loved the corresponding Old Testament and New Testament verses.  The coloring pages are a little large for my taste, simply from an ability to feel finished and accomplished it would simply take a busy mom like me too long to complete.  However, this allowed the artist to include lots of great details.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.  It would make a great gift for someone who appreciates art, coloring as meditative worship, and also the Hebrew history of our faith.

The second book is called Words of Grace.  This small devotional is set up as a daily coloring page with corresponding word of encouragement for four weeks (28 total devotions/coloring page).  The paper again is of super high quality.  These smaller pages work great for a person like me who runs out of time or desire to continue the meditation.  I love the scripture verses incorporated into the pretty artwork of each page.  There is a lot of great content jammed into the small written devotional as well.  Verses to read from the Bible, discussion questions, meditative thoughts.  This little book is jammed packed with lots of great opportunities.  A wonderful tool that would make a great gift as well!  5 out of 5 stars!

*I received these books for free in exchange for my unbiased review

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: Glimmer Girls Light Up New York

There is nothing quite as exciting as getting to read another adventure from the Glimmer Sisters, at least in the mind of my 10 year old.  She loves when I receive the latest novel by Natalie Grant in the mail to review.

The Glimmer Sisters are twins Mia and Maddie and their younger sister Lulu.  Together with their Nanny Miss Julia, they tour around the world with their singing mom Gloria Glimmer.  Along the way among the famous sites of the world they learn what it means to be followers of Jesus, a close family, and even great detectives!

This fourth book takes the girls to New York City to perform in a benefit concert to bring awareness to teen homelessness.  While the lessons learned from taking part in a big concert and production for such a worthy cause, perhaps the greater lesson is that of how to solve conflict within the family, be each other's best cheerleaders, and putting other's needs first (even little sisters!).  With the 'city that never sleeps' as an amazing backdrop, the girls learn firsthand what being unified as a family and as a body of Christ can do.

As always, the Glimmer family gives a healthy dose of reality in what family dynamics can often look like, but with fantastic opportunities for sharing Biblical responses to sibling rivalry, conflict, jealousy, and more.  With loving parents and attentive adults in their lives, the Glimmer Sisters always learn what it means to LIVE for Christ, not just call oneself a Christian.  My ten year old was delighted with this book and liked it better than London Art Chase, but not sure if it beats out the Dolphin Wish one.  Any of the four (self standing) novels would be a great gift for a young girl ages 8-12 and perhaps even into late middle school.  Thanks Natalie Grant for writing wholesome, real, and exciting adventure stories that girls can relate to!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Book Review: The Berenstain Bears Easter Fun Book

My girls (ages 4, 7, 10) love activity books.  They are great for travel, time fillers, quiet time, and even for learning that feels more like playing!  My youngest girls love the Berenstain Bears, so I jumped at the chance to receive and review the new Berenstain Bears Easter Fun Sticker and Activity Book!

This activity book (geared according the publisher for ages 4-8) is colorful and of high quality.  There is a great variety of things to do- color pages, word search, mazes, patterns, numbers, sticker matching, matching, find the difference, cross word, etc.  There are many that require reading, so a majority of this book will not be great for the average four year old without help.  I'd say its more for young readers up until age 8 or 10 depending on if they enjoy the characters still or not.

While the book is titled "Easter Fun", most of the pages are spring themed.  Out of the 32 pages, only 10 have to do with church or the true Easter Story.

This activity book would make a great addition to a youngster's Easter baskets.  I'm sure my 4 and 7 year old will love doing this book together and sharing the pages appropriate for each other.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Book Review: Courage to Soar

I'm an olympic nut.  I can't help but get sucked in every 2 years (alternating winter and summer olympics).  The pageantry, prevails of the human spirit, the ups and downs of competition.  Ah!  I love it all.  Now, I'm a HUGE gymnastics fan.  I'm not an every four years kind of girl- I'm always up to date on the latest athletes, scores, and drama of it all.  Its a bit embarrassing, but I don't care.  So, when an opportunity to review the autobiography of possibly the Greatest Gymnast of ALL Time was presented to me, I jumped at the chance.  Simone Biles may have left into the hearts of living room watchers this summer at the Rio Olympics, but she has been making a case for greatness since 2013.  Her unfounded success in the gym paired with an unusual gymnastics backstory and a seemingly grounded personality makes her unique and intriguing.
Biles began her life in Ohio, living with her troubled and addicted mother and siblings.  After a stint in foster care, she and her sister were adopted by her biological grandfather and his wife.  A move to Texas and a family and stability she longed for allowed Simone to flourish.  Her extraordinary ability to bounce, flip, and climb was noticed, but more as a nuisance and a way for the diagnosed ADHD child to burn off energy each day.  Finally, at the age of 6 (late for elite gymnasts), she entered her first gymnastics class and quickly climbed the levels in the sport.  After a disappointing elite season in 2011, Simone came back stronger than ever and has been on top every since.  Multiple world championship medals and now a haul of olympic medals stamp her legacy of possibly the greatest gymnast of all time.

Bile's autobiography walks candidly through high and low points along the journey from foster care to olympic glory.  Given that she is still a young lady, many of the trials are of friendship, schooling, and the sort.  However, given the unique mindset of an elite professional athlete, there are deeper moments to enjoy.  I loved the insight into the US training camps held in Texas as well as some of the behind the scenes gymnastic tidbits.  This book is a fun easy read for gymnastics fans and a great read for tweens/teens.  I think my 10 year old may even like most of it, though some of the insights into foster care and adoption may be a bit over her head.  If you read this book to enjoy a great story from a remarkable athlete and young lady, you won't be disappointed. 

*I received a copy of this book for free in return for my unbiased review.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Review: Prayers & Answered Prayers

Teaching our children to pray can be a challenging task.  Prayer should be honest and open communication with God, but to some can feel silly as you talk out loud to 'no one'.  Prayer can often get habitual with the same 'Thank you for this day. Thank you for this food. Amen.' mantra.  I'm thrilled to see this new tool by Thomas Nelson Publishing to help your tween girl dive deeper into the spiritual discipline of prayer.  
First, this book is actually two small books held together in an outer cover.  The top one is focused on "prayer" and the bottom is how God often answers prayer, scripture, and promises of God to feel confident that the prayers from above are resolved or can be taken to the Throne.  The outer cover is sparkly and colorful, making it enticing for most girls.  The top and bottom books correspond, so when you do the top page you find the matching page number in the bottom book.  For example, page 15 "prayer" assignment asks "Do you ever feel upset?  Do you go to your bedroom or hide somewhere when you feel sad?  Draw a picture of where you like to go when you feel sad."  Then on the bottom "answered prayer" book the same page number says "God is always with you, and he loves you.  Look up Isaiah 41:10 and copy it here."  Some pages are fill in the blank, drawing, thinking, action oriented, or creative.  

Second, the promises are all scripturally based.  I love the weaving of God's promises to answered prayer.  Even when our prayers seem to big to answer, God is always there providing comfort and peace.  There are also a lot of scripture and exercises that deal with body image, confidence, and how we were all uniquely and lovingly created.  I think it is a great way to reach tweens at a level they are concerned with.  But, it also stretches them to subject areas that are not on the forefront such as caring for the elderly or praying for our leaders.

These books are full color and thick, high quality paper- almost like postcards.  This would make a great gift, stocking stuffer, spiritual birthday gift, or devotional for girls ages 8-12, but I could see even some younger teens enjoying this layout without it feeling 'babyish'.  My 10 year old will connect very well and I feel this will help her in her spiritual growth.  My 6.5 year old is not quite ready for this tool.  I highly recommend the Prayers and Answered Prayers set from Thomas Nelson.

*I received a free copy of this book for my unbiased review.