November 25, 2014

Reviewing "The Legend of the Candy Cane"

     "The Legend of the Candy Cane", written by Lori Walburg and Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey, is a beautifully illustrated board book with an inspirational tale about the symbolic meaning behind candy canes.  The book begins with a stranger arriving into town and renovating a dilapidated store.  All of the townspeople are speculating as to what kind of store it will be, and the children are delightfully surprised to find out that it's an adorable candy shop.  Lucy, the main character helps the store owner unpack his boxes and put the store together.  Upon opening the last crate, Lucy finds a sugary treat she's never seen before, a candy cane.  The store owner, Mr. Sonneman, proceeds to explain the story behind this special Christmas candy, an illustration of Christ's birth, death on the cross, and how He wiped away the sins of humanity.
     While the legend of the candy cane has unknown origins, it is a sweet way to talk about the true meaning of Christmas with your children.  The illustrations are sure to grab their attention and the fact that it's a board book makes it very durable for little hands.  Although the part about Christ being beaten and bloody may be a little mature for the toddler set, judging the mindset of your kiddos and  leaving that short part out until they are ready would be very easy to do.  I would recommend this book to families with young kids who want some fun ways to talk about the meaning of Christmas, and create some family traditions around a tasty treat.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. 

November 24, 2014

Reviewing "Christmas at Rose Hill Farm"

       When you combine roses, Christmas, an Amish love story, and an Author like Suzanne Woods Fisher, you have a recipe for the sweet smell of success. Pun intended.  The main character, Bess Riehl, is preparing for a Christmas wedding to a man she never expected to marry. Instead of following her heart, she is doing what she feels is the sensible thing, and marrying a nice sensible man who she knows will provide a good life for her.   But when she finds an unidentified rose growing in a pot in her family's greenhouse and her father calls in a rose rustler to identify it, everything changes and life becomes very exciting... and confusing.
       I enjoy Amish fiction and I love Christmas.  So it's not surprising that I really enjoyed reading this book.  The characters were relatable and I also found the overall theme of rose farming to be very interesting. I had no idea how many kinds of roses existed in the world, and it made me want to learn more and grow more roses on our patio. We have a large rose bush on our patio and this book made me realize that I don't even know what kind it is! My next assignment: patio rose identification.  I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys Amish fiction with a love story as the main plot line.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Revell Reads for free in exchange for an honest review.

November 16, 2014

Reviewing "The River" by Beverly Lewis

     "The River" by Beverly Lewis is extremely heartwarming Amish Fiction that I would recommend to anybody who enjoys the genre.  Two sisters, Tilly and Ruth,  left the Amish community to become "Fancy" and basically had cut ties from their family.  They each left for different reasons, one escaping heartbreak, and one escaping a life of feeling like she didn't belong.  When they unexpectedly received a call from their bother inviting them to their parents' Anniversary party, they were both hesitant to re-enter that life they had run from.  But upon their return they find that life in their community is different from what they had left, and they spend a week working through their pasts and creating new ties with some members of their family.
     If you know the author "Beverly Lewis" it won't come as a surprise that this was an enjoyable read. She has authored more than 90 books and is a New York Times Best Selling Author.  She has a knack for making the reader feel entrenched in the Amish culture, to the point where you can picture the Amish life pretty easily.  I enjoyed the characters in "The River" and felt so bad about the pain they had experienced in their lives.  I was hoping for a breakthrough for each of the main characters as they were reintroduced to Amish life. The family seemed very realistic to me, with members who were welcoming of the women and others who will probably never forgive them for leaving the plain life.  I really enjoyed how it ended and won't spoil it, but I will say it is definitely a worthwhile read.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. 

November 15, 2014

Reviewing "Quilted By Christmas"

       "Quilted by Christmas" by Jodie Bailey is a fun Christmasy novel full of a Grandmother's love with romance and quilting as the backdrop.  The main character Taryn has had some rough things happen in her life that have lead her to believe that she is pretty unloveable. She nonetheless has made a life for herself as a teacher and is intent on impacting the lives of the kids she works with. She also has a very close relationship with her Grandmother and when her Grandmother falls ill, she is forced to figure some things out about her life in general and about love.  
         I am always a fan of books that have quilting themes because I feel that it adds heart and substance to the storyline. I enjoyed the way the author cleverly intertwined the quilting theme throughout the book and I found myself wanting to see the quilts in person.  Gifting a quilt to someone is like giving someone a piece of you, and the general theme of quilt gifting in this book is a sweet one. I enjoyed the book and finished it in about a day, so it's perfect for that plane ride home for the holidays or sitting in front of your fireplace for a couple cozy evenings. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys quilting related books with some romance and a lot of love thrown in.  Click on the link below for some fun opportunities!

Quilts of Love Quilted by Christmas Jodie Bailey

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviewing "Where Treetops Glisten"

    "Where Treetops Glisten", by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman and Sarah Sundin is a collection of three novellas, each taking place during Christmas time around World War II.  With Christmas as the backdrop, each story focuses on one of three siblings who are each attempting love after going through betrayal, loss and everything else that wartime brings. Each novella has a very different theme as each sibling is in a different life stage and has had their own life experiences.  Just to give you an idea, in the first novella, "White Christmas" Abigail Turner is a college student working in a candy shop who meets a man with some big problems, while in the third novella "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", Meredith Turner, is a combat nurse on the front lines of the war in the Netherlands. 
     I found the characters in each novella to be realistic with believable emotions and "baggage" in their lives.  I was constantly rooting for love to win and I won't spoil it by telling you how the stories end.   A couple of the novellas were faster reads but each had their own charming, heartwarming moments.  I think this is the perfect book to get anyone in the Christmas Spirit and get your mind in the right place as the holidays approach.  The main message I took away from this book is that love, family and faith are so much more important than gifts and all the peripheral craziness that sometimes accompanies Christmas.  I am encouraged to soak in all the magic of this fun season to the fullest. 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. 

October 17, 2014

"Parenting with Scripture" by Kara Durbin

       "Parenting with Scripture" by Kara Durbin is an excellent tool for parents looking to use scripture to teach and instruct their children.  The beginning of the book is a guide for finding and responding to teachable moments, including learning to identify a teachable moment in your everyday life.  Durbin discusses using opportunities such as TV shows or commercials, or time in the car when you have a buckled-in audience. She also stresses the importance of using positive moments and reinforcing good behavior like when your child shows kindness to others, or demonstrates honesty in a tough situation.
       The rest of the book is a very useful topical guide. The topics range from friendship to giving, to honesty and self-control. Durbin lists a topic at the top of the page, gives the definition, and then lists several scripture verses that deal with the topic. Then, there is a list of discussion questions and a "Take Action" segment which gives the family some goals for working on the specific topic.
        I would recommend this book to all Christian families with children. It's a wonderful tool for everyone in the family to study and use in the midst of all those everyday life moments. I think it's not only a great reference tool but would also make a fantastic family devotional study. The emphasis on the memorization of scripture is wonderful and important, especially with the ease that little minds learn new things.  Those verses will stay "hidden in their hearts", and encourage them to live in a way that honors God and loves others for the rest of their lives.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

October 14, 2014

Reviewing "Bible Study for Busy Mamas, Thirty Days in 1 Corinthians 13"

Pam Forster's "Bible Study for Busy Mamas, Thirty Days in 1 Corinthians 13" is a gem of a book.  It breaks down a very in-depth study of one chapter of the Bible into manageable 5 minute bits which makes studying scripture regularly a very doable practice for busy moms of little ones. 
She uses underlining, highlighting and symbols to deeply examine each verse. I like this a lot because I find that adding a memorable visual aspect is something that helps cement what I learn during a study into the recesses of my brain. 
A really neat part of this book that I've never seen before is the children's study that parallels the adult study. In the introduction of the book Forster explains that there is no pressure to complete the kids study, but that it is available for moms who want to include their whole family in the practice of Bible Study. Her ideas are tailored very well toward kids with short attentions spans who need to be involved in a project or working with their hands in some way to keep them engaged.  The Author suggests that the kids' study can be used as a completely separate entity during family worship time at night with Dad. 
I would definitely recommend this book to moms who have their hands full with little ones and may struggle to find that regular Bible study time.  It's a pretty book with inviting pages, and the fact that each study portion takes about 5 minutes may just lead to a wonderful habit of always finding time to study no matter how busy we are. 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher through BookCrash in exchange for an honest review.