Saturday, February 28, 2015

Candle Tiny Tots Lift the Flap Bible

Candle Tiny Tots Lift the Flap Bible

by Karen Williamson; illustrated by Louise Anglicas  

This little book is a great way to introduce young ones to Bible stories. The short summaries of different Bible stories can be a way for the parent or reader to further explain the Bible accounts. 
Illustrated by Louise Anglicas, the pictures within this book have pleasant and cheerful colors. Children will be delighted by the fun, fanciful depictions of Bible characters. For instance, in the illustration for Noah's Ark, there are several funny animals poking out of a tiny ark. 
As you may have discerned by now if not by the cover of the book, this book is a very simplified Bible story book. The pictures are not very realistic and won't necessarily help your child advance in Biblical knowledge, without your careful direction. The stories are brief and need further explanation. This book however could be a great way to instill in your very, very young child the accounts from the Bible. Obviously, the lift-the-flap aspect is the biggest plus about this fun little book. Children love to engage in that way, lifting the flap to find what is hidden within. For the age of child this book is directed towards, I'm not too concerned about the reality of the Bible pictures. Most tiny tots are only interested in the bright colors and lifting the flaps, after all. Just make sure you supplement with deeper literature as they grow older. Stories within this Lift the flap Bible include Noah's ark, Moses in the bullrushes, Daniel in the Lion's den and a few from Jesus' ministry on earth.

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

What's under the flaps? Find out in this collection of eight very simple Bible stories in a large cased board book format. Each story is told across a double-page spread and there are flaps on every page. Bright, quirky illustrations full of wit and color from Louise Anglicas are perfect for this engaging introduction to Bible stories.
Stories are: Noah and the Ark, Moses and the Bulrushes, Daniel and the Lions, Jonah and the Great Fish, Born in a Stable, Boy with Loaves and Fishes, The Lost Sheep, and Man Lowered Through the Roof.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This Is What You Just Put in Your Mouth? by Patrick Di Justo book review

This Is What You Just Put in Your Mouth?: From Eggnog to Beef Jerky, the Surprising Secrets of What's Inside Everyday Products

This Is What You Just Put in Your Mouth?: From Eggnog to Beef Jerky, the Surprising Secrets by Patrick Di Justo 

If you know me, you know that I would jump on a chance to read such a book as this! 
From a young age, I had a strange satisfaction in analyzing the ingredient labels of everything I did-and didn't- eat! Now that I have fully embraced a strictly healthy lifestyle, it amazes me what most people consume daily. Did you really just put that into your body? 
This book is an easy read; paperback and lightweight, it packs into 200 pages as much information as you need to know to maintain a healthier existence. Seriously, after finding out what is in your pizza pockets, enfamil baby formula, gum, etc. etc. you won't want to continue with the hazardous habit of daily poisoning yourself! 
Even if you are not a health fanatic, the humorous aspect of respectable humans loading themselves with such poisons is sure to tickle you. Keep this book on your coffee table; sure to initiate some interesting conversations!

 Personally, I found this book slightly confusing at times. It didn't always explain what was wrong with the ingredients described. Since I have done some study on my own previously I knew, but most readers wouldn't get the full impact. Also the author, although writing with humor, is not an excellent writer which makes reading this book difficult.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. 

More about the book:
What do a cup of coffee and cockroach pheromone have in common? How is Fix-A-Flat like sugarless gum? Is a Slim Jim meat stick really alive? If I Can't Believe It's Not Butter isn't butter, what is it?

All of these pressing questions and more are answered in This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? Based on his popular Wired magazine column What's Inside, Patrick Di Justo takes a cold, hard, and incredibly funny look at the shocking, disgusting, and often dumbfounding ingredients found in everyday products, from Cool Whip and Tide Pods to Spam and Play-Doh. He also shares the madcap stories of his extensive research, including tracking down a reclusive condiment heir, partnering with a cop to get his hands on heroin, and getting tight-lipped snack-food execs to talk. Along the way, he schools us on product histories, label decoding, and the highfalutin chemistry concepts behind everything from Midol to Hostess fruit pies.
Packed with facts you're going to want to share immediately, this is infotainment at its best—and most fun!—which will have you giving your shampoo the side-eye and Doritos a double take, and make you the know-it-all in line at the grocery store.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Babylon Contingency by Clifford Longley book review

The Babylon Contingency

The Babylon Contingency


This book seems to have all the elements for an amazing mystery-adventure. Mysterious archaeological findings in an English mansion, British police force, murders, danger, adventure in the Mediterranean and international intrigue....all the factors combined to make me incredibly excited to read this new novel by Clifford Longley.
However, to my surprise I had an extremely difficult time not only getting into the book, but sticking with it! From the first chapter, the book is prolix and far too detailed to run smoothly. To fully enjoy this book, the reader would have to have a pretty good understanding of British police and detective terminology, as well as an excellent memory since the book is full of various individuals. Another aspect which made this work difficult for me was the first-person tense which is not always annoying but in the case of an overly-wordy book as this, it's torture. Detail after detail made this book devoid of excitement. And although I stuck with this novel chapter after chapter, the mystery details never made sense to me. I am an avid reader who loves adventure, mystery and such but even by the final chapter I only had a dim idea of what the point of the book was.
The historical aspect of this book was disturbing. The author played with real history too much, without providing footnotes to explain why he inserted this or that. There are some points of history one can not play around with, and that is the ancient worlds. I felt like I could not trust the author on any of his points.
That is my opinion, barring all religious thoughts.
   However, I also want to point out from a Christian viewpoint: this book, although published by a company which usually offers excellent Christian literature is quite atheistic. At least the main character is. Throughout the book, there is mild bad language, crude language and the reader comes into the context of other worldliness. I was optimistically hoping the main character would have a salvation experience or something, but no. The book doesn't culminate in anything good...for anyone.  In conclusion, don't read this book if you are religious. If you are not religious, this book is so badly written that you would be better off reading something else!
*This book was provided to me for honest reviewing by Kregel Publications*
More about the book: 
Investigating a burglary at an English country house, Detective Chief Inspector Robbie Peele comes face to face with one of the most mysterious objects in world archaeology, the Phaestos Disk--and with the Middle Eastern terrorist cell determined to steal it.
The vital clue is a long abandoned Muslim village in Crete, where a Victorian gentleman explorer witnessed horrors that were meant to be secret and recorded what he saw in coded diaries. Seeking the truth about the Phaestos Disk, Peele and his assistant, Sarah Shipton, are on the cusp of solving the mystery when they are caught in an ancient Egyptian burial chamber during an earthquake.
In the end Peele has to ask far harder questions than simply who committed the original burglary. The origins of the Phaestos Disk are inextricably bound up with the Middle East peace process in ways that frustrate and astound him.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma book review

Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma

Having read and loved the author's previous two books, Snow on the Tulips and Daisies are Forever, I was excited when I discovered this new novel of hers!

  Like the author's two other novels, Remember the Lilies features a splendid wartime romance with a strong Christian message. This time, the setting is the occupied Philippines and more specifically, an internment camp! The main characters of this story include Irene Reynolds, a young woman who grew up in the Philippines and former nightclub owner Rand Sterling. They come from opposing backgrounds, but will the hardships of the camp bring them together? And is Irene strong enough to keep her faith in God foremost in her mind and heart? Read this book and discover the story of two unlikely friends who are drawn together over hardships.

Comparing this novel to the author Liz Tolsma's previous works, I found that it didn't compare. Although the book characteristically holds the attention of the reader, the storyline was not as impressive as the author's other books.
 And despite the fact that the faith message was indeed good, I found that it was lost beneath the romance aspect of the story. The characters were not strongly developed either; Irene is a Christian but she is not very vocal about her faith until far into the book. I am not attracted to Rand's personality at any point in the book. There is too much emphasis on the good looks of the characters, as well as too much description of the kisses shared between the lovers.
Lastly, I was surprised at the culmination of the story in regards to the main characters' future. Rand makes a rather lame decision regarding his future which I must not reveal here lest I spoil the entire climax of the book. In short, I didn't think his decision was very Christ-like and manly. Irene surprised me with her conclusion by the end of the book as well. Her thought process seemed more selfish than godly. The subject I am alluding to didn't really need to be in the book; I am still confused as to why the author inserted it. I have read other books which dealt with similar situations in better manners.

Anyhow, I did think this novel was an excellent picture of life in a internment camp in the Philippines. It is a topic I rarely consider and this gave a vivid idea of life in those circumstances.

I received this complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for my review. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Good Food Day by Marco Canora with Tammy Walker cookbook review

A Good Food Day by  Marco Canora with Tammy Walker, with a Foreword by Tim Ferriss 

This is another healthy cookbook to inspire both healthy eaters as well as those who are just starting on the journey to ultimate health and vitality!
Written by a man who suffered from junk food and an all-round unhealthy lifestyle, it presents healthy living in a fresh new way. The photographs are appealing and full of colour. This hardback book, as with all of Clarkson Potter publisher's cookbooks, is not only useful in the kitchen but also a beautiful coffee table book! I especially loved the macro shots of spices, nuts or herbs. 
As for the recipes, I was excited to critique them. I am an avid and experienced cook. Not only that, I have been rigidly healthy for the past few years so I love to review not only cookbooks, but healthy ones particularly. The recipes in this cookbook are quite basic. Although experienced cooks will enjoy this book, I would recommend it for beginners. The ingredients included in even the entrees are basic and remind me of the recipes I create on a busy day when I don't have time to look at a cookbook. 
The flavours incorporate classic Italian and American, and are sure to please most people! 
The author seems to have a good appreciation for healthy fats and cultured foods. Therefore you can rest assured that most of the recipes are indeed healthy. The only thing that caught my attention which I wouldn't consume was the whole wheat pasta the author uses. You can't blame him-after all, he is Italian!
As for the desserts in this book, there are hardly any recipes in that section but those included use maple syrup, honey or coconut palm sugar. As with other recipes, the dessert recipes are simple and easy to prepare. They include berry crumble, granola, hazelnut brownies, blueberry pie and more. 

About the cookbook

After years of mindless eating habits that led to weight gain and a slew of health issues, I knew I had to make some changes. But no way in hell was I giving up flavor for health. Instead of dieting or depriving myself, I created simple, whole foods-based recipes fit for a food lover’s palate.
In A Good Food Day, I team up with certified health coach Tammy Walker to explain the powers of good-for-you ingredients (such as low-GI carbohydrates, bone broths, and alkaline-forming greens), and I build these into 125 recipes that are all about satisfaction. Dishes like Amaranth “Polenta” with Tuscan Kale, Black Rice Seafood Risotto, Citrus-Spiked Hazelnut and Rosemary Granola, Chickpea Crepe Sandwiches, and Rosemary Sweet Potato Fries will show that with a healthy diet, there is still joy in eating.
If you love food and want to clean up your diet with a collection of super delicious, satisfying recipes that actually inspire you to want healthy foods in every meal, then A Good Food Day is for you.

10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know by Kari Kampakis

10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know by Kari Kampakis

This is a book full of important, Biblically-sound truths for young girls. As we all know, the teenage years are difficult for girls as they struggle with graciously accepting all the physical and mental changes which occur at that important time. 
Too often, teenage girls fail this passage into womanhood, not physically but spiritually and mentally. They become broken, wasted creatures who are unable to embrace the futures God has in store for them. Because I was not-to-long-ago a teenager, I know every struggle a girl can face. And most of all, I know it is nigh impossible to convince a teenager that their present struggles will soon fade and seem trivial. I know. I remember the years in which I thought having clear skin was the key to happiness....only to realize when I reached that goal that the key to happiness is definitely something bigger. 
You had to be a teenage girl to understand.
Maybe you are one yourself. This book is for you. The author, Kari Kampakis has four daughters of her own and in this her first book, she gently and lovingly guides the teenage girl through ten ''ultimate truths'' that will change her world. No longer do you, the reader have to be subject to bullying, emotional roller coasters, selfishness, etc. Kari is clear and practical in the way she presents the facts and solutions in this 11-chapter book. 

Chapters include: 
  • Kindness is more important than popularity.
  • People peak at different times of life. Trust God's plan for you.
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Otherwise, you'll never stick to your guns.
  • Today's choices set the stage for your reputation.
  • You were born to fly.
A major thing I loved about this book is how adamantly opposed to premaritial sex this author is! She clearly stands against sexual impurity and mothers can be sure that their daughter will be encouraged and convicted through reading the author's thoughts on purity. 
Along that line, this book is definitely targeted towards public school attendees. There were some scenarios and ''quick quizzes'' (''what would you do....") which were extremely racy and outright public school. At least I hope stuff like that doesn't go on in Christian school! 
Some of my confusion stemmed from these scenarios and were answered by the realization that the author is Catholic. Although Catholic schools have high standards, the students come from a variety of families and one can not trust the faith of the children to be true or strong. The same with Christian schools, of course. Anywhere were children are together for hours on end can lead to sinful discussions and desires. 
Another portion of the book which disturbed me was the author's view of dating. She openly expresses the following: "The boys you date now won't be your spouse. They're meant to lead you to your spouse, just as you'll help lead them to theirs." This simply bothered me since I wouldn't want my daughter playing the dating game! The author also upholds the joys of young romance. Although she strongly stands for sexual purity, she isn't very strong on the emotional side. 
Nevertheless, I was impressed by her chapters about romance. In short, this book has much good as well as some less good portions. 
One of the less good facts about this book is that Kari put in her own opinion about when a girl should marry.  I thought this wasn't her place, since marriage is a good thing and such advice up to the mother to give. I quote: ''I started dating my husband when I was 23, which is relatively young. Within a month we knew we'd get married, but we waited 3 years because he lived in a different city and I loved my job. To this day, I take great pride in those 4 years I supported myself and earned career recognition. I 'm glad I was able to marry a man not by necessity--because I needed financial support---but by choice. ''
I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want my daughter thinking like that! 

Lastly, this book is written for the Christian teenager, thus limiting its audience. Throughout much of the book, Kari Kampakis assures the young girl reader that she is a daughter of the King, beloved, cherished...this certainly isn't detrimental to your unbelieving daughter if she knows she is not saved. But I don't want any young girls getting the wrong impression of their standing before Christ if they are not His. 
Thankfully, the author strongly explains that we need Christ as our all in all. 

I would not recommend this book for homeschoolers. I know the author didn't intend it for such, but since my audience may be homeschoolers, I just wanted to throw this in as a homeschool graduate. Although there is much in it that is Biblically-sound, many of the situations are foreign to those who are not in a public classroom environment. Nevertheless, college students may still benefit from this book. Girls, we all know teenage years aren't the only hard ones. I still struggle with many of the issues presented in this book. And although I am sad that I haven't overcome them, it's nothing to be surprised about. Women will always have similar struggles, even as they mature. Thus much of the content in this book is appropriate for all ages. It will be a blessing for a mother to read aloud to her daughter! Also, I can imagine girlfriends benefiting from reading it side by side. 

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Great book! The First Principle by Marissa Shrock


This book is a winner! It makes my top 10 of 2014, I think (having read it in December 2014)!
I casually started it one afternoon and could not put it down! I completed it the following morning (it was hard to stop reading it just to go to bed, but I mastered that difficult task)! This futuristic novel is absolutely amazing. The author is not only an excellent writer, but she has this stellar story line which I am just blown away by. 
As I finished this book I realized I was left with some questions; not too many as to be confused and dissatisfied, but rather enough that I really hope the author is planning a sequel! (please!!!) 
Without life, there can be no liberty or pursuit of happiness. In this futuristic novel, changes have occurred to North America which are -unfortunately- imaginable. The United States of America has become the United Regions of North America in which many of our worst dreams have come about. The government has more control than ever, including the power to decide who can have children and who can't. Population management includes the rule that underage pregnancies be terminated immediately. Birth control for girls under 18 is mandatory and since teenage sex hasn't diminished but rather increased by this futuristic year, abortions are constant. There is, however a remnant of people fighting against all this wrong. They are known as the Emancipation Warriors who are primarily Christians. Vivica Wilkins, the main character in this book has no idea what she will be getting into when she starts forming personal convictions against the Population Management law. Ironically, Vivica is the daughter of the governor of her territory and, as you can imagine, is in a far-from-ideal situation for expressing opinions opposing that of the government. 
I have no desire to give the storyline away, so all I will say is that things progress rapidly in this novel! Vivica finds herself swept into a world of danger. Should she rely on the Emancipation Warriors in her time of need? Should she trust a group of people she formerly thought of as rebellious? Should she stand up against her own mother? 
This book is a strong stand against the evils a government can inflict. Well-written and exciting, the reader will not be disappointed. I was brought to tears at some points by the all-too-realistic situations. Most of all, I was inspired and convicted. This is a powerful book with a strong message and I can't wait to read a sequel!

For conservative readers: This book may not be appropriate for younger readers. 
Teenage sex is a major, although discreet, topic in this book. 
There are some violent and graphic moments in this book which may be too much for younger readers. However, I think it is excellent for teenagers on up!

I received this book from Kregel publications in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Book review: Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family by Michelle Anthony

Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family :Avoiding the 6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles
by Michelle Anthony
Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family: Avoiding the 6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles
   We've all had this moment, whether we recognize it or not. This attempt to take over the Director's chair. We grab a pen, write a script, and try to steer the story in the direction we think it should go. BUT...He's the only one who knows the characters, understands the plot line, and is weaving them all together toward the ending He intends. He hasn't hired us to write our on stories; He has cast us in HIS story. 
-from the first chapter of Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family

   This is a new book published by David C. Cook, January 2015. 
   I am always drawn to such practical books as this! For one thing, I am a part of a large family and for another thing, I hope to someday have a family of my own! As I read this extremely practical book, I was able to relate to many of the instances included. 
Although I am not a parent yet, I was able to see myself in a few of the dysfunctional parenting styles! That said, I do recommend this book for those who have younger siblings, as well as those who wish to have a family in the future. The sooner you start learning how to parent well, the better. Such Biblical truths can never be out of our realm.
   The author of this new paperback book is Michelle Anthony. Michelle is the vice president of Learning Resourches and Family Ministry Architect at David C Cook. The author of several books on similar topics as the one I am reviewing, Mrs. Anthony has over 25 years of experience in church ministry. She is a children's and family pastor at her church in Colorado. Personally, I don't condone the latter for women, but I spent some time researching Michelle's beliefs and stances on current issues and was relatively pleased with the articles she endorses.
Her new book, Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family is an excellent read, for both women and men. Men will not feel uncomfortable reading it since Mrs. Anthony doesn't take a leadership position in the book; rather she is humble and open with her writing. This is not a theology book; it is a useful book on parenting.
  I think most parents will greatly benefit from this book. The author not only addresses the many methods of dysfunctional parenting, she goes to the root and heart of the matter, explaining reasons why you as the parent may be parenting a certain way. She also mentions common and proven results of children who grew up with dysfunctional parenting. From the ''Can't say no'' parent to the ''Micro-managing parent'', Michelle Anthony covers 6 different dysfunctional parenting methods. Although I would hope this is not the case for every parent, you are sure to discover one of these methods which you have been practicing. With ''Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family'' you can not only identify the problems in your parenting, but by the grace of God, cure them!

Practical ''Reflect and Respond” questions and exercises follow up every chapter in order to help you, the reader completely understand and put into practice what you just learned. 

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Book review: No Greater Valor: The Siege of Bastogne and the Miracle That Sealed Allied Victory

No Greater Valor: The Siege of Bastogne and the Miracle That Sealed Allied VictoryNo Greater Valor: The Siege of Bastogne and the Miracle That Sealed Allied Victory 

Imagine my excitement when I discovered a new book devoted to that most interesting topic, the Siege of Bastogne!
This new hardback by Jerome Corsi is an in-depth picture of the entire situation. Although full of details, this book is not difficult to understand. It is perfect for all interested readers, from amateur history buffs to the history professor himself!
Although I haven't read any other books on this topic, I feel that I can honestly say, this book has everything you need to know about the siege of Bastogne! I learnt so much as I read through the many chapters. I especially appreciated how this book focused on the faith of the fighting Americans during the battle. Not many books about the battles will do this, yet it is so crucial. I believe some of the best soldiers were those who had a spiritual reason to fight. And some of the bravest had to be those who put their trust in God!

More about the book:

Jerome Corsi's newest opus, "No Greater Valor," examines the Siege of Bastogne--one of the most heroic victories of WWII--with a focus on the surprising faith of the Americans who fought there.

In December of 1944, an outmanned, outgunned, and surrounded US force fought Hitler's overwhelming Panzer divisions to a miraculous standstill at Bastogne. The underdogs had saved the war for the Allies. It was nothing short of miraculous.

Corsi's analysis is based on a record of oral histories along with original field maps used by field commanders, battle orders, and other documentation made at the time of the military command. With a perspective gleaned from newspapers, periodicals, and newsreels of the day, Corsi paints a riveting portrait of one of the most important battles in world history.