Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms by Cindy Woodsmall: Book Review

A few months ago, I read the novella The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall.  Now she brings forth a Spring novella with more of the same believable Amish folk whose lives are anything but simply and plain.  The Scent of Cherry Blossoms takes us on a spin with two families who have major difficulties with which they must contend:  physical, emotional, dysfunctional. 

The male lead is Aden who is from Old Order Amish.  His family owns and runs a small restaurant that is dependent (because of coding laws) on electricity which they must obtain from their Old Order Mennonite friend and neighbor.

The female lead is Annie who is from the Old Order Mennonite family that is linked through friendship and business partnership with Aden's family.

Love happens.  Annie and Aden find themselves drawn into a relationship that could rend their two families, their church, their community, and cost Aden's family their business. 

It is difficult for those in the world outside of the Amish and Mennonite communities to comprehend the difficulties faced by these gentle folk when faced with the issues that face Annie and Aden and their families.

Though short in length, The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is long in enjoyment and it is a very pleasant read, indeed.  Cindy Woodsmall has again given her readers a treasure.

Publisher:  WaterBrook Press    Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 0307446557  ISBN-13: 9780307446558
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary hardcover copy of The Scent of Cherry Blossoms by Blogging For Books and the publisher, WaterBrook Press for the purpose of an honest review without compensation. All opinions expressed are my own,.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"The Awesome Book of Unusual Bible Heroes for Kids" by Sandy Silverthorne: Book Review

Years ago, our pastor who loved the children in the church, said that he wanted the kids to have super heroes from the Bible and not heroes from the movies, comic books, or TV.  Sandy Silverthorne obviously has the same idea.

Sunday school lessons about major Bible figures are frequently taught:  Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and of course, Jesus. Lesser-known but important heroes in the Bible also abound:  Ehud, Deborah, Jonathan.  And Sandy Silverthorne retells the Biblical account in colorful, tongue-in-check language that is historically accurate but that captures the interest of the 8 to 12 year old child.

Line drawings illustrate each story adding interest that would appeal to the young pre-teen.  Each re-telling of the character's story includes a devotional that links the character's life lesson to an application for the child to learn.  Scriptures used are from the NKJV.

I was provided a complimentary copy of "The Awesome Book of Unusual Bible Heroes for Kids" by Harvest House Publishers for the purpose of review.  I was not required to render a favorable review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, March 12, 2012

"McKenzie" by Penny Zeller" - Montana Skies #1: Book Review

"Desperate times call for desperate measures"
In Boston in 1881, McKenzie lives the protected, cultured life of the well-to-do daughter of a Boston attorney.  Success. Wealth.  Culture.  McKenzie really has a life of ease.  However, she is only one of three daughters in the family.  Peyton, the eldest, is already married and living a high society life as is expected of one in their station in life.  Kaydie has previously run off and married the "love of her life" who turned out to be a scoundrel and criminal.  That leaves McKenzie. 

McKenzie loves her sister Kaydie and contrives a way to rescue her from the clutches of her terrible husband.  Now how is McKenzie to do this?  It means she has to travel from Boston to the Montana Territory.

Enter Zach Sawyer who owns a ranch, is single, needs and wants a wife.  So he posts advertisements in the newspapers in the major cities in the East for a "bride."  McKenzie answers his ad and our story begins in earnest. 

Cultured, Boston society meets rough and tumble rancher.  They marry.  Zach is a gentle, considerate man who loves God and falls in love with McKenzie.  Their story progresses and the end is somewhat predictable. 

I enjoyed reading this sweet read.  To me it is unfathomable that a woman would consent to travel a great distance and marry a stranger.  Yet, it was not unheard of during this period in our history.

I found that Penny Zeller writes an enjoyable book and I am looking forward to reading the next two books in Montana Skies - Kaydie and Hailee.  Watch for reviews of the next two in the near future.

I was provided a copy of each of the books in Montana Skies by the author for the purpose of an honest review.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

"World of Science" by Master Books

I believe this book would be categorized as "General Science" with an intended audience of elementary students and on into middle school.  It is designed for use within the home school setting.  However, I believe it would be useful in the home library and utilized by the entire family - from elementary age children through the adults in the home. The typeface is in large format which seems to indicate its being directed toward the younger child.

Pictures and illustrations are very nice and again seem directed toward the young student.  Take a look inside:  http://www.newleafpublishinggroup.com/content/lookinside/world-of-science.pdf

The Biblical world view is established early in "The World of Science."  God the Creator is honored in this book as the giver of origins.  The following sections are covered:
  1. Matter and Chemicals
  2. Energy, Motion, and Machines
  3. Electricity and Magnetism
  4. Light and Sound
  5. Earth and Life
  6. Space and Time
  7. Science Experiments
 "The World of Science"......
  • There are over 800 illustrations and photographs.
  • Over 60 science experiments are presented in section 7.
  • "The World of Science"  is ideal for home reference and school project work.
Famous scientists who were involved or instrumental in the discovery or development of a particular scientific field or area are featured in related sections.  Though some of the scientists did not nor do profess faith in God, their work scientifically is still recognized.

This book would have been a welcomed addition to our home library when I was raising my five children.  I see it as an enjoyable tool for learning for children and one that they will reference on a frequent basis.  I see it, too, as one of those books that will intrigue and draw a child to spend their idle moments perusing.

I do not see this as a text book but as a supplemental volume that provides enjoyable entrance into the realm of the scientific for the young child.  I recommend this book for the home, school, or church library.

I was provided a complimentary copy of The World of Science by Master Books and New Leaf Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.  Opinions expressed are my own.

ISBN:  9780890516188  PUBLISHER: Master Books, A division of New Leaf Publishing Group

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Heart's Frontier by Lori Copeland & Virginia Smith: Book Review

Bestselling authors Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith weave an entertaining and romantic tale for devoted fans and new readers.

The story begins with a typical Amish family group loading their wagon for a move and having an assist from family and friends in the community.  The Amish are a tight knit community of believers.

Kansas is the stage for this story and it is 1881. The Amish family undertaking this move (involving a history making handmade hutch) consists of grand mama, son (father), and two daughters as they begin their trek to a new community.  They set out alone.  No wagon train, no guide, no protection.

Down the road away, they are accosted by a band of renegades who taunt them, steal their wagon and oxen, and all their food and possessions leaving them to manage on foot.  They arrive in a small town penniless and in much need of help.  Then a young cowboy (Luke) literally lands at their feet outside a saloon. Emma looks down and sees God's provision at her feet but thinks it would have been nice if  "the Lord could have cleaned him up first."

Hence begins a tale that will tickle your funny bone in places, give you assurance of the guidance of the Lord in the lives of these characters, and reveal the inner workings of the beliefs and traditions of a not-so-typical Amish family.

Luke and his men and the four Amish help one another as rustlers try to steal the cowboy's herd that he is driving to market with his team of workers and as the Amish need to procure a means to get where they were going.  And through their encounters with each other during this week-long cattle drive, an unlikely romance begins to bud.  But that would be telling the story to you.  When the wild and wooly west meets the calm, predictable, and traditional Amish, surely something interesting and unpredictable will happen.

New on your book sellers shelves March 2012.  This book is sure to be an engaging and lighthearted read that will entertain.

I was provided a complimentary copy of  The Heart's Frontier by Harvest House Publishers for the purpose of review.  I was not required to render a favorable review.  All opinions expressed are my own.
Published March 1st 2012,  ISBN 0736947523 (ISBN 13: 9780736947527)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments

 "....the gospel narrative of how God redeemed a broken world through sending His son Jesus...."
Marty Machowski beckons families to take time out from the daily grind to be transformed by the message of the Gospel of Jesus in his newest release, Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments.

Colorfully illustrated and beautifully printed in vibrant color, the stories that are just the right length to read to a child at bedtime. The focus is on Jesus presented in both the Old and New Testaments. A directed "Let’s Talk About It" section of three questions meant to inspire learning through discussion facilitates learning the deeper teachings of each individual story.

The book’s intended audience is the young pre-school to middle school age child. It can be utilized for the very young, the middle and high school age student, as well as an adult. Adaptations will of necessity need to be made for the younger child to understand as the wording and actual depiction is above their attention and understanding.

I found it to be a beautifully rendered book in print form. However, once you get past the brilliant coloration of the pictures and actual pages, you find that the type is smallish and actually difficult to read as presented with color backgrounds and contrasting type coloration. The artist has rendered the characters interesting. The style is not one I would choose, but I am certain it will be appealing to some. As I said, the colors are beautiful, brilliant, and the book is sturdy and well made.
I see this as a theologically sound story book of Bible stories presenting the Gospel as it flows throughout the Old and New Testament. The theme is Jesus and redemption.

My perception is that parents can use this book as a teaching tool for devotions with their children. It will be a refresher for the older child or for the adult on details of the Bible stories as well as an opportunity for the adult who is not well-versed in Bible to learn.

Author: Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA. He has served on the pastoral staff there for 23 years. He leads the church's children's ministry. He has authored Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God and a forthcoming Sunday School curriculum.  Illustrated By: A.E. Macha

New Growth Press/November 2011
ISBN 978-1-936768-12-7/328 pages/hardcover/$24.99
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher via B&B Media Group. I was not required to render a positive review.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"God Gave Us Love" by Lisa Tawn Bergren: Book Review

Heads up to all Mommies of tiny tots!!  This is a delightful and lovely little board book just the right size for those little chubby hands of your little one to grasp.  He or she will toddle around with this lovely book learning about showing love, God's love, to others.

"The story" involves Grampa Bear tenderly explaining to Little Cub that even though Little Cub doesn't love the unbearable antics of the group of beavers romping in the fishing hole and scaring away the fish, he can still love them.

The book, and Grampa Bear, teach that God is love and that we must share bits of His love with others.

Lovely, warm, definitely endearing.  A delightful way to encourage a young child to share God's love - a little bit at a time.

ISBN:     978-0-307-73027-5  PUBLISHER:  WaterBrook Press
I was provided a complimentary copy of God Gave Us Love by the publisher in exchange for an honest review without obligation for a positive review.  Opinions expressed are my own.