Friday, December 23, 2016

Bedtime Stories

Bedtime. It’s the time of day adults think is a reward and kids think is a punishment. Bedtime stories have long been seen as one of the ways to get kids to calm down and allow rest to overtake them. Here are two books written specifically as bedtime stories.

Book: Close Your Eyes So You Can See by Michael Card, Illustrated by Stephen Marchesi, Harvest House Publishers, 1996
Genre: Picture Book
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 4+
Subjects: Imagination, Bible Stories
Summary: “Close your eyes so you can see…” starts off all ten stories in this picture book. It then gives a setting and characters for children to imagine. Then it goes into a gentle story about some child interacting with Jesus. They are all fictional stories but based around something from the Gospels. It includes the stories of: Jesus at the temple as a young boy, Jarius’ daughter, the disciples’ argument about who is the greatest, the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus blessing the children, Jesus healing the little boy in John 4, Jesus comparing the people to children singing a dirge, Palm Sunday, Peter’s denial of Jesus and Peter’s miraculous escape from prison in Acts.
Notes: Each story is short – no more than 4 pages. There’s 1 picture per story so you can show children the picture, then let them close their eyes as you tell the story. It encourages them to use their imaginations. It can even be a devotional book with the Scripture reference listed at the beginning and a couple of discussion questions at the end. I highly recommend this book!
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Book: Time For Bed, Sleepyhead by Daniel G. Amen, Illustrated by Gail Yerrill, Zonderkiz, 2016
Genre: Picture Book
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 3-8
Subjects: Imagination
Summary: The narrator of this story is a polar bear reading to their cub as it goes to bed. The cub doesn’t want to go to sleep so the mom explains how the brain has to rest to get rid of the trash in it so it will be ready for the next day. She then tells a story about a bunch of animal friends having a day at the beach. At multiple points through their day the characters rest and relax. At the end of their day they are so tired they can’t even keep their eyes open or talk without yawning. This is supposed to make the polar bear cub relax as well.
Notes: This book is all about psychology. The author is a renowned psychiatrist and wrote the book specifically to use scientific techniques to help children relax. It has very cute pictures and can be read in a calm tone of voice to help put children to sleep and it encourages them to use their imagination to picture what might be happening with the characters. However it has absolutely no spiritual element whatsoever. It doesn’t claim to. It is nothing more than a cute scientific technique to make children fall asleep.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 0/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 127:2 – In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Thank you to Zondervan for providing me with a free review copy of Time For Bed, Sleepyhead. All opinions are my own. 

Prayers and Answered Prayers

Prayer is an abstract concept for some. Some people think it’s about having just the right words, some think it’s about memorizing scripts and reciting them, some think it’s only something for super holy people. We claim prayer is simply conversation with God, but don’t often truly teach or model that. This journal can help!

Book: Prayers and Answered Prayers, Tommy Nelson Publishers, 2016

Genre: Journal/Nonfiction
Target Audience: Girls 9-13
Subjects: Prayer
Summary/Notes: Written as sort of two books, this journal has 2 flaps for each day. It is supposedly formatted according to prayers and then recording answers, but it’s not. It’s simply two ways to interact with God each day. For example: one of the days has you circle countries you would like to visit for the “prayer” section. Then the answered prayer section has you thank God for places you have visited and pray for people in countries you would like to visit. One day has you doodle what you like best about your parents for the prayer section, then look up a verse about God being our Father and try to memorize it. So it definitely is not a “pray for something specific, then come back and record it when you see that prayer answered” type of journal. It’s simply using writing and doodling to get young girls to tell God about all sorts of different things in their life. There isn’t a ton of Scripture focus – mostly just thinking – but some days do have kids looking up verses. If used the way it is intended to, it can definitely strengthen a young girl’s prayer life – get her used to talking to God about everything that goes on. It will help erase the idea that one has to get just the perfect words to talk to God. I highly recommend it for that purpose.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray continually.

Ephesians 6:18 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Thank you to BookLook for providing me with a free review copy of this book. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Royal Christmas Wedding

Avery hurried to Susanna's apartment. Would she marry Colin if he really rang the bell for her? Bet your bottom dollar she'd marry him. In a Georgia minute.

Book: ARoyal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck, Zondervan Publishers, 2016
Genre: Romance
Target Audience: Adult Women
Subjects: Love, Trust, Parent Relationships, Trust in God
Summary: The bell rung. No one knows why. Tradition states that a man rings the bell in the old abandoned chapel to announce his intentions to marry the woman he loves. But no one admits to ringing the bell. The media says Prince Collin did. But he hasn't been willing to admit it and there certainly aren't any goats arriving at the home of the girl he has been seen with the most, as tradition dictates. In fact, Prince Collin hasn't been spending much time at all with the girl he is supposedly dating. Instead, Colin is spending his time with the sister of the queen - and goats are arriving at her place of residence! Years ago Avery and Colin were in love. An engagement was even possibly coming soon. Then, all of a sudden he broke off all contact with no explanation whatsoever. Avery's heart never fully healed. She loved him, really genuinely loved him. Now, due to the events of the season, they are thrown back together and reminded again of how much they loved one another.  Love isn't what was lacking before though, and it's not what's lacking now. Trust in God to guide and direct them, even when others advise a different direction is one element needed. There's also a need for rekindled trust in one another after the brokenness of the past. So the questions become: Will Colin ring the bell on Christmas Eve? And if he does, will Avery show up on Christmas morning to marry him?
Notes: A Royal Christmas Wedding is the conclusion of the Royal Wedding Series, finishing the story began in Once Upon A Prince, telling the story of the royal family from Brighton. As with the others in the series, it is a story of trusting God to do crazy amazing, even miraculous things to bring two people together. Each character has to learn to trust God enough to step out in faith and pursue the one God has placed on their heart. I highly recommend this book and the series for the spiritual elements and the gentle fairy tale romance.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit for providing me with a free review copy of this book!
I appreciate it!
All opinions are my own.


To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card plus a copy of A Royal Christmas Wedding and a copy of The Wedding Shop. Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post to earn 9 extra entries in the giveaway!

Blog Stops

December 8: New Horizon Reviews
December 8: inklings and notions
December 9: Redeemed Hope Dweller
December 9: Book by Book
December 10: Blossoms and Blessings
December 10: Pause for Tales
December 11: Quiet Quilter
December 11: Ashley’s Bookshelf
December 12: Bibliophile Reviews
December 12: Lights in a Dark World
December 12: Splashes of Joy
December 13: Moments Dipped in Ink
December 13: Neverending Stories
December 14: The Power of Words
December 14: Counting Pinecones
December 14: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
December 15: Genesis 5020
December 15: CTF Devourer
December 16: Lighthouse Academy
December 16: Christian Bookaholic
December 17: Smiling Book Reviews
December 17: God is Love
December 17: Simple Life, really?!
December 18: A Holland Reads
December 18: The Scribbler
December 18: Faith * Love * Books
December 19: By The Book
December 19: Karen Sue Hadley
December 19: Southern Chelle
December 20: Faithfully Bookish
December 21: ASC Book Reviews

The Cottage

Loni sighed thoughtfully. "That's what makes all this so complicated. It's about more than an inheritance. The very fact of my being here stirs up the unknown of my past. Who were my parents, who was my mother, where did she come from? Suddenly here I am in the very place where my mother's grandfather was born. Trying to put that into the perspective of my American Quaker heritage, and then figure out what I believe as a Christian myself... I'm not sure what to think."

Book: The Cottage by Michael Phillips, Bethany House Publishers, 2016
Genre: Modern Realistic Fiction
Target Audience: Adult men and women
Subjects: Identity, heritage
Summary: Loni has inherited the land, but has no idea what to do with it! If only it were as simple as selling it and moving on with her life. Between the oil company trying to get their hands on the island, the business tied up in the inheritance, the interesting
connection between the chief and the laird roles, the greedy young man next in line to inherit, the taxes on the property and the heritage she is discovering it is far from simple! The more she discovers of this Shetland Island, the more intrigued she becomes. Playing no small part in that is the chief, the spiritual leader of the land, David Tulloch, a humble, yet passionate man. Soon, her visit to Whales Reef brings up more questions than just what to do with the inheritance, it has her questioning her heritage as well as her future!
Notes: The Cottage is the second in the Secrets Of The Shetlands series. In typical Michael Phillips fashion, it is a fairly good sized book, rich with spiritual content. The characters are challenged to look beyond the obvious, to seek God and follow His direction and leading in every decision they make. This book especially deals with heritage - the spiritual legacy left by those who have gone on before. Loni has rebelled against the spiritual heritage of her grandparents who raised her, whereas David has totally embraced his, even leading the people of the island in the things he was taught. Many questions are brought up in the story, challenging the characters, and therefore the readers, in pursuit of true maturity. I HIGHLY recommend this book as well as the first in the series - The Inheritance.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Psalm 78:4 - We will not hide them from their children. We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He has done.

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book!
I greatly appreciated it!
All opinions are my own.

The Silent Songbird

She herself felt quite content on the soft grass, staring up at the peaceful stars. She could imagine God winking down at her. Was God thinking, 'My beloved child Evangeline has escaped from Berkhamsted Castle'? She imagined God as the father she had never known, a perfect Father. He was proud of her for not staying and marrying someone she could never love. It was also possible that God was angry wit her for not doing as the king had directed her. But she preferred not to believe that.
She closed her eyes, stretching her arms above her head, then pillowed her cheek on her hands. She was free of Berkhamsted Castle and free of her own identity. The day that had begun as the worst of her life had ended as the best.

Book: TheSilent Songbird by Melan
ie Dickerson, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2016
Genre: Fairy Tale
Target Audience: Girls 13+
Subjects: Romance, Love, God's Will, Sacrifice
Summary: Bleeding hands beginning to develop calluses, hours spent peeling potatoes, accusations from jealous servants, lessons in self-defense. None of this sounds like the life of a privileged ward of the king. But it's the life Evangeline has chosen. Fleeing an arranged marriage to a man much older than her who frightens her, she dons the life of a servant. Circumstances throw her together with the son of the lord, and a fascination for the Scriptures begins to bind their hearts together. She is only safe though, as long as her beautiful song voice remains silent. When she is no longer seen as a mute, the king's man will come after her. Keeping up her disguise is the only way to remain safe.
Notes: The Silent Songbird is the seventh of the young Adult Fairy Tales from this author. This one is based off of The Nightingale. A young girl running away from an arranged marriage, wanting the freedom to marry for love takes a job as a servant and falls in love. As it turns out the guy she was to marry is evil, wanting to take over the kingdom and she needs rescuing from the guy she falls in love with. The spiritual element comes in her passion for the Scriptures, Westley questioning his heart - his parents have taught him Jeremiah 17:9 - the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, and her questioning God's view of her and whether or not her deceit and disobedience to the king is acceptable or not.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 5:17 - Do not be foolish but understand what the Lord's will is.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a free review copy of this book! All opinions are my own.