Posts Tagged ‘book reviews’

Kane Miller Books
Hardcover, 32 pages
Recommended ages 3-7
From highly acclaimed picture book maker, Rachel Bright, comes a visually stunning, feel-good picture book filled with Yu Rong’s distinctive, awe-inspiring papercut artwork. The snow is coming but Bear is sick! Can Squirrel bring some wintery magic to his friend?
Reviewed by myself and a just-turned-three little guy. We really liked the story. It held our interest and had good opportunities for conversation about the story. Addressed feelings, friendship and sharing. The illustrations were absolutely perfect for the book. With so much detail we sometimes love to just look through the pages. 

Kane Miller EDC Publishing provided this book to help facilitate the writing of an honest review. A positive review is not guaranteed, and all opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.

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Bath, England 1810

At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forté. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician.

In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal.

But when a thief ’s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument … with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick.

Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin. He is persuaded to help Alethea, and discovers an entirely new yearning in his soul.

Alethea finds her reluctant heart drawn to Dommick in the sweetest of duets . . . just as the thief’s desperation builds to a tragic crescendo . . .

Prelude for a Lord  -     By: Camille Elliot


Zondervan Publishing 

Paperback, 352 pages

Prelude for a Lord is a Regency-era Christian novel. Author Camy Tang provided me with an autographed copy (Jer 31:3) that I’ve enjoyed immensely. At first, I was intimidated by the size (as in number of pages) of the book and speculated if I was actually going to like all of it. With mystery, friendship, romance, and faith, I enjoyed the story/characters as I read from chapter to chapter. The two main characters grew in their relationship and reliance on God. The book’s spiritual message is that you are not alone, God loves you, and He will take care of you. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

Read a little bit about the author, Camy Tang. More at Camy Tang, Romance with a kick of wasabi

I am a fourth generation Japanese American married to a third generation Chinese American (hence my Chinese last name). I grew up in Wahiawa, Hawai’i, a small town right in the center of the island of O’ahu.

When I first started writing, I didn’t know if God was going to allow my novels to be published, but the entire experience has taught me more about entirely, completely, totally depending upon Him, and submitting to Him aspects of my life that I never realized I was trying to keep control over. A lot of that struggle is mirrored in my characters’ struggles in my books.

Now, I try to trust in His plans for me—I know that what I write is for Him to use for His own agenda. He knows how He wants to use me, so I just need to go with the flow.

A complimentary copy was provided by the author for review purposes. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.


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Connected. Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling alone Together

Erin Davis, B&H Books 2014, paper back, 208 pages

Sure we have “friends” and even “followers” – but why are we still plagued by loneliness? And what does God know about feeling alone? Sharing her answers to what’s causing the pain of solitude to gnaw at our hearts, Erin Davis offers practical applications and personality-driven takeaways based on research and real-life experiences of women from across the nation. A popular speaker, author and blogger, Erin Davis has addressed women of all ages nationwide and is passionately committed to sharing God’s Truth with others.

Erin is a great writer. She includes personal examples and bible verses in making her point that God made us “wired for connection”. Many areas are addressed as the things that are blocking us from true connections with people. I highly recommend this for small groups and book clubs. Written for a women audience, the remedies for loneliness equally pertain to men. A good choice for teens, too. 

Chapter 9 “The Golden Rule Is Tarnished” was a favorite chapter for me.  An excerpt from that chapter, ” I hate to pop your bubble, sister, but that bubble is keeping you cut off from the world. As I’ve wrestled with loneliness, I’ve learned that there’s more on the line than simply having great friends. If we can feel desperately lonely as wives, daughters, sisters, and friends, the antidote must be found in the quality of our relationships, not the quantity. The Bible teaches a paradoxical truth (again). The depth and quality of our relationships hinge on what we give, not what we get.”


B&H publishing provided this complimentary copy for review purposes. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.



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Ken Ludwig

Broadway Books

Paperback, 368 pages

A foolproof, enormously fun method of teaching your children the classic works of William Shakespeare

To know some Shakespeare provides a head start in life. His plays are among the great bedrocks of Western civilization and contain the finest writing of the past 450 years. Many of the best novels, plays, poems, and films in the English language produced since Shakespeare’s death in 1616—from Pride and Prejudice to The Godfather—are heavily influenced by Shakespeare’s stories, characters, language, and themes. In How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, acclaimed playwright Ken Ludwig provides the tools you need to inspire an understanding, and a love, of Shakespeare’s works in your children, and to have fun together along the way.

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare is a guide and not a step-by-step curriculum. A great resource for literature study, the book covers twenty-five passages of Shakespeare. The learning/memorizing starts with a single line and moves on to complete speeches. And while memorization is key to the teaching concept of the book, it reaches in further to teach the language, vocabulary, metaphors, plots, and so forth, of Shakespeare’s writing. Similar to learning a foreign language, Ken Ludwig’s method incorporates reading, hearing, and speaking Shakespeare.

Having no previous Shakespeare familiarity,  I found this book interesting. I would have appreciated it during our homeschool years and will be using it in a few years from now with my grandson. “No” on intimidation. “Yes” on  fun.

Make use of the free printable QUOTATION PAGES to memorize & AUDIO CLIPS of each passage. link below

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare

The Blogging for Books program provided this complimentary copy for review purposes. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own. 

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Beautiful picture books by international authors & illustrators

NorthSouth Books

North South Publishers sent me several of their terrific titles. Here’s the books and my thoughts-

New in the North South Spring 2014 catalog, Call Me Jacob.

When Matthew decides that he wants to change his name, he soon discovers that it’s not an easy choice. ‘Jacob’ is a great skateboarder, ‘Lucas’ is the best at sports . . . and ‘Evan’ is a math wiz. Matthew tries each name—expecting that his life will better. That is, until Anna sends an invitation addressed to one very special boy—and its not Jacob, Lucas, or Evan.

A hardcover picture book that particularly boys would like; this is a good story about self-acceptance.  Marie Hübner (author), Iris Wolfermann (illustrator)

Lindbergh. The Tale of a Flying Mouse, on book shelves May 1st! 

One small step for a mouse; one giant leap for aviation.
These are dark times . . . for a small mouse. A new invention—the mechanical mousetrap—has caused all the mice but one to flee to America, the land of the free. But with cats guarding the steamships, trans-Atlantic crossings are no longer safe. In the bleakest of places . . . the one remaining mouse has a brilliant idea. He must learn to fly!
Debut illustrator Torben Kuhlmann’s inventive tale and stunning illustrations will capture the imagination of readers—young and old—with the death-defying feats of this courageous young mouse.
This picture book is longer than average with 96 pages, many with full page illustrations. Probably better for kindergarten and up, it is a picture book of interest to both boys and girls. It can lead to a discussion about history, inventors, aviation (flying/airplanes), and also problem-solving and perseverance. The illustrations are done in browns and grays which adds to the history feel of the book. The ending reveals that the heroic mouse inspired Lindbergh. I don’t think the title best suits the story since the story is about the mouse, not Charles Lindbergh.  Torben Kuhlmann (author/illustrator)

One of several mice books by Japanese author Haruo Yamashita, Seven Little Mice Have Fun on the Ice, is a cute family story.  The mice siblings are not mentioned individually in the text but the illustrations show their expressions/personalities and I think this adds a lot to the story. Haruo Yamashita (author),  Kazuo Iwamura (illustrator)

“I Have a Little Problem”, said the Bear, is a story with a good lesson on listening and learning why communication is important. Young readers will notice the repetition in the story as the bear tries to tell his problem. Happy ending for little readers. The illustrations add to this paperback picture book. Her work is in full color and with a lot of attention to detail. Heinz Janisch (author), Silke Leffler (illustrator)

Pitschi. My favorite book of the bunch. 

On Lisette’s farm all the animals are happy except Pitschi, the smallest kitten. Pitschi wants to be something different. It takes a night time adventure and a warm homecoming for Pitschi to discover that what she really wants is to be a kitten after all.

Pitschi the kitten’s attempts to be a rooster, goat, rabbit, and other kinds of animals on the farm almost bring her to harm, but she finally discovers how to enjoy being a kitten.

This is another book that addresses self-acceptance. The story of Pitschi presents inquisitiveness, kindness for others, and contentment. Hans Fisher excels at both writer and illustrator. His fondness of cats is evident in the story and illustrations. Simple lines and scribbles come to life. Love this book! Hans Fisher (author/illustrator)



This review gives you a sampling of the many titles available from NorthSouth. Click here to see their Spring 2014 Catalog.

These books were provided by NorthSouth Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received. 

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No Cape Required: A Devotional

52 Ways to Unleash Your Inner Hero

Kristen Parrish

Paperback by Thomas Nelson. 256 pages.

Book Description

What do Katniss Everdeen, Spider-Man, and Huckleberry Finn have in common? They’re heroes—and you can be just like them.

As children, we dream of throwing on a cape and changing the world. Then we grow up, we learn to see the flaws in our movie stars and athletes, and we accept that true heroism is not possible in the real world. You continue to dream, though. Isn’t that why you still love watching heroes on the big screen? It’s more than just wish fulfillment. You resonate with Superman’s justice and Dorothy’s courage because you have those same qualities within yourself.

In these pages, Kristen Parrish looks at the qualities of fifty-two heroes, and then shows how you can acquire every one of those qualities. No gamma rays or radioactive spider bites are needed. You can unleash your inner hero through prayer and practical action.

Men and women, boys and girls alike, will find role models within these pages. While others watch and dream on the sidelines, you can step out in faith, learning from heroic examples and praying for God’s help to make you who you were meant to be.

The Holy Spirit enables us to do great things. Find out how. No cape required.

This book contains 52 quick-read devotions. Each devotion describes an attribute of a different hero; 60% of the heroes were familiar to me. Children would even know some of the characters like Superman and Belle. Each hero/attribute example was brief and very simplistic; cute but limiting in what could be gleamed from the content. The characteristic of the particular hero was fine although I could think of additional “good” qualities aside from the one the author highlighted. This book might be useful in a group setting where a discussion on each hero/attribute could be expanded.

BookSneeze provided this complimentary copy for review purposes. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.




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My Foodie ABC

A Little Gourmet’s Guide
by Puck
Illustrated by: Violet Lemay 

– Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers
– Small and sturdy format, round corners for extra safety
– A fun introduction to the wold of food and the alphabet

7” x 7” inches; board book; 22 pages; full-color art; nontoxic; ages 3 to 6

ISBN: 9780982529522


A delightful educational tool that stresses the importance of having a healthy relationship with food, this board book teaches the letters of the alphabet to tots and other gastronomes in training. Stylish and dazzling illustrations that highlight terms such as Kobe beef, pomegranate, ice cream, and farmer’s market pair with fun foodie facts to make learning the alphabet easy and enriching. A complete introduction to the alphabet and gastronomical terms, this unique book also includes a pronunciation guide, making it an ideal companion for food aficionados.


It’s a culinary journey through the alphabet accompanied by Violet Lemay’s fun illustrations. Every letter of the alphabet is featured in both uppercase and lowercase with pronunciation spelling for the featured word in parenthesis, if needed. (yes, I used it) Each word also gets a a short description.

Unique foods and “big” words for little ones; older readers will find it interesting, too! Just like any other alphabet book except this one doesn’t use A for apple!



Disclosure of Material Connection: This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion. No other compensation was received.

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123 Zoo: A Cool Counting Book

by Puck

– Perfect for babies and toddlers
– Small and sturdy format, round corners for extra safety
– A fun and colorful way to practice number skills

6” x 6” inches; board book; 22 pages; full-color art; nontoxic; ages 0 to 3

ISBN: 9781938093081


From counting penguins and lions to giraffes and bears, this board book introduces toddlers to the familiar sights of a zoo while making basic numbers fun to learn. Parents and children can count to 10 using iconic zoo animals depicted with vivid colors and a bold design. Perfectly sized for small hands, this durable board book also includes a “Let’s Talk” section with conversation starters to help parents begin a fun discussion with their kids.


I happily recommend this cool counting board book by duopress. Each two page layout shows a large number and that same amount of a particular zoo animal. It contains only pictures and numbers but the vibrant colors and illustrations keep a young learners attention. It’s a favorite choice for seeing and counting elephants, hippos, bears, lions, giraffes, flamingos, zebras, gorillas, penguins, and birds. I think number three is the best with three different kinds of bears!



Disclosure of Material Connection: This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion. No other compensation was received. 

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Lock, Stock, and Over a Barre
l (Dear Daphne Series #1)

Melody Carlson

B&H Publishing Group


paperback, 320 pages

Book Description

With high hopes, Daphne Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it’s not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dee passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Daphne, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Daphne only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt’s very specific posthumous terms — personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dee’s cats.

And if Daphne thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dee’s life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God’s perfect timing.

I loved this book! Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel is an entertaining Christian novel. Interesting characters and story made it a lighthearted read that I’d recommend for girls of all ages. (teens – seniors) There are ten discussion questions at the end of the book.

By the end of the story, Daphne has become hopeful, encouraged, and confident with her “second chance”. The ending is not so much of a conclusion to the story as it is a to-be-continued ending. I’m looking forward to the next book!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This book was provided by the publisher, B&H Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest opinion. No other compensation was received. 


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VanitaBooks publishes books for children ages 4-8 that are short tales teaching a moral or value. Each book presents a dilemma or fear that a child may have, and resolves those issues through the loving and reassuring guidance of a parent, or through the plot of the story itself. VanitaBooks donates all net profits to charities where “people help people help themselves.”


VanitaBooks sent me several terrific children’s titles. Here’s the books and my thoughts-

Magic Words 

Magic Words is available this September. This is the only book story of the bunch that I didn’t like. It is “a modern translation (1965) of a very old Inuit creation story by nationally known poet Edward Field.” While I do like to share fantasy and make-believe with children, I think this myth feels more serious and maybe confusing to small children.  It is beautifully illustrated by Mike Blanc however and he does a wonderful job making this a visually entertaining book.

Ariel Bradley 

Also available this fall is Ariel Bradley. This is a 56 page paperback chapter-book. It offers kids a great story and great art, both rich with history. A glossary is included at the end of the book for learning some of the history terms pertaining to the story. All net profits from this book go to Fisher House Foundation.


A great book for educators and parents, Knees explains dyslexia in a way kids can understand. The art is done in a big, eye catching coloring-book style. It was “designed taking into consideration the needs of the reader with dyslexia. The font Lexia Readable was chosen for that purpose along with the use of a cream colored paper to minimize contrast and show-through.” The VanitaBooks website is very informative and with this particular book, their is a link to the Mayo Clinic for a definition of dyslexia. All net profits from this book go to Lawrence School.

I Came From the Water 

“The story is based on the actual experiences of Moses, an eight year-old boy and resident of St. Helene’s orphanage outside Port-au-Prince. As an infant, he was literally plucked from the waters of a nearby river, having been placed in a basket by whom we believe was his grandmother. The rest of his family perished in floods that wiped out their upland village in 2004. He was given his name by the nuns at St. Helene’s. The title is Moses’ reply to the author when she asked where he is from.” 

I came From the Water makes a perfect read-aloud book. The end of the book includes an interview with Moses and real photos from Haiti. VanitaBooks will donate 10% from each book sold to Father Rick and Sister Judy for their work at St. Damien and St. Helene.

Mike Blanc illustrates this one, too, with bold colorful images. You can read about how the art was created for each of the VanitaBooks on the website. 

Life is a Bowl Full of Cherries

And last but not least, LIfe is a Bowl Full of Cherries. Big page illustrations by Robin Hegan go along with this book’s idiom learning lesson. The meaning of the idiom is explained in small print upside down. VanitaBooks donates all net profits to The Oak Clinic for Multiple Sclerosis and other charities where “people help people help themselves.”

Books provided by VanitaBooks in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received. 

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