Monday, November 9, 2020

Review: To Read or Not To Read - A Literary Journal for the Book Lover's Soul

I love reading, and I have written more than my share of reviews on my blog and given lots of verbal reviews to others. Sometimes, though I can't recall what book it was that held a specific quote or idea. I know that some people keep quote journals, but I haven't started one.

To Read or Not To Read: A literary journal for the book lover's soul has a solution for all of that. The journal has a standard format on two-page spreads throughout the book for recording each book that you read. You can list it's author, publishing date, the reason you read it, give it a star rating, include notes from the book, your review, and the main thing you learned from the book.  There is an index included at the beginning where you can list the book title and know what page to turn to for the review. 

Each two-page spread includes a literary quote, or a piece of trivia about literature, authors, or books in general. 

The cover of the book is elegant, with a soft-cover that has a thick, leather-like feel to it. The pages inside are lovely and beautifully designed.  In addition to the book review pages, there are additional lists and rankings  pages scattered throughout the book for you to record your opinions on genres and books. 

Overall, this is a wonderful gift idea for the bibliophile in your life. In our family, that would primarily be my 21 year old daughter. I wish I'd started a journal like this when I was younger. Besides being helpful for my own personal memory, it would also provide a record of my changing tastes and patterns. If you write book reviews online, this can be a starting place to pull your thoughts together before posting a finished review. If you only want to write reviews for your personal and family enjoyment, To Read or Not To Read is also perfect for that.

April E.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Review: NIV Beautiful Word Bible For Girls Gift Set



We were so excited to be chosen to review the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls gift set. My 14 year old daughter had recently been teaching her 10 year old sister to do Bible journaling, but the ten year old didn't have a journaling Bible of her own. Now she does!

The NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible has a hard cover with a leather-style feel to it. The turquoise color is my daughter's favorite color and the floral design on it is feminine without limiting the design to only young girls. The gift set includes four twistable colored pencils and a package of Scripture stickers that can be used to decorate the margins of the Bible or in other craft projects.

Almost every page has wide lined margins for note-taking or journaling. Periodically, one of the pages  has a coloring design in the margin. These usually highlight a key verse on that particular page and only need to be colored in. The pages have a nice thickness to them, though I still recommend using colored pencils rather than markers.

There are also a few pages with large full-page Bible verse designs on them. These are spaced throughout the Bible, and my daughter was quick to select one to color.
This Beautiful Word Bible For Girls Gift Set is perfect for the tweens and the teenage girls in your life. My 10 year old and 14 year old daughters were both impressed with the Bible. It's sturdy enough to carry to church, has a beautiful cover design, is well-made, with comfortable-sized font, and contains the easily understood New International Version text. My daughter was so proud to be able to use this in church last month!

I received a copy of the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls Gift Set from Zondervan (HarperCollins Christian Publishing) for this review.  This post is sponsored by Zondervan

April E.


Friday, March 27, 2020

Book Review: Mama Kisses, Papa Hugs by Lisa Tawn Bergren

 We have been collecting Lisa Tawn Bergren's God Gave Us book series for several years. The messages are always so uplifting and point our children to God's loving care for them. Mama Kisses, Papa Hugs is just as meaningful and heart-warming as her other books. The characters are not animals this time, but a family. However, there are still animal references and adorable illustrations.

It's bedtime in this storybook, and one little boy thinks he's too big for Mama kisses and Papa hugs. His parents convince him that he's never too big for them and share ways that animals give hugs and kisses to their children. My favorite part of the book is when it talks about how God gives us hugs and kisses with daily reminders of His love and care for us. This book has more text than some of her earlier books, but it's perfect for my seven year old son, who (thankfully) doesn't think he's too big for kisses and hugs yet. We had fun teasing about giving him wet, slobbery licks and practicing horse nuzzles and turtle hugs.

This really is a perfect bedtime story that not only helps with parent/child bonding, but also serves as a reminder of God's faithfulness and His loving care. We love it and definitely recommend it. It gets 6 thumbs-ups, two each from my husband, myself, and my son.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Simple Woman's Daybook: March 26, 2020 
For Today - March 26, 2020

Looking out my window - I see gray, foggy skies over our spring green wheat field.

I am thinking - that I'm feeling as dreary as the day.

I am thankful - that we homeschool and do live in the country and are already somewhat accustomed to being socially distant from others.

One of my favorite things - wrapping my hands around a mug of nice, hot coffee.

I am creating - lists of Easter gifts and homeschool supplies we need for next year.

I am wearing - a floral tshirt under a charcoal gray wool cardigan, jeans, wool socks and Crocs.

I am reading - Little Women (still) and the Psalms.

I am hoping - this Coronavirus quarantine doesn't drag on forever and ever.

I am learning - that this introvert misses the fellowship of her church family VERY much.

In my kitchen - the dishes need to be washed and I'm trying to decide what supper will be. Something with ground beef, but will it be chili, burritos, or a spicy hashbrown and beef one-pot meal?

In the school room - we have moved into the Colonial period of American history and the American Revolution. We can't use the library for the foreseeable future, but our own shelves of books and educational DVDs had enough to cover these last few weeks of school. Kids are working their way through their own math, language arts and science books, as well.

In my garden - it's too early to plant anything, but the Siberian Squill is blooming.

Post Script - Ann Voskamp wrote about overcoming fear through giving thanks yesterday. Exercise your gratitude muscle.

Shared Quote - "Faith is not the absence of fear. It is confidence in the presence of God that is bigger than any fear I will face."  ~ Pastor David Redmond 3/22/2020

A moment from my day - My new coffee table book, which provided very timely and interesting reading yesterday.

Closing Notes - Are you keeping a journal of some sort during this COVID-19 social distancing campaign? I haven't been, other than my social media posts, but thinking about journaling reminded me of The Simple Woman's Daybook, so here I am.

April E.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Book Review: The Complicated Heart by Sarah Mae

Loving like Jesus did is hard when someone continually hurts you. Where do you draw the line of maintaining a relationship, offering grace, and setting boundaries that allow you to heal and move forward? The Complicated Heart is one woman's story of learning to love her alcoholic mother while also learning to be emotionally healthy. Sarah Mae repeatedly took her pain to Jesus and let Him bring peace and healing, while still reaching out to her mother.

Written in a journal format, alternating between Sarah's own memories and pages from her mother's journal, we see the hearts of two women, each broken by a parent's hurtful words and behavior, being drawn toward God. In her pain, Sarah Mae made choices that brought even more pain and shame to herself, but in the end, both women found redemption through God's grace.

I have to admit that it was hard to read her mother's journals written as prayers to God, knowing that at the time it was written she was an alcoholic who was verbally and emotionally abusive toward her daughter. But Sarah's own love and forgiveness for her mother helped me to see it as the plea of a hurting woman who was trying to ease her own pain and didn't know how to love others because of her pain. Sarah Mae helped me view her mother through Jesus' eyes and reminded me that God sees the hurt and the hearts of people, while we can only see their actions and the results of their choices.

I haven't had that complicated and painful relationship with a parent, but I still found lessons for myself within the book on how to forgive and be vulnerable and open. Sarah Mae's story is messy, and painful, as life often is, but it has been redeemed by Christ's love and she shares it so others can find hope for their own painful and messy relationships. I truly believe that anyone who struggles with the ugliness of their own past, or hurts they haven't faced, can learn something from this book. The Complicated Heart reminds us that no one's life is too ugly, too sinful, or too hurtful to be redeemed by Christ!

April E.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Review: Prayers for the Battlefield by Heidi St. John

Prayers for the Battlefield, Heidi St. John
Following on the heels of Becoming MomStrong, Heidi St. John has published a new book entitled Prayers for the Battlefield: Staying MomStrong in the Fight For Your Family and Faith. This little hardcover book is the perfect size to toss in your purse and read in those never-ending moments of waiting to pick your kids up at activities, on a lunch break, or any spare moment you have.

Prayers for the Battlefield is a mixture of a devotional book and a prayer guide. Each chapter is topical (i.e. A Prayer for the Mom Who Wants to Live Intentionally, A Prayer for the Worried Mom). The chapter begins with a Scripture passage, and then moves into a short, relatable lesson on the topic. A written prayer closes each chapter, as well as additional Scriptures you can read and add to your prayer arsenal.

I recommend beginning by reading Prayers for the Battlefield from start to finish, for lessons on prayer and motherhood. Once you've finished the book, you can return to topics as needed, by referring to the Table of Contents. You may not need to read the chapter each time you return to a topic, but you can use the accompanying Scriptures to pray Scripture for your family and yourself. This is how I plan to use this book now that I've finished reading it.

Heidi St. John speaks right to my heart. I have found myself re-reading chapters before moving forward, as well as high-lighting parts that were particularly poignant. Although Heidi St. John is a homeschool mom and her ministry began in the homeschool community, her MomStrong ministry is geared to all mothers. This book is no different. Prayers for the Battlefield will minister to moms of all ages and walks of life who feel a burden to pray for their families. Pick it up now for Mother's Day gifts, or just to encourage the mothers in your life.

April E.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Book Review - Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women

 Last year I reviewed Zondervan's devotional for young women, Adored. I loved it, and my twelve year old daughter has loved reading it this year, as well. So when I was offered the chance to review Beloved, I gladly said yes. These books are so well-written and generally well-made. Both books are hardcover books, about 5.25 x 7.5 inches in size. They're over an inch thick with colorful covers and page designs. Beloved includes a ribbon marker to mark your place in the book, which my daughter noticed right away and appreciates.

The devotions are short, each only a page long, but meaningful. They're not just fluff. They're not condescending, and they don't try to sound like teenagers talking. There is space to includes notes or a brief prayer of your own at the bottom of each page, though it's probably better to journal in a larger space than to try to respond in the inch or so of space provided in the book.

One thing I noticed as I was reading portions of Beloved, is that it starts in Genesis and moves forward! Other than a few readings from Psalms, Proverbs, and Hebrews, the book goes through the Bible in order. The majority of the devotions are actually from Old Testament passages, which is a nice change, since many books want to focus almost entirely on the New Testament.

We've been so impressed with these devotions, that we've bought copies to give to other young ladies we know and care about. These books can definitely help a young woman grow in her understanding of God's Word and her place in His Kingdom. I hope that Zondervan continues to produce these yearly devotional books for young women. I highly recommend them.

April E.