Friday, October 28, 2011

An excellent way to train you children, and yourself, about how to use money wisely.

Three Cups by Tony Townsly with Mark St. Germain

This is a nice little story about how a boy, on his 5th birthday, is given three cups to put money into: give, save, and spend.  He is told that doing this will lead to many adventures in his life.  The point of the story is to teach children to use their money responsibly for themselves and for others.  It does not go into tithing with the “give” cup, that would be up to each family to discuss amongst themselves.  In fact, the book does not have a “Christian” theme other than to be good stewards of your money.  I think this book could be given to non-church going friends and relatives without getting any religious hackles up.

I read this to my almost 5 year-old and my 3 year-old.  The story itself was not very exciting to them, but they did sit through it.  We discussed it.  I really couldn’t convince my sons that it was okay to put money in cups because they are positive cups are only for drinking!  So after some thinking we decided we could get some Mason jars or cleaned out (non-breaking plastic) peanut butter containers to use instead of the cups.  As soon as mom and dad come up with an allowance for the boys we will try the “Three Cups” concept out. 

There is a Parent’s Guide to getting started with the Three Cups.  It is pretty much common sense, but it never hurts to have a guide.  You can also visit their website, to read stories of families using the Three Cups principle.

The book was provided free of charge by the BookSneeze program in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Archeology, treasure hunting, and espionage will make you want to turn every one of the 300+ pages in this novel.

The Scroll by Grant R. Jeffrey and Alton L. Gansky

I really, really like this book.  All I really want to say in this review is get the book and read it!  I just finished this book and am ready to start it all over again!  It started off just a little bit slow, but mostly to get in all the background information.  It doesn’t take too long into the book to realize where they are going with the top secret archeological digs and the items that are found.  I was also pretty sure who the traitor was, but that didn’t diminish the story for me in any way.

The story revolves around Dr. David Chambers, who, going through a spiritual crisis, has turned his back on his faith, Biblical archeology, his ex-fiancĂ©, and his father.  An old friend and colleague asks David to come back to the Holy Land once again to help find highly valued treasures.  He does so with reservation, and the hardships involved are physical, spiritual, and emotional.  Which will be more important to David; finding the treasure or finding his faith?
The book was provided free of charge by Waterbrook Press’ Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Werewolves, Zombies, and now Ghosts!

Werewolves, Zombies, and now Ghosts!

A Sound Among The Trees by Susan Meissner

From the sound of the last few books I have read, you would think I have started reading horror novels.  But there are no creatures walking through walls and leaving a trail of slime behind in this story.  The “ghosts” here have to do with memories of those who have gone before.

I immediately connected with the story because the meeting and marriage of Carson and Marielle is almost identical to my husband’s and mine.  Only I didn’t move into a grand antebellum ancestral mansion after moving clear across the country.  I moved into what my husband and his family affectionately calls “the dungeon”.  But at least my home wasn’t filled with 150 years’ worth of bad memories.

This story is very good.  It is a little slow and melancholy at first, but has a real sense of the two main characters’, Marielle and Adelaide, struggle to make a home together in under very awkward circumstances. 

Adelaide tries to deal with the tragedies that have befallen her family through the years, while dealing with rumors of the ghost of her great-grandmother--an alleged to be a spy in the Civil War.  Marielle marries Adelaide’s grandson-in-law and has to deal with the memories of Adelaide’s dead granddaughter.

There is not much in the way of overt faith.  One important character seems to have had transformational encounter with Christ, but it is alluded to more than stated outright.  A small spiritual battle takes place between her and another person who “senses” the ghost in the house.

This is a great story, well worth the time.  I received this as a reward for doing  a survey with WaterbrookMultnomah and am very glad I did.  Sometimes it pays to do those little surveys for companies!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

There is Only One Way to Kill a Zombie

The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook, Slaying the Living Dead Within by Jeff Kinley

You have to admit it—the title of this book grabs you!  I am not even a zombie lovin’ kind of gal, but I was curious as to how this book would unfold.  I did think that it was a novel, however, that is only a small part this book.  Each section is set up with an Episode that is the story portion with the Chapter following more along the lines of a Bible study.

From the book’s description , “The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook delivers a fresh, relevant look at the doctrines of sin, grace, and salvation.”  I believe it achieves this goal.  It basically equates the Living Dead with our sinful nature that keeps rising up inside us again and again.  That “old self” really just has one purpose, like the zombies, to destroy us.  And like the zombies, there is only one way to eradicate them so they, and sin, no longer come back to “life”.

The novel portion of the book is engaging; a little cheesy in a couple of parts, but I was kept wanting to know what was going to happen next.  It was hard not to skip to the next portion of the novel without first reading the study that goes with each Episode.  The Bible study portion is no holds barred.  Jeff Kinley does not whitewash sin and leaves no doubt about the only way to conquer the zombie living inside each one of us.

There is a warning on the back of the book saying this book is not for younger audiences.  There is talk of blood, eating brains, and shooting zombies throughout, so it is not for children.  However, the Bible Study chapter Descent should be more disturbing, because it is real, than anything covered in the fiction portion of the book.

I asked our Youth Pastor if he wanted to look through this book for future use.  There happened to be a young man, 19 or 20 years old, listening to our conversation.  When I mentioned the name of the book he said, “ooo!”  I asked if he had read it.  He had not, but he really likes zombie movies and such.  I believe this is the group of people who will get the most out of this book. 

This book was provided by BookSneeze free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Beautiful Way to Start Each Day

 Life Application Study Bible Devotional       Daily Wisdom from the Life of Jesus:  The Gospels
I grabbed this devotional because I am preparing several weeks of lessons on the Life of Jesus to use in our church’s children’s ministry for next year.  Not being a professional curriculum writer, I figured the more resources I have, the better.  I was not disappointed with this book.

I love the way this book is set up.  I have not used the Life Application Study Bible, so I do not know how this compares in terms of how it is laid out, but to me, the devotional is laid out perfectly.  Each week focuses on a different event in Jesus’ earthly life from Annunciation to Ascension.  A week’s reading is set out for 6 days, with the first day “Setting the Scene” with background information.  Each day has the Scripture included so you could use this without having your Bible with you.  There are also questions to help you think and personalize the Scripture, to help you go deeper than just the surface level of the reading.

This is a full year’s devotion.  Each topic is laid out by the week, there are no specific dates, so it makes it easy to start anywhere in the year.  The indexes are great:  one is a topical index and the other is Scriptures.  Each gives the week number and day of the week to help you find what you are looking for, which is extremely helpful.  I am very glad I was able to get this book.

This book was provided by Tyndale Publishers free of charge in exchange for an honest review.