Tuesday, January 15, 2019

God Counts-Numbers in His Word and His Word {Book Review}

God Counts: Numbers in His Word and His World by Irene Sun is a delightful children's book! Unique in its approach, the book takes key Biblical truths and relates it back to a number. While you can consider it a counting book, it isn't remotely 'babyish'. Instead, the focus on a number allows deep theology to be presented in a way a child can grasp.

The book begins with the greatest truth; "One tells us that God is the first and the best." And the book (for what our part & our kids' part to learn) ends with infinity. Finally, the book ends with God counting....this page shows how personally God knows all that is within His world, and all that he knows about each of us. What a powerful way to display & teach of God's power and love!

My four-year old enjoyed reading back to me the number and what each one represented. By seeing how 9 tells us to be like God, and seeing what qualities Jesus has, she is essentially learning the Fruits of the Spirit!
We have enjoyed reading this book as a family, and I look forward to my kids becoming more independent in remembering what each number represents. Very sweet book, and I highly recommend it.

Click here to purchase a copy!

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.

Monday, January 14, 2019

3 Books in Good News For Little Hearts Series {I Recommend Getting them All!}

Good News for Little Hearts is a new children's book series from New Growth Press. The books are beautifully illustrated, with bright pictures featuring family units that are animals. My younger children are 6, 4, and 4, and they were each very drawn to the pictures as well as the main characters!

Each book discusses a specific topic, which is seen very clearly on the cover of the books just above the title--I love this feature so much, and my one main criticisms of these hardcover books is if you take the dust jacket off (because young kids rarely keep it on the book!), you only see the picture of the main character and not the title or the key point. This criticism is merely based on my own personal preference, and in no way affects the true impact of the books!

Because these books flow so well together & essentially are the start of a series (I really hope there will be more!), I am going to provide info about each book all within this same blog post. Please note that each book is fully independent of the others, is a solid stand alone, and can be purchased so you can focus on just one of the key principles. At the same time, by reading each of them you get a broader sense of each animal family being part of a community, and that each child who is they key focus is likely friends with the other 2 main characters. I particularly like to look at them as a corroboration of Biblical principles and great elements of discussion. Each book contains what I could call a "Parent Help Section" that gives insight on how to help your children face anxiety, failure, and anger. The very last page of each book is a tear-out of 4 "Back Pocket Bible Verses" you can give to your child, put on the fridge, or read together! Tremendous resources to find at the back of a children's book!!

Zoe's Hiding Place (when you are anxious)

Zoe is a young mouse who lives with her parents and baby brother. She is a bit of a daydreamer, and doesn't always have great listening ears. She has not heard her teacher on a few occasions, and that led to her getting lost on a previous field trip. When Zoe realizes the class is going on another field trip, she is filled with worry & afraid she will become lost again. The reader gets to watch as Zoe prays, looks to her parents for guidance, and seeks comfort in the Bible verse her dad writes down for her.  Young children get to see how Zoe faces and overcomes a scary situation when she relies on the truth found within the word of God. Of the three books, Zoe's Hiding Place is my favorite.

Buster's Ears Trip Him Up (when you fail)

Buster is a young bunny who lives with his parents and his sister. Buster is always in a hurry! Buster is also quite confident in his abilities, and is quite proud of the fact he is the 'fastest bunny in the meadow'. Buster and his sister, Ivy, are preparing to go to camp. Just before they leave, Buster's dad hands him a piece of paper. Dad tells Buster he will know the right time to read the message.

Buster is extremely excited (and a bit too confident) about a race that will take place during camp. When the race doesn't go as Buster thought it would, he becomes upset. The reader gets the chance to see Ivy extend great kindness to Buster, and Papa's note provides encouragement at the perfect time. Buster displays wonderful examples of learning both patience and humility.

Jax's Tail Twitches (when you are angry)

Jax is a squirrel who lives in a tree with his mom, dad, brother & baby sister. Of the three books, this one contains the most family interaction, as the family is together throughout the whole book. In addition, the entire squirrel family has individual lessons that they are learning outside of just Jax being the focus. Ultimately, they come together as a family and pray for God to forgive and help each of them. It is a powerful moment of humility! Although the book touches on Jax dealing with anger, it also shows how the two brothers learn to get along, Dad realizing he was selfish in not sharing with a neighbor, and Mom blaming the family for a burned dinner that she had forgotten. The family not only works through their issues, but also experiences kindness, generosity and grace from the neighbors. This is a children's book that is packed with many truths and much depth.

Click each link to purchase the following books:

Zoe's Hiding Place

Buster's Ears Trip Him Up

Jax's Tail Twitches

God Made Me AND You: Celebrating God's Design for Ethnic Diversity {Book Review}

    Jesus-lovin’, Creation proclaiming mamas: GO BUY THIS BOOK. I don’t even care how old your kids are. Absolutely beautiful words & illustrations on how God made EVERY race. I just read it alone, then read it again, and then read it to my kids. 

    There is so much depth packed into a ‘simple’ children’s book. God Made Me and You teaches our kids to not tease & to embrace others.

    This book is a fantastic for home, Children's Ministry departments, private Christian schools, families who have adopted or are fostering, or for any child who needs that confirmation that God made each of us perfectly in his image. Just awesome.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Book Review *And Giveaway Link!* for Delayed Justice

About the Book

Book Title: Delayed Justice  
Author: Cara Putman  
Genre: Legal Romantic Suspense  
Release date: October 15, 2018  

She had long given up the desire to be loved. Now she only needed to be heard. Jaime Nichols went to law school to find the voice she never had as a child, and her determination to protect girls and women in the path of harm drives her in ways both spoken and unspoken. As Jamie, now a criminal defense attorney, prepares to press charges against someone who wronged her long ago, she must face not only her demons but also the unimaginable forces that protect the powerful man who tore her childhood apart. Chandler Bolton, a retired veteran, is tasked with helping a young victim who must testify in court—and along with his therapy dog, Aslan, he’s up for the task. When he first meets Jaime, all brains, beauty, and brashness, he can’t help but be intrigued. As Chandler works to break through the wall Jaime has built around herself, the two of them discover that they may have more to offer one another than they ever could have guessed—and that together, they may be able to help this endangered child. This thrilling installment of the Hidden Justice series explores the healing power of resolution and the weight of words given voice. And as Jaime pursues delayed justice of her own, she unearths eternal truths that will change the course of her life.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Since the time she could read Nancy Drew, Cara has wanted to write mysteries. In 2005 she attended a book signing at her local Christian bookstore. The rest, as they say, was history. There she met a fellow Indiana writer Colleen Coble. With prompting from her husband, Cara shared her dream with Colleen. Since those infamous words, Cara’s been writing award-winning books. She is currently working on book 30 and 31. Cara Putman is an active member of ACFW, and currently serves on its Executive Board. She has also been the Indiana ACFW chapter president and served as the Area Coordinator for Indiana. Cara is also an attorney, lecturer at a Big Ten university, active in women’s ministry, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband and her kids that is. She graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!) and George Mason Law School, and Krannert School of Management. You can learn more about Cara at www.caraputman.com

Guest Post from Cara

Delayed Justice was a hard story to write. I’d known from Beyond Justice that Jaime had a hard story, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it was. She tried to hide from her past. She tried hard, but in the end it slowly spilled out. A young girl wounded deeply by someone who should protect her. And now as a professional young woman, Jaime is still fighting the shadows. She believes she’s okay, or as okay as she’ll ever be. Instead, she has to learn that there’s so much more waiting for her. Freedom from the chains of a past she didn’t choose. A love that will never end. And a God who has always loved her even when she questions His existence because of her past. I think we’ve all lived that. There’s a place in our hearts that seems beyond His reach. For some of us, it’s a barrier to knowing Him. To others of us, it makes us question what we thought we knew about God. And for others of us, it presses us deeply into Him. Jaime’s book, Delayed Justice, explores this space. The space where some days we scream at the heavens Where are you, God? And the days we just curl into ourselves because life is too hard. And in that space of shadow and light, God ultimately shines brightest. This is a truth that is slowly revealed through friends and The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe.


To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a grand prize package that includes a Courage Dear Heart bracelet, a The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe print, a copy of Delayed Justice, and a box of Turkish Delight!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

My Personal Review (LeAnne)

I have always found that the mark of an excellent series author is their ability to move seamlessly from one novel to the next, while at the same time having each novel so full of depth, detail & integrity that it can stand all on its own. Cara Putnam is this type of writer. Delayed Justice is the third novel in her Hidden Justice Series. I read the second book prior to reading the first, which let me judge better how truly 'stand alone' each novel can be...and I went back to read the first book due to how much I enjoyed the second! Each novel focuses on one main protagonist; the other characters then provide the 'filler' aspect within the novel. So, while having your own personal knowledge about the various characters when they are mentioned, this is not a critical aspect of diving in and enjoying each novel on its own. Jaime Nichols is the protagonist in Delayed Justice, and the novel continues with the focus on a female lawyer. Jaime is a criminal defense attorney; she is taking her skill set & drive and turning it towards something (and someone) she has been hiding from since childhood--her own past & her own sexual abuse. Due to this content, some readers may have difficulty reading this, but I still recommend it. While this novel holds less 'mystery' than some of Putnam's other works, it is still quite suspenseful. 

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Review of Children's Book: The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible

I had such incredibly high hopes for this book, and while it still was good it wasn't quite as solid as I had hoped. First, it probably should be considered a "Bible Storybook" rather than a Bible; I feel that is typically the best route to go with a Children's Bible book (but, as I think that's the general assumption regarding a book for children, this could be considered a picky point for me to make). And, because it jumps around a bit & views very specific circumstances & situations, I think it's very important as you teach your kids that you also incoroprate a kids' Bible that gives the full picture.

But, as for positives, I love the illustrations within The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible! And I truly appreciate the verses found throughout the pages that reveal the Holy Spirit throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Finally, it is very cool to read the stories chosen that show the Holy Spirit as present & active since the beginning of time!

I'm not aware of any other books geared towards children that provide this same perspective, and for that I really appreciate this book. I only wish the book itself showed a little more discernment in following the text to 100% accuracy.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.

About the book:
The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible brings to life more than 40 Bible stories that help readers understand that God’s Spirit has been with us since the beginning of time and continues to be with us today. From the glory of creation through the powerful letters of Paul, God’s Spirit is living in his people. Old and New Testament stories such as Adam and Eve, Abraham, Joseph, the Baptism of Jesus, and Pentecost come alive with dramatic illustrations by Fernando Juarez and moving text by Doris Rikkers. With a cover that sparkles and shines with foil, this is a special storybook Bible that will appeal to both children and parents alike.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139: 7–10

About the author and illustrator:

Doris Wynbeek Rikkers is a freelance writer and editor who has written many bestselling children’s books and Bibles. Although she loves the ocean, she lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, surrounded by her books, her flower gardens, and her family and friends.
Spanish artist Fernando Juarez illustrates children’s books and also works as an art supervisor at the Madrid studio Ilion Animation. The company produces 3D feature films for children. Fernando has three kids himself, and if he has any time left after work and family, you might catch him playing guitar in a rock band.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

My Obsession {or Confession} over Culver's "Flavor of the Day"

photo of Culver's Crazy for Cookie Dough taken from Culver's website.
For those of you who enjoy a Culver's Concrete Mixer, with their wonderful vanilla (or chocolate) custard & your favorite two mix-ins, I'm here to share with you what I've known for several years:

You are totally doing it wrong.

Now, I can't exactly explain what made ME, the girl who won't tell the oil-change guy he forgot my 'next service date' sticker, or decides that she is willing to eat a chicken sandwich when she ordered burger because it's "not a big enough deal to ask for them to correct it" the following question at the Culver's Drive Thru, but I did and it was a game-changer:

Can I order the Flavor of the Day as a concrete mixer and still have the two additional mix-ins added?

The answer (while it may have held the slightest pause) was "Yes"; I knew I had landed onto something glorious. And while I have no recollection of the concoction I brought home that night, I know it was gooey, chunky, chewy, and simply wonderful. And while Mike held a bit of a "shock & awe" response as I would request these things for our "Culver's Dessert Night at Home Together" dates that take place once the kids go to bed, he finally asked a very hesitant, tentative, yet hopeful question:

They really let you do that? Each time you've ordered? And have no problem putting in whatever two additional things you request & the price stays the same?

Yes, my darling, I'm certain. Welcome to my Rabbit Hole.

Now, many things factor into our what and when plan for sitting on the couch right after the kids' 'lights out' and not too awfully long before my own bedtime, but since tonight is lining up as a perfect night, I'll share my current situation:
  • Sundays are long days--always longer for Mike, as all the pastors are present before during & after all 3 church services--but I put in a decent amount of time both as a mom juggling kids and trying to do the best I can as my own job as Nursery Coordinator (I don't work every evening service; hence time for the current blog post).
  • Culver's Flavor of the Day in my town? eh. But a town over? very good potential. PLUS...
  • I also have a bit of an obsession with Starbucks. This has drastically improved as Mike figured it was cheaper to get me a very nice Breville Express espresso machine for my birthday this past March. Of course, it quit working this week, so while we await the whole 'warranty thing that should lead to a fixed or new machine', tonight is also leaning to be a Latte Machiatto with a quad shot right before bed kind of night.
So, tonight, during the time I should be folding laundry & making sure we have items for the kids' lunchboxes on Monday, I'm scrolling through the world wide web and checking all the Culver's Flavor of the Day listings throughout the surrounding towns. And sending texts to my husband (while he's at work) that contain important information:

Pekin Culver's is 'Crazy for Cookie Dough' if you want that and Starbucks.

What Mike reads? "LeAnne wants custard and coffee tonight".

And, because he is such an awesome husband, Mike will leave one town, drive to another, and then head to our town with a white and blue cup in one hand & a white and green cup in the other.

Because that's how much he loves me. And, quite frankly, I'm a pretty cheap date.

In case you need help seeing how beautiful the best concrete mixer can be created, here you go: AKA: THIS IS MY NIGHT TONIGHT:

Crazy for Cookie Dough, as described on the Culver's website: Our creamy Vanilla and Chocolate Fresh Frozen Custard swirled together and mixed with thick fudge, ribbons of old fashioned salted caramel and cookie dough pieces.

  • vanilla custard
  • chocolate custard
  • fudge
  • caramel
  • cookie dough
Do you see where this is headed? I mean, take all those things and add 2 more?!

Tonight, at a time when I shouldn't be eating anything and indulging in only water, I will be eating the above things, swirled and chopped together, alongside Reece's Peanut Butter cups and Snickers. And in the morning, I'll regret it. But until then, I'll enjoy every last "packed full of absolutely everything" bite.

Because it's JUST THAT GOOD. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Book Review of Dangerous to Know by Megan Whitson Lee

Dangerous to Know wasn't quite what I was expecting, so I feel it's important to write my review in a way that gives some insight on the book without giving away anything specific. Although the novel didn't meet my preconceived assumptions regarding the path I thought the storyline might take, I do believe the writing style and the way the narrative affects the reader is worthy of a 4-star rating.
While the cover led me to think it is a romance novel, the book jacket of the novel made me think it would also be a mystery novel (I've ready many books of with a blended-type genre, which is probably where I got my impression of the book); the book definitely leans more as a romance novel. And more specifically, I think a reader should know it's a book that does not lead to the typical "happily ever after" ending. It wasn't until I completely finished reading the book and read the author's notes at the back of the book that I discovered Whitson Lee's novel is based upon poet Lord Byron and his marriage to Annabella Milbanke--for me personally, as an English major and someone who enjoys history, I believe I would've appreciated the novel more to know that many of the details within the characters and key storyline held many accurate aspects when compared to the life of Lord Byron.

The final thing that came through very strongly in the novel is what it means to put God first in your life--and also what the possible consequences are when you choose to put self first. The distinction "Christian Fiction" often cues a reader that a book will be clean and appropriate--things I believe many readers especially like to seek out when choosing a Christian Fiction Romance novel. Whitson Lee does not shy away from keeping faith front and center of her characters and the storyline; this boldness sets her apart from many Christian authors, and is another reason I feel that readers who are seeking this genre of book will enjoy Dangerous to Know.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.

About the book:

“Don’t look at him, dear. He’s dangerous.” 

Isabella Bankmill seeks a husband whose character matches her list of requirements. The man must share her faith, but he must also possess a certain je ne sais quoi. The enigmatical Lord Gregory Gordon Bromby—London’s newest literary sensation—certainly possesses the latter. Despite a deformed foot and alarming views on politics and religion, he attracts the ladies in droves.

Haunted by his past and overwhelmed by his newfound celebrity status, Lord Bromby’s obsession with his own doom leads to reckless behavior. When he is stalked by an obsessive aristocrat seeking an elopement, Bromby’s friends urge him to marry a suitable lady as soon as possible. Intrigued by Isabella’s convictions and hoping to avoid further scandal, Bromby proposes to Isabella.

Isabella also receives an offer of marriage from kind-hearted philanthropist, David Beringer—a man equally devoted to his faith—but she only has eyes for Lord Bromby. Blinded by his talent and good looks, Isabella convinces herself that he’s not as dangerous as everyone claims. But when Bromby’s world violently collides with hers, Isabella must decide once and for all who is lord of her life. God or Bromby?

About the author:

Megan Whitson Lee is an anglophile and a recovering runaway. Over the years, she escaped to England and Australia before finally settling down in the US. These days, she lives a relatively quiet life as a wife, a mom of two greyhounds, an editor for Pelican Book Group, and a high school English teacher. She now escapes by writing novels instead of jumping on planes to foreign countries. Her novel, Captives, won the 2016 Director's Choice Award and was a finalist for a Selah Award in the women's contemporary fiction category at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference.

Megan writes women's contemporary thrillers and historical fiction featuring characters standing at the crossroads of major life decisions.