Monday, September 28, 2015

Celebrate the Whit Award with Adventures in Odyssey


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Most people can think of one or two figures whose love and life example had a great impact on the formation of their spiritual foundation. It might be a coach, a Sunday school teacher or a parent or grandparent. Whatever the role, it’s hard to put a value on the investment these people make on a daily basis. In an effort to bring honor to these countless, quiet heroes, Adventures in Odyssey announces the John Avery Whitaker Award. Named after Odyssey’s resident leader and the namesake of Odyssey’s most famous attraction, Whit’s End, the award will be bestowed annually on one deserving mentor.

Like the Adventures in Odyssey character John Avery Whitaker, or “Whit” as he’s known by fans of the show, the person should be someone who is passionate about innovatively teaching children the truths expressed in the Bible. Those who create Adventures in Odyssey know that while Whit might be a fictitious character, there are thousands of real people just like him. “Our hope is that by bringing those people into the light, others will be inspired to follow their example,” says Dave Arnold, the executive producer of Adventures in Odyssey. “If we can spur mature believers in Christ to mentor and influence a generation being barraged with messages of compromise, we can turn the tide and encourage revival in our youth.”

Nominations are being accepted now through October 31 for the “Whits” out there in the world. Beginning on November 1, one nominee will be selected daily and awarded with a prize package including Adventures in Odyssey's latest album, Taking the Plunge, and a DVD of the movie Beyond the Mask. One grand prize winner will be chosen and announced on November 20. This worthy recipient will receive more than $500 worth of Focus on the Family resources, including an Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) membership. The OAC offers 24/7, on-the-go access to more than 800 episodes of Adventures in Odyssey, as well as a new, members-only episode every month. It is a safe, fun environment where the whole family can explore, create and imagine, all while learning biblical truth.

Nominations can be submitted via this form, or the information can be emailed to contest@whitsend.org. (See the Official Rules for all the details.)

To learn more about the John Avery Whitaker Award, visit www.whitsend.org. Discover the Odyssey Adventure Club at www.oaclub.org or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Berenstain Bears: The Very First Christmas by Jan and Mike Berenstain

A new Berenstain Bear book is out this year just in time for Christmas. The Very First Christmas by Jan and Mike Berenstain is part of the Living Lights series, and is for kids ages 4-8 yrs. old. The story begins with the Angel coming to Mary and ends with Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt to avoid King Herod.

I enjoyed reading through this book and thought that the re-telling of the Christmas story was written well for young children. The illustrations are fun, colorful, and keep the reader's attention.  It was fun to read this familiar Bible story illustrated with the Berenstain Bears characters. The Living Lights series has been a good addition to the old Berenstain Bears books. 
I'm looking forward to wrapping this book up and giving it to my kids this Christmas season!  If you're looking for a cute book that tells the true story of Christmas, pick up this newest Berenstain Bears book to add to your library!

***I received this free book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

A new book has graced the shelves since April, and I was able to finally read it.  The Art of Losing Yourself is Katie Ganshert's newest book. I have enjoyed her other books and was excited to read this newest one.

About the Book:
Carmen Hart is a local meteorologist for the panhandle of Florida. She takes pride in the fact that she can predict the weather and that to everyone around her, her life seems perfect.  The only problem is that things are not perfect and are heading on a fast track to disaster.  Her years of miscarriages are eating away at her and causing her to pull away from the man she loves.  In the midst of this crisis of marriage and wanting a baby, Carmen's half sister, Gracie Fisher, shows up needed help. Carmen feels overwhelmed but knows that she must take Gracie in and help her. Can God help heal broken hearts and restore broken relationships?

My Review:
Katie Ganshert's novel is painfully truthful. She expresses the emotions of her characters well and has written a story that is true to life.  I myself have experienced miscarriages...5 of them to be exact. It is an emotional rollercoaster.  One that you have to fight the fear of never being able to have kids and to learn that you must trust an almighty God who has a perfect plan for your life.  I would continually remind myself that my babies were His and that He loved them even more than I could. I can tend to hold things in so I related a lot to Carmen.  She tries to make everyone think she's got it all together, but deep inside she is fighting doubts and fears. The story was interesting going between the two sisters, and it was fun to see the characters develop throughout the story.  The story did leave me thinking that there must be another novel coming out about these characters.  At least I'm hoping so!  There were too many loose ends that didn't get tied up! If you're looking to read a more deeply, moving novel, then make sure to pick up The Art of Losing Yourself!

You can read more about the author by clicking here: Katie Ganshert.
And by clicking here you can read the Prologue and First Chapter of the book.

***I received this book free from Waterbrook Press in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, September 18, 2015

M is for Manger written by Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley; pictures by Claire Keay

Are you looking for a cute new Christmas book to share with your children this coming Christmas season? Believe it or not Christmas is only 97 days away.  M is for Manger by Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley is definitely a book you'll want to add to your library for your little ones.  This book uses each letter of the alphabet to share the story of Christ's birth in a poetic form. Each page also includes the Scripture verse to support why the author picked the word she did for that letter of the alphabet.


I thought the illustrations in this book were just beautiful!  I love how it uses the alphabet, something so familiar to small children, to tell the story of Jesus' birth.  The poems are creative, short and to the point.  And what child does not enjoy rhyming! It adds a fun playfulness to the story.  I appreciated the fact that Scripture was included to support why they picked the word they did for the letter of the alphabet. This gives parents the opportunity to open their Bibles and show their kids where we can actually find the story of Jesus.

If you're looking for a sweet little Christmas book for your child this coming holiday season, pick up this new book from Tyndale House Publishers to add to your collection.

***I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


About the Author:

Crystal Bowman
Crystal Bowman
Crystal Bowman is a former preschool teacher, author, and speaker. She graduated from Calvin College with a degree in elementary education and studied early childhood development at the University of Michigan.
Her writing career began in 1990 as a lyricist for children's piano music. She began writing children's books in 1993 and has since written more than 70 books for children and 3 for women. She has written books for many popular children's series, such as Little Blessings, BOZ the Bear, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), and I Can Read! She has also written two books of humorous poetry for children, three books for women, numerous magazine articles, Bible study materials, and educational resource books.
As a speaker, Crystal enjoys sharing her stories and poetry with students in the classroom and also with adults at teachers' conventions, writers' conferences, and women's seminars. "Writing and speaking can be intimidating because in order to connect with your audience you need to be personal and transparent, exposing what's in your heart and soul. But when readers or conference attendees respond positively to something I've said or written, it is humbling and rewarding all at the same time!"
Crystal and her husband, Bob, have enjoyed 38 years of marriage and are the parents of 3 grown children and 1 grandchild. They live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Bible Stories Gone Crazy! by Josh Edwards; Illustrated by Emiliano Migliardo

Do you remember the days of Where's Waldo books from when you were a kid? My kids have a couple of I Spy books by scholastic that they love to find all the objects in.  Candle books has come out with a fun search book that involves your favorite Bible stories.  There are 8 fun stories for your children, ages 5-7 years old, to explore.

My kids have absolutely loved looking at this book.  Each 2 page spread tells the story of the picture depicted, and then along the edge of the pages are questions whose answers are found in the picture.  Now these pages aren't just filled with fun pictures from the famous Bible story, but are filled with things that funny and are obviously not from that time period history. I liked the pages of this book. They are great because they are thick and have a glossy feel to them that almost makes me wonder if dry erase markers could be used on it.  And sure enough, when I tried it out, it worked and erased well!

If you're looking for a fun new book to keep your kids occupied for long periods of time, pick up Candle Books new book Bible Stories Gone Crazy!

***I received this book for free from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.


Friday, September 11, 2015

In Good Company (A Class of Their Own series, book 2) by Jen Turano

The second book, In Good Company, has released in the series A Class of Their Own by Jen Turano. Jen has the reputation of being very funny and I was excited to read this novel.  Find out more about the book and what I thought below!

From the Back Cover:
After growing up as an orphan, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen.  Unfortunately, her playfulness and enthusiasm aren't always well-received and she finds herself dismissed from yet another position.
Everett Mulberry has quite unexpectedly become guardian to three children that scare off ever nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he's desperate for competent childcare.
At wit's end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance--with each other.  As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges, Everett focuses on achieving the coveted societal status of the upper echelons.  But as he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the children's parents, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?

My Review:
Jen Turano has written another quick-witted, funny story that had me smiling as I read.  The way she can paint a scene headed for disaster is really quite amazing.  I enjoyed reading about Millie Longfellow and her pending disasters she seems to find herself in all the time.  Her character was pleasant and enjoyable.  Everett Mulberry is really steeped in the system of the upper class.  Sometimes, he was quite frustrating with his choices.  But his character was a good addition to the story line.  I did end up reading this book without reading the first book in this series. I don't think it's absolutely necessary to keep them in order, but it would of been nice to have been familiar with Harriet Peabody's story from the first book. If you're looking for a good laugh and a fun story, make sure to pick up this newest book in Jen Turano's A Class of Their Own series.  It will have you smiling from ear to ear.

***I received this book free from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.
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