Friday, August 29, 2014

Your Family In Pictures

"Your Family in Pictures" by Me Ra Koh is an easy to understand crash course in photographing family events, holidays, and other everyday events. This book is a simple tutorial on how to get the most out of photos that you are taking. I loved the simplicity of this book - I'm definitely an amateur photographer, but this book kept the technical lingo to a minimum, and really had tons of helpful tips for getting much better photos in less time.

One of the things I really liked about this book is that it offers tips for both point and shoot cameras as well as DSLR cameras. I thought that this was helpful for any user, and gives camera specific help, so truly anyone could use this book and get something helpful out of it. There are tons of photos in this book, to show you how the shot turned out, as well as aperture settings and shutter speed for the DLSR camera.

I thought that this book gave a lot of prompts for photo taking, such as Saturday mornings, when kids are just being kids, or bedtime rituals. These are everyday occurrences, but sometimes are overlooked, and having photos of some of these times are definitely must haves for me.

I would give this book a 5/5. I thought it offered TONS of tips for taking photos, and did so in a way that was easy to understand, even if you aren't a professional photographer. I am definitely going to be using some of these ideas to create even more family memories. Great book.

The Mess Detectives and the Case of the Lost Temper

"The Mess Detectives and the Case of the Lost Temper" is a children's book, written by Karen Poth, and published by Zonderkidz. This book is a beginning reader book that uses simple sentences for new readers. After reading this book,  I would say that there may be a few challenging words for early readers, and they may need a little help reading this book on their own.

In this book, "Veggie Tales" characters Bob the tomato and Larry the cucumber are detectives and hot on the trail of a door slamming suspect. Larry, acting as his usual silly self, makes Bob more and more aggravated as they stake out the Carrot house, trying to catch the door slammer. As Bob gets increasingly frustrated with Larry, he eventually loses his temper. Larry points out that Bob has lost his cool, and Bob agrees, and that's pretty much the end of it.

I really thought that this lesson could have been much more of a teaching children to lean on God when they are feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, or aggravated. I think that this book missed the opportunity to make that point. My children, even though they are young, struggle with their tempers, and I really feel like Larry and Bob could have gone into how Bob could calm down, and pray or lean on God in order to calm down. Instead, Larry just points out that Bob has lost his temper, and Bob basically says, "Yeah, you're right".

I thought the story was cute, but really think they missed the mark on the one thing that "Veggie Tales" always does - tying the moral of the story into Biblical examples. I would give this book a 2.5/5. Cute, but not the quality I would expect from the "Veggie Tales" characters.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I Received this book for free through the Book Look Blogger Program in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spiritual Renewal Study Bible

Zondervan Bibles' "ECPA Medallion of Excellence Bible of the Year" is the "Spiritual Renewal Study Bible : Experience New Growth and Transformation in Your Spiritual Walk". This Bible offers a lot of the commonly featured study tools that appear in several various study Bibles that I have seen in the last few years. It offers a chapter introduction page, character profiles, and extensive footnotes. This Bible does feature a couple of study tools that I have not yet seen.

This Bible has a feature that simplifies the process of spiritual renewal into a series of seven "keys", and they are highlighted throughout the Bible where the principle is put into action. These seven keys include "seek God and surrender to him", "see the truth", "speak the truth", "accept responsibility", "grieve, forgive and let go", "transform your life", and "preserve spiritual gains". This is the first time that I have seen this particular connection and study tool, and I thought it was really useful in the process of renewing the spirit.

Other study tools in this Bible include a devotional reading plan based on the spiritual keys, spiritual disciplines devotionals, spiritual discipline profiles, and character profiles. I thought that this Bible truly offers something new and different from others that also claim to be study Bibles. There are a lot of notes and study tools inserted into the text that I felt like there was literally some connection to be made in everything that I read.

Overall I would definitely give this Bible a 5/5. It is a great tool for anyone looking for a new study Bible, but especially those who feel that they could use a renewing of their spirit. Great Bible.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this Bible for free from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mickey & Willie (Allen Barra)

"Mickey and Willie" by Allen Barra is a biography of two of the most famous men in baseball, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. This book is subtitled, "Mantle and Mays, the Parallel Lives of Baseball's Golden Age", and what Barra does is shine light on the personal and professional lives of both Mickey and Willie, and points out how similar the two men were, in many different aspects of their lives.

I appreciated that Barra took the time to research the pre-baseball lives of Mantle and Mays, and give the reader an understanding of their childhood and why they chose baseball. I think that this is as important of a detail as any, considering that both Mickey and Willie's fathers were employed in manual labor, and without the intervention of baseball, most likely would have followed in their footsteps.

Barra follows both Willie and Mickey in their professional careers, highlight both the ups and downs. I liked the fact that this book really details the personal side of these men, how they were feeling, the struggles they were facing, and the disappointments they had. I think that this book really humanizes these two men, who have become legends in the game.

I would highly recommend this book to any baseball lover. I thought it was a great read, full of interesting and entertaining stories about Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. I would give this book a 5/5, for sure. Easy to read, and Barra does a great job of telling the story of their lives without making it overcomplicated.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Family Project

Glenn T. Stanton and Leon C. Wirth have put together a book entitled, "The Family Project: How God's Design Reveals His Best for You". This is a "Focus on the Family" book, and intended to be a companion to the Focus on the Family's DVD series, "The Family Project". The book talks about the way that God designed the family unit, as well as documented research from a variety of other sources as well.

What I liked about this book was the emphasis that it placed in the importance of family. There were entire chapters devoted to the divine design of marriage, as well as the need for both a mother and a father for the success of the family. These notions were rooted in Biblical text, and reiterated by a variety of social science experts. I think that this book really helped me find some ways to relay my opinions, and back up what I believe with a cohesive and accurate argument.

What I did not like about this book was that it seemed like there were times where the argument became too complicated, and overly scientific. I really enjoyed the Biblical aspect of these topics, and the Scripture that was given to back up the thesis. However, I felt like once the book switched over to a more scientific approach, it was difficult to follow and to stay interested.

Overall I would give this book a 3/5. I enjoyed the Biblical points/arguments for the importance of the family and felt that they really held a lot of value. However, the difficulty in maintaining interest in the more scientific approach to the argument was pretty significant.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Goodnight Ark

Laura Sassi's children's book, "Goodnight Ark" is an adorable story filled with beautiful, vivid illustrations courtesy of Jane Chapman. In this adorable story, the animals board the ark, and Noah sets sail. But the animals become scared by all of the noises from the storm!

What happens next is a humorous and lighthearted story of animal by animal piling into Noah's bed. Elephants, boars, snakes, and even skunks join Noah in his room! Eventually Noah finally comforts all of the animals and restores order by singing the animals a lullaby.

I would give this book a 5/5 - the artwork is amazing, bright and colorful; Sassi's story is fun and made my kids laugh out loud. It was fun to imagine what life would have been like living with a boatload of animals! I thought the way that Sassi rhymed the book was cute, and almost made it easier for kids to read on their own.

I would recommend this book to anyone with young children - ages 3 and up, although I think that even younger than 3 would probably enjoy the pictures if they wouldn't sit still for the actual story.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from BookLookBloggers in exchange for my honest review.

First Family Detail

Investigative journalist Ronald Kessler's newest book, "The First Family Detail" promises to reveal the hidden lives of the Presidents, and it doesn't disappoint. It is easy for most of the public to see only what the Commander in Chief chooses to let us see, but in this book we get an inside peek into the more private lives of the President and the first family.

Kessler gives accounts from Secret Service agents about the Clinton family, particularly Hillary, as well as Vice President Joe Biden, President Obama, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, George Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter. Personal, first hand observations and interactions with these Presidents and their families abound in these pages, and it's truly fascinating.

For example, Kessler talks about Jimmy Carter in Chapter Ten of this book, peeling back the layers of Carter's outwardly friendly appearance to reveal someone who was almost hostile to the men of the Secret Service who were sworn to protect him. I found it to be very interesting the differences in the public persona Carter created for himself and the actual accounts from Secret Service agents of him coming in to work early in the Oval Office, only to close his curtains a half hour later and take a nap.

Overall I found this book to be full of unknown information, and a real inside look at the lives, attitudes, and personalities of the President and his family. Most of the stories I read in this book were ones that I had never heard before, and I think that makes it a must read for any history buff. I would rate this book a 5/5, and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys history or politics. Great read.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review.