The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

Poppy Denby moves to London to take care of her aunt, but soon realizes that her auntThe Jazz Files cover wasn’t being honest. It’s the 1920’s and her aunt, a militant suffragette, felt that Poppy would have more of a chance pursuing a career in London. So, Poppy ends up getting an editor’s assistant job with The Daily Globe. However a reporter’s body falls at her feet on her first day. An accident or could it be murder? He had been looking into some past mysteries involving the suffragettes, and with Poppy’s connections she becomes the ideal person to help finish the story…. However, not everyone wants the past dug up!

Fiona Veitch Smith combines a popular genre and an interesting time period in The Jazz Files, which starts the Poppy Denby Investigates series. The main character is Poppy, a young woman wanting to stretch her wings. She is a bit naive but learns quickly and shows quite a bit of bravery. However, she also desires her choices and possible career to be done in truth. She does some real soul searching in the middle of the book after she was involved in lies and deception.

She is a Christian surrounded by people living in sin, so we’ll see how her faith survives and hopefully grows through the series.

**Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Mr. Zip and The Capital Z by Kimberly Bryant-Palmer

I love tracking down new and interesting books for my kids! I really want my kids to loveunnamed-2 reading. Now if I can find a fun clean series that will pull them in AND include history — What a find!!:)

I really enjoyed Mr. Zip and The Capital Z. The main character is, of course, Mr. Zip, an older gentleman who owns a very unique shop with “everything you would need to know — from A to Z.” He is a very likable and yet slightly strange character that has a hint of Mr. Whitaker from Adventure’s in Odyssey and Finnian Jones from Lamplighter Theatre. (Great audio resources I would highly recommend!)

This book focused on a young boy called Peanut. He learns a little more about family, history and his heart. Somehow with Mr. Zip he sees glances of history from General Jackson in the War of 1812 to General Washington in the Revolutionary War to as far back as the Tower of Babel.  I love the last chapter with the interaction between Peanut and his dad. What a special moment!

Mr. Zip shares an interesting fact from history between each chapter. Also, there’s footnotes and endnotes concerning the history, if you want to check more out.

We look forward to the next book in the series — Mr. Zip and The Capital Z ~ Lucy Jane Pennywhistle Comes Home!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookCrash. I was not required to give a positive review, but to solely express my own thoughts and opinions.

The Lion Comic Book Hero Bible by Suiku, Richard Thomas and Jeff Anderson

The summary of The Lion Comic Book Hero Bible is what caught my attention first… “Theunnamed men and women of the Bible are not perfect; but nor were they ordinary. Faith gave some power. To Lead. To Save. To destroy evil. Others succumbed to the darkness. But still more was required. An ultimate hero. To fight the ultimate battle.” What a great and honest summary of the Bible! Also I want my kids to realize they are not perfect, but WITH GOD they are not ordinary either. They can lead and save and destroy evil, because Jesus who fought and won the ultimate battle is their Lord and Savior and Ultimate Hero!

My son found it intriguing. “Read another one, please!” My daughters weren’t too sure, such as “Why did they draw his eyes so scary?” (Don’t you think Pharaoh’s dreams probably scared him?!) They all agreed that the “Hero” names given to some of the men and women in the Bible were great!! Some examples are Abraham as Faithman, Ruth as Fierce Friend, Joseph as Dreamboy, Mary as Wonderful Woman, and Paul as Grace Man.

I’m not sure why they chose to use two different artists – one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament. Maybe to appeal to more, because the styles are very different. Suiku’s seem to be more of a comic book/superhero style while Thomas’s is more realistic. On a personal note, my family ended up agreeing that they liked the New Testament depictions better.

**Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Ishtar’s Odyssey by Arnold Ytreeide

Keeping our families focused on Christ at Christmas can be challenging inunnamed the busyness and distractions of life, sadly especially during this season. Simple and fun devotions, traditions, and songs are great tools. Now I have discovered Ishtar’s Odyssey which is “a family story for Advent” by Arnold Ytreeide. It is broken up into short chapters that are meant to be read together each day of Advent. Each chapter ends with a small devotion pulling out the spiritual lessons we can learn and how we can apply them as Christ followers.

Ishtar, a 10-year-old Prince of Persia, discovers a star and grudgingly leaves the comforts of his home to follow this star in search of a new king along side his father, a Persian wise man. He learns to not complain and to appreciate the wisdom and experience of those around him. Ishtar faces many adventures and dangers and changes of heart as he throws off the identity of being a spoiled child to confidently accept the role of prince and protector.

In this book Ishtar meets up with Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha – three characters that seem to be more important to the story than I would assume with how little they are included. However, then I noticed that there are three other Advent devotional written by Ytreeide – Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, and Tabitha’s Travels.

I enjoyed experiencing the story myself, so I definitely look forward to sharing Ishtar’s Odyssey with my family this Christmas! Then perhaps checking out the others by Ytreeide for the next three.:)

How does your family stay focused on Christ during Christmas?

**Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Moment by Moment: a devotional journal for girls by Jennifer Flanders

I chose to check out Moment by Moment by Jennifer Flanders as a possible devotional for my girls. I Moment by Moment book coverwas a little surprised with it, because it wasn’t what I expected as a devotional. However, I guess the word “journal” clarifies it more, if I would have read closer!:) It won’t quite fit for what I was originally looking, but I am not disappointed that I decided to get it!! I know my girls will love it!

This devotional journal is divided up into seven different areas of focus. Some examples are “Childhood Memories” and “Personal Favorites” that concentrate more on the individual girl and “Prayers & Graces” and “A Heart for Service” which focus more on their relationship with Jesus and others. Each section includes thought provoking questions and applicable Bible verses with plenty of space to write, draw, paste a picture… for the girls to get creative and honest. Also the illustrations are charming and add an elegant feel to the journal.

I already know I will have to purchase a few more.:) Once one girl receives it, the others will hope to have their own!

I would recommend this devotional journal to most girls of all ages, even into college with how much journalling is starting to catch back on with the younger generation.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookCrash. I was not required to give a positive review, but to solely express my own thoughts and opinions.

More Than Just “The Talk”: Becoming Your Kids’ Go-To Person About Sex by Jonathan McKee

After a couple months of silence I’m back with a highly recommended book for parents, youth ministers, or anyone helping kids through the craziness of life, hormones and relationships…

This is a great and needed book!! It was well written and easy to read — not due to the subject matter,More Than Just “The Talk” book cover but I guess you could say in spite of the subject matter. Jonathan McKee’s humor was just the right amount to lighten the mood of the reader (no defeatist attitude here!) while not making lessing the importance of such this issue. This book was both eye-opening and encouraging. He has a chapter specifically written towards helping our daughters and another for our sons. His “How Far?” chapter has a perfect example involving a toothbrush and a toilet!! (You’ll have to check that out!!) He also helps readers as parents and leaders who are guiding kids as they understand and stay away from issues like porn and masturbation. His “Tough Questions” chapter is a good resources to address specific questions he has heard from kids and parents.

Continuing conversations, asking questions, and building relationships are huge parts of “becoming your kids’ go-to person about sex”! His tips for keeping conversations open are…

  1. Don’t Overreact
  2. Don’t Make Sex “Naughty”
  3. Keep Your Eyes Open for Natural Springboards
  4. Ask, Listen…Repeat

My husband and I want to help our kids in the areas of purity. We want them to guard their hearts and their eyes as they grow and mature. We want them to look forward to experiencing God’ wonderful gift of sex in marriage!!

Resources like this book are welcomed tools for us as parents!

I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion.

In This House We Will Giggle by Courtney DeFeo

Let me get to the point…LOVE the title, LOVE the subtitle “Making Virtues, Love & Laughter a DailyIn This House We Will Giggle book cover Part of Your Family Life”, AND LOVE the cover design for Courtney DeFeo’s book, In This House We Will Giggle!!!!:) Therefore I was really excited to read this book. I DEFINITELY want more giggles in our home!

Through love and laughter, each of the chapters focus on teaching a different virtue. The virtues included are joy, love, forgiveness, faith, patience, perseverance, respect, responsibility, service, humility, gratitude, and generosity. DeFeo presents the option of focusing on one virtue each month of the year starting with Joy in January through Generosity in December. This is a great way to not feel overwhelmed but give your family time to really learn about, practice, and embrace each virtue. The chapters include a section called “catch phrase for_(the virtue)_, a memory verse for the month, a kid-friendly definition for the virtue, questions to discuss, a Bible story to read (from The Jesus Storybook Bible), activity ideas and more.

I started reading the book around the end of January, so I didn’t want to rush to start it in January. However, I loved how some of the virtues go very well with the holidays of a few of the months, such as Love in February, Gratitude in November and Generosity in December. Therefore I decided to start implementing the monthly virtue focus in order, but starting in February with the second chapter Love: Letting Concern for Others Guide Our Behavior. (We’ll go back to January at the end. Don’t want to miss Joy: When the Reality of Life Meets a Heart of Gladness!) The kids have totally jumped on board – doing chores for each other, writing notes, ….! It’s been a sweet family experience so far and we are just starting.:)

I’ll close my review with some good questions from the heart of In This House We Will Giggle by Courtney DeFeo…

“Our home, and the environment we create within our family, sets up the impression our kids will have of faith and God. Will they believe Jesus loves only well-behaved, model children, or will they know He loves them just as they are? Will they see the Christian life as a series of rules to be followed, or will they follow Jesus because they’ve learned from us what it means to love Him and find joy in being with Him?”’ -pg. 5

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**I received this book from Blogging for Books for an honest review.