Why is Great-Grandma So Sad? by Susan Heagy

I have been in WWII so often in my reading recently — from our history for homeschool,Why is Great-Grandma So Sad? cover books I’m reviewing, a book for book club, and now a book meant for children. The subtitle is “Discovering the Holocaust Through the Eyes of a Child.” I planned to read this with my kids, but kept pushing it off. I wasn’t sure why. Maybe because I get tired of fighting my tears…and usually losing. However, there are events that are worth the tears.

As I pulled the book out to read last week, my oldest daughter immediately brings me the tissues! (They know me so well!) And yes, as I read I fought the tears and still lost, but we will NOT forget.

Susan Heagy shares in the preface that these are fictional characters but the experiences are true. True stories from Holocaust Survivors are combined to bring us Why is Great-Grandma So Sad?. Also, included in the back of the book are some short biographies of the survivors who’s stories are a part of this book.

Sarah, a 7 year old girl, notices that her grandma is very sad one day, so she asks her mom and then the action unfolds. The grandma’s story is told clear with simple illustrations. It isn’t an easy read, because of the subject, but it is a book that I would consider well written for and appropriate for kids. Working through it together as a family was a perfect way to handle the book and the questions that came with it. I also think it would be a great resource to use in any curriculum whatever the educational setting.

“With the revelation of history came the gift, and the responsibility for Sarah to be the new Survivor. She would remember her Great-Grandma’s experience, and not forget it—not ever. The gifts of life, hope, and determination were now passed on to the next 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.

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.

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.

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

More Info

Author Bio

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

Rethinking My Blog, Again!

I began this blog in January 2006 with no true direction, just to entertain a friend and because I had been thinking about it. I wasn’t very consistent, but for the past few years I have definitely used my blog more as an outlet for book reviews, which equals free books!! 🙂

After a friend and young mom’s death, I posted Do I want to restart? in Dec 2010. Then I further posted my thought and history of my blog on Why I Blog? (part 1) in June 2011 and the long awaited Why I Blog? (part 2) in Aug 2011. My conclusion was that I would keep enjoying my simple pleasure of reviewing books and sharing them with you, with some actual blogging thrown in here and there.

Now I’m considering and reconsidering the need for my blog. Actually I know there is no true “need”. My friend that I started it for, doesn’t even stop by, and most of the friends that were blogging aren’t anymore. I usually get very little action in the comments. However, it has been totally awesome to get response back from the authors of the books I reviewed, such as Heart Wide Open, Defy the Night, The Passionate Mom, The Night and the Firefly, and Night of the Living Dead Christian!!

Also I have a lot going on in my “real world” life. I love hanging out with my husband and kids! Our kids are older, so my responsibilities have changed from primarily filling little tummies, wiping bottoms, and dealing with nap issues to teaching and training their hearts and minds. Right now I am normally getting more sleep at night, yet my days are very full. I feel like I need to be more and more careful with my time.

I have enjoyed reviewing book – picking out free books, waiting for them to show up in the mail, reading them, telling the world my thoughts, and passing them along to family and friends. It is super fun to give away copies to my readers, like in these review posts: Night of the Living Dead Christian bog tour, Roots of the Journey (which was a CD), How to Control Your Emotions so They Don’t Control You, Women Living Well, and As One Devil to Another. I love it when my review helped someone looking for a new book or not sure wether they would be interested in a certain book – Love & War, Full Disclosure, A Sound Among the TreesLes Miserables (Radio Theatre), and Where Lilacs Still Bloom.

And yet, now I feel like my season of reviewing books may need to sloooooowwww down…not totally end, but I choose to be much more selective. The main reason is that writing a good review takes time, time that I feel I can better invest in other areas. I want to be able to read with no responsibility except for my own entertainment or learning. Also I have a lot of books that I want to read, physical books and ebooks. Also, we have Amazon prime and there are so many books that I can read for free. These are all books that don’t require a review.

So, Cheers to a new direction to my blog. I plan to do less book reviews, but try to write a post at least once a week, and then I’ll decide from there. I’m hoping to grow through this Blogging 101 course from Blogging University,  but I also don’t want to free up time from reviewing book to lose it in blogging. I really want to invest the time where it matters – in my faith, family and friendships.

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Blogging 101’s Weekend 1 Warriors Assignment included suggestions such as

  • Spend more time in the Reader. I did and added a few more blogs to follow.
  • Download the WordPress app. I already have this on my phone but deleted it this summer when I has at a concert with my daughter and need more room for pictures! 🙂 I don’t think I’ll worry about putting it back on right now, because I rarely used it.
  • Write another post. This is what I’m working on now… “Rethinking My Blog, Again!”.
  • Share some love in The Commons. Since I’m not “officially” registered, I can’t get into The Commons. I will be registered next month, which still works for me since I know I will continue into February and perhaps into March. My family has been sick, so I’ve had more time to work on my blog. However, we are all getting better! {Thank You, Jesus!!} That also means I will be back to our regular schedule with much less time to devote to blogging. I plan to try to blog at least once a week, maybe twice depending on how I can fit it in.

Willie’s Redneck Time Machine by John Luke Robertson and Travis Thrasher

I sat down with my kids one morning — planning to read just some of Willie’s Redneck Time Machine. However, we ended up laughing our way Willie’s Redneck Time Machine book coverthrough SIX different stories before I decided we better get something else done! 🙂

I’m hoping that this book, which is the first book in a new choose-your-own-adventure series called Be Your Own Duck Commander, will catch the interest of my reluctant reader to read on her own. She really loved the choices and the adventures!!

In this book you (as Willie) discover an out-house which is actually a time machine in the Duck Commander warehouse. However, it might take you a while to figure that out, because you’re sure your brother Jase is playing a joke on you! Then…depending on your choices…you…well, I don’t want to give too much away, but John Luke is always involved!

We are really looking forward to the rest of the series: Phil & the Ghost of Camp Ch-Yo-Ca, Sin in Space, and Jase & the Deadliest Hunt!

Enjoy the adventure!!!

P.S. I loved these growing up! 🙂

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