Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Money and Marriage

Money and Marriage: A complete Guide for Engaged and Newly Married Couples by Matt Bell caught my eye as my Husband and I while not newly married often have a hard time communicating and being on the same page when it comes to budgeting. Plus it's a Christian perspective on money management so I was excited to have scripture to back up our financial planning and decisions. I would say while this book would make a great engagement gift, wedding or 1st anniversary gift, I would also recommend this book for any couple that struggles over finances and budgeting in their marriage no matter how long they have been married.

The book did not disappoint me. It is filled with scripture as well as sound financial advice and budgeting practices. It starts with a section called 'Decoding Each Other's Financial DNA' which is exactly what my Husband and I needed to help us understand each others perspectives and where we are coming from. Part two goes into action plans that covers such topics as budgeting, how to avoid debt, and giving. All which are built around what God's word says. The last section shares on how as a couple you can foster financial oneness with one another covering topics like prenups and deciding whether you should have shared or separate bank accounts. There are also recommended monthly spending guidelines based on salary, recommended housing guidelines and budgeting examples. This book will definitely help couples begin the discussion of finances, start with a strong financial plan/foundation for their marriage and helps also to share many of the items that get overlooked and therefor not planned for. It's a good flowing read too, I read through it with interest and ease. I'm not typically interested in financial topics so it was a great read for me to go through as it engaged me on a personal level. I appreciated the blend of finances, scripture but also the personal aspects that go into two people coming together to create a family like minded in the area of money.

I received a copy for review from NavPress Publishers Blogger Review Program.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Basket Full of Easter Books

I wanted to share some of the Easter books we enjoy here today!

The Easter Story by Patricia A. Pingry and illustrated by Mary Ann Utt. This book is one of my favorites for young children that tells the about the life of Jesus, the events leading up to his death and his Resurrection. It's well written in it's simplicity but still carries the significance. The illustrations are equally beautiful in their depiction. It is an engaging and accurate read focused on why we celebrate this Holiday in our family.

My First Story of Easter by Tim Dowley and illustrated by Roger Langton takes your young readers through the timeline of events leading up to Christ's death and Resurrection that we are remembering on Easter. This book does a great job of sharing these events in a way that young children can understand.

A Tale for Easter by Tasha Tudor is a sweet old fashioned story with charming old fashioned illustrations that are a trademark of Tasha Tudor. We join a young girl in her excited anticipation of Easter and the markers/traditions of that season from eggs to finding your Easter basket on Easter morning.

The Story of the Easter Bunny by Katherine Tegen and illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert is a fun legend of how there came to be an Easter Bunny. We meet an elderly couple who die eggs, weave baskets and make chocolate eggs for all the children in their town for Easter morning. The elderly couple's pet rabbit watches and as the years pass starts to help until he takes over the job once they couple can no longer continue their tradition. The illustrations are sweet. I love the colorful eggs and foiled wrapped chocolate eggs that fill each basket.

Jan Brett is a wonderful storyteller whether bringing us her version of folktales from around the world or spinning her own tales I've yet to be disappointed in one of her books. The Easter Egg is a wonderful story by Jan Brett of how all the rabbits work to create the most splendid egg so they will be selected by the Easter Rabbit to accompany him on his deliveries for Easter. A young rabbit Hoppi is excited to start his own creation and happens upon the splendid eggs that his friends are working on as he hurries along to get started. The illustrations are rich, detailed and has an old world feel. The decorated eggs that each rabbit is working on are simply stunning.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Holidays with Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman is the author along with illustrator Claudine Gevry of a series of over sized die-cut board books that celebrate the seasons and Holidays with a Christian perspective. The illustrations are engaging and simple as is the storyline of these books. We own a few of these books one of which is An Easter Gift for Me. In this book with rhyming text Bowman shares the story of Jesus from birth, his life, his miracles on to his death and Resurrection. Of the stories I read the ideas are clearly presented for the preschool audience. These are great starter books to share about the different Holidays, seasons and traditions we hold.

Other books in this series include: My Happy Pumpkin, My Thanksgiving Prayer, Jesus, Me and My Christmas Tree, Christmas Angels, My Christmas Stocking, My Christmas Gift, J is For Jesus, A Star for Jesus and My Valentine Story.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spotlight on Janet Morgan Stoeke and Minerva Louise!

One of our favorite Easter reads so far this year has been Minerva Louise and the Colorful Eggs by Janet Morgan Stoeke. We've been reading through her series of Minerva Louise and have not been disappointed. I think I first came across this series from a Charlotte Mason's reading list. Minerva Louise is a curious, well intentioned, kind, caring chicken all though often confused. My two find her confusion hilarious and I find it very endearing. Whether she's trying to warm lost eggs that are so cold some have turned blue or making herself quite at home in the farmhouse you will enjoy your misadventures with this silly hen. The drawings are clear, sparse and boldly colorful.

As you can see by some of the titles I've included here that you can find a Minerva Louise book for most seasons and Holidays.

List of titles include: A Hat for Minerva Louise, Hide and Seek, Rainy Day, Minerva Louise at School, Minerva Louise, Minerva Louise at the Fair, A Friend for Minerva Louise, Minerva Louise on Halloween, Minerva Louise and the Red Truck, Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve and Minerva Louise and the Colorful Eggs.

And the Winner is.....

Congratulations to Rebecca on winning both books Voyage with the Vikings and Attack at the Arena by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker. I know you and your kids will enjoy them!

Would love to win these - just started reading chapter books with the kids at night and they really enjoy it!
By Rebecca on The Imagination Station on 4/8/11

I did the old pull a name out of the hat since entries were low. Thank you too all who entered. I hope to be able to offer many more great giveaways.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Last Day for Imagination Station Giveaway - Low Entries!!

Today's the last day to enter the giveaway for the first two books of the Imagination Station series. The books are called Voyage with the Vikings and Attack at the Arena by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker. They are illustrated by David Hohn.

Be sure to enter to for your chance to win below!

Read my review here-

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Imagination Station

The Imagination Station is an impressive new series which I had a chance to preview the first two books. The books are called Voyage with the Vikings and Attack at the Arena by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker. They are illustrated by David Hohn. They are about two young children, Cousins Beth and Patrick and their friendship with an inventor named Mr. Whittaker. Mr. Whittaker has invented a time machine called the Imagination Station. During his travels someone else is now able to communicate with Mr. Whittaker through the Imagination Station. This someone else is in need of help but not from Mr. Whittaker rather from Beth and Patrick. So begins Beth and Patrick's adventures traveling through time aboard the Imagination Station.

These books are sure to spark the imagination of young readers. I love the concept and how these stories layer Christian history into the story. I must confess that I have never been much of a history buff but after reading these two books I was online searching, reading and looking for more information about the subjects of these books. In addition to the history, the action, the adventure at the center of these books is solid Biblical teaching by example in how the characters of this book act in word and deed. Your children will be learning a variety of aspects in these books and having fun doing so. One of the many lessons that I took away from these reads is that God is in control. If we follow His will even when it makes no sense it will work out as He planned in the end. We just have to be willing to trust and follow Him. I’ve seen this happen in my life and really connected with the events of this story, how answers were revealed at the needed time. My children aren't old enough for these reads but I am looking forward to sharing with them. I know that they too will have their interest peaked in history and God's word when they do. This is a really fun series and I can't wait to read the rest of the books.

I received a copy of each book for the purpose of this review.

Imagination Station Blog Tour Q&A with Marianne Hering

1. What inspired you to write the Imagination Station series?
Paul (McCusker) had always wanted to write stories about the Imagination Station. When looking to do a kids’ series about it, we chose early elementary to introduce new readers to the Adventures in Odyssey world. We also wanted to touch on a group of kids that didn’t have many Christian books written for their level. There seemed to be a gap from picture books to later elementary readers.

2. The Imagination Station device is well-known to fans of the radio drama Adventures in Odyssey. Why did you and Paul decide to use it in a book series?
It lends itself to stand-alone adventures. It’s a fascinating device. Why wouldn’t he want to write about it? It allowed us to write about settings outside of Odyssey. We’d like some of the books to augment the history kids learn from public school textbooks or TV. The Imagination Station radio dramas are also among the most popular. We thought that kids would like them, that’s all!

3. How true to history are the books?
Now, this is a spoiler. Mr. Whittaker isn’t real. Neither are Patrick and Beth. Though they are named after Paul’s children. Patrick and Beth are his children’s middle names.

Most of the events are based on sagas, legends, or some sort of historical base—except for book 4. All the characters in the War of the Roses story are fictional. For plot purposes, I sped up the storytelling. For example, the events in the Kublai Khan story took place over months, not hours. Same with the Viking book. I wanted Leif to leave for the New World shortly after he brought back the gospel from Norway. In reality, a lot of time passed between the events. I did make some vocabulary exceptions. For example, Marco Polo was Venetian, but I called him Italian—a more familiar term for the readership. But the basic events of books 1 to 3 are true, and the War of the Roses did occur in England with Lords fighting their neighbors, etc. We really just wanted to write about the jousting. Paul did a lot great research for the jousting scene. I had to cut a lot of it, and that made me sad. On the website The, I’ve listed what’s true and what’s exaggerated for each book. There are also nonfiction pages for the kids to read about Leif Ericsson and the other Christian heroes.

4. What do you hope kids will walk away with after reading Imagination Station?
A smile and a desire to learn more about history and faith in Jesus Christ.

5. Can you give us any “sneak peeks” into what we can expect in future books?
Book 5 is a Bible story, a familiar Bible story. The title is “Showdown with the Shepherd.” I think that’s a fairly strong clue. Book 6 is about Miles Standish and William Bradford and Native American relations. It centers on a certain holiday in November. That will end the first story arc. As for the next set of 6, that may depend on sales of the first set. (That’s a strong hint to readers to buy the books so we can keep developing the series.) Be sure to check out the click book for book 1 at That way you can tell if these books will be at the right level for your kids.

About the Authors

Paul McCusker was given his first typewriter early in his childhood and hasn't stopped writing since. Paul has written over 300 half-hour audio episodes for Adventures in Odyssey and has also written 18 tie-in novels and two screenplays for the animated series. He was the producer for the series from 1992 to 1996 and the executive producer from 2000 to 2004. Paul is now Director of Creative Content at Focus on the Family.

Marianne Hering has written six children’s mystery books and more than 40 Bible phonics readers. Now a general book editor for Focus, she is passionate about developing a series for beginning readers.

***Don't forget to enter the giveaway to win your own copy of these books. Winner to be announced next week.***

Monday, April 4, 2011

Imagination Station Book Set Giveaway! - CLOSED

I'm excited to announce that I will be participating in an upcoming book tour for the books, Voyage with the Vikings and Attack in the Arena from a new juvenile chapter book series called The Imagination Station by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker. Recommended ages for this new series is ages 7 & up.

As part of my participation in this upcoming tour is the opportunity to offer my readers a chance to win these books! I'm excited about these books and the chance for one of you to win them so I wanted to get this giveaway going but please check back for my review with an author Q&A.

To Enter the Giveaway:
You can enter to win through Friday, April 8th, 5:00 PM eastern standard time.

To Enter:

1. Simply leave a comment

2. For two extra entries follow my blog and leave a comment that you are now a follower or that you are a follower. (Be sure to leave extra comments for each).

This giveaway is open to anyone in the United States and Canada. I will either utilize random number generator or the good old draw a name from a hat method of selection. Be sure to leave a way to contact you. If your contact info is not easily attainable I will draw a new winner.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit and The Thingamabob

Well, I'm a fan. Il Sung Na offers up two great books for spring reading.

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons follows a little rabbit as he observes the changes around him as the season changes into winter. He watches quietly as birds take flight, bears hibernate and other animals prepare for the winter ahead. But after the winter spring returns in full bloom! This book makes a great winter read as well and actually the most of the book does focus on winter and how different animals prepare for the cold season. The illustrations are stunning, colorful,and imaginative for both these books. I love the exploration of texture and pattern added to these beautiful line drawings.

Thingamabob makes a perfect read for a rainy spring day. Follow along this time as an elephant comes across a most peculiar object and tries to figure out what it might be used for. My two thought this read was funny as the elephant experiments with how it just might best use it's new thingamabob.