Saturday, February 6, 2016

Christian Reading Companion for 50 Classics: A Moms of Master Books Review

I love literature. I loved it so much it is what I studied as my main discipline in my education courses in college. I'm so very blessed to be homeschooling and at the same time utilizing my degree in Middle School English. Every Monday I teach 10, 12 to 14-year-olds at a learning center for homeschoolers. I'm always on the lookout for new resources I can use with these students as well for my own girls at home.

Sometimes I come upon a resource I expect to use strictly for my children, but end up enjoying for myself. This is one of those gems! In Christian Reading Companion for 50 Classics by James P. Stobaugh (from Master Books, an imprint of New Leaf Publishing) a variety works of classic literature are highlighted in a very easy to use format. Each novel has a brief introduction including some historical context and author information. Following this is a brief objective test and a few suggested vocabulary words along with their corresponding chapter for location. 

My favorite part of each chapter is the discussion questions. The thoughtful questions steer students to think for themselves. They also guide them to consider more than just comprehension and delve deeper into the finer nuances and context within the pages, encouraging students to consider the work in light of God's Word. I love this part for myself personally as I have been reading through many great works of literature I never got around to reading. 

Another good use of this book would be for a book club. While many of the books are more appropriate for high school because of content some works for younger students are represented as well. This would also be excellent for an adult book club if you are looking to read classic works together. 

One of the nice things about the works represented here is that they are readily available at your local library or free as e-books. This is a great way to save money and study classic literature at the same time while still having quality, thought provoking study guides.

So right now I'm using this book for my own personal pursuit of knowledge. I do plan to incorporate some of the study guides for books such as Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit and also as my daughter begin to read these great works of literature throughout their schooling but for now it is just for me and I am loving it!

Disclaimer: I was provided this book to review as part of the Moms of Master Books review program. I was not required to write a positive review. My opinions are my own. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Forty Names of Jesus: A Lenten Devotional for Families: A Review and Giveaway!

As a family we are always looking for ways to point our girls back to Christ. Our faith is so much more than just a Sunday morning thing and we want to convey that to our daughters. Sometimes that means we fly by the seat of our pants as the moments just happen. Those unplanned moments are amazing gifts from God that allow us to impart His truth to them. 

The problem is that if we leave all opportunities just come up and never really plan anything ahead of time, I don't personally feel that we are completely fulfilling our mandate as Christian parents to train and teach our kids to know and remember the faithfulness of God. This year we will be participating in Lent. I am thinking of it as Advent for the Resurrection, a countdown to lead into the most important moment of remembrance all year long as a wonderful opportunity to focus us all on the Savior as we approach Resurrection Sunday. 

This delightful devotional was written by a homeschooling friend of mine. While we've never met in person we used to live in the same state for a while and chatted extensively about homeschooling as we both use Heart of Dakota for our curriculum. I've enjoyed getting to know her over the last several years. After a series of brief careers in electrical engineering, nuclear power, and teaching mathematics Jennifer was led to move into a new full-time calling...raising her three precious children in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. She has been formally homeschooling now for 5 years and she loves what she does!

I was super excited when she asked if I would like to review her new devotional. I jumped at the opportunity and can't wait to begin this for Lent with my daughters. Each of the devotions are brief, but theologically deep. She communicates in a kid-friendly way that also penetrated my own heart as I was reminded of the wonderful names of Jesus.

What I love most is that each devotion begins with a Scripture to look up together. Then there are several additional passages to look up if you desire. This is perfect for families to decide exactly how long their devotional time should be. Those with younger kids can keep it nice and short while those with more mature children can have further time to reflect together. 

The devotional content is biblically grounded and theologically sound, yet at the same time written in a gentle and engaging way that will bring forth great conversations with your kids. We already have devotional times with our daughters. I am anticipating a lot of really good conversations after our studies. 

Although this was originally written as a devotional for Lent, it can be used anytime of the year as it is not necessarily specific to this season. That is really great because anytime is a great time to study the names of Christ! 

And now for a giveaway! 

I'm so excited to have the opportunity to giveaway a copy of this wonderful devotional to one of my readers! 

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Devos for the Rest of Us: A Tyndale Blogger Review

Devo for the Rest of Us is a new Devotional written by a pastor from Las Vegas. It is very down to earth and light to read. I appreciated the personal stories as they often brought biblical ideas into the perspective of present day.

I'm always interested in reading new devotionals. I also admit that I'm very cautious when reading them. I think authors have a great responsibility when it comes to guiding others in what God is saying to us through Scripture. I was unfortunately very disappointed with this particular book. for several reasons.

The first is the seemingly light treatment of sin. While I appreciate those who are willing to admit they are not perfect, I do not think very highly of individuals who relish or even seem to take pride in actions which are dishonoring to God. There were a handful of incidents of this used as examples in this devotional. The seriousness of sin should never be diminished and anyone who does so makes me very nervous about the rest of their perspective on Scripture.

I see the trend in many of the popular speakers and books becoming a flaunting of sin and a lack of reverence. I see many of the most sought after teachers parading their trespasses as badges of honor and it breaks my heart. While we should never resort to an attitude that becomes holier-than-thou, holiness is our aim. Scripture teaches us this, and any action which draws us away from the holiness of God should be mourned, not applauded.

Another reason I was disappointed in this devotional was the abrupt writing style. Now this is just a personal preference, but I like to read devotionals which encourage me to think and with thoughtful writing. The simplistic style of this devotional did not really appeal to me.

The latter complaint is really just my preference in devotionals. My first issue, however, is serious enough I cannot recommend this book to anyone.

Disclaimer: I received a e-book copy of Devos for he Rest of Us from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation.

Biff and Becka's Stupendous Vacation: A BookLook Blogger Review

My girls really like reading books on their tablets when they have the chance. This time it was a sweet little chapter book and they found it very nice.

This is a sweetly written story which can help kids and parents learn about dealing with disappointment. I did like the premise and personally thought it was nicely written. However, my daughters were not all that interested. They are avid readers, but this particular story did not really grab their attention. 

I really like that it centered around a Christian family and echoed our own faith. I appreciated the values which were woven throughout and really did feel like it was a sweet story. 

I can't say why my kids didn't particularly care for the book. It may just be the genre of fiction written as a fable. They tend to gravitate more towards stories with actual children as the main characters rather than animals. 

I do recommend this chapter book, especially if you have a reader who really loves animal stories!

Disclaimer: I received Biff and Becka's Stupendous Vacation as part of the BookLook Bloggers review team. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way.   

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Money Making Mom: A Book Look Blogger Review

I've been a fan of Crystal Paine ever since I found her blog, Money Saving Mom, right after we moved to North Carolina in 2008. We've always lived frugally and I was very excited to have a new resource. I frequently browse her blog for deals, tips, and stories. Of all the frugal living blogs out there this one has remained my favorite because of her willingness to share her faith and desire to give generously. Needless to say I was super excited to have a chance to review her new book, Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference.

Most stay-at-home moms are striving for frugality while also bringing in extra income. Choosing to be home rather than bring a second income is not always an easy road. I am so blessed to have opportunities to work part-time from home and on a schedule that allows my husband to be there for my girls. This book was a great way for me to assess how I'm doing with my side jobs to bring in money and give me some potentially new ideas. 

I like how the book is organized. It is clear and flows in a natural way. The chapters are concise and easy to read. I also love that the practical advice is given through real, personal testimonies from both Crystal Paine and many other women around the country. 

The other thing I love about this book is that her purpose in writing this book is to encourage us to be generous with the blessings God gives us. This is something we try to practice as a family. While it is definitely counter cultural, we live with the perspective that all we have is a gift from God, not ours to hold tightly, but ours to express His love to others tangibly. It was quite refreshing to read something that reflected our own ideals. 

If you are a mom looking to both stretch your dollars and find ways to give generously to the ministries and groups that matter to you, this is a great read and will inspire you in many ways!

Disclaimer: I received Money Making Mom as part of the BookLook Bloggers review team. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way.   


Hi, my name is Melissa. Pour yourself a cup of tea and stay a while. I'm completely devoted to my Savior, madly in love with my husband, and joyously raising my daughters. I'm so glad you stopped by and I hope you enjoy your time here!