Children’s Book Review! One Christmas Bear by Anne Vittur Kennedy

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Title: One Christmas Bear
Author: 
Anne Vittur Kennedy
Rating: 4/5
Release Date: 
October 3, 2017

Description from Goodreads: Count the Blessings of Christmas

Follow the merry adventures of a polar bear and the artic animals as they enjoy winter fun! From crunchy candy canes and frosty snowballs to friends to play with and a family to love, your little one will enjoy counting God’s wonderful gifts.

Anne Vittur Kennedy has been delighting young children with her humorous and playful books for thirty years. Her awards include American Library Association’s Notable Books List, Teacher’s Choice, The Green Earth Book Award, and The Green Prize for Sustainable Literature.”

Review: This book is absolutely adorable. I ordered this book for my nephew for Christmas and I am really excited to see his face when he reads it. I loved it myself so I know a child will just adore it.

The pictures are captivating and very well done. They make the story even better. I love that you get to count so many different Christmas themed objects.

I love the durability of the board book. Most little kids I know love to chew on the pages and the books get tossed around a lot. I feel a lot better gifting something durable like this to the younger ones.

I love that faith is sprinkled in this as well. Counting God’s creatures is a wonderful way to incorporate learning, faith, and fun all together. It’s never too early to start teaching them the important things in life.

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

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Book Review! Look & Find Bible Storybook by B&H Editorial Staff, Gill Guile

Title: Look & Find Bible Storybook
Author: 
B&H Kids Editorial Staff (Author), Gill Guile (Illustrator)
Rating: 
4/5
Release Date: 
September 1, 2017

Description from Goodreads: Look, Find, and Learn! 

In Look and Find Bible Storybook, you’ll read eight adventure-filled stories from the Bible and explore each extra-busy scene.

Learn about Creation, Noah’s Ark, the exodus, David & Goliath, Jonah, Jesus’ birth, Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5000, and Easter and the ascension. Then open the large flaps to explore each story’s scene and reveal a look-and-find checklist. You can search for dozens of people, animals, and objects. Use a write-on wipe-off marker to search over and over again and enjoy hours of look-and-find fun!”

Review: This is a wonderful way to get kids excited about learning Bible stories. I love how interactive this makes learning and it is so much fun! I enjoyed look and find books when I was young and I love being able to pass that on to my kids. Adding learning the important Bible stories to that enjoyment just adds an extra special element.

I love that this is something we can do together on a Sunday afternoon, or a relaxing evening. Spending time together in God’s word is so important and I am glad we have a really fun and interactive way to do that now.

 

 *I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

Book Review! Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

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Title: Caroline: Little House, Revisited
Author: 
Sarah Miller
Rating:
3/5
Release Date: 
September 19, 2017

About the Book (From HarperCollins):

A September Indie Next Pick

One of Refinery29’s Best Reads of September

In this novel authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before—Caroline Ingalls, “Ma” in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books.

In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril.

The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline’s new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles’ hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses.

For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past.

 

Review: This book is difficult for me to rate. For the most part I enjoyed the story and revisiting this family I once felt a part of. However, there were a lot of things that I wasn’t a big fan of and they made reading this difficult and very slow. I can usually get into a book pretty quick and then finish it within a few days. I worked on this one for close to a week.

The story wasn’t bad, there were definitely differences between this and the Little House books, but when I would remind myself that this was fiction and that it was ok for the author to take liberties, I could get past it. It was interesting to get a feel for Caroline’s fears and pain throughout their departure from Wisconsin and their westward journey. The writing was very well done and I was able to visualize the journey and the beauty of the landscape they encountered.

There was way more “chamber pail” or potty talk for my taste. I really don’t need to read about everyone lining up to go to the bathroom or Pa pulling down his pants and sitting on the chamber pail at night. I don’t know why that bothered me so much but these scenes happened quite often and I got annoyed with it rather quickly.

Ma and Pa’s intimacy was also difficult to read about. I read the Little House books when I was young and I had felt as though I was part of the family. Reading about Ma and Pa having sex and Ma ogling Pa, was like reading about my own parents. Not the most pleasant experience.

Overall, I think it was a well written account of Caroline’s perspective and many fans of the Little House series will probably enjoy this immensely. For me, I liked this story better from young Laura’s perspective.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
 
Author Links: WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Instagram

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

 

Cookbook Review! Stock the Crock by Phyllis Good

Title: Stock the Crock: 100 Must-Have Slow-Cooker Recipes, 200 Variations for Every Appetite

Author: Phyllis Good

Rating: 4/5

Description from Goodreads: “The ultimate resource for a new generation of slow-cooker fans from the New York Times bestselling author who has sold 12 million cookbooks!

Stock the Crock brings together the expertise of America’s most popular slow-cooker authority with a fresh collection of 100 essential, innovative, and easy-to-prepare recipes-each with variations allowing readers to customize the dish according to their dietary needs. You’ll find beloved classics, as well as dishes you might be surprised can be done successfully in a slow cooker. (Hello, slow-cooker creme brulee!) Whether you are looking to accommodate gluten-free, paleo, or vegetarian diets, or prefer slow-cooker meals perfectly sized for one or two people, this cookbook provides smart ideas, more than 100 recipe photos, and cooking hacks that will change the way you use your favorite fuss-free cooking appliance. Learn simple make-ahead tricks, convenient baking tips, and how to make two recipes at once using the same cooker, so you can simplify cooking and spend more time enjoying your family and friends around a wonderful, delicious meal.”

 

Review: I love this cookbook! It is so easy to use and understand. Having the size of crock pot needed at the top of the recipe is wonderful! It makes it really easy to decipher what will or won’t work with each person’s crock pot, or what size crock pot you need to get out.

I also love that it has pictures for every recipe! I love to look at the picture of the food, partly to see if it looks good and partly to make sure mine turned out like it was suppose to at the end. It also helps with picky eaters who won’t eat anything that “looks gross”.

With winter coming up I will definitely be using this cookbook a lot for soups and stews but it will also be really handy in the summer when I want something good for supper but don’t want to have to heat up the house with my oven. There are even recipes for deserts! I am really excited about this and cannot wait to get cooking!

*I received a complimentary copy of this cookbook from the publisher. A review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

Cookbook Review! Holiday Cookies by Elisabet Der Nederlanden 

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Title: Holiday Cookies
Author: 
Elisabet Der Nederlanden 
Rating:
4/5
Release Date: 
September 5, 2017

Description from the publisher: From Icebox Pinwheel Cookies to Red-and-White Meringue Kisses to Apple Cider Caramels, find new inspiration for the best of seasonal baking with Holiday Cookies.

This instant holiday classic is packed with 50 recipes, each gorgeously photographed and meticulously tested, along with dozens of decorating and packaging ideas. Filled with reimagined favorites like Giant Molasses Spice Cookies and Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies; confections like Peppermint Bark, Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle, and Dark Chocolate–Hazelnut Fudge; and detailed instructions for gorgeous gingerbread houses, cookie place cards, and edible ornaments, this is a cookie book like no other. Because the recipes are easy to scale up or down, Holiday Cookies is perfect for cookie exchanges, gift-giving, and just enjoying throughout the season. From a veteran baker and recipe developer, each cookie in this collection is guaranteed to be a stand-out, and destined to become your new Christmas classic.”

Review: I love baking for Christmas! The smells and joy it brings makes the season even better. I love trying out new recipes to surprise my family with so I was really excited to get this cookbook.

There is an introduction in the beginning of this cookbook to give you some background information and some tips before you get into the wonderful recipes. There is also a section in the back that tells you where you can get different ingredients that may not be as common.

I love that these recipes are different than all the other cookbooks I have already. Her ideas are fresh and wonderful. With color pictures for the recipes, you can really get a feel for the cookies before you even begin.

I love that there is a recipe and template for a gingerbread house! I love making them but I always end up having to buy the prepackaged kit because I can never get the detentions right. I know I could probably just get something off the internet for a template but I’m too lazy for that! Now I have one right in my handy little cookbook!

There is even a 3-D Christmas tree recipe! I mean, come on! This cookbook is awesome and I know I will use this a TON this Christmas season.

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

Book Review! The Christmas Code Booklet by O. S. Hawkins

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Title: The Christmas Code Booklet
Author: 
O. S. Hawkins
Rating:
4/5
Release Date: 
September 5, 2017

Description from the Publisher: Grow close to the Lord this Advent season with 25 insightful and meaningful devotions from The Christmas Code by bestselling author O. S. Hawkins. Trace the birth of Jesus from its roots in the Old Testament to the ultimate gift of God: salvation. With a short reading each day leading up to Christmas, this devotional will be the perfect way to keep daily focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

This booklet is an excellent value and a gift of appreciation and affection for the people in your life. It is a great gift for friends and family, teachers, pastoral staff, Bible study groups, church congregations, and service providers.

Each day includes a passage of Scripture, a devotional thought, a Code Word, and a prayer of reflection.

Royalties from the book are donated to Mission:Dignity, a ministry that helps men and women who have faithfully served God’s people for modest pay retire with well-deserved dignity, independence, and often the ability to continue serving.”

Review: I was looking for a new way to bring the true meaning of Christmas back into my life. It is so easy to get caught up in the commercialized version of Christmas with all the stress and financial difficulty that accompanies it. I want to take the time to remember the true reason for this amazing holiday this year. I come across this booklet and thought it would be the perfect way to start my day this Christmas season.
With the price of $2.99, you really can’t go wrong. This perfect little pocket sized booklet is filled with short devotions, prayers, and a little more information to round it all out. This is great for the whole family. It doesn’t take a lot of time to read through each day, but it is that perfect reason to pause and reflect.

I am really looking forward to incorporating this into my morning routine this December. It truly is the more wonderful time of the year, and the reason is Jesus!

  *I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

Book Review! These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart

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Title: These Healing Hills
Author: 
Ann H. Gabhart
Rating:
4/5
Release Date: 
September 5, 2017

Description from Goodreads: “Francine Howard has her life all mapped out until the soldier she planned to marry at WWII’s end writes to tell her he’s in love with a woman in England. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service.

Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he’s at a loss when it comes to envisioning what’s next for his life.

When Francine’s and Ben’s paths intersect, it’s immediately clear that they are from different worlds and value different things. But love has a way of healing old wounds . . . and revealing tantalizing new possibilities.”

Review: This book was really wonderful. It was sweet and drew me in with such vivid imagery. I could see the mountains, the cabins, and the sometimes treacherous paths through the woods. It was peaceful, although hard work, and I couldn’t help myself from wanting to be right there with Fran. I got lost in this story and didn’t really want to come back out.

I loved Granny Em and Sadie with their goofy ways but Sarge was definitely my favorite! He was such an adorable and reliable dog, and I was impressed with this ability to smile.

The sense of community in this wonderful mountain village was inspiring. I loved the way everyone seemed to look out for each other, at least for the most part. The world sure could use more of that these days.

This was my first book by Ann H. Gabhart but after this one, it definitely won’t be my last.

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*