Get Up & Go by Jennifer Flanders

Book description:

Do you have trouble fitting a workout into your busy schedule? Are you looking for fresh ideas for getting your children up and moving?Are all the individual fitness routines tearing your family life apart? Then it sounds like you need a little GET UP & GO!

My review:

This book is a great resource for those families that are looking to be physically active and physically fit without taking time away from their families.  A lot of families spend most of their days away from one another; the kids go to school, Dad goes to work, Mom goes to work, etc.  On top of that, we cram our lives with extracurricular activities such as youth group, volunteering, sports, lessons, the list goes on and on.

It can be difficult for parents to find time to go to the gym, and even then, when it takes even more time away from the family, do you really want to?  I know I’ve found myself thinking – Do I want to be thin, or do I want to spend time with the kids?  The kids win every time.  A lot of gyms offer kid’s clubs, but that doesn’t really count as spending time with them does it?

Flanders reminds readers that physical fitness doesn’t have to only be pursued in the walls of a gym.  We can be active while spending time with those we love best and reinforce to our children that physical fitness is important.

The best thing about this book is how Flanders arranges it by seasons so readers can find an activity for any time of the year, in any part of the country you live in.  She also gives a lot of variations on old school games such as tag.  Some I was already familiar with, but she also reminded me of some I had forgotten since childhood and others that I had never imagined.  I can’t wait to share this book with the PE teachers at the school I teach at.  I’m sure they will find many ways to incorporate the ideas Flanders puts forth.

With the rate of obesity in the country continuing to rise, for children and adults alike, can we afford not to pursue physical activity as a family?  Check out this book and be inspired to get up and go with your family!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Book Crash in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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The Green Prince and Son of Hamas Book Giveaway

Set against the chaotic backdrop of recent events in the Middle East, Nadav Schirman’s THE GREEN PRINCE retraces the details of a highly unprecedented partnership that developed between sworn enemies. In the style of a tense psychological thriller, this extraordinary documentary recounts the true story of the son of a Hamas leader who emerged as one of Israel’s prized informants, and the Shin Bet agent who risked his career to protect him.

As a defiant teenager growing up in Palestine, Mosab Hasson Yousef’s fervor against Israel was unquestionable, ultimately landing him in prison.  Shaken by Hamas’s brutality within the prison’s walls and a growing disgust for their methods, particularly suicide bombing, he had an unexpected change of heart and began to see Hamas as more of a problem than a solution.  Recruited by the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security agency) and given the code name Green Prince,” he spied on the Hamas elite for over a decade, constantly risking exposure and certain death while grappling with the perception that he had betrayed his own family and people. Along the way, what started as a cautious alliance between Mosab and his Shin Bet handler Gonen Ben Yitzhak grew into an enduring loyalty that no one could’ve ever predicted.

Based on Mosab Hassan Yousef’s bestselling memoir Son of Hamas, THE GREEN PRINCE exposes a complex world of terror, betrayal, and impossible choices. Through exclusive first-hand testimony, dramatic action sequences, and rare archival footage, decades of secrets come to light in this unflinching exploration of a profound spiritual transformation and the transcendent bonds of friendship. THE GREEN PRINCE will challenge much of what you know about the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

From the Academy Award® Winning Producers of MAN ON WIRE, SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN and ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER.

Tyndale House Publishers published the book Son of Hamas.

Son of Hamas BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!!

Book description:

Since he was a small boy, Mosab Hassan Yousef has had an inside view of the deadly terrorist group Hamas. The oldest son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a founding member of Hamas and its most popular leader, young Mosab assisted his father for years in his political activities while being groomed to assume his legacy, politics, status . . . and power. But everything changed when Mosab turned away from terror and violence, and embraced instead the teachings of another famous Middle East leader. In Son of Hamas, Mosab reveals new information about the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization and unveils the truth about his own role, his agonizing separation from family and homeland, the dangerous decision to make his newfound faith public, and his belief that the Christian mandate to “love your enemies” is the only way to peace in the Middle East.

If you would like to win a copy of this book, please complete the following steps:

1. Sign up to follow my blog (if you are already a follower, continue to step two).

2.  Follow me on Twitter @JillSmithIvy

3.  Leave a comment to this blog post letting me know you’re signed up, following me, and also share a comment about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One winner will be notified by email on November 1, 2014.

Good luck!

Posted in Adult | 4 Comments

Their Name is Today by Johann Christoph Arnold

Book description:

There’s hope for childhood. Despite a perfect storm of hostile forces that are robbing children of a healthy childhood, courageous parents and teachers who know what’s best for children are turning the tide.

Johann Christoph Arnold, whose books on education, parenting, and relationships have helped more than a million readers through life’s challenges, draws on the stories and voices of parents and educators on the ground, and a wealth of personal experience. He surveys the drastic changes in the lives of children, but also the groundswell of grassroots advocacy and action that he believes will lead to the triumph of common sense and time-tested wisdom.

Arnold takes on technology, standardized testing, overstimulation, academic pressure, marketing to children, over-diagnosis and much more, calling on everyone who loves children to combat these threats to childhood and find creative ways to help children flourish. Every parent, teacher, and childcare provider has the power to make a difference, by giving children time to play, access to nature, and personal attention, and most of all, by defending their right to remain children.

My review:

Every so often a book comes along that challenges readers to make real changes in their day to day lives.  This is one of those books.  Everyone talks about the assault on childhood and all the problems parents face in raising children in our technology infested culture.  This book goes beyond identifying the problems to really challenge anyone who interacts with children to make real changes in their interactions with children.

I found it fascinating that Arnold is related to Froebel, who developed the concept of a kindergarten.  He shared his philosophy that play is children’s work.  It isn’t a new concept, but with schools decreasing recess time or in some school cutting it out entirely, it makes one wonder why.

It isn’t often that I read a book and think, everyone should read this book.  However, this is one of those rare books.  Everyone should read this book.  Every parent, every educator, every youth pastor, everyone can get something out of this book.  Some of the stories are heartbreaking and difficult to read.  However, I will never forget the story Arnold shares of the boy who participated in the Roots of Empathy program and asked, “Do you think it is possible for someone to be a good father if no one has ever loved him?”  How many young men in our society shy away from fatherhood and abandon responsibility for their families simply because they are afraid they are incapable of being good fathers because no one has ever loved them?  It probably isn’t true in all cases, but it really makes one wonder.

This book is filled with facts, stories, and information that will make readers think about how they interact with children and what they can do to make childhood better.  I know I will share it with fellow teachers at my school in hopes they can see past the disruptive children that “make it harder to get through the lesson plan” into the heart of the child.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  It holds the power to change a life within the pages.  I got a lot out of it and hope that others will too.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Handlebar Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Other books by Johann Christoph Arnold:

Rich in Years

Why Forgive?

Sex, God & Marriage

Why Children Matter

Posted in Adult | 1 Comment

The One Year Devotions for Active Boys by Jesse Florea and Karen Whiting

Book description:

This fun devotional includes 365 upbeat devotions, each with a special twist or dose of humor to keep active boys engaged. The devotions combine Scripture and a spiritual message with jokes, riddles, puzzles, and hands-on activities to engage tween boys. The devotions help boys find how real people interacted with God and help them discover solutions to contemporary issues. Each devotion will help guide a young man in developing a lifetime habit of learning from the Bible. Themes include how to navigate the Bible, make good choices, discern God’s will, use good and uplifiting language, avoid temptation, choose good friends, trust God, etc.

My review:

We really enjoyed reading this book together.  The length of each reading is perfect for a family on the go and I found that some of the readings sparked discussions that were insightful and thoughtful.  The kids really enjoyed the activities, which vary from riddles, to information about holidays around the world, to weird facts about weather, and all the way to hands-0n activities we made together.

Despite our best intentions, it is sometimes difficult to carve out time for a structured devotion time.  We utilize this book on the drive to school, which was perfect!  The children all took turns reading, which was an additional benefit.  It also helped the driver (me) have a more charitable attitude toward other drivers along the way.  Sometimes in Southern California traffic I need all the help I can get!  It also had the added benefit of keeping boys focused on something other than the sounds their brother was making or where his hands were at in relationship to his sibling.  Obviously the hands on activities had to wait until we returned home in the afternoon, but it was nice to have something to look forward to on those days.

On a side note, although this book is geared toward boys, my daughter also enjoyed the discussions, activities, and readings.  If you are a family with a mix of boys and girls, don’t shy away from using it with the girls, too.

I can’t say anything negative about this book.  It is everything it claimed to be and is a great choice for any family thirsting for a devotional book to use all together.  Give it a try and see if it is a good fit for your family.  It is perfect for ours!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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Forever Christmas by Robert Tate Miller

Book description:

One snowy Christmas Eve, Andrew’s life is tragically turned upside down. Then a heavenly gift provides him the opportunity to make things right.

Andrew Farmer is on the fast-track in the literary world. As an up-and-coming agent, he is constantly on the road, wooing prospective clients and making a name for himself. But all of his travels leave his wife and childhood sweetheart, Beth, home alone, wondering what has happened to their marriage.

Andrew returns from yet another last-minute trip, knowing he needs to make amends to Beth for his departure just days before Christmas, but he doesn’t expect her frosty greeting and the argument that ensues. Would they have spent their last moments together arguing had they known that just before midnight on Christmas Eve, Beth would be hit by an out-of-control taxi that would ultimately take her life? Andrew would like to believe not, but it isn’t until he meets a humble, straight-talking angel in disguise named Lionel that Andrew receives the opportunity to try again.

Lionel grants Andrew the gift of the last three days of Beth’s life to relive, but there’s a hitch: her fate cannot be changed. Only one gift will save her life, and Andrew has a mere seventy-two hours to figure out what that gift is or he’ll lose Beth forever.

My review:

When I started reading this book, I thought to myself – I’ve seen this movie.  I was a little confused because usually books available for review are new books.  I even checked the copyright date and saw it was copyrighted in 2014.  Then I thought – perhaps it is just similar to the movie I saw.  However, the book was virtually identical to the movie that I clearly remembered starring Kristin Davis.  It was a great movie and this is a great book.  After finishing the book, I looked online to see if I could find information about the movie and check to see who was the screenwriter.  Sure enough, the movie was credited to Miller.

I just love this book!  It has so much that appeals to so many readers.  I think most people wonder (especially women who sometimes feel taken for granted) if our spouse truly loves us.  Life gets so busy and we get caught up in our own duties and forget to show the person we love how much of a priority they are to us.  That is the basis of this book, and it is a beautiful story.  Books that give readers a glimpse into true love are the best (in my opinion) and this one delivers in spades.

If you are looking for a book to inspire you to believe in love all over again, this is the book for you.  It isn’t terribly lengthy, so you could probably read it in an afternoon in front of the fire.  I highly recommend it!

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Weird & Wonderful Creations by Zonderkidz

Book description:

Weird and Wonderful Creations is a bind up of the nonfiction Made By God series. With photos and facts showing children the wonders of God’s creation, this collection includes four complete early reader titles as well as over 200 additional facts throughout the book. Some of the creatures featured include whales, tarantulas, bats, sea turtles, and more. All facts align with the Common Core Standards for informational reading for young readers.

Weird and Wonderful Creations includes:

  • Spiders, Snakes, Bees and Bats
  • Big Bugs, Little Bugs
  • Sea Creatures
  • Poisonous, Smelly, and Amazing Plants

My review:

This book has everything:  Colorful pictures, educational facts, and relates creation to God.  I love the way the book offers snippets about each living thing.  It is just enough information to engage a young reader’s curiosity and interest without getting them too bogged down in educational facts.  Sometimes it isn’t easy to strike that balance.  It is educational for parents, too.  I learned some things about trees and mushrooms that I didn’t know before reading this book.

I also liked the way there was a balance between bugs, sea creatures, plants, trees, and snakes.  It is perfect for giving young readers a taste of a large variety of life.  I can just imagine a 4 year old identifying the pictures after having heard the book a couple of times!  The suggested age range for this book is 4 – 8 years, but I think even older readers can enjoy it and learn something.

If you are looking for a great book that reinforces to readers that God did create everything with a purpose in mind, this is a great choice.  It would make a great gift and would make an excellent quiet time read!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Posted in Adult | 1 Comment

Adventure Time Crafts by Princess Bonnibel Bubblegum with Chelsea Bloxsom

Book description:

With Jake the dog and Finn the human, the crafts will never end! Learn how to stitch, paint, sculpt, and crochet more than 23 projects featuring your favorite Adventure Time™ characters. You’ll find designs by fans just like you for plush toys, chic jewelry, crafty home decor, and stylish fashions straight from the Candy Kingdom:

* Reversible Jake/Cake Plush
* Marceline’s Axe
* Bubblegum’s Like-Like Sweater
* Peppermint Butler Pillow
* Oh My Glob, Nail Art!
* Fionna and Finn Hats
* BMO’s 8-Bit Fuse Bead Coasters

And so much more! What the lump are you waiting for? It’s time to D.I.Y.!

My review:

There is no denying that Adventure Time is a popular show for kids or that kids enjoy having characters that are representative of their favorite shows.  This clever book gives parents and children a way to have fun making crafts based on a popular show.

I’m always a little hesitant about craft books that promise readers a way to make things modeled after characters.  It has been my experience that a lot of them have difficult or specialized techniques that I’m not particularly interested in learning about.  What I really enjoyed about this book is that it offered a wide variety of craft options that I already know how to do and already have the supplies on hand to make the craft the same day.  My daughter read the book and I kept hearing her say, “I can do that” over and over.  That is another plus for me, that the books isn’t just geared toward adults.

I can’t say that I will make every single craft in the book, but the ones I did turned out very nicely, and the directions were super easy to follow.  It’s great to have such a large variety of options in one book.  I can see making a lot of the crafts for Christmas presents or even as part of my end of the semester raffle for my elementary students.

If your kids are fans of Adventure Time, this is a great book to use as a tool to inspire their creativity, teach them a craft skill, and provide them with an incentive to turn off the TV.  They can use the finger puppets to create their own adventure time!

I received a complimentary copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Posted in Adult | 1 Comment

To Everything a Season by Lauraine Snelling

Book description:
Trygve Knutson is devoted to his family and his community. With his job on the construction crew, he is helping to build a future for the North Dakota town of Blessing. Though he loves his home, he sometimes dreams of other horizons–especially since meeting Miriam Hastings.

Miriam is in Blessing to get practical training to become an accredited nurse. She’s been promised a position in the Chicago women’s hospital that will enable her to support her siblings and her ailing mother. Although eager to return to her family, Miriam is surprised to find how much she enjoys the small town of Blessing. And her growing attachment to Trygve soon has her questioning a future she always considered set in stone.

When a family emergency calls Miriam home sooner than planned, will she find a way to return? If not, will it mean losing Trygve–and her chance at love–for good?

My review:

I had a really hard time getting into this book.  In the first chapter, I kept looking for the main characters to appear and trying to get a sense of the characters that were presented and how they fit with the main characters.  When Trygve appeared, I thought – Now the story will take off.  The first chapter Trygve was in was super interesting and I found myself settling in to the story.  However, the very next chapter went off with other characters and I found myself searching for the story line again.  Eventually Trygve and Miriam’s story came together, but it was farther along in the book and by then I found myself so frustrated that I was skimming over sections of the book looking for them.

I have read several Snelling books and consider myself a big fan.  I still love her characters and her descriptiveness.  However, I really didn’t like the structure of this story, especially for it being the first in a new series.  There were too many characters introduced at the beginning other than the main characters.  In all fairness, perhaps I missed some vital information while I was skimming looking for Trygve and Miriam, but I just couldn’t get into the stories of the other characters because I just wanted to read more of Trygve.

Despite my lack of excitement for the book, I did really enjoy the historical aspect of the early look at the medical field in America.  It was interesting to learn about women in the early medical field.

I will have to read book two in the series.  Perhaps it will make we want to come back and re-read book one?

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Posted in Adult | 1 Comment

The Home Team by Clint Archer

Book description:

Using illustrations and analogies from the world of sports, The Home Team by Clint Archer presents the Christian family as a team. He highlights the one-flesh union of husband and wife as the fundamental team for God’s design of society, the family, and marriage. Facing challenges together this cohesive team must not allow division to weaken their union. As children are added, Mom and Dad play their unique and essential roles to strengthen the expanding team. The family must close ranks on opponents to God’s design, tackle obstacles, and fortify the bonds in their huddle. In the unity and synergy of teamwork each player is uniquely positioned to advance the team’s objective. The goal is to give God glory, and enjoy the blessings and joy that come with obedience.

My review:

As a sports family, I could really identify with the analogies Archer used in his book and found it very informative and inspiring.  Right from the start I was drawn into what Archer was conveying to families, ways to draw closer together and unify to view themselves as members of a team.  It really made me think about how I could use the team-building language we impart to our children to support their sports team and use it to support the home team.  Our children know that once they commit to a team, they are with that team for the entire season because their team is counting on them.  Similarly, if they don’t “feel” like going to practice or a game, they are reminded that their coach is depending on them to “show up”.  I had never thought of applying those same principles to daily life in our home.

This book gives readers a lot to think about it terms of how the family unit is viewed.  I especially liked the way Archer described the role of the team captain.  Sometimes it is hard to describe Biblical submission of a wife to her husband, especially to those that are not Christian.  Archer gave me a different way to help others in my life understand the role of the husband.  I had to laugh at his description of “bump in the night” duty because of the many nights I wake up my husband to check out a sound that wakes me.  He always cheerfully goes to check it out for me – maybe not cheerfully, but he goes willingly!

This book would be great for anyone who is looking to strengthen their family unit.  If you are not a fan of sports, you might not enjoy it quite as much as I did, but there is still a lot to learn from it.  Archer really does inspire readers to look at challenges families face in a different way.  I highly recommend this book!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Posted in Adult | 2 Comments

Why Dogs Are… by Tana Thompson

Book description:

Why Dogs Are tells the story of how a dog teaches some life lessons to a very special child. It seeks to explore the concept of God’s unconditional love and how someone without the ability to see or hear can comprehend its scope and His impact in our lives. Named a Finalist in the non-profit Indie Book Awards (category Spirituality, 2014), 100% percent of net profits from book sales goes to charities that train and support therapy dogs. The book is first in a series called “Love Unleashed.” The author’s own dog Muttley was a therapy dog that brought his light and love to nursing home residents and to children with disabilities. Born deaf and blind, Brian was the inspiration for the book. His character is a composite of the many children who attended the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind who had to learn to live life with one or more disabilities. “Why Dogs Are is everything a good children’s book needs to be – engaging and delightful,” said Amy S. Royal, professional freelance editor. “But when an author tackles a big concept and manages to convey it in a simple, yet powerful way, good becomes great. Great becomes wonderful. Wonderful becomes very special. This is an engaging, delightful and very special book with a story and message that will live forever.”

My review:

The best part about this book is the illustrations.  They are very beautifully done!  On a few pages, there is no text at all and the pictures tell the story.  Sometimes I think illustration only pages inserted in the midst of text pages are more meaningful that all the text in the world, especially in children’s books.

This book holds a lot of appeal for a lot of different people.  People who love dogs will love this book.  It is nice to see a book where the main character has a disability, without coming off as condescending toward them or using a disability in a gratuitous manner simply to heighten awareness of a specific disability.  Instead, readers of this book are exposed to the role that dogs can play in therapy.  I especially love the fact that 100% of the proceeds of the sale of the book go toward therapy dogs.

The only thing I didn’t like about the book is that it wasn’t Biblical accurate and it might be misleading to readers that don’t know better.  The book portrays God as less than omnipotent.  In the book, God wanted to show the main character how much he loved him, but is limited by Brian’s disabilities.  God also calls a meeting in heaven to ask for help in showing Brian how much he loves him.  I understand that the goal of the book might not be to educate people about God, but I was a little taken aback at the characterization of God and felt the message of the book could still have been served while conveying God’s love and omnipotence.

If you are looking for a nice story about dogs and how they are helpful to people with disabilities, this is a nice choice.  If you are looking for a true story of how dogs came to be, look elsewhere.  I do have to reiterate, however, that the illustrations are beautiful.  If I were reading this book to a child who couldn’t read, I would probably have them look at the pictures and make some changes to the story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookCrash in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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