Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review :: Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing Deluxe Edition by Sally Lloyd-Jones, Illustrated by Jago, Audio by David Suchet, Foreword by Tim Keller

The new Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing Deluxe Edition is fantastic! The Deluxe Edition includes the book (Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing), two audio CDs, and it all comes in a sturdy storage/display case with a Velcro closure.

Sally Lloyd-Jones is known for bringing us The Jesus Storybook Bible (which is wonderful), and she is back again with Thoughts to Make Your Heart SingThoughts to Make Your Heart Sing is a fantastic devotional for both adults and children. The thoughts come from a variety of directions - historical references, other writers, and of course the Bible. (There is a bibliography & source section at the back of the book - pages 220-224.) Some of the entries may be a bit flowery or abstract for children, but the thoughts are beautiful. (One example is "Sing Your Song!" which isn't referring to the literal act of singing.)

I do feel that Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing will make the most sense to those who have already read The Jesus Storybook Bible. It references words/phrases that are used throughout The Jesus Storybook Bible ("Terrible Lie", "Rescuer", etc.).
As in The Jesus Storybook Bible, the illustrations for Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing are done by Jago. Jago is an incredibly talented artist and the illustrations he has done for Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing are no exception. The illustrations here are a little more "full" (not so simple) and with a slightly different tone than the art he did for The Jesus Storybook Bible, but each and every one is beautiful. The illustrations have a vintage feel to them and are done in beautiful muted colors. 

The Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing book included in this Deluxe Edition seems to be a bit taller and wider than the original. (The book in the Deluxe Edition measures approximately 7 3/4" x 6 1/2" x 3/4", where the dimensions of the original are closer to 7 1/2" x 6" x 1".)

The audio by David Suchet for this Deluxe Edition is amazing. (He also did the audio for The Jesus Storybook Bible Collector's Edition.) In my opinion, he could read the dictionary and I might be temped to buy the audio disc. He brings life to each piece he reads, and is able to keep the attention of my whole family (kids included). The one downside...once David Suchet has read to your kids, they may tell you that you are reading something wrong when you read to them (just because it doesn't live up to his reading skill). I think I can live with that.

Disc 1 contains "Dance!" through "Under His Wings"
Disc 2 contains "Talk to Yourself!" through "By the Hand!"

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing Deluxe Edition is available today (October 21, 2014).
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

All Warriors Have Scars {Unity Stamp Company}

I don't have a project to share today - but I am pretty excited about what I do have to share...new sweatshirts, t-shirts, and a rubber stamp - all featuring my new awareness ribbon design:
Although this is obviously suited for cancer (breast cancer in particular), there are so many different warriors out there - cancer, autoimmune diseases, and more. This image can be used for any of the many warriors you know.

You can find the stamp, shirt, and sweatshirt for sale at Unity Stamp Company.

And...since hope never goes out of style - be sure to check out my All About Hope kit, too!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review :: Love Letters from God: Bible Stories by Glenys Nellist, Illustrated by Sophie Allsopp

Love Letters from God: Bible Stories is a great book that takes you through 18 popular Bible stories (9 from the Old Testment and 9 from the New Testament), with a "Love Letter from God" to go along with each story. Each love letter is adhered to the page, and the contents of the letter can be accessed by lifting the flap. The pages and love letters are a good weight - not exactly as thick as heavyweight cardstock, but not so thin that you should have to worry much about your 4-8 year olds ripping the pages (unless they are generally rough on books). Each love letter beings with "Dear _______," so a child's name can be written in if you choose. At the end of the book is also an invitation to "join Jesus' team" and a blank love letter to God that can be filled in by the child. 

Each Bible story is retold as a story (not the Biblical text). The retellings are cute, but if you are looking for something that is strictly biblically accurate, this book is probably not what you are looking for. (For example, the fruit in the story of "The Sneaky Snake" is referred to over and over again as a "special, shiny apple".) I think it is the same with most Bible story books - with each story the author will take certain creative liberties with the retelling. 

Along with each story is a verse ("God's Wonderful Words to You") that goes along with the theme of the story. (The verse is not taken from the story itself.) Each "Love Letter from God" goes along with the theme as well. The themes are a wonderful start to discussions with your child(ren) about how God is with us, God loves us, we are special to God, and God will never leave us. 
The illustrations by Sophie Allsopp are great. Each full-color, two-page spread gives the child plenty to look at without being overwhelming. The illustrations are mainly hand-drawn, but there are a few scanned/photographed pieces mixed in. I wish the illustrations had all been hand-drawn - the artist is very talented.

I think Love Letters from God: Bible Stories is a great book to share with little ones. This is one of those instances where I think it is important that you go with your gut. If you don't like the idea of an author writing words "from God", this is not a book I would suggest for you. If you don't like the idea of Bible stories told in words other than what is directly written in the Bible, this book is not for you. But, if you like to use a variety of books to tell your children about God and His love, and appreciate the perspective and creativity of a variety of authors and artists - get Love Letters from God: Bible Stories to share with your loved ones.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Review :: Best Party Book Ever! by Editors of Faithgirlz! and Girls' Life Mag

Best Party Book Ever! by Editors of Faithgirlz! and Girls' Life Mag is a fantastic resource for any hostess-with-the-mostess-in-training. 
Although the claim as the "best ever" party book may be a little stretch, it really is a great resource! The photographs in this book are more magazine style than a how-to book style. The photographs are really fantastic, but not exactly helpful if you are looking for a how-to. I would have loved to have seen some diagrams or step-by-step pictures. (For example, in addition to the explanation of how to create an invitation for a specific theme, I would love to see a drawing or picture of an example invitation.) 

With that said, there were a lot of things that made this book fun to look at and to read. I loved how it didn't just dive into themes and color schemes...but went over the idea of how to be a great hostess. (For example, it went beyond saying "be sure sure to introduce your guests to one another", but actually gave the suggestion to think of things your guests have in common to get them comfortable and talking to each other.)

The variety of party ideas in Best Party Book Ever! is great. This isn't just about birthdays - there are also ideas for anytime parties and holiday parties...and even a pet party.

Another fantastic part of this book is the recipe section. There are a variety of recipes for snacks, drinks, sweets, and even treats for "furry friends". Again, the photographs in this section are fantastic. 

All in all, I think this is a great resource for party planning and I think it outshines other party books in the perspective of how to be a great hostess. 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Review :: Little Book of Book Making by Charlotte Rivers, Foreword by Esther K. Smith

The Little Book of Book Making by Charlotte Rivers is a great book for anyone who is interested in making handmade books. This is a hardcover book in a handy little size (approximately 7.5" x 7").
The first 4 chapters in Little Book of Book Making are more inspirational than they are instructional. They show examples of "Folded Bindings" (Chapter 1), "Sewn Bindings" (Chapter 2), "Page & Cover Treatments" (Chapter 3), and "Experimental Packaging" (Chapter 4). In each chapter there are photographs of sample works from various artists. There is also information about each artist/studio and about each piece of work that is shown - something that I can only think to compare to a short press release. (As a note, not every stitch/technique mentioned in the text is addressed in the how-to section.) If you were curious, "Experimental Packaging" (Chapter 4) refers to concepts for covers/cover treatments/cases that various artists have used for their handmade books. These chapters (1-4) show a variety of ideas, but do not give you the how-to. 

"Bookmaking in Practice" (Chapter 5) is where you will learn the actual stitches and techniques for creating your own handmade books. 

Let's take a look at what is covered:

Book Styles:
  • Instant Book
  • Accordion Book
  • Flag Book
  • Dragon Book
  • Carousel Book
  • Secret Message Book
Stitch & Binding Styles:
  • Pamphlet Stitch
  • Long Stitch
  • Japanese Stab Stitch
  • Coptic Stitch
  • French Link Stitch
  • Case Binding
Page & Cover Treatments:
  • Suminagashi Paper Marbling
  • Paste Papers
  • Frottage
  • Natural Plant Dyeing
  • Book Cloth
  • Woven Cover
  • Fabric Cover
  • Pillow Book

Although the actual how-to portion of the book is relatively small (just over 50 pages), it really packs a punch. The techniques are clearly explained with step-by-step illustrations (where necessary).

For me, the Little Book of Book Making will be a great resource in my future handmade book endeavors (such as scrapbooks, mini albums, and other craft projects). 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the Blogging for Books book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review :: The River by Beverly Lewis

The River is the newest book from popular Amish fiction writer Beverly Lewis. I have enjoyed many of Beverly Lewis' novels in the past, and The River is no different. 
If you have read other Beverly Lewis stand-alone novels, you tend to see a typical storyline running through her novels - an individual(s) in an Amish community coming-of-age and/or coming face-to-face with a life altering situation/decision. The River, however, doesn't necessarily follow the standard format, which I appreciated. 

In The River, we are first introduced to two sisters who left the Amish community and are now comfortably living life among the English. The sisters, Tilly & Ruth, are invited home for their parents' anniversary celebration...and in coming home they are brought face-to-face with their past.

I don't want to go any further into the story (no spoilers here!), but I will say that The River has a great flow and a few twists and turns...just like...a river.

The only thing I wasn't sure about with this book was the cover photo. After reading the book, I am not sure the cover image fits well, but was probably used more to be an instant sign that this is an Amish fiction novel. 

If you enjoy Amish fiction and/or Beverly Lewis' novels, I encourage you to pick up a copy of The River.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through a book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Review :: Get To Know Jesus, Apostle Paul, Mary, and King David (4 books) by Nancy I. Sanders

The "Get To Know" books by Nancy Sanders are fantastic books for kids who are wanting to learn more about the "heroes" of the Bible. 

The first four books in this series are:

Each book gives background information about the person (Jesus, Paul, Mary, and David) and includes a lot of bonus material to really get to know the person and what their life would have been like. There are full-color illustrations, maps, photographs of land/artifacts, and more. 

As biographies, these books follow the person from birth and/or childhood, through their life, death, and even what that means for their "future". If there are not specific instances from their personal history to reference, the author gives an idea of what it was probably like due to the cultural traditions and/or standards of the time. 

Each book has a variety of additional features to help further the study - scripture references, additional "Did You Know?" facts, biblical and extra-biblical eyewitness accounts, and definitions for words that may be new for kids. (The definitions are listed at the bottom of the page where the word is found and also in a glossary at the back of the book.)
Although the writing feels a bit choppy to me, the sentences are short and easily digestible - which will be great for kids. I appreciate simplicity - but even for me the writing can feel a little dumbed down at times. I am guessing this is just to make sure it is very easily understandable for kids, but there were a couple instances where I think it may have worded things a little too simply.  

All in all, I think these are great resources to have on hand for your kids to learn more about the "heroes" of the Bible. 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Twinery/Ruby Rock-It {Blog Hop}

The Introduction:
If you are hopping along with us today: You should have come here from Erin Yamabe's blog. If you did, you are in the right place! Welcome!
If you aren't already a follower, I'd love to have you follow my blog!
If you are on Facebook, please "like" Ink Blots by TRD.

If you are one of my regular readers: Thanks for coming back! I love having you! Please join along in the hop - you can start at the The Twinery blog.

The Hop Order:

The Prizes:

Ruby Rock-It is giving away a fantastic prize as well – check out The Twinery blog and the Ruby Rock-It blog to find out how you can enter to win one of these great prizes. 
{Album not included}

The Projects:
Today's cards were all created using the Heritage Collection from Ruby Rock-It and some fabulous striped twines from The Twinery. There really are some great possibilities with the Heritage Collection - I can see a variety of vintage and/or shabby chic style home decor items created from this collection, as well as heritage scrapbook layouts and so much more. As I tend to be more on the clean and simple side of things, I wanted to create a simple set of cards using some of the great patterns in this collection and pair it with some of The Twinery's wonderful twines. 
I created two of the cards using the same basic sketch - just break out your circle punches or dies and these cards come together very quickly:
For the third card, I used the beautiful floral from the Country Garden paper as my main focus. I just did some fussy cutting around the floral, added it to my card front, wrapped it with twine, and it was done. 
There you have it - three quick and easy cards using the Heritage Collection from Ruby Rock-It and twine from The Twinery.

Thanks for stopping by today!

The Next Stop:
Stacey Schafer

Supplies:
Twine: The Twinery (Seaweed, Flax, Ocean); 
Patterned Paper: Ruby Rock-It (Heritage Collection - Passing Time, Spots, Country Garden, Pretty Floral, By The Dozen);
Cardstock: Discount Cardstock (Brilliant White 110#); Papertrey Ink (Rustic Cream);
Tools: Fiskars (Trimmer, Scissors, Circle Punches); Scor-Pal (Scoring Board);

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Review :: Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door By Denette Fretz, illustrated by Gene Barretta

Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door is the second book in The Next Door Series by Denette Fretz. 

The first book in the series was Pirates on the Farm. You can read my review of that book here. Although I didn't really care much for Pirates on the Farm, my kids really enjoyed it, so I figured it was worth giving this book a shot. 

Personally, I didn't care for this book much more than I did Pirates on the Farm. The story of Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door is similar to Pirates on the Farm in that the story is not complete without the illustrations to back it up. (Meaning there are ideas you won't get from just the text - you need to illustrations to get the complete idea.)

Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door is a story about a boy Conrad and his adventures in "cowboy training" on his Uncle Clint's ranch. Most of the adventures involve a first aid kit and taunting from the cowgirl next door (Imogene Louise Lathrop). 

I felt that what should have been the main idea of the book (loving your enemies) took a backseat to the antics. Even the idea of loving your enemies was worded in a way that I thought could easily be mistaken as unloving: "Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads."

When I finished reading Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door to my 5 year old son, I asked him a few questions. Here is how the conversation went:

Q: What did you think?
A: Good.
Q: Did you learn anything?
A: Yeah. You need a doctor kit. And a horse.
Q: Did you learn anything about how cowboys should act?
A: Nice.
Q: Were they nice in the story?
A: No, actually they were kinda mean. 

I feel like that conversation sums it up pretty well. Unfortunately, I don't think I would recommend this book unless you use it purely as a jumping off point for conversations with your kids.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review :: Draw-A-Saurus: Everything You Need to Know to Draw Your Favorite Dinosaurs by James Silvani

Draw-A-Saurus by James Silvani is not a typical "how to draw" book. The text and illustrations are funny - and educational, too! The basic ideas that are introduced in Draw-A-Saurus will be helpful for drawing a variety of creatures.  

Each chapter goes into detail on how to draw one specific type of dinosaur (T-rex, apatosaurus, triceratops, ankylosaurus, stegosaurus, etc.) but then also shows (and explains) a variety of other dinosaurs that share similar characteristics. Draw-A-Saurus includes instructions for drawing dinosaurs who made their homes on land, in the air, and in the seas. 
The drawing instruction in Draw-A-Saurus does not just stop at a basic "copy this", but gives tips and tricks for how to draw dinosaurs from a variety of angles, in a variety of stances, and also includes instruction on finishing details (scales, feathers, etc.). There are also additional tips for "cartooning" your dinosaur or how to change a couple characteristics to create a baby dinosaur. The final chapter gives some quick instruction on how to create an environment for your dinosaur. 

Each step of the way, the text is educational - giving details on specific characteristics of the dinosaurs. (For those who may be curious, this book does reference evolution and "millions of years".)

In my opinion, this is a great resource for drawing - I know my kids (and I) will enjoy using it!
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the Blogging for Books book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.