Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review :: The Chronological Study Bible, NIV by Thomas Nelson

The Chronological Study Bible, NIV is a fantastic new study Bible from Thomas Nelson. While the biblical text (Scripture) is ordered based on chronology, this study Bible contains more than just biblical chronology. (Just to clarify, the chronology of this study Bible is based on the timeline of occurrence of events, not that of the time of each book's writing.) This study Bible includes extra-biblical events in timelines, commentary, overviews, and notes. This is incredibly helpful to the reader to be able to place what they are reading within the larger scale of world history.

The Chronological Study Bible is divided into 9 epochs (periods of time), with every verse of the Bible included. Epochs 1-7 include the books of the Old Testament, and Epochs 8 & 9 include the books of the New Testament (Epoch 8 contains the 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). The individual books of the Bible do not always appear as a whole piece (such as they do in the re-ordering of the books in The Books of the Bible, NIV by Biblica/Zondervan), but many have pieces of different books mixed together to provide a full look at the time. (In The Chronological Study Bible, for example, the Psalms are placed throughout Epochs 3-6.) The arrangement in The Chronological Study Bible differs from that of The One Year Chronological Bible, NIV by Tyndale. (For example, The One Year Chronological Bible places portions of 1 Chronicles and the book of Job among the text of Genesis, while The Chronological Study Bible presents Genesis-Ruth uninterrupted). Transitions in the chronology of The Chronological Study Bible are clearly marked and include a small explanation. As with any chronological ordering of Scripture, there are bound to be people who disagree with the timeline and ordering - but overall, the impact of reading this way is going to be beneficial. I highly recommend reading the sections at the beginning of The Chronological Study Bible ('Introduction', 'Reading Theological History', and 'Rearranging the Bible's Canonical Order') to get a better understanding for why the passages were arranged in the way that they were.

The Chronological Study Bible places many helpful glances at time throughout the scriptures in the form of 'Time Panels' (which are portions of a time line), 'Time Capsules' (which include "events inside and outside of the Bible"), and 'Time Charts' (which are "visual overviews of important chronological topics in the Bible").

There are 47 in-text (full color) maps included, with additional maps in the back. (The maps in the back are the maps you would traditionally find in a Bible, on thicker paper.) The pages of The Chronological Study Bible feel a bit thicker than traditional Bible pages, but are thinner than regular book pages - and have a coated, magazine-type quality to them. Every page is full color and beautiful to look at. (The pages have a similar style to the pages of The Archaeological Study Bible by Zondervan - the "old page" design.) I've included a picture on the right for those who may be curious about text size and page appearance.

In addition to the chronological ordering, timelines, and maps, The Chronological Study Bible includes many interesting study notes - clearly indicated in the design of the pages so that the reader can know they are reading study notes/commentary and not Scripture. The study notes are well written and easy to understand, and provide a good background for the Bible text.

Additional features include daily reading plans (for 1 year or 2 years - the 2 year plan is divided up the same as the 1 year plan...just with double the time), an index of Scripture passages (in canonical order), and index of cultural and historical topics, and more.

Here is my simplified pro/con breakdown:
Pros:
- Includes world history
- Full color pages
- In-text maps
- Timelines throughout
- Good size concordance (119 pages)
- Listing of 'Cultural & Historical Topics'

Cons:
- Hardcover has a fake printed "leather" look - I would have preferred the image on the dust jacket to be on the cover instead
- Many picture inserts throughout do not have a description or explanation. (For example, on the picture I included to show text scale - the image is of water/rocks, and only by reading the text on the facing page with the story of the water from the rock does this picture placement make sense.)

Here is my simplified great for/not so great for breakdown:
Great For:
- Personal study & growth
- Those interested in chronological history (I think this is a great resource for homeschoolers who are studying history in a chronological order)
- Those interested in how world history and biblical history fit together
- Help in understanding the context of Scripture

Not So Great For:
- Following along in church or Bible studies (it would be much harder to find the passage you are looking for)
- Those who are opposed to breaking up the text of the individual books and mingling it with others. (Although I do recommend that you read the introductory sections and give the contributors a chance to explain why they have done so.)

All in all, The Chronological Study Bible is truly a useful tool for studying the Bible, reading the scriptures, and I highly recommend it as an addition to any bookshelf.
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, April 15, 2014

Book Review :: Hope Runs by Claire Diaz-Ortiz & Samuel Ikua Gachagua

Hope Runs is true story that is sure to inspire.

We meet Sammy first - a young Kenyan boy who by the age of 10 has lost his father and mother and has been sent to an orphanage with his brother, separated from his little sister.

Elsewhere in the world, we meet Claire - a 20-something businesswoman and world-traveler who seems to be running (sometimes literally) to find some sort of bigger purpose for her life.

Throughout the book we follow Sammy and Claire - separately at first, and then as their lives overlap and continue to weave together. I don't want to go too much into the content of the book - you should read it on your own - but it truly is an inspiring story.

The book itself is a hardcover book with a dust jacket. The dust jacket has the images you see in the cover preview, while the hardcover is a plain yellow/gold cover with white text on the spine only. There are a few pages of pictures in the center of the book - they are printed full color on semi-glossy pages that are of a similar weight to the text pages in the book. (I appreciate that so they don't interrupt the flow of page turning.)

One small thing I appreciated in a big way was that while this book did mention the author's nonprofit organization, Hope Runs, it did not feel like a book-long sales pitch for the organization. (This is not the case with some other books I've read.)

As I was reading Hope Runs, I kept thinking of how many different groups of people would find this book beneficial. As someone who is hoping to travel to Africa in the next year or so, this was really insightful. It was great to hear the perspective of someone who has traveled internationally, but the real treasure was in hearing the perspective of Sammy - from inside a Kenyan orphanage.

If you are planning a trip to an African country, I suggest you read this book. 
If you are in the process of (or thinking of) adopting, I suggest you read this book. 
If you are at a place in your life where you don't know what to do next, I suggest you read this book. 
If you have a heart for the world, I suggest you read this book. 
If you are looking for a great book to read, I highly suggest you read this book.
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, April 11, 2014

New Stamp Set :: All About YOU {Unity Stamp Company}

I am so excited about the newest sentiment kit from Unity Stamp Company! (Okay, yes...partly because I designed it.)
It's so versatile!

First, let's take a look at what you get:
And now...let's look at some of the great sentiment options you can create with this kit:

To show your thanks:
  • thank YOU
  • thankful for YOU
  • thank YOU for everything
To show your love and appreciation:
  • i love YOU
  • YOU make me smile
  • YOU amaze me
  • YOU are the best
To say happy birthday:
  • it's all about YOU
  • wishing YOU a very happy birthday
  • wishing YOU happy birthday
To celebrate the holidays:
  • wishing YOU a very merry Christmas
  • wishing YOU merry Christmas
To show your support:
  • praying for YOU
Just mix and match as you desire - and even do a little simple masking for more options.

That's 13 sentiments (or more) for multiple occasions/situations - all in one kit! And this weekend...it's only $12!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Book Review :: The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story by Jan & Mike Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story is another great book from the line of The Berenstain Bears books. These books have been instant classics from the time I was little (and before), and now I enjoy sharing them with my kids. This particular book is a great tool to help children understand the true meaning of Easter.
(Hint: It's not about candy!) 
In The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story, Missus Ursula (Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear's Sunday school teacher) directs the three bears to watch a play called 'The Easter Story' so they can learn that Easter is not about candy. The play does a good job of portraying Jesus' time on earth (teaching, miracles, the garden, the cross, the tomb, the resurrection, and his ascension). The illustrations are cute and age appropriate.

I think the book did a great job telling the Easter story, but I must admit that the last part of the book was a little off, in my opinion. After watching the play and learning about Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension, the book comes down to basically saying after you get candy, then you go to church to learn about Jesus. I was hoping for something just a little bit deeper. (Yes, I know this is meant for 4-7 year olds.)

In the middle of the book is a sticker sheet that contains 16 round, 1 1/2", full-color stickers. The stickers are on a perforated insert that is easy to tear out without messing up the flow of the book. (When it is torn out, there are no annoying pieces left behind.) This is a fun bonus that kids are sure to appreciate.

On the inside of the back cover, there are questions and activity suggestions for those who would like to take it farther than just reading the book.

All in all, I think this is a great book to share with young children to help celebrate Easter.
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.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Stamping Royalty : Honorable Mention

Well...it's that time of year again (the Stamping Royalty contest from Paper Crafts & Scrapbooking magazine). In 2012, I entered and made it to the table. Last year, I made it to the table again
Here are pictures the editors shared of the cards that made it to the table this year:
No, I can't spot any of the cards I entered...but there is this little bit of news on the Paper Crafts Connection blog today:
Yay! 
And a big congrats to the winners and each of the other honorable mentions!

I'm so happy, happy, happy for you!
My card (no, not the one pictured here) will be published in the July 2014 issue of Paper Crafts & Scrapbooking! (And I am extra excited about this publication because my card uses an image and sentiment that I designed for Unity Stamp Company!)

Thank you for stopping by today!

Supplies:
Cardstock: Papertrey Ink (Rustic White);
Patterned Paper: Heidi Swapp (Hello Today 12x12 - brown, Serendipity 6x6 - yellow);
Unity Stamp Company ({keeping up with the} Tribal Trend - sentiment, Authentic Man - lines)
Ink: Ranger (Archival - Jet Black); Tsukineko (VersaMark - Watermark);
Embossing Powder: American Crafts (Zing! - Chestnut);
Dimensional Adhesive: Helmar (ZapDots - ¼” Round);
Other: Tifany DeGough (Beard Template);
Tools: Fiskars (Scissors, Paper Trimmer); ScorPal (Scoring Board); Ranger (Heat It tool);

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

WINNERS :: This is not a joke.

Thanks to all who stopped by and commented on my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaways...and a very special thanks to each of you who are followers of this blog.

It may be April 1st, but this is not a joke...I've got two winners who will soon be enjoying some fantastic new books from Zondervan.
The winner of the giveaway for the Preschool through age 7 package is:

Congratulations!

Please send me an e-mail with your US mailing address and your book choices so I can get your information to Zondervan.
{You can find my e-mail address in my blog header or on my Blogger profile.}

The winner of the giveaway for the age 8-12 package is:

Congratulations!

Please send me an e-mail with your US mailing address so I can get your information to Zondervan.
{You can find my e-mail address in my blog header or on my Blogger profile.}

Zondervan giveaways are for US residents only.
Prizes will be handled and shipped by Zondervan.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review :: Nature Girl by Karen Whiting and Rebecca White

Nature Girl is a fun book for anyone who is interested in going green. (And although this book is directed at girls, most of the information, activities, and experiments would be great for any kid - boy or girl.)

The book is broken up into 10 chapters dealing with different aspects of being green - topics such as: skin/body care, healthy eating, animals, water, air, energy/power, reusing and recycling, and more. Each chapter gives a little bit of information about the particular topic, lists various activities and things to try (including many specific recipes and experiments), and brings it all back to God with Bible verses. At the end of each chapter is a "Real Girl" portion (describing a real girl/woman who is relevant to the chapter), a Quiz (which is generally used as a new way of introducing new information, as opposed to a traditional quiz which would be checking to see what you learned from the chapter), and a short list of Eco-Careers (again, relevant to the topic of that particular chapter).

Just to give an example of the variety of recipes/activities/experiments in this book, I will list the titles of a few:

- Flavored Lip Gloss
- Shelly's Brown Sugar Foot Scrub
- Buttermilk Fruit Smoothie
- English Muffin Pizzas
- Soil Drainage Test
- Whole-Wheat Doggie Treats
- Oil Spill Cleanup Experiment
- Zesty Citrus Spritz
- Easy Lovin' Solar Oven
- Plastic Bottle Cap Necklaces
- Spirit-Filled Trail Mix
- Going-Green Greeting Cards

...and there are many more in the book that I haven't listed here.

I think that this is a great resource for Girl Scout leaders, and would also be great for homeschoolers or teachers who are looking for "earthy" activities and experiments. As I mentioned previously, the majority of the information in this book would be useful for boys, too.

As much as I did enjoy this book, I thought there were quite a few minor improvements that would have taken this from "good" to "great":
- Although I understand that this book is geared toward tween girls, I don't think it is necessary to include terminology such as "Snaps!", "diff" (as opposed to "difference"), "duh", "BFF", "your crush", and "fave". It just seems to dumb-down the book rather than enhance it. Kids' books can use "real" words while still keeping kids interested.
- There are quite a few typos and formatting errors in the book. I shared the information with the publisher and was told that the errors I told them about will be corrected in future printings, but I did feel the need to mention them as they were quite distracting.
- Some of the Bible verses that the authors use seem to be pulled from a random search of one word, and are included in the book even though the context/content of the passage is totally unrelated. This is not the case for all of the scriptures that were used in this book, but there were a couple that stood out.
- Some of the experiments/things to try would greatly benefit from diagrams and/or drawings to help the directions be better understood.
- A couple of the quizzes say how many points you get for your answers, but don't explain which answers are the best choices (for learning purposes). I noticed this in particular in the quizzes for chapters 7 & 10.
- Some of the content brings up choices that are made in places such as a grocery store, when I would guess that the majority of the time 9-12 year olds are not the final decision makers in a grocery shopping situation. It seems like the aim for these parts is off - it should probably be directed at getting the girl to discuss the situation with their parent/guardian instead of being assumed that the girl has the decision-making power.

Even though my list of issues with the book looks long, it really is just minor things. Overall, this is an interesting, useful book that I look forward to using with all of my kids. In fact, I am considering making the Easy-Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini for dinner...and you may find me sharing a version of the Oh-So-Fab Air Freshener on my blog in the near future.
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.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Review :: One Lost Sheep by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Margaret Spengler

<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for Preschool through age 7, you can find it here. >>>
<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for ages 8-12, you can find it here. >>>

One Lost Sheep is a children's picture book, written in rhyme. The story is a depiction of the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15).

I understand that rhyme is a difficult style of writing, but I did find it a bit lacking that the only rhyme paired with "sheep" was "mountain, steep". Also, I wish the rhyme had been a bit more adventurous when the shepherd was searching for his lost sheep, rather than state the same lines each time he searches somewhere - but I do also understand that some kids will enjoy the repetition and being able to "read" along with you at this point.

The illustrations are great - it appears to be airbrushed, which gives it a very "soft" feel - perfect for a story about sheep. And the little sheep themselves are adorable!

I love that in the end, the story states that God is our shepherd and is watching over us. I think it is important that this was clearly stated, rather than expecting the children to figure it out on their own.

Overall, this is a cute book with a great message to read with your young ones.
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, March 25, 2014

Book Review :: Adventure Bible Book of Devotions, NIV

<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for Preschool through age 7, you can find it here. >>>
<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for ages 8-12, you can find it here. >>>

The Adventure Bible Book of Devotions (NIV) is a children's devotional that seems to be geared toward the "tween" ages. The pages are typical book pages (uncoated paper, greyscale).

There are 365 devotions (one for each day of the year...unless it is a leap year). The pages have the dates on them (ex: January 1) and the Contents section lists the devotions by month, with each month's devotions numbered (1, 2, 3...). There is an additional Topic Index and Scripture Index at the back of the book.

Each devotion is short - just one page. Each devotion has a title, verse, short story (not from the Bible), lesson to learn from the story (one short paragraph), and a little bonus piece at the bottom of the page (People In Bible Times, Words to Treasure (additional verse), Life In Bible Times, Did You Know?, Live It!).

We do not own the Adventure Bible, so I cannot comment on how it compares to that, but we do have the Adventure Bible Storybook Deluxe Edition - you can find my review on that here.

I must admit that The Adventure Bible Book of Devotions didn't quite live up to what I was expecting. There is "adventure" in the short story on each page, but too often it feels like the story and the lesson to be learned were disconnected. Many of the stories feel like they have nothing directly to do with the moral lesson that is supposed to be taught, but they could have easily been brought together with a little more discussion. The underlying idea was there - I am just not sure this was executed as well as it could have been. Still, I feel like my kids will enjoy reading this and I do think that they will grow and learn from it.
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.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review :: Goodnight, Angels by Melody Carlson, illustrations by Sophie Allsop

<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for Preschool through age 7, you can find it here. >>>
<<< If you are looking for my Zondervan Easter Book Giveaway for ages 8-12, you can find it here. >>>
Goodnight, Angels is a board book that will help you walk your little one through their "goodnight" routine - saying goodnight to the outdoors, things in the house, Daddy, Mommy, God, and the angels. (The goodnight to God includes a short prayer.) It is a boy in the illustrations throughout the book (with his Dad, Mom, and dog), but this is not what I would consider a boy-only book.
The illustrations in this book are beautifully done. The colors that the illustrator used are wonderful - a great palette of muted tones. The colors and sweet drawings combined make for very calm pages - perfect for a bedtime book.

For those who may thinking this may be an obvious book to compare to Goodnight Moon - it has similarities (in saying goodnight to everything), but this book does not lead up to the "goodnights" with a little story like Goodnight Moon does. It jumps straight into "goodnight" from the first word.

Books like this are fantastic for little ones - the repetition is great for them and the pages are a great prompt for them to remember what to say "goodnight" to next. After a few readings, your child may even want to "read" it to you.

I think this is a sweet book to add to your little one's bookshelf.
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.