Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Blessings of Friendship Treasury

"The Blessings of Friendship Treasury" by Mary Engelbreit is a book that is devoted to poems, quotes, and illustrations that deal with friendship. This book is very unique in that it isn't an actual story with a plot and a storyline - Every page has illustrations, and some kind of quote, Scripture, poem, or short story that is all about friendship.

What I liked about this book were the amazing illustrations. The artwork in this book is just phenomenal, with fun pictures of children playing and enjoying each other's company. I also really liked that many of the quotes that are found in this book are Biblical messages, such as "Here is my command. Love each other, just as I have loved you". I thought these Scripture references are the foundation of what friendship and love is, and it was great to see these Bible verses featured prominently in this book.

There are also fun quotes and poems from famous writers, as well. For example, "Hug O' War" by Shel Silverstein is one of the featured poems. Growing up loving Silverstein, I was excited to see this poem begin the book. There are quotes from classical writers, such as Henry David Thoreau, Oscar Wilde, and Shakespeare. Overall I thought that this book puts a fun twist on what it is to be a friend, in a way that children can understand and enjoy. The illustrations draw you in to this book, and make you want to walk through the pages with the smiling children.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone with younger children in their homes. This would also make a great gift for a young child. I would recommend this book for ages 5 and up, as it does have some challenging words that may be difficult for early readers. My six year old loved this book.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Big Flavor Grill

"The Big-Flavor Grill: No-Marinade, No-Hassle Recipes" by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby is an "all things grilling" cookbook. With this being grilling season, this book is an ideal companion for the beginning griller or the more experienced grill master. I was intrigued at the thought of grilling meals without the hassle of having to marinade everything beforehand. This cookbook gives plenty of delicious options for grilling that using relishes, sauces, and delicious flavor combinations that completely compliment the grilled flavors.

There is quite a nice variety of meal ideas in this cookbook, from steak, lamb, pork, chicken, shrimp, fish, vegetables, and even drinks! There is a very helpful section at the beginning of this cookbook that has lots of helpful hints about grilling, which I thought were really interesting and very helpful. This section gives you a crash course on grilling tools, how to get the fire started (if you use a charcoal fire), and how to tell if the food is done.

I would recommend this cookbook to anyone who enjoys deliciously grilled food. I thought this book offered a lot of really delicious recipes, and I loved the addition of the sauces and relishes that really make the food pop. There are also simple recipes, where the meat is only salted and peppered in olive oil. There's something here for everyone.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from the blogger program in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Berenstain Bears : God Shows the Way

"The Berenstain Bears : God Shows the Way" by Stan & Jan Berenstain, with Mike Berenstain is a collection of three Berenstain Bears stories. This book includes "Faith Gets Us Through", "Do Not Fear; God is Near", and "Piggy Bank Blessings". Each story has a very clear Biblical message, and is based on a particular scripture.

"Faith Gets Us Through" is based on the 23 Psalm, specifically "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me".  This story is about Papa Bear and the Bear Scouts exploring Spooky Cave. Papa Bear and the Bear Scouts use faith and prayer to get them through their scary experiences in the cave.

"Do Not Fear, God Is Near" is based on Psalm 34:4, which reads "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears". This story is about Sister Bear, and her fear of spooky shadows. This story has many constant scriptural reminders that God is always with us, no matter where we go, or what we experience.

"Piggy Bank Blessings" is based on Proverbs 13:11, which reads "Whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow". This story is about Mama Bear teaching the cubs about money, and the importance of saving money for something special. The cubs earn money doing chores, and save their money in a piggy bank until they need it for something special.

All three of these stories are adorable, and filled with Biblical reminders of God's love. The illustrations are exactly what I would expect from a Berenstain Bears book, and the language is easy for young children to read. This book is an "I Can Read" book, for beginning readers, so the language is simple, and isn't too difficult to read. I would highly recommend this book for children who are beginning or even more advanced readers. The stories are great, and the messages they convey are awesome. Great book.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


"Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul" by Bill Hybels addresses the busy world we live in, constantly going at a breakneck pace that just is not sustainable. We are constantly trying to get 36 hours worth of things done in a 24 hour day, and Hybels attempts to help us to unclutter our souls in order to have a sense of peace and happiness.

Some of these directives that Hybels addresses in an attempt to unclutter our lives are common sense things that can easily be integrated into our daily lives, such as scheduling time for travel around commitments so that we keep those commitments that we have made; living joyfully within the financial circumstances that God has given us currently; and identifying and recognizing the origin of our fears and anxiety. These all seem easy enough, but what Hybels does is back up what seems to be logical resolution of these issues with Biblical soundness and a plan of action, step by step, to help you overcome these soul blockers.

I think that Bill Hybels did  a wonderful job in summing up the most common culprits in stealing our joy and peace in this book. He identifies issues that we experiences on a daily basis that will create anxiety, frustration, or fear in our lives, and gives you a step by step way to work through those issues. This book isn't a cure all for restoring joy and peace in our lives, but it is the blueprint for eliminating some of the stress, fear, and overwhelming feelings that we face.

I would highly recommend this book to nearly anyone. Coping with daily frustrations, financial problems, stress, and maintaining our relationships are all important aspects of our entire life, and the center of our souls. I think that anyone could read through these pages and walk away with at least one thing that they can do to improve the state of their soul.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers through their blogger program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Simple Thai Food

Leela Punyaratabandhu's newest cookbook, "Simple Thai Food - Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen" is a collection of the most common Thai recipes. Typically I am a more traditional home cook, but chose this book to try something new in the kitchen. My husband is a big fan to Thai food, and I thought it would be fun to expose our kids to a different type of food. I have to admit, before this cookbook came in the mail, I was a little bit intimidated at the thought of trying to cook ethnic food, but once I received this book, I definitely felt more at ease. Punyaratabandhu  does a great job of simplifying these Thai recipes and making me feel like even I can make them!

The recipes in "Simple Thai Food" are mouthwatering, and with the addition of many photos of the prepared food, how could I resist? The recipes are so flavorful and unique, and I was so excited to try these recipes! The directions are easy to follow, and well written. The ingredient list will usually require specialty items that aren't normally kept in my pantry or refrigerator, but the extra planning and trip to the store is completely worth it for the meal.

Overall I would give this cookbook a 4/5. The recipes are delicious, and I loved that there were lots of pictures of the food as it is supposed to be prepared. The only down side to this cookbook is the unique ingredients, which can sometimes be hard to find if you don't have an ethnic food store nearby.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free through the Blogger program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Jonah and the Great Big Fish

"Jonah and the Great Big Fish" by Rhonda Gowler Greene is an adorable retelling of the Biblical story of Jonah. I have two young children, a daughter that is 6, and a son that is 1, and what was great about this book was that they BOTH enjoyed this book. My daughter was able to read this book independently, and the language was kid-friendly and easy for her to understand. My son enjoyed all of the vivid, playful artwork that depicted the events of the story. He kept pointing to different pictures, exclaiming, "This!"

This book sticks to the Biblical story of Jonah, chronicling the events as told in Scripture using words that are kid-friendly, and easy for young children to understand. I loved that my daughter could read this book on her own without having to ask me, "What does this word mean?" This is a wonderful children's book, and Greene was clearly very thoughtful of the young audience she was writing this book for.

The artwork is so much fun to look at, as well. With bright colors, and fun images of the story as it unfolds, it really draws young children into the story. I would definitely recommend this book for children ages 1 and up. With a Biblical message and storyline, combined with a kid-friendly style of writing and beautiful artwork, it is the ideal book for any young child. Wonderful!

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from the BookLookBloggers program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Celebrate Recovery Bible

The "Celebrate Recovery Bible" is a NIV Bible translation infused with articles, devotions, and resources designed to speak to those who are celebrating their recovery from addiction. This particular Bible version is a paperback book, which does make it a little less durable than a hardcover Bible, especially if you tend to use it a lot. The type is average size, and easy to read.

What sets this Bible apart from others is the addition of character studies, moral lessons/principles, amends lessons/principles, sponsor lessons/principles, and recovery stories that are designed to speak to the hearts of those who are struggling or have struggled with an addiction. My favorite feature was the recovery stories that are featured - each tells about a person who struggled with a particular addiction, and gives a brief overview of their life before they embraced sobriety, followed by a testimony of their faith and a description of their healing. I think that this can be the most encouraging thing for those who have struggled with addiction, and it is so helpful to be able to hear about others coming through similar experiences successfully.

I think that this Bible would be great for anyone who is currently or has previously dealt with addiction in their life. This Bible gives comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their struggles, and uses well-thought out devotions, articles, and other features to reassure them that no matter what they have done in their past, God can forgive them, and help them. I found the extra features in this Bible to be really useful, and are based on Christ-centered twelve steps, which I really think it critical in overcoming addiction.

Overall I would rate this Bible a 5/5. I think that the development of a Bible with study features that are easy for a recovering addict to relate to really can help them connect with God in a different light. I would highly recommend this Bible to those who have been through or are currently dealing with addiction.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this Bible through's Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Go Fresh

"Go Fresh"is a heart healthy cookbook developed by the American Heart Association. In addition to recipes, this cookbook also gives tips of storage, shopping, and cooking heart healthy ingredients. This cookbook covers a wide variety of meal ideas, which is really helpful. Appetizers, Snacks, and Beverages; Soups; Salads and Salad Dressings; Seafood; Poultry; Meats; Vegetarian Entrees; Vegetables and Side Dishes, Sauces and Condiments; Breads and Breakfasts; and Desserts are all featured in this book.

Every recipe gives you the basic information about the recipe, such as serving size, prep time, cooking time, and standing time, which I think is really helpful. If you are going to be rushed for time when making a meal, it is helpful to know how long a particular recipe will take. Many of the recipes in this book are simple recipes with standard ingredients, which I like as well. I also liked that there was a variety of flavors and ideas in the recipes. Orange-Poached Chicken Salad, Herbed Chicken Salad with Swiss, Pork Chops with Tarragon Jus, and Italian-Style Vegetable Soup are already on my list to try next!

Overall I would say that this cookbook is a great way to be more heart healthy and still be able to eat delicious food. I think that most people can easy find several recipes in this book that will be easy to insert into their meal planning, and feel good about what they are eating. I'd give this book a 5/5 - I loved the recipes, format, and helpful tips throughout the book!

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from's Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.