Friday, August 29, 2014

Your Family in Pictures

Me Ra Koh has put together a valuable tutorial on family photography in the book, "Your Family in Pictures: The Parents' Guide to Photographing Holidays, Family Portraits, and Everyday Life". This book is my new go-to book for anything relating to taking pictures of my family. There are so many tips, tricks, and ideas all in one place and organized so perfectly.

There are seven different chapters in this book, each one focusing on a different aspect of photography. The first two chapters serve as almost an introduction to photography, discussing light, color, line, shape, texture, and when to shoot in black and white. The next five chapters discusses photographic moments, with chapters featuring everyday life, holidays, family portraits, tweens and teens, and family vacations and travel.

Each chapter of this book offers a lot of valuable tips on staging, camera settings, and ideas for poses, illustrated by Koh's own photos. I loved that there were a lot of illustrations to show how her photos turned out. I also loved that there were so many tips and tricks to photographic the different scenarios. One of my favorite tips from this book was for family photos, have Mom wear what she feels most beautiful in and then have everyone else dress to complement her.

Overall I would definitely give this book a 5/5. I thought it was an amazing resource for an amateur photographer to get the most out of their photos. Taking photographs is capturing a moment in time, and who doesn't want these moments to look as amazing as possible? Great book, great resource. Loved it.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from's blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

The Mess Detectives and The Case of the Lost Temper

"The Mess Detectives and the Case of the Lost Temper" by Karen Poth is an "I Can Read", level one book for early readers. The level one uses simple sentences and mostly simple vocabulary that are ideal for early readers. The print in this book is larger, and each page only has a few sentences.

The storyline of the book is Bob and Larry from "Veggie Tales" are detectives, and looking for someone who keeps slamming doors. As the villain eludes them, Bob gets more and more frustrated. In the end, they learn that it was only the wind slamming the door, but as Larry pulls his goofy stunts (like dressing up in a chicken costume when Bob tells him they need to wear a disguise to stake out Mr. Carrot's house), Bob gets more and more frustrated, and closer to losing his temper.

This book is supposed to be a lesson in self-control, but really the solution to Bob losing his temper was simply Larry telling him, "Bob, stop! You have lost your temper". I thought that maybe there could have been a little more helpfulness for how to calm down, or regain composure for the kids reading this book. I wish Larry had mentioned praying or something to that effect to help Bob calm down, so that kids could learn how to calm down once they do get frustrated or upset.

Overall I would give this book a 3/5. I thought that the story was cute, and the illustrations are what I would expect from any "Veggie Tales" production. But I really thought that there could have been more of a tie-in to actual Biblical reference than what there was.

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spiritual Renewal Study Bible (NIV)

The New International Version "Spiritual Renewal Study Bible" is a Bible that encourages the reader to experience new growth and transformation in your spiritual walk, with notes from Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop. This version has standard print, and is a traditional NIV translation. A recipient of the ECPA Medallion of Excellence Bible of the Year, this is a great study Bible the offers plenty of notes, character profiles, and in depth analysis of Biblical principles.

Each chapter of this Bible opens with a two page introduction to the chapter, including spiritual renewal themes, author, audience, date written, setting, key verses, and key people. I have found this chapter profile to be a really great resource in really helping me understand the who, what, when, where, and why of each book of the Bible. I loved that each chapter profile also highlights the themes that tie into spiritual renewal.

Additionally, a feature entitled "The Spiritual Disciplines" appears frequently throughout this Bible. This study tool focuses on a specific principle in each appearance, such as repentance, confession, Bible study, meditation; "The Spiritual Disciplines" also occassionally features a particular person from the Bible and focuses on their life, as told by the text of the Bible, and some of the ways that they exemplify spiritual renewal, as well.

There are also a few other study tools featured in this Bible, such as "Profiles" that give an indepth look at particular figures from the Bible, such as the relationship between Esther and Mordecai, Job and his family/friends, and Isaiah. This feature looks at strengths, accomplishments, lessons from their lives, and key verses.

Overall I would give this Bible a 5/5. The tools that have been put into this study Bible offer so many ways to get a deeper look at the characters and foundational principles found in the text of the Bible. I would highly recommend this Bible to anyone who is seeking out a new study tool for their Scripture reading time. Great resources.

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book from in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review. All opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mickey and Willie

Growing up in a home where baseball was truly a celebrated past time, I was very interested in reading "Mickey and Willie" by Allen Barra. I remember my father recording PBS' "Baseball" series on VHS tapes when I was younger, and the love of the sport was passed down to myself and my brothers. Obviously the Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays era was much before my time, but historically, these two were very significant players in the game, and I was really interested to know more about them, personally and professionally.

Allen Barra does an amazing job of narrating the lives of both Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays in this book. What I really appreciated was the time that Barra takes in establishing the background of both Mantle and Mays. Barra goes to great lengths to draw parallels between the two baseball greats, from the time of their childhood on. I loved the fact that this book truly was an education experience for me - I learned so many things about these baseball players that I never knew.

I thought it was very interesting how dynamic the friendship between Mantle and Mays was, and how they kept in contact even when they had little to no personal time to spend together. At a time when it was fairly uncommon for a white man and a black man to be close friends, Mantle and Mays had so much in common that it would have been impossible for them to not find a sort of camaraderie. I also found it very interesting how similar their childhoods were, but also how very different they were treated.

Overall, I thought this book was very well researched, and organized in a way that it was easy to read. You don't feel like you are reading a biography - it really reads more as a novel, which makes it a very compelling read. If you are a baseball fan, I would highly recommend it. 5 stars for Allen Barra and "Mickey and Willie"

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from in exchange for this review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed above are entirely my own.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The First Family Detail

"The First Family Detail" is a fascinating book written by Ronald Kessler, detailing the Secret Service's interactions with various first families. When I first saw this book I was not exactly sure what to expect - whether this would be a book with a lot of gossip about the first families, or if it would be more interesting, factual accounts of events that unfolded. I was happy to find that this book is very interesting, and tells a wide variety of accounts from the actual agents who were involved.

There are first hand accounts from the presidencies of Nixon, Ford, and George H.W. Bush, to name a few. The stories are intriguing, personal, and most of them are little known. One of the most intriguing accounts in this book, in my opinion, is when President George H.W. Bush made a visit to Enid, Oklahoma. Prior to his visit, a psychic claimed to have had a vision of the President being assassinated. The details of this account were really interesting, and something I had never heard of.

The chapters are each devoted to one particular story, and they really are not super long chapters, which makes this a really easy read. I liked that it was written for the common person who isn't involved in politics. I thought there were a lot of interesting details put into this book, like code names for the Presidents, among other things.

Overall I would rate this book a 5/5. I thought that is was well written, and there isn't too much of the Secret Service code lingo, which I appreciated. I thought the stories were really interesting, and I also felt like I did learn a lot from reading this book. I love history and politics, so I think that plays into how much I did enjoy this book. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who also has the same interests, as it truly is a fascinating book.

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

Goodnight, Ark!

"Goodnight, Ark" written by Laura Sassi, and illustrated by Jane Chapman is a super cute story for young children. This book tells a funny story about the animals on the ark all climbing into bed with Noah. The sounds of the storm gradually wake animals on the ark, and they clamor into Noah's room with him. Noah eventually lulls all of the animals to sleep with a bedtime lullaby. The story is written in a rhyming, sing-song tone which makes it fun to read. This book is a hard cover book, which I love, since kids tend to be hard on books (especially books that they like!).

"Goodnight, Ark" is a relatively short book, and each page only has a few sentences on it, detailing the animals' antics on Noah's ark. The illustrations are awesome, and I found them to be colorful and bright, and lots of fun for children. I thought this book would be perfect for a bedtime story for young children, as it has elements of bedtime that kids could relate to. All of the animals were scared, and didn't want to sleep in their own "rooms", so they climbed into bed with Noah. Noah sings the animals a lullaby and gets them back to sleep.

Overall I would rate this book a 5/5. I loved the rhyming style of this book, and I thought it was a fun and humorous book that my kids enjoyed. The artwork was fun and depicted the humor of the story, with all kinda of animals, from elephants to skunks making their way into Noah's room. I would recommend this book for children 3 and up. It's a short book, so great for kids with shorter attention spans. And the images are bright and fun and even my one year old enjoyed looking at the pictures and pointing at the different animals.

Great book - loved it!

FTC DISCLOSURE: I received this book for free from BookLook Blogger's Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.