Monday, November 30, 2015

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti *Review

An Endless Christmas (Worthy Inspired, October 2015)
Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster.
Christmas takes a very different turn when the guests of honor break up instead of announcing their engagement. Trapped with his family, they learn that love looks different than either imagined. Both in their eighties, Dodie and Wilson Binder celebrate every Christmas as if it were their last. This year, their grandson Micah is planning to ask his girlfriend, Katie, to marry him so they can celebrate with the whole family. But things go very wrong when she says, “no.” Now they are stuck. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it’s Christmas.

My Thoughts
Read it in one night, that is the beauty of a Novella! It wasn't too short, just the perfect length for a nice Christmas evening read. What a predicament to be in! Poor Katie and Micah, but such grace the family has. They aren't upset, or bothered by her refusal. They treat her like family and Micah's feelings haven't changed. They have such a peace about them. This family is what I pray mine will look like one day. All squeezed together in the house, enjoying each other for the holidays. Generations of the family together, celebrating the savior. It is a perfect representation of grace and the love of Christ. The family all learn from each other, and grow closer to one another just in the short time they are together. The family dynamics are just beautiful.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the Author
 Drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry, Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels and novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals, and speaking for women's and writers' events. Her books have been recognized by Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards, Selah Awards, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Christian Retailing's BEST Awards, and Carol Award nominations, among other honors, including a Family Fiction Readers' Choice Award. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in Pittsville, Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

Check out the other reviews here

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ishtar's Odyssey A Family Story for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide

About the book:

A new Advent family devotional from the author of Jotham's Journey! Fourth in a set of Advent adventure books for families, Ishtar's Odyssey follows the ten-year-old son of a Persian wise man as their caravan follows a star across the desert. Ishtar would just as soon stay in the comfort of the palace, but slowly he learns that there's much to see, do, and learn in this world that can't be experienced in school. He eventually meets Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha as he follows his father and uncles in their search for a newborn king.

Arnold Ytreeide's family advent devotionals have become a much-loved Christmas tradition, enjoyed by multiple generations. With over 100,000 in print they include Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, and Tabitha's Travels.

So excited to continue the tradition this year with Arnold Ytreeide books! We have read all three previous works a couple times each and have loved them each year. We got away from it here for a couple years and excited to be including my little ones in this great journey! I love how he intertwines the books, so that my older ones remember some of the past characters and get excited to hear about them again!

Still time to pick up your copy for Advent. Start a new tradition, and share this great story with your family. This book will leave them wanting more each night as you walk with Ishtar through his search for the newborn king!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

ESV Men's Devotional Bible *Review & Giveaway

                 English Standard Version (ESV) Men's Devotional Bible

What better gift to give this holiday season, than the gift of God's word? Nothing! This is an absolutely beautiful Bible that would be perfect for the men in your life. No flashy colors, bling and blitz. This is a sleek, mature, sophisticated Bible that the men in your life will love to carry to work, church, and to share with the world.

The ESV version, I have found, to be an easier to understand version than KJV, or NKJV. I also like having a variety of versions around for deeper biblical study and comparison. The ESV is perfect for the new Christian to learn and understand the Word geared at their language level. It also it great for those who have been in the Word for years, because it flows so smoothly and is easy to memorize.

The devotions are geared for Men. Devo's that relate to the scriptures. The devo's are placed right in the Books of the Bible. There are additional devotions at the end of the Bible. 

The only down side of this Bible is that the headings are in a gold color, which doesn't give it enough contrast to the white background. My husband said that it made it more difficult to read the titles and headings like that. It does give it a refined look, but for those who might need 'reader glasses' it made it a little bit hard on the eyes. The chapter numbers are also in gold, making it harder to find your location.

About the ESV Men's Devotional Bible:
Our world presents daily distractions that can easily displace Christ as the center of a man's heart and life.  The goal of the ESV Men's Devotional Bible is to strengthen and encourage men through the life-giving Word of God and sound devotional content aimed at nurturing godliness.  With 365 theologically rich and gospel-centered devotions drawn directly from the Bible, this all-new resource was created under the editorial oversight of Dr. Sam Storms with contributions from over fifty Christian leaders.  Introductions orient men to each book of the Bible, exploring its unique contribution to a man's walk with God.  Thoughtful and instructive articles address the importance of sound doctrine, life in the local church, leadership, the heart, calling, and a host of other relevant issues for today.  The Men's Devotional Bible will strengthen men in their walk with Christ, helping them apply the gospel and the truths of God's Word in their homes, churches, and workplaces. 

- 365 brand-new devotions
- Brand new book introductions
- 14 brand-new articles
- Dictionary of key terms
- Ribbon marker
- Smyth-sewn binding
- Lifetime guarantee on TruTone edition
- Packaging: slipcase (TruTone), L-card (HC), permanent slipcase (Cloth over Board) 

“What is more important to the family, to the church, and to the surrounding culture than men who love Jesus and love his Word? I am excited about any tool that gets men into God’s Word, because the more a man knows God’s Word, the more he’ll come to know and love the God that the Word reveals. It’s not hard for me to recommend this tool that makes the Bible more accessible to men.”
Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries; author, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage

About Crossway:
The purpose of Crossway has been, from its founding as a not-for-profit ministry in 1938, to publish gospel-centered, Bible-centered content that will honor our Savior and serve his Church.   They seek to help people understand the massive implications of the gospel and the truth of God's Word, for all of life, for all eternity, and for the glory of God. 

Enter to win a copy of the ESV Men's Devotional Bible!
US & Canada
Ends Nov 28th

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2015 Blue Ribbon Awards from the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

2015 Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards

The votes are in!! See what the Review Crew chose as the best of this years review products!

The bold type winners are ones I personally reviewed and the link will take you to my review!

Favorite Reading Curriculum: Reading Kingdom
Great online reading program for beginners

Favorite Writing Curriculum: Institute for Excellence in Writing

Favorite Vocabulary Program: Dynamic Literacy
Increase your vocabulary+

Favorite Spelling Program: Institute for Excellence in Writing: Phonetic Zoo
Excellent spelling program!

Favorite Grammar Program: Institute for Excellence in Writing: Fix-It! Grammar

Favorite Penmanship Program: CursiveLogic
Really a superb way to learn cursive, even for your older children

Favorite Literature Curriculum: Progeny Press
Favorite History Curriculum: Home School in the Woods
We did the Middle Ages and Loved it! I also purchased Old Testament Bible to use right now.

Favorite History Supplement: Heirloom Audio Productions: In Freedom's Cause

Favorite Science Curriculum: Visual Learning Systems

Favorite Science Supplement: Ann McCallum Books: Eat Your Science Homework
Fun, additional science for younger kids

Favorite Math Curriculum: CTC Math
Still use this with 3 of the kids!

Favorite Math Supplement: SimplyFun
Favorite Christian Education Curriculum: Grapevine Studies

Favorite Christian Education Supplement: Brinkman Adventures

Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum: Middlebury Interactive Language

Favorite Fine Arts Product: Maestro Classics

Favorite Elective Curriculum: Apologia Educational Ministries: Field Trip Journal

Favorite Audio Drama: Brinkman Adventures

Favorite Video:
I reviewed Do You Believe? Excellent film!

Favorite Preschool Product: La La Logic

Favorite Elementary Product: Star Toaster

Favorite Middle School Product: The Critical Thinking Co

Favorite High School Product: Writing with Sharon Watson
I really like this for my high school student. It did have a bit more reading than he would prefer, but I loved it!

Favorite College or College-Prep Product: Freedom Project Education

Favorite Parent Product: Koru Naturals
Great skin care products.

Favorite Planning Product: Apologia Educational Ministries: The Ultimate Homeschool Planner
Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed: Homeschool Planet
My personal all time favorite of the year!!

Best Online Resource: Super Teacher Worksheets
Excellent value for such an huge selection of worksheets!

Best e-Product: Home School in the Woods
I agree with this one!

Just for Fun: USAopoly
Great games!

Kids' Choice: La La Logic

Teens' Choice: YWAM Publishing
My teens picked Brinkman Adventures which is also missionary related.

All Around Crew Favorite: Institute for Excellence in Writing


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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Hee Haw Collection *Review

Hee Haw is a traditional American variety show. Great nostalgia with this collection! I desire safe, fun entertainment that my whole family can watch. Nothing like the great Hee Haw for my country kids. This show even predated me, and I remember my parents talking about it and us watching it when it would come on. This is really a great show idea for your parents or grandparents for Christmas as well.

"It has an undeniable sense of "just kidding" joy to it, which remains infectious...and country-western fans will love seeing vintage performances by Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Donna Fargo, Charlie Rich, Dottie West and 
Hank Williams Jr."
-- Deseret News 
Time Life invites home audiences back to rural Kornfield Kounty for some timeless, down-home entertainment with THE HEE HAW COLLECTION. The 3-disc collection features 5 episodes never-before-available at retail from the longest-running weekly syndicated series in television history. 
These vintage episodes from the late 60s and early 70s, rarely seen since their original broadcasts and feature all the Kornfield Kounty regulars (including co-hosts Roy Clark and Buck Owens) and their hilarious comedy plus country legends like Conway Twitty performing "Hello Darlin'," Merle Haggard singing his classic "Okie from Muskogie," Tammy Wynette performing her #1 hit "Ways to Love a Man," an unforgettable duet with Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn performing "Pickin' Wild Mountain Berries," plus other country legends like Charlie Rich, Hank Williams Jr. and many other chart-toppers.  Rife with pickin' and grinnin', singin' and spinnin' tall tales and corny jokes, the set also includes bonus interviews with show regulars including Roy Clark, Lulu Roman, George Lindsey, Charlie McCoy and Jim and John Hager,a s well as bonuses including all-time favorite comedy from the early years in "Hee Haw Laffs," featuring "Board Fence," "Cornfield," "Moonshiners," "Doctor Spot," "Old Philosopher," "General Store,"  "Haystack," "Schoolhouse" and other knee-slappers.
For true Kornfield Kounty fans, Time Life has also released several exclusive sets, only available online.  These exclusive sets offer either 11 episodes across 8 DVDs or 23 episodes across 14 DVDs, for $99.95 or $189.900, respectively.  Both sets arrive with hours of bonus programming including in-depth interviews and Hee Haw comedy classics.
THE HEE HAW COLLECTION ($39.95srp, 3-Disc, Retail, Available now at Wal-mart, Cracker Barrel) 

In an era when digital leads the home entertainment charge, Time Life still offers a bit of acclaimed nostalgia you can proudly display on a shelf.  
These attractive DVD collections make the perfect gift for any and everyone on your list this holiday season.

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The Snoopy Treasures *Review

 The Snoopy Treasures
A Celebration of the World Famous Beagle

The Snoopy Treasures is divided into 12 sections covering Snoopy’s origins, his alter egos from Joe Cool to the Flying Ace, his family at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, his friends in the beloved Peanuts gang, and his prevalence in pop culture – in songs, movies, books, plays, parades, museums, and even NASA, who named a lunar landing module after him as they prepared to put man on the moon in 1969.
Each page features original Peanuts panels, side-by-side comparisons showing the evolution of Snoopy into the universally recognizable style we know today, photographs from the Schulz museum, and ten pieces of pullout memorabilia: an original Schulz drawing, a Snoopy baseball pennant (popular dorm d├ęcor in the 60s and 70s), a letter from President Ronald Reagan to Schulz, a bookmark, a bumper sticker, a punch out model of the Red Baron’s plane, the last Peanuts strip ever printed, and more.
Lifelong fans and first-timers alike will discover something new within the pages of this in-depth compendium, making The Snoopy Treasures the perfect holiday gift for Snoopy lovers of all ages.

What a treasure! For fans young and old, this treasury is a perfect gift! I love Snoopy, he is truly an American icon. We continue to watch The Peanuts Gang from their Great Pumpkin, to their Christmas show. They are a staple in our holiday. Now with the a new movie on the big screen, Snoopy is popular once again. 

 The history is rich and great for myself and the kids to learn more about this beagle. I love the 'extra's that they have included from drawings, to bookmarks and bumper stickers. Great memorabilia to share or keep!
For any new or old Snoopy collector, this is the perfect gift! Very detailed biography of one of the best!
About Nat Gertler
Nat Gertler is the author of about two dozen books, the Eisner-nominated writer of hundreds of comic book stories, and a Peanuts specialist. He has written a major book on Peanuts (The Peanuts Collection) and various stories for the Peanuts comic book, and he appears in featurettes on Peanuts DVDs, publishes books of Charles M. Schulz's non-Peanuts work, and writes about collecting Peanuts books at He lives Camarillo, CA. 


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Monday, November 16, 2015

Collecting Children's Books *Review

Collecting Children's Books: Art, Memories, Values new Hardcover due out Nov. 1, 2015

 I love collecting children's books. You might even say I have a fettish! Well I do have 7 kids, what better thing to collect than our own library. With ebooks taking over, I want to make sure our own personal library is alive and well with a huge collection of the classics.
This has been a very enjoyable book for me! Brought to memory some books and authors I hadn't thought of, and promptly sought out their books.
This is a great book for your kids to use as research for writing about authors, or book companies.

Gorgeous pictures of the cover of the books along with an author's picture. The art work is amazing and I loved to see the bright colors of the pages. This book is well thought out and done to perfection!
I have never seen such a complete listing of children's books,  let alone with such an artistic touch!

 Remember these Little Golden Books? I still have several from when I was young. Always economical for even the poorest kids to have. These were such treasures.

Collecting Children's Books: Art, Memories, Values by husband and wife team Noah Fleisher and Lauren Zittle. The book is 8” x 8”, 224 pages, in full-color and retails for $26.99.  

Collecting Children's Books showcases some of the finest books and accompanying artwork from 1900 to the present in a warm, informative and exquisite fashion, reminding us all of the joy found in this transcendent genre. From Winnie-the-Pooh to Curious GeorgeAlice in Wonderland to Mary Poppins, and from The Poky Little Puppy to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the book is a treasure trove of remarkable--and highly collectible--children's literature.

“The world of Children’s Books is such a rich and wonderful subject,” said co-author Noah Fleisher, who also serves as the editor of Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, “we jumped at the chance to write it when we were asked. A survey of the form, like this one, is long overdue. What we’ve striven to create with this overview, while knowing there’s so much more to uncover, is a celebration of the books we all loved as kids and which we all love reading to our own children and grandchildren.”

The book also explores the significant value that some first edition books and original art can carry, likely sending readers running for their bookshelves or those boxes in the garage where they stored their old books. For instance: a First Edition of Where the Wild Thing Are sold for an impressive $8,400, while Garth Williams’ original Charlotte’s Web book cover illustration sold for a jaw-dropping $155,350 at auction. First Edition editions of classic like Curious George can net strong five figure prices realized, such as the copy that sold $26,290 shown in the book.

This delightful hardcover book features: more than 100 years of classic and collectible Children Books, including values for signed and unsigned First Edition works; 500 color images; original art from such masters as Garth Williams (Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little), Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) and Dr. Seuss; collecting tips, what to look for when buying, and lists of suggested readings by era for those seeking to rediscover the pleasure--and value--found in children's literature. 

“These books have delighted generations of the young and the young at heart with amazing adventure, timeless storytelling and incredible illustrations that remain indelibly inked on the brains of readers, said co-author Lauren Zittle. “We hope you find this to be a beautifully illustrated and informative salute to the form that we love so much.”

 This would make an excellent Christmas gift! Think of your teacher friends/relatives or those collector of books. Wonderful gift of memories, art and nostalgia for them!

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Very Merry Christmas Prayer *Review & Giveaway

A Very Merry Christmas Prayer
Boonie Rickner Jensen

A shaped cut board book, this precious book will become a favorite for your 0-4 year old. The illustrations by Natalia Moore are whimsical, fun and festive. I really loved seeing the animals worship God in their celebration of  Christmas.

Often times we get too commercialized at Christmas, forsaking the simplicity and meaning of this special occasion.. the birth of the Christ child. I am not big into Santa Clause books, but boy do I relish in these type of books that speak the true meaning for my little ones.

Prayers to God for something current, and then relating it back to the birth of Christ. Thanking God for the songs of joy, just like the songs of the angels from the time of Christ.

Thanking God for each part of the holiday, and seeing the comparison to the days of Jesus. I love that we can see Christ in each of our decorations if we choose to keep Him the center.

Enter to win your copy of A Very Merry Christmas
Ends Nov 28
US Only

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Parable Treasury by Liz Curtis Higgs *Review & Giveaway

The Parable Treasury book by Liz Curtis Higgs compiles all of the great works that Ms. Higgs has written in the last years. Each covers a different season or holiday and allows the kids to really think about what they are celebrating. These have long been favorites of ours. My 11 year old saw it and right away said "Oh I love these books!".

This compilation has 4 stories included;
The Parable of the Lily
The Sunflower Parable
The Pumpkin Patch Parable
The Pine Tree Parable.

This hardback version is a treasure! Such a beautiful book to read to your children and grandchildren. What a heirloom to keep for the generations.

Liz Curtis Higgs writes" You can be sure I chose each word with care and picked each Bible verse with prayer, hoping these simple stories would speak to young hearts of all ages".
How beautiful that she spent that time praying and researching for just the thing God would have her to write!

There are many Bible quotes throughout the book! I love that the kids not only are getting the parable, they are getting the Word of God!

Enter to win Parable Treasury
Ends Nov 28
US Only

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I Prayed For You by Jean Fischer *Review & Giveaway



This is a darling board book that let's your little one know that they have been loved and prayed for, even before they were born! This book works great for children who are adopted as well
Mama bear tells her precious baby bear how she asked God for something special, and He gave her him. Each page tells of what the prayer was, and includes a quote of the pray that Mama bear may have said.

Times of holding him in her arms, watching him learn to walk as an infant. Then moving into an older bear cub learning to pray, play, and even start school. In the hurts and discipline, Mama bear has prayed for her cub.

This book will show through the Mama bear and her relationship with her little one, the relationship that we have with the one we are reading to.

The bears are cute and cuddly and excellent illustrations by Frank Endersby

Enter to win a copy for yourself or as a gift
Ends Nov 28
US only

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Thanksgiving Scripture Day 14 #writetheword


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Friday, November 13, 2015

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest *Review

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest
A Boy Named Mu, an African Journey, and You
Mu, a ten-year-old orphan, has lived his entire life in the heart of Africa. For as long as he can remember he has served in the household of a great-uncle where he is unloved and ignored. In his drudgery-filled life, Mu has little hope of happiness, and little hope that anything will ever change.
But one day, everything does change. On his way to draw water one morning, Mu is astonished when a chameleon greets him by name and announces that they will embark on a quest together. And what a quest it turns out to be! Mu faces danger and finds unexpected allies as they journey through a fascinating and ever-changing landscape.

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest blends magical realism with a compelling story. The exciting story line combines an orphan’s journey to find a home with the plight of child soldiers and the dangers of the Ebola virus and, along the way, highlights universal themes of integrity, loyalty, faith, and love. Written by long-time medical missionary J. A. Myrhe, the artful story is laced with subtle gospel themes and handles cross-cultural issues with grace and sensitivity. Kids will encounter good and evil and learn the truth about hope, happiness, and what it means to be human in this page-turning first book in a new series.

—A page-turning children’s action and adventure story set in a fictional African land
—Blends magical realism and compelling storytelling with gospel themes to draw kids gently into the truth
—Deals with real-life but (seemingly) faraway themes like the plight of orphans, the duties of child soldiers, and the reality of the Ebola virus
—Written by a long-time medical missionary to Africa who handles cross-cultural issues with grace, sensitivity, and love
Learn more and purchase a copy.

My Thoughts:
Doesn't the title of the book just grab you? Loved this adventure story that is action packed, and focused on the gospel of Christ. What an awesome testimony that J.A. Myhre wrote this as a missionary, for her children. That what she created for her own precious little ones, she has chosen to share with us all. This is a great read aloud book for your younger kids, especially to correlate with missions studies and Africa. A great adventure for your middle school children to read on their own.
I am so excited that this is just the first in a series. These will be ones I have my younger children read for sure as they get older. It really shows the kids how life is in East Africa, but keeping it fun and lively as well. Bonus is that the illustrator was also on the missions team with the author, so knew exactly how to depict the scenes! That really makes it extraordinary.

About the Author
J. A. Myhre serves as a doctor with Serge in East Africa where she has worked for over two decades. She is passionate about health care for the poor, training local doctors and nurses, promoting childhood nutrition and development, and being the hands of Jesus in the hardest places. She is married to her best friend and colleague Scott, and together they have raised four children for whom many of her stories were written as Christmas presents.

See what others thought of this excellent book!

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