Friday, March 20, 2015

By Your Side is book 1 in The Crisis Team Series by Candace Calvert (Review & Giveaway)

ER nurse Macy Wynn learned essential, gritty lessons in the California foster care system: land on your feet and trust no one. She’s finally located the fellow foster child she loves like a sister, but the girl’s in deep trouble. Macy’s determined to help, no matter what it takes. Her motto is to “make it happen” in any situation life throws at her—even when she butts heads with an idealistic cop.

Deputy Fletcher Holt believes in a higher plan, the fair outcome—and his ability to handle that by himself if necessary. Now he’s been yanked from Houston, his mother is battling cancer, and he’s attracted to a strong-willed nurse who could be the target of a brutal sniper.

Review: When trained nurse turned successful novelist considers crisis situations, you have a series of books called Crisis Team emerge. Calvert creates realistic and heroic yet human characters out of ER nurses and physicians, chaplains, EMS personnel, and law enforcement personnel.

As this unjoined team works to heal and relieve the stresses of their professions and the cruelties of life and keep the community a safe place in which to live, a lone gunman stalks his prey. Lives are lost randomly and he can’t seemingly be found.

What happens when the healers both of physical and emotional  injuries need help themselves? Who is their helper? What happens when those trying to build a life have their dreams and hopes shattered.

Woven into the thread of the Crisis Team’s very lives is a gentle thread of romance. A blossoming and tender story that is sure to capture the interest of man or woman alike as they cruise the pages of By Your Side.

Who doesn’t love a bit of romance, touch of suspense, and medical or emergency crisis all mixed together. Candace Calvert has brought us another well-written story from her plethora of experience.
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Ghost of Donley Farm Written by Jaime Gardner Johnson Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein

Paperback ISBN: 9781628554595, $9.95
About the book: Rebecca, the red-tailed hawk, is not afraid of ghosts! One night, she bravely ventures into the barn to meet the famous ghost of Donley Farm. But when she finally meets him, Rebecca is surprised to discover that this “ghost” is much more familiar than she’d expected.  Join Rebecca as she stays up late to talk with her new friend and find out what they have in common and how they are different.

Review: When I first opened the book and saw the amount of text on the pages of this picture book, I thought it was going to be a loser. However, as I read through the story I realized that it flowed beautifully and with grace to tell the story of the Red Hawk raptor comparing himself to the Barn Owl.

There is a nice story here that presents a variety of learning opportunities. Overcoming fear of the unknown. Comparing oneself to others in a favorable light. Understanding the differences in physical attributes of each of these raptors and what makes them particularly suited for either day or night.

I found the story a delightful read and believe it suitable as a read aloud for the young child or early elementary, or even for the middle elementary grade child to read to themselves. As the reader peruses the pages, one can find a variety of critters for which the raptors would be looking. Well done illustrations that convey the spirit of the story.

As with other books in this series, in the back of the book there are four pages of learning activities focused on raptors and free online activities that further enhance the reader's experience.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Arbordale Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Animal Partners by Scotti Cohn and illustrated by Shennen Bersani

Paperback ISBN: 9781628554564, $9.95
Arbordale Publishing brings entertainment and education to children and classrooms in an approachable format. Author Scotti Cohn and illustrator Shennen Bersani have teamed to bring a colorful, entertaining book about animals and other critters that partner to keep one another clean, fed, or pest free.

Written in rhyming prose the educational information is delivered with a touch of humor. The bird in the crocodile’s mouth doing his bit of “dentistry” and the barnacles atop the back of the sea turtle are just a couple of the delightful illustrations.

As with other books in the Arbordale series, there is a “For Creative Minds” section at the back of the book with more in depth information and activities. Example:

Commensalism: One partner rides on the other partner without hurting the ride-giver.

  • “Fake scorpions” (pseudoscorpions) catch a lift from flies and other insects by holding onto legs or abdomens.
  • Remoras cling to sharks and a few barnacles hitch rides on sea turtles or whales.
More free learning activities are location online at

I can recommend this as a fun learning book.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Arbordale to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

“Snuggle time Devotions that end with a hug” created by Stephen Elkins; illustrated by Mark Jones, Simon Taylor-Kielty, and Ruth Zeglin

About the book: Every devotional ends with a great big hug!  Little children love getting – and giving – hugs!  Hugs generate warmth, affection, and feeling of acceptance.  This book will get you and your child laughing, playing, and hugging – all while growing closer to God!

Features:  52 fun-filled, activity-based devotions that let children know they are loved and cherished by God; 52 treasured Bible stories kids will want to hear over and over again; 51 Bible verses kids can hide in their hearts forever; and 52 special “hug time” moments for you and your child to share!  

Review: A very nice devotional book for children and their parents, geared to older preschool age through early elementary.  Our daily lives are busy and often it’s challenging to find time to do devotions with our children.  This book is simple, straight forward, and easy to incorporate into our day.  Teaching our children to have one-on-one time with God is critical and an absolute must, and it most definitely should begin with the early years.  Each devotion is divided into four sections:  “my snuggle up story,” “my snuggle time takeaway,” “my Bible time activity,” and “hug time” and can take only 5-10 minutes of your time.  Depending on the child’s age, you may be able to extend your “snuggle time.”  Each devotion also has scripture references at the beginning.

My only complaint about this book, and it really is not a complaint, is that the title initially was misleading to me.  When I first saw the book, I thought it was for bedtime.  But this was my mistake. Once you look through the book, you will see that it is an “anytime” book.  Because with small children, that’s exactly what you have to look for – any time during the day! (reviewer P.Howard)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided to facilitate this review from the Tyndale Blog Network on behalf of the publisher and author. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Easter Stories and Prayers (Little Blessings) by Kathleen Long Bostrom; illustrated by Elena Kucharik

About the book: Celebrate the real meaning of Easter with this special collection of four Little Blessings books.  Each title is written to help kids learn more about Jesus and the sacrifice that was made for us.  This volume also includes a special note from the author, Kathleen Long Bostrom, to help readers understand the meaning of Easter and the good news of Jesus’ resurrection.

Review: This is the first time I have read anything written by Kathleen Long Bostrom.  I did enjoy the stories collected in this one volume.  For me, the target reading age would be 3-yr old and up to early elementary.

Pros:  The illustrations are very nice and calming.  They have a little bit of an old-fashioned feel to them and for this Nana, that is sweet.  There are four books in this one book – easy to keep up with. The titles:  “Why is There a Cross?” – “Who Is Jesus?” – “What is Prayer?” – “What about Heaven?”  Each story is written in a very easy rhyming manner.  It makes reading the stories fun for adults and is engaging to children.

Cons:  The title is a little bit misleading.  Because I’ve never read anything written by Ms. Bostrom, I was expecting the “Easter Story” and while it does have some of the details, it doesn’t go as far as the title implies.  Also, there is no table of contents to list the different stories.  Again, because I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Bostrom’s writings, I thought that this was just “one” book.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  I don’t know that we can ever stop teaching about our children about prayer and talking with God, even when their young adults.  To quote Ms. Bostrom….
“Talking to God is a great thing to do.  And God’s always ready to listen to you.” (pg 78) 
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Tyndale Blog Network on behalf of the publisher and author to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are solely the reviewers. No compensation was received for this review.(reviewed P.Howard)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lucado Treasury of Bedtime Prayers – Prayers for bedtime and every time of day! By Max & Denalyn Lucado; illustrated by Lisa Alderson

About the book: Parents can do so many things for their children.  We can tie their shoes so they don’t trip and fall.  We can make sure they have warm clothes and full tummies.  We can even help them tackle some of the mysteries of higher math.  But the most important thing we can do is teach them to pray.  Childhood is the best window for learning prayer.  We can teach them to talk to God about everything, anything, anytime, and all the time.  We can’t promise an easy life, but we can equip them to face life.  We can’t be with them always, but God can.

Review: I absolutely love this book!!  But I’m also a fan of Max Lucado.  The simplicity of the book and the beautiful illustrations only add to the enjoyment.  Lucado and his wife Denalyn have put together a book of timeless poems & prayers, plus added several of their own original prayers.  At the beginning of the book, the Lucados have a “Dear Parents” letter that encourages us to teach our children to pray, to forgive and receive forgiveness, to have hope and that God truly cares about them.
 From there the book is divided into several categories:  “Good Morning, God,” “God You are Great!”, “My Family and Friends,” and ending with “Good Night, God.”

A couple of poems/prayers:

“Tell God all about your messes.  Your sins.  Your mistakes.  He can fix them – and He won’t even need a Band-Aid.” By Max & Denalyn 
“Dear Lord…Please give me what I ask, dear Lord, if you’d be glad about it.  But if you think it’s not for me, Please help me do without it.”  -- Anonymous
“Treasury of Bedtime Prayers” also includes several scripture references.  Most of the references are quite familiar and should most definitely be ones we are teaching our children to memorize.  This book is not only for children, but for anyone who wishes to be reminded of God’s goodness and how much He cares for His children.  I plan to use some of them in notes that I will be sending out to family and friends.

Again, this is a wonderful book and one that I believe everyone should have in their library!  It is never too early to teach our children about prayer. (reviewed by P.Howard)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by BookLook Blogger Review Program on behalf of the publisher and author to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer. No compensation was received.