Children’s Book Review | The Backward Easter Egg Hunt

*I received a free e-book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

The Backward Easter Egg Hunt is a children’s book by Meadow Rue Merrill. This book was published by Hendrickson Rose Publishing under Rose Kids. This book is part of the Lantern Hill Farm series for children of all ages. This book will be released in March and will be available as a board book and hardcover.

Other books in this series include: The Best Birthday, Light Parade, and The Christmas Cradle.

It’s almost Easter and six-year-old Molly is over the moon with excitement. Like many kids (and some adults) Molly doesn’t know the real meaning behind Easter. She thinks Easter is about sparkly new dresses, baby chicks, fuzzy lambs, and her Aunt Jenny’s annual Easter egg hunt at Lantern Hill Farm.

When Easter finally comes around, Molly’s mother says Aunt Jenny has something different planned for this year. Instead of hiding eggs around the farm for the kids to find, Aunt Jenny gives the kids empty eggs and a list of things to fill the eggs up with.

The list:

  • Something prickly
  • Something red
  • Something living
  • Something dead
  • Something heavy
  • Something light
  • Something dark
  • Something bright

Aunt Jenny uses the Easter egg scavenger hunt to teach the children about the real meaning of Easter… Something prickly was for the nails and crown of thorns, and the red was for Jesus’s blood. Something living and dead was for Jesus’ life and death. Something heavy was for the stone that rolled over Jesus’ tomb, and when Jesus rose it was rolled away like a feather. Something dark and something bright were for Jesus taking away our darkness (she doesn’t call it sin) and filling us with light… I would have liked to have seen some Bible verses, and a little more depth.

Children will definitely love this book! The illustrations are bold and colorful, and the characters are racially diverse. The artwork style looks very familiar, but I can’t place it.

I have never heard of backward Easter egg hunts until now. Did the author just invent this? Or have I been living under a rock? I think it would be a really awesome to do with your family or church youth group (or students if you teach at a Christian school).

For those who hold to images of Jesus being a 2nd commandment violation (2CV), there is a picture of Jesus on one page that can be easily covered.

Pre-order here:
Christian Book Distrubuters
Hendrickson Rose
Amazon
International Ordering

 

Flourish by Lydia Brownback

Lydia Brownback has a new book titled Flourish: How the Love of Christ Frees Us from Self-Focus. I’m really thankful to have received a free copy from Crossway through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: All women are looking to live a life that will satisfy their deepest longings. Worldly thinking offers false hope found in self-focused saviors such as acceptance from others, a checklist for better living, emotional fulfillment, comfort, accomplishments, and more—some of which has crept into the church. Featuring 6 chapters aiming to free women from self-consciousness, self-improvement, self-analysis, self-indulgence, self-condemnation, and self-victimization, this book will help readers discern subtle false messages from the truth in God’s Word—exchanging a self-focused life for the abundant life Jesus promises them in the gospel.

Flourish is a short book and includes a 30 day study guide that can be done with a group, or independently. This book is theologically solid, grounded in scripture, and is deep, yet easy to read. It’s also very convicting.

Throughout the book, the Christian is reminded that we’re called to die to self and give our life fully to God. We are not called to “improve” our lives to make ourselves feel good, impress others, or to live our “best life now”. We weren’t saved to maximize our personal potential and be loved by the world. We were saved to glorify our Lord and Savior. It’s important to remember that being united in Christ makes us act and look more like Him, and as a result we should be hated by the world (Matthew 16:24-26).

Brownback asks important questions throughout the book to make the reader examine herself… Do you define yourself by what others think of you? Do you define yourself by your emotions, or what you went through? Do you believe Jesus died so you could live a happy, carefree life? Are you pursuing personal change to enrich your walk with God and let your light shine better, or because you’re dissatisfied in yourself? When you look at the Christian books you own, are they about making yourself a better person? Or are they about knowing Christ, growing and resting in Him?

One of my favorite parts was when Brownback took a popular author and corrected her bad theology with what Scripture says. Honestly, I could read an entire book that corrects false teachings.

With This Pledge (Carnton #1) by Tamera Alexander

Title: With This Pledge
Series: Carnton #1
Author: Tamera Alexander
Published: January 8, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Christian Fiction
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

This book is based on the real-life love letters of Captain Roland Jones and Elizabeth Clouston. Be sure to check out the author’s website to see photos!

Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Clouston is the governess for Colonel and Mrs. McGavock at their home Carnton in Franklin, Tennessee. On the night of November 30, 1864 the Battle of Franklin (that was 5 hours long) broke out resulting in the death of nearly 10,000 men. The Carnton’s home is turned into a field hospital, with the war visible from their house. (For my non-US followers, the Carnton home can be visited today, like many Civil War sites.)

Lizzie assists the doctor by administering chloroform while he amputates limbs. The scenes are graphic, but thankfully not too detailed. I did get a chuckle out of (paraphrased), “You’re going to feel like you’re suffocating but just breathe through it.” Lol ok then.

During that night, one of the soldiers who dies in Lizzie’s arms is a young boy. Before his death, Lizzie pledges to tell his mother his final words, but she doesn’t know anything about him other than the letters he held. That night, she also meets Captain Roland Jones. Roland lost his leg and some of his right hand, and wants to keep his other leg, despite the risks. Later on, Roland wants to help Lizzie find the yong boy’s mother.

Lizzie is a compassionate young woman who wants nothing more in life than to be a mother. She tends to the soldier’s wounds and needs, and quickly gains their respect. Lizzie also is against slavery, but she doesn’t have the “white savior” complex.

This book does have a little love triangle, but it isn’t annoying (at least I didn’t find it so). Lizzie is engaged to her lifelong friend Towny, who is in the war… But she’s starting to develop feelings for Roland. While the romance between Roland is Lizzie is slow burn, I found it to be a little bit love a first sight. Her moral ground and Roland’s clash, since he is a slave owner. So there’s some arguments and drama there.

“Because each loss hurts and carves a hole inside you so deep you think it could never mend. And in truth, it never does. Not really. But God promises that if you draw close to him, he’ll draw close to you. He’ll soothe that wound with his peace, comfort, and assurance. And with the firm hope of being with that beloved one again.” (page 200)

This book tells the horrors of the Civil War, but it’s also about hope and healing. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait for the sequels. The back of the book says books two and three come out in 2020. In the meantime, I’ll be on the lookout for the prequel novella.

Oh! This book also has a few recipes in back, which is kind of cool. I might make something just for fun.

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

Children’s Book Review | You’re My Little Sweet Pea

You’re My Little Sweet Pea is a Zondervan book illustrated by Kit Chase. This is a padded board book with sixteen pages. The target audience is preschool and up.

Little Sweet Pea, I love you.
From button nose to baby coo.

 Squishy cheeks and sparkly eyes,
Pure delight and perfect size.

 Tender feet and tiny toes,
Where they’ll take you, no one knows.

This has some of the cutest illustrations I’ve seen since I started reviewing children’s books. Once I saw the foxes, I realize Kit Chase was the artist I was trying to find during a reverse image lookup years ago.

This book has cats, foxes, and other animal parents/grandparents/etc with their little one. While Zondervan is a Christian publishing company, this book does not mention God or religion on any page.

This book is set to release January 22, be sure to pre-order it!

*I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review* 

Daily Readings from the Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall, edited by James S. Bell Jr.

*I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

One of the most intriguing yet intimidating religious books (aside from the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin at 900+ pages) is The Christian in Complete Armour by the Puritan and Anglican clergyman William Gurnall. Any time I ask someone, “Where should I start on reading the Puritans?” people almost always recommend The Christian in Complete Armour! (Why in the world would you recommend such a massive book for someone to start!? lol)

The Christian in Complete Armour was first published in three volumes during the 17th century. It also comes in one big unabridged volume (over 1,200 pages!). I have been on the fence about purchasing the three-volume set for about a year now… Other than the intimidating size, the main reason that kept me from purchasing the books was that I wasn’t sure if I would understand or even enjoy most if not all of it.

I was really excited when this devotional popped up in my Amazon recommendations. Not only do I love devotionals, it would help me decide on buying the actual book, so I requested a free copy from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

This book contains daily snippets of William Gurnall’s massive tome, AND it’s updated into modern English by James S. Bell Jr so it’s easy to understand if you’re like me and not used to reading books before the 1800’s, or reading Puritans.

Each entry is a page long— which is great for today, since everyone has such short attention spans— and has a quote with an excerpt from Gurnall’s book. This devotional is great addition to add to your mornings and Bible study (don’t let it replace the Bible though!). It’s for men and women, and new and old Christians alike! Overall, I’m really impressed and will definitely be purchasing the full book sometime in the future.

I’m thankful for men like James S. Bell Jr for taking the time to update this book into modern English. I wish more Puritan works would be updated for people who struggle like I do. Haha. 🙂

Children’s Book Review | I Love You, Funny Bunny

I Love You, Funny Bunny is a Zondervan book illustrated by Sean Julian. This comes in a padded cover board book and a hardcover picture book with a dust jacket. The target audience is ages 4 to 8.

I love you, Funny Bunny, from your whiskers to your toes.

I love the way you hop around and wiggle your cute nose.

I love the way you make me laugh, then melt me with your smile.

And no one in this great big world can match your sense of style.

This is told in rhymes, and has adorable and colorful illustrations of a mother rabbit with her child. While Zondervan is a Christian publishing company, this book does not mention God or religion on any page. This would make a cute Easter gift for the little ones in your life.

*I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review* 

Korean Drama | Oh My Ghost

TitleOh My Ghost
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Supernatural
Release Date: July 3, 2015 – August 22, 2015
Total Episodes: 16 | ~1 hour runtime
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: Bong-Sun is an introverted young woman (late 20’s) working as a dishwasher/assistant in a restaurant owned and operated by star chef Sun-Woo— the man she has a secret crush on. Because her grandmother is a shaman, Bong-Sun can see ghosts. Bong-Sun’s life takes a wild turn after she’s possessed by ghost named Soon-ae’s who holds the grudge of dying as a virgin. 

When I first started this show, it didn’t grab my attention at all, and I was a little disappointed. After a few episodes, the mystery of Soon-ae’s death and the past she couldn’t remember made things interesting.

I really enjoyed the friendship with the guys in the restaurant kitchen, and Bong-Sun and Sun-Woo had romantic chemistry that didn’t feel awkward. I also really liked the scenes with Sun-Woo’s mom and the shaman, their friendship was cute.

One of the things I wish there had been more of were scenes with Soon-ae’s family. I’m really glad she never told them she was a ghost and possessing someone’s body, but at the same time I kind of wish she did. Hearing her brother’s reaction would have been kind of funny.

There are some trends that are in most Asian dramas I’ve seen, but they didn’t seem annoyingly cliché. Sun-woo has his eyes on a girl, and there’s a guy in the restaurant who you can tell has a crush on Bong-Sun. There isn’t a second male lead who suffers, thankfully.

While the ending was happy (for the most part), I didn’t like it because… SPOILERS… Bong-Sun goes to school abroad and blows everyone off, then suddenly comes back and Sun-Woo acts like nothing ever happened. Was that a mistranslation, or did she really not contact him for months? It just seemed weird to me.

For those who may be wondering, there are no sex scenes or nudity.

The Gift That I Can Give by Kathie Lee Gifford

The Gift That I Can Give was written by  Kathie Lee Gifford and illustrated by Julia Seal. The target audience is preschoolers. This book was published by Thomas Nelson’s children division, a registered trademark of Harper Collins Christian Publishing, Inc.

This comes in both a hardcover picture book with a dust jacket, and a board book with a padded cover. I’m reviewing the hardcover picture book (the dust jacket has glitter on the butterflies).

Here are a few pages worth of quotes…

“When I was small,
Right from the start,
God poured out a gift
deep down in my heart.

What is this gift
To use as I grow?
When will I see?
How will I know?

God, will You show me
This gift that I can give
As I grow and love
And I learn how to live?”

So after reading those few pages, I thought maybe this book would be on loving your neighbor, helping, giving, etc… Annnd as soon as I turned the page it went into activities like dancing, singing, and passing the ball during sports… A little unexpected, but not surprising. Then it talks about taking care of stray animals, cheering on friends, visiting sick children, and hugging your family.

Being a good steward by taking care of God’s creation, and visiting those who are sick are great things to talk to children about, but everything else was kinda meh. It wasn’t what I expected after that intro. My nephew was unimpressed with this book, and I don’t think it’s worth the price, which is why I’m glad I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Haha.

Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull

Title: Sky Raiders
Series: Five Kingdoms #1
Author: Brandon Mull
Published: January 1, 2014
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: On Halloween below a haunted house, Cole Randolph wanted to have fun (and maybe get to know Jenna Hunt a little better). But he dives after friends whisked away to The Outskirts.

The five kingdoms lie in between – wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death. Some people are born there. Some find their way there from other worlds.

And once people are in the Outskirts, they find it very hard to leave.

With the magic of the Outskirts starting to unravel, Cole and an unusual girl named Mira must rescue his friends, set things right in the Outskirts, and hopefully find his way back home…before his existence is forgotten.

I have really high expectations for Brandon Mull because of my love for Fablehaven.

The story itself is really unique and interesting! I would have enjoyed reading more about the sky castles, since the book IS called Sky Raiders. Sadly, not a lot of time is spent on the sky castles before Cole and Mira set off on their quest.

The characters are what docked a star. Cole is in sixth grade, yet he and his friends talk like they’re 14-16. It really threw me off and annoyed me at times. As of now, I’m not attached to any of the characters, and I really don’t like one of them and hope he dies. lol

What surprised me most about this book was the violence. The target audience is 8-12 year olds, and there’s a few battle and death scenes. I have no issues with this, since my nephews and niece are mature, but some parents, teachers, and relatives should definitely read this first.

While this was a great start to a series (minus the voice of the characters not matching their age), I’m still kind of confused about how the world and magic system work… I’m hoping things will be explained more as the story progresses.

2019 Reading Challenge

Are any of you doing the Challies 2019 reading challenge? I’m going to start off with the light reading plan. Here’s what I have lined up…

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• A biography: Katharina & Martin Luther
• A novel: And the Mountains Echoed
• A book about history: The Night Trilogy (that counts, right?)
• A book targeted at the opposite gender: I don’t have one at the moment… Help?
• A book about Christian living: Passion & Purity
• A book with at least 400 pages: Redeeming Love
• A book a friend recommends: Anathem (technically my uncle recommended it lol)
• A book about Christian living: Don’t Waste Your Life
• A book more than 100 years old: Dante’s Inferno
• A book by or about a missionary: Revolution in World Missions
• A book for children or teens: Beyonders
• A book of my choice: The Risen Empire
• A book from a “Best of 2018” list: Love Thy Body, which I plan on getting sometime.

Here’s Tim Challies’ post on the reading challenge.