Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review: Life Behind the Wall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a collection of three short youth books about the Berlin wall. Aimed at youth, they follow a family as the city is first divided, then in the middle of the years of conflict, and again when the wall comes down. They don't give a lot of historical/political information. The books briefly talk about how the Russians have control of one side of Berlin and Germany, and the Americans are helping to protect the opposite side.  The books focus more on what it was like for the characters as they deal with life behind the wall.  I enjoyed these books, there was enough action to keep you going, and I enjoyed the characters and the way the same family and storylines were continued through out the books.  As an adult, I'm glad I had the opportunity to read all three at once, it really gives the young reader the full feel of each of the three time periods.  The third book brought tears to my eyes as there was more of the family history revealed. I would recommend this to young readers, probably as early as upper elementary for advanced readers, but definitely for middle grades and high school.  I enjoyed them as an adult and they have whet my appetite for more historical fiction about the Berlin wall and the Cold War.  I enjoy historical fiction but have tended to read mostly about World War II and for some reason, really have not had a lot of exposure to the Cold War through Literature, so I'll be looking for more!

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Book Review: Let's Sew Together

I was excited to have the chance to review a crafty/sewing book! Let's Sew Together, by Rubyellen Bratcher is a fun book full of little projects to work on as a family.

To be completely honest, I probably would not have gone out and bought this book, but I think it will be really fun to sit down with my daughter, who is showing interest in sewing at 6 years old, and pick out some projects to do together.  I like that the book is a combo of machine sewing, hand sewing, and no sewing crafts.  They are some great toys, like puppets, a girl doll and a robot doll, play place settings, fruit and veggie softies, etc.  There are clothes, little slippers, pencil pouches, and a beautiful map quilt.  I love that she really encourages kids to personalize and decorate, using fabric markers on the projects and then embroidering or free hand quilting. There are templates included for projects where they are needed.  They all fit on the page and inlcude percentages for sizing up appropriately. This is really my only criticism of the book, I'm not sure that my home printer/copier can do enlargements, so I'd probably have to take it to a copy shop or somewhere with a copier.  I wish there were some way to give a unique code inside each book to download the files online or something. There is a simple, thorough introduction that makes this book accessible to beginning sewists. I'd recommend it for beginners as well as for sewists of any level with kids who want ideas for projects to work on together.  You can read more info from the publisher here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Truth Be Told

Another enjoyable novel. Like most Christian romance/mystery novels, this is an easy read. It's not deep and inspirational or thought provoking but it is a good, quick, fun read. The romance angle is sometimes a little much for me, but the mystery was engaging and interesting to follow. Amelia is returning to the small town where she grew up, and where her father still lives for her customary summer visit with her father only to find him dying if cancer and herself i possession of a newspaper. She takes the reins and tries to continue her father's investigation on a local company buying up local land and planning to mine it. She meets Ben Stone, a young employee of the company and they strike up a mutual interest. What she doesn't know is that he has been told to get close to her to convince her to give up the investigation. Thankfully, Ben is a honest, Christian man who sees Amelia as a friend and soon realizes as well that there is more to his company than meets the eye...
Recommended for readers who enjoy clean romance or mystery.

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bed Space Saver!

We had seen some posts floating around Pinterest of beds built with drawers underneath to save space (like this one).  I immediately LOVED this idea and even found plans to build them on Ana White's amazing site!  I soon realized that basically all this was was a bed build on top of a dresser and set out to convince my amazingly handy husband to figure out how to do a thrifty-er version!  We ended up with this amazing bed that we all LOVE. (Disclaimer: if I were a "real" blogger, this post would be full of beautiful pictures, however, it's just me blabbing about my projects so... you know. You get messy rooms and clothes and stuff everywhere, because that's life around here!)

We found the dresser at our local Goodwill for $15!  (I wanted it when it was $30 but the hubby thought that was too much and snagged it when they put it on sale!)

It is not solid wood but is very solid and sturdy and I knew I would paint it anyway (and I have a very hard time painting over wood...)

This is the first picture I took of the process, already sanded to scuff it up a bit for paint, and minus the drawers.

We painted it that lovely deep purple, and awesome hubby figured out how to take her existing bed and put it on top. I believe he screwed the actual sides of the bedframe into the wall, and also added some 2x4 brace posts as well. It is also screwed down into the dresser (obviously not in this picture yet, since we switched the position!). You can see above how this does leave a good size space behind the dresser.  We had thought about adding a little bookshelf door that would swing out, but for right now, her hamper sits right in the hole, and it's used as a fun little hideaway!  Eventually, it will be great to store things like larger or out of season clothes, etc. 

A nice big 1x10 with some matching curves cut into the top makes a nice guardrail so she won't fall off in the middle of the night. 

And some matching paint to bring it all together! The sticker just adds the finishing touch, we got it from Icon Wall Stickers when I won a giveaway...just pretend it isn't slightly crooked! (The little clothes labels I also won in a giveaway from Crafterhours.)

She will be sharing her room with her baby sister and this helps consolidate furniture so much!  We love that its a "fun" bed to sleep on since its higher, but is still fairly easy for mom to help make up with sheets if needed.  We will probably do another when baby girl is old enough to need one (though there is a debate about that vs. a bunk built up above...). We'll see...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book Review: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters ChristianitySeeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an excellent book. It is a autobiographical account of the author's movement from the Muslim faith to faith in Christ. I thought this book was very well done. It was so easy to read, and very engaging. At times it felt very much like a memoir (which it kind of is), but it is also full of information. I appreciated how the author took the time to educate the reader on beliefs of Islam, and though he obviously comes to discard the Muslim faith as true, he is respectful throughout and discusses his childhood and the faith he was taught with affection. The book details so much that would be helpful to those interacting with Muslims: beliefs, arguments they are taught against Christianity, major stumbling blocks to belief in Christ. It also, through dialogue between the author and his Christian friends, presents the arguments made to him proving the case for Christianity as being truth. I really appreciated that this was not an easy, off the cuff decision for him. The aithor is obviously an intelligent man. Throughout the book, he is a pre-med student in the Honors program at his university who later goes on to finish medical school. He is a devout Muslim who believes what he has been taught and knows it well. He discusses, researches, and ponders the things he learns from his friends for over 3 years before making a decision. He does not just believe what is told to him, but studies and investigates everything on his own, reading the Quran and other Muslim writings as well as books by Christian authors and eventually, the Bible. Most of the book focuses on the case for Christianity, but eventually he does look at his Muslim faith to see if it holds up to similar scrutiny. It was very interesting how he discussed why it is so difficult for a Muslim to turn to Christ, saying that, among other things, they are usually completely ostracized from their entire community and friends, even from their immediate family. Something that stuck with me was that he said he knows people that understand the truth of Christ and will not turn to Christ because they have no friend or support in the  Christian faith to support them when they are essentially excommunicated.

I would recommend this book whole heartedly, and feel it is great for a wide audience. It is excellent for Christians who are frequently in contact with Muslims  (or even if not) and want to understand them better, but also for any Christian wanting to know how better to defend and present their faith. I also think it would be a great read for those interested in following Christ who are skeptical. Some may want to delve deeper into the topics and proofs presented but at the very least it would be a great introduction.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: Silenced

Silenced (Alaskan Courage, #4)Silenced by Dani Pettrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fast, good read.  The series follows the McKenna siblings, a close knit and is of the romance/mystery genre.  This particular book, number 4 in the series, is focused on Kayden McKenna as she finds a fallen climber during a free climb and assists new deputy Jake Cavanaugh investigate what turns out to be a murder. The romance develops between Kayden and Jake as they continue to investigate together.  The mystery was great, with a twist I didn't really see coming. I have enjoyed the first few in the series, though I missed the third one; I think these are enjoyable on their own, but they do bring in the other siblings occasionally, which is more enjoyable when one is familiar with their stories.  There are some lead-ins throughout the series to that hint at who the next book will focus on (Reef is up next time! and the last McKenna sibling so perhaps the end of the series??), but I'd say that each book is definitely very satisfying on its own.  I'd recommend it to both mystery and romance readers (I prefer mysteries but don't mind when there is romance mixed in!). The siblings are Christians and refer to their faith, but I don't think the faith aspect is too overwhelming for non-believers either.

I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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