Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: "The Knot Yours Truly" by Carley Roney and the editors of TheKnot.com

This book is primarily wedding photos and is essentially a large magazine. It is broken into three sections: defining your style, real weddings, and crafts.

The defining your style section is the most brief at 12 pages, but it packs the most text per page. Most of the information is very basic (defining formality, choosing a color or theme, etc.). It also definitely spends time plugging the website: "sign up for notifications from The Knot--we'll send you a list of to-dos tailored to where you are in the planning process along with tons of inspiration" (20). However basic this section may be, it is a very exciting time so it might be nice to read anyway.

Nearly 160 pages of "real weddings" make up the largest part of this book. That's all it's described as in the table of contents, but at the beginning of the actual section it breaks it down further into bohemian, classic, eclectic, glam, modern, romantic, and rustic. Personally I would have preferred this information to be in the main table of contents for ease of access, but it's not that inconvenient. Each section covers several couples' weddings, including quotes from the couple, and tons of pictures of invitations, centerpieces, dresses, tuxes, and cakes. At the end of each section there's a "blueprint"page that suggests colors, flowers, paper, attire, menu, venues, and favors that match the style. This seems like a very helpful overview for anyone really looking for advice on what type of flowers or colors.

The crafts section is really cute. From save-the-date clay magnets to a breakfast-to-go basket for out of town guests, this is a great idea for the creative couple looking to put their personal touch on their wedding. However, each of these crafts is only one page of typed instructions and one full-page picture. So don't expect step by step pictures to help you progress.

There's also an index and a list of the venues and photographers used, which is helpful.

Overall, yes, all of this information is also available from other sources for free and probably even more useful online, such as The Knot or Pinterest. However, this book would make a really nice gift for a newly engaged couple excited to start dreaming of their wedding together. This would also be really fun to browse through with a recently engaged friend (or soon to be).

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Touch and Feel Night Night, Farm by Amy Parker, illustrated by Virginia Allyn

Touch and Feel Night Night, Farm is a 10-page board book. The front and back covers are very sturdy and the inside pages are sufficiently sturdy. You won’t have to worry about this book getting bent or ripped, which is good given the touch and Feel style is usually for very young children. The title features read and blue foil and the sun is glittery gold.

Each spread of pages features a four line rhyming poem ending with animal noises following the pattern of “Night Night, Farm,” such as “oink oink, pigs.”  The rhymes are cute and sometimes mention a number of animals features or use a texture word, so there are some learning opportunities. The last page says, “oh, the animals God has made! And, hey, He made me too! Night Night, God.”

A sheep has fuzzy white wool, a pig has a cloth tummy, stars and sun are glittery gold, a horse has fine hair, a cat has longer hair, sheep dream bubbles are glittery white, chickens have red foil, a hay ride has a slight indent, and the last page has foil glitter moon and stars and a cloth blanket. Most of the touch and Feel elements are really good, but the soup-can tractor pulling a hayride only has a slight indentation and it took me a long time to notice it. I don’t think kids will be interested in the minute difference. Also, the glitter being repeated was a bit disappointing especially because that’s so common in many children’s books.

Overall though, I’d recommend this book. Touch and Feel books are so fun to read with children and this one is no exception. I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Prayer Bible ICB Review

The Prayer Bible is an International Children's Bible (ICB). The cover designs are metallic gold and there is a cloth blue ribbon bookmark.

Though it has "large readable type" that is much easier to read than an adult bible, it is still probably only 10-point font. The pages are thin as in most Bibles, which may be challenging for children to get used to.

There are 160 pages in the Bible focused on prayer. These are a full page focused on a particular topic, with a scriptural reference point to start, followed by several paragraphs of text explaining an aspect of prayer, such as "Your Will." There's also "Prayer Pointers": "We don't always know what to pray for, but God always knows what is best for us!" (16). These pages are lightly decorated with a stems of leaves.

There are 64 colored pages of poem prayers, scripture prayers, and kid's Q&A's related to prayer. The only real added color though is gold, but it is prominently featured as a decorative border on several pages, and as an accent on others.  The prayers are relatively short, but are one-per-page. An example of a question answered in this Bible is "What if I am afraid God si not going to answer? Should I pray anyway?"

There is a key verse highlight section that directs the reader to passages based on a topic keyword, such as "bravery," "healing," "love," "rejoicing," and "salvation." Throughout the Bible, these "key verses" are highlighted in blue. The Lord's Prayer is printed in easy-to-read language with the scriptural reference printed at the top.

Each book of the Bible features blue titles and chapter numbers. There are footnotes throughout. I was disappointed that there's no child-friendly introduction to each book of the Bible.

There is a dictionary at the end that is also a directory of scriptural references to the word mentioned. The dictionary explains who people are, as well places and words like "amen." There's also two pages of "What God Promises About..." which features a category (e.g., "forgiveness,""my prayers," "wisdom") with verses printed out and where they are located in the Bible. There are three pages of "Memory Verses for My Life." There are several blank ruled pages for prayer requests at the end, followed by two more prayers and Q&A pages.

It comes with a 64-page ruled prayer journal that has a kite in the top left corner of the left side of the spread and a hot air balloon in the bottom right of the right page. The inside of the journal's design and lines are printed in blue.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Friday, January 26, 2018

With Love, From Me to You by Mary Manz Simon, illustrated by Corinna Ice

With Love, From Me to You is a board book that shows how to love one another in various situations and also how God shows love to us.

A polar bear mail carrier visits a new little animal each spread of pages, encountering animals who are sad, shy, and angry, delivering letters sealed with hearts. The book then talks about how we feel God's love and how our outward kindness shows God's love to others. The text it given through four lines of rhyming text on each spread. The language is easy enough, but not confined to short words, either.

The cover has red foil for the title and hearts on the cover, which adds a nice little touch of shiny. The pages are not completely stiff, so this book is a good transition from a hard board book to books with real paper.The illustrations are adorable with all sorts of little animals holding letters sealed with hearts, helping elderly animals, hugging one another, and playing together.

This book would be a cute gift for valentine's day or any other time, really. As the back of the book says, it's a "sweet reminder to little ones how important it is to love and be loved."

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Crown The Official Companion by Robert Lacey

Written by royal biographer Robert Lacey, The Crown the Official Companion covers everything you might wonder after watching the Netflix show. Volume 1: Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen covers the years 1947–1955, corresponding with season one of the show.

The book is broken into 10 chapters, one for each episode. Each chapter contains history surrounding the events of the show, and most interestingly describes any deviations the show has from the historical record. For example, chapter one explains that Phillip had really given up his title several months before the wedding, but the show condensed the timeline. For each deviation, Lacey explains what really happened and why it is portrayed differently in the show.

Throughout the chapter there are short biographical blurbs of various related people, or blurbs about specific moments or general history. One about “educating Elizabeth” lasts several pages. These blurbs are more about specific history and relate less to the show/specific episode. 

There are black and white photos throughout, both historical and from the show. Sometimes they are not captioned, which is a little annoying to not know the context. Another small problem with the pictures is that in Phillip and Elizabeth’s wedding picture, which spreads across two pages, the caption specifically regrets to Queen Marry being behind and between the bride and groom, but you can’t see her at all because it’s right in the book’s gutter. There are also two color inserts. Overall, the amount of photos is generous and what you would hope for in this type of book. 

This book also provides other resources, such as a family tree, a royal timeline,a list of the cast (including a category of fictitious characters added), recommended further reading on the history,and an index. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Tora Fright Patches Things Up by Tracey Madder, illustrated by Bonnie Pang

Tora Fight Patches Things Up is a children’s book from a series called “Prayer Monsters.” Tora, the second youngest of five siblings, is described as being the one who always reminds her siblings to pray. However, when her baby brother accidentally destroys an art project she’d worked so hard on, it takes her mother’s gentle reminder for Tora to pray. Tora asks God for help in forgiving her brother and then apologizes to him. Together, they rebuild the art project.

After the story, the last page has Ephesians 4:32—“Be king to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

The story is told through short paragraphs, usually about three sentences per page. Some have more, especially if the other page of the spread doesn’t have any words. The illustrations are colorful and cute. The monster family has a home just like a human, complete with family photos and bookshelves.

Before the story begins, there is a chapter introduction of three of the siblings, each devoted their own page. After the story, the other two children are featured. These character descriptions provide more background and detail to individualize the characters.

This is a pleasant book to read and I thought the message was very well done.

 I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

"The Austen Escape" by Katherine Reay

The Austen Escape is the fourth Katherine Reay book I've read, and unfortunately I did not find it as enjoyable as previous books.

Mary goes on a Jane Austen–inspired trip to England with her friend Isabel to stayin Bath, acting and dressing as though they belonged in one of Jane Austen's novels.  However, while there, Isabel has a sort of mental break after some cruel words from her father and believes she is actually the character she's playing. Mary's frustration at her friend's backstabing man-stealing ways get pushed aside as she must wait until Isabel remembers who she is before confronting her.

This novel had a fun, easy to read writing style. Mary was shown to be a strong woman, engineer, and  loyal to her family and friends. However, her relationship with the love interest of the story, Nathan, made her seem immature and lacking in social skills. For example, she overhears half a phone conversation and instead of talking about it, takes several drastic actions including buying a plane ticket to leave the country and attempting to leave without telling Nathan.

It's an interesting concept that you could vacation in a place where you could live out your favorite stories, but Isabel's memory problem interfered with my enjoyment of that aspect of the story too much. I'd recommend reading this book only if you really enjoyed Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy & Jane, and The Brontë Plot as I did. Even still, I was not as captivated by this story.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.