Friday, May 23, 2014

Book Review: Smart Money, Smart Kids

Smart Money, Smart Kids
By Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze
Lampo Press, 2014
English, 256 pgs

Book Description

Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze teach parents how to raise money-smart kids in a debt-filled world.
In Smart Money Smart Kids, financial expert and best-selling author Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze equip parents to teach their children how to win with money. Starting with the basics like working, spending, saving, and giving, and moving into more challenging issues like avoiding debt for life, paying cash for college, and battling discontentment, Dave and Rachel present a no-nonsense, common-sense approach for changing your family tree.

This is not the first book on teaching kids about money that I have read. But it will be the first that I put into practice. I tried the Money Makeover many years ago and failed at my attempt, but I've always known that Mr. Ramsey was smart about money and that his advice was something that I should follow.

Dave comes at money problems from a different perspective than Rachel. I like that she calls him a surgeon where she is a preventative medicine. I don't ever want my sons to deal with the crushing weight of debt and I want them to learn the value of work.

I'm really happy that I've read this book. I have set up jars for both of my boys so they can see their spending and saving money grow. I'm still trying to figure out all the details of how to make things work (like how much to pay for working and when to pay) but that's because my husband hasn't read it yet and we're going to work it out together.

I've been so motivated by the book that I'm looking into restarting the Money Makeover for our family. I'm committed and ready to get going.

Favorite quotes:
  • Work creates discipline, and when you have discipline in your life, you are a healthier person.
  • Giving his own money changes a child's whole understanding of giving.
  • Personal finance is 80 percent behavior; it's only 20 percent head knowledge.
  • You must teach them (your children) that they don't own money - the are simply managers, or stewards of it.
  • A budget creates boundaries.
  • Your child needs to know as early as possible that debt in any form will wreck his future financial success.
  • The debt-free college plan isn't always easy, but it is definitely the best way in the long run.
  • If you want to raise money-smart kids, you have to raise kids who are content.
  • Hearing and accepting the word no does something wonderful for your child: it teaches her boundaries.

More information is available at if you're interested in learning what he teaches about debt and budgeting.

I received a copy of the book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review on my blog and a commercial website. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Book Review: Beautiful on the Mountain

Beautiful on the Mountain
By Jeannie Light
Tyndale Momentum, 2014
English, 304 pgs

Amazon Product Description:
If you enjoyed the classic novel Christy and the bestselling Mitford series, then you’ll love Beautiful on the Mountain, a real-life tale about serving God in unlikely circumstances. In 1977, Jeannie Light left her fine plantation home amid heartbreak and came to Graves Mill, a tiny hamlet in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Alone in an utterly new kind of life, Jeannie was determined to find the courage to make a fresh start.

To Jeannie’s surprise, she found herself called upon by her new neighbors to open the old, deteriorated country church, a place that had once united the fractured community of mountain folk. With no training, and no small amount of trepidation, she undertook the task. And as she embarked on an unforeseen series of adventures, from heartbreaking to hilarious, Jeannie would learn more than she ever expected about faith, loving your neighbor, and doing the work that God sets in front of you. Because sometimes, God calls us to go where there is no path . . . and leave a trail.

From the Back of the Book:
She kept a .44 on the bedpost and a Bible at the Ready

When Jeannie Light came to Graves Mill in 1977, she was sure God had led her there. She's left her plantation home amid heartbreak, determined to make a fresh start by caring for the fragile tract of Blue Ridge Mountain land that was suddenly hers. But did God know what He was doing, sending her into a wilderness populated with bear hunters, poachers, and the last of the mountain people?

Jeannie had plans, but God had surprises. Her new neighbors asked her to "get the ol' church open" -- a crumbling, abandoned country church that had once united the community. The ouside world said it couldn't be done; that the hollows were too poor and isolated for a church to survive. But with no training, and no small amount of trepidation, Jeannie undertook the challenge.

Beautiful on the Mountain is the true story of Jeannie's heartbreaking and hilarious adventures in Graves Mill as she set out with her trusty dog, Tallis, by her side -- and learned more than she's ever dreamed about faith, loving your neighbor, and doing the work that God sets in front of you. Because sometimes, God calls us to go where there is no path ... and to leave a trail.

My Review:
I'm not typically a fan of biography books, but I enjoyed this one. Jeannie writes in a very personal and honest way that draws you into her adventures and experiences. You come to care about the community, with all the assorted, and sometimes crazy, people.

I appreciate that Jeannie expresses that this was not an easy undertaking, that she had doubts and that she was willing to submit herself and her dreams to God's direction. Her story should be encouraging to someone starting in a mission field or someone who just wants to be used by God for His purposes.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review on my blog and a commercial bookseller site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review: Queen Vernita Visits Gator Country

Queen Vernita Visits Gator Country
By Dawn Menge
Outskirts Press, 2014
English, 33 pgs

Amazon Product Description:
The latest installment of Dawn Menge's award-winning Queen Vernita series finds Queen Vernita of Oceaneer on the road once again. Vernita has many friends, not only in her kingdom, but all over the world. In Queen Vernita Visits Gator Country, these friends invite her on a year-long journey through the American South. She spends a month with each friend who teaches her about the rich culture, music, food and history from this part of our country. Beginning on the first of January, Vernita arrives in Gator Country, where her friend Neomi introduces her to the world of Jazz. Vernita marvels at this vibrant blend of African and European music. On each day of the week, Vernita learns a new exciting fact about Jazz, including how it has evolved over the past century. At the end of January, she says a sad goodbye to Neomi, then she's off to sail down the Mississippi (and learns how to spell Mississippi!). She spends the month of February on a paddleboat with her dear friend Sidney, who tells her all about paddleboats: that they date back to the Roman Empire and were once powered by oxen, and even men! From Joachim, Vernita studies the many forms of life inhabiting the bayou; including the plants, crawfish, and catfish. When it's time to learn about the gators, Vernita travels with her friend Albert, and even holds a baby gator in her hands! In the course of her travels, Vernita also learns about the often forgotten history of the South: the period before the Civil War, when many people lived on plantations and owned slaves. Thankfully, the brave souls ran the Underground Railroad helped slaves escape via a secret pipeline to the North. Throughout the year, Queen Vernita and her readers learn something new and fascinating with every step of the way. It fosters a love of learning, and a curiosity about the people, animals, and natural wonders of our world. It's also a fun way for kids to learn the months and the days of the week.

About the Author:
Dawn Menge is the author of the Queen Vernita's educational series. Her series has won 19 literary awards. Queen Vernita's adventures include: Queen Vernita's Visitors, Queen Vernita Visits the Blue Ice Mountains, Queen Vernita Meets Sir HealthyBean,  and Queen Vernita Explores the Oceaneer's Coastline.
For more information visit
The book is available for purchase through the link above, as well as on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

When the opportunity to review this book was presented, I jumped at the chance. We're not too far from Louisiana and have been toying with the idea of going there in the coming summer. I wanted to find a book to start teaching my boys about where we would be going.

The book is very educational. Queen Vernita learns seven things about whichever adventure she is having.

January = Jazz
February = paddleboats and the Mississippi River
March = Mardi Gras
April = alligators
May = French Quarter
June = Audubon Park, Zoo and Aquarium
July = plantation life
August = Oak Alley plantation
September = slavery
October = Underground Railroad
November = bayou life
December = African American tribes

The art work is colorful and appropriate for each month's "lessons".

My only issue with the book is that it reads a little difficult. The "days" that Vernita learns the facts feels more like a text book than a story book. I understand that the purpose of the book is to teach, but I think it could have been done in a more lyrical style and that would have been easier to read.

My youngest was interested in some of the pages, mainly the alligator and zoo, while my oldest got wrapped up in the slavery pages and we're starting to explain that period of time to him now.

It's useful for teaching about the state/region and I think that it would fit well into a lesson plan that was learning about the states.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review on my blog and a commercial book seller site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Book Review: When I Journal He Speaks

When I Journal He Speaks
By Dr. Michelle Miner
Outskirts Press, 2014
English, 190 pgs

Amazon Product Description:
The Voice of God Is Just a Journal Entry Away!

Experienced therapist, teacher, mentor and one who flows in prophetic insight and wisdom, Dr. Michelle Miner will demonstrate and instruct you both in the value of journaling and how to journal in this interactive book. When I Journal He Speaks shares with you Michelle's journey of learning how to use journaling to hear the voice of the Lord, so you can embark on that same uplifting, amazing road to a closer relationship with God. Maybe you've thought about journaling before, but you don't think you are a writer, or you worry that you don't know how to do it correctly. The good news is there is no right or wrong way to journal-and you can start in any way that feels comfortable to you. You will learn to discern the true voice of God and to have confidence in the knowledge that He is speaking to you. Your journal can become a resource upon which you can reflect to remind you of the words that God has given to comfort and inspire you. If you've ever heard someone say "God spoke to me" and wondered how that was possible...this book is for you. As you become closer to the Lord, you will begin to hear His voice in your everyday life. God speaks-are you ready to receive the gift of His voice?

About the Author:
Michelle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Board Approved Clinical Supervisor. She has a Doctor of Christian Counseling degree. Michelle's passion is to see people healed from past emotional, mental, and spiritual wounds, and current struggles with living life in freedom. Michelle endeavors to empower people as they work through their issues, and to encourage them as they find peace, healing, and wholeness in Christ. Dr. Miner owns a psychiatric rehab facility in Louisiana. She knows there are times when life can throw curves, and she endeavors to assist women, especially, to be strengthened in their walk with the Lord. 

I think this book is useful for many reasons. First, the beginning is about how to hear the voice of God. That's a hard thing for many new believers to understand. The book is to be used as a tool to begin or to improve our dialogue with God. She uses Habakkuk to explain how to hear the voice of God. She says that when we hear a flow of spontaneous thought that we should be aware of it and might be able to attribute that voice to God. But, we need to be still and quiet our minds to listen. We also need to be able to discern God's voice from that of ourselves and our enemy. I often find that if the thought is confirmed in scripture that it indeed was God talking. He also confirms his voice and words through speaking the same thing to other people in our lives. She states that as we focus on Jesus during our prayer times we can listen for the voice and look for dreams or visions and then record them. For best practice, she says we need to just write them as they come, and then examine and interpret them later.  I really appreciate that she also says that you should confirm any moves you feel God is telling you to make with a trusted counselor or friend. It's not questioning God to make sure you understand the directions.

 She gives suggestions about how to start a journal based quiet time. She advocates asking God questions (writing them down, of course) and then listening for the response (and writing them down). I like that she advocates having reference materials and your Bible near. Sometimes God will tell you where to find the answer you need and you have to go get it!

The chapters have short devotions and room in the book to journal as you read through it. This is helpful for beginning the practice. Some of them already have question prompts to work through and that seems to be helpful at the beginning of the practice. As you spend more time and go deeper into hearing God's voice you'll be ready to have your own journal and ask your own questions that are important to your own life.

There are a total of 40 journaling exercises. Each one is pretty heavy on the author's personal thoughts and personal responses from God. I wish there was more scripture throughout the journaling pages but there is a lot. I just would think that each exercise would have references within them. The days are quick and easy to read. They start pretty "easy" and move "deeper" as you're more comfortable with the process and with hearing God's voice.

You can find this book for sale on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review on this blog and a major book distributor website. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Book Review: When I Grow Up I Want to Be...

When I Grow Up I Want to the U.S. Navy!
By Wigu Publishing
Wigu Publishing, 2014
English, 58 pgs

Amazon Product Description:
Noah is excited for the chance to tour a real aircraft carrier with his Grandpa Ed, a proud Navy veteran. He is not excited that his little sister, Marina, is tagging along. Still, Noah tries to be patient. Readers chuckle and follow along as the siblings learn that each deck, each crew member, and each piece of equipment adds another chapter to the history of the U.S. Navy and its mission to protect our country. Noah and Marina's curiosity helps introduce readers to the complex and exciting work of an aircraft carrier and how each crew member plays a vital role in its functioning.

"A thoroughly enjoyable, readable adventure aboard a Navy flattop for any boy or girl. A fitting tribute to the U.S. Navy and to the men and women dedicated to serving our country." - Captain A. Stewart (USN Pacific Fleet, Ret.)
This highly acclaimed book series by Wigu Publishing introduces juvenile readers to the people in their communities who serve others through their vocations. With 12 titles in the works, the When I Grow Up I Want to Be...series promises to both enlighten and inspire young readers.
Upcoming books in this series include...a Good Person!, a Nurse!, a Veterinarian!, a Race Car Driver!, and Green!.
About the Author:
Wigu Publishing is a collaboration among talented and creative individuals working together to publish informative and fun books for children. Their books help children to visualize the abundant opportunities that exist for them to be successful and to make a positive difference.

For more information about these books, check out their website.

This is the second book of the series that I have had the opportunity to read and review with my children. We were really excited about this one because their grandfathers were both in the Navy and one of their uncles currently serves in the Navy. 

The book does not disappoint. The only negative I have to say about it is that the cartoon characters look a little strange in a few of the pictures. Other than that, this is a top notch book that has inspired my youngest to learn more about the Navy and whether or not he'll enlist after high school. He has a long way to go, but when he learned that he can be a fire fighter and be in the Navy he got really excited. 

The book begins with The Sailor's Creed. There is a little bit of humor in the story of Noah and his sister, but mainly I'm impressed with the amount of information about the carrier. There is historical information about the formation of the Navy as well. The boys were greatly impressed with the information about the flight deck and how the planes are raised and lowered on an elevator. 

I really like this series of books and will look into the other titles when they're released. I like that my boys are seeing different options for their futures and understanding that they don't have to decide anything until they've seen more options.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Book Review: Meant to Be Mine

Meant to Be Mine
By Becky Wade
Bethany House, 2014
English, 384 pgs

From the Back Cover:
Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school--irresistible. When their paths cross again after college--still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be her husband. He's a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he's long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he's known since childhood.

Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia's trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?

I haven't read the first book in the series of the Porter boys (Undeniably Yours) but I don't think that I missed anything. Of course, since the major characters from that book are in this one and doing well, I probably won't pick that one up.

Anyway, you do not have to have read the first book to enjoy this one. It was a little hard for me to get into at first, but it picks up a bit and ends up being a sweet story.

There is a large portion devoted to a Christian message in the story. That is exactly to be expected since it's a Bethany House book.

Anyway... Ty and Celia have known each other since high school. They have each gone their own ways, but ended up getting married in Las Vegas on a whim. Then he realizes what he's done and splits. Celia ends up pregnant from their wedding night and hides the child from Ty. Not a lot is devoted to their backstory as we pick up when the child is 5 years old. Long story short, dad and daughter bond instantly. Dad has to continue on his career, to honor obligations to which he has agreed. Dad makes every effort to know daughter, to the dismay of the mother. Dad gets hurt. Mom and daughter agree to move to Dad's hometown to help out. Dad realizes he loves Mom. Mom realizes she loves Dad but doesn't want to admit it.

I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review on my blog. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Book Review: Hope Rising

Hope Rising: How Christians Can End Extreme Poverty in this Generation
By Scott C Todd
Thomas Nelson, 2014
English, 224 pgs

Extreme poverty does not have to exist. When Christians accept that fact and start living accordingly, we will find the solution is already within our reach.

Worldwide, 19,000 children die from preventable deaths every day. If that statistic leaves you feeling powerless, you are not alone-but you are wrong. If a false sense of powerlessness has lulled you into apathy, it's time to shake off the grogginess of low expectations and get to work. We can make this world a place where kids do not die from easily preventable diseases.

In Hope Rising, Scott Todd of Compassion International pens a galvanizing, comprehensive vision of the movement that will eradicate extreme global poverty through transformative Christian generosity-and do it within our lifetime. Todd provides riveting evidence to show that we are much closer to that goal than you might think.

According to Todd, we live in an historic moment, and chances are you are already part of it. The gospel is already reshaping lives from thoughtless consumption to informed concern. Twenty-first-century Christians are generating multi-continent grassroots movements through communications and travel. Public and private sectors are working together. It's a whole new era of philanthropy, compassion, and justice aimed at eradicating the pandemic of extreme global poverty.

This is a future we have the God-given power to create. This is the history we hope to write.
As Todd envisions, "The twenty-first-century Christians embraced the entirety of their gospel-the truths it proclaims and the muscles it demands-with a new integrity. They did not deteriorate into humanist liberalism, as some had feared. Nor did they pile works on top of Grace…They simply determined that their world did not need to have children dying of preventable causes such as dirty water."

I cannot say enough good about this book. I currently sponsor two children through Compassion so I fully support their work and their mission. I was happy to see this book, written by a Senior Vice President in the organization, is realistic. It's full of data, research and scripture to support the theory that extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 per day) can be ended. In this lifetime.

The first section, The Death and Resurrection of Expectations, is about why the book was written and what we (all people, not just the Church) can do to change our thinking about ending poverty. When we have low expectations we don't have anything to expect and work towards. The states that "sentiment alone is insufficient", we have to be "wise stewards of the resources God has entrusted to [us]" and we need to see the difference between a "statement of faith and a demonstration of faith". He also calls for a "True Fast" in which we seek justice, share resources and pour ourselves out for the hungry.

The second section, Poverty is not an Unconquerable Mystery, he gives examples and statistics about how much has been done in recent years to work toward ending poverty. It also talks about what is going to be necessary in the immediate and ongoing future. "We tend to credit humans with inventions like rebar and vaccines, but they're acts of God too." The section discusses the culture of poverty and how it is entrenched in hopelessness, therefore very hard to climb out of for anyone. There is an amazing chapter that discusses Jesus's words that "the poor you will always have with you" and how that has been misinterpreted for centuries as an excuse not to work against poverty.

The third section, What Kind of People Will End Extreme Poverty?, explains that you don't have to be one of the super-rich to make a difference. Simple, hardworking, hard-loving people can make a difference. It talks about the Biblical legacy we have regarding providing for the poor and what a threat that is to the powers that struggle against God. There are several examples of ordinary people with extraordinary vision and impact, as well as a call to recognize who we are in Christ and what power that gives us.

The fourth section, The Primary Colors of Social Change, talks about the different aspects of society (government, business and church) can work together for change. I really like that the author states that it's a joint effort. We can raise and support leaders who want to make aid a bigger part of state and national budgets. We can support businesses that create products to give back or support jobs in impoverished societies. We can expect our churches to give a tithe as well as accepting our tithes. Expanding giving isn't hard, it just has to be consistent.

The final section, Catalysts and Strategy, is just what it sounds like. It's examples of what we can do and where we can start to make differences.

 I received a copy of the book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.