Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Purging Innocence, by Pauch Khiev

Title: Purging Innocence

Author: Pauch Khiev

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Date: June 11, 2014

Paperback: 292 pages


About the author:
Pauch Khiev was born in Moung Ruessei, Battambang, Cambodia, in the midst of the Khmer Rouge regime. She emigrated to the United States with her family in 1981. She studied film production in college, dreaming of making movies. She may someday make a film about her family. She is a self-taught singer, keyboardist, artist, and poet. A true "handy woman," she also loves working on DIY home-improvement projects and gardening. To her friends and family, she's known as a great chef at her "Hit or Miss Restaurant," her home kitchen.

About the book:
Survival Against Impossible Odds ... The Khmer Rouge: a name synonymous with unspeakable torture, oppression, and genocide. On April 17, 1975, they invaded Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, ruthlessly combing the city and murdering thousands on their hit lists as well as anyone who would not or could not leave. Whole families perished in this atrocious campaign. San Khiev, an ex-military fisherman, bravely helped his family and friends survive until they were transported to the countryside, where his pregnant wife had to watch him be taken away for "questioning," which meant he would never return. He was brought to a prison camp called Wat Thomayuth, a temple taken over by the Khmer Rouge, where they viciously tortured and murdered at least fifty prisoners a day. Rather than "giving names" of the innocent during brutal interrogations, San endured torments that most people would not have survived. He kept faith, even when there was nothing left to hope for. Day after day, for months, he miraculously escaped death. He is the only known survivor of this prison camp. Purging Innocence is the heart-rending, inspiring chronicle of a family moving from a successful life in a prosperous and thriving country, through the horror of the Khmer Rouge regime, one of history's most tragic and shameful events, to a new but challenging life abroad. Through these family stories, as told by San's sister Pauch, you will witness horror, despair, loyalty, courage-and, above all, the astonishing resilience of the human spirit.

My take:
I hate to say this, but I can't really think of much to say about this book. I was thinking it was going to be more or less about the family's struggles, but turned out to focus more on her brother. She did start out writing about her family, but went into what her brother went through and to me that is what the book focused more on. I think if it focused 100% on her brother, it would have made for a better book. His story is amazing and how he held it together and made it out, says even more. Some people may find her writing style fine, but it didn't work for me. I felt like it was too much of her telling me the story, as though I was sitting in the room with her and she was talking to me, versus her writing about it and me reading it in that fashion. The book also has maps, plans and pictures of Cambodia and of course her brother. It is a very easy read, so one could finish it in a day or two.

This complimentary book was given to me by Bostick Communications and the author for my honest review.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Get Your Teenager Talking, by Jonathan McKee

 Title: Get Your Teenager Talking: Creative Questions, Stories, and Quotes to Start Meaningful Conversations.

Author: Jonathan McKee

Publisher: Bethany House Publisher

Date: May 6, 2014

Paperback: 176

About the author:
Jonathan McKee is an expert on youth culture and the author of more than a dozen books, including The Guy's guide to God, Girls, and the Phone in Your Pocket and The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers. He has twenty years of youth-ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide. He also writes about parenting and youth culture while providing free resources at Jonathan, his wife, Lori, and their three kids live in California.

About the book:
Let's face it. Teenagers have a PhD in one-word answers...if we don't ask the right questions. In this book, veteran youth expert Jonathan McKee shares 180 creative discussion starters to help teens open up about issues that matter. You'll also find tips for interpreting their responses and follow-up questions. From light-hearted to more serious, these conversation springboards will encourage even the most reluctant teen to talk about friends, school, values, struggles, and much more.

My take:
I was really excited when I saw this book. I thought it would make a great read. Apparently not for me. I know the author has a ton of years of experience with teens, and a couple of books under him, but I just personally thought that he should have went in another direction when it came to this book. I thought that it was going to be more or less on how to be able to sit down and get your teenager to open up. I guess this was his intent. But I didn't get this message from reading this book. I personally don't feel like these random questions are going to do it for your typically teen that doesn't want to talk to their parents. Frankly, I feel like if you approach your teen and ask them one of these random questions, they may look at you like you are crazy. I guess if you were just "talking" and not trying to "communicate" then this book might work. I can see my 16 year old nephew answering the questions for the fun of it, but it wouldn't cause us to have meaningful conversations.

First there are 4 or 5 pages dedicated to how to talk to your teen and then there are 180 creative discussion starters or conversation springboards. These creative discussions are made up of a topic, follow-up questions, insight into the question and quick additions. Some of the questions are "corny" and some of them to make sense. For instance, "If you could eliminate one evil in the world, what would it be and how?" A more meaningful one would be, "Name one thing that someone in our family does for you that helps you the most".

My daughter and I kind of made a game out of it. I just didn't feel like it brought about "meaningful" conversations. I felt like they were just for "the fun of it" type of questions. What works for some doesn't work for others.

This complementary book was given to me by Bethany House for my honest review.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Treasure of Snake Island: A Captain No Beard Story, by Carole P. Roman

Title: The Treasure of Snake Island

Series: A Captain No Beard Story

Author: Carole P. Roman

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Date: January 30, 2014

Paperback: 37 pages

About the Author: Award-winning author Carole P. Roman has produced another book for her "Captain No Beard" lineup. The first book in the series, "captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" was named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012, with a Star of Remarkable Merit, and was presented with a National Association of Book Entrepreneurs Pinnacle Award in 2013. Roman, a former teacher, is the mother of four and grandmother to many. She currently resides on Long Island with her husband.

About the book: This time the mateys of the Flying Dragon are threatened by a serious looking set of storm clouds. While the friends gobble their sandwiches, the storm comes to a head and everyone has to help bail out. Since they were forewarned, they are forearmed and are able to get through the storm in ship-shape. When the dust settles, the Captain leads his crew to Snake Island in search of buried treasure. As X marks the spot, the crew starts digging and starts flying until a solid thud stops the excavation. So, what's in the treasure box?

My take: Just like her other children books, this is a keeper. I really like her style of writing. She really knows how to keep children engaged in a book.

First of all, the characters in this story are cute. The use of animals and humans is a real attention grabber. They are very colourful and their expressions are priceless. When they are suppose to be exasperated, whether it be an animal or a person, their expressions go right a long with the story.

The story is written simplistically, but with enough action and adventure children will want to keep reading to find out what happens next. Not only is it just a story, it has a bit of learning in it also. Within this story, it speaks highly of books and why they are so important. I thought this was a good thing for children to read. Another thing children will learn from reading this story is how to overcome their fears.

This is a really cute series that I think everyone's child will benefit having amongst their other books.

This complementary book was given to me for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible, by Dr. William H. Marty & Dr. Boyd Seevers

Title: The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible

Authors: Dr. William H. Marty & Dr. Boyd Seevers

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Paperback: 304 pages

Date: August 5, 2014

About the authors:
Dr. William H. Marty is a professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He teaches and writes on both the New and Old Testaments and is the author of the bestselling The Whole Bible Story and The World of Jesus. Dr. Marty lives with his wife in Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. Boyd Seevers is a professor of Old Testament Studies at University of Northwestern, St. Paul, Minnesota. Dr. Seevers studied and lived in Israel for eight years and is the author of Hidden in Plain Sight and Warfare in the Old Testament. He lives with his wife and four children in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

About the book:
Reading the Bible can be intimidating. Made up of sixty-six "books" ranging in subject matter from history to instruction, from poetry to prophecy, this all-time bestseller is frequently misunderstood, even by those who read it regularly

In this easy-to-read handbook, two respected Bible professors will help you make sense of the Bible, book-by-book. Using a conversational tone, they cut right to the heart of the matter, focusing on two main questions: "What does it say?" and "Why does it matter?"

Whether you're a seasoned reader of Scripture or reading it for the first time, you're sure to come away with a better understanding of what the Bible is all about and why it is the most important book you'll ever read.

My take:
I don't know about a lot of people, but I have a really hard time getting through the Bible. I have tried to read through the whole thing over and over again so many times, but to no avail. I tend to get stuck on the parts where they list all the different people forming a family line. So, the minute I had the chance to review The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible, I took the chance.

The book is broken down just like the actual Bible. It starts out with the Old Testament and works it's way through the New Testament. Just like the regular Bible, it has the chapters listed at the top of the book as though you are reading the actual Bible. I found this very helpful when I wanted to flip to a certain chapter. It made it really easy to find. Each chapter is broken down by topic to help one understand it a little better. For example, the sections are Setting, Summary, and Significance. With just these three sections, it breaks it down for you so much that you are left totally understanding what you hadn't before.

I really like this book. After reading Genesis, I totally understand, for once, the lineage part so much better than I did before. I was so excited that I kept on reading through the next couple of chapters. The writing style of both of the authors is basic enough to where it doesn't leave you wondering what they are talking about. They go into depth, but not too deep. I do have to say I like the second part a little more than the first because that particular author used the chapters and verses more so that you could follow in your Bible if you needed or wanted it as a reference. It also is a lot thinner than the Bible, so that you can easily take it with you anywhere you go. Even though this is a great guide to the Bible, I still feel as though the actual Bible has "more" information in it.

So, if you need a better understanding or know someone else who is trying to gain more knowledge on the Bible, buy this book for yourself or them. It will open your mind.

This complementary book was given to me by Bethany House for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

If You Were Me and Lived in...South Korea: An Introduction to Learning About Other Cultures, by Carole P. Roman


Series: If You Were Me and Lived in...

Author: Carole P. Roman

Publisher: CreateSpace

Date: June 14, 2013

Paperback: 28 pages

Ages: 3 - 7

About the author:
Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. She just finished the first of six books in a groundbreaking new nonfiction series about culture around the world. "If You Were Me and Lived in..." combines her teaching past with her love of exploration and interest in the world around us.

About the book:
"If You Were Me and Lived in...South Korea: A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World" is the third installment in Carole P. Roman's remarkable series about countries all over the globe. Roman opens up a world of wonder while highlighting the fact that underneath it all we are far more alike than we might have imagined. Like a children's version of The Travel Channel that is filled with entertaining and educational facts, this astonishing journey to the southern end of Asia's Korean Peninsula will captivate our child with amazing and fun filled facts!
My take:
Just like the other books in this series, this one starts out with a picture of South Korea and shows what and where the capital is located while going into a small history. The next thing you learn is the different names one might have depending on if you are a boy or a girl. Your children will also learn about the different shops they go to, what type of foods they eat, a holiday that they have and information about their schools. Like the books before this one, it also contains a pronunciation guide at the back of the book.

I also really like the colorful cartoon like drawings that are in the book. It contains just the right amount of pictures to keep our children interested, but not too much to leave them without knowledgeable information about the country.
I am a big fan of this series and so is my child. Every time she sees one of these books she gets really excited because they have created a strong yearning of cultural knowledge in her. I do believe that teachers should buy them and put them in their classrooms.

This complementary book was given to me for my honest review.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I Love Grass, by Maria Boston

Title: I Love Grass

Author: Maria Boston

Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.

Date: March 27, 2014

Paperback: 24 pages

About the book:
There are so many things to love about grass. We can love the way it looks, the way it smells - even the way it changes its green from season to season! Read on to add to your experiences with grass.

About the author:
Maria Boston has always written children's stories. She pulls on her rich experiences from her own and her daughter's childhoods. "I Love Grass" is her first published book. She lives in Virginia with her two daughters and their dog. 

My take:
I just received this book and had to review it right away. I absolutely loved it. I review a lot of children books, so I think I know when I see a good one, and I have to say, this is a good one.

First, I have to say I really love the art work in this book. All the pictures are designed out of yarn. The houses, bench, grass, sky, ground, flowers, etc. It really adds to the creativity of I Love Grass. Each time the "grass" changes, you get to see from the different colors of yarn. I believe this will really hold a child's attention when they see it. There is also a little grass design on all the pages with words. It is just a beautiful book.

Second, the story. It is just as cute as the book. You can really tell how passionately the author feels about grass and how much she really wants one to love it just the same. Her words are simple, so a younger reader can read it to themselves. One can also learn from it as the author explains the different changes and seasons and shows it along with the pictures in the book. The book isn't very long so young children's attention span won't be lost.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I think everyone should get I Love Grass for their kids. They will love it and want to read it over and over again.

This complementary book was given to my by the author through Bostick Communications for my honest review.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Get to Know Mary, by Nancy I. Sanders

Title: Get to Know Mary

Series: A Biography For Kids

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Paperback: 112

Date: July 8, 2014

Age: 6 - 10 years old

About the author:
Nancy I. Sanders is the bestselling children's author of over 80 books including Old Testament Days: An Activity Guide with over 80 hands-on projects. Her award-winning nonfiction children's books include D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet, America's Black Founders, and Frederick Douglass for Kids. Nancy delights in making history come alive to young readers. She lives with her husband, Jeff, and their two cats in sunny Southern California. Nancy and Jeff have two grown sons, Dan and Ben (with his lovely wife Christina). Visit Nancy's website at

About the book:
Mary was more than just a girl growing up in Israel. She was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus!  Learn about the life and times of this brave young woman and how she became a hero of the Bible.

My take:
I have been given the opportunity to review the Get to Know series. I think it is a great series for every child to have. It helps them learn a little more about certain Bible characters. Most people probably feel as though they know Mary the mother of Jesus already. But to really get to know her, one should read this book. 

Just like the other books, it starts out at the beginning and takes us on the journey of her life. We learn about how she became the "chosen one", became engaged/married, her trip to her relatives house/to Nazareth and so forth. While all this is being told, it is backed up with pictures, maps, pictures of artifacts, timeline, dates, fun facts and a glossary. The fun facts have little symbols by them so you can recognize what type it is. For example, Scriptures ~ oil lamp, Bible Hero ~ sandal, and Eyewitness Account ~ hieroglyphic eye.

The book itself is made to be very engaging. Not only are the pictures and timeline interesting, but also the picture on the cover is nicely done. The author used simple enough words to where a younger person can read and understand the book on their own. Get to Know Mary has a ton of colors in it, which helps liven the book up also.

I think the Get to Know full-color biography for kids series is one that should be included in most children libraries. They are very informational and your children will cherish every single one they read. I know I really like them and I am not even a child.

I got this complementary book from Zonderkidz and Booklook Bloggers for my honest review.