Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Persecuted" Novel Giveaway

"Persecuted", by Robin Parrish is a novelization of the upcoming Daniel Lusko film which will be in theaters this summer.

John Luther is an evangelist who ultimately wants to share the Gospel.  John's ministry is built on the message of redemption.  He unashamedly states he is a sinner saved by grace and transparently shares that has made numerous mistakes in his past.

But, John's past comes back to haunt him when his reputation is brought into question by those hoping to destroy his ministry.  John is asked to give his support for a new religious equality bill.  When he refuses to endorse this bill, the powers that be decide to frame him for murder to get him out of the way.  John becomes a fugitive as he searches for the truth to clear his name.

Once I got past the prologue -- which focuses on the assassin's point of view -- the rest of the novel was more to my liking.  The novel has flashback chapters that highlight John's troubled past, his tumultuous relationship with his father and his conversion.  These flashback chapters give insight into the present day and to the current circumstances.

Overall this novel was thought-provoking in that it deals with standing up for the Truth no matter the cost and the touchy issue of tolerance-turned-equality.  One of the antagonist of the novel declares: "... Christians and Jews and Muslims standing together in solidarity... this is the future of our evolution in this nation..."  But, loving others (as the Bible instructs us to) and joining with other faiths in solidarity are not the same.

I've heard so much about tolerance lately -- for everyone, but Christians that is.  Christians should not be accused of intolerance because we hold fast to what we believe and to what God's Word says is the Truth.  Hopefully this novel will inspire Christians to be prepared to stand up for Jesus and for the redemptive power of His death and resurrection.

The novel is full of action and suspense and I look forward to seeing the movie when it come out.

"The question is not if attempts will be made 
to limit religious freedoms, 
but when.  
And when that day comes, 
will you stay silent?"

Check Out: 
Persecuted -- The Movie -- Coming to theaters July 18, 2014
Persecuted on Facebook

Win it:  One Sowing Dandelion Seeds reader will win a copy of the book "Persecuted".

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.” 

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~

Monday, May 26, 2014

Signed, Sealed, Delivered -- New Hallmark Television Series

"Signed, Sealed, Delivered" is a new Hallmark television series which tells the story of four postal "detectives" who figure out the intended recipients for undeliverable mail.  Each episode tells the story of a different letter and consequently touches on the lives of the different people affected by each letter.

I have watched a few episodes to prepare for this review and hope to catch up on the others I've missed.  It's amazing to see how a handwritten, "snail mail", letter can affect the life of someone -- especially in this day of technology and "social" media.  The show is heartwarming and touching and there is a worthwhile message to each episode.

While it can be slow moving for my husband, it takes a turn and reclaims his interest just in time.  Personally, I'm liking the change from the typical detective type shows on tv.  This show isn't graphic or offensive.  My kids, (ages 8 and 10), came into the room when I was watching an episode and joined me.  Since then they've asked to watch other episodes too.

The episode we watched together most recently is entitled: "The Future Me".  This episode tells the story of a young lady with Down Syndrome, Ellie, who writes a letter to her future self.  Ellie realizes she needs to make some changes in her life when she receives the letter that her highschool self wrote about her future hopes and dreams.  My son, Elijah (age 8), says the moral of the episode is: "It doesn't matter who you are -- everyone should have love."  

Another underlying message of this episode is to be who you really are.  "To thine own self be true" is a Shakespearean phrase quoted in this episode.  This moral is one that Ellie and Rita, one of the postal "detectives", both learn in different ways.  When Rita is competing in the Miss Special Delivery pageant she decides it's more important to be who she is than it is to try to win at all cost.  Even though the atmosphere around her is competitive and even a little intimidating, Rita knows that with her good friends supporting her, it's as if she's already won.

"Signed, Sealed, Delivered" also has great guest stars: Valerie Harper, Marilu Henner, and, in an upcoming episode, Carol Burnett!

Not only is the show a breath of fresh air in terms of its appropriate content, but the American Bible Society has created a Bible Study to go along with each episode of the series.

The show airs SUNDAYS, 8/7c on Hallmark.  Don't miss the opportunity to check out this new, heartwarming show.

Here's more information:

Website:  "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" Official Website
Facebook:  "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" Facebook Page
Facebook for the show's creator:  Martha Williamson's Facebook Page

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~

Friday, May 2, 2014

Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek by Jill Osborne

Book 1 of the "Good News Shoes" series introduces us to Riley Mae, the spokesperson for a new collection of sport shoes.

In Book 1: "Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek", Riley realizes the importance of keeping her commitments when photo shoots and publicity events prevent her from playing softball.  Riley deals a lot with friendships as her new commitments lead to conflict between Riley and her best friend, TJ, who doesn't understand her circumstance.  Riley also meets (and helps) a new friend, Rusty, who is struggling financially because her dad is out of work.

A strong theme in "Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek" is the importance of praying to God about decisions and about praying to God when you are scared.  I like that Riley isn't an example of perfect faith.  She asks the age old question we all wonder from time to time "How do you know if God says "Yes"?".

Another strong theme in the book is the importance of being prepared to share the gospel.  At one point Rusty has questions about the Bible and Riley feels ill-equipped to answer them.  Watching a little girl in the Sunday School class answer Rusty's questions inspires Riley to become better prepared to share the gospel with those around her.

One thing that I didn't love about the book is that Riley keeps some secrets from her parents and asks others (including adults) to keep secrets from her parents.  These aren't major secrets, but still kids keeping secrets is something I don't agree with.  The fact that she forgot to apply sunscreen and that her new friend is without food are two examples of the secrets Riley keeps from her parents.  This isn't enough of an issue to me to not recommend the book -- but it is a topic that could/should be discussed with your pre-teen when she reads the book.

Another concern I have with the book is that God is referred to as "small 'h' he" instead of "big H "He".  I prefer when God is referred to with a capital "H" because I think it shows more reverence.

Riley learns in Book 1 that things aren't always as they seem.  With the help of her friends and family, Riley uncovers a mystery -- all while experiencing an adventurous climb up Half-Dome in Yosemite.

Although the cover doesn't hint at it -- mystery and adventure go hand in hand in this book.  It will be sure to keep the interest of your pre-teen readers and inspire them in their faith at the same time.
Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers http://booklookbloggers.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
  ~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids by Jill Osborne

Riley learns that life is unpredictable as she goes on an adventure with her friends and family in book 2 of the Good News Shoes series: Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids by Jill Osborne. Aimed at pre-teens -- this adventure novel is a great mix of humour and spiritual morals.

Riley Mae is the 12 year old spokesperson for a line of shoes.  To promote the new Riley Mae river sandals, Riley heads to Montana for a photo shoot and there the adventure begins -- or rather -- continues.

Sometimes you can pick up a book 2 in a series and figure out where you are, but this is a time when I wish I had realized this was book 2 and read book 1 first since there were references to the first adventure throughout this novel.  What this book needs is a great big "2" in the upper corner!

Some of the pluses in this book were a reference to sponsoring children and writing letters to them as well as references to making a difference in the lives of others through helping them or sharing the gospel with them.  One quote from the novel that highlights this is 

"God cares more about what we give than what we have."

Some points worth mentioning are the mature themes that are referred to.  Murder and death threats are both mentioned as well as a child who is abandoned by her mother.  Riley's friend, Sunday, has leukemia and, while that is dealt with more in depth, it is handled very positively.  In fact, Sunday is a beacon of hope to everyone around him.

The squeamish (like my daughter) should know that there are references to needles a couple of times and references to an injury as "hamburger".

I like that Riley at one point flips open the Bible to a random page hoping for the answer to her question and she discovers that that doesn't work for her.  Some Christian books have all the answers readily available for the characters and I like that this novel is more true to life.  Sometimes you don't have the answers you hope for right away, but you can still trust that God is with you and is orchestrating things for your good.  

While there is some talk of a crush between two adults, Riley's interest in a boy back home is simple and innocent.  Riley isn't gushing about boys or makeup or fashion.  She doesn't try to impress anyone by acting older than she is.  

Riley is a girl with a growing faith who learns that she has been called to share God's Good News with those around her.  She and her friends are the kinds of Christian role models you want your preteen to read about.  And considering the great adventures Riley and her friends have, the Good News Shoes series are the kinds of book your preteen will want to read.
Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers http://booklookbloggers.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Adventure Bible Handbook

The Adventure Bible Handbook -- A Wild Ride Through the Bible by Robin Schmitt and David Frees, illustrated by Craig Phillips, published by Zondervan.

I'm sure you've noticed a trend towards comic-style books and graphic novels lately.  Well this comic-style Bible handbook has maps, photographs and works of art that help flesh it out -- making it very visually captivating.

The story line is sure to be a hit too -- with time travelling kids working together to rescue their father as they see first hand stories from the Bible brought to life.  

But I do have some reservations.  One of my concerns is the over-simplification of the 7th commandment:  "Keep your thoughts and actions in check.  Be self-controlled.  Remember your body is a temple of God."

This is something that my kids would instantly notice.  I guess the authors figured they would modify the 10 commandments to be kid specific, but I would like it better if it stated the 10 commandments directly ie: "Thou shalt not commit adultery" and then explained it or made it kid specific afterwards.

Another concern of mine is a picture of Ezekiel and the dry bones that come to life that is a bit graphic for younger or more sensitive readers.  My kids are the type who get creeped out by visuals at times when other kids might not bat an eye

Aside from these minor concerns there are some errors that keep me from recommending this handbook whole heartedly.  I don't think my kids would notice them, but I don't want my kids repeating them as facts either.  Some mistakes that other reviewers have mentioned include: who Absalom's mother was, the list of the Kings of Israel and the Kings of Judah being reversed, implying that the Bible was written in two languages originally and not three.

When I have a book based on the Bible I really want it to be true to Scriptures and factual so I can trust what I'm putting in my kids' hands.

The book lays out clearly what sin is, but I wish it was more direct about the solution to sin.  Yes, references are made early on in the book that there had to be "a sacrifice to fix the problem"  and great detail is given to Jesus' death and resurrection, but I wish there had been a clear section answering Nicodemus' question "What must I do to be saved?".  The Beatitudes, the Lord's Prayer and the Apostles' Creed are all here, but the steps to becoming a Christian have been overlooked.

This book is one that I would recommend only as a supplement to a Bible and not as a Bible itself.  Kids who are unlikely to open a Bible might be willing to start with a comic-style story book and then hopefully use it as a springboard to look at the Bible more in depth.  But unfortunately, many kids will likely read this book for entertainment and leave it at that.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book through Booksneeze.com in exchange for my honest review.

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kirk Cameron's "Unstoppable" - Giveaway

Kirk Cameron's DVD Unstoppable is a newly released DVD that discusses the question "Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?"

The DVD begins with Kirk telling the story of a 15 year old family friend who passed away recently.  Then Kirk talks about mankind's first experiences with sin and suffering.  Stories from the Bible that are touched on include: creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the flood, the tower of Babel and Abraham.

What I liked least about the movie is the artistic license that was taken with the story of Adam and Eve.  First, the graphic image of the rib being removed from Adam was over the top in my opinion.  Second, the serpent was depicted as a man with a skin condition.  And third, when Adam and Eve are hiding from God, Adam turns and growls -- presumably at God who is about to find him.

I always thought that God supernaturally removed Adam's rib with no surgery required and no blood as a byproduct (this was pre-fall after all).  I always pictured the serpent as... well... a serpent (but with legs).  And my understanding is that Adam was afraid and ashamed -- not angry.  These three issues alone are enough that I would not want to show this movie to my children or to unsaved friends of family.

There are some music choices (heavy metal/dissonant style) that I didn't love, but I'm sure someone else may think they're great.

What I liked most of all is the metaphor of the rainbow as a bow (a weapon) in the sky.  Kirk was suggesting that the bow points up into the sky referring to the day on the cross when God's judgement and wrath would come to Him instead of to mankind.

Another thought provoking part of the DVD is God's promise to Adam and Eve that one of Eve's descendants would crush the serpent's head and how this was fulfilled in Christ's death and resurrection.  Jesus was able to protect His bride (the church) in a way that Adam hadn't.

The song "The Time is Now" by Warren Barfield was a highlight of the DVD.  And, of course, the moral of the DVD is something that I agree with -- God continually demonstrates his love and mercy for mankind.
I'm not sure who the intended audience is for the DVD, but I would suggest it only for adult Christians who are firm enough in their faith that they can overlook the artistic licenses taken.

Check Out Unstoppable on Twitter and Facebook.

Buy It:  You can buy Unstoppable via the official website.

Win It:  One Sowing Dandelion Seeds reader will win a copy of the DVD Unstoppable!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Books I've Read in 2014

I love reading books meant for all ages.  Any book with stars by it is one I'd consider reading again in the future (or would consider having my kids read in the future) so presumably you (or your kids) might like it too.  If you've read (or wondered about) any of these books feel free to comment -- I'd love to chat with you...  Oh and if you love a book I don't (or vice versa), we can still be friends.

What Once Was Lost, Kim Vogel Sawyer 
Christina runs the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor.  An unexplained fire displaces Christina and all the residents -- including Tommy a young blind boy.  Themes include: secrets, the judgement of others and being saved by Grace.

Gone-Away Lake, Elizabeth Enright
This novel tells the story of two young cousins who find a near ghost town of summer houses and two elderly residents.  Julian and Portia spend their summer learning about the past and exploring the area.  Some talk of ghosts and witches.  Written in 1957.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Persecuted, Robin Parrish
This novel is a political thriller about religious "equality".  Popular evangelist, John Luther, is accused of murder to silence him and further a political agenda.   Themes in this novel include: standing up for what's right, redemption and betrayal.

The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd
Sarah and Handful, the slave given to Sarah on her 11th birthday, tell their stories of living in the south during the early 1800's.  Themes include: freedom, slavery and relationships.  Inspired by a true story of two sisters who battled for racial and gender equality.  Some language.

Echoes of Mercy, Kim Vogel Sawyer
This Christian novel is set during the 1900s and tells the story of Caroline -- who is sent undercover to work at a chocolate factory to solve the mystery of the death of the former investigator.  Themes include: trust, secrets, poverty and child workers.

Beloved, Robin Lee Hatcher
This novel is third in the "Where the Heart Lives" series and is a little more mature than the other two.  Diana's "dead" husband, Tyson, returns after a 7 year absence and claims that he has changed and would like a second chance.  Themes include: forgiveness, trust and helping others.    

***Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan***
This pioneer chapter book tells the story of two children whose mom died years ago and how their father tries to find a wife for himself and mother for them.  Themes include: life by the sea vs life on the prairies, finding love and belonging.  Aimed at Grades 2/3 and up, but a great read for any age.

Betrayal, Robin Lee Hatcher
This is a Christian pioneer novel and sequel to Belonging in the "Where the Heart Lives" series.  Hugh and Julia meet unexpectedly and find that they can help each other out.  Themes include: financial troubles, haunting pasts and secrets and betrayal.

***The Auschwitz Escape, Joel C. Rosenberg***
This novel tells the story of Jacob and Luc and how their lives become connected through the events of World War II.  Inspired by true stories of people who were sent to the death camps and the few who were able to escape.  Themes include hope and the desire to share the truth with the world. 

*Belonging, Robin Lee Hatcher*
This is a Christian pioneer novel that tells of a young teacher looking for a fresh start.  Felicia develops a close bond with her struggling student, Charity, and inadvertently for her father as well.  Themes include: the orphan train, the judgement of others and finding a place in the world.    

***Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear***
This novel is a detective novel and Great War novel all rolled into one.  Maisie is a wise and compassionate detective who is searching for the truth for a client.  This search causes her to deal with her own past and to uncover some of the horrors of war. 

***The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis***
This is a classic novel which I always enjoy.  My kids (8 and 10) and I read it together with everyone reading their own parts out loud.  Great themes for discussion: redemption, forgiveness, an allegory of Christ's death and resurrection, etc... 

The Bell Bandit, Jacqueline Davies 
This is book 3 of the Lemonade Ware series.  Jessie and Evan are faced with their Grandma's failing health and the mystery of a missing bell.  Themes include Aspergers and Alzheimers although neither one is mentioned by name.  Aimed at and recommended for pre-teens.  

The Truth of Me, Patricia MacLachlan
This novel tells the story of  a young boy and the relationship he has with his absentee parents and his loving grandma.  Aimed at pre-teens.  An easy read, but some harder themes.

Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek -- Book 1, Jill Osborne 
Check out my review here

Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids -- Book 2, Jill Osborne
Check out my review here

***Someone Named Eva, Joan M. Wolf***
Milada and her family face terrible trials when they are separated by the Nazi's in World War II.  Milada, a young girl from Czechoslovakia, is re-trained to be the perfect German citizen.  Inspired by real events.  Aimed at pre-teens, but a great read for adults too.

Son, Lois Lowry
This is the fourth book in The Giver series which brings closure for the series and its characters.  I was really drawn into the first part, but liked the second and third parts less.  I was back on track by the ending.  Aimed at teens.  

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea, Ellis Weiner
This tongue in check novel will have pre-teens chuckling to themselves as they follow Abigail and John on their journey.  Some sarcasm.  Aimed at pre-teens.    

Messenger, Lois Lowry
This is a sequel to The Giver and Gathering Blue.  This novel tells the continuing story of characters introduced in the first two books.  Themes include doing what's right and loyalty.  Special powers are also thrown into the mix.  Aimed at teens.  

***Escape on the Underground Railroad, Nancy LeSourd***
This is a book in the Liberty Letters series that tied into our homeschool outcome of the Underground Railroad and Canada's part in helping to abolish slavery.  Aimed at pre-teens.  Recommended by Desiree (age 10) and me for any age pre-teen and up.

Pandemonium, Lauren Oliver
This sequel to Delirium was hard to get into at first.  I just kept thinking do you or don't you have silverware?  Half way through it picked up pace, but little inconsistencies and predictability in the novel made it frustrating.  Aimed at teens.

Delirium, Lauren Oliver
This dystopian fiction tells of a world where love is considered a disease that you must be cured of.  Lena is looking forward to her procedure until... (dot dot dot).  There was some necessary suspension of belief, but it was an interesting read -- not as violent as other dystopian novels.  Aimed at teens.

*** The Longest Ride, Nicholas Sparks ***
This novel tells the story of two couples -- one couple's story is set during World War II and the other is set in the present day.  Themes include love despite differences, financial struggles, keeping secrets.  Soon to be released as a movie --  I hope it's a great one! 

Pie, Sarah Weeks
This novel tells the story of a young girl and her relationship with her aunt prior to her death.  Themes in this mystery include a secret pie crust recipe, competition and love (in family and friendship).  Aimed at pre-teens.

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~
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