Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chocolate-Covered Cashews

I received from the BookSneeze program and Westbow Press E-Books Chocolate-Covered Cashews by Wiley Baxter in exchange for an honest review.
I was very intrigued by the preview of this book:
Wiley Baxter was 57-years-old when God brought a surprise to him. Over the next four days, it was revealed to him that he was the biological father of identical twin daughters and four grandchildren, which resulted from a two-year marriage he had 36 years before. Overjoyed and overwhelmed, he began a new chapter in his life.
However, only the first two chapters talked about the phone call that then led to meeting his daughters. And then finally at the end there was a brief family update. The eight chapters in between were about different events that occurred in the author's life previous to discovering he was a father. Each event was shared because, looking back, Wiley could see how God had taken care of him during those times.

In my opinion, this book had decent bones but was very poorly written. It seemed to have been written by an elementary or middle-school student, not a fifty-nine year old man. Or maybe an editor was not involved. Unnecessary sentences, even paragraphs, were in this book as if maybe the minimum number of words was trying to be met. Different wording like "head concussion" seemed very redundant/obvious. Another example of elementary writing is after telling the story of when his brother died. He said, "I was very sad that day." Really?

I really do not want to bash Wiley Baxter's book because he is trying to make some good points about how God has been with him even when he wasn't necessarily willing to admit it; hindsight is 20/20. But there is still a lot of polish work that needs done on this book. Two stars.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Biff and Becka's Stupendous Vacation

The BookSneeze program and Westbow Press E-Books provided me with another children's ebook in exchange for an honest review. This was a chapter book, suitable for elementary children.

This is a great story about a rabbit family who has to forfeit their beach vacation due to a cut in the father's pay. After Biff (the son) has bragged about the beach vacation to his friend, he finds it embarrassing to admit they are having a "staycation." He also finds it difficult to be excited about a vacation of staying home. But he, his sister, and his cousins learn that a great time doesn't require an expensive beach vacation.

Throughout the book the parents use Biblical principles to explain situations (missing out on the beach vacation, why bees sting, how birds search for food, scavenger hunts, etc.), to remind them to be grateful for what they do have, and how sin can darken our lives. All of these examples were done very well (not cheesy). And the activities that were planned were so fun; it gives me ideas for my family!

A discussion guide is included at the end of this book too.

The only negative from this book was that rabbits were used as the main characters instead of humans. The plot in this book is geared toward early to mid- elementary kids but the characters are rabbits, as if this was for preschoolers. This was humorous at one point when Biff's and Becka's mom says, "Hurting rabbits hurt rabbits" when explaining bullies.

Four stars.

Willie Out West

Willie Out West by Rhonda Walker was a children's book I reviewed for the BookSneeze program. Westbow Press E-Books provided me this book for my nook in exchange for an honest review. I am sorry to say I did not enjoy this book, except for some humorous pictures.
This book was obviously geared toward preschool age children but the very first page starts out with Willie the walrus exclaiming to his mom, "I am sick of swimming and playing dumb games." Even though the idea in this story is that Willie changes his attitude after a bazaar dream, his mother just smiles at him in response to his disrespectful attitude. I can totally see little kids mimicking Willie with, "I am sick of doing dumb things."
Willie then has a dream about going to Big West and being a hero. Nice idea but his motives are to "have a story to tell when I return home a hero." While Willie is in "Big West" there is symbolism used about being a "thick-skinned" walrus or a "spineless jellyfish" which would be lost on the kids for which this book was written. And then somehow, because of this dream of defeating the big bad one-eyed ugly whale, Willie started listening to his parents. Huh?
Sorry, Rhonda Walker, one star.

Plain Peace

Plain Peace, by Beth Wiseman, is book number six in the Daughters of the Promise series. It was provided to me through the BookSneeze program and Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
I had already read some of the books in this series, but not all of them. I can see how reading all of the books in the series could add to the enjoyment of reading Plain Peace but not reading all of them certainly doesn't take away or make the reader lost or confused while reading. Beth Wiseman does a great job of making the reader feel like this is a stand alone book. The family trees at the beginning help as well.
Anna Byler, the bishop's granddaughter, is the main character in Plain Peace. Because of her strict grandfather, Anna faces difficulties in trying to date. As in, no young man is willing to approach the bishop to ask permission to date his granddaughter. When a new family moves to town, their oldest son isn't quite as intimated - at first.
But that isn't all that is going on in this quick-to-read-book. There are plenty of hurting people, all trying to figure out where they fit in with family and friends. I love Anna's grandmother's quote about family: "Family is a gathering of people who love and accept each other for who they are, whether related or placed together by God for His own good purposes."
Four stars.