Doodletopia: Manga {A Blogging for Books Review}

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My children love to draw, and I have a child who is Pokemon obsessed.  We’ve watched over 750 episodes of Pokemon and have no end in sight. Because my son is so inspired by the anime that he’s been watching, when I had the opportunity to review Doodletopia: Manga: Draw, Design, and Color Your Own Super-Cute Manga Characters and More, I thought it would be a fun way for him to explore his growing enjoying of anime.

The Doodletopia: Manga book comes as a large workbook that is meant to be drawn in. There are sections for finishing faces and for drawing emotions. There are sections for drawing your own versions of manga characters and drawing super cute animals. There’s fun with emoticons, doodling practice, mazes, and completing the scenes.  There’s even a craft section containing some manga crafts to complete.

For my son, his favorite sections have been the ones of drawing manga characters and animals. He’s rarely written in the actual workbook, but instead prefers to create his own comic books peopled with manga styled characters and animals.  In fact, every single drawing he’s made lately has included an adorable hamster that he learned to create from the book.  He’s really grown in confidence in his creations through the use of the pages in this book. So, I would highly recommend it for the beginning manga artist and enthusiast.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Culture {A Moody Press Review}

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Sometimes it feels like the culture is against us.  Scratch that.  Most of the time it feels like the culture is anti-Christian, and increasingly Christians feel uncomfortable with what passes at right, wrong and trendy among the people that we live in. It seems like more and more often our beliefs are completely opposed to the beliefs that we see modeled around us. So, what are we to do? How are we to live? These are the very thoughts that are spoken and questions that are answered in Culture: Living as Citizens of Heaven on Earth–Collected Insights from A.W. Tozer.

A.W. Tozer was a Christian theologian, writer and pastor who lived in the first half of the twentieth century, and he wrote often about how following Christ is inviting trouble in the world, as well as how we should live as citizens of heaven.  This book is a small sampling of 24 pieces of writing on what it means to be a Christian in a world that is largely uninterested in Christ.  This book covers topics such as, truth, the meaning of the church, the veracity of Scripture, and how Christians should live in this world while maintaining their identities as citizens of another.

The book is short, only 164 pages, but it is very deep.  I spent much of the time I was reading it underlining passages and thinking about the words that had been written. Especially helpful to me were such writings as walking the “spiritual-or-secular” tightrope, the sacrament of living and why the world cannot receive Jesus. Tozer also speaks sternly to the church on why we’re losing our impact on the world and what our churches should actually look like.

I found this to be an excellent collection of Tozer’s writing, and if you’ve never been exposed to Tozer’s writing, an excellent introduction to his work. It made me put some of the books that these excerpts were taken from on my “to-read” list, and I’m excited about the idea of spending more time in his writing soon.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

With All Due Respect {A BookLook Bloggers Review}

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My children are rapidly aging.  My oldest turned eleven this year and my second born is nine (going on 16!), so I am firmly in the tween years of parenting with my older two children. I have a goal of modeling respectful and grace-based parenting with my children, but sometimes the pressures of actual parenting drive all my convictions from my head, so I find I need content reminders of how to parent correctly.  So, when I received the opportunity to review With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens and Tweens, I knew that this was a devotional that I was going to work through.

In this devotional Nina Rosner and Debbie Hitchcock take forty days worth of material to help you practically be a better parent. The authors begin by having you go through and release your expectations of your children and of your spouse before you even get into the meat of the book. Your parenting is between you and God and not something where your expectations play into.  Then, each day has verses, a lesson to learn with a bottom line, a “What about you?” for you to reflect in a journal or to practically apply, and a prayer for the day.

I felt like the devotionals were helpful, especially if you did the exercises in each devotional. This is also a book that could be gone through multiple times , focusing each time on a different child or honing in on a different stage of your child’s development. I think this the kind of book that you could get more out of each time you did the exercises and devotional because you and your child both are always changing, so this could be often done as a reminder of peaceful parenting.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(un) Natural Mom {A LitFuse Publicity Group Review}

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Many times we find things that seem to be working for our peers or friends as parents and we want to try them out to see if they want to work for us.  Then, we find that those things don’t work for us with our personality, beliefs and way of parenting.  We then feel inadequate when these parenting solutions don’t work for us.  I can think of a million examples in my own life, and I bet that most of you can too.  So, when I got the opportunity to review Hettie Brittz’s new book (un)Natural Mom: Why You Are the Perfect Mom for Your Kids, I was really enthused to get to take a look at the book, and knew that it would probably be very helpful for me in my parenting journey.

Hettie begins by confessing to some very unnatural parenting moments, and then moves on to the myths of what mothers are supposed to be.  After all, we have to get the myths, such as the one about being an excellent housekeeper, out of the way before we can get to honesty in our parenting.  Once these are expelled, Hettie begins to explain that temperament matters a whole lot in parenting, and invites you to take your own temperament test to be sorted into different kinds (or combinations) of types of trees.  If you’re curious, my temperament is Box-Pine, and a little heavier on the Pine side.

The meat of the book chronicles the four types of moms (Boxwood, Palm, Rose, and Pine) through the eyes of one person’s example and experience as a mom. She does a “day in the life” walkthrough of that mom’s life, her views on the different stages of parenting and explains how that type of mom deals with nurturing, discipline, training and coping with life in general. She discusses some of the strengths and pitfalls of each temperament, pointers for living with a mom of that temperament, how they can step into more “supernatural” parenting and how this temperament reflects God’s heart.

After these chapters, Brittz devotes a chapter to moms of mixed temperaments and listing their basic personality traits.  (Hubby says mine is spot-on!)  The final chapter of the book is a call to supernatural motherhood with God at the center.

I really, really felt empowered by this book.  I’ve read about temperaments and personalities before, but I’ve never felt like there was a tool that totally got me as a parent and my parenting style before.  I also loved that Brittz uses the example of one mom for each of the four main chapters because I felt that, by focusing on her life, I could really picture what it would be like to live as a mom with that temperament.  I think I understand why something like sleep training might have worked for another mom, and co-sleeping was a joy for me with each of my children.  I understand better why some forms of discipline that work for other moms feel awful and icky to me.

I’ve been okay with my own style for a while, but occasionally gave into self-righteousness in my parenting style and felt like my way was for everyone.  I feel a lot freer to give grace as a parent to other women who are different from me, and that’s the very best thing about this book for me.  If you are looking to understand yourself as a parent or to give grace to moms who parent differently, this is a great read!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Pop Manga Coloring Book {A Blogging for Books Review}

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I never encountered Manga until college. Suddenly in college, I was surrounded by friends who wanted to spend the weekend watching anime, and I loved the whimsical nature of the beautiful manga style drawings. My boyfriend (now husband) also loved such anime as Dragonball and before long we had children who loved Pokemon and other manga type designs, comics and animation. So, when I received the opportunity to review Camilla d’Errico’s Pop Manga Coloring Book, I took one look at the cover and found that I wanted to admire the pages and color them.

The work in this coloring book is beautiful, and there’s no need to worry about handing it off to your children if you would like. All the artwork in this volume fairly family friendly. I’m glad that it is because as soon as this book came in, my nine year old claimed it as her own, coloring beautiful girls with butterflies over their hair, whimsical mermaid scenes and even girls with owls around their head.  There are also robots, gears, trees, fruit and many other beautiful and fantastical scenes. The book is a hit with me and with my nine year old! The only trouble is that now I may have to get one of my own to color through!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary company from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Intercessory Prayer {A Bethany House Publishers Review}

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I often find that my prayer life is the weakest part of my spiritual life. It’s so easy to slip into rote and empty prayers or even forget to pray when I’m facing something that needs prayer. And let’s be honest. What doesn’t need prayer? So, when I received the opportunity to review the new reprinting of Dutch Sheets’ classic Intercessory Prayer, I felt like it was a good opportunity to examine my prayer life and see what I can incorporate in my prayers.

Sheets begins his book by examining what are our actual questions about prayer and do we really need prayer in our life. Then, he goes on to define and discuss intercession, spiritual childbirth, spiritual warfare, the sin of side, allowing the “son” to shine through us, releasing the power of God in side of us,  and how our actions impact the heavenly realm and the world around us.

Throughout the book, Sheets tells colorful stories from his own life and from those of other people, and he writes in an easy-to-read, personal style.  This is actually quite an enjoyable book to read. Yet, I found myself, when he truly turned to matters of theology often in disagreement with his beliefs about our spiritual life and about prayer.

I think he goes to far in his description of us as co-laborers with Christ. I think that he makes it almost sound as if through prayer we can activate some kind of impersonal energy that will fulfill our requests. I was very leery about some of the things he said that I felt like were to this effect because it’s just a couple of steps shy of witchcraft to me. Some of his writing and his ideas make more sense in context, but there’s a fine line here that I think he’s overstepping.

I don’t see where he addresses God’s will in answering our prayers or praying in accordance with the Bible and God’s will much at all. He does address obedience to God and he does address being sensitive to the Holy Spirit in your life, but there is much to be said for praying God’s word, and there’s none of that here.  I also disagreed with how often that he portrays the omnipotent God of the universe as powerless without our prayers. To me, that’s heresy. And I hate and struggle with saying that about a book because it is well-written. It is interesting, and I know that he’s trying to help people realize the power of prayers in their lives. I just don’t think that he can do that by taking away the power of God.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

For Better or for Kids {A Booklook Bloggers Review}

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I’ve read several books about marriage lately.  I have a good marriage, and I realize that marriage is one of those relationships that always need attention, especially when there are children in the house. So, when I had the opportunity to review For Better or for Kids: A Vow to Love Your Spouse with Kids in the House, I knew that it was a book that I wanted to read.

In this book, co-written by Patrick & Ruth Schwenk, there is much discussion of marriage and of how that relationship has to transition to life after the children are born. After all, God gives us these children to nurture and to raise, but sometimes in our desire to give them the best, we end up moving our partners out of our primary relationship with them.  Our marriages take a back seat.

So, in this book, the Schwenks discuss how to build a God-centered marriage instead of a child-centered or me-centered marriage.  They do this through examining our romantic lives, our teamwork as parents, giving grace to each other, finding time for rest, dealing with busyness, when you’re running on empty, communication, finances, and dealing with times of pain.

I found this book to be encouraging. I have been truly working on eliminating the busyness in my life so that I can be a better wife and mother, and so that I can follow the call that God has given me in my life.  I’m afraid that it’s all to busy for me to get wrapped up in busyness and to put my husband completely behind both my ministry work, friends and my children.  So, this was an affirming message that it’s okay to say no, and that I need to attend to those relationships that God has placed in my life, beginning to my husband.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.