Christian, marriage, relationships

Love Lock

Authors: Rich Rollins and Marty Trammell
Publisher: Crosslink Publishing
Genre: Marriage / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-63357-158-7
Pages: 159
Price: $11.95

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Marriage needs good communication to thrive, but we’re all flawed human beings, incapable of perfect behavior all the time. Love Lock helps couples correct some of the wrong patterns they’ve fallen into, as they navigate life together.

Eighteen chapters touch on specific problems in the categories of: I need to feel understood, I need to feel valued, I need to feel a part of you, I need to feel appreciated and cherished, I need to trust you, and I need more resolution, less conflict. Each short chapter addresses a problem and ends with an exercise to be completed together. The authors write from a Christian perspective, and Bible verses are provided to support their viewpoints on creating a happy marriage.

Maybe you’ve noticed the locks couples leave on bridges, declaring their unending devotion to each other, and you want a marriage like that for yourself. If so, Love Lock would be a great guide for both you and your spouse to follow.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

acting, children, tween

Monologues for Kids and Tweens

Author: Mike Kimmel
Publisher: Ben Rose Creative Arts
Genre: Acting / Children / Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-0998151328
Pages: 150
Price: $14.99

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Practice makes perfect in the world of acting, so it’s no surprise that kids are always looking for good pieces to perform. Monologues for Kids and Tweens gives them some great new material to work with.

Kids think and speak differently from adults, and these monologues are written with that concept in mind. But young actors are also encouraged to personalize the monologues if they want, to make them truly their own. Most of the monologues are designed to be around one minute long, although some could run two to three minutes. They contain humor and drama, as well as some really good advice for kids. All contain positive messages, and there is no inappropriate humor or vulgarity.

Monologues for Kids and Tweens would be perfect for young actors looking to improve their skills. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Amish fiction, romance

A Christmas Haven

Authors: Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Amish Romance
ISBN: 978-0-525-65329-5
Pages: 208
Price: $14.99

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Ivy Zook is anxious to leave the Amish to pursue a career in party planning. But just when it seems her dreams are within reach, Arlan and Magda Keim crash into their town. Magda is very ill and her brother, Arlan, is caring for her.

The Keims have left their Schwartzentruber community under scandalous conditions, and are reluctant to return, so they take refuge with the Zooks. As Ivy gets to know the Keims, she becomes more and more aware of how much she will leave behind if she chooses the worldly path. And as she gets to know Arlan, she realizes she’s not sure she wants to anymore.

A Christmas Haven spans several months, concluding around Christmas time, and is a great read during any season. This sequel to The Christmas Remedy also continues the story of Holly Zook and Joshua Smucker as they prepare to marry, while worrying that Holly might not have the bishop’s permission to follow her dream of becoming a nurse. This sweet Amish romance will leave the reader with a joyful and merry heart.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Seed Who Was Afraid to Be Planted

Author: Anthony DeStefano
Illustrator: Erwin Madrid
Publisher: Sophia Institute Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1622828289
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

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A little seed lives in a drawer with other seeds. Sometimes a man comes and opens the drawer, taking one away with him, and no one ever sees it again. The seed lives in fear that the man will come for him and something terrible will happen.

One day, the dreaded moment arrives, and the seed is carried away. He feels sad and lonely when he’s planted, and contemplates his fate. But a miraculous transformation starts taking place. He begins to grow, and soon he’s a tall tree. Now he can see the sun, the blue sky, and all the people and animals around him. He is happy because he has fulfilled his destiny.

The rhyming text of this story is perfect, and the illustrations are stunning. While there is no direct religious message presented in the story, Bible quotes are provided at the end of the book. These include a reference to the parable of the seed that must fall to the ground and die in order to bear fruit.

Kids find change frightening, and they will relate to the seed feeling fearful of leaving the safety and comfort of the drawer. Seeing the seed accept and finally embrace his transformation will help them see that sometimes change can be very good. I highly recommend The Seed Who Was Afraid to Be Planted.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales

Author: Jen Campbell
Illustrator: Katie Harnett
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65175-9
Pages: 32
Price: $17.95

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Luna is planning a surprise birthday party for her dragon, Franklin. To distract him while the guests arrive, she takes him to a magical bookstore. While they browse, her pet tortoise, Neil, opens up a very dangerous looking, locked book. In a flash, he disappears inside.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Franklin and Luna dive inside the book, looking for Neil. They run into three pigs, a witch, a knight, and others, and pass a glass slipper shop. No one has seen Neil. After nearly colliding with a wolf, they ask once again about Neil, and the wolf leads them to a race between her tortoise and a hare. Finally, a giant shows up on the scene, alerting them to the fact that the book is closing, and they’d better get out soon before they’re trapped for good.

Everyone wants to join Franklin and Luna on their trip back to the real world, and soon everyone tumbles out of the book. Franklin’s birthday party bash is the best ever, as new friends join old ones. Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales is a creative spin on the classics, and is highly recommended.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Stress Stinks

Author: Bryan Smith
Illustrator: Lisa M. Griffin
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-944882-46-4
Pages: 32
Price: $10.95

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Amelia is seriously stressed out. School homework and tests, friend issues, and softball practice are upsetting her and she’s ready to snap. Her mom realizes she’s feeling too much stress, and encourages her to do something to change her thinking from negative to positive. Counting to ten, having a healthy snack, listening to some good music, and tensing and releasing are some of the methods she shows Amelia. Soon Amelia is handling stress so much better and she can demonstrate these helpful ideas to her classmates.

Stress Stinks shows children positive ways to manage the stress in their lives. Tips for parents and educators are included in the appendix. I highly recommend this helpful book for kids.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Random God Sightings

Author: Kelly Hanes
Publisher: Columbus Press
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-63337-265-8
Pages: 194
Price: $14.95

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If it feels as if God is out of reach and that we need to strive to find him, maybe we’re going about things all wrong. Kelly Hanes believes that God is all around us, and He’s just waiting for us to notice Him. In fact, He may be hiding in that random stranger you’ve just met but have a funny feeling about.

Random God Sightings is a collection of stories of Kelly’s moments with God. In these 26 interactions, Kelly shows us how she recognized God in each stranger she meets, and why she believes it really was God. Although He doesn’t reveal himself to her in these exchanges, each brought a smile to her face and a glimmer of recognition to her heart.

God cares about us, and it makes perfect sense that He might still be present with us in our daily lives. Random God Sightings is a reminder to us to look for Him every day. We just might find him at the bus stop or in the coffee shop when we least expect him.

Reviewer: Alice Berger