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Monday, September 15, 2014

Louie’s Big Day! by Maria I. Morgan

by Diane Estrella

School is back in session. A bright yellow bus lumbered through our neighborhood this week bringing back memories of school years gone by.

I remember jamming books in my backpack, walking to the bus stop and being excited to catch up with my friends after summer break.

Year after year, not only was I learning the basics, but I was also becoming aware of the subjects that really interested me. My purpose was becoming clearer.

Louie Lawnmower Front Cover for Kindle export

God cares

It’s neat to look back on those formative years and see how God was already at work. I’m convinced that in spite of the billions of people on the planet, the Lord loves and cares about each person individually.

The Lord has a purpose and plan for each person He has created. And part of His plan includes relationships with others.

It’s never too early to begin teaching our children biblical truths like these. I love the way Moses put it:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 6:7

A fun way to teach truth

Teaching godly truths can be done throughout the day in a variety of ways. If you enjoy reading to your kids, my new children’s book, Louie’s BIG day! will help you convey these concepts through a fun storyline:

Louie is a bright red lawnmower who used to live at the hardware store with his friends: Ruthie Rake, Eddie Edger, Bobbie Blower, Terri Trowel, and Henri Hose. Recently he was purchased by a man and his wife and now he’s on his own.

Louie misses his friends, but it’s time to find out if he can do the job he was made to do. Join Louie for his BIG adventure and discover the surprise that awaits him at the end of the day!

Louie the Lawnmower series

The first in the Louie the Lawnmower book series, Louie’s BIG day! wraps up with questions to engage you and your child in conversation and help you re-emphasize biblical truths.

Louie even has his own website where you can download a free copy of the audio version of Louie’s BIG day! Louie’s adventures are just getting started. Keep your eyes open for the second book in the Louie the Lawnmower series: Louie & the Leaf Pile, due out early next year!

Purchase Louie’s BIG day! on CreateSpace or Amazon.

Maria I. MorganAbout the Author

Maria I. Morgan was born with an active imagination that shows up in her endearing stories for children. Originally an inspirational author and speaker for adults, Maria has widened her circle to include kids. She lives in the muggy South with her husband, two retrievers, and two Maine Coon kitties – the perfect mix to fuel her creativity for years to come!

(You can find her devotionals and download a free copy of her eBook, God Speaking, at www.mariaimorgan.com)

Connect with the author:

Website: http://www.mariaimorgan.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterMariaIMorgan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mariaimorgan

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mariaimorgan/

Connect with Louie:

Website: www.mariaimorgan.wix.com/louie-the-lawnmower

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Monday, September 08, 2014

Making Marion: Where’s Robin Hood When You Need Him? by Beth Moran

by Diane Estrella

making marion

About the Book

She had been looking for somewhere to stay, but instead Marion Miller finds herself on the wrong side of the reception desk at the Peace and Pigs campground and, despite her horrible shyness, promptly lands herself a job.

Marion came to Nottinghamshire–home of Sherwood Forest–to discover her father’s mysterious past, but all she has to go on is a picture of her father dressed up, it would seem, as Robin Hood.

Life on a busy campground challenges Marion’s formerly controlled life–the pigs roam free, the resident chickens seem determined to thwart her, and an unfortunate incident with a runaway bike throws her into the arms of the beautiful, but deeply unimpressed, Reuben.

Yet, Marion’s would-be boyfriend Jake, and Reuben’s stunning fiancée Erica, conspire to leave little room for Marion to daydream about the twinkling eyes of her rescuer . . . Will Marion ever find peace, and perhaps even love, among the pigs?

Including a large cast of memorable, colorful characters, Making Marion is an outstanding debut romantic comedy that touches on issues of identity and family with a natural ease.

My Review

Quite possibly one of my most favorite books of all time!

Extremely in-depth characters and an incredibly well thought out story. I get nervous when I hear “comedy” in a book’s description, because honestly and truly, is this book going to make me LOL. Unfortunately, it did not. However, I did smile a few times and the plot of the story more than made up for me not busting a rib in laughter.

The journey that our fair Marion takes over a year’s time is beautiful and deep, and so realistic. The internal and external battles she faces and overcomes are to be applauded. The secondary characters were a delight as well, and nobody ended up in the same place as they started. All had grown, and discovered, and blossomed in their own way. Hardships in life and family situations are always complicated, sorting through it all is what takes real courage and bravery.

Although I get why some readers can not condone this book as a “Christian” book, I think the over-riding number one theme this book tries to convey is forgiveness. I think the author did it in such a way, that ANYONE reading this book can see the potential healing that is available to themselves when we decide to forgive. I applaud the author for the richness of both storytelling and believability in this story that has the potential to set many hearts free.

Buy it Here

Kregel Publications sent me the above book for review purposes. It will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Kregel.

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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Boycrazy: And how I ended up single and (mostly) sane by Tiffany Dawn

by Diane Estrella

For a sneak peek of her new book “Boycrazy,” scroll to the bottom!

Dear Single Lady,

Sometimes it feels like we’re the only ones left in the world.

Like all the other single girls have dropped like flies and gotten into relationships.

Especially on the holidays.

Those days we turn off Instagram so we don’t see the bouquets every other girl has received.

The ever-present reminder that we – out of all the other people in the world — are still single.

The days we hide every hope and dream under a thick layer of sarcasm and cynicism,

pretending we don’t really care about our relationship status on Facebook.

I’m with you.

As a little girl, I fell in love with the idea of finding Prince Charming and getting some major bling

on my left ring finger as soon as possible, thank you very much. By age 20, I intended to be

married and on my way to the mission field in China, where I would be martyred shortly

thereafter.

Well, here I am in New York, just a few weeks before my 28th birthday. (Feel free to send

gluten-free cookies in the mail with a birthday card.) Funny how time flies, and I’m still alive…

plus there’s no ring on my finger. Oddly enough, I’m finally okay with that.

Girls, here’s what I long to share with you, the truths that have brought comfort to my

soul:

Our dreams of romance and forever love are beautiful desires.

They’re not something we have to discard to pretend we’re happy being single. They’re

something to celebrate and surrender.

But our dream of a happily ever after starts NOW, not later.

We’ve heard this a hundred times, but it’s true! All my life I waited for my husband, thinking life

and happiness would start when he showed up. (Preferably wrapped in a sparkly, pink package

labeled: “To Tiffany. From God. Contains ‘The One.'”) I didn’t see the moments I was already

living as truly happy, truly full. Why?

Because I didn’t trust my heavenly Father.

If there’s one thing I long for all of you to know, it’s this:

The One who holds our future in His hands — He is GOOD.

I never trusted God. I didn’t really think He cared for me, not enough, anyway. I thought, “Surely

You need my help finding my husband. Surely I need to take this in my own hands and stress

and worry about it!” But the truth is…He is GOOD. And He is SOVEREIGN.

I’m not saying we should hide in our houses and never go outside. I mean, c’mon, if you

completely hibernated, you’d have no job, no relationships, no life. But at the same time, we

don’t need to worry.

Matthew 6 says not to worry about tomorrow, but to live fully today, knowing the One who holds

our future. Knowing He cares even for the birds of the air enough to feed and house them; how

much more does He care for us.

This birthday will be so different than other birthdays I’ve experienced.

Most of my life I’ve written a sappy, sobbing love letter to my future husband. That’s great, but it

didn’t help my heart very much. I just found myself focused on what I didn’t have, when I

should have been focused on what I did have.

Friends. Family. Job. Passion. Joy.

And above all else, I have a heavenly Father who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, who is

sovereign over all of life, and who sees me. Who knows me. Who loves me. More deeply and

fully than I could ever imagine.

So to all you single ladies, this is what I would say:

Your heavenly Father sees these beautiful, hidden desires of your heart. In fact, He

placed them there.

They’re not wrong, they’re not something to be ashamed of; they’re something to celebrate.

But He also sees beyond our time frame. He sees the whole picture, a greater plan. His ways

are higher than ours. And right here, right now, even in the waiting, we can rejoice in what we

already have.

We can rejoice knowing the One who holds our hearts is faithful, trustworthy, and loves

us more than we can ever imagine.

I pray that today you would come closer than ever before to your heavenly Father, and know

that He cares for you.

He’s already given you a happily ever after. It’s already started. It’s up to us that we live in

it.

Love,

Tiffany

boycrazy by tiffany dawn

Boycrazy:

And how I ended up single and (mostly) sane

This is my story of growing up as a boy-crazy girl, always dreaming of marriage, waiting for life to

start once my Prince Charming arrived. It’s a novel-like collection of heartaches, fears, and (just

for fun) some weird date stories.

But it’s also different from your typical book on singleness. It has all sorts of lessons I wish I’d

learned growing up:

tips on how to date,

how to be yourself around guys,

how to know if a relationship is healthy,

and thoughts on what contentment really is.

If you order your book today [link: www.tiffanydawn.net/store], I’ll also send you a

complimentary download of my song “Someday,” my princess song, about trusting God for the future.

tiffany dawn

At 28 years old, there’s no wedding band on Tiffany Dawn’s finger. She’s an author, speaker, songwriter, adventurer, and for the record, she loves being single. Tiffany has her master’s degree in music therapy, and a not-so-secret love affair with raspberry chai, long walks, and everything CIA. She resides in upstate New York when she’s not traveling.

 
Connect on Social Media!

 

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Monday, September 01, 2014

Helping a Child with Dyslexia

by Diane Estrella

Close to 10 percent of children in schools in America have some type of learning disability. Dyslexia ranks at the top of the list. It makes reading challenging, and can ultimately have a negative impact on grades in nearly every class. Dyslexia doesn’t mean your child will deal with bad grades and never get a chance at a scholarship though. They will just need support and dedication to rise above their challenges.

electric toothbrush

Recognizing Symptoms

Many children get far behind in school and start rebelling because they are misunderstood. A child getting poor grades or not doing their homework could simply be because they can’t read the work on the chalkboard properly. Recognizing symptoms early reduces the risk of them falling behind. Common symptoms include:

  • Being a late talker
  • Difficulty rhyming words
  • Pronunciation problems
  • Problems with handwriting
  • Struggling to learn colors, numbers, and the alphabet
  • Confusing similar-looking letters
  • Trouble connecting letters and sounds

These are symptoms in a young child. If symptoms have gone unnoticed and suddenly you have a tween struggling, don’t rule this possibility out.

How You Can Help

  • Make Reading Fun – Most children with dyslexia don’t enjoy reading simply because they’re not good at it. If they are going to have to practice daily, at least give them something to read that they are interested in. Take weekly library trips, and perhaps even order a magazine subscription for them. Reading doesn’t have to always be out of a book. An electronic reader might be a great present, too.
  • Talk to the Teacher – If your child struggles to take notes from the board, perhaps the teacher will print a copy for you to go over with them at home. They may also be able to slowly read what’s written, as well. Request that notes be provided discreetly. Your child does not need to be singled out. Children can really get down on themselves, when they feel like they are different.
  • Assistive Technology – Kurzweil 3000 and Dragon Naturally Speaking can be very helpful for dyslexics. However, they should not become reliant on these software applications. It is important that they are used to assist learning, not replace it.
  • Provide Praise – Don’t only provide praise on reading-related accomplishments. That “A” on a math test deserves just as much praise as a “B” on an English report. It’s crucial that you point out their strengths in all areas.
  • Environment – Your child will likely need to study more than the average student. Therefore, they need somewhere comfortable to do this. A desk or the kitchen table is great for homework, but not so much for reading. Medium bean bags are ideal. They are comfortable enough to sit in for hours. Online stores like SoothingCompany.com offer great bean bag selections.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Makai King (Makai Series) by Tara Fairfield

by Diane Estrella

makai kingA new queen reigns beneath the sea in the underwater kingdom of Moku-ola. Armed with a sense of destiny, and friends loyal and true, Queen Tessa faces her greatest challenge ever as the ruler of sharks threatens her kingdom. Her heart has chosen one man to become her king, but another seeks to take it by force. Can her strength and resolve endure? Will her faith in the Creator’s plan and protection remain?

In Makai King, second book in the Makai Series, Christian psychologist Tara Fairfield continues the adventures of Tessa in the whimsical world of Moku-ola, which began in Makai Queen, showing readers the power of forgiveness and understanding your identity as a child of God.

You can find my review of book one in the series, Makai Queen here.

About the Author

tara fairfieldDr. Fairfield is a licensed psychologist with her doctorate from Northern Arizona University. She has been a featured guest on Teen Talk and Parent Talk radio with Nicole O’dell (ChooseNOW Ministries) and writes a monthly column for parents.

With over twenty years of experience working with youth and families, and as the mother of three children, Dr. Fairfield has dedicated her life to helping struggling teens find their confidence and faith in the Lord. She uses fictional characters to present positive messages to youth through the art of story. In the Makai Series, Dr. Fairfield puts this concept in action in these fantastical tales of adventure, forgiveness, and the acceptance of God’s love.

When she’s not writing you will find her having fun with her family or playing in the ocean! God Bless!

Buy it Here

Congrats Tara on book two of this series! You can also see book one, Makai Queen, info here.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The 39 Clues: Unstoppable Book 4: Flashpoint by Gordon Korman

by Diane Estrella

39 clues unstoppable flashpointAbout the Book

The 39 Clues is unstoppable! The bestselling series returns with an adventure spanning four explosive books and a website that places readers right in the action.

The Review

Unstoppable needs to stop.

Stop being so awesome!

What a thrilling fourth book! Everything was summed up nicely and all the characters were put in their place. I really liked the ending, and the middle, and the beginning, and pretty much everything else. The only person I didn’t like was Cara.

I just don’t feel like she’s being completely honest, honestly. I feel like she has too much room to mess up, and betray them. I don’t really trust her motives, but I guess I’ll believe her for now. For everyone’s sake.

How are they going to top this? How will this series continue after this amazing book? I don’t know, but I really want to find out. I honestly don’t know how they can do it. Only a miracle worker could outstand this. I want more books, more I say! How can you expect me to wait for the next one?

In conclusion, this book was thrilling, satisfying, and entertaining. I have read Gordon Korman’s work before, and he hasn’t disappointed yet. I can’t wait for the next one!

Buy it Here

Scholastic Books sent me the above book for review purposes. It will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Scholastic.