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A review of- Doodletopia Cartoons by Christopher Hart


 

DoodletopiaCartoons

Review of Doodletopia Cartoons, by Christopher Hart

When I came across Doodletopia I knew I would get this book, but not just for myself, but for the purpose of drawing more with my kids. Since my kids could first pick up a pencil, they have desired to draw and paint just like mom. I do what I can to encourage them, but often find it hard to create the time to sit and draw with them. I was so excited to review this book, for I recalled my younger artistic self always with a pencil and paper in hand, ready to draw, but not always knowing what to draw. Sometimes I would skip out on drawing all together, for lack of ideas. What I lack in my ability to draw as well as I paint, I blame on my lack of practice when I was younger. I now know, you don’t always need a purpose or reason to draw, you just need to do it. Any form of drawing will better your skill. This book will will be a fun way to get my hands and brain moving when I’m having one of my blank spells, or just need something to doodle.

 
Christopher Hart has many, many books on drawing, from books on Doodling, to books on the Human Figure, all ranging in skill from beginner to expert. When I got the opportunity to review this book, I jumped on it, with pure curiosity, to see how one can create a book purely on doodles. Christopher Hart starts his book with the basic guidelines to drawing a cartoon face. The center line and eye line are the most common way to start the layout of a face. He then moves on to warm ups, building easy character out of basic shapes. His step-by-step examples make it easy to learn the basic form used for drawing cartoon characters and people. The last step he leaves you to draw your own character or person following his example. This page also comes with a witty tip to enhance your drawing skills. I must say, one of the things I liked about this book was the casual yet humorous narration given by Christopher Hart. He practically gives each of his characters a life and personality of their own. Some of his phrases, I feel, are more directed at teens or young adults, so I wouldn’t consider this book for young kids outside of the drawing aspect.

 
The chapters following this each give you practice in drawing, from copying the other half of a character or scene, to drawing different expressions, a section where you can choose and design a different animal from the same outline, or play dress up by drawing the clothes on characters already drawn out for you, and even a calligraphy portion, which we can all admit was probably the most common form of doodling during your school years. Who hasn’t written in bubble letters before? My son’s favorite section of this book, of course, was the “Draw your own Inventions” chapter. My son aspires to be an inventor of sorts, and he already spends his days drawing up inventions. In this section, Christopher gives you a part of an invention, and leaves you to come up with the rest. I feel it will be a great way to inspire my son to draw more, and help encourage his creativity. Altogether, I’d say Christopher Hart did a good job creating a book that will inspire creativity in people of many ages.

 

 

-I Received this book for free through Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions given are strictly my own.

Flash, The Homeless Donkey Who Taught Me about Life, Faith, and Second Chances- Author Rachel Anne Ridge


My review of Flash-

Flash

So I have a handful of books to choose from to review and I’m instantly drawn to this book with the cover of an adorable donkey holding a daisy. Part of me sat there and thought, “hmmm, could I really read an entire book about a donkey??” And so I go on to read the back cover, “Meet Flash: a quirky, unconventional hero with gigantic ears, a deafening bray, a personality as big as Texas, and a story you’ll never forget. It’s the heartwarming true tale of an irrepressible donkey who needed a home – and forever changed a family.” And so, being a foster mom of my own rescues, this book had already pulled at my heartstrings. Then being about an adorable donkey, of whom I’d take into my own home in a heartbeat, I answered my question, “Yes, I could totally read an entire book about a donkey!”

From the first chapter in, Rachel Anne Ridge, and her wonderful gift of storytelling, had me hooked to her story of this poor donkey who came wandering onto their property in the dead of night, and had both her and her husband (though really just her husband) doing anything and everything to get this stubborn animal up their driveway and into the safety of their pasture, where it would stay ‘ONLY’ until they could find it’s owner. Little did Rachel and her husband know, this donkey would make that pasture his home, and from that point on he would then carry them through one hardship after another.

Day by day, week by week, Rachel and her husband are doing everything to keep their family business afloat, as well as their home and kids. Morning after morning, Rachel looks out over the pasture and their mystery guest, who has by now become a beloved member of the family, and she ponders life. As she does this, she starts to realize there is more to this donkey then just some plain, grey, lazy animal, with little purpose in life but to cause problems, and pave dirt paths through their pasture. She starts to see the animal God created, who may have been plain and grey, but who was also a blessing in disguise. From the moment she decided to give Flash his name, and claim Flash as her own, she found God slowly speaking to her through him.

“…somehow, He was using a donkey to lead me to a simple truth.”
We are all going through things of our own in life, and often life tends to look plain and grey. We find ourselves desperately trying to “Live the Dream!” or reaching for that next “Exciting Chapter in Life!” but life is never that easy, and not always that colorful. So we sit back and think, “what am I doing wrong?” or “what is wrong with me?” or “what can I change about my life”. We allow the enemy to feed us lies, and we allow life to beat us down, and we become so blinded by life’s’ expectations that sometimes we even beat our own selves down. In doing so we overlook the small blessings in life, because we are so busy trying to fix the “donkey problems” as Rachel puts it.

In her book she says, “I wondered about all the “donkey problems” I faced in life. The times I thought, “If I can just figure out what I’m good at, or, If I could just change this relationship, or, If I could make a whole gob of money.” Then she goes on to say, ” I realized how often I made the mistake of thinking that ‘fixing’ things was what the journey was all about.” And Flash teaches you a great lesson about that, and many other things. You’ll just have to read it for yourselves! 😉

This book came at the perfect time in my life. It was like God gave me a Flash of my own, just when I needed him the most, and all thanks to Rachel Anne Ridge for sharing Flash with us through this absolutely wonderful read! I can not thank her enough, as an aspiring artist, mother, wife, and animal lover and foster mom , I was able to relate to her story in so many ways. Her story touched my heart, and it is one I know I will revisit again and again. Anytime I feel my heart get heavy, or life’s stresses pulling me down, I just look at this cover and smile. Thank you God, for this donkey who has given me a reason to smile, and the many smiles he will share with all those who choose to read this book, and share in his story.

Thank you Tyndale House Publishers for this review copy that I received in exchange for an honest review! 🙂


DancingontheHeadofaPenDancing on the Head of a Pen: The Practice of a Writing Life, by Robert Benson-

Over the last couple years that I’ve been reviewing books, I’ve come across the same piece of advice, over and over again, “The best way to learn to write, is to read, Read, READ!” I’ve learned that it is not only important to sit down and write, Write, WRITE, but that it is just as important to pick up a book and read. With my nose page deep in books most nights, I’ve not only felt my love for reading resurface, but I’ve felt a little piece of me come back to life, a piece of me that used to stay up late at night dreaming up my own make believe tales. That storyteller inside me lived behind the scenes for many, many years, resurfacing every now and then, sometimes long enough to get five thousand words deep into a story, or just long enough to log an idea or two into a notebook, and months long enough to even finish a short tale for a writing contest. No matter, that flame always seemed to burn out for one reason or another. I had the passion, and the dream, but I just wasn’t sure I was good enough to really reach for such a distant star.

When I first saw Robert Benson’s book, Dancing on the Head of a Pen, I was excited because this book was about the life of writing, and when you are a writer at heart, there’s nothing more exciting then getting a glimpse into the heart of another writer. I always wondered what I would do if I ever came face to face with a successful author, and the questions I’d long to ask them. First chapter into Robert Benson’s book, I learned it would be just like that. His book was exactly what I dreamed a conversation with a real author would be like. In his book, he is here not just to tell you what it would be like to live the life of a successful writer, but he is here to give you a glimpse into Robert Benson’s personal life as an aspiring writer. Unlike a book that gives you impersonal step by step advice or ideas, Robert Benson’s book gives you a play by play into his daily routines, habits, thoughts, and writing process, with hopes that you will find something to take from it.

“If you are not sure whether or not you can write a book, this one will not answer the question. You will have to write a book before you will know. I do hope these pages will give you a way to begin to make dark marks on pages of your own. . .if they remind you to practice more faithfully, more rigorously, more diligently, I will count the dark marks on these pages worthwhile.” -Robert Benson, Dancing on the Head of a Pen

Robert Benson starts each chapter with a quote from a well known author or artist. I will admit, I am one who sometimes looks over the quotes in most books, but this one I found I loved. Each quote left me reading it carefully and pondering it for a moment. Each related to the chapter that followed, for instance, On the Discipline of Being a Writer, it started with a quote from Vincent Van Gogh, “In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.” I absolutely loved this quote, as I did the inspiration that came from Robert’s chapter on disciplining yourself. What I found great about his writing process, is his habits are just as messy and undisciplined as the rest of us. He reflects on his many days of procrastination, on struggling with “writers pause”, on feeling inadequate compared to the more talented, successful writers. For a young, unpublished writer as myself, it was a breath of fresh air. I wasn’t alone.

I have to say, in conclusion to my two nights I spent reading, cause I couldn’t put down, this simple, but funny, amusing, and very inspiring treasure, I found this book to be one of the best books on writing I have ever come across. It has become one of my favorite books in my now “inspirational” collection, and although it may not be full of the “how to’s” on writing, it has pages full of inspiration that will surely ignite the storyteller inside of you. When I read it I felt myself ignite with the realization that I am a writer at heart, and always will be. I related to Robert in so many ways, ways I thought were just quirks and habits of my own, but that I realized are those of a struggling writer just as he was. I appreciate Robert for taking his time to share his words, and am glad to have been a part in reviewing his work.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way required to give a positive review, and gladly accept these opinions as my own.

Imagination Station-The Redcoats Are Coming!


Imagination Station-The Redcoats Are Coming!

The Redcoats are Coming, an Adventures in Odyssey book by Focus on the Family, is a walk into the Revolutionary war with Patrick and Beth as they assist uncle Whit, the keeper of Imagination Station, on an adventure to awaken the citizens of Concord Massachusetts before the Redcoats come. On their adventure, Beth and Patrick must deliver the letter to Paul Revere, but also find themselves meeting Samuel Adams and John Hancock along the way. Their adventure they find is far more then just witnessing firsthand the actions that took place during the revolutionary war, as they themselves partake in the events, smuggling musket balls and helping sound the alarm that the Redcoats are coming!

This book is a great way for children six and over to not only learn about the historical facts of this time, but to also learn how the people during the time of the revolutionary war looked toward God for direction. This book brings a more biblical view that is sometimes forgotten in history books, and would be a great resource for Christian teachers of all sorts, as well as parents looking to establish a solid Christian education for their kids from home. What I love about this book, and the series alike, is how it brings these historical events into a story line that children can relate to, by taking them onto an adventure with children just like them. They get to see these events from a child’s point of view.

I’m so glad to add this book to my son’s collection, even though he seems to still be a little young to capture the true events of the book, it’s never too early to start. This books will be one we can return to over and over again as he grows, and hopefully will be followed by more books just like it. I would love for my son to grow up with a more biblical view of our nations history, setting a good solid foundation for him in years to come.

-I received this book for free through Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review.

My Hope Is Found – by Joanne Bischof


My Hope Is Found - by Joanne Bischof

I was so excited when I saw ‘My Hope is Found’ up for review. I couldn’t click the review button quick enough, as if they were going to run out of review copies then and there. Joanne’s last book in the series, ‘Though My Heart is Torn’, left fingernail marks on my Kindle, as I was not expecting that book to come to an end when it did. I should have expected as much, from reading the first book. You come so glued to the story that you forget every story has to end some time, and of course you are going to be left hanging at the most heart tugging moment.

I jumped on this story almost the instant it was in my hands. I needed to find out how Lonnie and Gideon’s situation was going to resolve itself. The last book left off with Gideon as he was released from his marriage with Cassie, with her wishes that he return home to his family. You almost want to scream because you just came to terms with Lonnie’s settling into life without Gideon, especially with the new love interest in her life, the young reverend Toby McKee. Lonnie may have been struggling with her feelings for Toby, but you can feel the beatings of Toby’s heart. You see his heart for God and, though it hurts, you find yourself rooting for him. But God works in mysterious ways, as does this writer, and you know you have a lot to look forward to in the next book.

Now onto ‘My Hope is Found’ and you are dying to see where all this is going. Of course, Joanne isn’t going to give in that quickly, as in the first couple chapters,. You are asking for an all nighter with this book (just to warn you). As the Amazon review already tells you, Gideon does in fact return home, but his return home comes with a huge smack in the face, as his worst fears are realized. The love of his life has not only moved on, but she has moved on with someone else. Gideon is left with only a prayer, but will his prayer be for the desires of his heart, or will his prayer be for his family’s happiness and well-being. By doing so he is forced to really look at God for the first time, and when he does he finds the answer he was looking for…even if it’s not the one he wanted to hear. Now, I only  feel comfortable revealing as much, but I can say that this was one of the first books that has ever torn my heart in two places.

Joanne has yet again done a daring good job. I don’t know that many writers have the guts that she has to write such a love story in a historical christian, and twist the story the way she did. Most want to jump straight to pleasing the readers, by giving it the most desired or direct ending, so as to leave everyone crying “Awwww!” by the end of the book. I will tell you now though, that is not this story. She will toy with your emotions, she will twist your heart this way and that, and she will leave your head spinning, but she will not disappoint you. I am so glad as to have started this series, and am sad to see it come to an end. Thank you Joanne for such a wonderful journey, and for showing us that God is there for us, even when we feel undeserving of his love.

Dandelions on the Wind by Mona Hodgson


Dandelions on the Wind by Mona Hodgson

My Review of “Dandelions in the Wind”

Review of “Dandelions on the Wind”

Mona Hodgson is the author of the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series as well as almost thirty children’s books. Maren, a mail-order bride from Denmark, had lost all hope of a future in America when the life she had sought to start with Orvie Christiansten turned it’s back on her. After the family that had chosen to take her in moved away Maren was left behind, all alone with her growing dissablility. It wasn’t until she found a home on a farm with a widowed Mrs. Brantenberg, and her granddaughter Gabi, did she start to find hope in returning to her family.

As happy as Maren has found herself on the farm it does not fill the void she finds from missing her family. Without a job that will pay her way home, and not wanting to turn her back on her obligations to Mrs. Brantenberg and Gabi, Maren decides she has no choice but to remain on the farm. She clings to the happiness she finds in her new family and the friends she has gained through Mrs. Brantenberg’s quilting circles. Through Mrs. Brantenberg and her quilting circles Maren has learned to replace her disability with faith that God will always get her through.

All is content on the farm until Gabi’s father, Rutherford “Wooly” Wainwright, returns from the war. With no where else to go and a daughter of four years he longs to reconnect with, Wolly does everything in his power to earn his place back on the farm. With Wolly and Maren both fighting struggles of their own, the two find comfort in each other’s presence, and strength in witnessing the effect of God in each other’s lives. Maren must decide though whether she still holds a place on the farm. With Wolly to take her place is there reason for her to stay, or is this God’s way of saying it’s time for her to move on, and start working towards finding her way home.

I sincerely enjoyed this short and sweet romance. Yes I was able to finish this book in one night but I did not feel the book lacked what-so-ever. Maren’s story was so touching and encouraging. She was a true heroin of her time. Mona Hodgson did an amazing job portraying life after the Civil War and the grief many had to go through due to those who lost loved ones. Her characters were so true to life as well as the struggles they all went through. The reality of the lives you follow in this book, and Mona’s great writing, creates such a great flow that you can’t help but keep reading just to keep the story alive in your mind.

-I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist by Amanda Jenkins


Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist by Amanda Jenkins

My Review of “Confessions of a raging perfectionist”

“Reasons I’m awesome: 11

Number of people I’ve judged for not being awesome: 3,672

Faults I work hard to hide: 14

Ways I try to earn back my good standing with Jesus: 4

Resolve to fix my faults, live up to my own expectations, and be really good at humility.”

-Amanda Jenkins in her book “Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist”

Amanda Jenkins has created a most entertaining read. I was not sure what to expect when first reading this book. Whether it was an instruction manual for those with over compulsive disorders, in need of everything to be perfect, or a devotional read for those who struggle emotionally when things aren’t completely going their way. Being a mother and wife of an actual perfectionist I was overly excited to read this book.

Funny part was when I discovered the book was more of a journal, recordings of her journey through perfectionism, and that I related to her need for perfectionism a lot more then I ever realized. Each chapter starts with her own person journal log, revealing truths most of us would hardly be able to speak out loud, much less write in a book. Her transparency is humbling, and the more I read the more I heard myself saying, “Oh that’s me!”. As I read through her chapters on relationships, parenthood, pride, obedience, happiness and so on, I found myself relating to this woman ways I had never related to someone before.

Far too often woman struggle to open themselves up to other woman for fear of judgement. We desire to relate to others, to share our struggles and fears with them, to have them agree with us. We want to see that we aren’t the only ones desiring, and yet failing, to be the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect daughter, the perfect friend, and all around perfect woman. But we are too afraid of removing our masks for we also want the world to see us in our perfect forms. It’s a struggle for we long for those moments that we can strip down to our bare selves, and relate to others on the bare platforms of our lives.

Amanda Jenkins does this in her book, “confessions of a raging perfectionist (learning to be free)”. Reading Amanda’s journey through this struggle was so refreshing for someone like me who doesn’t get those chances too often to relate to other women. This is a woman who lives a life devoted to God, and has, through that self driven need, a perfect outward appearance. And yet, here she is tearing down the barriers of her perfect life for us all to see what really lies beneath; a woman struggling, stumbling, failing, and falling down before the Lord in an emotional mess of imperfection, clinging to God’s grace.

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that i have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us.”
PHILIPPIANS 3:12-14

With permission I am gladly going to provide you with a link to Amanda Jenkin’s chapter one excerpt for “Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist”:

http://files.tyndale.com/thpdata/FirstChapters/978-1-4143-7870-1.pdf

Here is also the Author Q &A:

http://mediacenter.tyndale.com/downloads/press_kits/PerfectionistQ&A.pdf

I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

My review of “Bending Toward the Sun” by Mona Hodgson


Emelie Heinrich, daughter of German Johann Heinrich, has spent her life dedicated toward helping out in her father’s store. Now of age, her father has pushed her to receive an education at a local woman’s college. When confronted with the question of love, by her friend and co-worker Maren, Emilie doesn’t understand how there can really be much more to love, other then what she already feels toward her father. Besides, where would she find the time?

It’s not until Quaid McFarland steps back into her life after years of serving in the union Army that Emelie finds there might be something more to this love her friend was talking about. It’s hard to tear her attention away from Quaid, and Emelie feels Quaid might just feel the same, but they aren’t the only ones sensing this. Johann Heinrich decides his daughter will not be caught showing affection for an Irishman such as Quaid, and makes that very clear to the both of them. When Emelie finds Quaid avoiding her, she feels her father may have taken it too far.

Although Emelie desires to have Quaid fight harder for her, even she can’t go against her father. Not wanting to risk hurting him, knowing she is all he has ever had, Emelie decides she only has one place to turn. But can God really mend the missing patchwork of her life? Is she going to be able to fill her patchwork with bright and beautiful designs, or will she find it filled with dark patches, representing the missing love of her life she wished could have been, but can never be allowed to be.

Mona Hodgson writes beautiful love stories in her “Quilted Heart” series. These short but sweet novellas will not find you disappointed, other then your desire for the stories to keep going! I had started with her first book of the series, “Dandelions on the Wind”, with Emelie’s friend Maren. I loved to get to continue Maren’s story in “Bending Toward the Sun”, even with it being Emelie’s story. I look forward to “Ripples”, book three of the series, where I hope to continue Maren and Emelie’s stories, all the while getting to learn more about Caroline Milburn, a woman you meet in book one who’s husband went missing after the war, and has yet to hear of his whereabouts (that is until book two…).

Each of Mona’s books carries on a little piece of the previous story, making the read just as beautiful as the patchwork of the quilt’s you hear about through her books. It’s a beautiful series. What I love most about this series is the length of the novella’s makes for perfect “Me” time, where I get to grab me a warm beverage, cuddle in my bed, and get lost in these beautiful love stories. I do love a good novel, which usually carries over the length of a few days to a week, but these novella’s allow me a nice escape from my more lengthy reading. It’s like sneaking a piece of chocolate, while already enjoying your dessert! I can’t explain other then to say it is worth it to start reading for yourself!


My Review of ‘If You Have A Craving I Have A Cure’

Book reviewing has become a real passion of mine since I started four books ago. I remember a while back reading a book on writing fiction and the advice given to read as much material as possible. At the time the only real material I was actually reading was the book in which I was given the advice. The impression I got from these books was that reading books on writing is merely a finger pointing you in the direction of becoming an author. These books can guide you but they aren’t going to MAKE you an author. That part is completely up to you. Following their advice and reading material written by other authors is like making the effort to move forward. Finally taking your ideas and getting them down on paper is literally the first real step towards becoming an actual writer. As of now if I don’t have the motivation to write then I’m probably reading. Before now I was having a hard time making time for myself to read. Since I’ve dedicated myself to reviewing books I’ve pushed myself to reading more then I ever thought possible. I’m now reading about a book a week and it feels amazing. My review to ‘If You Have A Craving I Have A Cure’ can be found on my hubpage, just follow the link above. 🙂

Review- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein


Image

“And the boy loved the tree…very much

And the tree was happy.”

    This book is one in which holds many meanings. As a mother of two a story such as this provides a great opportunity to teach a child the relationship a parent might have to a child, especially as the child grows.

    The book starts out with a tree who loved a little boy very much, and a boy who in turn loved the tree back. The tree provides the boy with fun, food and shade so the boy can rest, and the boy in turn provides the tree with companionship and love.

 Image

“But time went by.

And the boy grew older.”

   Eventually the boy starts getting older, and as life happens, the tree finds herself alone more often. The boy continues to visit the tree, though each time he returns he has aged. Though the tree wishes to have the boy play and love on her as he did before, she now finds the boy distracted and in need. The tree does what she can to help, so as to make the boy happy again.Image

“Then you will be happy.”

   With each need the boy expresses the tree comes up with a solution, each of which sacrifices something of herself to in turn make the boy happy. The boy once provided with a solution leaves, only to come back having again aged and with a new need. Eventually he returns as an old man and though the tree is happy she fears she has nothing left to give. Image

“I wish that I could give you something…but I have nothing left….”

   This time though the boy finds the tree to be all that he needs, and the books leaves off with the two of them yet again together and happy.

“And the tree was happy.”

Seeing as this is categorized as a children’s book, and I being parent, I felt the book was maybe above the understanding of younger children (seeing as my son was saddened by the tree’s sacrifice, and did not quite understand why the tree did what it did). But as I said before there is a lesson that can be taught to children (such as my five year old son) as to why someone, such as the tree, might make such a sacrifice for the love of a boy.

As a parent we spend many years providing for our children fun times, food, shelter and love, and our children provide us with love in return. As they grow older though, they too will become busy with other activities in their lives and won’t be around as much, but as a parent we will continue to provide and love them regardless of what we get in return.This book is a great way to explain to our children the sacrifice that parents are willing to make for their children and that, like the tree, we will always be there for them to love them and provide for them.