Wednesday, July 30

AIO Adventures: #Free Adventures in Odyssey Episode & Exciting Books!

My children and I love the kids Historical fiction series The Imagination Station!  This is the 2nd book in the series.  My 3rd graders zoom through these books, and my 1st grader loves listening to them as a night time read-aloud.

I love History as much as I love books, and my kids love History, too.  I credit a lot of that to the great fiction we read that gives them an exciting taste and hunger for history.  I've been reading them great historical non-fiction (try David Adler's picture book series if you've got younger kids) since they were tiny.  No dry Ferris Bueller-style History lessons for us!

Join cousins Patrick and Beth in the Imagination Station and travel through history as they sail with Viking explorers! (for ages 7 and up)

"Voyage with the Vikings" is actually the first book in the Imagination Station series by Marianne Herring and Paul McKuster. This book is about real-life vikings Eric the Red and Leif Eriksson. The cover itself gives an accurate description of the book: 2 kids, Beth and Patrick, end up going back to around AD1,000 and getting mixed up in a viking adventure. "Voyage with the Vikings" delves into the history of Iceland, Leif Eriksson's conversion to Christianity and the strife that caused between he and his father, and so much more... but you'll have to read it to find out the "more"! The Imagination Station is great, exciting fiction that's sure to peak your kids' interest in History, too.  It's very similar to the popular Magic Treehouse Series but better because it's got great spiritual values, too. 

This book is part of Tyndale's Summer Reading program.  Earn it free! 

And have you heard about the new Adventures in Odyssey Adventure Club?!
For a limited time, you can listen to a new episode of Adventures in Odyssey for FREE!
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Album 58, The Ties that Bind, will be available this fall for digital download and CD purchase, but if you join the Odyssey Adventures Club, you can listen to the full album now! Guess what? The $5 special held last month was extended through the end of July, too, so you can join in the fun for only $5! Here's what part one is about (which you can listen to for free HERE):
It’s a time of surprises as Wooton becomes the celebrity guest at Comic-Connellsville and Whit finds himself in conflict over the upcoming “Let’s Get Together Festival” in Odyssey. Plus, hear an interview with writer-director Paul McCusker about the entire 14-part series.
Album 58 was inspired by Focus on the Family’s The Family Project, a 12-session small group experience that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive. One way families can carry out God's design for families is by serving their community—right where God has planted them, being His hands and feet together. Want to serve your community with your family, maybe make a day of out it? Here are some fantastic ideas from some Adventures in Odyssey bloggers and club members:
  • Make scarves through the year and deliver them to your local homeless shelter at the start of winter, or regularly donate food to your local food bank. —Shirley 
  • Our family likes to help with Meals on Wheels. We also do reenactments of the Civil War and WWII to help educate people on history. I like to show my kids that we should be servers and givers by taking meals to people who need them (i.e. baby just born, someone died, someone had surgery, etc.). —Erin 
  • We have been visiting a nursing home with friends once a month. The kids just sing and then we fellowship, but the ladies love it! —Lisa 
  • We make lap blankets for nursing home residents and take the time to visit with them. We also collect food for the local food pantry. —Donna 
  • We make blessing bags to give to the homeless when we encounter them. We also donate clothes and food to a local shelter. —Amy 
  • Our MOPs (Mothers of Prechoolers) group supports our local Pregnancy Support Services with donations, gifts, and notes. We also supports the Durham Rescue Mission, which helps people break free from addictions and restore families. —Melissa 
  • We live in a very rural area. Our church serves two of the poorest zip codes in the state, and about a decade ago, they started operating a food pantry out of a closet. It has expanded since then, so we now use the closet for storage, but the pantry is basically a classroom. The kids and I serve over there a lot. My 17-year-old and I go to Care & Share (50 miles away) to get food to bring back to the pantry. All of us help unload and stock shelves. On pantry days, everyone can get involved with helping people go through the line, playing with the kids, carrying boxes out to cars, etc. There are so many hungry folks, especially in the summer when school breakfasts and lunches aren't available, and helping a bit to put food on some tables is such a blessing for us all. —Debra 
  • We pack food bags each month for the homeless and needy through a thrift store that offers an outreach to the community. We also help clean our church and our Sunday school. —Michele 
  • We work through our AHG troop to do several service activities a year. My girls just recently made bracelets they are selling, which 100% of the profits goes to Hope House in Africa to help young girls. —Sarah 
  • Our church works with a homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta. We cook food ahead of time, and when our schedules allow we ride down with the group to serve the food. My son always reminds me when we haven't been for awhile, so it's something he looks forward to. —Maria 
  • We do lots of random acts of kindnesses within our community: pay for others' meals, leave change at a vending machine, hand out Gatorade/granola bars to people on the side of the road asking for food. We also love to support Mobile Loaves and Fishes. —Kathryn
Did that provide some ideas to give your family service activity the kick-start it needs? What other ideas do you have for serving your community? Share in the comments!


Monday, July 28

"Dear Mr. Knightley": Charming Fiction by Katherine Reay

Like Samantha in Katherine Reay's debut novel Dear Mr. Knightley, I am madly in love with Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare--the classics.  I can't quote them as well as Sam, by any means, but I found it to be very charming when she did... though her best friend found it annoying.  Out of the blue, Sam meets a man who can do the same (well-known and super cute writer Alex Powell).  Honestly, I doubt there's a straight man in this world who could quote classic novelists... but it made for a cute story, nonetheless. 
Samantha is a foster kid who has been passed from family to family and finally ends up with a mysterious benefactor who calls himself Mr. Knightley.  If you're a Jane Austen fan, you'll know that Mr. Knightley is one of the most attractive and swoon-worthy of Austen's heroes.  Also like me, Samantha loves writing.  Her "Mr. Knightley" offers to put her through college to major in journalism if she'll write letters to her mysterious donor, detailing her progress.
Because of Mr. Knightley's anonymity, Sam’s letters become more like diary entries.  One of the "rules" is that he won't write her back.  She feels safe, almost as if he isn't really an actual person.  She sometimes wonders if he even reads the letters.  Sam ends up confessing things to him that she has never told anyone.  In real life, Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, and old secrets are drawn to light. As Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.
The premise of this book is the importance of discovering who you are... embracing who you were meant to be.  I really enjoyed Dear Mr. Knightley and definitely recommend you put it on your summer reading list!
Special thanks to the wonderful people at Booksneeze for providing me this book to review!

Wednesday, July 16

Dream Treaders, Exciting Preteen/Teen Fiction #Giveaway

I was so hooked on fantasy as a preteen and teen and, I have to say, I still really like it a lot!  Especially when it's got a biblical twist to it.  People are fascinated by dreams, and the Bible has a lot to say about them. From Jacob’s dream of the heavenly stairway in Genesis 28 to angels visiting Joseph during dreams in Matthew 1 to the Apostle John’s “waking dream” from which he obtained the book of Revelation—dreams have been powerful ingredients of God’s plan as revealed through Scripture.  Dreamtreaders is sure to hook your kiddo!

Fourteen-year-old Archer Keaton discovers he has the ability to enter and explore his dreams. He is a dreamtreader, one of three selected from each generation. Their mission: to protect the waking world from the Nightmare Lord, who wreaks chaos in the Dream World. But as Archer’s dreams become more dangerous and threatening, so too does his waking life.

Rigby Thames, the new kid from England, builds a suspicious rock star-like following at Dresden High School a little too quickly. Even Archer’s best friend and confidant, Kara Windchil, seems taken in by the cool guy with the wild blond hair, which definitely rubs Archer the wrong way. Archer must face two foes in two worlds, but he cannot succeed alone. Archer sets off to find other dreamtreaders in a desperate attempt to defeat the enemy terrorizing his friends and family.

Enter below by July 21st at 11 pm anyone's time. I'll choose a winner the next morning. Good luck!
Special thanks to the wonderful people at Tommy Nelson for this review and giveaway opportunity!