Review: Teen Study Bible

I received a Teen Study Bible this week from Zondervan and Booklook Bloggers. I have reviewed many children’s books from Zondervan/Zonderkidz but this is the first selection for young adults. I was impressed with the Kids Quest Bible I reviewed a few weeks ago, and this Bible for Teens doesn’t disappoint.

teen study bible

The New King James Version Teen Study Bible is a fantastic resource for teens. On almost every page, additional information, facts or an analysis of some aspect of the Bible is provided.

Features include an analysis and line-by-line explanation of the Apostles’ Creed, indexes to help with in-depth Bible study, special sections devoted to key issues discussed in the Bible, teen Q&A section offering life advice to teens, Biblical trivia, highlights Bible verses to remember, and has an 8-page full color map at the end showing important locations of Biblical events.

The Bible trivia is especially interesting and could encourage teen youth groups to start a Bible trivia team or learn more about each passage. Through trivia and other small excerpts and insights, teens are able to better relate to passages and see how the words impact their lives.

The “Dear Jordan” section is written in a format similar to “Dear Abby” questions. A question from a teen is answered by referencing passages of the Bible and providing advice inspired by the Christian lifestyle. While this format is engaging, easy to read, and the advice is well meaning and supported by Bible verses, the tone felt condescending or patronizing at times. The information was good and the format was intriguing, but for a teen, the tone of the section might be off-putting. This was not the case for every “Dear Jordan” section, but that tone did come across in many of them.

Overall, this is a fabulous reference Bible for teens and provides a wealth of fun facts and reflections as teens study certain passages of the Bible, or attempt to read it all the way through.

Thank you to Zondervan and BookLook Bloggers for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Great Falls Book Review

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend and had time to reflect on this Memorial Day.

My young adult book review this week fits in with the holiday as the characters face the realities of life after war. Though dark at times, the book does leave the reader with a new understanding of what our military faces and encourages profound respect for the sacrifices so many young people make in service to our country.

Thank you to those who are currently serving, those who have served and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

great falls

Great Falls

Written by Steve Watkins

Shane’s big brother Jeremy has finally returned home after three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shane thought having his brother back home would fix everything, but his once happy-go-lucky brother has been replaced by an angry, bitter person who can’t get through the day without a drink. With his brother living in the basement, unable to face life with his wife and two kids, Shane struggles with high school, caring for his brother’s family, and stress at home. Then, after Shane embarrasses himself spectacularly in a football game, Jeremy suggests they get away and takes Shane to the river. Excited to escape his high school embarrassment and spend time with his brother, Shane goes along. Little does he know this journey will be more than he bargained for, and his brother needs far more help than Shane can give.

“Great Falls” written by Steve Watkins is a powerful, gripping tale of family and the effects of war. Beautifully and thoughtfully written, the author captures the struggles many teen boys face as they strive to prove themselves as men in a society that expects them to be tough. Shane is thoughtful, kind and untouched by the grim realities of the world, at least until his brother returns home. Through Jeremy, Shane and the reader get a glimpse of what war can do to a person. Shocking, sad, and thoroughly thought-provoking, this is a great read for teens and adults. Appropriate for ages 14 and up due to some profanity, scenes of war, violence and adult themes.

Thank you to Net Galley and Candlewick Press for a reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Three Show Saturday!

I have not been a diligent blogger lately.

My life has felt like a three show Saturday or maybe even a three ring circus as I attempt to get my shop ready for business.

I’m looking forward to having time to get back to my blog schedule once the shop is open 🙂 I’m still reading and reviewing books, just haven’t posted as often as I should.

So today is really a three show Saturday because I’m bringing you writing prompts, book reviews, and some quotes!

Too much?


Who wants writing inspiration?

I do! I do!

I’d love to hear some of your favorite quotes in the comments below or let me know what you’re reading this week 🙂

And now ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages…on with the show!

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.
– Stephen King

I love thrillers. I don’t care for horror so much, but nail-biting, what’s inside the closet, don’t look under the bed, kind of stories are the best. I love to think about what might be lurking in the abandoned house at the end of the road.

This children’s book isn’t exactly creepy or a thriller, but it is strange.

Rosie the Raven

Written and Illustrated by Helga Bansch

rosie raven

Rosie hatches from an egg just like her brothers and sisters, but that is where the similarities end. Sure she’s a little different, but she’s still a raven….right?

“Rosie the Raven” written and illustrated by Helga Bansch is a bizarre, but enjoyable story. The illustrations are incredible and the book could be read over and over just to look at the pictures. The story itself may not be for everyone. Rosie is a tiny human hatched out of an egg and raised by Ravens. There is no explanation given for this, but that’s ok, it works. Rosie is precious and her raven family appears to love her very much. The family dynamics are cute and the message of being confident, even if you’re different, is a great one.

I read something recently that said sometimes as a writer, we are too nice to the main character. This was eye opening for me. In some of my favorite stories, the protagonist suffers greatly and has to overcome so many obstacles, but often in my own writing I didn’t want to cause my precious protagonist any undue stress or pain.

Make your character suffer.

It makes sense really, but it’s definitely hard to let bad things happen to your beloved characters. As a fun exercise, take your character and put him/her in a mundane situation, then think of all the things that could possibly go wrong. How does your character respond?

A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
– Sidney Sheldon

I am loving Zondervan publishing. They make such wonderful Biblical themed books for children. I also didn’t realize Christian/Biblical fiction was such a huge thing. I remember reading the Left Behind series years ago, but otherwise, I’m pretty unfamiliar with this genre.

The Adventure Bible: Great Stories of the Bible

Pictures by David Miles

great stories of bible

From the Adventure Bible series comes another great collection of I Can Read stories bound in one hardback volume. This great collection of six stories includes fully illustrated Old and New Testament stories. From the creation story to parables of Jesus, each story has been carefully summarized from the Bible in words beginning readers will easily grasp. Engaging, exciting and incredibly illustrated, this book will be treasured by parents and children alike.

In “The Adventure Bible: Great Stories of the Bible”, Zonderkidz delivers another great selection for beginning readers. Geared toward newly independent readers aged 6-8, this book may be enjoyed by children reading alone or with the help of an adult. Short, interesting sentences and beautiful illustrations will keep the attention of even younger children. Some stories include a short Biblical passage, but every story includes a summary page at the end with more information from the Bible. A great resource for churches and youth groups, this is truly a beautiful collection of stories that would make a lovely gift.

I love the idea of retelling old stories. Whether drawing inspiration from religion, or from other ancient tales, there are themes of love, loss, betrayal, deceit, faith, and forgiveness that resound across culture and time.

Think about your favorite parable from Jesus or another of your favorite stories. Think about the characters and their motivations. What if your character was in the same situation? How would your character respond? Does your character seek forgiveness from someone? Why? Did your character betray someone? Why?

In stories and in real life, I love attempting to understand what motivates people. We all react to situations in vastly different ways and our characters do to.

The wonderful world of writing! These are the reasons I love it 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and happy writing!

I review for BookLook BloggersReviews PublishedProfessional Reader

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers and Net Galley for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.

Blog Tour: A Morning With Grandpa

Good morning all!

I’m excited to welcome author Sylvia Liu to the blog today as part of the blog tour for her new book A Morning With Grandpa. 

Sylvia Liu pic © K Woodard Photography

Sylvia Liu is an environmental lawyer turned children’s author and illustrator. Her debut as a picture book author, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books) comes out May 2016.  She was lucky to do what she loved, protecting the oceans and the environment at the U.S. Department of Justice and the nonprofit group Oceana, and now she is even luckier to paint, draw, and write for children. She lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with her husband and their two daughters.

My review of her delightful and heart warming story appeared last week on the blog, and today Ms. Liu was kind enough to join us and talk about her inspiration for this book, and her life as a writer.

How long have you been writing and when did you publish your first book?

I have been writing for fun and in journals since grade school, professionally as a lawyer for over a decade, and have been seriously writing picture books for about six or seven years (I have been illustrating longer than that). A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books), is my first book.


Where do you find your writing inspiration?

Everywhere: my daughters, the ocean, quirky science facts, and recently, my new Siberian kitten, Apollo.

What inspired you to write A MORNING WITH GRANDPA? 

I was with my parents, my family, and my sister’s family at a lake house in Vermont the summer of 2013. Watching my dad do qi gong, a mind-body practice involving breathing techniques and postures to move “qi,” or energy, inspired me to write a story about a grandfather who teaches his granddaughter both qi gong and tai chi.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a colonist on Mars.  Now, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

What was your favorite book as a child? 

There are too many to choose from! I loved Lloyd Alexander’s Book of Three chronicles.

Who has most inspired you in your writing career?

My family has inspired me:

My husband, David, started writing picture books on our honeymoon, and over the years, he has tried his hand at picture books and chapter books. I always saw myself as an illustrator and illustrated many of his stories. As I got more serious with my illustration, I found myself wanting to illustrate my own stories, and I started to write them down.

My daughters, Sammi and Sarah, are always a source of inspiration. They are so fun and funny.

What do you feel is the most rewarding aspect of writing? 

Sharing my vision of the world with others. Hearing back from children who have listened to or read my stories, or seen my illustratons.

What advice would you give to young writers? 

Never stop learning the craft. I’m still a relatively new author in the scheme of things, and I know there is a lot more I could learn. My top five recommendations for continuing your writing education:

1) Read as much as you can, in and out of your genre

2) Write as much as you can

3) Find a critique group to get feedback

4) Take courses (check out the Writing Courses page at Kidlit411, the kid lit website I run).

5) Read craft articles and books (Kidlit411’s For Writers page has a great list of links)

Do you have any hobbies? 

Before having kids, I had a lot of hobbies, like traveling, scuba diving, gardening, reading, and painting, in addition to working full time. After they were born (14 and 12 years ago), my hobbies unrelated to writing, reading, and creating fell largely by the wayside. I run to keep in shape, as well as take weekly yoga and tai chi lessons.

What is the most interesting place you have visited? 

I’ve had the good fortune to travel many places. One of my very favorites was a week long trip when I was thirteen, traveling through the Gran Sabana (Grand Savannah) in the southern part of Venezuela, in a convoy of jeeps with three other families. This was in the early 1980s, when there weren’t paved roads in that part of the country. We drove on dirt tire tracks across an otherworldly landscape of plains dotted by tepuys (flat-top mountains, like the ones depicted in the movie, UP); carried our own water and gasoline for a week (no gas stations); camped by and bathed in streams; and ended up at the border of Brazil and Venezuela.

Name one interesting fact about yourself unrelated to writing 🙂

I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, and attended international and American schools there, from ages 5 to 17.

Where can readers learn more about you and your books? 

I can be found a lot of places on the interwebs:

My portfolio and website:





I help run the kid lit resource website, Kidlit411 (, with Elaine Kiely Kearns. In the two years we’ve been running, we’ve built a great community (check us out on our Facebook page, and the site was named one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers by Writer’s Digest in 2015.

Anything else you’d like to mention about A MORNING WITH GRANDPA or your writing career? 

I wouldn’t be here without the amazing community of kid lit authors I’ve come to know, from the Penguin Posse, my amazing critique group (Teresa Robeson, Victoria Richardson, Elaine Kiely Kearns, Renee LaTulippe, Alayne Kay Christian, and Yvonne Mes); my in person writer friends (Tara Moeller, Jenn Vore Falls, Dee Southerland, and Mary Yurachek), to communities like Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 and Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo.

And of course, I owe so much to Christina Forshay, for bringing the story to life, and my editor, Jessica Echeverria, for shaping the story so nicely.  A huge THANKS to you all.

Be sure to visit the rest of the blog tour for A MORNING WITH GRANDPA.

Thanks for joining us today and thank you for letting Three Show Saturday be a part of the blog tour. It has been exciting to be a part of the count down to the upcoming release of A Morning With Grandpa. 

A portion of this interview also appears in my newspaper column, Under the Big Top Tales and Twisters, this week.

Hope you all are having a wonderful week!

Happy Reading!


Adventure Bible and Grumpy Pants

Happy Thursday!

I hope you all are having a wonderful week and getting a lot of reading done 🙂

Two fun books for you today. One comes from Zonderkidz, another great compilation of I Can Read stories from the Adventure Bible. The other, a fun picture book, comes from Albert Whitman & Company.

Happy Reading 🙂

heroes of bible

Adventure Bible: Heroes of the Bible Treasury

Pictures by David Miles

In this fabulous collection of six books in one, beginning readers learn about great heroes of the Bible. Stories include: Noah’s Voyage, Joseph the Dreamer, Moses Leads the People, Elijah God’s Mighty Prophet, Brave Queen Esther, and Paul Meets Jesus. Bound in hardcover and fully illustrated, this is a beautiful treasury of stories. The Bible comes to life for young readers through engaging illustrations and exciting text. Perfect for children still needing a little help with reading or for newly independent readers.

This Adventure Bible collection is outstanding! The book is beautifully put together and the story selection is perfect for children. The selected stories are high interest and well summarized to include action and interesting dialogue sure to keep children entertained. Once again the illustrations are incredible for an I Can Read series. Each book is separated with a title page and at the end of each story is a nice summary page with an additional fun fact from the Bible. These books may also be purchased separately as soft cover books, but they are lovely bound together in this hardcover edition.

Highly recommended for Sunday school classrooms, Vacation Bible schools, Youth Groups, and Church Libraries.

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers and Zonderkidz for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

grumpy pants

Grumpy Pants

Written and Illustrated by Claire Messer

Grumpy boots. Grumpy coat. Grumpy everything! Penguin is grumpy just so you know. He doesn’t know why he’s so grumpy, but he is! Can anything help him be less grumpy?

“Grumpy Pants” written and illustrated by Claire Messer features a very grumpy penguin struggling to comprehend his bad mood. A simple, cute read about emotions and expressing oneself. Children will love grumpy penguin in his grumpy underpants as they think about times they felt sad, mad, or grumpy, and couldn’t explain why. This book provides a great starting point for parents to talk with children about feelings, and healthy ways to make oneself feel better on a bad day.

Thank you to Albert Whitman and Company for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Upcoming Author Interview and Blog Tour

Good Monday Morning!

Just a quick announcement about blog happenings.

Next week Three Show Saturday will take part in its first ever blog tour to help promote Sylvia Liu’s book “A Morning With Grandpa”!

Sylvia was kind enough to answer a few questions so I will be sharing that interview with you all then as well. In the meantime, her blog tour is in full swing on other blogs, so please have some fun and check out all the great posts.

Sylvia Liu Blog Tour – A Morning With Grandpa

And as a bonus for today, and in honor of Mud Show Mondays, here is my review of her fantastic picture book coming out later this month.


A Morning With Grandpa

Written by Sylvia Liu

Illustrated by Christina Forshay

When Mei Mei sees Grandpa dancing slowly in the garden she wants to know what he’s doing. When Grandpa says he’s doing Tai Chi, Mei Mei wants to do Tai Chi too! But when Grandpa moves like a gentle breeze, Mei Mei is a frisky fall wind! With each move Mei Mei tries to follow Grandpa but she’s not slow and steady like him. With Grandpa’s help, Mei Mei learns there are many ways to do Tai Chi.

A Morning with Grandpa written by Sylvia Liu and illustrated by Christina Forshay is a delightful and endearing tale of young and old. With a poetic feel to the prose, the contrasting natures of Grandpa and Mei Mei carry the reader from one beautiful page to the next. A wonderful read for parents, especially grandparents, to share with little ones. A reminder that everyone does things a little differently and friends can be old or young. The additional information about Tai Chi and Yoga at the end of the book is a wonderful bonus.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Lee & Low Books for a reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday Review and Contest Winner!

Good morning and happy Sunday!

First I’d like to congratulate Emily S. for winning the copy of “South of Sunshine”!

Thanks to all who entered and helped make my first giveaway a success. I’m looking forward to more giveaways in the future and hopefully I will work out all the Rafflecopter kinks by then.

New review today for you all. Another book from HarperCollins Christian Publishing and Zonderkidz. I’m really loving the quality of books Zonderkidz produces. Today’s review is of the Kids’ Quest Study Bible. Wow! This is a fantastic resource. Check out the review for more information but kids and adults alike can learn something from the extra info in this book.

kids quest bible

Kids’ Quest Study Bible

Published by Zonderkidz

With answers to over 500 questions about the Bible, the Kids’ Quest Study Bible is a fabulous first Bible for older children and preteens. Thoughtful, intelligent questions and answers grace almost every page of this Bible. With a bright cover and fun little illustrations accompanying each question, this Bible is sure to grab a child’s attention. The text of the New International Reader’s Version is written plainly, making it an excellent version for children to grasp unfamiliar words and concepts. A great resource for Sunday School teachers, Vacation Bible school leaders, Youth groups and church libraries.

Having reviewed the Under the Sea Bible, I was concerned this Bible would be similar with only a few pages of extra information sparsely distributed throughout the book. Instead, this Bible is packed full of questions, small illustrations, and extra facts about each book. At the start of each book of the Bible, there is an information page stating who wrote the book, when it was written, why it was written and more. This is a great way to get kids interested and focused on who is important and why in each book. The summaries are written plainly and focus on the big picture, making the passages more accessible to children.

Overall, a fantastic resource for children and adults. Lots of great information which enhances the reader’s ability to understand and enjoy this ancient text.

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers and Zonderkidz for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.