Bible Favorites

I've been thinking about this post a while... here, really quickly, are my favorite 4 story Bibles for kids. You can see them all in my aStore & buy them there through Amazon. All purchases made through the aStore go to benefit this site! :)

Redemption: A Rebellious Spirit, a Praying Mother, and the Unlikely Path to Olympic Gold

Bryan Clay started off life as many children did- in a happy home.  And then the all-too-common-unthinkable happened:  his parents divorced.  His childish anger & rage, manifesting itself as frequent violence, is all too predictable, despite his Christian mother who constantly promises him that he will do great things as a leader.  A counselor saw Bryan's athletic potential and warned his mom that his only chance of avoiding jail was to get him into organized sports.  Throughout high school, Bryan did well in track, all the while barely passing his classes, partying, and having numerous religious experiences at summer camp.  His mother, however, was praying for him-- she seems to be a Pentecostal of some type-- completely confident that he would one day win the Olympics and do great things.  Against every fleshly influence, Bryan ended up at a Christian university under Believing coaches.  He continues his lifestyle of partying, barely scraping by in classes, and saving just enough reserve to continue to improve athletically.  However, he meets a girl.  And falls for her, hard.  When God gets ahold of her, leading her to let go of him, Bryan comes unglued.  This is one of the main catalysts for his own conversion-- a complete surrender to Christ and a transformation of his approach to track.  No longer is it his one hope for popularity and a good time; now it's a way to discipline himself to be a man of God.  It becomes nothing short of worship.

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Top Ten Books Every Parent Should Read

My self-appointed-task?  Create a list of the Top Ten Books EVERY parent should read...no matter their child's age, or whether they were adopting or giving birth.  Of course, this is an impossible task and could probably be debated endlessly (since technically all we really need is the Bible & illuminated by the Spirit).  But I like a challenge, and it's been fun. :)  I've tried to include books covering every aspect of a child-- the physical (medical), the mental, the emotional, the spiritual.  Without further ado, here are my (current) top 10, in alphabetical order:

The Monster in the Hollows

The Wingfeather (formerly known as Igiby) children are sailing across the sea, leaving behind their Fang-infested home and hoping to find refuge in the Green Hollows, home of their grandparents and Aerwiar's last Fang-free nation. In many ways, Ban Rona (capital of the Green Hollows) seems like the home Janner has longed for; Fang-free, full of dogs, good food and "bibes" (drinks), with a library, their father's dearest friend, and even their very own ancestral house. The children are enrolled in the local school (the ugly head-mistress being their mother's childhood best friend) where they are trained in Hollish specialties of Sneakery, Dogspeak, and Pummelry Training. For the first time, Nia seems truly happy, even beginning a courtship with a childhood friend, now the Keeper of the Hollows. However, Kal is still a Fang, with deadly claws, a ferocious appetite, and a darkness to fight. Janner struggles to continually sacrifice his own desires to try and keep his brother safe, knowing that his mother's fate is also at stake. The family is still without their father, and his loss is ever more keenly felt. Dangers lurk in the Blackwoods, mysterious misshapen horrors called "the cloven," and one makes its way into Ban Rona, making a strange connection with the Wingfeather children. Janner worries that Gnag the Nameless is at work. And there is something stealing livestock, stirring up the fear and distrust of outsiders that has wormed its way deep into the Hollish folk. There is a monster in the Hollows. Is it Kalmar?

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The Violet Keystone

The final installment in the series begins with the Castle in utter turmoil. Milla has unleashed Light Magic she cannot control, and Tal has been taken by Fashnek to the Hall of Nightmares. He is able to use his ever-growing skill, as well as his bond with the Icecarls, to awake from Fashnek's machine and to free himself. Great-Uncle Ebbit, who, it turns out, was NOT killed by Tal's magic, finds Milla and her overstretched band, and takes them through dangerous passages up to the Violet Tower. Tal too is there and together they climb to the highest part of the Castle. Sushin overtakes them and Sharrakor steps from his body, speaking words of power that rip Tal & Milla's Spiritshadows- Adras & Odris- from them, nearly killing them from the shock. Quickly Crow speaks the incantation to take them to Aenir to try and rejoin their spirit companions. Ebbit arrives seconds later and takes Malen, the young Crone accompanying Milla, with him to Aenir as well.

Into Battle

Tal's "mission" in book 5 (Into Battle) is to find the Empress, Keeper of the Violet (and most powerful) Keystone. He again crosses into Aenir, and manages to find the Empress, with instructions from Lokar as well as his own growing ability with Light-magic, far beyond his years. However, the Empress is found to be a doddering usurper, herself a puppet of Sharrakor, who is revealed to be a Free Spirit, not the Empress' Spiritshadow as is commonly believed. Sushin is revealed to be a "Shadow-pawn," completely controlled by a free Aeniran Shadow. The Empress and her brother had seized the throne from Mercur, and when he fled, he took the Violet Keystone with him. Tal realizes that this was the skeleton he & Milla found on their way from the Ruin Ship, and that he himself now wields (half) the Violet Keystone. The scene where Tal, the Empress & her brother meet is one of the most powerful in the book-- heart-stopping, sickening, hopeless...

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Above the Veil

Book 4 (Above the Veil) opens in the Underfolk levels of the Chosen's Castle-- the lowest levels. We get a surprising glimpse of Sushin's true allegiance, and then are with Tal & Milla in the servant networks of the Castle. Milla is determined to get out of the castle and return to her Clan to complete her mission-- give them the Sunstone. Then she is determined to ask permission to "give herself to the Ice" (kill herself) to try and atone for the horrible thing she carries with her; a Spirit Shadow. She is furious with Tal for binding it to her, despite the knowledge that it saved her life. Aided by a small band of rebel Underfolk who call themselves the Freefolk, they pass through a molten crystal lake, where they witness the death of an Underfolk, which deeply affects Tal. He continues to question his upbringing, and to wrestle with the guilt over Milla's Spiritshadow. Bits and pieces that they have learned begin to come together, and Tal realizes that the 7 Keystones -one for each color- that hold the Veil in place are in danger of failing.

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Castle

Tal and Milla have been given a mission by the Crones-- to sneak into the Castle through the long-forgotten heatways and steal two sunstones: one for Tal's family, and one for Milla's Clan. So the unlikely, often-grudging pair's adventure continues, not on the cold darkness of the Ice, where Milla was confident and at home, but in Tal's territory; the warm and light-filled Castle. However, they face more enemies here than ever they did on the Ice. The brutality underlying the "civilized" Chosen culture is revealed, as Tal and Milla are caught and punished by the increasingly-frightening-and-powerful Sushin. Milla's Icecarl training allows her to escape unscathed from the Hall of Nightmares, and Tal's ingenuity and Uncle Ebbit help him escape from the Pit. As before, each fresh escape creates yet more questions and reveals even more obstacles. Their only hope is to Ascend to the Spirit World of Aenir and find the Codex- a magical intelligence that knows the answers to all questions.

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The Borrowers

Have you ever lost something you swore you left right there? Maybe you did. Maybe they were Borrowed. The way Mrs. May told it, her younger brother actually met a family of these little people, these Borrowers. At one time, they lived almost every where, but now they are rarely seen. Pod, Homily & Arrietty (14) Clock were named for the clock in Great-Aunt Sophy's house, the clock that hid their front door. Their furniture is made of cigar boxes, their walls are hung with postage stamps, and their gates are locked with safety pins.

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The Fall

Tal is a Chosen; a manipulator of light through the precious Sunstones-- all that gives light in his world, eternally dark beneath The Veil. He lives in the seven-turreted Castle; the only human dwelling in all the dark world, with a level and a tower for each color. Once a year, his family Ascends into the spirit realm of Aenir, where light and color still reign, and where one day he will bind a spirit being to himself to become his Shadowguard, taking the place of his natural shadow and becoming his life-long servant and companion. However, lately trouble has beset Tal's family; his father has disappeared (and with it the family Sunstone, their only way to Ascend to Aenir), is perhaps even dead, his mother sickens and hovers on the brink of death, his younger brother has been kidnapped, and enemies he does not understand are suddenly dogging his every move. In a desperate attempt to procure a new Sunstone to save his mother, Tal falls from the Red Tower, into a world he finds is not so dark and empty as he always believed. So much of what he thought he knew is now being challenged, especially by the fearsome would-be warrior girl Icecarl, Milla. The unlikely pair find themselves bound to one another and to a Quest-- to return to the Castle (no small feat across the dark world of Ice) and obtain two Sunstones; one for Tal, and one for Milla's Clan.

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