Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book review: A Shining Light

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House, to review it for myself. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.

I consider myself to be a pretty knowledgeable person when it comes to American history, but occasionally I run across something that I've never heard of before.  The Amana Colonies were one of those things- and I'm so glad that the novel, A Shining Light, introduced me to them. It's a really fascinating part of US history.  Here's a bit about the novel that both taught and entertained me, from the publisher's website:

West Amana, Iowa, 1890

After Andrea Wilson receives the devastating news that her husband has been lost at sea, she returns home to Iowa with her young son, Lukas. But what she finds there causes more heartache: The family farm has burned and her father has died, leaving Andrea with nothing.

Andrea must rely on the kindness of the people from the nearby Amana village who invite her to stay with them for a time. She discovers much generosity and contentment among the Amanans--especially from the tinsmith, Dirk Knefler, who takes her son under his wing. But is the simple, cloistered life in Amana what Andrea wants for Lukas's future? Is she willing to give up the comforts and freedom of the outside world? And when yet another round of shocking news comes her way, will Andrea ever be able to find the serenity and hope that have eluded her for so long?
I really enjoyed this book a lot.  The main characters were well-written and are backed up by a nice cast of supporting characters as well.  This book is mainly about Andrea finding her place in the world, but there's also romance, drama and even mystery! It is part of a series called Home to Amana, but definitely stands well as solo book as well. Very good read! 

App review: Wild Kratts World Adventure

*Disclosure: I received a code to review this app with my kids. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.

We're big fans of the PBS kids' show- Wild Kratts. So when I heard about a new app called Wild Kratts World Adventure, I knew it would be a fun one to try out. Here's a bit about it, from a press release that I received:

Through 30 levels of game play, WILD KRATTS World Adventure helps build key skills and encourages science inquiry. With the app, children ages 4 to 8 can tilt and tap their way through games that help them learn how different animals live and adapt to their habitats.
Additional features include:
·         Over 60 stickers and “Wow facts”
·         Kids can take their own creature power “selfies”
·         An Orangutan creature power game that lets kids tilt their device back and forth to imitate the swing of the Orangutan.
·         A Woodpecker creature power game that lets kids imitate the strong beak of the woodpecker by tapping on trees to listen and find beetles.
·         A Dolphin creature power suit game that lets kids swim and jump with dolphins as they tilt their device to clean up trash in the ocean.

My kids spent quite a while this afternoon playing this app on my iPod.  Even though neither of them could read, they were able to easily figure out how to play the games. I finally pried the iPod away from them and had some time to play myself, and I agree, the games are fun! And educational too!

If you're looking for a new app- check this one out!