Friday, December 12, 2014

The Bachelor by Stephanie Reed (book review)

The Bachelor

Book Two of Plain City Peace

By Stephanie Reed

(received in exchange for an honest review)

The Bachelor-001

Genre- Fiction / Amish 

Published by- Kregel Publications

Copyrighted- 2014

Number of pages- 253

Age Group- Adult

Description of book- paperback, listed price- $14.99, ISBN 978-0-8254-4216-2

The Bachelor, by Stephanie Reed, is the second book in the Plain City Peace series.  Betsie Troyer is asked to take care of Shelia, the young girl from the English family she lived with, while Shelia's father goes to find her mother.  Betsie does not know what to do, but decides to take her in.  Betsie hopes that her sister, Sadie, and Charley Yoder, a man she has promised herself to understands. 

They do not understand and Betsie cannot turn to her parents, because they have left the Amish ways.  Betsie does what she thinks is best and goes through each day in the best way she can. 

Will her family understand and accept what she is doing?  Will her relationship with Charley be ruined, since she is taking care of someone who is English.  Why is she thinking of Shelia's brother, Michael, so much?

Read an excerpt.

About the Author-

Stephanie Reed currently lives in Ohio, near the site of an Amish community.  She gets her ideas from Ohio.

My thoughts-

I thought The Bachelor, by Stephanie Reed, was unlike most of the Amish themed books that I have read in the past.  This book had a lot more depth and character development.  I felt like I really knew Betsie Troyer and Shelia (young English girl). 

I have never read any Amish book where the Amish take care of the English.  It was very brave of Betsie to take care of Shelia.  Betsie lived in a stricter Ordnung, so I was surprised when the bishop did nothing.  I was not surprised by the end of the book, the bishop was unlike most bishops.  (I will not spoil the surprise though.)  Reed did a good job portraying Christian life through Shelia.  Shelia was a preteen, but she was a stronger Christian than most adult Christians.  She is someone we should all try to be, for example she was very forgiving of Abijah and Sadie when they were mean to her.

The one thing I would add to this book would be a glossary for the Amish words.  I think I figured most of them out from the context of the sentence, but I'm not sure.  I thought the discussion questions were really good.  I learned more about the Amish, 1970's, and Christianity when I read and answered the questions.

I enjoyed reading this book and I am looking forward to reading book three, The Bride.  I would recommend this book to others.  If you have not read the first book in the series, The Bargain (I had not), that is fine.  I found that I was not missing anything.

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received The Bachelor, by Stephanie Reed, for free from the Kregel Publications’ Blog Tour.  All links were current when posted.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Heretic by Henry Vyner-Brooks (Book Review)

The Heretic

By Henry Vyner-Brooks

(received in exchange for an honest review)

The Heretic-001

Genre- Fiction / Christian

Published by- Lion Hudson

Copyrighted- 2014

Number of pages- 603

Age Group- Adult 

Description of book- paperback, listed price- $16.99, ISBN 978-1-78264-095-0

Taking place over four years, The Heretic, by Henry Vyner-Brooks, explores England during the Reformation period during 1530's.  It is a time of deceit, upheaval, and reform.  Brother Pacificus has takes center stage in this book along with his brother, and the children they rescued when their parents were taken as heretics.

Brother Pacificus is a former Lord, so he knows everything that is happening and soon he is part of one of the last Benedictine houses.  What will happen to him and the rest of the brothers, since the King and Cromwell are shutting them down?  Will all of Pacificus's plans work?  Will he be able to take care of his family, abbey, and the children he rescued?

About the Author-

Henry Vyner-Brooks currently lives with his wife in Cumbria.  He wrote this story for his sons.  He has been a landscape architect, property developer, and pastor.

My thoughts-

I thought this was a very interesting book, but the best part did not start until part three, when Pacificus took the children to one of his friends to be trained in the ways of nobility.

I know that the rest of the book was building up to this part, but it was long.  I think it would have been better if it was three separate books, instead of one.  I think 603 pages is a lot for one book, when none of it has been published before. 

I did like the list of characters, the artist's picture of Saint Benet's, the map, and diagrams of the abbey.  I liked the list of characters, because there were many different characters and it was nice to be able to keep track of them.

Although this was a long book, I would recommend it to others.  I thought it was an educational book

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received The Heretic, by Henry Vyner-Brooks, for free from the Kregel Publications’ Blog Tour.  All links were current when posted.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Boy Who Walked A Way by Nancy Janes (book review)

The Boy Who Walked A Way

by Nancy Janes

(Review Book!)

The Boy Who Walked A Way-001

Genre- Christian / Fiction

Publisher- CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Copyrighted- 2013

Number of pages- 240

Age Group- I would recommend juvenile and above.  Have an adult read it first to see what they think.

Description of book- Paperback, $12.98, ISBN: 9781479139071

Jal Valhyn lives in 2162 and his country is at war.  The worlds government is based on humanistic ideas and the halcyon peace has failed.  He runs away from where he is living and is approached by someone who is invisible.  The person gives him two visible companions and they go on a seven day trip together.  Each day Jal learns more from Sammie and Bea about faith and friendships.   

About the Author:

Nancy Janes currently lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  She used to be a Clinical Social Worker.  She is currently working on a new book which includes characters from this book. 

My thoughts:  

The Boy Who Walked A Way, by Nancy Janes, is one of those books that is an instant classic.  After seeing all of the books at the local library that are about vampires, magic, and other negative subject matters, this book is a breath of fresh air.  I enjoyed reading about Jal and his seven day journey to reach Grandfather Moutyn.  On this journey he had guides though, Bea (a butterfly) and Sammie (a swan).  These two guides helped him to learn more about the world around him and how to avoid becoming a part of it.  I thought that was really neat.  I liked how it was a physical journey, but it was also so much more, like the books written by C.S. Lewis.  I was glad that I was able to recognize and see that there was a story behind the story.  I know that as child I would not have recognized it.

I plan on reading this book to my nine and ten-year-old.  I think they will enjoy it a lot.  I don’t know if they will understand the story behind the story, but it will be good for them anyway.  I recommend this book to you as well.   

Informational and Purchasing Links:

Nancy Janes’s website: jazele.wordpress.com

Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/nancyjanes

Twitter: http://twitter.com/nancy1janes

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/authornancyjanes/498424470193886?ref=hl

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/nancyjanesz/

Purchasing Link: Amazon

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received a free copy of The Boy Who Walked A Way, by Nancy Janes, to review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.  I am part of The CWA Review CrewAll links were current when posted.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Look Inside: The Time of Jesus by Lois Rock and illustrated by Lorenzo Orlandi

Look Inside: The Time of Jesus

Look Inside: a Lift-the-Flap Discovery Book

By Lois Rock and illustrated by Lorenzo Orlandi

(received in exchange for an honest review)

The Times of Jesus-001

Genre- Christian / Children’s / Bible

Published by- Lion Children’s Books

Copyrighted- 2014

Number of pages- 16

Age Group- Children 5-7 (I think 1-8), Grade Level K-2

Description of book- Hardback, Listed price- $14.99, ISBN 978-0-7459-6398-3

 Do you know a young child who enjoys lift-the-flap books?  Look Inside: The Time of Jesus is the perfect book for them.

In this book the child will learn all about the life of Jesus, from His birth to His death.  There are flaps on each page to open, with text explaining what is happening in each scene.  Many parts of Jesus’s life are discussed in this book, His birth, life when He was a child, His days as a teacher, and more.

About the Author-  Lois Rock uses her knowledge as a mother and church leader to write her Bible stories, prayer books, and information books.

About the Illustrator- Lorenzo Orlandi has worked with magazines, advertising agencies, and publishers.  He specializes in illustrating nature, science, agriculture, and history.

My thoughts-

I was really excited when I began looking at this book.  It is more than just a story of the way life was in Jesus’s time, it is a story of His life, including some of His parables.

I did not realize it included different parables until I read the book with B and C and we carefully read the text that went with each flap.  There was the story of the praying Pharisee and the humble praying man, the lost sheep, and on what ground the grain grew.  I thought it was great that those stories were included, because it can lead to great discussions with children who have never heard the story before or it can remind the reader to share what the story means to us.  It turned out that what I thought was just a simple children’s book was so much more.

The illustrations are wonderful and help show what the story is discussing.  This book would not be as wonderful without the illustrations and the flaps.  I have rarely seen a book that combines the story with the flaps.  There is so much in this book.  Each child who reads or looks at it will learn more each time they see it. 

I really enjoyed this book and so did my children.  They are learning more about Jesus each time they look at the book.  This is the perfect book for young children to begin learning about Jesus.

C a nine-year-old girl says, “I really liked the illustrations.  It was fun reading the book.”

“I liked Look Inside: The Time of Jesus.  I liked the flaps to lift.  My favorite flap to lift was the stable in Bethlehem.  I liked the other lift-and-flaps throughout the book.  Overall I would recommend this book to children young than I am,” says B, almost eleven-years-old.

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received Look Inside: The Time of Jesus, by Lois Rock and illustrated by Lorenzo Orlandi, for free from the Kregel Publications’ Blog Tour.  All links were current when posted.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Picture of the Week! (November 14, 2014)- Taking a Picture

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We had a wonderful time this fall when the weather was still warm.  This is one of the times that we went to a park to take pictures of the setting sun and colorful leaves.  It is always fun to go places with my family.

Seed Police by Gayla Prewitt (book review)

Seed Police

by Gayla Prewitt

(I received this book for review purposes.)

Seed Police-001

Genre- Christian / Fiction

Publisher- Gayla A. Prewitt

Copyrighted- 2014

Number of pages- 146

Age Group- Adult and older teens

Description of book- Paperback, $8.99, ISBN: 978-1497583023

The government is the only group that is allowed to grow plants.  There is a group though, “Seed Savers.”  This group has been saving seeds, growing crops, and distributing the crops and seeds.  They are now in trouble.  Government officials are coming after them to take the seeds and the people who save them.

What will happen to the families?  Why are people getting sick from eating the food the government is growing for them?  Will the good people prevail against evil?

About the Author:

Gayla Prewitt has four children, a son-in-law, and a husband.  She is an instructor at a university and has experience in broadcast journalism.

My thoughts:  

I thought Seed Police, by Gayla Prewitt, was interesting.  Basted on events in history, I can imagine a country where it would be illegal to own one’s seeds.

It is amazing how one person can control things.  Ed Harris was able to control the seeds which would be used for the crops.  Those crops (genetically modified) even began to make people very sick.  Harris was even able to convince the many others that the good people, the “Seed Savers,” were the bad people.

The “Seed Savers” were really neat, because they were passing out and protecting the seeds which were good for people.  It was through God they stayed strong and were able to prevail.  They knew that their seeds were the best for people and they made sure people got those seeds.

This was a great thriller.  I knew knew if Ed Harris and his henchmen would catch the “Seed Savers.”

Informational and Purchasing Links:

To Connect with Gayla Prewitt:

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received a free copy of Seed Police, by Gayla Prewitt, to review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.  I am part of The CWA Review CrewAll links were current when posted.

If You Follow Me by Pam Rhodes (book review)

If You Follow Me

Book Three of The Dunbridge Chronicles

By Pam Rhodes

(received in exchange for an honest review)

 If You Follow Me-001

Genre- Fiction / Christian

Published by- Lion Hudson

Copyrighted- 2014

Number of pages- 256

Age Group- Adult 

Description of book- paperback, listed price- $14.99, ISBN 978-1-78264-079-0

In If You Follow Me, by Pam Rhodes, Neil is very busy with his church and he is enjoying being engaged to Claire.  He does not realize that there will be trouble in their future.

Wendy is still there giving him support, but is it the right kind of support and why is Ben, Claire’s first love and the father of her son, there?  He came from Australia.  She does not realize that Wendy and Ben are trying to separate Neil and Claire.  Will they succeed? 

Will Neil be able to run the church and give Claire the attention she needs and deserves?  You will have to read the book.

About the Author-

Pamela Rhodes has written several other novels.  For many years she has presented the BBC’s Songs of Praise.

My thoughts-

I really enjoyed reading the second book in The Dunbridge Chronicles, Casting the Net (my review).  If You Follow Me was just as good.  It was nice how well everyone accepted Claire even though she was not a member of the church.  I did not think a church would be so receptive of a curate becoming engaged to someone like Claire.  I am glad they had Neil’s best interests at heart.

I thought Wendy was the most interesting character, because she had so many parts to her personality.  She portrayed such a nice Christian person to most people, but she still wanted Neil so badly that she got the father of Claire’s son involved.  She really wanted Neil for herself.  Fortunately she finally gave up and decided to go on a long vacation. 

There were many other little stories happening in this book, which helped me to know the people of Dunbridge. 

I really enjoyed reading this book.  It would be fun to see Sam, Claire’s son, Claire, and Neil’s story continue in a new series.  I recommend this book!

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received If You Follow Me, by Pamela Rhodes, for free from the Kregel Publications’ Blog Tour.  All links were current when posted.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Countdown to Thanksgiving from Amy Puetz and Golden Prairie Press (Review)

We received this for review purposes!

Countdown to Thanksgiving-001

Product Links: Countdown to Thanksgiving E-book

Vendor Information Link: Golden Prairie Press

Age Appeal: Geared towards 6-14 year-olds

Format: PDF download (there is also a physical copy available for $17.00

Price: As of November 12, 2014- $17.00

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions?  Is Thanksgiving all about turkey or is it about giving thanks to God and learning how important Thanksgiving is to the history of the United States?

This countdown from Amy Puetz begins 14 days (November 13, 2014) before Thanksgiving and includes the day of Thanksgiving.  Each day includes a story and activity, some days include several activities and sometime poetry.  Many of these stories were written in the 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Some of the activities are songs, crafts, and games.

Here is a sample.     

C2ThanksgivingHeader

Our Experience: 

We do not have any Thanksgiving traditions, because we never know where we will be for Thanksgiving, so I was excited to have the chance to review this book.  I know now we will have a tradition, reading and getting the most out of this e-book each year.

We have read and looked at a lot of these stories so far, but we are really going to start in earnest on the 14th day before Thanksgiving.  These stories, games, crafts, songs, and more, are perfect to help us develop a family tradition and come closer to God.  We will be able to learn the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

Mama’s Thoughts:

  • Amy Puetz puts so much effort into her products and Countdown to Thanksgiving is wonderful.  I have really enjoyed reading the stories with B and C.  I am impressed that she was able to find such high quality stories from long ago.  I really liked “Captain Christy’s Thanksgiving,” by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, and “The Mother of Thanksgiving,” by Amy Puetz.  I have never heard of Sarah Josepha Hale, the mother of Thanksgiving.  She worked for the Godey’s Lady’s Book Magazine as the editor and was instrumental in keeping Thanksgiving alive as a holiday in our country. 
  • I know I have gotten away from the original meaning of Thanksgiving.  In the past few years I have been busy with other things around Thanksgiving, so our family has not taken the time to thank the Lord for what he has given us.  That is not good for B and C, because it make it harder for them to be thankful for things, when we do not make an effort to do that.  I am planning on using some of the activities and songs in this book on a weekly if not daily basis, so our family can be continuously thankful and in God.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fourth grade):   

I liked Countdown to Thanksgiving.  I liked the soap making story.  I liked the “Thanksgiving game” in the story called “The Thanksgiving Goose,” by Fannie Wilder Brown.  I’m glad we can make our own Thanksgiving Proclamation. 

I would recommend this book to people of all ages. 

C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in third grade):

I liked Countdown to Thanksgiving.  It is really good, because you can learn all about Thanksgiving history.  It is good for people of all ages.

Mama highly recommends!

Social Media Links for Golden Prairie Press:

Disclaimer:

I received a free copy of this product from Amy Puetz and Golden Prairie Press in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

 
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Snake Oil- Party Potion from Out of the Box Games (Schoolhouse Review Crew review)

We received this for review purposes!

Snake Oil-001

Product Links: Snake Oil – Party Potion (Ages 8 and up)

Vendor Information Link: Out of the Box Games

Age Appeal: 8 and up

Format: physical game with cards and instruction

Price: $14.99 

Does your family need a fun to game to play, but do you want it to be educational at the same time?  Snake Oil from Out of the Box Games is that game!

Snake Oil is based on the snake oil introduced by the Chinese who worked on the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1860’s.  They shared the snake oil with the Americans, who made outrageous claims with it.  The salesmen who sold these products (which did not contain much snake oil) were called Snake Oil Salesmen.

This game is based on that history.  This game is played by three to six people at a time and it should take 20-30 minutes to complete.  Each person takes 6 word cards and they take turns being the customer, like a magician or Olympic Athlete.  The people who are not the customer take two of their cards and present a sale pitch to the customer.  One phrase could be gravity coat.  The customer picks the product they want and the customer card goes to that player.  Each player will draw two more cards, each player should always have six cards.  The winner of the game is the person who has the most cards at the end of the round.  This video does an excellent job of showing how the game is played.    

Our Experience: 

We have seen Snake Oil Salesmen at different forts and events we have been to in the West.  The children had fun watching and learning from them, so I thought this game would be perfect for them.  I also thought it would be good for C, so she could work on her creative thinking, quick thinking, and public speaking skills.  B is really good with those skills, so I wanted him to hone them.

They were so excited when the game came in the mail, that we opened the package and played a game.  It was a lot of fun.  C was doing much better than I thought she would and B had some excellent sales pitches.

We have played Snake Oil many times since then, but C has had a harder time trying to make things up than she did the first time.  She must be putting too much pressure on herself.  I will have to help her overcome it.  B has been doing a good job, but he has had a couple of rounds where he has gotten some hard cards to use.  They were cards like grave, nightmare, butt, and curse.  We do not actively use some of those words at our home (especially when trying to combine the words into a product), so I am going to go through the deck and pick out the ones that do not work with our family.  It should be much easier for the children to build products after that.

We have been having fun with this game.  I plan on using it weekly in school so B and C can continue to improve their skills.

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Mama’s Thoughts:

  • I really liked this game.  It was the perfect game to help C with her creative thinking and public speaking skills.  I was proud of her.  She needs to become confident of her creative thinking.  I think it will come with our encouragement and time spent playing this game. 
  • B is a very creative young man, so this game was made for him.  He won many cards, because of his ability to think quickly and deliver good sales pitches. 
  • There were words that I personally do not approve of saying or were not appropriate for them, so they will be set aside until they are older.  I thought they made hard word combinations to be proper when I was trying to be appropriate with my children.
  • I thought the cards themselves were neat with the snake on them.  It really did make it a Snake Oil game. 
  • We enjoyed the different customer cards.  After we had played the game several times I think that both B and C were trying really hard to make their product suite the customer.  I realized in the last game we played that not only should I make the card fit the customer, but I needed to make it something that B or C would like to have if they were that customer.  I need to remember to share that with them the next time we play.  It might help C to more easily think of her products.    

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fifth grade):   

I liked Snake Oil.  There were some very unique cards though, like snot, butt, skull, curse, and ghost.  Other than that it was very fun.  I liked that it really encouraged imagination and creative skills, plus sales pitch.  I thought that the selection of customer cards was nice.  I liked how each of them included a snake (or more) in the picture on the card. 

I would recommend this product. 

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C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in third grade):

I really liked Snake Oil.  It was fun to be a customer and chose who would get the card.  It was also fun selling the customer a product. 

I did not really like some of the cards, like butt and snot.  They are words we do not use.

It is good for good for people six years and older.   

Dad’s Thoughts:

I enjoyed the Snake Oil game.  It required being creative with the cards in your hand.  You have to be a bit of a fast thinker but that's part of the fun.  The length of each round is good.  It's short enough to keep younger kids entertained and also to move on to something else if they want to.  Or you can keep playing and enjoying the products players come up with.  I liked the Snake Oil game.

Mama really recommends this!

Party-Potion-Box_zpsd4e2d712

Social Media Links!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OutoftheBoxGames
Twitter: https://twitter.com/OTBgames
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYAQiV5S9ZQ&feature=c4-overview&list=UUTEAg1uDVwq0LNxFAwM7N5Q

 
Crew Disclaimer

Purposeful Design by Jay Schabacker (Schoolhouse Review Crew review)

We received this for review purposes!

Purposeful design-001

Product Links: Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation

Vendor Information Link: Purposeful Design

Age Appeal: all ages

Format: hardback book

Price: $18.95 

Jay Schabacker who was once part of the Apollo Moon Program is the author of this book.  He has developed this seven chapter book to teach the reader about the seven days of creation. 

Each chapter includes the specific Bible verses for that day of creation, information about things pertinent to each chapter like tides, camels, instincts of different animals, and more.

There is a bibliography and recommend reading section at the end of the book.

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Our Experience: 

I was excited to see a book that was written describing the seven days of creation from a scientific point of view.  I knew that B and C would like it, especially B, since they like science. 

We were excited when it came in the mail and we started reading it right away.  It was fun reading a specific day, then completing the free corresponding worksheets from the Young Explorer’s Club.  I liked how the answers were on the website, but each child could easily find them in the book. 

This book had so much information.  It especially had a lot about the sun, moon, and stars.  I felt that was too much and there was not enough dedicated to the other days.  It showed what Jay Schabacker’s favorite subject was, the solar system.

This was an excellent book and can be used in many different situations and for different ages.  I plan on using this every couple of years in our school, so that B and C really enjoy creation.

Mama’s Thoughts:

  • I thought Purposeful Design was a perfect book for any homeschooling family.  The seven days of creation were well described and it covered the science behind those days very well.  I think that since there was so much information given about the solar system, there could have been more said about the animals, humans, and vegetation. 
  • This book has almost 100 pages!  That makes it a perfect book for science when it is combine with the workbook.  It is also good for Bible study, because many of the questions in the workbook involve Bible verses and praying as well.
  • Many of these pictures are phenomenal, like the ones in space.  I do wish that some of them had not been chosen, because they were very fuzzy.  It took away from the high quality of the book. 
  • I liked how he had the correct Bible verses in the beginning of the chapter, then continued with the scientific proof to back it up.  I learned a lot about the sun, moon, and stars that I did not know and I was able to see some interesting sea creatures.          

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fifth grade):   

I liked Purposeful Design.  I wished that it talked more about the birds and fish.  It would have been nice to have the same number of pages for each subject.  For example, “Chapter 4- The Fourth Day: Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Stars” was 20 pages long, but “Chapter 5- The Fifth Day: Creation of the Birds and Fish” was only five pages long.  It would of also been nice to talk about more types of animals.  It only talked about camels and cattle. 

I did like all the information I learned.  I learned some interesting facts I did not know before.

Overall I would highly recommend this book.  

C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in third grade):

I liked the illustrations.  They were nice. 

It is good for people of all ages. 

Dad’s Thoughts:

Purposeful Design - Understanding the Creation by Jay Schabacker discusses each day of the creation and then he provides evidence for it.  He used colorful and detailed pictures to get his message across.  This is a book that can used for classroom education or an at home leisurely read.  Overall I liked it and it stays true to God's word from the Bible.

Mama highly recommends this!

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Social Media Links!

Blog: www.Jayschabacker.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaySchabackerAuthor
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/Jayschabacker (@Jayschabacker)
LinkedIn: Jayschab

 
Crew Disclaimer

Online Math and Language Arts Learning from IXL (Schoolhouse Review Crew review)

We received this for review purposes!

IXL-001

Product Links: IXL Math (Pre-K to Precalculus)  and IXL Language Arts (2nd to 8th)

Vendor Information Link: IXL

Age Appeal: K-12

Format: Completely online (Technical Requirements)

Price: Annual Subscription: math $79/child and $99/two children, math and language arts $129/child and $149/two children (for more information and payment options go to the Membership page

math page

Do you need a fun supplemental math and language arts program?  Look no further than IXL.

IXL has hundreds of skills to be mastered in many different grades.  Your child is not required to stay at their grade level.  For example, if third grade math is too difficult for them, then they can work on second grade until the skills are mastered to move back to third. 

There are awards programs, certificates, weekly reports for parents, and feedback for each missed problem.

Help Center (for any unanswered questions).

Our Experience: 

IXL is one of my favorite supplemental programs for math and language arts.  I have found that the programs we use for math and language arts sometimes do not cover
everything we need or that the kids need more practice to master the skills they have been working on.  I was excited when we were selected to review IXL.  I knew exactly what B and C needed to work on in both math and language arts.

C's math program does an excellent job of teaching addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  I decided to have her work on money, time, estimation, logical reasoning, and some of the other topics her program does not cover.  I had her work on IXL three times a week for about 20 minutes each time.

Math is not B's favorite subject, so I have had a hard time finding a program that fits well with him.  IXL is the program that works for him.  I have been having him work on it five times a week for about 20 minutes each time.  I keep his lessons short, because he learns the most when they are short.

I had B and C use the language arts section of the program in the same way they used math.  We have a
good language arts program, but there are some parts that are not covered, like alphabetizing, analogies, and Greek and Latin roots.

They had fun when they got prizes in math and when they received certificates in my e-mail.

I am very pleased with IXL Learning and I plan on continue using it with B and C.

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Mama’s Thoughts:

  • There are many things I like about IXL Learning.  The feature I like the best is the weekly e-mailed reports.  The e-mailed reports show me exactly what B and C have been doing and what they need to work on more.  I always know how long they have been working on math and language arts and whether or not I need to keep a closer eye on them.
  • I really like the wide variety of subjects that are offered.  B and C will never run out of things to practice, because they can do it again and again.  They will definitely be able to master the subjects that are offered.
  • I am impressed with the depth of explanation that each missed problem gives.  The student can easily study the explanation and learn how to do the problem correctly.  B and C have used this feature multiple times and it has helped them solve future problems.
  • The one thing I would change is the login process.  It would be easier if the student could log themselves in directly without having to login to their family's account first.  It can be frustrating to those people who have a hard time logging in if they have to do it twice.
  • At the beginning I did not like the "Challenge Zone," because it really upset B and C when they missed a problem and their score would go from the nineties back into the eighties and it would take much longer until they reached 100.  I know it the "Challenge Zone" has been designed to make sure that the child has mastered the skill, but it is frustrating to be getting all the answers right, then miss one and need to do so many more before mastering the skill.  B and C both get frustrated when that happens.  I think it would be nice if they could miss two or three before they lose the momentum they have built up.  

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fifth grade):   

I liked IXL.  I really liked Geometry.  It was really fun.  I learned a lot.  Fifth grade wasn’t so fun, but I still learned a lot.  Pre-K was fun to do on my own time.  Precalculus was fun to do and learn too.

I liked the awards.  I wish there were awards for language arts.  And that language arts started in first grade.  I liked the awards themes for geometry (space) and precaluculus (Castle).   

Overall I would recommend this product. 

C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in third grade):

I really liked the “Group Alphabetical Order” and “Order the Best” for language arts.  My favorite one for math was place values.

It is good for people of all ages.

Dad’s Thoughts:

I like the in-depth reports that IXL does on its students. They are thorough and presented in an easy to read and understand manner.  I have friends who are teachers that would love to have this kind of reporting.  It shows the strengths and weaknesses of each student as well as where each student is spending their time while in IXL.  By showing where the student is having trouble those areas can be addressed to achieve success.

IXL is well thought out and executed program for student learning.

Mama highly recommends this!

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Social Media Links!

https://www.facebook.com/IXL
https://twitter.com/IXLLearning
https://plus.google.com/+IXL

 
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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Picture of the Week! (November 5, 2014)- Making Lunch

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B and C enjoy cooking.  I just had to take this picture of French toast that C was making for lunch.  I am so proud of them.  Over the past month we have made ketchup, spaghetti sauce, and applesauce to freeze for the winter.  B and C are looking forward to making freezer jam too.

Expecting with Hope by Teske Drake (Book Review)

Expecting with Hope: Claiming Joy When Expecting a Baby After Loss

By Teske Drake

(received in exchange for an honest review)

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Genre- Christian Life / Women’s Issues 

Published by- Kregel Publications

Copyrighted- 2014

Number of pages- 236

Age Group- Adult (Expecting Mothers)

Description of book- paperback, listed price- $15.99, ISBN 978-0-8254-4337-4

Have you experienced the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss?

Expecting with Hope, by Teske Drake, is filled with hope, God’s hope for you after loss, when expecting again.  This book has ten chapters about the promise of Hope and a Future, Fearless Love, His Presence, Sovereign Refuge, Provision, His Strength, Contentment in Him, Hope, Victory, and Joy.  Each chapter has relevant Bible verses, prayers, five devotions, and a journaling prompt.

The end of the book contains a section about coming to know Jesus, resources for coping with loss, and more about Drake’s website, Mommies with Hope.

Read an excerpt.

About the Author-

Teske Drake currently lives in Iowa with her family.  She has a PhD. in Human Development and Family Studies and is a cofounder of Mommies with Hope.  www.mommieswithhope.com

My thoughts-

I know there are many women in the world who are hurting from the loss of a baby.  I think Expecting with Hope, by Teske Drake, will help them. 

I have never lost a baby, so I can only imagine the hurt, loss, and worry when expecting the next baby.  I do think this will be the perfect book to help with that.  The ten chapter only focus on the promises that come from God that can help with such a loss, like provision, hope, victory, and joy.  Each chapter is filled with a positive message that will help no matter how dark the future may seem.

I liked how the chapters were set up.  There were anecdotes, Bible verses, prayers, devotions, and a journaling prompt.  Drake recommends that the journaling prompt be used in the new baby’s book. 

I recommend this book to anyone who has lost a baby or knows someone who has.

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received Expecting with Hope, by Teske Drake, for free from the Kregel Publications’ Blog Tour.  All links were current when posted.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

If He Had Not Come from David Nicholson (Schoolhouse Crew Review review)

We received this for review purposes!

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Product Links: If He Had Not Come

Vendor Information Link: David Nicholson

Age Appeal: Best for ages six and up

Format: Hardback book, with 40 pages

Price: $18.95

Are you looking for an original Christmas book?  Look no further than If He Had Not Come, by David Nicholson.  This story was originally in an anthology by Cynthia Pearl Maus in 1938 and was written by Nan F. Weeks.

This story is about a boy named Bobby and what happened to him on Christmas Day.  The story begins with Bobby reading the Bible with his father on Christmas Eve.  They read John 15:22 and five words from the verse keep running through his mind, “If I had not come.”  Bobby goes to bed and wakes up very excited for Christmas.  When he goes downstairs there is no evidence of Christmas, he goes outside where he finds no evidence of Christmas or that people even know anything about Christmas or Christ.  He goes to his church, the Children’s Home, hospital, homeless shelter, and to his Bible at home.  He finds no evidence of Jesus, just the words, “If I had not come.”  As he looks at his Bible that has only the Old Testament, he hears bells.  He jumps out of bed and it is Christmas.  He kneels and prays to Jesus.

The rest of the book contains study questions and information about the Gospel message.

All proceeds of sales from the book go to the National Christian Foundation.

Our Experience: 

Christmas is an important time of year to many people and this book shows how important it truly is.  I have always enjoyed Christmas.  When I was little it was about the presents and also about Jesus.  Now that I am a parent I do try to make sure that the focus is more on Jesus.  I thought this book was the perfect opportunity to show B and C how important Jesus’s birth was to all of us.

I was excited when the book arrived, so I had the children sit down with me and we read the book.  We have read the book several times since then and Dad read the book to the children too.  As a family we spent time discussing the questions at the end of the book.  I thought it was important, because the questions helped us think even more about how important the birth of Jesus is to us.

I plan on keeping If He Had Not Come where we can easily see it and read it.   

Mama’s Thoughts:

  • The feel of the book is very silky and it makes it fun to hold the book.  The book cover makes it fun for any child to hold and enjoy.
  • One of my favorite parts of this book is the questions at the end of the book.  The questions and the time we spent together as a family answering them, really helped complete the book.  It helped us draw nearer to Jesus.
  • This book would be perfect in Sabbath School classes and for every family to read.  It would also be great for Christian elementary schools and public libraries.  This book will help those families focus on the true reason for Christmas.
  • I liked Charles Jaskiewicz’s classic illustrations.  I could spend a lot of time studying the illustrations while reading the text. 

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fifth grade):   

I liked the feel of the front and back covers.  In the book it did not make sense why in his dream, the church had a sign saying, “’If I had not come’ John 15:22.” I loved the illustrations, they were so nice.  I liked the question section at the end of the book.

Overall I would recommend this book.

C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in third grade):

I liked the illustrations, they were nice.  It is good for people of all ages.  I did not like thinking about a world without Jesus, so I did not really like the book.

Dad’s Thoughts:

If He Had Not Come by Nan F. Weeks and reintroduced by David Nicholson gives us a question to consider.  If Jesus had not come into this world how what would it be like?  How would people act and react?  We should all take some time to ponder this.  And there is a study plan in the back of the book to go further in depth.  The illustrations by Charles Jaskiewicz are nicely done.

Mama highly recommends this!

Social Media Links!

  Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/If-He-Had-Not-Come/1543755249189773?ref=tn_tnmn

 
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Friday, October 31, 2014

Picture of the Week! (October 31, 2014)- Fall Leaves

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I hope everyone is having a wonderful Fall.  We have been.  Our trees have almost lost all of their leaves, it has been windy the past couple of days.  I was able to take this picture before it got windy.  Have a wonderful rest of your fall!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Guess Who Noah’s Boat by Matt Mitter and illustrated by Ela Jarzabek (Book Review)

Guess Who Noah’s Boat

By Matt Mitter

Illustrated by Ela Jarzabek

(received in exchange for an honest review)

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Genre- Christian / Children

Published by- Kregel Children’s Books

Copyrighted- 2014

Number of pages- 10

Age Group- Young Children

Description of book- hardback, listed price- $11.99, ISBN 978-0-8254-4204

Do you need a book that is fun for young children, but still teaches them stories from the Bible? 

Guess Who Noah’s Boat, written by Matt Mitter and illustrated by Ela Jarzabek, could be what you are looking for.  This book contains riddles about each of these animals- tigers, bears, sheep, and zebras.  Each animal has a flap which the children will lift to see if they guessed right. 

About the Author-

Matt Mitter was born in Oklahoma City and currently lives in the Bay Area.  He has written many children’s books.

About the Illustrator-

Ela Jarzabek currently lives in Poland.  She is a freelance illustrator and enjoys working with colored pencils, acrylic paints, and gouache on watercolor paper.

My thoughts-

I thought Guess Who Noah’s Boat was very cute, but at the same time very informational for a young toddler. 

The pages in this book are made out of a light weight cardboard, similar to a cereal box, so it makes it perfect for any young toddler.  I would use this book with any child who is between the ages of one and three, who do not need cardboard books, but still have a hard time with regular pages.  I think this would also be the perfect age for the peek-a-boo aspect of the book and the wonderful illustrations will make it irresistible I can just imagine them flipping the flap back and forth to see who is hiding behind it.

I do wish that the title of the book would have contained the word ark instead of boat, but it does talk about the ark inside the book.

I think this book would be perfect for any young child.  Pick one up today!

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received Guess Who Noah’s Boat, by Matt Mitter and illustrated by Ela Jarzabek, for free from the Kregel Publications’ Blog Tour.  All links were current when posted.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In the Heart of the Rockies a Jim Hodges Productions Audio Book (Schoolhouse Review Crew review)

We received this for review purposes!

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Product Links: In the Heart of the Rockies (1860s)

Vendor Information Link: Jim Hodges Productions

Age Appeal: best for ages 10 and up

Format: MP3 on CD or as a download and is almost 11 hours

Price: $25/physical copy and $18/download

Are you looking for a new way to include living history in your children’s life? 

G. A. Henty’s In the Heart of the Rockies read by Jim Hodges along with the study guide covers literature, geography, history, and more.

It is the 1860’s in England and sixteen-year-old Tom Wade has decided to leave for the American West to find his uncle.  Tom finds his uncle and they fight Indians, see the Grand Canyon, and survive winter storms all while trying to find gold.

Make sure you listen to this sample from In the Heart of the Rockies 

Our Experience: 

I have always been interested in reading G. A. Henty’s books and I was excited to learn about Jim Hodges Production and his audio books.  Sometimes audio books are the best way to be introduced to new authors because the listener hears the story instead of concentrating on the text size or unknown words.

When the CD came in the mail B and C were eager to listen to the story.  We listened to a couple of chapters, then we would go over the study guide orally.  The questions and activities were excellent.  The vocabulary was nice to have, because many of the words are not used today.  The study guide costs $12.

C was never as interested in this story as Bridger.  I think that was because of her age.  Bridger was really interested in the story until they killed the horses for food and two men died.  He did finish listening to the story and we worked on the study guide together. 

While Henty’s book was excellent, I think I will wait a few more years before introducing him again. 

Mama’s Thoughts:

  • This is the second G. A. Henty book that I have heard.  I do not think that his books are for everyone.  There is a lot of detail and vocabulary which makes these books good, but many people may not have the interest level to listen to them.  I think that boys would enjoy these books more than girls.  I would definitely wait until the children are over the age 10, perhaps older if the children are sensitive to sad events.
  • I really enjoyed Jim Hodges’s reading of the story.  He gave all the characters different voices and I could easily understand every word he said. 
  • I thought the study guide was excellent.  I liked how it included vocabulary, questions, and activities.  The study guide adds to the story to make it complete so many different subjects like geography, history, and literature.
  • I do have to say that we did have problems finding ways to make the CD play, since it was in the MP3 format.  I was able to get it to play on my computer and Kindle, but not on our newer CD player or Blue Ray/DVD players.  When we listened to it, I just hooked the Kindle up to an external set of speakers.  It worked very well.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fifth grade):   

I do not know how much I really liked In the Heart of the Rockies.  It was fine until they killed the horses.  It was really bad when when Ben and Sam died (characters in the story). 

I thought that the narrating was excellent.  I thought the elocution skills were excellent.  I really liked Harry’s voice.  I enjoyed that the narrator’s voice was so different from the characters.  I savored how the speed of his voice was not too fast and not too slow.

Overall I do not think this audio recording would be good for people younger than me.  I think this would be good for kids ages ten and up.  I think this would be good for grownups too. 

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C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in third grade):

This story was not for me.  I do not think that people younger than me would like it.

Dad’s Thoughts:

I found the G.A. Henty story of In the Heart of the Rockies: A Story of Adventure in Colorado to be a bit dry.  At times it seemed as if the dialogue was forced and stale.  Now, I do like stories about the American west in the 1800's and I also like stories of people traveling in search of adventure and fortune and Tom Wade certainly does that.  He travels from England to Colorado in search of his Uncle who is mining the Colorado Rockies for gold. Tom wants to be able to provide for his siblings back home since their parents had recently died and he and his sister decide this would be the best thing for him to do.

The main characters have morals and values and that helps the storyline.  I guess the best way I can describe this is like eating a piece of beef jerky, it has flavor and nutrition but you really have to bite into it and chew hard to get there.  It took me almost halfway through the story before I started liking it to the point of enjoyment.  I listened to the audio version of the story, so if you have a trip coming up this would be a good time for it.  If you're reading list has books that are higher on list then I recommend reading those first and come back to In the Heart of the Rockies when you have a little more free time.

Mama highly recommends this audio book for older children and adults!

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Social Media Links!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-Hodges-Audio-Books/184979244857560

 
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Clued in Kids Treasure Hunts (Schoolhouse Review Crew review)

We received this for review purposes!

Clued in Kids-001

Product Links: Pirate Clue Book and Soccer Treasure Hunt

Vendor Information Link: Clued in Kids

Age Appeal: 4 and up

Format: Pirate Clue Book is a physical copy and the Soccer Treasure Hunt is a downloadable PDF

Price: $8.99 for Pirate Clue Book and $5.99 for Soccer Treasure Hunt

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Are you looking for something fun to do with your children when they have friends over or for a party?  Clued In Kids Treasure Hunts are fun for children young and old.  This makes them perfect for birthday parties and other social functions.

The Pirate Treasure Hunt has clues related to pirates.  The Soccer Treasure Hunt has clues related to soccer.  It will takes the children around an hour to complete each hunt.  Each of these treasure hunts will work for 1-10 children.

Our Experience: 

The children and I were excited when we learned about Clued in Kids.  B and C enjoy playing games.  They like pirates, soccer and treasure hunts, so I thought it would all be the perfect combination.

We decided that we would pick a time when Dad was free, so he could join in the fun.  I had the children stay in the schoolroom with the door shut while I set the hunt up.  I had fun setting it up.  At the bottom of the page it listed where I was supposed to hide the clues, so I was done setting it up in the 8-10 minutes that the directions said it would take.

The first hunt I set up was the pirate treasure hunt.  After I set it up I got the children and Dad and I handed B and C the first clue.  They started the hunt out working together, but part of the way through it was not working, so they took turns answering the clues.  It worked much better when they took turns.  That is also the way we did the soccer treasure hunt. 

I decided to put an IOU at the end of each treasure hunt.  I did that, because I wanted each child to be able to pick exactly what they wanted.  C still needs to pick out her treasures.  B decided he would like to have row counter for his knitting, so we have gotten that for him.

These treasure hunts were so fun, that we will be trying some of the other treasure hunts that are available at the Clued in Kids website.  

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Mama’s Thoughts:

  • I thought these two treasure hunts were well done.  The graphics on each clue were colorful and child friendly. 
  • It was really neat how these hunts could be used with one child or up to ten children.  I know it could be a lot of fun for a group of fun for a large group of children, perfect for birthday parties.  These treasure hunts would also be perfect for rainy days or when the children need a fun activity.
  • I had really hoped that this would be a good teamwork activity for B and C, but it turned out that it worked best to have them work on the clues individually.  They had a lot more fun when they were solving the clues themselves.  After they solved the clue I would have that person go get the next clue and pass it on to the other person.  I was glad that it worked out well.  This idea was also included in the instructions.
  • The instructions were very clear.  Since they were so clear, B and C could have set up the treasure hunt for the other one.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fifth grade):   

I really liked Clued in Kids.  I thought it was very creative.  I liked how they sometimes hid the object in the picture in the clue and you had to figure out where the next clue was.  I loved how there were codes to figure out.  I liked how the soccer treasure hunt could be printed out however many times you want, because it came in an e-mail.  In the soccer game it was neat how you got to do math too, only a little bit though.  One of my favorite parts about the hunt was that in one of the clues you had to tell the time to figure out a code.

Overall I really liked Clued in Kids.  I think it would be good for people ages 8 and up.  I even think this product would be good for grownups.

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C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in third grade):

I really, really liked Clued in Kids.  It was really fun.  It is really good for people of all ages.  I liked finding the clues.  Some of the clues were easy and some clues were hard.  I liked the pirate one better.

Dad’s Thoughts:

The Clued in Kids Treasure Hunt products are a unique way of learning and having fun at the same time.  The kids are given hints as to the whereabouts of their first clue. Then once they find it they have to complete the task on the card to reveal the clue for the next card.  The tasks can be solving a simple riddle, doing an exercise like hopping on one foot, repeating a phrase (What does a pirate say?  Arrrrr), code deciphering (with the keys on the card), or even figuring out the picture within the picture. They say that the treasure hunt could take up to an hour but my 10 & 8 year old kids had it done in less than 15 minutes.  You get to decide what the treasure will be. Maybe a special outing or activity, favorite treat, or exemption from a certain chore.  The opportunities are endless.

Clued in Kids would be great on bad weather days to get the kids up and moving about or just to break up the routine for a little bit and put a smile on everyone's face.  It's a nifty idea to for any family.

Mama highly recommends!

Social Media Links!

Twitter: @cluedinkids
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/cluedinkids
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/cluedinkids/

 
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