Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Winding down and gearing up... (part 1)

Our school year is winding down. This year we completed Heart of Dakota's Bigger Hearts for His Glory with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders! It was great to have all three of them using the same guide. I know I've said before how much I love Heart of Dakota... but I do. My plan at this point, having used 3 guides in 4 years is to keep going with it.

As we finish up our year, we're continuing with math (Singapore Primary Mathematics) and grammar (Rod & Staff's Building Christian English series) through the summer. We are also big fans of for getting those math facts memorized.

This year we added in more Drawn into the Heart of Reading or DiTHOR for short. We actually call it THOR because it just flows off the tongue better. lol The kids did a great job with the realistic fiction genre ending project. They each created a triorama... similar to a diorama, but this one had you creating four triangles to glue together similar to a pyramid.

Here are some photos of that project:

As you can see, they were very proud of the work they did. The reading selections in HOD are awesome, but what's really great about DiTHOR is that it will work with any book... so you don't have to buy the book packs that HOD recommends, you can use any book for the studied genre, and still have a great time learning!

Next time, I'll chat more about what we're doing to gear up for this fall!

*Ü* Blessings,

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Another Book Review: So Shines the Night

I received So Shines the Night by Tracy Higley, published by Thomas Nelson in ebook format for my nook a week or two ago... no it didn’t take me this long to read it! I’ve just been busy with spring – yes, it’s finally here! This book was provided to me free as part of the BookSneeze program in exchange for my honest review here.

I enjoyed this book but readers should be aware of the dark theme that runs through it. The story takes place during the time of the early church in Ephesus, the main characters are not Christians, but are befriended by them. Daria is an educated widow making her own way in the world teaching wealthy young women. When she disagrees with the father of her latest student, she finds herself on the island of Rhodes homeless and without an income. She seeks a position with the local school only to find it hides a secret – at night, the school is used to study the dark arts. When she discovers a young girl being mistreated, she attempts to rescue her. On their flight through the city, they run into Lucas, a wealthy merchant who also hides a secret. Finding herself surrounded by enemies, Daria must decide if she can trust Lucas…

Daria and Lucas escape her would-be captors, and return to his home on Ephesus. Here she discovers he is not all she thought him to be. She must then unravel the mystery of who Lucas is… this is where the story really begins.

This story is suspenseful and intriguing! Definitely one that was hard to put down as the action seemed almost non-stop. However, the mutilation, drug use and other bits of sorcery in the story must be noted. I initially assumed the book would be more along the lines of Tracy Higley’s previous book Isle of Shadows… but this one definitely has darker undertones.

*Ü* Blessings,

Friday, March 1, 2013

Book Review: Waiting for Morning

Today I’m reviewing Waiting for Morning ~ The Brides Of  Last Chance Ranch Series Book 2, published by Thomas Nelson. This book was provided to me free in e-book format as part of the BookSneeze program in exchange for my honest review here.

Even though Waiting for Morning is book two in the series, it was written in such a way that I didn’t even realize this until I was many chapters in. You certainly don’t have to have read book one to enjoy this one! Waiting for Morning was such a fun book to read! I really empathized with Molly’s plight. Her guilt over her brother Donny’s long ago accident and resulting disability has caused her to feel responsible for him for all time! What a heavy burden to bear. When fire destroys their home and nearly claims Donny’s life, she jumps at the chance to become an “heiress” to a cattle ranch and finally give Donny a “real” home.

Molly struggles with balancing her ranching duties and caring for her brother, but you can’t help but admire her determination to provide for him. The love interest in the book makes for some comical moments. I laughed and cried while thoroughly enjoying the story!

Curl up in a cushy chair with a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy!

*Ü* Blessings,

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An Amish Christmas - Book Review

An Amish Christmas by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, KellyLong, and Barbara Cameron was provided to me free in e-book format as part of the BookSneeze program of the Thomas Nelson Publishing Company in exchange for my honest review here.

An Amish Christmas is a collection of four short stories similar to An Amish Kitchen I previously reviewed. Like An Amish Kitchen, An Amish Christmas has characters that are familiar because they are repeated in each of the novellas. The character’s lives overlap, but each story definitely focuses on the two main love interests.

These are great because they are quick and can be completed in one evening. My favorite was “Christmas Cradles” – Christmas Eve keeps midwife, Anna and her driver, Asa hopping! This one is none stop action! “A Miracle for Miriam” was very touching because I can totally understand how something said to an impressionable young girl can be carried with her into adulthood and affect her life long term.  “A Choice to Forgive” was also touching, but in a different way. A girl in love, a mysterious abandonment, deception, secrets and an old flame that returns… a moving combination! My least favorite was “One Child” – It was hard to relate to these people. Though I could understand Sarah and her husband’s grief, I was annoyed at the other couple’s totally self-absorption. I looked for a redeeming moment at the end and was disappointed.

All in all, this is a great book to curl up in front of the fire with on these cold Northern nights!

*Ü* Blessings,

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: Secretly Smitten

Secretly Smitten by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck,Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt was provided to me free in e-book format as part of the BookSneeze program of the Thomas Nelson Publishing Company in exchange for my honest review here.

Secretly Smitten is a set of four short stories all centered around a family in Smitten, Vermont. The stories work together to tell a bigger story, but each one is a tale of its own. A set of dog tags are found in Grandma’s attic, which sets her three granddaughters on the trail to solve the mystery of how they got there. During the search, each girl (and their mother) in turn meets a man and falls in love. The stories are sweet and mostly believable. It annoyed me slightly that the “happy ending” of each book is wrapped up quickly, without the expected “one year later…” I thought perhaps at the end of the book itself, one epilogue to wrap up all the stories… nope. So the marriage of each lady is left to the reader’s imagination. It’s only a little confusing when the new short story begins and mentions the main character of the previous book, and the reader can’t tell (at least this reader couldn’t) if the marriage had already taken place.
Perhaps that won’t bother any other reader… and really in the grand scheme of things, it’s only a little “weird” and doesn’t make for a bad read. All in all, the stories were entertaining and fun!

*Ü* Blessings,

Monday, January 14, 2013

Every Perfect Gift - Book Review

I am loving my Nook Tablet! The best part is being able to get a book I want to read instantly! Love it!

In exchange for my honest review, published here, I was provided with an e-book copy Every Perfect Gift
by Dorothy Love through the BookSneeze program of Thomas Nelson Publishing.

This book is part of the Hickory Ridge series. I am not familiar with the series, so my review is based solely on this book alone. Hickory Ridge is a small town with a growing population due to a resort being built there. It takes place shortly after the Civil War. The two main characters are hiding something from their past. The author alludes to this “secret” several times during the story, and eventually does reveal them. Honestly, though I was able to connect with the female lead character (Sophie) I could not understand why her secret was such a stumbling block for her, then again, I wasn’t born in that time period. On the other hand, the male lead (Ethan) was running from his past as well… however, he just refused to go home or even to talk about his home – this was in sharp contrast to Sophie who ran back to her past – to prove something maybe?

Those were my only hang-ups with the book. It was a gentle love story that developed at a reasonable pace. Sophie is a fun girl not afraid to speak her mind and get into the middle of things. Ethan seemed a bit stubborn and unreasonable at times. The various towns folk seemed to be fond of Sophie. I found this a bit at odds given her past – which wasn’t a secret to them.

All in all I did enjoy the book!

*Ü* Blessings,

Friday, January 4, 2013

Wonderful Story! A Must Read! - Books Review: Isle of Shadows

I'm back with another book review!

In exchange for my honest review published here, I was provided with an ebook copy of Isle of Shadow by Tracy L. Higley through the BookSneeze program of Thomas Nelson Publishing.

I was very excited to get to read this book! I had previously read a similar series called Acts of Faith by T. Davis Bunn and Janette Oke, and had really enjoyed those books. This one is set in Rhodes rather than Rome and the time period is a few hundred years earlier, but the stories are similar in that a slave learns the true meaning of freedom and redemption.

I have never read anything by Tracy Higley, but I am already a fan! The story was very well written, captured my attention right away and kept me coming back for more! The book is action packed with a few twists and turns, and keeps you wondering right to the end how Tessa will find her freedom! I mistakenly thought this was a romance, but there is very little romance in the story – however, I found I didn’t miss it. The compassion the characters have for Tessa’s plight is very touching, and moved me to tears at one point. Overall I give this one five stars! I loved it!

*Ü* Blessings,

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Book Review: Silent Night (A Rock Harbor Christmas Novella) by Colleen Coble

I was provided with an ebook copy of Silent Night by ColleenCoble by Thomas Nelson Publishing as part of their BookSneeze program for my honest review published here. 

I did not realize the book was #6 in the Rock Harbor Series… I think this is a book that definitely needs to be read as part of that series. Not having read the previous five books, I felt as if I was jumping into the middle of a story. My copy was less than 100 pages, and as such is a very fast read! The book moves quickly and introduces a number of characters quite rapidly! I had a hard time keeping up with all their names! I would have appreciated another 100 pages so the story could develop more slowly. The story line was a bit jumbled and seemed to introduce unnecessary subplots and characters (did I really need a detailed description of the waitress that isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the book?) Perhaps if I had read the previous books, it would all make sense. The author ties everything up nicely at the end, so it is possible to read and understand just this book – however, I felt the story was rushed and would likely have enjoyed it more if I was already familiar with the characters.

*Ü* Blessings,