TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions (In the Reign of Terror)

Heirloom Audio ProductionsIn summer, we do a lot of road trips, and I love having audiobooks to listen to in the car as we drive. It’s a great way to keep our whole family entertained! For this review, we got to check out In the Reign of Terror, the latest offering from Heirloom Audio Productions. We have reviewed several of Heirloom’s audiodramas before, and we are never disappointed. Based on novels by GA Henty, the stories are always full of adventure and excitement that keeps my boys on the edge of their seats, and this new one was no different!

In the Reign of TerrorSet against the backdrop of the French Revolution, the story is the perfect mix of history and drama. It tells the story of a young man named Harry, who is caught up in the events of the revolution, trying to save an aristocratic Christian family from execution. The cast, as always, is stellar, with Brian Blessed leading as Henty himself. Rounding out the ensemble are actors like John Rhys-Davies from movies like The Lord of the Rings, and Cathy Sara from Downtown Abbey.

The cast does an amazing job of bringing the characters to life, infusing them with passion and vibrance. You really connect with each one, and find yourself anxiously waiting to see what happens to each person. A 2 CD set, In the Reign of Terror offers over two hours of entertainment, broken into sections that easily allow you to pick up wherever you left off. This feature is especially convenient if you listen to it on a day when you have to run a lot of errands.

Heirloom audio always seems to product top-notch products, complete with background music and sound effects that draw you even deeper into the story. You find yourself automatically rooting for Harry and waiting on pins and needles as each new chapter develops.

In addition to the audiobook, you also get access to a downloadable study guide. This guide features questions for each chapter in the story. The questions range from recall questions that make sure students listened and remember what happened, to vocabulary and questions that require listeners to dig deeper and make connections between events and draw conclusions, make inferences and other higher-order thinking skills. We usually discuss these questions orally after each section, leading to a lot of family discussion. The guide wraps up with three Bible stories that connect with the Biblical themes related in the story. If you would like to use this audiodrama as part of a unit study, Heirloom also offers a reading list with books about the French Revolution in the study guide, which would be especially useful for older students.

Users also have the option of joining the Live the Adventure Club, an online community that Heirloom just started. If you sign up, you not only gain access to the downloadable extras, but you can also participate in discussion boards about the books, access quizzes on the audiobooks, and have your kids play games and find lots of other things to do to further explore the adventure!

We thoroughly enjoyed In the Reign of terror and are looking forward to Heirloom’s next adventure! To learn more, connect with them on social media here:

Heirloom Audio on Facebook

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TOS Review: Peggy Consolver-Author

Peggy ConsolverEven though my son is in 10th grade, I am always looking for ways to weave some read-aloud time into our schooling. Historical fiction has become one of our favorite genres, which is interesting because it wasn’t when we started homeschooling. And I always love when a book successfully weaves Biblical history and an exciting story together. For this review, we got a chance to read Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver-Author.

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver}This book tells the story of the Gibeonites who approached Joshua in an attempt to protect their city from the eyes of a young shepherd boy, Keshub. I imagine Keshub is much like any young boy of his time, loyal to his family and thirsty for adventure. While his family is known for their pottery work, which Keshub helps with when necessary, he daydreams of being a traveler or trader and seeing faraway lands. When visitors come in from other towns, he listens breathlessly to their stories.

peggy consolver

When a caravanner who frequently stays with his family comes to town and starts talking about the Hebrews in the desert, it sets the whole town wondering who they are and what they are up to. Stories of ruined towns and ended kingdoms filter through, further raising the tension. Through it all, Keshub’s father and uncles try to keep the town calm, along with Sir Ghaleb, a local soldier.

Along the way in this adventure, Keshub also goes to school with the other local boys to learn how to fight with swords, boys, and slingshots. He meets the son of a king of a neighboring kingdom and helps him escape his father, faces off with a local bully, tries to earn the respect of his brothers, and he also faces his own dangers protecting his flock in the fields. Through it all, Keshub develops his own questions about the God of the universe and what is real and what is not.

Without giving away more of the story, I just want to say, even if you are familiar with the ending, this book is definitely worth reading. The way Peggy Consolver tells the story, it all flows together so beautifully. Her character descriptions really pull you in, giving life to a familiar plot in an entirely new way. While I knew the story of Gibeon (and so did my son), after reading this book, it was like we were really able to see it through the eyes of people who experienced it.

There is also a study guide that goes along with the book. It includes all kinds of information related to each chapter. My son found it interesting to check out the links which showed videos of things like how to square lash with a rope, the medicinal properties of honey, information about the culture at the time of the story, maps, and much more. I didn’t push the study guide very much, I mainly let him use it for the topics he was interested in, but I can tell you that it’s not a like a typical study guide with a bunch of questions and answers, this one contains all sorts of additional information that your kids will likely want to explore.

I used this book as a read aloud for my son at the start of our school day. I found that if I tried to stop at only one chapter, he quickly begged me to read more. I think you could certainly tie this book into your history studies if you wanted, but you could also read it just for fun, like we did.

To learn more, connect with the author on social media here:

Peggy Consolver on Facebook

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TOS Review: The Cat of Bubastes (Heirloom Audio Productions)

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Travel back in time to Ancient Egypt and go on an adventure with Amuba, the captured prince of Rebu, a city on the shore of the Caspian Sea. During his journey, he will find friends among his captors, and some enemies too, and in a race to save a friend’s life, discover the One True God. The Cat of Bubastes is another audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions. We have loved every single one that we got to check out so far, and we were really excited to check out this latest release for this review.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Based on the book of the same name by author G.A. Henty, the two-disc set takes you and your family into the book. As always, Heirloom has recruited top voice talent to play the roles, and their sound effects and soundtrack help you feel like you are really in the story. All of the actors do a great job, and as you listen, you can picture the action in your head, as if you were watching a movie.

I don’t want to give away the whole story, but I will tell you that Amuba comes to serve the high priest of Thebes, where he is taken after being captured. He and his friend Jethro become close to the family of the priest, who is very kind and treats all people with respect. Of course, conflict arises on a few fronts when Amuba and Chebron, the priest’s son, discover a murder plot in the city and then have to flee for their lives after accidentally killing the sacred cat of the city. During their adventures, they encounter Simeon, a faithful Israelite, and Ruth, his granddaughter, who help introduce them to the Christian faith.

Full of historical facts, The Cat of Bubastes combines history with drama to create excitement that you can also use as a teaching tool. Each track is numbered, so it is very easy to pick up where you left off as you listen. Along with the CDs, Heirloom gives you access to some awesome extras including a study guide that is chock full of information. There are discussion questions for each track on the disc, questions that include both recalling info from the story and questions that require you to go a little deeper with your thinking.

One thing I noticed in this study guide was the inclusion of other historical information related to the story. The Expand Your Learning sections offer info about a range of topics from Ancient Egyptian games, to the Pyramids, to recipes you can make. At the end of the study guide are three Bible studies you can do with your family. We mostly used the study guide as a source of discussion, but now that my kids are older, I did have them answer some of the going deeper questions in writing and keep a notebook of the vocabulary words.

Other extras include a download of the actual G.A. Henty book, complete with color pictures. I like this option because if you have a reader in the family, they can read the book before or after listening to the audio drama. You can also download the soundtrack, a poster, and more.

We thoroughly enjoyed listening to The Cat of Bubastes. Like the other Heirloom audio dramas, it is pure, family-friendly entertainment that both introduces your kids to history and points them toward God. I definitely recommend this if you and your family like listening to audio books. They are great for road trips or just listening to after dinner. To learn more, connect with Heirloom Audio on social media here:

Heirloom Audio on Facebook

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You might also want to check out some of their other adventures like, The Dragon and the Raven and With Lee in Virginia.

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Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

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TOS Review: Classical Conversations

Classical Conversations Review

I am a big time reader, and as a homeschool mom, one of the things I love to read about is homeschooling! With my oldest entering his senior year, and my youngest on the verge of high school, I am always on the lookout for ways to fine tune our final years of homeschooling. So, I was really excited to get to review The Conversation from Classical Conversations.

Classical Conversations Review

Written by Leigh A. Bortins, the book is the third in a series on Classical homeschooling, and focuses on finishing strong with a high school student. Now, keep in mind that we have not schooled classically all these years at all. While I find the classical model very interesting, and there are certainly parts of it that we have utilized (particularly for history), we are very eclectic in our house in general. However, I am drawn to many classical ideas, and for high school, I really want to go deeper with my boys, in order to prepare them for college, and I feel like classical-style schooling does encourage students to go further in their thinking. So, I wanted to check out this book to see what parts of it I could apply to this next part of our homeschool journey.

The book itself is divided into three parts. In the introduction, the author gives you some background info about her and her family, that really helps put the rest of the book into context. For me, this short glimpse into the real-life of her family gave me a practical view of what classical high school looked like for her. The first section of the book actually focuses on defining the rhetorical stage as it applies to a classical education, and on what it takes for parents to work out homeschool high school.

I really appreciated Bortins’ honesty in this section of the book. For example, there was one part in the parents chapter where the question is raised “What do I do if I don’t get along with my student?”. Sigh..as the parent of two teenagers, can I just admit now that there are days when we absolutely, positively just DO NOT get along (and believe me, sometimes that makes me feel really really bad). And the author freely admits that she feels the same way sometimes. Just reading that made me feel so much better about myself!! The author goes on to address other common concerns parents may have about homeschooling high school in the chapter.

From there, the second section of the book takes on individual subjects and explains how the parents would provide a classical education within the confines of each subject. This section of the book is very practical and helpful, providing clear, concrete examples for each subject. Basically, after explaining the five “canons” of rhetoric in part one, the author leads the parents through applying each canon in each subject.

Once you understand the system, the process itself comes pretty easy. It actually makes a lot of sense. Each canon has a guiding question that more or less defines the canon, then a corresponding action the student goes through to get answers for that question. For example, for the canon “invention” the guiding question is “what should I say?” and the action is to discover ideas through research and planning. So, if a student were to apply this to a subject like Speech and Debate, they would use it during a brainstorming session to determine their topic, research their points etc. etc.

Bortins addresses numerous subjects from Reading and Math to Latin, Government, and Science, but like I said, once you understand how the process works, you could really apply it to any subject on your own.

In the third part of the book, the author includes multiple resources like games and lists of rhetorical devices that are also very helpful.

What I took from this book is some very helpful advice about how to structure learning in general for my kids final years as homeschoolers. I like how you can take the ideas here and really apply them to any curriculum. The foundations of rhetoric really encourage kids to dig deeper, and Bortins does a great job of explaining them in a way that is very easy to understand. I think this book would make a great addition to any homeschool parents library!

To learn more, connect with with Classical Conversations on social media here:
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TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions

Ahoy there Maties! Ever since Pirates of the Caribbean came out when he was just two years old, my youngest boy has had a thing for pirates! Seriously, he dressed up like a pirate for Halloween and then refused to take the costume off. Also, he still dresses up in September to get free Donuts for Dress like a Pirate day at Krispy Kreme. 🙂 My youngest also really likes audio books, so when I got a chance to check out an audio book from Heirloom Audio Productions, I jumped at the chance!

Analytical Grammar Review

And of course, when he found out it was going to be a pirate story, my son was on board too! Under Drake’s Flag is a recording of the book written by GA Henty. Known for writing exciting historical adventure stories in the early 19th century, Henty’s books told tales of courage and daring, with a Christian perspective.

The story in Under Drake’s Flag focuses on teenage boys Ned and Gerald, and their high-seas journey under Sir Francis Drake. As they travel, they face the perils of life at sea, including storms and shipwrecks, and encounter numerous new people and cultures as they visit new lands (some are friendly, some are not so much!) Along the way, the boys begin to grow into men, and into their faith in the Lord.

We listened to this recording on our trip down to the Keys to visit some friends over the summer. First, let me tell you the cast is absolutely phenomenal! Really, they add so much excitement to the storytelling, it’s like you can just picture every scene in your head. The high-quality sound effects also make you feel like you are right there on the ship! In total, the story goes on for about two hours. However, it is neatly divided into sections, with each one being timed, so if you needed to stop and restart the story later, it would be easy to do so.

As if the incredible story wasn’t enough, Under Drake’s Flag also includes quite a bit of history. Aside from learning about the Sir Francis Drake (a major character), part of the story also relates to the Spanish Inquisition. This makes it ideal for a homeschool setting, and I could easily see someone using it as a basis for a unit study. The 2-CD set also comes with a inset study guide that includes some background information and some questions for discussion on each section of the story. I found this very convenient for use in the car. They also have a PDF download of a study that goes more in depth and includes Biblical and historical references.

Under Drake’s Flag is aimed at ages six and up, although it may be slightly intense for very young children. In our case, I knew my youngest son (in 8th grade) would love it, but I wasn’t so sure about how my older son (11th grade) and my hubby were going to feel about it! I needn’t have worried. My husband got into the story right away, and even though my oldest started off the trip with his headphones in his ears, by the time we stopped for our first bathroom break, he was totally engrossed in the story as well. Of course, since we got back my youngest has taken the CDs into his room and I often hear him listening to the story when he is playing with his Legos! (and now he is asking me if there are any more stories just like it!)

So, would I recommend Under Drake’s Flag to someone else? Definitely! Especially if you have children who love an adventure. We just listened to the story mainly for fun, but it also has tremendous potential for school as well. I feel like the price of $29.99 is pretty reasonable, and you can get a digital download version for $20.00.

To learn more about Heirloom Audio Productions, connect with them on social media:

Under Drake’s Flag on Facebook

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Under Drake's Flag Reviews

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TOS Review: At Home in Dogwood Mudhole

I love to read and I am always looking for a new book. So for this review, I was excited to receive a copy of At Home in Dogwood Mudhole by Franklin Sanders. The book is the first of two (so far) volumes detailing the real-life adventures of Sanders and his family as they gradually move to life on a farm.

Dogwood Mudhole Cover

This book opened with a story I loved and could really relate to, the story of how Mr. Sanders got his “thirty dollar dog”. We too have dogs like this in our house. Mutts, found at the pound. Dogs that drive us crazy but also fill our lives with love and laughter. Sanders heart-felt and honest story-telling ability makes you laugh out loud while also saying “I agree” in your head.

Tar, our first “thirty-dollar dog”

Tar and his buddy, my youngest boy.

Ash, in her favorite spot, my oldest son’s bed.

At Home in Dogwood Mudhole is divided into four sections that describe the Sanders family’s gradual move from Memphis to a more rural setting, and their adjustment to life on the farm. Throughout the book the author’s deep love for his family, and their close relationships are evident. Growing up on a “mini-farm”, I could relate to many of his stories, and his devotion to the Lord is evident.

Another thing that is evident is Mr. Sander’s love for the South. Several times in the book, he talks about “The War for Southern Independence”. He and his family regularly participate in battle reenactments and visit historical sights related to the Civil War. There are many passages about Southern culture and history included in the book. Of course, not everyone will share Mr. Sanders view about this topic, but he is honest in expressing how he feels and the reason he feels this way.

The author, Mr. Sanders with is “thirty-dollar dog”.

In describing many of the frequent journeys his family takes, Mr. Sanders also highlights particular places that stood out. He frequently mentions restaurants, stores, and interesting places he has discovered, complete with contact information for the establishment. His descriptions of Southern foods often made me hungry, and I wished I could take a road trip to where he had his fried pies!

To be honest, I did get sort of bogged down in the middle of the story. There were some parts, (such as when he is describing what he went through with the IRS), where my mind started to wander. This is not the fault of the storyteller, but really just my lack of interest in that part of the story. However, if you are interested in how Mr. Sanders set up his gold bank, and the trials he faced because of it, you might not get bored.

The descriptions of the hardships, trials, and joy that come with life on a farm brought me back to my days as a young girl, and Mr. Sanders was very detailed, accurate, and humorous in those descriptions. Volume one of At Home in Dogwood Mudhole is available for $22.95 in paperback and $16.95 for download on Kindle or an e-reader. Pre-orders for volume two are being taken now.

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TOS Review: Seed Sowers

We read out loud regularly as part of our homeschool. Sometimes I choose books related to what we are studying, other times I just choose fun books to read. We aren’t big on a lot of biographies and non-fiction. However, when given the chance to read this book from Seed Sowers, I thought we would give it a try. A family book, meant for ages five and up, it looked really interesting. Now, we haven’t read a lot of missionary stories, because I just know that the story lines of some of them would be too much for my emotional kiddos, but this one was a little different.

The book, Seed Sowers, written by Gwen Tolliver, is a collection of short stories about various missionaries. Each chapter is its own unique adventure. We read one chapter at least 3-4 days per week, and it took us about three weeks to finish the book. My kids loved hearing about the missionaries and their experiences in far away places.

One thing that stood out to us in this book is that it reaffirms God’s remarkable providence in the lives of his people. While many of the missionaries experienced frightening events and some close calls on their journeys, each time God moved to protect them and allow them to do His work wherever they are. I thought the stories were the perfect length for reading, it took us about 15 minutes per day. Another thing I liked is how the stories whet your appetite enough to want to know more.

After reading these stories, my boys wanted to know more about the missionaries and their works. Each story ends with a short follow up that gives you more information about the missionaries and where they went after their story took place. We have looked up people like Rose Dobson, Dorothy Shaler, and Gloria Gray. We have also looked up information about Bible translation, and my kids really took to heart how many people there are that cannot read the Word in their native language.

While we used this book just as a read aloud, you could easily do more with it for your homeschool. If you wanted to, you could easily use this a stepping off point for a geography study. You could highlight one story a week, and after reading it, study the country and culture where that story took place. Or, with older students, you could encourage them to do some research on that particular culture, people, or even on the life of that particular missionary.

This would also be easy to work into a study of Bible history, using it to emphasize the work of Bible translators around the world. The author has worked for Wycliffe for many years, and she has a wonderful way of bringing these stories to life. After reading Seed Sowers, my kids wanted to learn more about the missionaries our own church supports, which was nice because at the time we finished reading it, our missionaries from South Africa came to our church for a visit. My boys were much more interested in listening to what they have to say, and I think that was because we read the book.

If you are looking for a book that provides a nice introduction to the work missionaries do around the world, I would highly recommend Seed Sowers. It is available for only $12.50, and it is definitely worth it!

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