TOS Review: Great Waters Press

Raising Real MenListen, raising teenagers is hard. My pastor likens it to raising aliens, and he is not wrong. For a time there, it is pretty much like communicating with an alien race, because a lot of the time it feels like everything you do or say is either awkward or just plain wrong, especially when it comes to the “big” topics. I have two boys, and raising them to have right attitudes towards women, dating, sex, and marriage is a high priority for myself and my husband and, honestly, one I leave mostly to him. However, as the one who spends the most time with our boys, I realize that I have a lot of influence over them too. So, I was very interested to read, Love, Honor, and Virtue:Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality from Great Waters Press to see what kinds of conversations I could have with my boys, especially since they are older now.

Love Honor and Virtue by Hal and Melanie YoungFirst, let me say that this book is a great read for either parents of older children or older teens/adult children themselves. While the book itself is actually written to the guys themselves, it still offers excellent talking points for parents, especially if your teens are younger, but still “maturing” at a faster rate then you would like. Be aware that it covers multiple aspects of sexual maturity, even the ones that might make you uncomfortable to think about as a parent (but face it, just because you are uncomfortable thinking about it doesn’t mean your child isn’t dealing with it, right?) so be prepared for that. While the book is aimed at ages 12 through 20, I probably would not have addressed it with my kids at 12, but they were slow to mature, so as the parent, I would probably read it first and then decide if it suits your particular child.

I will say that as a mom, some of the topics definitely made me blush, and there are certainly some things that dads would probably naturally be more comfortable talking to their sons about. That said, this is a book I would definitely give to my husband with the intention of perhaps having him and my boys talking about it together. For an older teen who has been struggling, it might be enough to read it on their own, but for a younger teen, I think they would definitely need to talk some of the stuff over with an adult after reading some of the chapters and I don’t think my boys would feel comfortable talking to my mom about some of these topics. (but again, just because the topics may be uncomfortable does not mean they should not be discussed. In fact, in the time we live in, I believe it is very important that these uncomfortable topics ARE discussed very thoroughly with our children in order to prepare and protect them).

I believe the best way to protect our kids is to prepare them for the challenges they will face in the world and as they get older sexual temptation is one of the biggest temptations there is. As the parent it is your job to talk about the hard stuff with your kids, and honestly, I don’t think anybody really likes those conversations. Love, Honor, and Virtue might make those talks a bit easier because it gives you a common starting point to begin those conversations that can make them a bit less awkward. I would recommend you check it out. To learn more, connect with Great Waters Press here:

Great Waters Press on Facebook
Great Waters Press on Instagram
Great Waters Press on Pinterest
Great Waters Press on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this and the other book we got to check out click here:

Love, Honor, and Virtue  AND No Longer Little {Great Waters Press Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 


TOS Review: Parenting Made Practical

parenting made practical

It’s funny to me how every stage of parenting presents its own challenges. When kids are little there are midnight feedings, endless diaper changes and the constant challenge of keeping them out of trouble. As they get older you face different struggles like teaching them to make good choices, dealing with friends, and peer pressure. Parenting older teenagers certainly isn’t any easier, though the methods change. Sometimes I feel like I am in a constant cycle of lecture my kids, see minor improvements, things go back to how they were and then I lecture again. So, I was very interested to check out the book Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think from Parenting Made Practical.

Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think Book

This short book offers many valuable pieces of advice to help you stop the lecture cycle and get your kids to start thinking for themselves about the choices they make. Written by Joey and Carla Link (the founders of Parenting Made Practical) it is based on their own experiences raising their three children. They intersperse the information in the book with highlights from their own lives, which I always appreciate. I hate when I read a book that offers advice, but doesn’t show you how the author has lived it out in their own life.

The book begins with descriptions of failed lecturing techniques with some real insights into why this doesn’t work and how kids think. This helped me to look at lectures from a kids perspective (believe it or not, it’s been a while since I was their age). I could see how, from my child’s perspective, lectures can easily go in one ear and at the other. I could also see how my constant lecturing was only feeding the cycle and in some ways, encouraging my kids to remain exactly where they were.

After the background information, Taming the Lecture Bug moves into describing real and practical ways you can change your own behavior (which should also lead to changes in your kids behavior). I found much of their advice easy to implement and I look forward to applying more of it in my life. This book also includes a lot of scriptural background for the techniques given, which is something else I appreciate.

At the end of the book is an appendix that includes the steps in the Repentance, Forgiveness, and Restoration process, helpful charts and book recommendations for teens that will encourage them to lead the life God has for them. I already have some on reserve at the library for my son.

So, what you really want to know is how did this affect my child? Well, at first he was pretty surprised at the lack of lectures he was receiving on a daily basis and I’m not sure he knew exactly how to react. He was skeptical to say the least. However, as time has progressed I have seen him taking more responsibility for himself and taking care of things on his own that I would have had to lecture him on before. Now, I am only human and I can’t say that I will never lecture my child again, but when I feel a lecture coming on I try to take a step back and review what I have learned. I expect that with time this will become easier.

If you feel like you spend more time lecturing your kids without seeing any results than I would definitely recommend checking Taming the Lecture Bug out. To learn more, connect with Parenting Made Practical on social media here:

Parenting Made Practical on Facebook

Parenting Made Practical on Twitter

Parenting Made Practical on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this book and the other products we received, click here:

 Parenting Made Practical {Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

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

Heirloom Audio on Twitter

Heirloom Audio on Google+

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, click here:


In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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

To see what other members of the crew thought of this book, click here:

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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

Heirloom Audio on Twitter
Heirloom Audio on Google+

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

To see what other members of the crew thought of this product, click here:
Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Crew Disclaimer



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?”. 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:
Classical Conversations on Facebook
Classical Conversations on Twitter
Classical Conversations on Pinterest
Classical Conversations on Google+
Classical Conversations on YouTube

To see what other members of the crew thought of this book, click here:
Classical Conversations Review

Crew Disclaimer

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

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, click here:
Under Drake's Flag Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

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.

To see what other members of the crew thought of this book, click here:


 photo DisclaimerGraphic1_zpsf612f371.gif

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!

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this book, click here:

 photo Disclaimer2_zpsff718028.gif

TOS Review: Papa’s Pearls

I was raised by my grandparents. Born in 1920, they lived through the Great Depression, and World War II. They were genuine, hardworking, “salt of the earth” type of people. There is a reason that generation is often called “the greatest”. For this review, I got to read a book by Diane Flynn Keith about her own father, who came from the same era. This book, Papa’s Pearls, made me laugh and brought me to tears.

Papa’s Pearls is a collection of stories that are a reflection on the author’s life with her father. Each chapter focuses on one or more life lessons she learned from her father, linked to one of his popular sayings. Throughout the book, you get a very clear picture of what her father was like, and how much he loved his family. From lessons about money, to dealing with disappointment, Papa made sure to pass on his pearls of wisdom to his family.

I think Papa’s greatest legacy is his love for his family. Every chapter in this book draws a beautiful picture of how he lived that love out in his everyday life. He made sure everyone in his family knew how much he loved and treasured them. Reading this book made me wish I could meet Papa myself. I would love to have a conversation with him. I think he would have been a great friend, to anyone.

I read this book in about a week. Seriously, I just couldn’t stop! After reading it, I chose a few chapters to read out loud with my own kids. I was lucky enough that my sons got to know my nana when they were little, as she lived in our home. They have heard stories of their own “pop-pop”, my grandfather. They immediately associated what I was reading to them with him. We talked about how life is so different for us than it was for my grandparents (and about how, in some ways, we wish we could have lived in that era). The beauty of this story is how it touched my children’s hearts. They want to hear stories from me about my grandparents, and they want to hear stories from their own grandparents too. That connection, with those family members, is really what this book is all about.

This is a picture of me and my own dear pop-pop when I was little. There are no words to express how much I loved this man and how much I miss him. I am fortunate to have spent my life with him, and to have heard his own stories. I often wished I had been able to put them down on paper. With Papa’s Pearls, it’s almost like hearing him speak.

Papa’s Pearls is available for $14.97. It is well worth that price. I would recommend it as an addition to anyone’s library!

For more information about purchasing this book, check out the website here:

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this book, click here:

 photo Disclaimer2_zpsff718028.gif

God King: A Story in the days of King Hezekiah

The topic for this week’s blog cruise is “A good read”. Well, I love books, and we read a lot of them, so it was kind of hard for me to narrow this down to one book! 🙂 However, there is a book we read recently for our history studies that really stood out to my boys and I. God King: A Story in the Days of King Hezekiah by Joanne Williamson, was wonderful!

This book tells the story of Taharka, a minor prince in Egypt. When he unexpectedly becomes king after Pharaoh’s death, he is thrust into a story he never imagined being a part of. God King has all the elements of an exciting drama, as Taharka learns who he can, and cannot, trust and comes to understand what kind of king he wants to be. When he has to flee for his life, he is aided by Amos, a man from Judea, and through him, Taharka learns about the one true God.

We are currently studying Ancients in history, with my oldest using MFW and my youngest using Bright Ideas Press Illuminations. This book was a read aloud in Illuminations, but my older son ended up sitting with us everyday while we read it.

The problem with a lot of historical fiction for me is that it often feels “forced”. Like the author has to really manipulate the story to get it to fit the time period. That was not the case with God King. The history and the story weave together so perfectly, that you just get lost in the book! We read about two chapters a day, and my boys were always on the edge of their seats, wondering what would happen next. (So was I, but I admit I read ahead! 😉 ). The characters were authentic, and the story lines really made sense.

The best part was, the way biblical history was worked into the story. The saving of Jerusalem from Sennacherib, was very true to the biblical passage. In fact, after reading those chapters, we went back and read the biblical account and compared the two! I love the fact that this book made biblical history come alive for my kids!!

If you are studying the ancient time period, I would definitely suggest you add this story in. Even if you aren’t, if you are just looking for an exciting read aloud (particularly for boys) this book is it!!

Of course, I have loads of other books I could talk about too, and I’m thinking I may do a month of posts just about books 🙂 For now, to see other books crew members recommend, check out the blog cruise, here:


Abraham’s Journey

Inspiring the American Dream is a website created by Robert and Kathleen Basmadjian who hope to inspire today’s youth by “instilling in them the values, principles and virtues necessary to achieve the American Dream.” Robert has many years of experience in the publishing industry, and their first book, Abraham’s Journey, is a story of a boy who learns that hard work can take him further than he realized!

This book is written for children ages 7-12, and begins in current times. Abraham’s parents have lost their jobs and there is no money to buy presents for Christmas. Abraham wants to help his family, so he decides to “text” his friends to see if they can think of any ways he can make some money. While he is doing this he meets another famous Abraham from the past, who takes him on a magical journey to help him discover his talents and how he can use them to help his family. Along the way, young Abraham meets many people who show him that hard work and dedication can pay off.

Abraham’s journey would easily work as a short read aloud for younger students, or a read-alone book for older kids. The pictures are well illustrated and colorful, but some of the text is rather long, so if you have a child who doesn’t enjoy reading, you may want to read it with them. My son read it on his own, and he said it was “ok”. I think, for him, there wasn’t a whole lot of action, and with Abraham meeting a new “famous character” on every page, he got a little confused (“Mom, how could Amelia Earhart give Mark Zuckerberg flying lessons? That doesn’t make sense!”). I think it would have been better for him if the story had kept all the characters from the same time period, and maybe written another book where he met people from a different time period.

At any rate, I can think of a lot you can do with this book for a homeschool. You could easily spend time researching the lives of the different characters and learn about how their dedication allowed them to live the American dream (even when others said it couldn’t be done). I think that alone could inspire your kids to think about their goals and how to achieve them. I liked that the message of the book was that you shouldn’t expect things to be handed to you, you have to WORK for what you want. I think that’s an important message for children to hear.

All in all, I thought this was a cute little story, though it wasn’t one of our favorites. You can buy Abrahams’ Journey for $14.99 and check out the Inspiring the American Dream website here:

To see what other Crew members thought of this book, click here:

**Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for this honest review. I was not required to write a positive or negative review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Grace and Truth Books

Grace and Truth books is a Christian bookstore with loads of products for adults and kids! If you are looking for faith-filled, God-honoring stories to read to, or with, your child, this is the place to find them. For this review, we got to check out two books from the Children’s Character Building Collection. These books are reprints from the American Tract’s Society’s children’s selections from the 1800’s, and there are books for boys and girls.

The first book we read was, The Little Medicine Carrier. In this story, you meet 11 year old George, who gets his first job as a medicine carrier, delivering medicine to the people in the town he lives in. Along the way, George faces many temptations that may get in the way of doing his job, and he learns some important lessons in honesty too. Even though this book is old, it is written in an easy to read style (i.e., not a lot of “Old English” language). The characters are relatable, and the main adults in the story are always encouraging the children to make choices that bring honor to the Lord. This is a great book to open up discussions with your children about what it means to work hard and be honest and responsible, even if no one is looking. My son (who is also 11) easily read this story on his own and really enjoyed it. He thought George and his friends were fun, and he was very quick to point out the lessons he learned….he also said “Hey, maybe I could get a job as some sort of delivery boy” :). The Little Medicine Carrier costs $4.75 (as do most of the other books in this collection) and I believe it is worth every penny!

The second book we got to read was The Reward of Childhood Truth. This book consisted of two seperate stories, both with a similar theme. In the first story, Charles and Harry run into some trouble with a neighbor. This neighbor is a proud and somewhat lonely man, who is not a Christian. Throughout the course of the story, the boys honesty and truthfulness work their way into the heart of the neighbor, and he experiences a very happy change in his life. In the second story, young Mary experiences the consequences of lying. The Holy Spirit works in her heart to lead her to confess, and she learns that telling the truth is always the best option. Again, both of these stories are written in easy-to-read language. After we finished the stories, we had some very heartfelt discussions about how our actions can bring honor and glory to the Lord, and also reach other people for him. The children are much like our own boys and girls, and I think that is what makes these stories so much fun to read! The Reward of Childhood Truth also costs $4.75, and will work as a read aloud or read alone story!

Grace and Truth Books has many, many other books to read with your kids, you can check out all of the Character Building stories, and the others here:

To see what other members of the crew had to say about these stories, and the others they got to read, click here:


**Disclaimer: I received free copies of these books for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Beloved Books

Have you ever watched the movie A Christmas Story? It is a family favorite around here. My kids especially love to see Ralphie sitting in front of the radio listening to Little Orphan Annie. Scenes like that always make me nostalgic!! While we may not be able to go back in time, Beloved Books offers you an opportunity to experience a little bit of that time period with their Sugar Creek Gang radio dramas.

Based on the series of books by Paul Hutchens, the stories are beautifully dramatized by Paul Ramseyer. He has an amazing talent for voices, and makes each character come to life as a unique person. Volume 1 contains 6 adventure stories about Bill Collins and his friends. The stories promote Christian values, and there is always a lesson to be learned. Even though the books were originally written in 1939, my boys still found the stories exciting. I liked the fact that we could talk about the stories and the characters in light of God’s Word.

The stories contain hymns, verses, poetry and a message of salvation. They were a great source of entertainment for our whole family. At first I thought only my youngest son would be listening in (he’s 11), but after listening to part of the first story in the car, my oldest (14) wanted to hear more!! My boys would get together before bed and put a CD in the radio and listen TOGETHER!! As a mom, that was one of the coolest things about the Sugar Creek Gang.

The stories themselves are about 2 hours long, so you get a lot of listening time in each volume. The complete series of all 36 books is about 100 hours total!! We are on the 4th story of volume 1 right now (The Lost Campers) and my kids are already begging me to get volume 2!! I think these CD’s may be added to our Christmas list. 🙂

Each volume of the Sugar Creek Gang costs $54.95. I think they are definitely worth it!! In this day and age, wholesome family entertainment is often hard to come by, and these CD’s will provide your family with entertainment for years to come!! Right now you get free media mail shipping with the first volume, and, you can even listen to the first story for FREE by clicking here and downloading it:

And, if you use the coupon code KINGDOM-ACADEMY-20 you will receive 20% off your entire purchase!!

I cannot emphasize enough how much my family enjoyed these stories! I highly encourage you to download the free one and check it out!

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, click here:


**Disclaimer: I was given this product for free for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Cry From Egypt

This year, my boys and I started studying ancient history for the first time. When we began homeschooling, we started our history stories with the medeival time period because, well, I thought knights and castles would be a LOT more interesting to my two young boys. While I find the study of ancient history very exciting, I have always been worried about tackling this topic with my kids. How can I make something that happened so long ago seem entertaining?? Won’t they just be bored??? And what about the stories of all the gods people worshipped long ago? How do I handle that?

Fortunately, our study of the ancients is going much better than expected!! And, the book I got to read with my kids for this review, was both interesting and exciting. Hal and Melanie Young, the authors of Raising Real Men, have their own publishing company called Great Waters Press. Through this company, they work to publish books that “make biblical family life practical”. One of these books is A Cry From Egypt, written by Hope Auer (a homeschool graduate :)) and illustrated by Mike Slaton (another homeschool graduate!!).

The story focuses on Jarah, an Israelite slave in Egypt before the Exodus, and the struggles she and her family face. They are torn between remaining loyal to the God they know, in the face of all the Egyptian gods. Jarah witnesses firsthand the brutality the slaves faced, but she also witnesses the saving hand and the awesome power of God as the plagues come to Egypt. (below is a picture of the author, Hope Auer)

I don’t want to tell you too much about the story, because you really need to read it for yourself. I will tell you that I was very impressed with how well this book was written (and the fact that it was written by a homeschooler didn’t escape my notice 🙂 ). Hope began writing this novel when she was 13, and she has worked on it ever since. What I love most about this book is that the biblical and historical details fit in so well with the story. Sometimes, when reading historical fiction, some of the “history” can seem like it’s “forced” into the book. That is not the case with A Cry From Egypt. The story fits together seamlessly, making it very easy to read!

I used this as a read-aloud with my 6th grade son, to complement the ancient history program we are already using. He could have read it on his own, but after looking it over when I received it, I knew I wanted to read it too!! My older son is also studying the same time period, but with a different program. However, I discovered he often found a way to be nearby when we were doing our read-aloud, because he wanted to hear the story too!!

Most of the chapters were easily read in one sitting, and it was really cool when my boys would make the connection between the story, and the things we were reading in Bible and History for school that day/week. It’s like the book helped to bring the facts to life for them, which is AWESOME, in my opinion!! This book is the first in the “Promised Land” series, so I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the books!

Great Waters Press also has other books available that you might want to check out. A Cry From Egypt costs $12.50, and I think it is worth it. On top of being a great story, the illustrations and cover art are gorgeous, and the book itself has nice thick pages and is well put together (that’s important around my house, because books get carried everywhere, and we need ones that are going to stay together!!).

For more information, check out the website here:

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this book, and the other one we received from Raising Real Men, click here:


**Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.