Thursday, April 22, 2010

Homeschooling for the Rest of Us

I am planning on homeschooling my daughter in the fall. She will be in 7th grade. I am intimidated by the whole idea. I'm afraid I don't know enough. I'm afraid I won't pick the right curriculum. I'm afraid I won't be able to give her what she needs and keep up with everything else I have to do. That is why I snatched up the chance to read and review Homeschooling for the Rest of Us by Sonya Haskins.
I feel like I need all the help I can get. It was a reassuring book. Overall, I walked away with a good impression. I feel like it helped me to be more confident in my decision. It has practical advice on socialization, coops, attitudes and relationships. Even if you are not a homeschooler, there is useful information in this book! Tips on dealing with relatives and their opinions on your decisions, tips on chores for children, streamlining your household, tips on on trimming and staying on budget, tips on nurturing your child's heart, take your pick! All are useful for any parent, even if you are not homeschooling. While the book was good, I did have a hard time getting through the first couple of chapters, so if you do read it, stick with it.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Sonya Haskins and her family see each day as an adventure in learning. A homeschooling consultant and mom of five children, ages six to thirteen, she is also the author of The Homeschooler's Book of Lists and six regional history books. Sonya and her husband and children live in Jonesborough, Tennessee.


I haven't posted much besides book reviews lately. For a few reasons, none of which are important to mention.

Anyway, I believe I need to share this. I went to a women's retreat a couple of weeks ago and felt "whapped" upside the head. It was not a gentle correction people! Let me share what I read and where God led me -

I was reading my Bible during a prayer time and stopped short when I read James 1:5-8 (NLT) - If you need wisdom, ask our generous God and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. BUT, when you ask Him be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive ANYTHING from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in EVERYTHING they do. (emphasis added is mine)

I know some people balk when people mention "checks in their Spirit", but I can't describe it any other way. God wanted me to read this, and not just read it but meditate on it, examine my heart, my motivations, my life.

I wrote down these verses and have been carrying them with me for the last two weeks, pulling them out and reading them as a reminder of where my loyalty needs to be and where my faith needs to rest. I also wrote out this prayer.

Help me Lord to remember that YOU alone are my source. Not friends, not my husband, not my church, YOU! Generous God, give me wisdom. Thank you that I can ask you for it without your scorn or rebuke. Help me to stand firm without wavering and to give You and Your Word full loyalty so that I may avoid being an unsettled wave, but that I will be a peaceful ocean that runs deep in Your Word. I want to be stable in what I do. I want my loyalty to lie in You. I don't want to be divided. My strentgh comes from You and wholeness You offer. Thank you and AMEN!

I don't share this lightly and I don't share it for any purpose except that I know others may be struggling with divided loyalty and drawing from sources other than God! Don't go down that road! It dead-ends with heartache, bitterness and remorse! Take God's path of wisdom, prosperity and PEACE!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


If I haven't mentioned it, my favorite reading genre is historical fiction. (Yes I know you probably know that by now.) But there was a time that mystery/suspense was my "go to". So I still enjoy a good mystery now and then. Beguiled by Deeanee Gist and J Mark Bertrand was the first suspense novel I read in a while.


Rylee Monroe is a dogwalker whose clients become victims of a unique robbery ring. Rylee is suspected by the police. Reporter Logan Woods is writing a novel and trying to get to the heart of the robbery ring to wrap up his book. Will he uncover the truth and rescue Rylee's reputation? Is Rylee in danger? Can Logan keep his objectivity?

I love Deanne Gist's other books. This book was okay. I like suspense novels to be difficult to predict and hard to put down. This one didn't fit the bill in either account for me. I knew early on who the "villain" was and where the book was headed. It wasn't a page-turner and the characters were forgettable. All the talk of Charleston's streets and layouts were meaningless to anyone who hasn't been there.

Spend your time on something else.

This book was provided by Bethany House publishers for review.

Deanne Gist and J Mark Bertrand are former critique group partners who decided to blend her bestselling romance skills eith his acclaimed suspense writing for this unique romantic suspense novel. Deanne is vest known for her bestselling historical romances , including A Bride in the Bargain, while Mark's solo debut is the crime novel Back on Murder.

The Rewards of Simplicity

What mom doesn't dream of simplifying? Reducing to the common denominator to slow things down. Simplifying means less stuff to take care of, right?
True, but The Rewards of Simpliciy by Pam & Chuck Pierce argues that while simplifying clutter and schedules are important, the value of simplification lays also in our spiritual lives. Putting into practice faith, focus and function to clarify God's purpose and calling in our lives, and putting legs to it! While the book holds a lot of interesting ideas, the writing is mediocre. I struggled through all the personal examples that made it seem like a biography. There were a couple of places where I disagreed with some theology issues too.

So, common denominator, simplificated (is that a word?) review - Not worth your time. There are better books out there that say the same things.

Pam and Chuck D Pierce are ordained ministers and have been married for 36 years. Chuck serves as president of Glory of Zion International Ministries in Denton, TX and watchman of Global Harvest Ministries in Colorado Springs, CO. Pam has ministered within the Body of Christ much of her adult life. She is currently a fourth and fifth grade teacher while maintaining the lively Pierce household.

This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for review.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Scenarios series for Girls books 3-4

I'm tired of superficial books. Books that have no real value. My husband always says that fiction is worthless. I disagree. GOOD fiction still can change hearts and minds. GOOD fiction can still spark the imagination and serve as amazing conversation starters. I have children who love to read and I am very excited when I find an author and a group of books that are interesting and can be used to help train children.

Nicole O'Dell is one of those authors. Her Scenarios series for tween girls deals with hefty issues and give readers the opportunity to make decisions and see possible outcomes based on their decisions. If you have a tween ages 11-13 or so, these are books for you. I believe with the subject matter that 11 is probably the youngest I would let my daughters read these.

I read these books and then had my 11 year old daughter read them as well. We were able to use them to have some serious discussions. Discussions on subjects that some parents may find difficult to bring up with their children.

I decided to share my daughter's synopses and opinions on the book here for you.

Magna, Book 3 - Scenarios series


Molly, Sara and Jess want jobs at the ultimate girls clothing store more than anything, but only Molly gets the job. Then Sara and Jess need Prom dresses, but don't have the money. That's when they figure thay and "borrow" dresses from Molly's employer.

Will Molly help her friends or report them? The choice is yours to make.

I like this book because Molly acted like girls do today and it seemed very realistic. I like being able to decide what ending the book has.

and Making Waves, Book 4


Kate loves to swim and decides to join the swim team for her sophomore year. She is practicing all the time. She realizes that it can be tiring and soon finds herself using energy drinks. At the championship she "needs" more. She is offered illegal drugs to imporve her swimming. What will she do? What would you do?

I liked this book because Kathe is faced with many situations girls face today. It showed consequences could be of taking drugs.

Q & A with Nicole O’Dell

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
A: I have six kids ranging in age from 18 all way down to my toddler triplets. I work from home with all of my kiddos underfoot, which presents challenges of its own but has also been a huge blessing. I’m also a returning college student and the youth leader at my church.

Q: What has drawn you to writing for the YA market?
A: Fear! Seriously.

When I was a young girl, my mom was my hero. I really believed that she could do anything and that she knew everything. Somehow, when I entered my early teen years, that all changed. I became angry and really gave her a hard time. I regret much of those years now that I see the truth of them. My mom is now my very best friend. I wish I had known then what I know now and had some kind of grasp on just how temporary all of that angst and confusion really was.

Ever since I had my daughters, I have feared those years. My parenting has really been shaped by my desire to avoid as much of that destruction as possible. My heart’s desire is to reach hormonal, confused, pre-teen girls, and to protect them from themselves, and their families from the confusion that can ensue as the girls face those life changes.

Q: Tell us a little about your novels...
A: In the Scenarios series, each main character is faced with many choices and moral dilemmas. Eventually, they find that their choices have led them into a situation that requires them to make a very difficult and potentially life-altering moral decision. When the story has fully unfolded, and the main character arrives at that moment of truth, the reader makes the big decision for her and then turns to the corresponding section in the book where the resulting circumstances unfold.

This format places the responsibility for those decisions squarely on the reader’s shoulders, in hopes that she will learn from her personal experience as she lives it through the eyes of the book's character. She will learn the importance of good decisions as well as the truth about forgiveness and grace. Even when poor choices are made, the redemptive power of Christ is evident as forgiveness is sought, offered and received.

Nicole O’Dell and her husband Wil have six wonderful children, the most recent additions being triplets, born in August 2008. Nicole and Wil recently began a youth group at their church for grades 7-12 where Nicole focuses on the teaching, Bible study application, service outreach planning and evangelism aspects of the group. She also works with parents to help foster open and healthy lines of parent/teen communication. Nicole enjoys speaking at other churches, youth groups and parenting groups to offer insight into Godly navigation of those rough teen years. Over the years, Nicole has worked as a youth director, a Bible study leader for women and teens, a counselor at a crisis pregnancy center and was a veteran camp counselor for over a decade.

Friday, April 9, 2010

This Little Prayer of Mine (Review and Giveaway)

I love picture books. Three of my children are very independent readers now and while they like to be read to, they want a chapter book with characters and plots. But I love cuddling my youngest and reading picture books to her. She will bring books to anyone that she thinks might read to her. She carries books around in her "purse". So of course I jumped at the chance to read and review This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStefano (and illustrated by Mark Elliott).


First, I love that the book promotes prayer in children. Teaching children that their concerns, cares and even their gratitude needs to be taken to their Heavenly Father on a regular basis is very important. Think of the heartaches that can be later avoided in life if we depend on Him instead of earthly people. (I learn the hard way...) It also encourages children to be confident in God hearing them when they pray.

I wasn't crazy about the illustrations. The muted colorscheme didn't thrill me, sometimes perspective seems skewed and two-dimensional, but on other pages very life-like and 3-D. I think it all just seemed inconsistent.....

Still, a nice book to have in a collection. The books is endorsed by The National Day of Prayer.

Anthony DeStefano's books The Prayers God Always Says Yes To and A Travel Guide to Heaven have sold a quarter-million copies. He has received prestigious awards from religious organizations worldwide for his efforts to advance Christian beliefs in modern culture.

Mark Elliott's brilliant illustrations have appeared in any picture books and novels for young readers, including Gail Carson Levine's ever-popular Princess Tales series. His acclaimed artwork delivers inspiration, wonder, and timeless beauty on every page.

This book was provided by WaterBrook Press for review.

And I have a copy to give away.

Leave a comment by Sunday, April 18 to win it. (Randomly selected)

Winner of Kirkpatrick pair

The winner, by random number generator is Laura from Outnumbered Mom. I will be sending you and email shortly.


If you are waiting on a book from me, I'll send them out next week. We have had a time with sickness. In the last month to about 6 weeks, 3 cases of stomach flu, one case of mono, a couple of colds and allergies galore. Just meant to let you know that I do know that I am a slacker, but my allegiances have rightfully been somewhere else.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

London Confidential Series Review

If you haven't been reading my blog for a while, then you don't know that I have an 11 year-old daughter that loves to read (like her mother). I remember when she was younger, I convinced myself that I would read everything that she read. Yeah, right. (make sure you read that with sarcasm). It is NOT possible. But, there are some things that I know I don't want her to read. Things that I wouldn't even read myself. I am so glad that there are some edifying things like the London Confidential series out there that are geared to her age group. I have read other adult novels by Sandra Byrd. She inserts humor and writes her characters with depths of feeling that are scarily similar to feelings I have experienced. I didn't expect any different from her new London Confidential Series for Young Adults.



Her protagonist is Savvy Smith, 15 years old, transplanted to London with her family. Savvy has to deal with culture shock, adaptation and finding her place in her new school. Asking for Trouble and Through Thick and Thin are the first two books in the series. In both books, Savvy is presented with choices to make and the consequences (good and bad) for the decisions she made. Byrd does a great job having her character pray for wisdom and consult scripture. AND, the character isn't perfect. She makes mistakes too, just as we all do. Watch this trailer for Asking for Trouble.

Of course I have to add my daughter's two cents. She devoured the books and wrote these synopses for you!

Asking for Trouble

What Savvy really wants in life is to be a reporter at a new school in a new country. When a job opens she sees her opportunity, but she has no experience. She believes she can do it, but can she convince everyone else?

Through Thick and Thin
Savvy Smith sees the perfect way to get her own full column, a chance to fit in at school. When her mother can't go shopping with her she goes into London alone, leading to serious consequences. Will she miss the photo shoot? Will Savvy ever fit in?

And for a glimpse into the mind of Sandra Byrd the author -

Why did you write the London Confidential series?

Each of us, as women, remember what it's like to be a young woman, struggling to find our place in the world. Some girls have family issues, some have friendship issues, some have school issues, most of us have more than one concern. Whenever I write for young women I hope to provide them with an enjoyable read that validates their concerns, shows them that they are not alone, and provides encouragement to stay the course and see what wonderful things the Lord has just around the next corner.
The world feels a little depressed right now, too. I wanted to provide a happy, hopeful read and not a heavily issues-driven series. The London Confidential books are, I hope, fun to read.

What are some of the biggest struggles for teen girls today? What do you hope teen girls will take away from the series?

Truly, as Eccelsiastes says, there is nothing new under the sun. The issues that young women had when I was growing up are the same ones that my daughter has. Who am I? How can I make a difference? Where do I fit in? Am I loved? Why are people hurtful? While they may have different formats, for example, the internet, texting, or movies, the issues remain essentially the same.
But that's good news! That means that we women have walked these paths and have hopefully found our way. It enables us to be Girl Guides, the British world for Girl Scouts, in a physical, emotional, and spiritual sense. Just as we're instructed to do in Titus 2. We can do this in person, or we can do it by buying a good book to pass along to our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and friends.

What can readers look forward to in the final two London Confidential books?

The final two books in the series release on September 1, 2010 and talk about good friendships and bad, why it's important for Christian girls to stick with only liking, even crushing on, Christian boys, how to persevere in times of trouble, and taking your first adult steps in your faith. When girls open any of the books, they'll find a girl who is a lot like them, with dreams and hopes and fears like theirs, and God who works things out in ways they would not have imagined. There are friendship ups and downs, school ups and downs, guy ups and downs, family issues and lots of fun. I wanted to write books that would be fun to read, and yet still be meaningful. I hope the girls find the books to be just that.

After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd went on to publish more than three dozen books including her widely-acclaimed adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake and it's sequels, Bon Appétit and Pièce de Résistance. Her new series, releasing this month, is a tween/teen fiction series, London Confidential.

A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra is also an accomplished non-fiction writer and author. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications such as Radiant, Focus on the Family's Clubhouse Magazine, Christian Parenting Today, Today's Christian Woman, Pockets, Decision, and Guideposts. During the past eight years Sandra has mentored hundreds of students through the Christian Writer's Guild.

These were provided by Tyndale for review.