28 February 2018

Wordless Wednesday


Pit of Ambition by Ta’Mara Hanscom Book Review

Ta'Mara has published her Caselli Family series before, but she is now relaunching the series starting with The Pretender and Pit of Ambition!  Join this super fun blog tour and find out more about the first two books (of five). Also, make sure you check out the great giveaway!

About the Books

The Pretender: A Blackguard in Disguise is the first volume of 5 in the family epic series The Caselli Family Series. It begins in South Dakota in 1975 where eighteen-year-olds could order 3.2 beers in a bar and loaded guns were kept under the counter. Frankie Valli sang My Eyes Adored You, and American soldiers returning from Vietnam struggled with their new reality.
It’s within this tumultuous season of American history that Tillie Caselli meets Noah Hansen, and they are never the same again. Their lives were mysteriously intertwined – and had been for many years – yet they had no idea.
From the moment they met, Tillie and Noah wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, but a deliberate omission will keep them apart – and that same omission will be responsible for the escape of a murderer, and a bride’s deception.
These compelling stories are interwoven with Biblical truths and light-hearted, real life events from the author’s own past. Easy to understand and relate to, as well as encouraging.

Pit of Ambition is the second volume of 5 in the family epic series The Caselli Family Series.
Five years have passed since Noah and Tillie’s “chance” meeting. They’ve married other people by now, and are both beginning their families.
In the pursuit of professional and political success, Alex runs headlong into a pit of pride and ambition...and Giuseppe begins to hate the husband he chose for his daughter.
Alex and Noah are doing business on many fronts, which will bring Noah to town for an unintended meeting with Giuseppe. Tension abounds as he attempts to conceal his daughter’s identity from Noah.
Alex strays when Tillie needs him the most, and it’s Noah who will bring him home. But, instead of learning Tillie’s identity, he connects with her brothers, especially Marquette.
Unbeknownst to Noah, his new foreman is a member of the crime family Marquette has sought since 1968.

About the Author

I was born and raised in South Dakota, and I love her people and rich history. For many years I’ve also had a deep love for Italy and her colorful chronology. I was fortunate enough to visit Italy on my 25th wedding anniversary, and I added some of the details of my travels to my fictional series The Caselli Family Series.
My favorite sport is baseball – Detroit Tigers – and I can’t wait until the next time I get to see them play in Comerica Park.
I live for the next family barbeque.
My husband and I own a national pizza franchise in Iowa, where we currently reside. We have three grown children and one grandson. We’ve rescued two cats and one Pomeranian.
I teach AWANA Cubbies and speak at women’s events. 


Ta’Mara is generously offering a $50 Amazon gift card! There are many different ways in the Rafflecopter to enter. The more you choose, the better chance you have of winning.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule

February 26
Bookish Orchestration – Introductory post
Rachel Rossano's Words – Author Interview
Adventures in Publishing – Author Interview
Rebekah Lyn Books – Book Review and Character Spotlight

February 27
Simply Kelina – Book Review
Letters from Annie Douglass Lima – Character Spotlight

February 28
Little Homeschool on the Prairie – Book Spotlight
Seasons of Opportunities – Book Review
Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting – Book Review

March 1
Moments – Book Spotlight 
Reader's Cozy Corner – Book Review

Fiction to Ignite Your Faith – Post from the author
March 2
New Horizon Reviews – Book Review
God's Peculiar Treasure Rae – Book Review
Adventures Of A King Daughter – Book Review

March 3
Bookish Orchestrations – Giveaway Winner

My Thoughts: 

I was excited to read book 2 in the Caselli Family Series. Sometimes a story captures your heart. I just loved the first book in the series and all the characters and the story line just grabbed my attention immediately. If you haven’t read the first book, The Pretender: A Black Guard in Disguise the second book could be read as a stand-alone book as the author does a wonderful job getting you up to speed with what transpired from the first book. However, I highly recommend that you read it first as you will really get to know the characters and fully understand all the details in this story. The first book is also a wonderful book.

The author has many stories going on within this book with the different characters. However the main characters are Noah and Tillie and you will get reacquainted with them even more. I just adore these characters. They are very realistic. I really like that they are down to earth and very realistic characters. Noah is easy going and has a tender heart that truly cares about people. Noah puts his family first before his construction company. Tillie is trying her best to be happy and keeps herself busy as her husband’s ambition keeps him more and more away from home. She loves Alex unconditionally.

Tillies’s family is fun and each one unique but, all have strong Godly character. Tillie’s father Giuseppe is tearing himself up with guilt with his deception as he sees his son-in-law Alex’s drive and ambition for his career. His daughter is precious to him and what he sees going on is heartbreaking. Giuseppe is even more torn with the situation that happens around Tillies birth of her and Alex’s twins. Giuseppe meets Noah after praying for the man for so many years. He sees the man that he has become, husband, father, and a man of integrity.

Then you have Marguette and Tara who are the most intriguing characters as they search for clues finding Mario Ponerello not knowing how truly close they are.

Marguette is just a big bear when it comes to his sister Tillie and I love the relationship that he builds with Noah after he figures out who Noah is. Marguette decides to make peace with his sister’s husband Alex despite how he feels about him inside for the sake of his sister. 

I’m not going to give away any spoilers. The story surprised me and I have to say that I didn’t expect many things in this story to happen.

You are left with a cliff hanger that made me wish I had book 3 right away-I’m ready for book 3 in the series and can’t wait to read it.

This series has been an all time favorite of mine. I read a lot of books and I have few that grab my heart like this one has. Thank you Ta’mara Hanscom for an amazing heartfelt story.

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

27 February 2018

Drive Thru History Adventures Review

My family loves history and was excited to get started with Drive Thru History Adventures! Drive Thru History has always been a favorite homeschool history curriculum in our home. This year we are studying ancient history and decided we would put most of our focus on the Ancient History curricula. I received a one year subscription of Drive Thru History Adventures for my entire family. The curriculum intended for older kids 12 and up. Younger kids will learn a lot from watching the videos.
After you have signed up for Drive Thru History Adventures you have access to all the content on the website. The website is easy to navigate. You have tabs at the top that take you where you need to go. 
The Dashboard is the main hub that shows you some of the latest resources. It looks like many articles are still being added. There is always new archeological discovers and history uncovered. You see the current social media feeds, several videos to watch. There is also a video on how to use the Dashboard.
The Curriculum tab takes you directly to the three areas to explore in history.
Resource tab has all the articles, expert papers, and all the goodies that are in each of the areas of history.Within the Resource tab there is a welcome page and a getting started page. I suggest that you click over there first to before you utilize the rest of the website.
The Community is the private Facebook page for subscribers. I’m not on Facebook so I can’t tell you much about this section.
Account tab gives you access to your subscription information.
Adventures TV tab is included in your subscription. This is all the videos all packed in one place. The videos are streaming. You can watch Bible History, American History, and Ancient History on your computer or on your devices. 
 All the videos are available like Digging Deeper, Side Roads, Dave’s Adventures, topics on current events, and much more are there. If you’re wondering what’s the difference is? I like to think of it as videos only. You don’t have all the worksheets, expert papers, and readable material on the Adventures TV area. My daughter has enjoyed watching the videos from my iPhone when we are out at appointments and at home.
You have three areas to explore three in history:
Bible History ~ this adventure has 18 weeks that cover the Gospels. Your journey begins in Jerusalem investigating the coming of our Messiah. You will venture into Bethlehem to the birth of Jesus and then to Nazareth. Learn about the people and the many places from the 4 Gospels. Get ready to explore the archeological places in the land. The adventure doesn't stop there.
American History ~12 weeks on early American history where you start out with the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and the monarchy. You will journey to the discovery of the New World across the sea. Meet the Pilgrims in their homeland. The Mayflower, Plymouth Rock and learn about the first Thanksgiving. You will get acquainted with our forefathers, battles, constitution, and places that birthed our country. You will visit many incredible places.

Ancient History~ I will explore more in detail as my family spent the majority of our time on our adventure.

Drive Thru History Adventures ~ Ancient History has 12 weeks of content. The format is basically the same in each series. Each series starts out with a video. The videos are slightly over 45 minutes(the other series run around 30 minutes). Dave Stotts is the host and focuses on the critical points in history in each episode. Dave Stotts isn’t your basic host. He’s very energetic and humorous while he is taking you through the facts of history.

After you watch your video if you have older kids and want to expand the studies you scroll down the page where you will see photographs of paintings depicting that time period from various artists. They mention the name of the artist and the date. This is great if you like to add a bit of art history into your studies. Next, is a “Brief Summary” of the contents of the video along with a few of the images of the portion you just watched from the video.

 Next is a “Suggested Reading” which could be written source from that time period, short story, or a famous literary work of the time. Example: excerpt from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar or an excerpt from Virgil’s Aeneid. You can read these online or download load it to print off in a PDF format.

Next, is the “Side Road”. An example on Episode 1: talks about Mark Antony which expands from the video in a paragraph giving you a little more detail on a topic.

You have the options to go even deeper with the “Discussion Questions”. This portion gives you a set of questions that you can ask your scholar. 

If you would rather have them write the answers on paper you scroll down to the next section and you can print off the “Worksheets and the Answer Guide” for this section. The sheets are in the PDF format, Usually there is another excerpt for further study.

The last section is “Dig Deeper” Not all the episodes have something in this section. This could be an article written about this subject or a post that will give you information to enhance the topic.

If you’re curious about the episodes for Ancient History here is a basic synopsis:
Episode 1: The Rise of Western Civilization
Episode 2: The Age of Conflict
Episode 3: Times of Challenges
Episode 4: Roots of Democracy
Episode 5: Challenges of a New Religion
Episode 6: The Spread of Christianity
Episode 7: East Meets West
Episode 8: Ruins and Romans
Episode 9: The Advancements of Knowledge
Episode 10: Heart of Stone
Episode 11:  Constantine and Constantinople

Episode 12: The Best of the Ancient World
To put Ancient History in a nut shell- I love that the gospel is being taught about of our Lord and Savior is throughout all the pagan culture you are going to learn about. You travel to Rome and learn about the beginning of the culture to the emperors. You visit all the amazing archeological sites from the Colosseum in Rome to Jerusalem. You see some of the amazing engineer wonders of the ancient world. You learn about the fall of the Roman Empire, gladiators, and much more. You travel to Greece to see more interesting sites. You travel along the route of Alexander the Great. You will learn about some of the Greek philosophers and see how the Greek and Roman culture are prevalent even in the modern era.

I had my son work on the worksheets. I would print them off prior to the video. We typically split the videos into two days much to my kid’s dismay. My daughter who is 15 with special needs just watched the videos with her brother. My son had the worksheet in front of him and when it came across the topic on the worksheet he would mark it on the paper where it was found on the video. That way if my son needed help with the worksheets and remembering the facts he could easily go back and preview it to complete the worksheet if he needed. I’m grateful for the answer sheets as some of the questions are challenging. Typically we would do a video lesson a week. My son would spend two days on the worksheets and other extras. I felt that a week was a good pace to schedule if your doing all the extras.
 We received a surprise package in the mail. My son was really excited as he thinks Dave Stotts is awesome!  I ironed the patch on his jacket!
My 12 year old son and my 15 year old daughter begged me to do Drive Thru History Adventures on a day that I don’t even have it scheduled! I love that my kids are learning about history from a Biblical Worldview. I love that they are seeing the actual places in history while they are learning about it.
Drive Thru History Adventures has an amazing special going on. They are currently offering the set of The Gospels DVD with an annual subscription. You can read my review of The Gospels DVD

Social Media:
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/drivethruhistory/ Tag: @drivethruhistory 

Explore Drive Thru History Adventures by seeing what others have to say. 

If you are a reader of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine Drive Thru History Adventures is offering 20% of its readers. Look for the ad on page 19 in the Winter Edition.

26 February 2018

The Lost Castle By Kristy Cambron Book Review and Giveaway

Broken-down walls and crumbled stones seemed to possess a secret language all their own. What stories would they tell, if she finally listened?

Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved old woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . .

Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a forgotten castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.

Bridging the past to present in three time-periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

My Thoughts:

This is the first book that I have read by author Kristy Cambron. The Lost Castle was an intriguing book. It has several stories going on in different time periods –actually three stories that all center around a lost castle in Loire Valley, France, which in an area known for wine.

I love books that have historical settings that weave together. For me there is nothing better than curling up to a good book that has some complex setting, and strong characters.

The story goes back and forth between three women with the story always centered around the family estate.

One era is the French Revolution and the year is 1789. It is t suppose to be a happy time for a young noblewoman and a winemaker-Aveline Saint-Moreau is about to be married but, the castle is overtaken during a turbulent time in Frances history. Aveline is the “Sleeping Beauty” of the mysterious ruined castle.

The next era is during War World right before D-day. You get acquainted with Viola Hart. She is an English woman that escapes the Nazis in France. Viola is part of the French Resistance and an English spy. Her story ties together the 1789 timeline and the modern day timeline of the characters.

Next is the present day Ellie Carver who is an American and the heir of the Domaine du Renard Ellie was raised by her English grandmother. Her grandmother has one last request for her granddaughter and that is to find the castle, the Sleeping Beauty and to send a message that she never got to do. She gives her a photograph with a mysterious man by the castle.

It takes a few chapters to put it all together but, wow, was it worth it. The story is complex but, not so complex that it’s confusing. Not many authors can jump back and forth like this and make the story flow so easily. I have to say that not many books surprise me throughout a book but, The Lost Castle was intriguing, a mystery, and very heartfelt. The author makes you feel like you can see the setting in your mind while you are reading the story. I was thrilled that all three stories had endings and not cliff hangers.

This was an unexpected read that I was extremely delighted with. I think I’m going to have to explore more books by Kristy Cambron.

I received a free copy of this product from TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this information accordance with the FTC Regulations.

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