29 November 2021

Lights Out by Natalie Walters Book Review

CIA analyst Brynn Taylor developed a new program to combat terrorism, and she invited members of foreign intelligence agencies to America to foster cooperation between countries. Now one of them, Egyptian spy Remon Riad, is missing.

Jack Hudson has been working for the Strategic Neutralization and Protection Agency (SNAP) for almost nine years and takes the lead in hunting down the missing spy. But he isn't at all pleased to find out Brynn is involved. It's hard to trust a woman who's already betrayed you.

Every lead they follow draws them dangerously deeper into an international plot. Kidnapping, murder, explosions, poisoning--the terrorists will do anything to accomplish their goal of causing a digital blackout that will blind a strategic US military communications center and throw the world into chaos.

Can Brynn surrender control to a man who doesn't trust her? And can Jack ever get over what she did to him? The fate of the world--and their hearts--hangs in the balance.

My Thoughts:

 I love discovering new authors to add to my reading list. Natalie Walters has written a wonderful suspense story. I love that the story feels realistic and the characters are well developed.  A few things that irritated me in the plot but nothing major and it was nothing that kept me from enjoying the story. The story is well developed and the pace is good to the final finale.

I liked Brynn Taylor’s character she is the most determined individual that doesn’t let anything stop her from completing her mission. You can’t help but to feel for her. She has put everything on the line to serve her country in the CIA. That includes are personal life which is non-existing. When one of her assets goes missing a lot is at stake. She has to work with the SNAP Agency which happens to be overseen by a man who she loved and had to betray for the sake of the CIA. Jack Hudson doesn’t know why she betrayed him and has been angry with her ever since.

The team is fantastic at the SNAP Agency-I really enjoyed Kekoka’s character he made the book a bit light-hearted.

The story is a Christian romance suspense story. There is nothing heavy on the romance element but well done for the most part. The Christian element is pretty light in my opinion but the book is clean. Both main characters are believers but have stopped trusting Him in some aspects and through the book, they find their way back in a relationship with God.

I enjoyed the book and look forward to more books in this series. Or at least I assume it will be a series.

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through Revell in exchange for my honest thoughts. 

3-Minute Devotions to Laugh and Reflect by Christopher Hudson & Stan Campbell Book Review

 


A Fun-Filled Way to Draw Near to GodAs believers, we have God as our Father, and fathers love the sound of their children's laughter. So why not try something a little different for your daily devotions?

If you want to lighten your mood while drawing near to God, or if you know someone who could use a laugh and a spiritual pick-me-up, this is just what you've been looking for. It's quick, easy, enjoyable-and thought-provoking too! Every day features the humorous cartoon artwork of

Dennis Fletcher plus a short, powerful message that will uplift hearts and position minds to look for God in the day ahead.

3-Minute Devotions to Laugh and Reflect is built on the ministry of Jesus, whose teachings were often brief, created great word pictures, and were sometimes punctuated with humor. This is a fun, low-key approach to daily devotions that promises to stay with you and encourage your faith.

My Thoughts:

What a fun devotional 3-Minute Devotions to Laugh and Reflect is a genuine heartfelt devotional that gives you something to reflect on. Sometimes you need to laugh at the craziness going on in today’s world. 

Each devotional has a cartoon to go along with each of the 90 devotionals. Scripture is at the top of the two-page devotional. One side has the cartoon the other side has the devotional. The cartoons are funny and are heartfelt humor with everyday life as a Believer. The devotional is great and digs deep into an issue. Some issues are relationships and being offended, time spent with God, and other important issues as a Christian with a spiritual message. The message is good and like I always like to remind my kids about is that a devotional doesn't take place of your Bible reading but it's extra. I'm not a big fun of every devotional out on the market but this is a good one. 

This would make a great gift book for anyone special in your life. I plan on letting my teenage read this. I think it will capture his attention with the cartoon element in it.

 Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest thoughts.  

 


2021 Blue Ribbon Awards

 


It is that time of year again-The Blue Ribbon Awards! At the end of each year, the Homeschool Review Crew votes for our favorite products. It’s always a tough choice from all the amazing products we get to use throughout the school year. Thanks to all the vendors who let us review their products.

If you're interested in being part of The Homeschool Crew we'd love to have you. You can apply here.

If you click on the winner’s name you’ll be taken to their reviews. Here are our winners for this year!

Favorite Reading Resource: The Reading Game

Favorite Literature Resource: Progeny Press

Favorite Vocabulary Resource: The Critical Thinking Co. – Vocabulary Virtuoso

Favorite Language Arts Resource: EdAlive – Words Rock Online

Favorite History/Social Studies Resource: Home School in the Woods

Favorite Science Resource: Greg Landry’s Homeschool Science

Favorite Math Curriculum: CTC Math

Favorite Math Supplement: MathRider

Favorite Bible/Character Resource: Teach Sunday School – Easter Escape Room

Favorite Children’s Bible/Character Resource: Tommy Nelson – Roar Like A Lion

Favorite Fine Arts Resource: Artistic Pursuits, Inc

Favorite Fine Arts Resource: Practice Monkeys – Self Defense

Favorite Elective: The Fallacy Detective

Favorite Book/Book Series: YWAM Publishing

Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed:  WORLD Watch

Favorite College Prep Resource: ACT Mom

Favorite Helpful Tools and Resources: Fermentools

Favorite Preschool: BUCK Academy – Baby Buck

Favorite Elementary: YWAM Publishing

Favorite Middle School: Teaching Textbooks

Favorite High School: CTC Math

Favorite Product For Mom/Teacher: The HomeScholar

Kids’ Choice: Reading Eggs

Teens’ Choice: LightSail Education

Crew Favorite: Creating a Masterpiece

 


26 November 2021

Bandana Acres Hootin Goes Outside! by Kathy J. Perry Review and Giveaway

 

About the Book


Book: Bandana Acres: Hootin Goes Outside

Author: Kathy J. Perry

Genre: Early Reader Chapter Book

Release date: November 1, 2018

How long will you be gone?

The barn owlets are hungry! Their mom, Hootin, must find a way to get more food. Can she trust her bandana buddies to take care of her babies during the storm?

Click here to get your copy!

 My Review:

I adore children’s books. I love the illustrations and the stories in them. Even though my kids are teens they love looking at them with books always being such a huge part of their daily life. I have some favorites and this series is on the top of my list. This is a keeper for grandchildren. This book has all the elements I love in children's books. The content and characters in the story are amazing. I love the character traits, friendships, and life lessons taught.

 There are five books in the Bandana Acres series. Each one is based on an animal and teaches a lesson. The animals are friends and help one another. In the front of the book is a map of the places of the animals in the series and the main locations in the book. I am just missing one book in the series currently. 

At the end of the book, it concludes with “What if questions”? This gets you thinking of the character dilemma in the story. This is a wonderful opportunity to have meaningful conversations with your child.

The illustrations are adorable and captivating as you are following along in the story. Kids will love exploring the pictures throughout the book

This sweet story is intended for ages five through eight, the books are short chapter books. I think some older kids would love this story. The book is labeled as a beginning reader but I think kids who are more confident in reading will do better with reading this story. There is a glossary at the back of the book. I love the variety of vocabulary, the words are more colorful and a good way to enhance your kid's vocabulary. There are words like morsel, vulnerable, bough, and rivulet are just a few.

Bandana Acres Hootin Goes Outsideby Kathy J. Perry shines and is a heartfelt story. Hootin is worried about her husband as he hasn’t been home in a few days. They share the task of collecting food for their two owlets. The babies are getting hungry and Hootin doesn’t have a choice but to venture out in search of food. When she comes back the owlets have been exploring their wings in the barn. She is afraid that a preditor will find them. Her friends Ollie and Feebs step up to help her. Hootin meets a new friend and sees the value of friendship and trusting them. Helping each other is a valuable lesson to learn. I highly recommend this sweet story.

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through Celebrate Lit Bloggers in exchange for my honest thoughts. 


About the Author


After My Parents Passed,

I re-evaluated what I was doing with my life and my contribution to others. A former classroom teacher and homeschool mom, I’ve always had a heart for educating kids.

In 2016 my daughter and I attended a local arts and crafts fair where I stumbled upon some cute children’s art and thought, “That’s what I can do! Write children’s books.”

I set my mission and started my own publishing company, Chickadee Words, LLC. I would do my best to affect our youth through wonderful stories full of timeless character struggles.

More from Kathy

Have you every known someone who thinks they’re the only ones that can do the job right? They’re the people who may be very good at what they do, but make poor managers because they don’t delegate or allow others to contribute.

This story is about a barn owl who has two owlets she must care for but her partner is lost for some unknown reason. She burdens herself with care and responsibility until her bandana buddies offer to help and show her she can be flexible.

Here’s one question in the “What If” part at the end of the book:

When you’re at school, are you sometimes afraid or embarrassed to ask a question when you don’t understand something and need help?

Special things about this book (and series) include:

  1. Proven easy-to-read font for early readers (Sassoon Primary)
  2. In full-color with original watercolor artwork.
  3. Leveled by Lexile and Fountas & Pinnell (F&P) for dialing in to your child’s reading level.
  4. Blue words are the character’s inside thoughts (rather than italics, which I thought would be harder to read). Kids enjoy the color. In fact, struggling readers love to read just the colored parts to start – and then want to continue reading! (Each book has its own color for this.)
  5. A glossary of newer words with definitions.
  6. A “What If” section for discussion with five questions about the story, and five questions of how the theme plays out in real life. (Parents and teachers love these books!)
  7. Hootin Goes Outside! is available in hardcover and softcover.

 Help your kids learn to read with this fun story and cute watercolor illustrations. This early reader chapter book is perfect for ages 5-8 and can usually be read alone by 2nd or 3rd grades.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 13

Texas Book-aholic, November 14

Blogging with Carol, November 14

Inklings and notions, November 15

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 16

For Him and My Family, November 16

deb’s Book Review, November 17

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 18

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 19

Vicky Sluiter, November 19

Older & Smarter?, November 20

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 20

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 21

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 22

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 23

Cats in the Cradle Blog, November 24

Mary Hake, November 24

Lights in a Dark World, November 25

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, November 26

Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away the grand prize package of $25 Amazon gift card, a softcover copy of the book, digital artwork with motivational phrase, and a custom Hoo-Rag covered with artwork from the Bandana Acres series!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/133b0/bandana-acres-hootin-goes-outside-celebration-tour-giveaway

23 November 2021

The Wonder of Creation by Louie Giglio Book Review

 


In this captivating follow-up to the bestselling kids' devotionals Indescribable and How Great Is Our God, discover more mind-blowing, faith-building scientific facts and biblical truths about the wonder of God's creation from author, speaker, and founder of the Passion movement Louie Giglio.

Well-known for his powerful and highly visual messages about science and the Bible, Louie Giglio has a passion for inspiring kids to notice, enjoy, and marvel at God's creation. In The Wonder of Creation, children will find new delight in God's creativity with 100 devotions that explore:

·         animals—from honeyguide birds to flying snakes to white rhinos

·         space—from black holes to volcanic moons to gamma-ray bursts

·         people—from optical illusions to brain freezes to our immune systems 

·         Earth—from rainbow rivers to blue lava to flowing glaciers                                                    

·         and much, much more!

 

With engaging illustrations and striking photography, this fun and informative book is ideal for children ages 6–10. Each of the 100 devotions features a scientific fact or an easy activity for exploring faith, a short Bible verse, and a closing prayer.

With a beautifully bright and colorful cover and a ribbon bookmark, The Wonder of Creation

·         is ideal for science-loving kids, Bible-loving kids, and any child ready to go deeper in faith

·         continues a well-loved devotional series that has impacted over a million children, parents, and teachers

·         includes informative content call-outs inviting kids to "Explore the Wonder"

·         makes a great addition to a homeschool STEM curriculum or a bedtime reading routine

·          

As kids explore this awe-inspiring devotional, they'll be amazed at the many wonders God has made!

My Thoughts:

My daughter enjoys her devotional while learning about science. This is the third book in the series and I can’t say enough about all of them. They are fantastic, Biblically sound, inspirational, and help you to see God’s creation in all things.

This is a full-colored book with colorful illustrations and photos. A ribbon book marker is provided also. The intended age is 6-10. I think older kids will enjoy this also.

There are 100 devotions each one has a Bible verse at the beginning of the page and ends with a prayer. The devotion compliments the scripture in a two-page format. There are boxes on each of the 100 devotions. Some of them are “Explore the Wonder” or “Share the Wonder”.  A few interesting concepts: To Curl or Not To Curl?, Who Owns the Moon, Fight or Flight?, That’s no Joke and other fun scientific devotions. One that stood out to my daughter with everything going on in the world was “Under Attack” which talks about colds and how the virus enters our bodies. The reactions of that God designed with our white blood cells to fight off germs and viruses. Then it goes on to explain the spiritual battle and God gives us a way to fight back. If you have difficult words don’t worry they are broken down to help you out.

 The devotions cover topics on space, Earth, animals, and people. My family loves the devotions that Louie Giglio has created for kids. As a homeschool mom, I can see this being used as a jump-off to science concepts taught in your homeschool The spiritual aspects covered are very practical to everyday life.

There is a free Parent Discussion Guide for you here. You can purchase a copy here.

 Disclosure: Many thanks to HarperCollins Christian Publishing for providing this product/product information for review.  Opinions are 100% my own.  I did receive the product in exchange for this review and post.

22 November 2021

Endless Pawsibilities by Sean Charmatz Book Review




The pawsibilities for furiendship are endless in this picture book filled with paws, puns, and pals! Endless Pawsibilities is a hilarious and adorable look at friendship that is sure to put a smile on the faces of both cat lovers and hairball haters alike.

Whether you're sharing some juicy pawssip or singing together in perfect harmeowny, good friends can't get enough of one another. And what better way to share how much you love your friend than with some adorable cat paws? These cuddly characters show all the punny and purrfect things friends can do together, because whether you're a cat or kid, there's nothing better than furiendship!

My Thoughts:

Attention cat lovers, I have a cute fun filled picture book to share with you. This is a full colored book with paws and toe beans. Yes, I said paws that have a message about friendship. On each page you have paws with hand drawn illustrations attached to the paws. Each paw has eyes, mouths, arms, legs, and some have accessories and a background. It is a mixture of photos with fun cartoon like illustrations.

The book has some cute cat puns. A play on cat words like purrfect, fursbee, mewborns, purrty, pawssip, meowsic, litterally, and more.

The book is creative that will delight all ages. Lots of action with ping-pong, body building, a little bit of gossip, and catching a few waves. My almost 16 year old son thought the book was purrty awesome. The author Sean CHarmatz has done projects with DreamWorks, SpongeBob SquarePants and with Disney.

This is a purrfect gift for cat lovers.


Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest thoughts. 

17 November 2021

Practice Monkeys Guitar Review

I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew


My son has been playing the guitar off and on for the last six years. He ran into a stump and needed a new direction with his playing. My son has been enrolled in the Practice Monkeys and their Guitar program. We received 3 months of classes.

Practice Monkeys uses the Suzuki Method in all of its programs. This method was created by Shinichi Suzuki. In a nutshell, you learn by ear-training, you learn at an accelerated pace with the Twinkle variations with your classical guitar. This technique will make it easy to explore and learn other genres in the future. It is also self-paced to meet your student’s needs. This is me paraphrasing the method greatly.

Sarah Van Kleeck is the creator of Practice Monkeys which is an online music program. Along with the Suzuki Method and other resources she created are used. No prior music instruction is needed for the student or parent. Another feature is that the pricing is for the family and not an individual student. This is an online subscription program per month.

Once you are signed up you will schedule an assessment/placement for the program. You will be assigned according to your level. You meet 4 days a week Monday through Thursday for 15 minute live classes online at a set time. If you aren’t able to make every class the sessions are recorded. It is recommended that you spend 15-20 minutes after your class of practice. You can go back and view previous classes if needed also. Your instructor will demonstrate techniques, go over the music, you can ask questions, and get instruction that will help you as an individual with your instruments. The classes are small and the teacher can address issues like your instrument is out of tune and such.

In the program, you will have one on one assessment which is an affordable additional cost. There is a download PDF assessment form on the website. This will let you see all the skills they need to accomplish to make sure your student is ready and has met all the skills before moving forward. Your instructor will also let you know if they see that your student is ready for an assessment.


Practice Monkeys offers several instrument courses plus a self-defense program:

Violin ages 3 & up

Cello ages 3 & up

Piano Ages 3 & up

Guitar

Self Defense ages 5 & up (Brazilian Jui-Jitsu wrestling)





Your “dashboard” is called the Treehouse. This area will give you access to everything you need for Practice Monkeys. It is very easy to navigate the website.  You can access your PDFs for your program. I downloaded what we needed and put it in a 3 ring binder for my son. It also gives you access to your level to access the live classes, schedule an assessment, and additional videos outside of your regular “live & recorded classes. These videos give you more instructions on your instrument and lots of helpful tips. Emails are sent out weekly for any information on classes, schedule changes, website issues, and encouragement.

Information is on the website for required material and recommended material. You will find helpful information on instruments too. This is a complete program from the comfort of your home.

Practice Monkeys Guitar


The Guitar is designed for ages 8 and up, some younger kids 6 & 7 can join if the parent is involved in aiding the student. This uses a classical guitar with teachers who are certified in the Suzuki method. There are 12 levels for guitar.

In my son’s 3 ring binder it has a practice sheet that you can check off your assignments on your practice sheets and a skill and habit checklist.


An illustration of the parts of a guitar,  PIMA and finger numbers used within the sessions, and your assignments with the chords.


A Parent Guidebook that will give you an overview of the program, parental involvement, and other information to assist you as the parent.

My son learned to play an acoustical guitar which means it has steel strings (classical guitar has nylon strings). Several years ago we signed him up for private instruction and he also learned to read music. Due to the cost, we could only go so far with the instruction. Over the last few years, he has just been going over his books and finding things online to practice. He was getting a bit bored with this method. When Practice Monkeys came available he was pretty excited to try something new.

After the account was set up we got him signed up for his first assessment for placement went great and he was placed appropriately for him not being familiar with the Suzuki method. Together we went over the website and his 3 ring binder. We both looked over the Parent Handbook. He has been faithful in getting on the live classes and watching the videos when he couldn’t do the live lessons. He practices in the day and after classes.

I had to go back to work in the evenings recently. His classes are in the evening when I’m at work. He is my steadfast and independent child. I wasn’t worried because he communicates with me well and I just don’t have any issues with him. I knew he was getting online for his classes and practicing and doing everything required.


Long story short when the next assessment came up I just signed him up for it without communicating with him first-which usually wouldn’t be a problem. I told him the date of the assessment and a few minutes before his assessment he had a meltdown and I got online with Mrs. Van Kleeck myself! I was embarrassed and felt a bit foolish. This is really unlike my son. Well, I got him on after a few tears and 5 minutes or more of Mrs. Van Kleeck patiently waiting. My son felt he wasn’t understanding the Suzuki method and wasn’t doing it correctly. He was a bit mad at me and thought he wasn’t ready for an assessment.  Mrs. Van Kleeck was absolutely amazing with my son. She went over things and spent a decent amount of time with him. She sent him a Suzuki Guitar Volume 1 book, classical guitar strings, and set up to meet with him weekly with one on one instruction at no cost.

Where I dropped the ball was not obtaining the Suzuki Guitar Volume 1 book. I somehow didn’t think we would need it for the course. The book and his meeting with Mrs. Van Kleeck have built up his confidence and understanding of the program. He still does his live classes in the evenings too. He has enjoyed practicing his guitar again.

Practice Monkeys is a pretty amazing program and Sarah Van Kleeck has gone above and beyond to assist my son with his lessons. I can’t express how thankful I am with words.

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You can try a free trial class. Other Homeschool Review Crew are using different courses with Practice Monkeys. Find out their experience by clicking on the graphic below.




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