Sunday, February 26, 2012

Speak Up Saturday–Book Review–Protection for Hire by Camy Tang

Speak Up Saturday

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From the Publisher:

Tessa Lancaster's skills first earned her a position as an enforcer in her Uncle Teruo's Japanese Mafia gang. Then they landed her in prison for a crime she didn't commit. Now, three months after her release, Tessa's abilities have gained her a job as bodyguard for wealthy socialite Elizabeth St. Amant and her three-year-old son. But there's a problem or two ... or three .... There's Elizabeth's abusive husband whose relentless pursuit goes deeper than mere vengeance. There's Uncle Teruo, who doesn't understand why Tessa's new faith as a Christian prevents her from returning to the yakuza. And then there's Elizabeth's lawyer, Charles Britton, who Tessa doesn't know is the one who ensured that she did maximum time behind bars. Now Tessa and Charles must work together in order to protect their client, while new truths emerge and circumstances spiral to a deadly fever pitch. Factor in both Tessa's and Charles's families and you've got some wild dynamics---and an action-packed, romantic read as Tessa and Charles discover the reality of being made new in Christ.

Okay, it’s been a little while (and about three or four books) since I finished this book, so bear with me. I’ve been reading a lot since Shane arrived, with little time to sit down at my computer and write reviews. I’m really hoping to get caught up soon! (Isn’t that the mommy mantra?!?)

Anyway, I really liked this book. The flavor was different than other books I’ve read recently, which was nice. The genre was the same, but the author’s writing style was just enough different that it was intriguing and makes me want to read more of her work. I can’t exactly put a finger on it, but it was fun and engaging.

The story has enough twists to keep it interesting but not confusing. The character development was deep enough, even for all the supporting characters. I appreciated that she kept the cast of characters short enough that we could easily keep track of them all, but big enough to keep it interesting.

The climax of the book was well written and the chapters at the end were well done also, tying up everything neatly.

I am glad that I get to keep this one so I can read it again!

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~S

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley/Zondervan Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hi…I’m Still Here

Yep, I’m still here. We’re adjusting to having a newborn, 2.5 year old, 5 year old, me, and dad. It’s often challenging, often rewarding, and most often tiring. I haven’t had much time or brain cells for blogging, but I’m working on it. As I tell my kids, be patient. I’ll be back soon (I hope). I have no new recipes because I haven’t been cooking thanks to wonderful friends. I have no menu for the same reason. We haven’t been doing much, if any, school work around here. I read a very encouraging post from SimpleMom.net, so I’m taking it to heart and I’ll be back to blogging sometime soon (hopefully). In the meantime, here’s what we *have* been doing:

We’ve bee staring at this2012-02-18 Shane on couch (8)

And bathing this2012-02-12 Shane's First Bath (4)

And holding this2012-02-12 Kahlen and Shane

~S

Speak Up Saturday–TOS Review–Reading Eggs

Speak Up Saturday

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We were given the opportunity to review another online program called Reading Eggs. With Kahlen on the cusp of learning to read, we were both excited about another tool to help her. While I’m still not a big fan of additional screen time as a required part of school, I think that some programs have value, especially when trying to sneak some schooling in during the transition to three kids.

Here’s what Reading Eggs has to say about their program:

Learning to read

Learning to read is an important skill for all children. And we wanted to make it an enjoyable experience for children as well. Children love working and playing on the computer and the Reading Eggs program is all about bringing out the best in each child.

Learn to read with Reading Eggs

We created Reading Eggs as a unique online world where children learn to read. It supports each child’s learning by offering individual, one-on-one lessons that allow children to progress at their own rate.

Educationally sound

The program has been developed by a highly experienced team of educational teachers, writers and developers. The Reading Eggs program focuses on a core reading curriculum of phonics and sight words using skills and strategies essential for sustained reading success. It completely supports what children learn at school and will help to improve your child’s results at school.

Children love it!

With interactive animations, fun games, great songs and lots of rewards, Reading Eggs is a great place to learn to read. Children are highly motivated to return again and again. At Reading Eggs, learning to read is enjoyable as well as very rewarding. Every lesson ends with a new book and a new critter to add to your growing collection.

And it’s growing!

Reading Eggs now has 100 big lessons. These 100 lessons are perfect for 4 to 7 year olds who are learning to read.

We are still building more NEW lessons for our older Eggsplorers as part of Reading Eggs World. This world is perfect for 6-8 year olds who already know the basics of reading but who still have much to learn about reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension. This exciting new world has lots of new lessons, a creative story writing factory, new games and will soon have many wonderful new books to read in Storylands. The learning focuses on building reading fluency and comprehension, spelling, vocabulary, and a range of writing skills including grammar and punctuation.

In Reading Eggs World, children have their own house to decorate, a big new shop and an avatar that can walk and travel to many new destinations on Reggie’s bus. Children are able to choose their own adventure from a wide range of activities and places to go.

This new world of interactive reading and writing activities will help to set kids up with positive attitudes about reading and learning for life. That’s a tall order, we know, but we are passionately committed to delivering this to hatching readers everywhere. Please join us on this magical journey of eggsploration.

I was not able to observe her using this program as much as I would have liked. She has been using and enjoying it, however, and asks to play it, which is an improvement over some other programs we have used and tried. PhotobucketIt seems like there is a variety of activities, not just the same ones over and over again. The voices used keep it interesting to listen to from across the room as well. There are also activity pages for each lesson, which we have not utilized but look engaging; we’re planning to try those in the next few weeks as well.

You can start out with a reading test to place your child appropriately. I appreciated this greatly because I knew that I was not going to be able to sit with her while she used Reading Eggs and she was going to have to do it by herself. So the reading test was good for her to do by herself to get a more accurate picture of where she is at.

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There is also some basic parent reports that give me a heads up on how she’s doing and what the most recent activities/lessons are that she completed.

Reading Eggs Screen

Overall, Kahlen has really enjoyed this program. I feel like it’s a good alternative activity to help her stay on track with reading schoolwork while I’m busy with the newborn. She can do it by herself with little to no help from me and it keeps her engaged without being frustrating either in simplicity or complexity. This is not replacing my reading curriculum, but seems like a good supplement.

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You can subscribe one month at a time or 6 or 12 months at a time for a discount. Monthly subscriptions are $9.95 for the first child, and 50% the second child. Try a free trial using promo code USH99TSH

See what other crew members are saying here.

~S

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product through The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Speak Up Saturday–Book Review–Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann

Speak Up Saturday

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From the Publisher:

In a clash of light and darkness, can courage prevail?

Rescuing a toddler from the jaws of a mountain lion, Trevor MacDaniel, a high-country outfitter, sets in motion events he can’t foresee. His act of bravery entwines his life with gifted sculptor Natalie Reeve—and attracts a grim admirer.
Trevor’s need to guard and protect is born of tragedy, prompting his decision to become a search and rescue volunteer. Natalie’s gift of sculpting comes from an unusual disability that seeks release through her creative hands. In each other they see strength and courage as they face an incomprehensible foe.
When a troubled soul views Trevor as archangel and adversary, Redford’s peaceful mountain community is threatened. Together with Police Chief Jonah Westfall, Trevor presses his limits to combat the menace who targets the most helpless and innocent.

Another book read on my Kindle. The formatting was a little strange, but I managed to figure it out anyway.

I liked this book, but there were several things that I did not like, dragging my overall rating down to a three out of five. I liked the idea and individual character traits of each of the characters, but for a book this length, there were too many characters that the author tried to give depth to. The author has an interesting, almost poetic, writing style, but the sections written from the adversary’s point of view were extremely confusing and did not make any sense at all. That could have been the goal, but it was really hard to tell. The ending, ah the ending! If a book doesn’t have a good ending, it ruins the rest of the book for me. This book had a decent ending, but it was rushed and and left a lot of details hanging instead of tying them up nice and pretty. There was only one chapter after the climax, and I felt like there could have been a lot more said.

Would I read it again? Nah. Would I recommend it? Only if you really like to read, and like to read fast. Otherwise, don’t bother. There are so many better books to choose from.

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~S

It would be a great help to me if you would please rate my review. I get the chance to review more books based on my rating, and there are cool contests and such. Thanks!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Speak Up Saturday–TOS Review–Math Rider

Speak Up Saturday

Does your child need help mastering his or her math facts?

Math Rider is a computer math facts game that teaches mastery of all 4 math operations with numbers 1-12 and is designed for children ages 6-12.

Ride your horse on noble quests through the magical MathLands. MathRider combines fun math game play with a highly sophisticated question engine that adapts to your child. The game propels your child to mastery of all four math operations using numbers 0 to 12 in record time.

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We have not had a chance to review this product as thoroughly as I would have liked. Being hugely pregnant and then having a new baby will do that. ANYWAY, what I was able to see of this program looked fun and engaging. However, I think that at Kahlen’s stage of math, early addition, is a little bit too young for a timed game like this. I played it for awhile, and I think that in a year or even over the summer, Kahlen will enjoy it more and really be able to benefit from the game.

Overall, I give this program four stars. It looks like it is a fantastic program for kids who are at any stage of math and just need practice.

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Now through February 15th, the price is $37. After February 15th, it will increase to $47.

See what other crew members are saying here.

~S

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product through The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday–February 8–Kahlen & Shane

2006-12-28 Sleepy Bug 2

Kahlen at one week old

 

2012-02-07 Hungry Caterpillar Shane (3)

Shane at one week old

~S

Linking up at:

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Tots and Me

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