Category Archives: books

Summer Stories for Mom

Um (insert sheepish grin here) . . .

I just realized this never went live. I don’t even know if I scheduled it and it didn’t work or if I just totally forgot to schedule it. So, here it is. Enjoy the list. There are some fascinating books in this list!

Summer Stories for Mom

July has flown by! I didn’t realize I had not yet shared my June reading list with you. So here goes:

Give Your Child The WorldGive Your Child The World by Jamie C. Martin

This was a fast read and I was somewhat disappointed in it. I was hoping for something that brought more themes and titles to the table, especially for older students. I was able to read through the introductory materials in about 30 minutes and spent another 30 perusing the titles and summaries. It is directed at families with pretty young children. There are a decent number of titles and the summaries are pretty helpful. It has plenty of interesting books, just not for the age level I needed.

Eighty DaysEighty Days by Matthew Goodman

This is the story of two young women who traveled around the world, striving to complete the journey in under 80 days, as the fictional traveler did the famous book “Around the World in 80 Days.” This, however, is a true story. The full title is Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World. Nellie Bly, supported by one newspaper, headed east. Elizabeth Bisland, supported by a different paper, headed west. This books covers their travels, their stops, and the variety of things they encountered on the way.

This was a fascinating book, full of history from the many places the women visited on their journeys. It was not a fast read, but it wasn’t hard. There was so much to read about, to learn, to understand. Quite a fascinating book. It would be quite the feat to travel as they did, especially when you consider that it was 1890. A definite recommend.

Queen Victoria’s Mysterious Daughter: A Biography of Princess Louise by Lucinda HawksleyQueen Victoria's Mysterious Daughter

This was one that I really enjoyed in the beginning. Before too long, though, it seemed to have an agenda within it and I quit enjoying it. I did browse all the way through, reading bits and pieces here and there to learn more about what all Princess Louise did in her life. She had a fascinating life, and not just because she was Queen Victoria’s daughter. She seems to have had a bright mind, a curiosity that was insatiable, and plenty of empathy to see those around her and their needs.

I wish the book had been written differently because I find this young lady pretty fascinating. I will be looking for other books about her.

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie FlaggA Redbird Christmas

This was different from much of Fannie Flagg’s writings and I just loved it. I love redbirds and cardinals so this title caught my attention (as well as the 25 cent price tag for the hardback, like-new book at a garage sale). A community pulls in those who need comfort and health and love. We see this come to fruition more than once in this book about a small country town that is full of life. When a young one from the area needs their help, they all pull together and help her through the difficulty. This is a fantastic read and not very long.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe by Fannie FlaggFried Green Tomatoes

I figured since I was reading so much of her other works, I needed to read the one most people are at least familiar with the title of. Well, I was disappointed. (To tell the truth, I didn’t like the movie either.) The story was not too bad but it wasn’t one that just pulled me along, tempting me to keep reading. Since I had seen the movie quite a while ago, I could remember just enough to tell that the book and the movie were different. That made the book even harder to read – I kept waiting for this thing or that little scene that I could remember to happen. It isn’t a bad read, just not one I really, really enjoyed. Glad I read it but -meh- not really worth the time.

Oh, the story line – It takes place in the memory of Mrs. Threadegoode, who lives at a retirement home. Evelyn, a middle-aged housewife, stumbles into friendship with her while visiting a relative there. Mrs. Threadegoode often just takes off on her tale, remembering life in Whistle Stop, Alabama. The tale focuses on the people of that small town, their interactions, and their securities/insecurities. All of the incidents that occur in the past help Evelyn become who she desires in the present. The tale changes everything.

So, I think that is it for the month. July’s reading will be up before too much longer, won’t it? Wow, this summer has flown. What have you read? Anything I should put on my book list?

At Home.


The Road to Paradise – Blogging for Books review

The Road To Paradise

Mount Rainier has fascinated me since my dad hiked the Wonderland Trail a few years ago. I had no idea how beautiful it was until those pictures were brought back. And then, it became a place I would love to visit. Which is why The Road to Paradise by  Karen Barnett appealed to me so much.

This is a vintage national parks novel, meaning the setting is back at the beginning of the national park. This particular novel takes place at Mount Rainier National Park in 1927.

Road To Paradise


Margie Lane, an excited and knowledgeable naturalist, is joining the staff at Mount Rainier. She is going to work alongside the staff, particularly the rangers, at the park but not everyone is excited about her being there. Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is less than enthusiastic about a lady on staff, feeling like he will have to watch over her and protect her. And while that may just end up being true, it isn’t due to her ineptitude or lack of knowledge but rather due to a former fiance who feels it is his right to order people (in this case Margie and anyone around her) to do what he says.

Margie had hoped to escape from his sight by going to Mount Rainier but he was able to follow her path and now, even the park may be in danger of this man who plows over and through anything in his way. Can Margie stand up to him and come out safely on the other side?

About the Author:

Karen Barnett is definitely the right person for the job of writing about the national parks. As a former ranger naturalist and outdoor educator , she worked at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Silver Falls State Park, and Mount Rainier National Park. She enjoys hiking, photography, and public speaking when she is not writing. She lives in Oregon.


This was a fun book to read, to get an idea of what the park might have been like in its infancy, before it was so swamped with people that you have to stand in line to get to walk on its trails. Mount Rainier provided a perfect backdrop of beauty and mystery. The treachery of the people is so perfectly mirrored in the treachery of the mountain and it all pulls together well in the story line of The Road To Paradise by Karen Barnett.

At Home.

FTC Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

What I Read – August 2017

What I Read August 2017

I enjoyed quite a variety of literature in August. I am working pretty hard to find a few minutes each day to read just for me. It brings me calm and peace and I truly enjoy stretching my mind a bit.

The reading I am listing here is in addition to a good, personal, Bible study each morning. Some days I do better than others. Right now, I am reading through I & II Corinthians a few times. We are studying and teaching this for Bible Bowl this year so I am trying to become very familiar with it.

Caleb's ChoiceCaleb’s Choice – G. Clifton Wisler

This is an easy to read chapter book that would easily be considered a living book. Wisler wrote several books that are historical fiction but so well done that the reader finds himself a part of the story. During the 1860s in Texas, Caleb is sent to live with his aunt after hard times hit his family. He finds a loving home with hope and joy. He also finds himself in the middle of a dilemma: does he help slaves trying to escape to freedom or walk away and pretend he knows nothing about it? Either way, at least two lives are on the line.

Drummer Boy of VicksburgDrummer Boy of Vicksburg – G. Clifton Wisler

Another living book by Wisler, this one takes place during the Civil War, as well. Orion Howe is a drummer boy and he has a responsibility. By fulfilling his duty, he helps many and inspires those around him. During the battle at Vicksburg, Orion sticks it out in the midst of significant hardship, injury, and loss.

CapturedCaptured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier – Scott Zesch

This book is an in-depth look at the period of time in Texas when many of the settlers had children kidnapped by Indians. This was an ongoing problem that the government had no control over. Zesch took on this topic because he wanted to know more about his own ancestor who had been captured by Indians in Texas. There are many stories followed through this book and a look at the lives those captured lived.

Many ideas are discussed, including the Indianization of those who lived to take up residence with the Indians. Their lives were quite different in the Indian camps and many were never able to reassimilate into white culture.

This was a really fascinating look at the people affected by the raids, including many whose loved ones were killed or badly maimed. It is not an easy to book to read and there are some very graphic passages, as the Indians and whites were not kind to one another. It is, however, a perspective on the history of Texas that is not discussed in depth very often. I definitely enjoyed this read.

Memory Keeper's DaughterMemory Keeper’s Daughter – Kim Edwards

Twins, born in the middle of a blizzard. Twins, one perfectly healthy and the other with the recognizable signs of Down’s syndrome. A quick, final decision to send his daughter away changes Dr. David Henry’s life, his marriage, his own strength of character. He believes he is doing right but the nurse asked to take her to the institution refuses to leave the precious child. Instead, she disappears and raises the child as her own.

This story is one of independence and dependence, mixed and interfering with each other. Life is lived, not in a bubble separated from other things, but in moments of interaction. This is a lovely story of love stronger than duty and right motives changing lives. It was an interesting read that I was glad Annette had suggested.

Road To ParadiseRoad to Paradise – Karen Barnett

An interesting take on a novel setting, this story is set in Mt. Rainier National Park in the late 1920s. Margie Lane is not your normal girl and she comes to Mt. Rainier in not-your-normal way. She is escaping something, or someone, but she tries hard to fit in at Mt. Rainier as a ranger. Except the men around don’t want a woman getting in their way. Can Margie find a way to be a part of the park without getting in the way, without getting involved, and while still managing to be inconspicuous to the outside world?

This was a fun take on a novel. The setting was appealing to me, as I find all National Parks interesting right now. So, setting a novel in one was kind of fun. The novel was easy to read and enjoyable, clean and still exciting. A few bits were forced or contrived but it was still a good, quick story to read. I’ll link up my full review here in the next few days.

Teaching From RestTeaching From Rest – Sarah Mackenzie

I wrote about this book not long ago. I loved where it started – what is rest? We think of this is one way but really, it is a wrong way to think. Thinking of rest as unstressed, peaceful is a start but what she is driving at in this book is not that. It is being fully enveloped in God’s rest and facing each day, each moment, from there, facing what God has placed before you to do. This is teaching from rest.

The Whole Town's TalkingThe Whole Town’s Talking – Fannie Flagg

Another fun read! This one take you back to the very beginning, to the founding of the town. As the active members of the town pass on, they are buried in the town cemetary. But their participation in the history of the town doesn’t stop there. The discussions that happen in that cemetary? Well, it is fun and interesting. Lots of characters show up that tie many of Fannie Flagg’s books together and make for a fun and interesting read.

Memories With Food at Gipsy HouseMemories with Food at Gipsy House – Felicity & Roald Dahl

This is a combination memoire and cookbook. Written by Roald Dahl and his wife Felicity, this is a unique look at an author that many are familiar with. The book moves forward with anecdotes, almost all of which center around family, friends, and home. Of course, food is a big part of it as well. With lovely photographs and thoughts, the recipes are interesting and inviting. The thoughts are shared by Roald Dahl, his wife, and their children, grandchildren, and family friends. Pull up a chair and a cup of tea and dive into this delightful book.

What did you read in August? Please share something in the comments for me to add to my reading list.

At Home.

Carole P. Roman books~ a Crew review

Carole P. Roman writes quite a variety of children’s books. From books about people and places to chapter books and character building books, there is sure to be a book that piques your reader’s interest. For the purpose of this review, we received the following

Carole P Roman

four books:

We personally own almost all of Mrs. Roman’s country series (A Child’s Intruduction to Cultures Around the World), most of her civilizations series, and several of her other titles. We always enjoy reading what she writes, as she writes in a down-to-earth style that imparts tons of knowledge while engaging the reader at a level where they just absorb the information. Her books are always a pleasure to read and share together.

Oh Susannah

Oh Susannah: It’s in the Bag

This is an early chapter book, the first of two in the series. It features Susannah, a young 3rd grade girl who is just struggling. When something goes wrong with remembering homework, she doesn’t want to bother her parents with it because they seem to be having a really hard time. So she just stuff the paper in her backpack/bag and tries to forget about it. For breakfast, her mom is running late and so she gives Susannah a banana, her least favorite food. Susannah doesn’t eat it but instead stuffs it in her bag. One thing after another seems to be against Susannah having a good day and each time, rather than dealing with whatever it is, Susannah stuffs the reminder of it in her bag. Finally, everything comes to head and comes out of the bag. What a wake up call.

This was a good reminder for all of us that it isn’t a good idea to make assumptions or to bottle things up. We have to face problems and issues head on, dealing with them in a forth-right manner.

books by Carole P. Roman

If You Were Me and Lived On…

This is a series of historical books that take the readers to different civilizations and cultures throughout the earth, history, or in one case, space. Mrs. Roman brings this series to life with imagination for learning about these new people and places.

Each book in the series places the reader in the role of a child in the culture/civilization being explored. Whether you are in the role of a boy or girl, Mrs. Roman gives examples of the types of names that might be given and that are typical of that people. The books explore dwellings, languages, clothing, jobs, social structures and status, beliefs, and more. Throughout, there are names that may not be familiar or easy for the reader and Mrs. Roman gives a helpful pronunciation for these. Each book also has a glossary at the back of the book. Some of the books have lists of famous people from that culture/civilization and perhaps a list of important contributions they have made.


If You Were Me and Lived On…Mars

While not a culture, this 43 page book is a fun look at what life on Mars might be like for a child going along with his or her scientist parents. We visit this planet through the eyes of a ten year old. We see the years of preparation that must be endured for the three year expedition.

After they land on Mars, we learn about where they live and what food the scientists try to grow. We visit important features of the landscape on the planet, as well as learn about the rotation and orbit. We learn about the moons, where the names came from, and more. We learn that the temperature and air cannot support life.


If You Were Me and Lived In… the Ancient Mali Empire

The beginning of this book shows the reader where the Ancient Mali Empire would have been located and gives us some of the geography of the region. We begin the journey through the eyes of a young girl in the 1300s. Learning about the city  and the buildings of the empire, we experience a different world. They lived in round houses of mud with grass domed roofs.

We learn that Mali was in a desert-like region, though close to the Niger River. There were many cities in this civilization and they all worked together. The government and jobs were somewhat intertwined in this culture. The young girl’s father is a general in the army and through this, we learn much about the military and weapons of the Mali Empire.

Boys and girls were considered completely different in this society and their roles reflected this. Boys grow into their roles in society, going to school to learn. They have a ceremony to mark their growth, become apprentices, and then become men. Men in this civilization wore tunics and baggy pants. Girls also grew into their roles, though they were only educated at home. At 12 or 13, they were expected to be married and know how to care for the house and family! Women wore a pagne (wrap around skirt), tunics, and headdresses. They also wore jewelry.

Food was also interesting for this group. From various grains to fish to fruit, there was a lot of food for a desert-like place.

There were several pages of famous people from Mali. These included Mansa Musa (ruler), his wife, his mother, architects, kings, commanders, scholars, and more. This 77 page book is so packed full of information that I have just barely touched on it all here!


If You Were Me and Lived In… the Mayan Empire

The Mayan Empire fit perfectly in with the middle giggly girl’s current study of the Maya people. Needless to say, when it arrived on our doorstep, it was scooped up and read immediately.

The Mayan Empire is another ancient civilization in this series. The Maya lived in large cities, had trade routes, and flourishing trade. They had a hierarchy in their society and you could not move up or down within it. The family unit was important and they lived in close proximity to one another. The Maya homes were raised, had wooden floors, and whitewashed walls. There was little in the way of furniture and a fire inside for cooking and warmth.

Corn was probably the most important food item and was eaten at every meal. The Maya prized heads shaped certain ways, jewelry, colorful tatoos, and crossed-eyes. Creating these things was a large part of the society.

Covering much of the current-day Central America, the Maya were a very influential civilization. Mrs. Roman includes these influences. The Maya created a written language and authored paper books. The created a numerical system and discovered the concept of zero. There were a number of other mathematical contribution, as well as calendars, textiles, and more.

Miss J with Mars

My Thoughts

I really enjoy the books that Carole P. Roman writes that emphasize culture, country, and civilization. There is so much to learn and she packages it neatly in a story that children enjoy reading. These books have made a core for many studies we have done.

One thing I noticed this time, and it did sort of bother me, was that there are many typographical errors in important places and names. I noticed several in these books. Errors such as this don’t generally bother me because we are all human and mistakes are easy to make. The ones I noticed here, however, were important to each civilization. An example: Olympus Mons (Mars book) is listed without the s in the text but both the pronunciation and the glossary have an s on the end of Mons. Perhaps these can be fixed in the next editions.

These are a high quality product that will last a long time, with good information that will hold true for a long time. These are highly recommended by our family.

At Home.

Oh Susannah, Bedtime Stories, Captain No Beard, If you were Me ... {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Progeny Press ~ a Crew review

Progeny Press is a company that brings to the table something I struggle with – deep questions related to a story that force a student to think critically about things. We have been reviewing the The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide. This study guide is aimed at lower elementary ages. It has been a pleasant experience.

Bears on Hemlock Mountain, The - E-Guide

Bears on Hemlock Mountain is an early chapter book by Alice Dagliesh. The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide is produced by Progeny Press to go along with the book, chapter by chapter. My 8 year old (beginning 3rd grade) was able to easily read the book and use the guide. The guide does require quite a bit of writing, which is not her strong point, so we modified some of the longer writing answers for an oral narration. It adapted easily and well.

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide began with a note to instructors who are new to using this style of guide and it followed that with a synopsis of the book. Next is an author biography and a note on the background of the story itself (old folk story). There are a number of “Before-You-Read” activities to help the students become familiar with some of the background and ways of the people and places in the story. There were quite a few of these so we did not do them all. And then you get to the parts that go along with the story chapter by chapter.

Bears materials

For the pre-reading activities, we studied animal prints with a poster we have, along with the different types of animal prints you might encounter in the woods. We also looked at trees, leaves, and bird nests. We discussed a hill vs a mountain and looked at some examples online. We also had a discussion about hospitality: what it meant, how you can show it, why you would, and more. Finally, we looked up several sites where we could listen to bird songs.

The chapter by chapter questions are basically set up in two chapter sets. This made it very readable and if the child struggled to know the answer, there was not a very large area of the book to look to find the answers. Each chapter set covered vocabulary and comprehension questions. The vocabulary was both single words and muti-word phrases that the student may or may not be familiar with. Because it included some phrases, it was not always possible to just look it up in a dictionary. This meant that this was not independent work. That works well for my daughter because she likes company, no matter what she is doing.disctionary work

The questions relating to the chapters varied from comprehension to making inferences to apply Bible verses. An example of a comprehension question is “What does Jonathan do to keep up his courage?” This was a low-level comprehension question because the answer is almost completely stated from the story. A deeper level question was “Uncle James taught Jonathan observation. What is the difference between seeing and observing?” I liked this variation on comprehension questions because often you get either the really deep thinking questions or the low-level question. Progeny Press seems to have included a good variation of both in this study guide.

vocabulary workThe Bible verse questions were all application style questions. They asked you to read a verse, which was provided, and apply it to a particular situation in the story. An example of an application question for a verse had to do with reading a passage from James and then discussing being dependable and telling the truth. The student had to think about being dependable, telling the truth, and why those things may or may not go together. Then the student was asked if you could have one without the other. What a wonderful, deep application question that wasn’t too difficult but required some serious thought.

The final part of the study guide was a page of mystery words. The student had to recall some words from the story and then use them to solve yet another word that was coded.

Overall, this was an age-appropriate and ability appropriate study guide for my daugher. This was the first of its kind for her and while she didn’t love it, it worked pretty well for her. It was easy and followed the book well so she could easily hunt things up if she needed to, except for the last set of chapters. For some reason, it went from two chapters in a group to four in the last group. That made for a  very long set of questions and a pretty big group of chapters to search through when she wasn’t sure of something.

I would also have liked to see some “after you read activities” included in the guide. I felt like this guide is definitely missing a hands-on set of activities, as it doesn’t have any except for the pre-reading activities at the beginning.

review of Progeny Press

Progeny Press is a very good company if you are looking for a company to prepare study guides for your student over quality literature and living books. They have a large catalog for every age level. If you would like to see more of our reviews of Progeny Press, we have reviewed the following also

At Home

Other Crew members reviewed one of these choices:

Click the banner below to read their reviews and find out more about Progeny Press.


Study Guides for Literature {Progeny Press Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Rest – an elusive word

Teaching from Rest post

I was given the book (not as a review) Teaching From Rest: Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie. I got around to picking it up last night and I didn’t put it down until I was done. It was that good and that packed full of advice I needed to hear.

I loved where it started – what is rest? We think of this is one way but really, it is a wrong way to think. Thinking of rest as unstressed, peaceful is a start but what she is driving at in this book is not that. It is being fully enveloped in God’s rest and facing each day, each moment, from there, facing what God has placed before you to do. This is teaching from rest.

Throughout the book, Mrs. Mackenzie hits straight and doesn’t hide behind sugar-coated words. She gives clear statements not only of what we are reaching for but how to get there. With short, easy-to-read chapters and subsections, this book is not difficult, except for the painful toes.

It is so easy to get caught up in the expectations and the day-to-day grind, that we as homeschooling moms (even if you aren’t a homeschooling mom but just a mom) often miss the mark. We are aiming for the wrong place, the wrong thing. Mrs. Mackenzie sets us straight with kind but forceful words.

There are 3 parts to the book (in addition to the preface, introduction, afterward, resources, bibliography, etc.):

  • Whose “well-done” are you working for?
  • Curriculum is not something you buy
  • Be who you are

Throughout the writing, there are quotes and encouragements.

While it is clear from some of the passages that she practices a religion that is not the same as mine, there is so much in here that it not about the particular beliefs or religions. It is easy to just skip over those things you may find objectionable (and really, they weren’t objectionable, just not my beliefs) and move on to the helpful parts.

This is a book that I suspect I will be picking up again and again. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

At Home.

I am sharing this because this book really touched me. There was no company involved in asking me to review this. Truly, this just really made a deep impression on me.

Reading Recommendations

I have been chatting with some blogging friends about what they have been reading and thought it would be good to share a bit of what others are reading.

Annette shared this one with tons of book options (and there is a linkup at the end of the post)-

Kelly shared these posts with us –

Linda shared this one –
What have you read recently that I should check out? Please share with us!

At Home.

%d bloggers like this: