Category Archives: books

5 Biographies That I Enjoyed

If you’ll remember, I posted a bit ago about the place that I think biography should have in education. You get a full-out experience when you read the words of someone who experienced the time or events included. It is not a simplified or watered-down version of what went on. Sometimes, biographies are hard to read. Other times, they are simply the most enjoyable thing I have experienced for a while. These biographies I am going to share with you include both the autobiography and biography, including one written by a compiler. Both have their place and both are interesting, challenging and expanding the reader’s understanding.

My Survival: A Girl On Schindler’s List by Rena Finder with Joshua Greene

This is the true story of Rena, a Jew during WWII. Her family was forced into a ghetto by the Nazi’s. She and her mother were sent as slave labor to a factory owned by Oskar Schindler. Schindler used his wealth and position to keep Jewish workers fed and safe and healthy. One day, despite his position, his workers were deported to Auschwitz. With great personal risk, Schindler managed to liberate his workers, including Rena, and bring them back. A story of hope amidst chaos and despair, this is a wonderful story for anyone to read. It is well-written and is accessible by about grades 4 and up. It would make a beautiful family read aloud.

Playing With The Enemy by Gary W. Moore

This is the biography of Gene Moore, the author’s father. Gene was a baseball prodigy who was a teenager at the beginning of WWII. He was the hero of all the people and towns around his small town in rural America. He was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers but WWII cut that short. In order to hopefully keep them safe, Major League Baseball set up games throughout the war theaters for the ball players to help lift the spirits of the soldiers. After a time, the baseball team was sent to act as guards for a top secret POW camp. They spent their time there making friends with the Germans, understanding that none of them really hated the other; they were all just doing their jobs. So they played baseball. The aftermath of all of this caused real pain but real healing. The unexpected of this story is what makes it such a joy to read. You will see WWII from a completely different perspective than ever before with this story of the belief and hope of human kindness.

White House Ladies: Fascinating Tales and Colorful Curiosities by Webb Garrison

This was a fun collection of short anecdotes on the First Ladies. Filled with stories of hospitality to daring, and fearlessness to sorrow, this was an interesting book to read as it brought to life some of the most important people in the history of the US. Most Presidents had a lady – a wife, daughter, or relative to act as hostess – beside them during their time at the helm of the US and these ladies dealt with a lot. These stories help us see their humanity. With the short anecdotes, it is a book that can be read in bits and spurts without missing any of the story or purpose.

Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

Li Cunxin was growing up in extreme poverty in northeastern China during the reign of Mao. Madame Mao had decided to create an abundance of fine art in the dynasty and searched the land for those most fit to be trained. Li Cunxin was torn away from his family at the age of 11 as part of Madame Mao’s cultural program and sent to a ballet school. The mix of emotion with this was difficult – no longer was Cunxin starving but he was not able to see his family, either. Life at the Beijing school was difficult but Cunxin grew to become one of China’s most talented and known ballet dancers. In his position, he was able to first visit the United States in 1979. Two years later, he defected, the dramatic event making news around the world. This is the story of beauty and art coming from a life behind the Communist curtain. It is a look at what is behind that facade of government care that you won’t see from the news. It is something that everyone should see. Beauty rises from ashes sometimes and this is a beautiful example of that. (**A note that a movie was made from this book and at the time of this writing, it is available on Amazon Prime.)

Velvet Meets The Iron Curtain: The Autobiography of a Czech Dancer by Jiri Sebastian Voborsky
(This purchase link is through Ballet Magnificat! This is the dance company that Jiri has worked with for the majority of his time in America that uses dance to take the love and salvation of Jesus around the world. )

This Autobiography of Jiri Voborsky is a stunning look at an athiestic culture and what can come from one who loves God so much that he quietly but firmly shares that love in the realm around. Jiri grew up in a family that believed that anyone who relied on faith, of any kind, was a sign of personal weakness. There was no need for God in their lives. Jiri was born under the realm of Communist Czechoslovakia in the early 1970s. He went to school and lived under this governmental iron fist. When he was entering high school, he wanted to study dance. He was able to pass the entrance exam for both the dance school he wanted to attend and the other high school he had to attend in order to be allowed to also study dance. He worked hard but had a mind of his own. He participated in the revolution that brought down the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia. He was able to graduate both high schools but in the process was introduced by one of his teachers to Jesus. This slowly but certainly changed the course of his life. The story of Jiri’s life shows how the one true God can orchestrate life to bless and allow the blessing of others in turn. Jiri was able to visit America, with many of place where God’s hand can be seen. He eventually settled here, working with Ballet Magnificat! taking the love of God around the world through the media of dance. It is a beautiful story.

These are just a few of the options out there for biographies to bring to life what someone’s world was like, what they encountered, and allow us to see the truth of what is beyond our own vision. If you have a favorite biography, please leave me a comment so I can add it to my reading list.

Lori, At Home.

Redwall Study Guide from Progeny Press ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Progeny Press is a company who seems to be best known for their literature guides. They have a large line of literature study guides to help students dive into good stories and learn from them. We were given Redwall Study Guide e-guide for the purpose of this review. The Crew also reviewed Wagon Wheels Study Guide (grades 1-3), Cricket in Times Square Study Guide (grades 4-6), and Frankenstein Study Guide (grades 10-12). Redwall is targeted for students in grades 6-10.

The downloadable Redwall Study Guide came in an email, as it would after purchase. I had to download it to my computer. It is an interactive file meaning the student can type their answers directly into the PDF file and save it as their own copy. When we have used the e-guides in the past, my active and easily distracted child did well with it on the computer. My students who prefer to work quietly on their own or with me prefer to have it printed. Either way is possible with the e-guides.

Each study guide from Progeny Press contains the same general format with the material specific to the story. The guide contains some general information for the teacher, an introduction of the authors of the guide, and a synopsis of the story. There is also an author introduction and background information on the story. Then you jump into the meat of the guide. Next you’ll be given some suggested activities to set the stage for the story. Redwall’s Before You Read activities included exploring the idea of fantasy stories, considering protagonists that are animals, and setting up to create a map of Redwall Abbey as the story is read.

Then you get into the book. Redwall has three parts and the guide is set up to follow those. Most guides follow the chapter breakdowns of the book. Redwall’s three parts are The Wall, The Quest, and The Warrior. Each section contains the following:

  • Vocabulary
  • Questions
  • Thinking about the story (more questions on a higher taxonomy level)
  • Digging Deeper (most of these apply a bible verse to be considered)
  • A writing assignment or class discussion, and
  • Chapter activities

Some chapters include an additional part such as looking at dialect or author techniques like cliffhangers.

The study guide closes with final project suggestions and ideas.

As noted previously, we received a downloadable PDF. This is internet linked for some of the resources so you do need to be aware of that, particularly that it links to Pinterest for ideas and suggestions.

Summary of Redwall: This is a fantasy story about Redwall Abbey and the animals that live there. When the rat hoarde decides to invade and take over, the animals must band together. But without the famed sword of the warrior hero of the abbey, they are unsure of whether they can hold out. Matthias will be certain to lead them to victory but can he find the sword that is do desperately needed?

My thoughts on the story and guide: It is a fine story but it was not an enthralling one that had me on the edge of my seat. My girls would not get into this story much at the age range of this particular study guide. The story would have been super appealing when they were in upper elementary but not as middle school or high school students, though it would fit fairly well into a middle ages time period study. I think this one would work best as a read-aloud story for middle elementary students or a independent read for an upper elementary. I don’t know that the study guide really supports these ages though, as it is designed for middle school and high school.

If you are looking for solid, easy to use literature study guides, Progeny Press could be just the resource you need. Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about how the other families utilized these study guides and about the stories.

Lori, At Home.

Spouse In The House ~ a book review & giveaway

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the I Read with Audra program (Audra Jennings PR) and the publisher Kregel Publications.

“Two is company but three’s a crowd.” We all know this adage but what happens when two are home together all.the.time? What happens when two is a crowd? That is the concern being addressed in Spouse In The House by Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby. They know all too well how crowded a space can become when your own daily routine is crowded by someone else’s routine coming home to rest. The global pandemic has caused a stress of this sort for many. But often, retirement, health, or work (from home or together in business) can crowd a space. So what then?

Ruchti and Melby tackle the issues and attitudes that show up when home space is shared continuously. The practical and humorous approach these ladies take for tackling the issue of shared space is joyful, even when dealing with not so joyful things. Their own experiences play well into their knowledge and ideas. They also ask others who are experienced in being home all the time to share their insights, funnies, and tips.

Humor is key to the issue of being home all the time, as many know from the past 18 months. The titles of the chapters highlight the necessary humor – “The Line Down the Middle”, “Love Keeps No Record of Who Cleaned the Toilet Last”, “The Sins Febreze Can’t Quite Cover,” and “It’s Still M Rib, Adam. It’s Still My Rib Cage, Eve.” There are 20 humor filled chapters in the book, along with some helpful resources that may or may not apply to you (including resources for when your marriage is not a safe place to be). Ruchti and Melby take turns writing in each chapter, both addressing the topic at hand from their own experience, marriage, and viewpoint. These ladies play off each other and boost each other’s knowledge, providing a great frame work for growth in marriage.

I found the book to be quite helpful, even though our family doesn’t fit the HHATT (He’s Home All The Time) model. Marriage tips for every marriage come through loud and strong, because good, solid, biblical attitudes are necessary for every stage of marriage. My husband does have an unusual schedule and we home educate our three children. In addition to that, the girls are quite active in dance and that means we have unusual schedules all around. The tips from Spouse In The House really are helpful for creating a home environment where everyone wants to be, where everyone feels respected and included, and where we can work, play, and just chill. Most off all, though, it makes home a place where we all want to come back to at the end of each day. And isn’t that what family is about?

While Ruchti and Melby did write a book that is biblical in character, it isn’t a “pound you over the head with Godly attitude” book. It incorporates love and Godly attitudes into the simple, loving, and daily interactions between a husband and a wife. I found it a helpful marriage book in this regard.

About the Book, from the cover:

A frank and funny look at what to do when together is too close.

Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby know all too well how adjusting to a new, all-the-time closeness can cause the bliss of marriage to form blisters. Drawing from their experiences, and from men and women across the country in the same situation, the authors take a deep breath and dive into the root causes. They dig into what God’s Word has to say, and they offer practical tips for learning the spiritual, emotional, relational, and even physical steps that can help readers replace irritation with peace.

For any couple who wants their home to be a refuge of peace and serenity for all—not just themselves—and who wants to know they aren’t alone in the mental and physical claustrophobia of too much togetherness, Spouse in the House is a vulnerable, charming, and pragmatic breath of hope.

About the authors:

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Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events, retreats, writers’ conferences, and workshops. She draws from 33 years of experience writing and producing the 15-minute daily radio broadcast, “The Heartbeat of the Home.” 

Ruchti’s more than thirty books have garnered reader, retailer, reviewer, and other industry awards. She serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, is a founding board member of the Deliver Hope ministry and is part of the worship team at her church. She’s also a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management. 

Ruchti and her husband, Bill, live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and six grandchildren.

Learn more about Cynthia Ruchti and her writing at or by following her on Facebook (@CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage), Instagram (@cynthiaruchtiauthor), and Twitter (@cynthiaruchti).

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Becky Melby has authored more than twenty novels and novellas. Spouse in the House is her first non-fiction book release.

The Melbys have four sons and fifteen grandchildren and make their home in southeastern Wisconsin. When not writing or spoiling grandchildren, she may be found touring the country with Bill in their camper or on their Honda Gold Wing motorcycle.

Find out more about Becky Melby’s books at or follow her on Facebook (becky.melby.9) and Instagram (@beckymelbybooks). She also shares short blog posts each Friday on the Fill My Cup, Lord page on Facebook. 


Visit I Read With Audra (Audra Jennings PR) to enter the giveaway.
Will end 10/21.

Lori, At Home.

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady ~ a book review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the I Read with Audra program (Audra Jennings PR) and the publisher Kregel Publications.

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady by Sharon J. Mondragon is just the book I needed. An enjoyable story combined with well-developed characters and a push toward evangelism made for a story line that I couldn’t put down. If you have ever felt comfy in your space and routine, don’t read this one because it will push you out of that comfort zone and step on your toes and rip up your routine, making you think long and hard about what you really are doing in your zest and zeal for God.

Do you like to knit or hand craft gifts and useful items? You will want to just jump right in a become a part of the Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl ministry. Here’s the summary of the story and how these ladies’ lives take quite a turn, right along with their knitting. There are surprises in both!

Margaret, Rose, Jane, and Fran had a good thing going: meet every week in the quiet of their peaceful chapel and knit prayer shawls. No muss, just ministry. That is, until their pastor boots them out of the church in his last-ditch effort to revive the dwindling congregation.

Uptight Margaret isn’t having it. Knitting prayer shawls where people can watch is the most ridiculous idea she’s ever heard of, and she’s heard plenty. Prayer belongs in the church, not out among the heathen masses. How are they supposed to knit holiness into these shawls if they’re constantly distracted by the public? But with no choice, the others embrace the challenge. They pack their knitting bags and drag Margaret–grumbling the whole way–to the mall with them. She can’t wait to prove them all wrong when it fails miserably, and show the pastor that she always knows best.

Without the familiar mold the group has been stuck in, their own losses, pain, and struggles rise to the surface. And the people and situations they encounter every time they try to sit quietly and knit are taking them a lot further out of their comfort zone than they ever imagined. Can they find the courage to tackle the increasing number of knotty issues they learn about in the community–or will the tangle be too much to unravel?

I found the story of Margaret, Rose, Jane, and Fran a joy to read. I just wanted to curl up with something cozy and a glass of ice tea and just read. I wanted to know how these ladies were going to fare when they had to leave their comfort zone, especially as I read about how grumpily Margaret was taking the challenge. Once they met Sarah, I just knew something bigger was happening. And then it grew. And grew. And grew. And you know what I saw? God meeting the open hearts with people who had no idea what God could do. It made me wonder about how much I was in my comfort zone, closed off from that big and wide and messy world that needs God. I adored this story and have told my teenagers that I think they would enjoy it, too.

The characters that come into the story are amazing and I found myself really rooting for them. From pregnant Amy with the purple hair to the prayer requesters who would not sign their prayer request, from the lady who is missing her father to the mom whose child came boldly into the circle, characters are everything and this book is packed with them. The fabulous and well formed characters really made this book an extension of life.

But I bet you are wondering about “the dragon lady” part of it. You know, our attitudes and outward appearances often made us a dragon. When we allow that to be what rules us, we lose ourselves. So what happens when we finally give in and listen to God? He can do amazing work in our lives. So, you’ll have to read to find out who exactly is the dragon lady. But I will tell you – God knows we can all be a dragon and he is looking for us to give that part of ourselves up to Him so He can smooth us over into one who works for Him.

About the Author:

Sharon J. Mondragón writes about the place where kindness and courage meet. Her debut novel, The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady (originally titled The Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry) was the 2017 winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis award in the Short Novel Category, and she has also been recognized by The Saturday Evening Post where her short story, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” was an Honorable Mention Awardee in the 2014 their Great American Fiction Contest.
Mondragón has been active in prayer shawl ministry since 2008 and currently serves as facilitator for the prayer shawl ministry at her church, St. Paul Episcopal in Waxahachie, TX. She also knits with the Circle of Healing at Red Oak United Methodist Church. She is a Level 2 Certified Knitting Instructor through the Craft Yarn Council and teaches beginning knitting at a local yarn store.
Mondragón is the mother of five grown children and has four grandchildren. After 26 years as an Army wife, she has settled in Midlothian, TX with her hero/husband, her laptop, and her yarn stash.
Visit Sharon Mondragón’s website and blog at and follow her on Facebook (Sherry Mondragón) and Twitter (@SJ_Mondragón).

Final Thoughts:

Get your hands on this book. You won’t regret the read and you might just find yourself boldly asking God to take you our of the prayer chapel and into the world.


You can win a copy of this book by entering the giveaway. Visit to find the entry form.
The Rafflecopter will close on 10/19/21.

Lori, At Home.

Kids’ Devo Book: Roar Like a Lion by Levi Lusko ~ a book review

Disclosure: Many thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing this product/product information for review.  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive the product in exchange for this review and post.

Levi Lusko has a view of life that inspires and encourages. Hardship in his life has brought him close to God and his writings share that well. Roar Like A Lion: 90 Devotions To A Courageous Faith is a book of short daily devotional thoughts to share with children. The publisher recommends ages 6-10 but my personal feeling is that it is well suited as young as 4, especially because a parent will be going through it with them.

Each of the 90 devotional thoughts includes a Bible verse, some thoughts about applying that to the child’s life, a prayer to God relevant to the topic and either a Did You Know? or a Get Ready To Roar! These two page devotions open up in a simple way deep topics to delve into and discuss from a Biblical view.

Every page of the book has beautiful, bright, and colorful artwork that will capture the mind of the child as each devotion is begun. The topics are varied but are quite relevant to the students. These include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • facing fears about school and friendships
  • dealing with peers, including things like peer pressure and bullying
  • handling emotional times like disappointment, grief, and new challenges
  • having courage to try new things
  • understanding how we fit into God’s story and plan

Each devotion even has fun facts or interesting ideas that relate to the topic of the day in some way. For kids who really absorb trivia, these help them relate as the trivia will tie back into the topic.

These devotions are written with engaging language for younger children and new independent readers. But, as with many devotions for children, it is always best to engage as a family and study the Bible and its application to our lives together. Parents understand their children, their passions, and their needs. This makes them the right for helping a student study the Bible at their level and their applications.

You can get this book today through
On this website, you can also sign up to get a parent guide with additional questions to help guide your family into a deeper study each day.

I like the simplicity of these studies for young students or children whose families may be new to Bible study. The topics are handled on the level of the children yet with a draw towards knowing God more. I have not read all of the devotions so there may be something I am unaware of in the lessons that is not Biblical but I have not come across this at all with Mr. Lusko’s writings in the past. (I have read and enjoyed his book Through The Eyes of a Lion.)

Lori, At Home.

August Wrap-up ~ Online Book Club

Our theme for the online book club this month was Newbery books. This could be any take on things so I chose to read the newest award winner and an honor book that I have been meaning to read that I have had on my shelves.

The newest award winner book is titled “When You Trap A Tiger” by Tae Keller. With one major exception, for which I would not allow my elementary aged students to read this book, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Lily and her mom and sister move in with her Halmoni (grandmother) and a whole new world opens up for Lily. She is thought of as a quiet Korean girl and often sits in that stereotype politely. But when she sees the tiger and learns that her Halmoni is very ill, she realizes that she has to become bold and fierce. Making new friends and facing her fears, she does just that and learns that freedom comes in different ways.

I truly enjoyed the story but had a haunch early on that there was something being hinted at that I wouldn’t like. And I was right. I Do NOT understand why authors and publishers have decided that there has to be a homosexual character in every single new book. It truly ruined this story for me. It was not overtly done but it was made clear at the end of the book. And it made me sad. The storyline had nothing to do with this and it was truly included solely for the purpose of saying it was inclusive or whatnot. But for that reason I will not recommend this book. I would not be opposed to my girls choosing to read it because we have had discussions about the agenda some authors/publishers/media executives have about homosexuality and they know the truth about God’s will. They know that this lifestyle is sinful. Still, I would not recommend this book to anyone. (For parents, if you are reading aloud, you could easily skip that part and where it was sort of hinted at early on, if you choose to.)

The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell is the other book I read this month for the theme. I truly enjoyed it. I had started it a couple of times during the school year last year but never got very far in it while my daughter was reading it. I really enjoyed this story of a teenager on trial for breaking the law of Spain, while in New Spain, in 1541. He was part of a group of explorers, though he was a cartographer. They sought gold in Cibola. When they found it and he ended up with it, he did not turn in the required 1/5 for the king. Thus, he is on trial. The story of how he came to be in possession of the gold and now on trial is found in the story.

This was truly and enjoyable read. I loved hearing how the expedition went, looking at the maps as they are included in the story, hearing about the people met and the cities visited. It was such an adventure. The ending is pleasing and leave some openings for interpretation and your own guess about what is going on in the future. I would recommend this one. I could make a great read-aloud. It is also a good read for a middle school or high school student to go along with a history program fitting the 1500s and the time of explorers in the New World.

Our library system has a great little pamphlet that they keep available, among others, that lists all of the Newbery medal winners. It could make for a neat reading challenge for the girls. So, I am kind of mulling that around in my head.

Did you read any Newbery books this month?

Lori, At Home.

Husband Auditions ~ a book review & GIVEAWAY

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through I Read With Audra for the purpose of this review.

Synopsis: Meri Newberg is the last of her group of friends to marry. As the last single young woman, she gets “the gift.” When she gets to her place for the summer, renting a room from her brother who will be away for the time being, she opens it. And gets a shock she was not expecting. It is a list. To be more specific, it is a newspaper clipping of advice from the 1950s on how to catch a husband. Yep, she is completely embarrassed and ready to throw it out. After all, who would really do these?

  • #2 Fake a flat tire or pretend engine trouble.
  • #4 Move to a state with more men than women. We recommend Nevada.
  • #16 Work as a waitress or nurse. Men love being taken care of.
  • #19 Go to you local fishing pier and feign squeamishness about baiting your own hook.
  • #21 Ask a man to take your photograph. Chances are, he’ll want his own copy.
  • #100 Get your personal ad in front of as many eligible bachelors as possible. Like on a billboard.

Kai, her brother’s roommate, gets an idea. As an up and coming cameraman looking for his big break, he talks Meri into actually trying some of the ideas out AND letting him film them to post online for a new series. They start with #33 “Go to a rodeo. Rescue the Lone Ranger from himself.” So, she buys a lasso and a bandana and tries to lasso a man. Following these up are getting stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel (thanks to Kai!), visiting a ball game and pretending to not know where the seat is, faking needing help at a pool (just to find out the man is married), and many more hilarious set-ups. The series, Meri Me, is a huge and immediate hit. Everyone loves watching Meri try to catch a husband.

Before long, Kai begins to wonder about whether this is really such a good idea after all.

My Thoughts

This is a fun, quirky, page-turner book. I absolutely adored the pluck and spunk Meri shows in all of her feats of auditioning men using The List. It was such a fun read that I couldn’t put it down. It was such a nice change to have a clean Christian romance. So many times, there is just enough “romance” in those types of books that I will not read them. This one? Not a smidge of the inappropriate. In fact, I handed it to my teenage daughter (she’s 17) because I knew she’d enjoy this too. And she did. She couldn’t put it down, either. We both thought this was such a fun look at dating and how the online world is integrated into life now. I appreciated also how the characters’ Christianity was included without it being such an “in-your-face” part of the story that it becomes unreal and unrelatable. I can heartily recommend this fun read to teens and adults alike.

A major plus? I really like the emphasis on knowing yourself and what you can and should be, that doing something like getting married before you are ready to be the person you need to in a marriage is crazy. I really like the ending. I won’t spoil it but it is quite surprise and brings a smile to the reader’s face. It is what I would hope would happen for every young man and young lady contemplating marriage.

About the Author

Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009, then quit writing romance
when her husband left her. Ten years later, God has shown her the true meaning of love, and
there’s nothing else she’d rather write about.

Strong’s books have since earned Top Pick honors in Romantic Times, won the Cascade Award, and been Amazon best sellers. Her book Finding Love in Big Sky recently filmed on location in Montana and will air soon. She also writes articles for SpiritLed Woman. To help aspiring authors, she started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho, and she teaches as an expert online at Write That Book.

Besides writing, Strong teaches exercise classes, works for an airline, and enjoys Harley rides with her husband and camping with her three kids.

Learn more about Angela Strong at, or find her on Facebook (Angela Ruth Strong Fan
), Instagram (@ang_strong), and Twitter (@AngelaRStrong).

And now for the giveaways!

I Read With Audra is hosting the giveaway for a copy of the book. Visit her blog to complete the Rafflecopter entries. This will end September 14, 2021.

Also Angela Ruth Strong is giving away a round-trip airline ticket. Visit to sign up for her emails and be entered to win.

Lori, At Home.

Britfield & The Rise Of The Lion ~ a book review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product from the author for the purpose of this review.

Book 2 finally arrived and was devoured quickly. Now, the wait commences for the continuation of the story. Again. Thus goes the circle of reading and waiting for a series that has caught your interest and imagination.

Britfield & The Rise of the Lion is the second book in the Britfield series about Tom, the possible rightful heir to the British throne. But with the history, even the name, of the Britfield family erased from everything, who knows where the truth is to be found. And, can Tom make it to that point of finding the truth still alive since there are those who do NOT want to relinquish their powers?

In Britfield & The Lost Crown, book 1, Tom and his friend Sarah escape from a terrible and dangerous orphanage. In doing so, they find many people trying to capture them and maybe even kill them. But why? As they make their way across England via hot air balloon, they crash land at Oxford and find an unlikely source of help and friendship. Making their way to the Archbishop of Canterbury, they find that he is a friend of the Britfield family and can help Tom find the truth, and perhaps his parents. He sends them across the English Channel toward France, but halfway across, an explosion sinks the ferry.

Thus opens book 2, Britfield & The Rise of the Lion. Tom and Sarah find themselves in Mont-Saint-Michel, a ancient and massive monastery. After months of recovering, Tom and Sarah are living through the daily activity in the life of a monastery. Sarah is put to work in the library and discovers something interesting. Tom knows they need to leave and with the help of Brother Gabriel, they escape. They quickly find themselves being chased, yet again.

Making their way to Paris, they seek safety in the Notre-Dame Cathedral with the Archbishop. After months of having expected them and them not arriving, the surprise was great but he was thrilled. Providing them with the care and food and sleep, they find they are not safe. The chase continues through Paris where they run into their friend from Oxford, Oliver. With his help, they begin to search for the people and places needed to verify whether or not Tom is a Britfield and the rightful heir to the throne. Of course, they are followed by the assassin who is charged with getting rid of Tom, and anyone who knows about him, completely so that the power of the 13 is never revealed.

Oliver takes them out of Paris to safety, or so they thought, at his uncle’s house. There, they continue to unravel the mysteries and find that the deeper they go, the more nefarious the situation is and the more danger they are in. Just in time, they escape from the uncle’s house through a secret passage and make their way to where it is believed that the Britfield family is hiding.

Time and time again, Tom and Sarah get close, just to have it all pulled out from under them. The fast-paced, constant adventure and challenge is comprised of twists, turns, unexpected friendships, and unbelievable betrayals. Is Tom a true Britfield? Can he find his parents? Can he survive the assassin and keep Sarah safe, too? And with a surprise revelation at the end, what else will come up that will impact his future?

This is a definite read for anyone about 5th grade and up. It is an adventure and lots of fun. For those in upper middle school and up, it is likely a quick read over just a few days.

If you desire to turn this into a unit study or a topic study, that would be super easy to do. The first book is highly supported on the website, with readings, pictures, and more corresponding to the places mentioned in the book. It would also be easy to do simple, or complex, research on these places and people related to them. Studying geography fits in naturally to a book of this sort. Additionally, architecture could easily be studied since important places such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Notre-Dame Cathedral are mentioned. The Louvre would open up studies of art and artists. The mention of the fictional Britfield Codex would allow a study of a true codex that exists from history. These are just a few options for utilizing this interesting story for education if you are looking for that. Additionally, there is a study guide available for purchase to go along with Britfield & The Lost Crown.

Visit the Britfield website to order and learn more.

Lori, At Home.

Newbery Medal Books ~ August online book club

Well, this is an interesting one for me. I haven’t paid attention to Newberry books for a very long time, about 18 years, honestly. I barely cared much then and I was a teacher. Okay, so I taught music but I used a ton of books in my music classes for my PK – 5th grade students. The tie ins were just so easy!

From my understanding, each year the American Library Association chooses one book as the winner and a few honor titles. It originated in 1921 and is currently administered by the American for Library Service to Children, a division of the ALA. The original proposal stated the purpose as: “To encourage original creative work in the field of books for children. To emphasize to the public that contributions to the literature for children deserve similar recognition to poetry, plays, or novels. To give those librarians, who make it their life work to serve children’s reading interests, an opportunity to encourage good writing in this field.” It was the first award for children’s books.

So, what am I going to do? I don’t know. I have been browsing the list of the winners and honor titles on the main site and have found several that I have read, several I have no desire to read, and several that look sort of interesting. I will probably read some of the older ones.

I am challenging myself to read, or at least look at, the current winner. I will share the books I have on my own shelves at the end of the month. But I’ll be honest – I struggle with the Newbery Medal books because they are such a tiny little section of the literature out there. I tend to pick books because they are well-written or interesting, not because they have a seal on their cover. However, some of my favorites are in the list for the Newbery Award. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s works received 5 recognitions with this award. I can name a number of authors that I respect that have works here yet they are still just a small portion of the literature out there. See my list below for the tip of the iceberg.

Also, when the ALA changed the title of one of their awards due to pressure from those who felt Laura Ingalls Wilder had racial issues in her works, I really lost a lot of my appreciation for what they do. (The ALA may have renamed the Wilder Medal but Laura Ingalls Wilder will always be a legacy writer in my eyes and any children I can influence.)

Some of the Newbery books the I like (and there were plenty of others I did not list!) include:

  • 2016 Honor Book The War That Saved My Life;
  • 2013 winner The One And Only Ivan;
  • 2010 Honor Book Where The Mountain Meets The Moon;
  • 2001 winner A Year Down Yonder;
  • 2000 Honor book Our Only May Amelia;
  • 1999 honor book A Long Way From Chicago;
  • 1990 winner Number the Stars;
  • 1984 honor book Sign of the Beaver;
  • 1979 winner The Westing Game;
  • 1963 winner A Wrinkle In Time;
  • 1962 winner The Bronze Bow;
  • 1959 honor book The Family Under The Bridge;
  • 1955 winner The Wheel on the School;
  • 1953 honor books Charlotte’s Web and The Bears on Hemlock Mountain;
  • 1950 winner The Door In The Wall;
  • 1948 winner The Twenty-One Balloons;
  • 1948 honor book Misty of Chincoteague;
  • 1946 honor book Justin Morgan Had A Horse;
  • 1945 honor book The Hundred Dresses;
  • 1944 honor book The Happy Golden Years;
  • 1942 honor book Little House On The Prairie;
  • 1941 honor books Blue Willow and The Long Winter;
  • 1940 honor books The Singing Tree and By The Shores of Silver Lake;
  • 1939 honor book Mr. Popper’s Penguins;
  • 1938 honor book On The Banks of Plum Creek;
  • 1934 winner Invincible Louisa;

Do you have a favorite Newbery winner? What is the title?

Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the other participating in the online book club –

Hopkins Homeschool
At Home: Where Life Happens
A Net In Time

Every Bed of Roses
Homeschool Coffee Break 

Books We Love – from preschool to high school

Not long ago, the girls were looking for some books to share with preschool friends. They started going through the book shelves and couldn’t stop proclaiming how much they loved books. They decided they wanted to share their favorite book friends with you. So, here they are and it all started with Toad on the Road!

Picture Books: (varying lengths)

  • Toad on the Road
  • Little By Little
  • The Little Engine That Could
  • Francis books – including Bread and Jam for Francis, A Bargain for Francis, A Baby Sister for Francis, and A Birthday for Francis
  • Dancing In The Wings
  • When I Grow Up
  • Best Loved Doll
  • Lyle the Crocodile series – including Lyle, Lyle Crocodile and Lyle and the Birthday Party
  • Madeline series – including Madeline, Madeline in London, and Madeline and the Bad Hat
  • Fortunately
  • Eensy Weensy Spider
  • Library Lion
  • The Princess Collection
  • The Store Book
  • May I Bring A Friend
  • There Was A Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea
  • Chicken Sunday
  • Teeny Tiny Mouse
  • 5 Green and Speckled Frog
  • I Love You Daddy
  • Going To Sleep On The Farm
  • Two Cool Coyotes
  • 5 Little Penguins
  • The Silly Sisters
  • Naked Mole Rat
  • I Love You Stinky Face

Chapter Books:

  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series
  • All of A Kind Family series
  • Great Brain series
  • Little Women and following books
  • Half Magic and following books
  • Misty of Chincoteague and other books
  • Five Little Peppers

If you need something new or a gift for a new baby, here are some great options for you. The girls adore these and highly recommend them all.


Lori, At Home.

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