Saturday, August 30, 2014

Snap Decision

My son enjoyed this book - and even helped write the review - provided to us by BookLook and Zonderkidz in exchange for an honest review.
Snap Decision by Nathan Whitaker is a great sports-themed book for that pre-teen boy in your life. The back cover gives a real life reminder: "Sometimes the right move isn't in the playbook."

Tripp and Chase are best friends. Chase plays quarterback for the JV football team but has a chance to get called up to varsity; Tripp plays wide receiver for the varsity team. During a varsity game, Chase got a front row seat to a big hit on Tripp. The coaches ask Chase if Tripp was knocked unconscious. If chase tells them that Tripp was knocked out, will their friendship be doomed? But if he doesn't tell the truth, what could those consequences be?

Four stars.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids

Through the BookLook program, I was provided Book 2 from The Good News Shoes series, Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids, by Jill Osborne. My son read this book in a day or two and asked when we could get more - five stars for sure!

When Riley Mae begs her parents to sign a shoe contract with Swiftriver, she finds herself traveling all over the country. She even gets to meet four cool kids from Africa - one, named Sunday, is battling leukemia. In the traveling, even though it is fun, Riley struggles to find her faith in God. Riley's best friend, Rusty, flies out to surprise her in Montana. While in Montana, Riley has a photo shoot to do while going down the rapids but she loses her raft and gets stuck at the bottom of the river! Will she make it out alive? Will Sunday survive leukemia? And what about her faith in God in the middle of this?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Samantha Sanderson On the Scene

Samantha Sanderson On the Scene is Book 2 in this faiThGirLz! series. It was provided to me through the BookLook (formerly BookSneeze) program and Zonderkidz Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I chose this book since I read book 1, At the Movies, and wanted to continue the enjoyment of this series.
In book 2 Sam is continuing her work on the school newspaper and still trying to work her way up to editor, despite the current editor's dislike for Sam. This time her series is about bullying, encouraged by the bullying she sees happening to a classmate. But Sam isn't happy just writing about bullying and how to prevent it - she wants to solve the mystery of who the bully is. But can she do all that
sleuthing under good conscience? Or legally? Will her and her friend's search cause more problems? On top of this newspaper and detective work, there may be a major change happening in her own family...

I rated book 1 five stars but I enjoyed book 2 even more. There were some tense parts in the book that made it hard to put down. I believe any tween/teen would love reading this series. And although the books tie together with characters, I don't think anyone would be lost picking up book 2 before book 1.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Children's Encyclopedia of American History

We have used My Father's World Curriculum for our core homeschool curriculum over the past five years. We have really loved the curriculum and the variety of books it provides. Some books obviously surpass others in content or practicality and some are obviously more enjoyable than others. One of the books we used this year was the 2003 edition of DK's the Children's Encyclopedia of American History. The content was great. The shortness of each section was perfect for short attention spans. The amount of pictures was helpful for visual learners.

However, many pictures are used for the background. That makes it super hard to read some of the pages. It is very distracting and really caused a slow down in our reading. I am disappointed in what could have been an excellent book.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Samantha Sanderson At the Movies

Samantha Sanderson At the Movies by Robin Caroll was provided to me through the BookSneeze program and Zonderkidz Publishers in exchange for an honest review. This book is part of the FaiThGirLz! series but still would be enjoyed by middle school boys as well.

Samantha Sanderson, or Sam, wants to be a journalist like her mom. She writes for the school newspaper but the editor, Aubrey, doesn't want her on the paper staff. However, when Sam finds a hidden bomb at the movie theater, she is sure she has a good enough story to show Aubrey she is deserving of a good roll on the newspaper staff.

What will happen now? Was the bomb planted by an atheist because a church was renting out the theater to show a Christian movie? Can Sam balance all of this detective work and newspaper writing with school and cheerleading? And what happens when Sam publishes "ideas" about the bombing instead of facts? Could this affect her roll on the newspaper? Or her dad's job as police detective? Should she listen to her dad and step down from writing about this story?
And what about her friend who isn't a Christian? How can she witness to her without forcing Jesus down her throat?

Excellent book aimed at the middle school population - boys or girls.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bikini Body Mommy

Through a friend's mention of this short and sweet (and FREE) workout program, I decided to give the Bikini Body Mommy (BBM) 90 Day Challenge a try - even though I will never wear a bikini, even if I had a bikini body. Once I got past the first day (where she insists on you taking pictures of your body in a bikini and take measurements), I was hooked! The workouts are all under a half hour - most closer to twenty minutes. And they work so many different muscle groups! You really FEEL like you just had a good workout! And without much time!

But the REAL reason this workout is so fun and successful is that Briana (BBM) is not a Jillian Michaels. She is a real mom working out and panting and groaning right along with you. Sometimes she has toy cars/trucks she has to step over when her son is playing right by her side. Sometimes she has to take a quick break to catch her breath or shake out some muscles. She adapts some exercises as she gets tired. She is real!

So you can go to the BBM site and print off the workouts so you know what you are doing and then watch the videos and work along with her. Or you can just go to her youtube channel and watch the videos (that's what I did). But YOU NEED TO WATCH THE VIDEOS! Not only because Briana is so real, but because without that timer pushing you, you can easily "cheat" or even give up. (You can take two minute breaks instead of one minute breaks - so not only have you just lost intensity, but now you have just added ten minutes to your short workout. So then you aren't as eager to work out the next day because you think of it as a longer workout. Or you think an exercise is too hard so you just don't do it. But if you watch the video, you see Briana adapting for herself because it IS hard - so then you feel better about yourself.)

Back to the taking pictures... yuck! But Briana wants you to be able to look back and SEE a difference, and not just rely on the scale. And taking measurements defines those differences. So I sucked it up and took my very first bikini -actually, underwear- pictures (gross!). And I measured. (Again, yuck!) After that grossness was over, I enlisted my thirteen year old daughter to join me in these workouts. Accountability is always good and teaching her to be strong and healthy is important, right? And Briana does focus on being strong and healthy - not being "skinny."

She also has a meal plan which I may try out now because I rewarded my workouts with sweet treats, which almost negated all the hard work... Not quite though. This morning my daughter and I completed the 90 day challenge and I took my measurements and lost 4.5 inches in my waist, 2 inches in my hips, and an inch on each thigh. (No, I'm not sharing pictures!!!) Best of all, I am so much stronger (as is my daughter)! --Remember, that is without changing my eating habits - actually, that is with eating worse than I did beforehand - those darn desserts! Even without the meal plan, but with eliminating desserts, think of what I could do! BBM is doing a 2.0 Challenge and I'm in! Are you?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Open Your Eyes

Thomas Nelson Publishing, through the BookSneeze program, provided me with a copy of Open Your Eyes by Jake Olson and McKay Christensen in exchange for an honest review.
What an inspirational book! Jake Olson lost his sight to eye cancer when he was twelve years old. But that hasn't stopped him from playing football, taking AP classes in high school, having a positive attitude, praising God through it all, or even working on his goal of one day playing on a PGA golf tour (seriously!).
So this book is about Jake, yes, but it also has stories from others who have faced major struggles in their lives (Muhammad Ali, for example). There is also a lot of "self-help" talk by McKay Christensen, a researcher and speaker about how adults learn and find happiness. That writing is always followed by "Insights From" Jake, his parents, or his twin sister to show how they have put that particular teaching into practice.
Each chapter begins with a quote and ends with "In Summary" bullet points.

Some spots I marked in the book:
  • "Struggle and pain...were not put here to torment or mock men, but to life and build them...Adversity, pain and struggle do not challenge the Lord's love for us, they prove it." (p. 28)
  • "When we make mountains from molehills, we expect others to change, when it may be we who need to change." (p. 64)
  • "One of the most important things I have learned is to stay calm and not imagine the worst possible outcome. It's important to focus on the best possible outcome." (p. 75)
  • "A dream without reality is only a wish." (p. 157)
  • "When you have a positive image of the future and confront the facts realistically, you learn and get better. You constantly get stronger and wiser from adversity. You can bear more challenges today because you've lived through them in the past."
  • "If you're not happy with who you are or what path you're traveling in life, if you don't feel that you've met your true potential, then maybe you need to live consistently with your moral compass."