Monday, September 30, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Grace Unplugged and Own It

I've had the chance to read and review a couple new books, Grace Unplugged by Melody Carlson, and Own It, by Michael & Hayley DiMarco.  Grace Unplugged is coming out as a movie this weekend, and I thought it might be fun to have an idea as to the storyline before deciding whether to go see it.

What the publisher says about Grace Unplugged:
Grace Trey is an 18 year old singer as passionate about her Christian faith as she is her phenomenal, God-given musical talent. Both traits come from her father, one hit wonder Johnny Trey who found Jesus after losing his chart success two decades ago. 

When Grace encounters her own music break of a lifetime, the sudden dive into the "real world" puts her deeper beliefs to the test. Pop superstardom is just within reach but appears to require some spiritual compromise. Will Grace reject her faith, or will she own it? 

Grace Unplugged is based on the motion picture of the same name starring AJ Michalka (Super 8) and Kevin Pollak (A Few Good Men) with performances by award-winning artists Chris Tomlin and Jamie Grace.
After reading the book, I found the description a bit misleading.  Grace has grown up as the "perfect" Christian teen, with parents who are deeply committed to their faith.  She's part of the worship band, attends Bible studies, and knows all the perfect answers.  But Grace isn't really sure what she believes, so when she gets her "break of a lifetime" she sneaks off to Hollywood in search of stardom.

I had a hard time identifying with Grace, honestly, which made the story a bit hard to read.  But there certainly were points that made me think, and made me think a bit about where my kids are spiritually.

You can check out the movie trailer here:

Own It is referenced in Grace Unplugged, though the story has it written by one of the book's characters instead of by Michael & Hayley DiMarco.

What the publisher says about Own It:
The movie Grace Unplugged tells the story of Grace Trey, an ideal Christian teenager who is also a phenomenal singer. But when she is pushed into the “real world” at the tender age of eighteen after getting the music break of a lifetime, her faith is put to the test.
Own It mirrors the film by asking what it means to really “own” your personal faith rather than just automatically following in the footsteps of parents, friends, or other influencers. Best-selling authors Hayley and Michael DiMarco help readers understand what to do when faith meets real world challenges.

Without solid beliefs, poor choices are likely to follow. You must take the time to really know who you are, who you are becoming, and who God made you to be. It's your personal faith . . . own it!
I like a lot of the basic ideas in this book, and parts of it definitely resonated with me.  I really liked the section on idols, and although I'm sure many would argue with their definition of idols ("An idol is something you have devoted your life to.") this really did get me pondering my priorities and my commitments.

I get to give away a set of these books to one reader (in the US or Canada!).  Both are pretty easy reads, which is always nice!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Review: Critical Pursuit

I love good crime drama.  Particularly from a Christian author.  And when that author is Janice Cantore, a retired cop (22 years), I love it even more.

Critical Pursuit is the newest Cantore novel, and this introduces officer Brinna Caruso and her 4-legged partner, Hero.  I have previously reviewed Accused, the first novel in Cantore's Pacific Justice series.

I'll point out off the top that this book has a lot in common with that series.  Good female cop with a "religious nut" for a mother, sensationalist reporters, and high-profile junk going on.

But it works.  The fact that I never once used a bookmark might be one indication.  I did stick my finger in between the pages and close the book once, in order to hug my kids goodnight.  But I never set it down, until after I read the very last word.

From the publisher:
Officer Brinna Caruso has built a reputation at the precinct as the cop to call when a child goes missing. For Brinna, it’s personal because she was once one of them. Brinna and her K-9 search and rescue dog, Hero, will stop at nothing to find a missing child, no matter the stakes.

Detective Jack O’Reilly isn’t ready to return to his homicide duties, after losing his wife to a drunk driver. He’s on the downside of his career, and bent on revenge, when he’s assigned as Brinna’s partner. While on patrol, Jack struggles between his quest for personal justice and his responsibility to those around him, especially his partner.

Skeptical of Jack’s motives, Brinna isn’t sure she can rely on her new partner, whose reckless abandon endangers the safety of those around him. But when a man surfaces with an MO similar to the criminal who abducted Brinna twenty years earlier, Brinna and Jack must cast aside previous judgments and combine efforts to catch the kidnapper, and finally allow Brinna the peace stolen from her as a child.
The best part of the book is how it just feels so real.  I've never been a cop, though I've known a few, so it isn't like I can truly speak to what it is actually like.  I'm pretty sure that TV doesn't portray reality all that well, but that's about all I know.

This book, though, has complex characters dealing with each other in ways that mostly ring true.  The police work isn't all "action movie" worthy, with some boring nights on patrol being part of the story as well.  The overall story seems plausible, and it was nice to know "whodunit" pretty much from the start.  It felt a bit like those Columbo episodes, where you start off by watching the crime and then you sit back to see how Columbo figures it out.

In this case, you don't know for sure what the crimes will be, but you do know who they are looking for, and there is a little bit of getting inside his head.

I was a bit concerned, I'll admit, because of the subject matter -- abducted kids.  Cantore does not get into all the gory details, but this story is grittier than others of hers that I have read.  You know at least the basics of what happened to the kids, but much of that is implied and not described.

One concern I had with Accused was how preachy it got partway through the story.  The religious aspect came up naturally, but sometimes felt pretty forced.  This book, however, didn't hit me that way.  There were strong, Christian characters and they expressed their beliefs without compromise, but it felt far more genuine.

I cannot wait for Visible Threat to come out in January.

You can read the first chapter of Critical Pursuit for yourself!

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Bash and the Pirate Pig

I was supposed to post this by yesterday.  But today is Talk Like a Pirate Day.

So I thought this review and giveaway simply HAD to go up today instead.

Bash and the Pirate Pig by Burton Cole isn't really about pirates, though.  Instead, it is a fun read told from the point of view of a 12-year-old "city cousin" who is sent to stay at the farm for the summer, and to keep an eye on his younger cousin.  Three months younger.  Because when you are 12, those three months seem like a really big deal.

Ray would prefer to spend his summer at home, reading comic books and playing video games.  He doesn't have much of a choice though, and it is off to the farm and lots of adventure with Bash.  Poor Ray really doesn't have any idea as to the scrapes he is going to get into.

At this point, I've read the book myself, and I'm debating whether to read it aloud to Richard and Trina, or whether to let Richard read it himself.  It would be a bit of a stretch for him, but the antics of these two boys might make him push to read it.  And William (14) and Thomas (12) are definitely going to be encouraged to read it.  I know they will love it.

One reason I hesitate about reading it aloud is that I waffle back and forth about my 7 year old hearing all the name-calling these two cousins do.  For families who are sensitive to that issue, I do want to point out that the two act a lot like, well, 12-year-old boys.  That is to say, they aren't exactly respectful to each other or the other kids around.  At some points in my parenting life, I've been fairly opposed to exposing my kids to that kind of talk.  You know, my kids can call each other names just fine on their own, they don't need characters in books modeling it for them.

Right now, at least for the older ones, that isn't a huge concern of mine.  It isn't like they don't hear real-life examples all of the time, and I rather like that these two boys feel so very real and not so 'goody-goody' like the kids in some stories.  Clearly, especially by the end of the story, the two like each other and stick up for each other.  They are basically good kids.  But real ones.

And their adventures are hysterically funny.

I loved watching the parents the most.  The dads are brothers, and apparently they were a handful as youngsters too.  I identified the most with the dads, watching the kids get into mischief and thinking back to how similar their childhood was.  The moms seemed a bit high-strung and afraid of a few scrapes.  It reminded me a bit of my household, actually.  I grew up with two younger brothers, while my husband is an only child.  It isn't so bad now, but he used to get pretty uptight when our kids acted like siblings.  He couldn't really relate.  I remember all too well how I would complain about my stupid brother, but five minutes later I'd be pounding a friend who criticized him. 

Not sure why I meandered off onto that story.

Anyway, this is a fun book, and it is great to watch Ray's growth as the summer progresses.  This is a kids' book, so I don't stress about spoilers in my review.  If you don't want to know, skip to the giveaway part.  Ray starts the summer off as a kid who is flirting with the wrong paths in life.  He endures church because his parents make him go, he isn't very respectful to anyone, that kind of thing.  Bash has a pretty easy-going relationship with God, and that does begin to rub off on Ray.  A dying calf is a turning point for Ray, or maybe the turning point was actually when he nearly drowned on the Pirate Pig's ship.  Regardless, Ray is a different child at the end of the summer, and there are some wonderful spiritual lessons that are casually woven in to the storyline.

I love the book.  And you can win one, if you are in the US or Canada...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Flash Giveaway: Colorado Springs Area Only!

Just a bit ago, I did a review and giveaway for a book, Alone Yet Not Alone.

Well, right now, I have two sets of two ticket to the movie, in Colorado Springs, for next Saturday night. (Sept. 28)

I'm making this a really easy giveaway to enter...

Just leave a comment telling me who would use these.  The giveaway closes tomorrow night when I get home from AHG, which means roughly 11 p.m. Mountain time.  Maybe a bit later.  I won't close it earlier.

For an extra entry, post about this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, etc. and leave a comment for each of those that you do, and either give a link or tag me.

I will email the winners Tuesday evening, and I need to hear from you by noon on Wednesday.  If not, I'll choose another winner.  If I don't hear back from that winner by midnight, the prize is forfeited.

I just wish this was happening on a different weekend so that I could go.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bountiful Baskets - September 14

Busy, busy, busy.

But it is still Saturday, and I am writing up my post about my baskets!!

This week, I got two baskets, two packages of Spicy Wraps (they look marvelous) and I split a box of peaches with a friend.  Trina snapped a picture of my basket...

This included:
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 bunch Romaine lettuce
  • 1 big ol' bag of green beans
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 1 package mushrooms
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 5 tomatoes
  • 6 Hatch chili peppers
  • 10 bananas
  • 1 Honeydew melon
  • 1 pineapple
So between my baskets, I got roughly double that.

What will we do with all of this?
  • lettuce, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes, and all of the fruit just get used.  Nothing terribly special involved.
  • One cauliflower, one cucumber and some celery is going to be chopped up to do a veggies & dip thing for church.
  • The other cucumber was given away to a friend who needs it more than I do.
  • The other cauliflower might just be chopped and done with dip around here.
  • Green beans are going to be a side dish for a couple of meals this week.
  • Yellow squash: I am playing with some things like scalloped squash or who knows what.  I need a good, solid, yummy side dish that my family will love so I don't always struggle with how to use squash.
  • Chili peppers:  I am going to be making a Mexican lasagna recipe again, and I'll be blogging about on the Bountiful Baskets blog.  That will use some tomatoes too, most likely.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Guess what I'm doing?

I'm blogging for Bountiful Baskets!

I think they are crazy.  I don't do anything too special, just feed my family.  But hey, it is pushing me to stretch a little.

A glimpse of my first ever post there:

Hmmm.  Whatever could it be?

Well, another hint.  It is part of a series called Pizza and a MovieMy post is here.  But the other posts are far more creative.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: I Am Ruth

Some titles come along in my reviewing life that are hard to review simply because I know I will never accurately convey how much I love the book.

I am Ruth: A Story of Loss, Love & Redemption is definitely in that category.  Written by Brenda Duff, with photography by Kenneth Berg, the bottom line is: everyone ought to get this one.

I was intrigued when I first read about the book.  The publisher says:
Let the scriptural account, the breathtaking photos, and the deeper insights help you look afresh at this enduring true story of love from tragic loss.
  • View the vivid, full-color images from within Israel and near the historic locale of Ruth's life.
  • Survey the social and cultural details that come alive to enhance your understanding of this profound story of loss, faith, loyalty, and love.
  • Better understand the important biblical and genealogical connections.
One of the most beloved and enduring accounts of the Bible, Ruth's story is one of tragedy. Here is the true account of a young widow who chooses to leave the land of her birth for the unknown lands of her mother-in-law, Naomi, who is returning home bitter and angry at God for the loss of her husband and two sons.
More than just a simple love story, I Am Ruth is about courageously facing life after loss, rediscovering faith, and fearlessly placing yourself and your future in God's loving hands. This text brings to light the full humanity found in the biblical account, and makes it personal for every reader who has suffered in life's shadows longing to see God's plan.
That doesn't remotely do justice to this title.

When this book arrived in my house, I opened it up, and within about 30 seconds I knew that I absolutely loved it.  The book contains the biblical text, but I can get that from my Bible.  It also contains photographs of authentic-looking people acting out the story more or less where the events took place.

And there is plenty of descriptive text too, which drew out aspects of the story that I had never really stopped to think about.  This isn't just about the events in the book of Ruth.  There is discussion about Abraham and Lot, or about Joshua and the spies in Jericho.  All kinds of background information about customs, places, and events is presented in a very readable narrative.

The photos though, wow.  They are incredible.  You can almost feel the emotion portrayed.  It's an awful lot like watching a movie.  Well, this would be a good point for you to watch the movie trailer:

I recommend this book to everyone.

You can go see what other Moms of Master Books have to say about I Am Ruth!

There is a Book and a Treat Facebook party coming up September 24 at 9 pm EDT where you could win cool prizes including (I assume) this title, something from Every Good Gift (the Treat sponsor) among other things -- and discuss the book too. 

Disclaimer:   I received this books for free from New Leaf Publishing Group as part of the Moms of Master Books program.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bountiful Baskets: September 7

Today was a pretty amazing basket.

What I got in my one basket:
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • a whole lot of broccoli (a lot more than it looks like in the photo)
  • four cucumbers
  • three yellow squash
  • six roma tomatoes
  • one honeydew melon (that is much bigger than it looks in the picture)
  • one mango
  • nine bananas
  • seven plums
  • a 3-pound bag of pears, plus two more
What will we do with this?
  • The pears, plums, bananas, melon, tomatoes and lettuce will just be eaten.  No planning needed.
  • I'll be roasting broccoli to go with dinner
  • I'm making pickles with these, plus some other cukes
  • The mango will probably go into a smoothie
  • The yellow squash will be a side dish or two at some point this week
I also got a huge box of bicolor corn, from Olathe, CO.  Most of that is going to be frozen, but we will undoubtedly be eating corn on the cob a time or two or three this week too.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Review: Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye

Over the summer, I've had the opportunity to read a really fun book.  Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye by Len Bailey takes Holmes & Dr. Watson into ancient Israel to investigate ten Bible mysteries.

The publisher's description is as follows:
Embark on a journey through the Old and New Testament with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson as they explore exotic and spice-laden places in search of clues.  

The detective and the doctor travel back in time with the help of a Moriarty-designed time machine to investigate ten Bible destinations, unlocking clues to ten Bible mysteries. The most fascinating crime cases are those that are already solved, those that have been investigated by the police and brought to a swift, satisfying, and almost inevitable conclusion. So it is with Bible stories which the reader may consider familiar and unremarkable. But under close scrutiny these stories give up their hidden clues, their long kept secrets. Like a jewel newly polished, they sparkle and shine with a fresh, introspective light.

While traveling back in time to witness certain scenes, Holmes and Watson unravel ten different Biblical mysteries, including the following:

·       The Hanging Tree: Why did Ahithophel hang himself?
·       Righteous Blood is Red: Is Zechariah the son of Berekiah or Jehoiada in Matthew 23?
·       You Miss, You Die: Why did David take five stones against Goliath?
·       Dead Man Walking: Why did Jesus delay in coming to Lazarus in John 11?
This book can be read just like a novel, or you can turn to the back to do a Bible study, and top that off by reading the corresponding chapter.  I chose to read it as a novel, and then followed that up by doing a couple of the chapters as Bible studies.

The novel is good -- the interaction between Holmes and Watson seems very true to their established characters, and it just "feels like" a Sherlock Holmes mystery.  Some of the storyline seems a bit strange though.  They travel back in time to witness some event, but the time travel portion of the chapter really wasn't necessary, for instance.

I enjoyed the novel.  Connor, who has read everything Sherlock Holmes, also stated that "this does really seem like a real Sherlock Holmes story, though initially I didn't think that at all.  About halfway through the first chapter, it started reading 'right' though."

The Bible study portion really dovetailed well with the story, and I found that interesting.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review: Homeschool Spanish Academy

 photo shield120x160_zps644d7b08.png
Last summer, Thomas (a rising 6th grader at the time) was able to review Homeschool Spanish Academy.  Although it wasn't a great fit for him, I really wanted to get Connor going on it for high school.  Then Connor had a chance to take a Koine Greek course, so he didn't do Spanish last year.

This year?  About a month ago, Connor started taking the High School Program at Homeschool Spanish Academy, and we simply love it.

 photo prog-highschool-combined_zps5caae1d8.jpg

So how does this work?  The program is set up with a 4-year high school curriculum that you work through one-on-one by Skyping with a qualified teacher in Guatemala.  The teachers go through pretty rigorous training so they are able to teach their native language.  In addition to the high school level, they also teach students as young as 5, and recently they added programs for adults.

Before the actual lessons begin, you do a quick "practice" Skype call with a tech guy to be sure your equipment is working and that you know how to do everything.  That means your lesson time isn't used to address technical issues.  Or at least, it minimizes how often that happens.

On a practical level, once you have signed up for classes, you are able to log in and schedule your student to meet with a teacher at a specific time.  You can go ahead and schedule every Thursday at 4:00 with Rosa, or you can change up the times and days, depending on your schedule.  You can also change teachers -- they take extensive notes about each class session, and whichever teacher your student has next week will read through the notes before class.  And if you do something like schedule classes for Wednesday afternoons, and then you realize that starting in September Wednesdays will not work, you can cancel the class and reschedule it.  They ask for cancellations to happen 24 (or 48?  I've seen both) hours in advance, which is totally fair.

Connor had his sessions with Rosa throughout our 1/2 semester program, which is 7 weeks.  When we go on to purchase another semester, he is wanting to try out some of the other teachers too.  He liked Rosa at that first session, and it was most comfortable to stick with her to start with.  At this point, he is interested in hearing some different accents and seeing some slightly different approaches.

So what do you need to do this?  High speed internet is required.  It doesn't have to be super-fast, and you can check to see if you meet the requirements listed.  (Our speeds aren't fabulous, so I made it a rule that nobody else is allowed to be doing any bandwidth-intensive activities during Spanish class.)  You'll need to have a microphone so your student can talk to the instructor.  A webcam is definitely a good thing, so the instructor can see and better interact with your student.  A headset is great to have as well, though I don't think it is strictly required.  You don't want every noise in your household to get picked up on this, and unless your kids are quieter than mine, well...  it can be quite distracting.  

But how do the classes actually work?  Connor gets Skype open 10-15 minutes before his class is scheduled.  Once Rosa "calls" him, he answers the call, and they get started.  The class is 50 minutes long (at the high school level), and with the one-on-one, they get a lot accomplished in those 50 minutes.  There is a set curriculum, and they go over last week's material, take a quiz (every 2-3 lessons) or exam (every 4-5 lessons) if that is scheduled, and start chatting about new material.

The instructor puts the material up on the screen so Connor can see it, and mostly they "just talk."  In Spanish.  Rosa will quickly switch to English if Connor isn't grasping something, and for some of the little chit-chat get-to-know-you types of things.  There, a lot of the time, she'll ask a question in Spanish, then repeat it in English.  Connor will answer in English, and she'll tell him how to say that in Spanish, which he will repeat.  New words are typed in as well, so he can see the word, not just hear it.

Going through the lesson part of things, they repeat the material as much as necessary, and move quickly when he gets something easily, and move more slowly when he needs a bit more time.  In the five classes Connor has had so far, they have covered Lessons 1-6 (out of 14 lessons for Spanish 1A):
  • The Alphabet
  • Greetings and Goodbyes
  • The Class (words like "teacher," phrases like "please listen")
  • Pronouns and names
  • The verb "Ser," Origin and Nationality
  • The verb "Ser," Descriptive Adjectives and Colors
After class is over, the instructor will send homework.  I get that email, Connor gets that email, and it is available in your account on the Homeschool Spanish Academy website.

We did have a few hiccups with getting the homework submitted, so that was a bit frustrating early in the process.  And I have a hard time convincing Connor that he really needs to submit the homework before his next class day. I'm sure that frustrates his teacher.

Here is a shot of part of the homework that is due tomorrow:

In the top part, Parte A, they are to describe the characters.  In Parte B, they are to change the adjectives from masculine to feminine and to make them plural.

What did Connor think?  He loves his class time and feels like he is learning a lot.  He has tried to learn Spanish with some other programs before, so a bit of this is familiar to him.  But he feels that he is making real progress, and actually able to come up with things to say on his own, with this one-on-one instruction.

His only frustrations have been with the homework. The first assignment included a section where he was to match the picture to the sentence, only some of those pictures were really tough to figure out.  The two of us sat down with the English translations of the Spanish sentences and tried to figure out which picture meant what.  That took a significant amount of time, and I suspect we guessed wrong on some of them.  After that first homework assignment, though, he hasn't encountered anything that frustrating again.  There are a lot of pictures used (like in the example above) but for the most part, it is straight-forward to figure out what is going on, especially now that he has more words to work with.

Submitting homework took him awhile to get too.  The trick, basically, was to point out the little "print to pdf" checkbox... so he completes the homework, prints it to a pdf file, and submits that. 

What do I think?  The short answer is that we're buying a semester of lessons, to start in October, after we get back from my brother's wedding.  At $169.99 for a 15-week semester of once-per-week classes, this is a chunk of change.  But that is just over $11 per class, which is far less than one-on-one tutoring would be, and we don't have to drive anywhere, or buy anything.  And in his last two years of high school, he ought to be able to earn at least two Spanish credits.

I would like to have some sort of "progress report" but maybe that is there and I just haven't found it yet.  An idea as to what I can do to help him move along, or an idea as to how he did on the quiz or exam -- either would be nice. 

I highly recommend the program.

To see what other Crew members though about the Early, Middle School, High School and even the Adult programs, click the banner:


 photo DisclaimerGraphic1_zpsf612f371.gif

Monday, September 2, 2013

Curriculum Plans for 2013-14, Take Two

I posted a couple weeks ago about our plans for the year.  Well, things changed.  So I'm trying again.  Mostly so I know what I'm doing.  Eek.

My kids are going to be in 11th, 9th, 7th, 4th and 2nd grades this year.

Subject to change (again), here is what I have planned for school for this year.  I'm only linking something the first time it is mentioned.

Connor, 11th grade:
William, 9th grade:
  • English: Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings; Logic of English, Bridgeway English.
  • Math: VideoText Algebra
  • History: Sonlight's world history (combination of Core G & Core H)
  • Science: Science Shepherd Biology
  • Foreign Language: Visual Latin
  • Tech: The Computer Science Course through
  • Philosophy Adventure
  • Listening to Music with Open Yale Courses
  • Continuing to work on art history, PE, etc.  
Thomas, 7th grade:
  • English: Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings; Logic of English.
  • Math: Math U See Zeta, and then Probably VideoText Algebra, at a slower pace than William
  • History: Sonlight's world history (combination of Cores G & H)
  • Science: He'll be taking a Marine Biology course through Bridgeway/Learning Lab to start the year, then doing Apologia General Science
  • Foreign Language: Visual Latin
  • Tech: The Computer Science Course through
  • Philosophy Adventure & A Child's Geography Volume III
  • Listening to Music with Open Yale Courses.
  • Artistic Pursuits
Richard, 4th grade:
Katrina, 2nd grade:
  • English: Logic of English.  Lit from Reading Roadmaps and/or  Reading Kingdom
  • Math: Math U See Beta
  • History: Sonlight's world history (combination of Cores B & C).  Very loosely.  Maybe.
  • Science: Apologia's Zoology 3
  • Foreign Language: Flip Flop Spanish
  • A Child's Geography Volume III
  • Artistic Pursuits
Looks fun, huh?

Of all of the above stuff, at this point, the only thing we don't have is Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings.  Hopefully we'll have that this week.  Oh, and we don't have Sonlight Core 300 yet either, but we won't need that until probably January.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Review: The World of Jesus

Over the summer, thanks to Bethany House, I've had the chance to read and review The World of Jesus, by Dr. William H. Marty.  It occurred to me as I was writing this review post that I have read another book by Dr. Marty, The Whole Bible Story.  I did not find that book to be a good fit, though reading about it I wonder if it might work better in our lives now.  Fortunately, I didn't realize that until after I had requested this title, as I have loved The World of Jesus.

From the publisher:
Know Jesus Better by Understanding What Shaped His World
Sometimes it’s hard to find your bearings in the New Testament, as you enter the time and place of Jesus and His disciples. There are confusing practices, new people groups, and even unexplained religious conflicts. How did it all come about?
Dr. William Marty walks you through the history leading up to the arrival of Jesus in order to help you better understand His life and teachings. He answers such questions as:
• Why did "Israelites" start being called "Jews"?
• What's a "synagogue" and what happened to worshiping in the temple?
• Who were the Pharisees and why was Jesus so upset with them?
• Why didn't anyone like the Samaritans?
Get to know the times in which Jesus lived, so you'll better understand His teaching and ministry. And along the way, discover how God prepared the world for the One who would turn it upside down.
This book is a very readable presentation of the history of the Jewish people from 539 BC to 70 AD.  Most of this is covering the 400 years between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament.

The first chapter, Homeward Bound: The Persian Period, covers the end of of the Old Testament, roughly 539-331 BC.  This chapter contains a fair amount of material that would be familiar to you if you've read your Bible -- from the fall of Judah onwards.

While the first chapter was interesting and informative, I found the next chapters to be more worthwhile.  Starting with Alexander, and ending with the destruction of the temple in 70AD, the rest of the book fills in a lot of the political events of the times as they pertain to the Jewish nation.  Yes, I've learned a lot about Alexander the Great, and even a bit about him in relation to Jerusalem.  But what does Hellenism (the civilization and culture of Ancient Greece) have to do with the rise of the Pharisees?  I had no idea there was a relationship.

My bottom line:  Most of my students (grades 2-9) are studying world history this year.  This book is going to be a part of that.  Dr. Marty ties together the regular history with fascinating information about how that impacted the Jewish culture.  I'm not sure the 2nd and 4th grader will get much from this book, but the 7th and 9th graders most certainly will. And even though he is studying a completely different time period, my 11th grader will be sitting in on this book too.

Disclosure:  Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.  No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.