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Monday, April 22, 2019

Book Review: the Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge,from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, via Netgalley, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it, all opinions are my own.


Our favorite British archealogist/detective team are back!

the stone circle cover

Synopsis:

In a chilling entry to the award-winning Ruth Galloway series, she and DCI Nelson are haunted by a ghost from their past, just as their future lands on shaky ground.

DCI Nelson has been receiving threatening letters telling him to 'go to the stone circle and rescue the innocent who is buried there'. He is shaken, not only because children are very much on his mind, with Michelle's baby due to be born, but because although the letters are anonymous, they are somehow familiar. They read like the letters that first drew him into the case of The Crossing Places, and to Ruth. But the author of those letters is dead. Or are they?
Meanwhile Ruth is working on a dig in the Saltmarsh - another henge, known by the archaeologists as the stone circle - trying not to think about the baby. Then bones are found on the site, and identified as those of Margaret Lacey, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared thirty years ago.
As the Margaret Lacey case progresses, more and more aspects of it begin to hark back to that first case of The Crossing Places, and to Scarlett Henderson, the girl Nelson couldn't save. 

The past is reaching out for Ruth and Nelson, and its grip is deadly. 

Review:

Griffiths does an excellent job in tying up loose ends from the previous book, and weaving them so well into this story, that it almost feel like part 2, versus a different story, as characters come back 'from the dead' and impact the current lives of both Ruth and Nelson, as they are still trying to find their new 'normal'. It feels like an 'adult' book, if that makes sense- both Ruth and Nelson have to make some very hard, mature, decisions ('adulting' if you will), knowing that there will be consequences on the lives of the other person. That's one of the things I love about this series- Ruth is an honest characters about being a single mother,Nelson is honest about loving 2 different women in very different ways. Yet the reader cares about them both and treats any flaws with affection. While the story line feels like a continuation, there is actually a separate mystery, to draw them all back together, and Griffiths gives the reader a merry road to guessing on it! All in all a great addition to the series, yet it can be read alone. It's hard to believe there are already 11 books in the series, and I'm still eagerly awaiting the next one!


About the Author:

ELLY GRIFFITHS is the author of the Ruth Galloway and Magic Men mystery series, and the standalone novel The Stranger Diaries. She is a recipient of the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the CWA Dagger in the Library Award.


Book Review: Diggin up Dirt by Tonya Kappes

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge,from 
, via Edelweissplus, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it, all opinions are my own.


Our favorite Sheriff and deputy are back!

diggin up dirt cover

Synopsis:

Sweet as honey, soured by murder!

Everyone in Cottonwood loves the new bakery, Sweet Shop. Until a Cottonwood resident is found dead with a half-eaten donut in her hand.

Sheriff Kenni Lowry has her hands full. With a new murder in town and a new deputy to train, she’s not sure if she’s ever gonna get this booger solved.

Sheriff Elmer Sims comes to the rescue, stepping up as Kenni’s ghost deputy. As the ex-dead-now-ghost deputy and Kenni’s Poppa, there’s clues beyond the sprinkles in the donut that only he can see. 

Add to Kenni’s stress, Finn Vincent’s, Kenni’s hunky boyfriend and new sheriff of Clay’s Ferry, parents have come to town to meet Kenni and her parents. And Kenni’s mama ain’t too happy. As they say in the South, nobody’s happy if mama ain’t happy.


With Poppa’s keen insight and Kenni’s determination, Kenni focuses all her attention on bringing the killer to justice before the yeast rises and another dead body turns up.

Save room for dessert. You don’t want to miss this Southern mystery!



Review:

This is book 7 in the series, and it is still as enchanting as book 1 was! Tonya really knows how to set her characters apart, and make them so irresistible, that you can't help to read a new book in 1 sitting, and beg for more when you finish! Plus she knows her way around simple mysteries that can boggle the mind. Add in some good old North vs South family differences and human foibles, and you have a book perfect for Spring reading at the ball field, while waiting on the kids (just be prepared to explain all your laugh out loud moments, as the book has plenty!). 

My only quibble was the ending and the changes to Kenni and Finn's work relationship. A bit too disneyana for me, and I would have preferred to see Kenni stay in the strong female leader role, with Finn working FOR her, instead of having Finn assuming what is supposed to be an equal role, but really is a better one than hers. To me it changed the whole dynamic that was different for this series. So for me it ended on a bit of a sour note, and I'm not sure if I'll keep reading the series, as that was what had drawn me to it. SIGH, I know writers can't please everyone....


About the Author:

For years, USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes has been publishing numerous mysteries with unprecedented success. She is famous not only for her hilarious plot lines and quirky characters, but her tremendous marketing efforts that have earned her thousands of followers and a devoted street team of fans. Visit Tonya at her website, Tonyakappes.com .
Friday, April 19, 2019

Happy Easter

easter kids

Recipe Weekend: Instant Pot Obsession: The Ultimate Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook for Cooking Everything Fast

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book, free of charge,from Callisto Publishing, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it, all opinions are my own.





 Instant Pot Obsession: The Ultimate Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook for Cooking Everything Fast  cover

Synopsis:


Your Instant Pot® has completely changed how you get food on the table…. so what are you going to make next? In the pages of Instant Pot® Obsession―the most complete Instant Pot® cookbook yet―simplicity goes one step further to create more meals, and save even more time, than ever before. Use this Instant Pot® cookbook to make EVERY meal, ANY day of the week, with:
  • More than 120 creative recipes like French toast cups, baked potato soup, and orange chicken
  • Variations on selected recipes to make your favorite go-to’s new again that you won’t find in any other Instant Pot® cookbook
  • Tasty options for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and desserts―many of which take 30 minutes or less
  • Expert Instant Pot® guidance from Janet Zimmerman, author of the popular Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook

  • Review:
  • For those of you who like cookbooks with photos, this isn't the book for you. But having said that, the recipes are are SO good, and really teach you to fully use your Insta Pot, that it's almost a MUST have! The book covers everything from breakfast to dessert, with the main courses being the best of the recipes- there are plenty of variations of pot roast that can make your weekly dinners SO easy, by using the left over meat the next night for tacos or sandwiches. And then there are the desserts, that let you free up your oven, which is really good for the upcoming Summer months! This is a good book to give WITH an Insta Pot if you're giving one to Mom for Mother's Day too! So check it out and see what you're missing!


Recipe:


This is a simple recipe, that you would never think of using your Insta Pot for, but it comes out delish! Add it to your dessert table this weekend, by simply adding some candy grass and a marshmallow peeps on top, for an adult take on Easter basket goodies!

instapot chocolate pudding


About the Author:

JANET A. ZIMMERMAN is the author of The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook. A longtime pressure cooking enthusiast, she was quickly won over by the ease and convenience of the Instant Pot. For more than 15 years Janet has shared her love of cooking with others as food writer and culinary class instructor. Today she writes, teaches, and pressure cooks in Atlanta, Georgia.
Thursday, April 18, 2019

Make Science FUN Again With Crosswired Science Online Learning! (science curriculum review)

I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.


crosswired science logo
How happy are you with your current homeschool science program? Does it need some life added to it? If so, I might have JUST the thing you need! A new website is here from CrossWired Science, and it not only gives your child science in lessons they love, it ALSO features devotions and a look at the world through different lenses! In fact, the goal of the site is to "Show the glory of God through the things he has made"! So you know that it is perfect for your Christian homeschool, but even secular homeschoolers will LOVE the amount of info it contains!

crosswired science units

CrossWired has something for all students, no matter their age! It can be used as a stand alone elementary, middle or high school curriculum, OR it can be used as a supplement, or as a means to get more FUN science info to your traditional school based child! Right now the website it still growing, but you can get a solid 2-3 months of classes from the first 2 uploaded units: Sound, and Fluid Dynamics. But by the time you get done, more will be added, to keep you going, and the goal is to have 6 full years on the site for students! Because it has 2 different levels (more on that below), you can actually use the site for ALL of your students- don't you love all in one curriculum?

cross wired science fluid dynamics dashboard
One of the goals of CrossWired Science is to "Be eclectic”. And their definition of “eclectic” is: Composed of elements drawn from various sources. Selecting what appears to be best in various methods, or styles.” And that describes the program perfectly! With over 40 years of teaching students, the founders know what can keep kids learning! Each unit starts off with 8 core videos, that each discuss different aspects of the topic at hand. So for Fluid Dynamics (left), you can see how the videos are interlaced with experiments and activities, allowing your child to rotate what they are doing in a natural flow, and keep the learning progression, while having fun!
crosswired science video collage
As you can see Miss Grace was glued to the laptop and wouldn't let me get a better picture of her (hey, I was lucky I got that, once she realized she could pull the course up on her ipad, she disappeared to watch the videos! As you can see the videos feature BRIGHT pictures and graphics that REALLY grab your child's attention, and KEEP it! But more importantly they use the graphics and photos to illustrate what is being taught, so that kids can use both sides of their brains, and link the pictures to what they are learning, and RETAIN the info! A week after watching the video on airplane aerodynamics for example, Miss Grace was asking my dad if when he was flying he could feel the pressure of the atoms under the plane's wings, and she proceeded to show what she meant JUST as she had seen in the video! Score! She LOVES science, but this series is helping her to better retain scientific FACTS!

crosswired science worksheets
On each topic video page, there is also a link to download a worksheet, that goes along with the video. I would say that the online questions are great for lower and lower elementary, and then middle and high school students should print out the sheets (or work via a pdf editor, but physical writing of them does add another element to retention!), and use them as a way to take notes from the videos, BEFORE taking the online tests. This allows them to have their notes to refer back to if needed, while working on the experiments, or with the other activities. You can also use them as an extra grade if you need to! Right now they are all with each section, but eventually they will ALL be included in the Parent/Teacher Section, for quicker access for printing and review.

crosswired science quiz collage
As well as the worksheets, there is also the online quizzes, as I mentioned. These are right below the video on each chapter, and are taken online. Miss Grace loved taking these, as she could take them right after she watched the video and get immediate feedback on her score. We both LOVED how the correct answer was shown UNDER the question, so she didn't have to wonder what she got wrong. She didn't have to worry about recording the score either, as it automatically shows on her dashboard, which I can also see when I sign in. We can both also see how many chapters she has completed, and how many remain in each unit course! Students can see a progression bar on top of each chapter,and a side bar with all the chapter headings,as well, so they have an idea how far they have gotten in each one of the unit sections.

Each one of the Units also includes extra activities that not only help to strengthen the unit lessons, but add depth to each course. As you can see there are recommended readings, but really they just want kids to read! Kids do a simple summary and discussion on each reading and it gets recorded as well. The Gold Digs are different science topics and offer kids a chance to delve deeper into additional topics- rabbit trails if you will- and also include additional quizzes and worksheets. While meant to be part of the curriculum, you could use these for extra credit points, if you are just sticking with the primary dashboard chapters for the course. The Digging Deeper and the Gold Dig sections are also where most of the religious topics are. The devotionals have either a science or kid based theme, and offer great thoughts for further discussion with parents and peers. So you also are getting some bible activity in each weekly lesson if you wish, as well. 



All of these extra  sections are meant not only to provide education, but FUN, and many include parents and siblings, as a way to enrich and provide for family time, AWAY from the computers and screens-always a plus! Miss Grace found that the  experiments were well thought out and fun, and she liked how there was a wide variance, so if you've done some already (in other classes), there are others to choose from! They have been very well picked and will help your child understand more than just the topics they are concentrating on!

Something that Miss Grace and i both loved was how that the 2 different levels (first timer and second timer), while concentrating on the game core subject, actually offer 2 different levels of learning, and that the second level builds on what was learned at the first level. Experiments are different, as are the extras, making for a different student experience each time. This repetition is what helps with that long term memory retention- learning different parts of the same topics twice, testing on them, and having hands on activities to cement them. Plus they can bring their life experiences back with them on the second round of experiments and may actually be able to handle them very differently! Miss Grace is at a 7th to 8th grade science level (though shes in 6th grade), but actually enjoyed the first timer videos and learning as "it helps be make better pictures in my brain, to pull the info back when I need it". The second timer level actually challenged her, so she wants to go back through both levels for each unit! You CAN skip back and forth if you want to, and each levels grades will show on your student's dashboard and you can see what all they have completed. I would actually recommend middle school and lower go through the lower level first, just to fill in any missing gaps they might have, before starting the upper level.


crosswired science schedule

Fearing that all of this is well and good, but you're a little OCD and would like a bit of Teacher Planning? No problem! CrossWired Science just added a new calendar page that gives you a 6 week guide to each unit course for both elementary and middle/high school levels, with daily activities and suggestions. Yup, they understand that while the course may be eclectic, you need a guide for your use and documentation purposes! In theory you should be able to complete 4 unit courses per school year. The first 2 unit courses, Sound, and Fluid Dynamics, are available for use right now, and 2 more are expected to be on the side over the Summer, and then more coming in batches, so that you will have fresh content, before you finish each upload.

Overall, this is an excellent supplemental course (which is how we're using it right now, as she is finishing up her second semester science text), or for a full year curriculum for science for your whole family! We have been really impressed with it, and will probably keep the course as a supplement for middle school. If you're looking for something DIFFERENT and for ALL types of learners, THIS is the science class you need!

Want to see how parents with multiple kids use CrossWired Science? Just click on the picture below to see how it has been working for them! But then come back, because I have a special DISCOUNT CODE for you below!

Sound, and Fluid Dynamics {CrossWired Science Reviews}
Ready for your special savings?


DISCOUNT CODE:

Right now it is ONLY $27 a year for access to CrossWired Science  (and only $10 per additional student). When was the last time you spent ONLY $37 for science textbooks and workbooks for 2 students? Even $27 is over 60% cheaper than what we normally pay JUST for 1 student! And lucky you, CrossWired Science is offering BTHM readers a special discount code for $5 off your membership! Yup, you can pay ONLY $22 for FULL year's science curriculum! Just use the code 5offCWS at checkout!

See you at CrossWired Science!



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