Friday, November 18, 2016

{Review} End of the Roadie by Elizabeth Flynn


Detective Inspector Angela Costello is once more on the case in the End of the Roadie: A Mystery for D.I. Costello. Her daughter is out on a date with one of D.I. Costello's constables. D.C. Gary Houseman and Madeleine have tickets to see rock-star Brendan Phelan in concert. Brendan is known for his use of prop guns and whips along with traditional instruments in his music. The crowds are loving his brand of entertainment. However, after the concert D.C. Houseman hears real gunshots outside the theater and finds one of the stage hands, Oliver Joplin, dead and Brendan standing in shock nearby.

D.I. Costello works with her team to untangle the lies and deceit hanging over Joplin. Considering he was an inadequate roadie, why was he always on Brendan's team for every tour? Did Brendan, an expert marksman, pull the trigger or was there another shooter?

This is the third D.I. Costello book. Each book stands alone. I've enjoyed all of them so far. Elizabeth Flynn is a British author and does use British slang and colloquialisms which I happen to like. I do find that I sometimes need to look things up as I don't understand the context of what is being said or a term that was used, but overall the books are enjoyable and the mysteries are excellent. This particular one had me guessing "who-done-it" right up to the very end.





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.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

20th Year


It's hard to believe that I have a twenty year old son...but I do. It seems just mere days ago he looked like this...


Okay - maybe more like this...


But now the boy is no longer a boy but a man and looks like this...


I love that he loves books as much as I do. He actually packed up all of his books and brought them to college with him. Only to realize that he didn't have room for them and we hauled them all home two weeks later. 

Yes, my oldest is now in college and I couldn't be more proud of him and what he is accomplishing. This quirky boy of mine is finding his "people" and doing well in an environment that pushes his limits daily I expect. 

He started two weeks early as part of a student intensive program. He passed the English portion (yeah!) which meant he could attend a regular English class rather than the workshop class. I actually had every confidence he would do this. The added benefit is that he was on campus two weeks before all the other students and was able to get comfortable with his dorm room and getting around campus. It also meant we all missed the craziness of move-in day! At least this year. Next year we'll have to deal with that. 

He is currently attending a local community college. Well, local in that it's less than an hour's drive away. He is living on campus and seems to be thriving and doing well. His goal is to get an associate's degree in General Studies and get all of those pesky required classes out of the way at a smaller campus. And we are happy as well because it is a less expensive campus! Then he will transfer to the more local (20 minutes away) state university and study creative writing. 

His goal is to one day write the story lines for video games. I have challenged him to write a story next month during National Novel Writing Month. I'm writing as well so we'll hopefully hold each other accountable.

I love seeing him grow and thrive. I love seeing him gain confidence in his abilities and in himself. I love seeing him stretch himself and push limits and boundaries. I simply love this man my boy has become.

{Review} Caged No More DVD


Caged No More is a movie about human trafficking. Staring Kevin Sorbo, Loretta Devine, Alan Powell, and Cassidy Gifford (Kathie Lee Gifford's daughter) it follows the story of Aggie, the surrogate grandmother to Skye and Elle. 

Aggie finds their mother dying of a drug overdose at the start of the film. Her dying words are to charge Aggie with saving her daughters from her husband, Jack. This sets Aggie off on a journey to find out where the girls are as well as how to save them. 

She soon learns that their father has taken Elle to Greece with the intended purpose of visiting his other daughter, Skye, at the school she attends in London. At least that what she thinks until she realizes Jack may have other sinister motives. 

Aggie is shocked to discover that Jack has a twin brother, Richard, a wealthy man with connections in their town of New Orleans. She embarks on a risky plan to see him and beg his help in getting back her girls. 

Surprisingly she succeeds and Wil, Richard's son home on leave from the military to recover from injuries he has received, agrees to help Aggie figure out where the girls are and get them back. It's then everyone realizes what Jack's true motives are. Skye isn't at boarding school in London. Jack had brought her to Greece the previous year and sold her into the sex trade. This is also is intention for Elle who is only fourteen years old. He has drug debts he needs to pay off. 

Wil takes a team with him to Greece, along with Aggie, in order to get the girls back. 

We are given a look into the sex trade and how prevalent it truly is and not just overseas. There are more slaves in the world today than ever before. 

The movie was very well done. It is suitable for older teens simply because of the subject matter. 



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.

Friday, September 23, 2016

{Review} The Afters: Live on Forever


The Afters have just released their fifth album with the Fair Trade label entitled Live on Forever. I've enjoyed songs from The Afters before so I was eager to check out their newest offering. I was not disappointed. The title track has already been released to radio so I'm pretty familiar with it.

However, the song that caught my attention while listening to the album was one called Battles (track two). After checking out the "behind the music" video on YouTube, I enjoyed it even more. I've made it easy for you to both see that video plus the lyric video. Just look below.

Official Lyric Video
 

The "Heart of the Song" Video  

Josh Havens, guitarist and lead vocalist for the Afters had this to say about "Battles:" 
"It was the last song we wrote and the fastest we wrote.
We don't typically write songs fast; we'll change
lyrics and melodies and craft our songs carefully. 
But 'Battles' poured out, the music and lyrics,
in one day. It's about standing up against fear and
knowing God is always with us. 
It's one of the takeaways we hope people get:
'Don't give up to fear.'"

That was one reason I really liked that song. The driving beats helped as well. Overall, this was a fantastic album and one I'll enjoy listening to again and again. 


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 5, 2016

Curricula Choices 2016-2017


It's been quite a few years since I've shared what we use for curricula. This year I have a tenth grader and a seventh grader. I am an eclectic homeschooler. We use curricula from various companies at various levels and work where my boys are in their abilities. It's worked for us for fourteen years so we continue.

My 10th Grader:

He will be doing a few of his classes online through Virtual Homeschool Group (VHSG). If you've never heard of VHSG it's an online co-op that offers free classes. It's growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, it grew so much this year that only "early seating" families (those that volunteer to teach, grade, or build classes and/or donate money towards the cost of the servers) were able to enroll in live classes. They do offer "at-your-own-pace" science and math classes that anyone can use and it looks like their "Book Masters" classes will also open for AYOP this year as well (literature studies). 

My 10th grader will be using VHSG for the following classes:
  • Algebra 1 - using Saxon math
  • Spanish 1 - using Destinos
  • Government - using Notgrass (1st edition not the new 2016 edition)
  • Chemistry - using Apologia 2nd edition (which can only be purchased used these days)
I used Saxon when I first started years ago with my oldest son and didn't really like it. We have used all kinds of different math programs over the years. We're heading back to Saxon because it's what VHSG uses and he can attend a live class four days a week as well as go to open office hours if he runs into trouble. Math confuses me. Numbers don't make sense to me so all of this makes me very happy!

Spanish 1 will be using an online program. Although, the students do have a textbook and workbook to use as well. It's actually designed for college level and there are 52 lessons. However, for high school, they will do the first 26 this year and call that Spanish 1 and next year they will complete it for Spanish 2. He will also be attending a conversational Spanish hour through VHSG to practice even more.

Government is only a half semester program. In the spring, he will utilize VHSG once more for the Notgrass Economics course. 

Last year he did biology through VHSG and it worked out very well. He does all the book work through the group and our local homeschool co-op did all the experiments. We will be doing the same set up this year. Our co-op will be doing chemistry. This works great for me as all I have to do is schedule it for him. Although, I am correcting lab reports for VHSG chemistry. I also added in a middle school chemistry book, Exploring the World of Chemistry, that he is going through quickly. However, I felt it would give him a very good overview of chemistry that he can then delve into with the Apologia book. 

Off-line he will be doing Notgrass' Exploring America (2007 edition) program. Once he completes this he will earn a credit in history, a credit in English (literature and composition) and a credit in Bible.  I had actually planned for him to do Rod & Staff English 9/10 this year but dropped it (he doesn't even know this yet) once I realized it would end up being too much for him. However, he will still be doing Writing Strands to beef up his writing skills as well as Rod & Staff Level 8 spelling (his last year to do this). 

I also added in Rod & Staff's Level 9 reading comprehension for him this year. I felt it would be good practice for future standardized tests as we have never done a reading comprehension program before. 

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My 7th Grader:


Just like his brother, my youngest will be taking some classes through VHSG as well. He will be taking: 
I switched to Notgrass for history for this kiddo as well. We will be going through their America the Beautiful program. This program covers geography as well as literature. It's harder than he's used to but I think we've finally gotten over the issues we had when we started last week. He seems more diligent in getting it done.

He is also doing Rod and Staff Spelling (Level 4), English (Level 5), and reading comprehension (Level 5). His work load increased dramatically this year and he's finding his rhythm. Well, that and we had a rather heated "discussion" about stepping up. He tends to have difficulty in focusing so that will definitely play a role for him this year. 

He will be doing Writing Strands as well as a handwriting book this year as well. Lastly, he is doing math practice online using XtraMath, learning how to type with a free online program, and Spanish using Rosetta Stone

This year he will be learning how to focus better when it's time to do schoolwork and making sure he is diligent about completing everything given him to do daily. 

My boys also participate in our weekly Youth Group on Sunday nights, karate twice a week in the afternoons, and weekly music lessons. Both boys play two instruments. They both play the piano. My middle son also plays the drums (yes, we have a drum kit in our basement) and my youngest plays the violin. We also participate in our local homeschool co-op on Fridays. Needless to say, it can sometimes be a lot but they continue to step up.