What I read in November 2020

It’s almost the end of the year! The kids are going to be done with school any day now, I am so excited. That means my book reading will go down significantly! At any rate, here is what I read in November 2020!
What I read in November 1
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon – For thirteen-year-old Sam it’s not easy being the son of known civil rights activist Roland Childs. Especially when his older (and best friend), Stick, begins to drift away from him for no apparent reason. And then it happens: Sam finds something that changes everything forever.

Sam has always had faith in his father, but when he finds literature about the Black Panthers under Stick’s bed, he’s not sure who to believe: his father or his best friend. Suddenly, nothing feels certain anymore.

Sam wants to believe that his father is right: You can effect change without using violence. But as time goes on, Sam grows weary of standing by and watching as his friends and family suffer at the hands of racism in their own community. Sam beings to explore the Panthers with Stick, but soon he’s involved in something far more serious — and more dangerous — than he could have ever predicted. Sam is faced with a difficult decision. Will he follow his father or his brother? His mind or his heart? The rock or the river?

What I thought: It was interesting reading a book from this point of view. Some of the book felt rushed. It was a short book and a lot happens in the short time. It was a good read.
What I read in November 2
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – The American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century.

What I thought: I feel like I am so behind on reading these books. I enjoyed this book. I love how the main character loved to read. You don’t get that much in books these days. It started a little slow but I got into it after a bit. I am glad I finished it.
What I read in November 3
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi – It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments – even the physical violence – she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her – they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds – and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

What I thought: This was a fast read. I don’t get too many books that involve a Muslim as a main character so that was new. I enjoyed the main character and the relationships she had and also her struggles.
What I read in November 4
The Cartoon Introduction to Economics Volume Two: Macroeconomics by Grady Klein and Yoram Bauman – Need to understand today’s economy? This is the book for you. The Cartoon Introduction to Economics, Volume Two: Macroeconomics is the most accessible, intelligible, and humorous introduction to unemployment, inflation, and debt you’ll ever read.

Whereas Volume One: Microeconomics dealt with the optimizing individual, Volume Two: Macroeconomics explains the factors that affect the economy of an entire country, and indeed the planet. It explores the two big concerns of macroeconomics: how economies grow and why economies collapse. It illustrates the basics of the labor market and explains what the GDP is and what it measures, as well as the influence of government, trade, and technology on the economy. Along the way, it covers the economics of global poverty, climate change, and the business cycle. In short, if any of these topics have cropped up in a news story and caused you to wish you grasped the underlying basics, buy this book.

What I thought: This was similar to volume one, just a continuation really. I think they do a great job in explaining things in easy to understand cartoons. It is hard to convey as a read aloud book, but I think if you read it yourself it would be much better.
What I read in November 5
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz – Spanning more than 400 years, this classic bottom-up history examines the legacy of Indigenous peoples’ resistance, resilience, and steadfast fight against imperialism.

Going beyond the story of America as a country “discovered” by a few brave men in the “New World,” Indigenous human rights advocate Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz reveals the roles that settler colonialism and policies of American Indian genocide played in forming our national identity.

The original academic text is fully adapted by renowned curriculum experts Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza, for middle-grade and young adult readers to include discussion topics, archival images, original maps, recommendations for further reading, and other materials to encourage students, teachers, and general readers to think critically about their own place in history.

What I thought: I thought this was very interesting. It covered so many years of history. A lot of things that just aren’t taught in schools that should be. I think everyone should read this in school.

That’s all that I read in November! Now that I made my Goodreads goal, I am curious the total books I will read for 2020!

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Economics Online Course Bundle – Boundary Stone {Review}

Disclaimer: 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.

During this second semester of our school year, I knew that the kids needed to learn economics. I had picked something at random and we had been using it but we realized it just wasn’t a good fit. I was excited to try out the Economics Online Course Bundle from Boundary Stone.
Boundary-Stone-Blue-Logo-1080x360-@72-1024x341I am not the strongest in Economics, as a subject. I have been grateful to learn more about it this semester along with the kids.

This bundle has so many things included to really help learn the subject. What was included was Basic Economics, a textbook, as well as online access to the main course as well as a mini course about budgets. The PDF of the Teachers Guide was included as well.
Boundary Stone Lesson Plan
The Teachers Guide is filled with everything you need to help you through the course. The Lesson Plan included is done by week as well as by day. I love that it is color coded. That makes me happy. But when a lesson plan is included in curriculum, I am all over it.

I will say that we changed up the schedule a bit at the beginning just to get a feel for the course. What we did was take Monday through Thursday to read the book and anything else involved in the lesson. On Friday then, we devoted time to do the study guide and any homework listed.

The Activity section lists two different activities. I would give each child one to do. That seemed to work out. You may choose to have your child to do both!

I wouldn’t mind getting on the Lesson Plan schedule though, just to make sure we complete it all in the correct order.

Also included in the Teachers Guide are all of the quizzes, tests, and answer keys. Everything is set up so nicely and very easy to use. The Lesson Lists section has little boxes that you can check off when you are done with that lesson. You can print any part of the Teacher Guide that you want.

As you are logged into the course, each lesson is set up on your dashboard. As you finish each lesson, you can mark it complete.
Boundary Stone lesson example
For an example, this is the beginning of one lesson. It tells you what to do and in what order. As you scroll down there is a matching activity as well as some questions to answer.

This video happened to include snippets from the movie Wall-E, which I love. The speaker in this video was great at getting his point across in an easy to understand way. I like when speakers know their audience and use real life examples to that audience. Each lesson has a variety of videos. You aren’t bored with the same stuff each time. The next video was John Stossel.

Also included on this lesson page is the PDF of the study guide that is also included in the book. It is very easy to make this course your own!
Boundary Stone Basic Economics
This is the book that was included. It is 379 pages and it includes a glossary and index at the end. Each chapter isn’t very long. The writing is easy to understand. It isn’t just economics jargon throughout, I liken it to a written speech. It would be easy to understand if read aloud.

The book is Biblically based and it starts out strong with talking about the book of Genesis. I appreciate that it did a sort of back story at the beginning.
Boundary Stone Budget
There is a big project that covers the whole course and it involves a budget. Make that two budgets! The general idea is to make one budget for $25K and one that would be whatever minimum wage is. They also suggest that instead of one you could use the salary of the job that the child wants in the future.

Kyle is actually excited about doing this! We did something on an easier scale years ago when we first started homeschooling, but this one is actually realistic. He already commented that can’t imagine how someone can survive on minimum wage, but I am going to see how creative he can get.

This project goes through the whole course, like I mentioned. Each section of the course brings up another item that your child will have to think about budgeting for.

All in all I think this is the best course on Economics that we have seen. The online portion is set up to be very user friendly, and the combination of that with the book and the Teachers Guide make it very complete.

I like that fact that you can print things out, like the lesson plan, as I love to have tangible things in my hand. Ahhh, tangible, that’s talked about in the course! Ok, I admit, I am learning along with the kids!

If you want to read what others thought about the Economics Online Course Bundle from Boundary Stone, feel free to click the banner below!

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Bible Unearthed from Drive Thru History {Review}

Disclaimer: 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.

I have been watching videos from Drive Thru History® Adventures for a long while now. When I heard that they were coming out with a new addition, Bible Unearthed, I was so excited! It is all about archaeology! You don’t really hear much about archaeology anymore and I find it so interesting.

If you are not familiar with Drive Thru History® Adventures, they are a series of learning adventures. Dave Stotts drives around to different locations and goes through the Bible at the same time. They are fascinating!
Bible Unearthed group
Dave Stotts has been a favorite of ours, he has just an easy personality for these videos. In Bible Unearthed he is joined by Randall Niles and Dr. Titus Kennedy to make a sort of round table feel.

The videos are on the shorter side, about 15 minutes long. It is a lot of talking back and forth as well as looking at pictures from Dr. Kennedy’s travels. They show certain artifacts and replicas from his travels.
Bible Unearthed worksheet
As you are logged in and finish the video, you can scroll down and access a printable worksheet and answer guide. The worksheet has the same information as the summary under the video, but there aren’t any images.

What we did is read it together after watching the video and then I gave the kids the printable worksheets. That way they could work on them on their own time and be reminded of everything that we watched and read before answering the questions.

There aren’t many questions, usually five, and the answers aren’t very long, depending on how much detail they are wanting. It is great to show retention from everything seen and read. What we have done in the past is just use the questions as more of a discussion and go through them together.

Also included is a Bible verse that goes along with the lesson, an optional activity, and some suggested articles.

For the Bible verse, I think it is great to read it every day of the week that we are on that lesson. They can choose to memorize it or not. Some of them are longer than others, so it depends on what you want to do. There are sometimes added verses that go along with the main verse.

The optional activities are fun! Some of them I really got into, like for episode 6 the optional activity is drawing pottery and then trying to guess the date and type of it. Of course, I love drawing.

Some of the activities are pretty involved, so depending on the age of your child you may want to make it a little easier.

I haven’t yet finished through the entire 12 episodes, but I took a sneak peek and there are some good ones coming up. Especially looking forward to episode 10 talking about Weird Archaeology!

We have reviewed other courses from Drive Thru History® Adventures: Acts to Revelation , The Gospels, and the All-Access. They have all been so great! There are sample lessons on the Drive Thru History® Adventures if you wanted to try them!

If you want to see what others thought of Bible Unearthed, feel free to click the banner below!

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PEM LIFE {Review}

Disclaimer: 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.

One thing that I feel is being ignored a lot in teaching kids is the real stuff. The things that help you become an adult. Because pretty soon you will want your own car, or your own apartment, and then it gets real…and fast! I was excited to check out Personal Finance Illustrated® Homeschool Edition from PEM LIFE.

I was excited about two things right away. It is a homeschool edition, which sometimes just makes things easier. And also it is Biblically based.

We were given access to the program for six months.That works out as it is meant to be used over a semester. Since we have been using it, I think six months is great as opposed to just a semester as there is just a lot of information on the site!

There are two suggested ways to go through the course. Have your children take it on their own, or you could be the instructor. I decided to go through it with the kids. Mostly because I was so intrigued at everything offered and wanted to check it out!
PEM LIFE screen
When you log in, this is the screen that you see, your dashboard. It is very easy to navigate once you click on the links to see what everything is.

As easy as it is to navigate, there is a lot of information here. I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to proceed, so the first couple weeks were spent trying to get a game plan. I would have loved to have a suggested schedule included in the curriculum, but I understand why that is not included.
PEM LIFE Student book
Included in our course was a Student Edition of a book, The Personal Economic Model. This really helped in our figuring out the course more. The graphics included in the book matched the online course. I think it would be great to have a printed version, just because I like having something tangible to look through. I would be interested in sending it out to be printed somewhere, it is 158 pages.
PEM LIFE lesson
This is an example of the lesson description in Unit 2. It tells you what you can expect from each lesson and the list shows you the order in which to do things. You can click on each link and it will take you exactly where you need to go.
PEM LIFE Library
Here is an example of the Resource Library. There was a lot more as well! As you click on each link, a new window opens and brings up something interactive to go along with the course. A lot of these are pretty detailed. We have spent a lot of time on these playing with different circumstances.
PEM LIFE graphic
As you look at this graphic on the interactive link, you can move the orange dots around and it will add or subtract depending on which way you move it. Just by looking at it you can see how involved it is, showing things that you may not think about as a teen. I like that it mentions tithing and giving, as both of those are important in our household.
PEM LIFE video
Each unit includes at least one video lesson. The speaker explains things very well, and the things that we didn’t catch the first time, it was easy enough to rewind and listen again. Plenty of real life examples are mentioned and talked about in an easy to understand way.
There are a few quizzes in each unit. There is a tab you can click on in your dashboard and follow the progress of any quizzes taken. There are concept quizzes and vocabulary quizzes.

Also in each unit are opportunities to converse with others that are taking the course. This is familiar to them as their college courses are set up like this as well.I think this is a grand idea! Unfortunately my kids were unsure what to say just yet and have skipped it so far. I imagine as they continue, they may be more likely to contribute.

Like I mentioned, the course is meant for one semester, but I am quite thankful for the six month access. We are slow going because of all the information provided in the course. We spend a lot of time doing ‘what if’ questions. Also, the math gets a little tricky as well.

I do highly recommend this course. I think adults would definitely get something out of this course as well! Once we got in our groove it was quite smooth and very informative.

If you want to see how others used Personal Finance Illustrated® Homeschool Edition, feel free to click on the banner below!

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What I read in October 2020

I am excited that I am getting caught up on my Goodreads reading challenge! I am only a few books away from meeting my goal! I don’t know what I am going to do next year with school ending. Hopefully I will have time to read books! Here is what I read in October!
What I read in October 1
The Color Purple by Alice Walker – A powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience. The Color Purple broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery. Deeply compassionate and beautifully imagined, Alice Walker’s epic carries readers on a spirit-affirming journey towards redemption and love.

What I thought: I can’t believe I hadn’t read this one before. So many people recommended it to me years ago. I enjoyed reading this book and the differences in the sisters and how they were written.
What I read in October 2
History on Horseback by Vicki Watson –

Through their bond with humans, horses shaped our history in ways no machine ever could. You’d think such a significant contribution would be highlighted in history textbooks, however in most, horses are strangely absent.

From the days of the Spanish explorers to modern times, History on Horseback brings history to life from a unique perspective: the back of a horse—or perhaps a horse-drawn vehicle.

What I thought: I thought this was fantastic. We included it in our school year and it worked out great since we did American History. I loved all the stories about horses throughout history.
What I read in October 3
A Different Mirror by Ronald Takaki – “A Different Mirror” is a dramatic new retelling of our nation’s history, a powerful larger narrative of the many different peoples who together compose the United States of America. In a lively account filled with the stories and voices of people previously left out of the historical canon, Ronald Takaki offers a fresh perspective – a “re-visioning” – of our nation’s past.

What I thought: I thought this was a great book on history as well. It also went well in our school year. A lot of things that people don’t tend to learn in school.
What I read in October 4
I Used to Know That: Geography by Will Williams – Do you know which countries border Afghanistan? Or the difference between Micronesia and Melanesia? And that 51 member states existed in 1945 at the founding of the UN and 192 exist today? It’s hard to know everything about geography, that amazing science that explains the interaction of diverse physical, biological, and cultural features of the Earth’s surface. However, I Used to Know That: Geography explores both the physical and human aspects of the world in short order. With its entertaining, easy-to-understand language, this little book takes on a broad subject with ease. Inside you’ll find:
The physical world: rivers & coasts, tectonics, climate and weather, global issues
The human world: world population growth, settlements and how they happened, industry and energy, and development
Countries by continent maps, complete with capital cities and population counts
Maps and a “tree” illustration, showing all branches of geography
With its “a-ha!” facts, useful illustrations, and interesting sidebars, I Used to Know That: Geography offers answers to common geography questions and gives you all you need to know to start a provocative conversation at your next party.

What I thought: I enjoyed reading this book, there were some included snippits on the pages that had quick facts.
What I read in October 5
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka – Julie Otsuka’s commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any we have ever seen. With crystalline intensity and precision, Otsuka uses a single family to evoke the deracination “both physical and emotional” of a generation of Japanese Americans.

In five chapters, each flawlessly executed from a different point of view “the mother receiving the order to evacuate; the daughter on the long train ride to the camp; the son in the desert encampment; the family’s return to their home; and the bitter release of the father after more than four years in captivity” she has created a small tour de force, a novel of unrelenting economy and suppressed emotion.

What I thought: I enjoyed reading this book. It was a little simple the way it was written, but I think that was just the style of the book and it went along with the storyline. I think it really brought the out characters more clearly.
What I read in October 6
Uprooted by Albert Marrin – Just seventy-five years ago, the American government did something that most would consider unthinkable today: it rounded up over 100,000 of its own citizens based on nothing more than their ancestry and, suspicious of their loyalty, kept them in concentration camps for the better part of four years.

How could this have happened? Uprooted takes a close look at the history of racism in America and carefully follows the treacherous path that led one of our nation’s most beloved presidents to make this decision. Meanwhile, it also illuminates the history of Japan and its own struggles with racism and xenophobia, which led to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, ultimately tying the two countries together.

What I thought: You really don’t read as much about this topic as you do others in this time period. I enjoyed learning more about the things in this book.
What I read in October 7
Counting Down by Deborah Gold – When Deborah Gold and her husband signed up to foster parent in their rural mountain community, they did not foresee that it would lead to a roller-coaster fifteen years of involvement with a traumatized yet resilient birth family. They fell in love with Michael (a toddler when he came to them), yet they had to reckon with the knowledge that he could leave their lives at any time.

In Counting Down, Gold tells the story of forging a family within a confounding system. We meet social workers, a birth mother with the courage to give her children the childhood she never had herself, and a father parenting from prison. We also encounter members of a remarkable fellowship of Appalachian foster parents—gay, straight, right, left, evangelical, and atheist—united by love, loss, and quality hand-me-downs.

Gold’s memoir is one of the few books to deliver a foster parent’s perspective (and, through Michael’s own poetry and essays, that of a former foster child). In it, she shakes up common assumptions and offers a powerfully frank and hopeful look at an experience often portrayed as bleak.

What I thought: This book made me uncomfortable…it seemed the author was obsessed with this little boy and I find it disturbing. Some of the stories were interesting but I just couldn’t get past the ickiness.
What I read in October 8
Talking to My Daughter About the Economy by Yanis Varoufakis – Yanis Varoufakis has appeared before heads of nations, assemblies of experts, and countless students around the world. Now, he faces his most important–and difficult–audience yet. Using clear language and vivid examples, Varoufakis offers a series of letters to his young daughter about the economy: how it operates, where it came from, how it benefits some while impoverishing others. Taking bankers and politicians to task, he explains the historical origins of inequality among and within nations, questions the pervasive notion that everything has its price, and shows why economic instability is a chronic risk. Finally, he discusses the inability of market-driven policies to address the rapidly declining health of the planet his daughter’s generation stands to inherit.

Throughout, Varoufakis wears his expertise lightly. He writes as a parent whose aim is to instruct his daughter on the fundamental questions of our age–and through that knowledge, to equip her against the failures and obfuscations of our current system and point the way toward a more democratic alternative.

What I thought: I enjoyed this book, the author wrote like he is writing to his daughter and it made it very easy to understand with many examples.
What I read in October 9
400 Photographs by Ansel Adams – Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs presents the full spectrum of Adams’ work in a single volume for the first time, offering the largest available compilation from his legendary photographic career. Beautifully produced and presented in an attractive landscape trim, Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs will appeal to a general gift-book audience as well as Adams’ legions of dedicated fans and students.

The photographs are arranged chronologically into five major periods, from his first photographs made in Yosemite and the High Sierra in 1916 to his work in the National Parks in the 1940s up to his last important photographs from the 1960s. An introduction and brief essays on selected images provide information about Adams’ life, document the evolution of his technique, and give voice to his artistic vision.

Few artists of any era can claim to have produced four hundred images of lasting beauty and significance. It is a testament to Adams’ vision and lifetime of hard work that a book of this scale can be compiled. Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs is a must-have for anyone who appreciates photography and the allure of the natural world.

What I thought: Of course I enjoyed looking at a book from a photographer. There were many favorite images, but some I felt meh about. I will definitely keep the book around though!


That finishes the list of what I read in October! Let me know what books you have been loving lately!

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What I read in September 2020

Last month I barely read three books and this month I finished ten! Who knows how the months will go anymore! We are slowly winding down our school year so that will be less books read for school. I don’t have a ton of extra time to read ‘me’ books, so that’s sad. I think I should still make my goal though! Here is what I read in September!
What I read in September 1
101 Great American Poems – Rich treasury of verse from the 19th and 20th centuries, selected for popularity and literary quality, includes Poe’s “The Raven,” Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing,” as well as poems by Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, many other notables.

What I thought: I enjoyed the poems that were chosen for this book. It was a nice variety, some are old favorites and some I hadn’t heard before.
What I read in September 2
A Nation Without Borders by Steven Hahn – In this ambitious story of American imperial conquest and capitalist development, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Steven Hahn takes on the conventional histories of the nineteenth century and offers a perspective that promises to be as enduring as it is controversial. It begins and ends in Mexico and, throughout, is internationalist in orientation. It challenges the political narrative of “sectionalism,” emphasizing the national footing of slavery and the struggle between the northeast and Mississippi Valley for continental supremacy. It places the Civil War in the context of many domestic rebellions against state authority, including those of Native Americans. It fully incorporates the trans-Mississippi west, suggesting the importance of the Pacific to the imperial vision of political leaders and of the west as a proving ground for later imperial projects overseas. It reconfigures the history of capitalism, insisting on the centrality of state formation and slave emancipation to its consolidation. And it identifies a sweeping era of “reconstructions” in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that simultaneously laid the foundations for corporate liberalism and social democracy.

The era from 1830 to 1910 witnessed massive transformations in how people lived, worked, thought about themselves, and struggled to thrive. It also witnessed the birth of economic and political institutions that still shape our world. From an agricultural society with a weak central government, the United States became an urban and industrial society in which government assumed a greater and greater role in the framing of social and economic life. As the book ends, the United States, now a global economic and political power, encounters massive warfare between imperial powers in Europe and a massive revolution on its southern border―the remarkable Mexican Revolution―which together brought the nineteenth century to a close while marking the important themes of the twentieth.

What I thought: I enjoyed reading all of the information in this book. It was on the longer side but it covered a lot of years!
What I read in September 3
Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton – In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton set out on an ambitious project: to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City.  Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in an attempt to capture New Yorkers and their stories.  The result of these efforts was a vibrant blog he called “Humans of New York,” in which his photos were featured alongside quotes and anecdotes.

Humans of New York is the book inspired by the Internet sensation. With four hundred color photos, including exclusive portraits and all-new stories, Humans of New York is a stunning collection of images that showcases the outsized personalities of New York.

Surprising and moving, Humans of New York is a celebration of individuality and a tribute to the spirit of the city.

What I thought: This is my second time reading…looking…at this book. It was much different when I took my time and only looked at a few pages a week. I love this book for what it is but I love even more what it has turned into on social media with all of the stories..
What I read in September 4
The Golem and the Ginni by Helene Wecker – Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

What I thought: This is a book that I would never have grabbed off the shelf if I saw it. I am so glad I read it though, it was fantastic and different.
What I read in September 5
Flesh & Blood So Cheap by Albert Marrin – On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City burst into flames.  The factory was crowded.  The doors were locked to ensure workers stay inside.  One hundred forty-six people—mostly women—perished; it was one of the most lethal workplace fires in American history until September 11, 2001.

But the story of the fire is not the story of one accidental moment in time.  It is a story of immigration and hard work to make it in a new country, as Italians and Jews and others traveled to America to find a better life.  It is the story of poor working conditions and greedy bosses, as garment workers discovered the endless sacrifices required to make ends meet.  It is the story of unimaginable, but avoidable, disaster.  And it the story of the unquenchable pride and activism of fearless immigrants and women who stood up to business, got America on their side, and finally changed working conditions for our entire nation, initiating radical new laws we take for granted today.

What I thought: I was thinking this book was going to be all about this one fire, but it was much more than that. For a short book there was a lot of information and stories to go along with it. It was quite interesting.
What I read in September 6
How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior – Eighty-five-year-old Veronica McCreedy is estranged from her family and wants to find a worthwhile cause to leave her fortune to. When she sees a documentary about penguins being studied in Antarctica, she tells the scientists she’s coming to visit—and won’t take no for an answer. Shortly after arriving, she convinces the reluctant team to rescue an orphaned baby penguin. He becomes part of life at the base, and Veronica’s closed heart starts to open.

Her grandson, Patrick, comes to Antarctica to make one last attempt to get to know his grandmother. Together, Veronica, Patrick, and even the scientists learn what family, love, and connection are all about.

What I thought: I thought it was a big change to read a story with an older main character. It was kind of refreshing. I loved reading about the penguins too. It was an easy read.
What I read in September 7
The Cartoon Introduction to Economics Volume One by Grady Klein and Yoram Bauman: The award-winning illustrator Grady Klein has paired up with the world’s only stand-up economist, Yoram Bauman, PhD, to take the dismal out of the dismal science. From the optimizing individual to game theory to price theory, The Cartoon Introduction to Economics is the most digestible, explicable, and humorous 200-page introduction to microeconomics you’ll ever read.

Bauman has put the “comedy” into “economy” at comedy clubs and universities around the country and around the world (his “Principles of Economics, Translated” is a YouTube cult classic). As an educator at both the university and high school levels, he has learned how to make economics relevant to today’s world and today’s students. As Google’s chief economist, Hal Varian, wrote, “You don’t need a brand-new economics. You just need to see the really cool stuff, the material they didn’t get to when you studied economics.” The Cartoon Introduction to Economics is all about integrating the really cool stuff into an overview of the entire discipline of microeconomics, from decision trees to game trees to taxes and thinking at the margin.

Rendering the cool stuff fun is the artistry of the illustrator and lauded graphic novelist Klein. Panel by panel, page by page, he puts comics into economics. So if the vertiginous economy or a dour professor’s 600-page econ textbook has you desperate for a fun, factual guide to economics, reach for The Cartoon Introduction to Economics and let the collaborative genius of the Klein-Bauman team walk you through an entire introductory microeconomics course.

What I thought: This is a very easy way to get the main points about Microeconomics. I loved the cartoons and the stories that they told throughout the book.
What I read in September 8
Votes for Women! by Winifred Conkling – For nearly 150 years, American women did not have the right to vote. On August 18, 1920, they won that right, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified at last. To achieve that victory, some of the fiercest, most passionate women in history marched, protested, and sometimes even broke the law—for more than eight decades.

From Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who founded the suffrage movement at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, to Sojourner Truth and her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, to Alice Paul, arrested and force-fed in prison, this is the story of the American women’s suffrage movement and the private lives that fueled its leaders’ dedication. Votes for Women! explores suffragists’ often powerful, sometimes difficult relationship with the intersecting temperance and abolition campaigns, and includes an unflinching look at some of the uglier moments in women’s fight for the vote.

What I thought: This was quite interesting, you don’t really hear about all that went on behind the scenes with the suffragists. I like that the book included many photos. It just boggles my  mind that it was even a thing to not let women vote…
What I read in September 9
Reading People by Anne Bogel – If the viral Buzzfeed-style personality quizzes are any indication, we are collectively obsessed with the idea of defining and knowing ourselves and our unique place in the world. But what we’re finding is this: knowing which Harry Potter character you are is easy, but actually knowing yourself isn’t as simple as just checking a few boxes on an online quiz.
For readers who long to dig deeper into what makes them uniquely them (and why that matters), popular blogger Anne Bogel has done the hard part–collecting, exploring, and explaining the most popular personality frameworks, such as Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and others. She explains to readers the life-changing insights that can be gained from each and shares specific, practical real-life applications across all facets of life, including love and marriage, productivity, parenting, the workplace, and spiritual life. In her friendly, relatable style, Bogel shares engaging personal stories that show firsthand how understanding personality can revolutionize the way we live, love, work, and pray.

What I thought: I love personality tests and all the various other things like them out there. I know them all! It was still fun reading about them in this book. But that might be why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I knew a lot of the things in the book already. Great for someone who wants to learn more.
What I read in September 10
Autumn Falls by Bella Thorne – With her fiery red hair, new-girl outsider status, and tendency to be a total klutz, Autumn Falls definitely isn’t flying below the radar at Aventura High. Luckily, she makes some genuine friends who take her under their wing. But she also manages to get on the wrong side of the school’s queen bee, and then finds out the guy she’s started to like, funny and sweet Sean, hangs with the mean crowd. Now her rep and her potential love life are at stake.

When Autumn vents her feelings in a journal that belonged to her late father, suddenly her wildest wishes start coming true. Is it coincidence? Or can writing in the journal solve all her problems? And if the journal doesn’t work that way,  is there a bigger purpose for it—and for her?

Filled with personal elements from Bella’s own life, AUTUMN FALLS is the first book in Bella Thorne’s new series! It has everything readers will love and relate to: a real girl trying to find her own inner strength and be the best she can be, with a hint of magic and mystery, and a steady stream of OMG-I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened fun.

What I thought: I really needed a light book to finish out the month with all of the heavy stuff I have been reading lately and this fit the bill. Not only that, I really enjoyed it! I am sure it is a familiar story line, but it had just a little spin on it. I would even say I would read the next two books in the series! That’s a surprise to me!

Well, that’s what I read in September! It looks like such a weird variety of books this month, I love that. As always, let me know your favorite books lately!

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My Teaching Library {Review}

Disclaimer: 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.

With our school year not being on a typical schedule, this time of year has us trying to fit everything in that needs to be done. Especially this year with both of them being seniors! I was looking forward to checking out some fun resources with the Download Club from My Teaching Library.

My Teaching Library has teaching resources for all grades, from preschool to grade 12. There are many different main subjects as well!

  • Arts
  • Character Education
  • Electives
  • Language Arts
  • Languages
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

You can easily look for resources by grade or subject as well as the miscellaneous section has a different layout.

For me, since my kids are in 12th grade, I decided it was easiest to just look at the choices under the 9th-12th section.

Right away I saw something that got my attention. With it being an election year I wanted to see what they had for that category.
My-Teaching-Library-Electoral College
They had a simple Electoral College packet. I love that it has a map so that you can color it in as the results are shared. I think that is the exciting part of election night. Along with the map there is a list that you can keep track of each states contribution of Electoral College votes.

The list includes the number of votes that each state gets, it is current as of 2019 which is still the same for 2020. So, in using that chart you can then transfer over to the next page each candidates states. Then you can tally them up at the end.

I think this works for many different grade levels. And it helps with geography as well, trying to find the states mentioned.

Another item in the election category is a candidate analysis. I think this is fantastic for my kids this year. 2/3 of my children can vote this year although only one is homeschooled right now. I think this will help them as they go to vote.

Some of the items have not been talked about as much yet, we are going to be waiting for the debates and fill in things as they talk about them. I like that they have a section for relevant candidate quotes as sometimes those are just easy to remember and associate with a candidate. And, if they are extra good, there are memes made out of them, ha!
My-Teaching-Library-artOther categories that caught my eye were a couple of the drawing items. We moved somewhere that has flowers that we weren’t used to while living in Arizona, so the How to Draw Flowers section was fun. The drawings are pretty basic, but I am thinking you could expand on them as you see fit. They are more like illustrations.

There is also a section on how to draw birds. This seemed more like a study on birds, with less drawing information. I thought it was still quite interesting though! You would definitely need some drawing experience before using this one.

I was excited to see a book list by grade level, but alas, there wasn’t anything listed past sixth grade-ish. There are definitely some great books on the list though!

As the kids are already almost done with math for the year and we aren’t doing a science this year, I thought I would keep looking for more categories. Next I found economics! We started economics this semester and the curriculum we are using just isn’t what I wanted. I think I will look more into this.

The economics lessons come in two parts, the student and teacher editions. From what I have looked at so far, it looks like it would be fantastic in a group, or co-op, setting. I love some of the projects mentioned.

One project was to find a jar of peanut butter and list all of the jobs that it took to make that jar of peanut butter. Brilliant! I can do that one with my kids and that would be a great homework assignment.
Another thing that I loved about the resource categories, they have things broken down by season, by month, by holiday, etc. Of course Fall is my favorite! There were many cute ideas listed!
My-Teaching-Library-libraryThe Download Club has two choices. You can choose what works best for you. Try it for a year to see how you like it, or just jump in and get the lifetime subscription!

All in all, I definitely think the Download Club from My Teaching Library is worth checking out. Granted, there wasn’t a huge amount of items for my 12th graders, but you could always embellish what is listed and use it as a starting point for different studies.

I think it is all fantastic for the younger kiddos. So many things to choose from. I do like that it has preschool items as I know so many people are looking for that now.

If you want to see what others thought about their experience with My Teaching Library, feel free to click on the banner below. I bet that someone will have kids your kids ages and will have more ideas to read!


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What I read in August 2020

You guys, it is finally an -er month. That means fall is around the corner! So exciting! I didn’t read a ton of books this month, it has just been busy around here! We are trying to finish up school and all of these other things keep happening. I know y’all know how it is! Anyway, here is what I read in August.
What I read in August 1
This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust – An illuminating study of the American struggle to comprehend the meaning and practicalities of death in the face of the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War. During the war, approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. An equivalent proportion of today’s population would be six million. This Republic of Suffering explores the impact of this enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual. The eminent historian Drew Gilpin Faust delineates the ways death changed not only individual lives but the life of the nation and its understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. She describes how survivors mourned and how a deeply religious culture struggled to reconcile the slaughter with its belief in a benevolent God, pondered who should die and under what circumstances, and reconceived its understanding of life after death. Faust details the logistical challenges involved when thousands were left dead, many with their identities unknown, on the fields of places like Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg. She chronicles the efforts to identify, reclaim, preserve, and bury battlefield dead, the resulting rise of undertaking as a profession, the first widespread use of embalming, the gradual emergence of military graves registration procedures, the development of a federal system of national cemeteries for Union dead, and the creation of private cemeteries in the South that contributed to the cult of the Lost Cause. She shows, too, how the war victimized civilians through violence that extended beyond battlefields-from disease, displacement, hardships, shortages, emotional wounds, and conflicts connected to the disintegration of slavery.

What I thought: Ok, I did not know this book was pretty much all about death. I know it says it in the title, but this book is all.about.death. Once I figured that out I was able to put what I read in a different compartment than what I normally do. This was definitely an interesting read about the Civil War!
What I read in August 2
Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott – This edition of Little Women is based on the unabridged 1896 edition with the original illustrations by Frank T.Merrill.

Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888), which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869.
The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March—detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood, and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters.

What I thought: Ok, who hasn’t read Little Women? This isn’t my first time reading it, but it has been a while. I enjoyed this one with the illustrations. It was nice reading this again!
What I read in August 3
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined—every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

What I thought: I saw so many good reviews for this book and I thought it was just ‘meh’. It took forever to read about parts that seemed like they could be shorter. I did like the fact that you could understand Snow a little more. I still don’t like him.

Well, that’s all I read in August. Not much at all! I know I am due to finish a few in September, so the list should be longer for sure!

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What I read in July 2020

This month was a tad crazy.. I mean, have I said as much with each of these posts this year? I know I am not the only one. I haven’t been able to have time to read as many books for me lately, but I think I had a great month of books! Here is what I read in July!
What I read in july 1
The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye – 1845. New York City forms its first police force. The great potato famine hits Ireland. These two seemingly disparate events will change New York City. Forever.

Timothy Wilde tends bar near the Exchange, fantasizing about the day he has enough money to win the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams literally incinerate in a fire devastating downtown Manhattan, he finds himself disfigured, unemployed, and homeless. His older brother obtains Timothy a job in the newly minted NYPD, but he is highly skeptical of this new “police force.” And he is less than thrilled that his new beat is the notoriously down-and-out Sixth Ward – at the border of Five Points, the world’s most notorious slum.

One night while making his rounds, Wilde literally runs into a little slip of a girl – a girl not more than ten years old – dashing through the dark in her nightshirt… covered head to toe in blood.

Timothy knows he should take the girl to the House of Refuge, yet he can’t bring himself to abandon her. Instead, he takes her home, where she spins wild stories, claiming that dozens of bodies are buried in the forest north of 23rd Street. Timothy isn’t sure whether to believe her or not, but, as the truth unfolds, the reluctant copper star finds himself engaged in a battle for justice that nearly costs him his brother, his romantic obsession, and his own life.

What I thought: This book turned out to be something that I didn’t expect. I enjoyed reading it, the characters were well written and it made me wanting more.
What I read in july 2
Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon – The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually… make peace with who they are.

What I thought: I had just read a book with the same general topic and so I wasn’t sure if I was going to appreciate this one as much. I thought it was great! Some parts were a little expected, but I enjoyed reading through this book!
What I read in july 3
What You Should Know About Politics…But Don’t by Jessamyn Conrad – In a world of sound bites, deliberate misinformation, and a political scene colored by the blue versus red partisan divide, how does the average educated American find a reliable source that’s free of political spin? What You Should Know About Politics . . . But Don’t breaks it all down, issue by issue, explaining who stands for what, and why—whether it’s the economy, income inequality, Obamacare, foreign policy, education, immigration, or climate change. If you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or somewhere in between, it’s the perfect book to brush up on a single topic or read through to get a deeper understanding of the often mucky world of American politics.

This is an essential volume for understanding the background to the 2016 presidential election. But it is also a book that transcends the season. It’s truly for anyone who wants to know more about the perennial issues that will continue to affect our everyday lives. The third edition includes an introduction by Naomi Wolf discussing the themes and issues that have come to the fore during the present presidential cycle.

What I thought: I thought this book had a lot of information in it! Someone that maybe forgot some things, or didn’t know other things..this book would be perfect for. A lot of this they do not teach in school, that’s for sure!
What I read in july 4
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

What I thought: Seems like all of my friends were reading this a while back. We didn’t start it right away, but I am glad that I read it. I do believe that this should be read in school. I am interested to see the movie and how everything was portrayed.
What I read in july 5
All Different Kinds of Free by Jessica McCann – A free woman of color in the 1830s, Margaret Morgan lived a life full of promise. One frigid night in Pennsylvania, that changed forever. They tore her family apart. They put her in chains. They never expected her to fight back.

In 1837, Margaret Morgan was kidnapped from her home in Pennsylvania and sold into slavery. The state of Pennsylvania charged her kidnapper with the crime, but the conviction was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the first time a major branch of the federal government had made a pro-slavery stand, and the ruling in Prigg v. Pennsylvania sewed the bitter seeds of the states’ rights battle that eventually would lead to the Civil War.

Yet, the heart of this story is not a historic Supreme Court ruling. It is the remarkable, unforgettable Margaret Morgan. Her life would never be the same. Her family had been torn apart. Uncaring forces abused her body and her heart. But she refused to give up, refused to stop fighting, refused to allow her soul to be enslaved.

What I thought: I thought this was another great book. A lot of the things actually happened which was an interesting part of this book. This woman went through so very much and I think the story was well written.

That was what I read in July! I really enjoyed the books this month! I think I look forward to school more than the kids do, the book selection has been so good!  Let me know any of your favorite books lately!

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Progeny Press Literature Study Guides {Review}

Disclaimer: 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.

I have used Progeny Press study guides a few times in the past. They are always so thorough and perfect for our homeschool! This go around we chose Animal Farm  Study Guide and Little Women Study Guide.
Progeny Press book covers
We have read both books in our homeschool throughout the years, but never with a study guide of any sort.

We received E-guides for both books, everything is online in a PDF. But what is great is that they are interactive, which means that you can input the answers directly on the PDF!

You also have the choice of printing out as many or as few pages as you would like, it is just your preference. We have done both in the past.
Progeny Press Animal Farm
We started with Animal Farm, just because it was a shorter book. If you have read it, you know that there is a lot to this short book though!

This Animal Farm study guide is geared towards 9-12th grades and there are 72 pages included. They suggest that each study guide is worth 1/4 credit for high school.

What is interesting about Progeny Press is that they suggest the student reading the book first. In the past we have always read aloud and so we just read it together.

There is a section on the best way to use the study guides included in the Note to Instructor chapter.
Progeny Press Animal Farm contents
Each study guide is set up the same, which I appreciate. You can see how the Animal Farm one is broken down. I really enjoyed having the Background Information section as it goes through different governing systems and economic systems.

There are a few pre-reading activities if you are interested in doing those, it helps to understand more as you read the book.
Progeny Press Animal Farm vocab
Each section is set up pretty similar. They start out with vocabulary. What I like about how Progeny Press does their vocabulary section is that it isn’t the same every section. For example, the first section wants you to list two synonyms for each word. The next section wants you to write how you understand the word to mean and then look it up. Some of those are tricky!

You can see how each page has the lavender section, that is where you can type your answers. I know my kids play the exhausted card when they have to write too much, so if yours are like that also, they may enjoy typing their answers better than writing!

There is a section on how different animals represent different people and you are supposed to look up each person and their relevance to the events in the beginning chapters. In my opinion, this is one activity that is helpful if you have read the story first like they suggest!

At the end of each section there is a list of Optional Activities. There is usually something there for everyone. These are typically quite involved. There are a lot of research items, but there are also cooking or sewing projects and that sort of thing.

One activity was timely with how things are today, it was a political campaign analysis and it wanted you to analyze a presidential or political race and see if they did negative campaigning.
Progeny Press Animal Farm Bible
I also like how Progeny Press brings the Bible into these stories. This section of Bible verses was very helpful and are good to look up in general!

At the end is an overview section and then an optional section for essays and projects. These are more involved than the ones throughout the study guide. A lot of thought goes into them!
Progeny Press Little WomenThe Little Women Study Guide is set up pretty much identically to the Animal Farm one, like I mentioned they are all pretty similar.

This one is 94 pages and is geared toward 8-12th grades.

We haven’t finished this one because they suggest that each study guide takes between eight to ten weeks.

What I have found interesting about this study guide is that it includes some while-you-read activities. They suggest having a notebook or something similar to write down words and phrases that might not be known. I know a lot of people do that as they read but I usually just skip over. This is just a good idea for people to do in general so that they can understand the book more as they go.
Progeny Press Little Women bread

One activity I am excited to do is to make this bread. I tend to stay away from anything that includes yeast, but I think this is just something we will have to do! I also spied a recipe for Brown Sugar Apple Pie towards the end of the study guide! Exciting!

Both of these are fantastic study guides. They have many different book titles available also!

In the past I have done The Silver Chair, Great Expectations, and Perelandra. You can read all about them at those links.

As great as these are for your students at home, I can also see these being used in a co-op setting. Some of the activities are really geared to more than one student and I think it would be great to get opinions and ideas from more people!

But the study guides themselves are so thought provoking.. You really don’t want to rush through them, even if you are tempted to just get ahead. It’s really worth it to take them at a slower pace.

If you want to read what others chose for their study guides and how they used them, feel free to click on the link below! There are guides for many age groups and there may be some listed in your childs group.
Progeny Press Literature Study Guides

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