What I read in December

Well, I read the same this month as I did last month.. Granted, we had some visitors, and holidays.. And I did start a book that I probably won’t finish until after the new year that has seemed to take a while. Here is what I read in December!

What I read in December

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica –

“The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us.” 

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

What I thought: This one had me definitely wanting to read more, and that is for sure a plus! I liked how it kept hinting one way and then another…you kinda knew what was going to happen and then you didn’t…

What I read in December

In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody – Kennedy Rhodes turns down an acceptance to an elite private school, instead choosing to stay at her high school and jump at the opportunity to date the boy of her dreams. Three years later, Kennedy walks in on that same boyfriend cheating with her best friend—and wishes she had made a different choice. But when Kennedy hits her head and wakes up in the version of her life where she chose to attend the private school, she finds that maybe it’s not as perfect of a world as she once thought.

What I thought: This is kind of along the same lines as a Freaky Friday type thing, but different. I liked the characters and it was interesting to read the ‘what if’…

Those are the two books that I read this month! I should be picking up the pace again after the new year!

As always, I will take any suggestions you have on books that you have loved lately! I have been on a mystery kick, but still always like to read a little YA… 🙂 I hope you all have a great 2018 and read a lot of books!!

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What I read in November

Well, not much read this month, but with holidays and traveling and such…it just didn’t happen. I am way passed my goals on Goodreads though, so I feel ok about it. How did y’all do this month on books read? Let me know your favorites! Anyway, here is what I read in November!

What I read in November

The Beach Trees by Karen White – From the time she was twelve, Julie Holt knew what a random tragedy can do to a family. At that tender age, her little sister disappeared-never to be found. It was a loss that slowly eroded the family bonds she once relied on. As an adult with a prestigious job in the arts, Julie meets a struggling artist who reminds her so much of her sister, she can’t help feeling protective. It is a friendship that begins a long and painful process of healing for Julie, leading her to a house on the Gulf Coast, ravaged by hurricane Katrina, and to stories of family that take her deep into the past.

What I thought: I thought this book was well done, I liked the characters. I wanted to read more, some pieces felt left out…but I thought it was a cute story.

What I read in November

No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan – Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

What I thought: I enjoyed seeing what would happen next in this book. Granted, some of the plot seemed silly, but I went with it. I did enjoy the suspense of it all as the character was well done…

So, those are the only books that I read this month! I have been on a mystery/suspense kick lately! Do you have any that you would suggest? Let me know!!

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Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Review}

I have mentioned Writing with Sharon Watson before and how much we have enjoyed it! In the past we have used Jump In! as well as The Power In Your Hands. Both were very good! She has others out there, but this one fascinated me so much! It is Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis. 

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

Now, we have read some pretty heavy duty books this school year! I was impressed that they hung in there as long as they did! Even though our school year was just about at the end, they were still up for more! I think it helps that I read the books out loud so they can just listen…

We have delved into characters a bit in our literature, but not anything thoroughly. I love that this book really gets into the characters. The course really gets you thinking about things, your opinions, and just how things are or could be!

The set I used consisted of three paperback books, the one shown above which is for the students, a Teacher’s Guide, and a Quiz and Answer Manual. There was also a fantastic PDF download of a Novel Notebook.

Like the other curricula we have used from Sharon Watson, the beginning of the student book asks questions, basically to find out how the student feels about literature. There is also a section that pretty much explains literature and why we read it, character labels, and into antagonists. Then there is an activity to take a book or movie the student likes and answer questions about it. It gets them started for the rest of the book, the real stuff!

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

The Teacher’s Guide is wonderful! I couldn’t imagine doing this course without it! The course is broken down into lessons and tells you what to do on each day. I LOVE when a curriculum has this! Otherwise I get overwhelmed and I want to do it all in one day, this gives me a stopping point!

Grades are sometimes hard with literature based curriculum! Sharon Watson includes a grading grid to make it easy…and it is! It’s a very simple system broken down into six sections, each section worth from 1-25 points and then you just tally each section for the final grade!

There is so much information in the Teacher’s Guide. There are ISBN numbers for the books she lists; she suggests ways on using this course as a Book Club, which I think is a great idea and I never would have thought about that on my own!

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

The Novel Notebook is another great thing that goes with this course! In fact, it is recommended that it be mandatory, which I think is a great suggestion. We got the PDF of this and it is an amazing thing. It really makes the students think about what they have read and even apply it to their own life, or think about things on a deeper level than what they may be used to.
Illuminating Literature Characters in Crisis example

At the end of each chapter is this page. They can write what they want to remember about the story and what they want to forget. I know with some of the books we have read already this year, there are definitely a few things the kids want to forget…ha! But I like that they can look back on the book and remember the good as well as the bad.

The questions for the first book are a lot easier than the questions for the next book, which is Frankenstein. The questions get pretty deep, so you may want to look at them before hand. Topics such as suicide are brought up and certain people have qualms about such topics unless they are bringing them up.

Back to the main books… As you can see, the first book is A Jury of Her Peers and it is actually included in the student book, since it isn’t that long. Even with the story not being that long, there is still over 30 pages of questions and information in the student book. Of course a few pages of that IS the story.

At the end of each section, there is a choice of activities that the student can do. This does wonders for kids that may learn in different ways! Some of the activities are researching, creating, rewriting, singing, and some other things that apply only to that particular story. This section right here puts this curriculum over the top for me! I mean, we are used to doing unit studies and that type of learning, so maybe that’s why, but I think it is a great addition.

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

The last book is the Quiz and Answer Manual. It is mentioned that this could be optional, but really, I think it should be included for sure! For each book there is a multiple choice quiz, basically to see that they read the book and what they retained from it; then there is a fill in the blank quiz that is about literary terms. There is a word bank to choose the answers from, so hopefully there isn’t a deer in the headlights look when they get to that.

I could really just go on and on about this curriculum, it is my new favorite from Sharon Watson! I have always been fascinated with characters in books and I hope the kids start thinking of them differently now too! I am excited that we haven’t read any of the books on the list before except for one! Looking forward to using this when we start up school again!

You can download free sample chapters, grading grids, and quizzes if you would like to check it out! Sometimes it helps to see it for yourself before deciding to try it or not!

If you want to read what others thought about Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis, feel free to click the banner below!

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

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Road Trip!

Road Trip

I am so excited! We are leaving in a couple days for a Road Trip! We are driving to Pittsburgh, PA for one night, going to Mount Gretna, PA for two nights, then on to NYC for two nights, and then one night in Philadelphia.

I have never been to Pennsylvania before, so it will be nice to knock another state off my list. I think we will also be going through a state or two on our way that I might be able to knock off as well!

The kids haven’t been to either place, so I am looking forward to that.

I have one child who LOVES city life and one who HATES it.. So, between the trip to NYC and the one to Mount Gretna, I think both should be happy.

I think I over plan for road trips. I bought a huge rubbermaid bin and filled it with snacks. Granted, there is also laundry soap and a first aid kit in there, but we have enough snacks that we could live for a year if we got stuck somewhere. Of course there is only about six bottles of water…but…we could figure something out for that. At least we wouldn’t be stuck eating leaves or something! 😉

We haven’t had a proper vacation since we moved here, so we are all kind of excited to get started! So thankful that we have a new vehicle that is more dependable than what we were driving previously. Ryan now uses that vehicle for going to work and back, as well as anything extra that he does.

I am having fun researching good places to eat in PA. I figure NYC will just be more about where we are at the time when we are hungry. We are staying within walking distance of Times Square, so there’s definitely going to be plenty of options!

Here’s hoping that the trip goes well!! 🙂

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Forbrain by Sound for Life LTD {Review}

How many people like to hear themselves talk? I remember when I was little and my friend and I would record ourselves as radio dj’s on a tape recorder. It was so strange to play it back and realize that was my voice! I have always been told that people can’t hear me, I speak too quietly. I was interested in trying out Forbrain by Sound for Life LTD to see if I could find out!

Forbrain Sound for Life LTD

As you can see in the image, the Forbrain device looks like something a receptionist might wear in a way. It is very small and once it is on correctly you can hardly notice it. It comes in this nice zippered case which keeps it protected.

Forbrain case

When you first get your Forbrain kit, this is what it looks like inside. The device, some cables, replacement microphone parts and some manuals. It is a very simple kit! That is one thing that threw me off when I first opened it.

We charged the headset pretty quickly with the usb cable that came with it. While it was charging I decided to take a look at the manual and other paperwork. One card just mentioned that the device needs to be charged before use. That was easy enough.

Forbrain ManualWe opened this card and it gave some good hints and tips on how best to use it, how often, and how it works. It seemed like it would be easy peasy on trying it out! We also looked at the manual. It was pretty thick but then we realized that it was written in many different languages and the English section was just two sides of the pamphlet, and it was folded accordion style.

The manual went over what was included, the parts of the device, the features, how to wear it, how to charge it, some troubleshooting tips, that sort of thing. Everything seemed pretty simple and easy to understand!

So I put it on! And I said a few words. It was definitely a weird experience hearing myself so clearly. I was fascinated and went around to everyone that was home and had them try it out too! For some reason, Lauren couldn’t ever get it to sit right on her head and we tried quite a few times. Maybe she has too much hair, ha! We will definitely be trying it again on her though. But everyone thought it was neat to hear themselves like that!

The next day when it was a little quieter I decided to try out some of the suggested Forbrain exercises that are listed in the FAQ section on the Forbrain website. They weren’t made up by Forbrain themselves, but some therapists made them up and shared them.
Forbrain lyricsThe first exercise sounded very weird when I read it. It was supposed to be to the tune of ‘Every Breath You Take’ but the words and how you hear yourself talk…it was all just a little too much for me, lol. The rest went a lot better.

I could definitely hear that I was uneven in my speaking. I could hear myself on one side and then the other. It was much better when I heard myself evenly and I tried to keep doing that as much as I could. I noticed that I wasn’t enunciating things as clear as I could either! It made me want to do mouth exercises or something, ha!

Forbrain Sound for Life LTD
Forbrain mentions that it could be used to help memorization and such and I can totally see that! You are focusing on hearing yourself speaking that it definitely helps you retain what you are reading that much better. That’s one reason why I wanted Lauren to be able to use it, to help with her memory. She can remember Bible verses like nobody’s business, but other things just aren’t easy at all. It’s strange. But we will keep working with her on the correct way to wear the headset.

One of the most difficult things with the Forbrain kit was that there really weren’t any directions or tips on what to look for once you are using it. You basically have to just listen to yourself and figure it out on your own. I wasn’t sure what to do when I first started, but now I can totally tell a difference.

Just don’t give up on it after you start using it. The time it takes to notice different things will come at various times. Definitely use it every day, even for only a few minutes. They say that you need to use it for a while to really get the full effect from it and I have only been using it for a few weeks. I am interested to see how it goes the more I use it!

If you want to read what others had to say during their time using Forbrain, feel free to click the banner below!

Forbrain {Sound For Life Ltd Review}

Forbrain by Sound for Life LTD

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Thinking Like an Engineer {Review}

Our school year was so close to being done when we got an awesome new program, Thinking Like an Engineer  from Innovators Tribe. I told the kids about starting it up so close to the end but they were all excited! I have to admit I was definitely excited!

Thinking Like an Engineer
This subscription that we got lasts for two years and it can be used for an entire household! Just the thing I am looking for! It is also good for 1/4 high school credit hours!

We had recently toured a local architect firm that employs not only architects but many different kinds of engineers, so this couldn’t have been better timing. Innovators Tribe also has Thinking Like an Architect which I am totally wanting to get maybe for our next school year. We are hoping to remodel our house in the next year or so, and between both the Architect and Engineer programs, I think it would be great combination!

Thinking Like an Engineer dashboard

When you log in you are brought to the student dashboard. This tells you how far you are in the course and lets you resume where you left off. When you click that button you again have the option to start where you left off or not.

Thinking Like an Engineer main

On the left are all of the little modules. They are listed as the major sections and then also broken down. I love that it lets you check things off when you are done with that section. You can also uncheck them in case you wanted to go through them again or something.

There are plenty of videos that show Mr. K explaining different things. He has a very engaging way of speaking and it isn’t too young for older kids or even adults to listen to. He shows plenty of examples on his slides, as well as using videos to explain what he is talking about.

The sections are just long enough to keep your attention and really wanting more! There was a point that we just kept going even though we had to be somewhere and we ended up  running out the door at the last minute!

In between the lessons and explanations are challenges. These were so awesome! The whole family was really interested in these!
Thinking like an engineer project

The first one was to try and build something out of four pieces of paper and a foot of masking tape. There were also some rules that had to be followed as well. Everyone tried to come up with something that would work and this is the closest we got. It definitely wasn’t 100% yet, but it gave us ideas on what to try next!

Thinking like an engineer projectThinking like an engineer project

The next challenge involved trying to make something that would carry as large of a stack of books as possible, but they had to be an inch off the ground. Here’s two that were thought of. The one on the left wasn’t a full inch off the ground and it needed some more work to be usable. The one on the right though?

Thinking like an engineer project

It carried all of his school stuff as well as his laptop! I was impressed! We didn’t keep stacking things on top, but we really should have to see how much more it would have held. There were limitations on this challenge as well that made it even more difficult!

Thinking like an engineer project

Included in the course is Autodesk 123Design software. This definitely took a little learning curve, but the course is full of little tutorials to get you comfortable with playing around with it. If you don’t feel 100% with it, you can always look back at a certain section. That whole part of the course is invaluable and I wouldn’t rush through it!

This challenge involved making a piece of furniture. I have no idea if this really counts, but it was definitely interesting trying to come up with something within the challenge boundaries!

We aren’t finished with the course yet, but I am intrigued with the upcoming sections.. Roller coasters and bridges! I am excited to get to those, but we aren’t going to rush it. I am giving my kids a little school break and then we will actually be doing this for fun as well as for learning!

I can honestly say that this course grabbed the attention of everyone in the household like nothing else we have ever tried! You don’t even realize that you are learning while going through the course. We are definitely looking at the architect one maybe for next school year!

I will say though, that in going to the website today, I noticed that they are having a 35% off sale until November 11th! If you are at all interested in either of these classes, I would totally jump on that!

If you want to see what others thought of their time with Thinking Like an Engineer  feel free to click on the link below! There are a few people who were able to try out Thinking Like an Architect also, so make sure to read what they had to say as well!

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}

Thinking Like an Engineer

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Autumn Fun


Fall has been my favorite season, even before we lived in a place that actually had one. Our fall in the Phoenix area kind of started in January and lasted about a week. Now that we have moved here there are so many ways to have fall, or Autumn fun!

Autumn fun

There is a place that isn’t too far away from us that is wonderful for hiking! It is called Hanging Rock State Park. I took the kids there when it was just starting to cool off but unfortunately it got really warm the day we went.

Ryan and I were the only ones that made it to the very end to see the fantastic view. It was silly because all Kyle and Lauren had to do was go just a little bit more, but granted, it was quite hot and we had eaten a huge lunch before we started, so none of us were feeling 100%. But I couldn’t NOT see the view!!

So, I was looking forward to going again, this time with Jeffy. We had a day that was pretty free for all of us which doesn’t happen as much now that Ryan is working some odd days and hours.

It was cool enough that I needed a hoodie, and it was really overcast. As we got closer to the parking lot it was looking downright spooky! But we still went for it!

It is probably my favorite hike so far out of all the places that we have hiked. It’s not that long of a list, but still. I would do this hike every day if I could! It’s a great mix of flat and rocky and the bonus of the great view is at the end.

As we were approaching the end it started misting, even going to a light rain, but nothing too bad. I was still excited for Jeffy to be able to see the view..

We finally get to the rocky part and coming up to the view and….it is sooo foggy you can’t see anything. All you can see are the rocks in front of you and some trees in front of you.

The view was completely gone it just looked like nothingness, which was actually kind of cool too!

But, I guess it gives us another excuse to do it again! By the time we might be able to do it again, it would be December and I think it might be too cold…but maybe in the early spring!

If you are in the area, make sure you check it out though! We eat lunch at the River Rock Cafe and we haven’t been disappointed yet!! So yummy!

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Thin Stix Creativity Pack {Review}

You guys HAVE to know by now how much I love these tempera paint sticks from The Pencil Grip, Inc.. I have talked about them so many times! This product has to be my most favorite, in terms of creativity. The Thin Stix Creativity Pack is a great collection of 24 colors!

Thin Stix Creativity Pack

One row is full of the regular type colors that you would see in some of the other collections like I talk about here and here but  with some added colors. The other row has some of their neon and metallic colors! I have wanted to try these since I first heard that they added them to their selections!

Thin Stix Creativity Pack

Here are the regular colors that are included in this kit. I love the added colors that make it different from the 6pk! I really do wish that there was a red color, but really, these colors are great!

Thin Stix Creativity Pack

Here are the metallic colors…aren’t they pretty? They make me so happy. The color comes out so lovely too! I will show a project that we used them on in a minute.

Thin Stix Creativity Pack

These are the neon colors. Fun, right? The pen colors look brighter on here than they do in real life, but they still paint wonderfully!

What I love about the Kwik Stix in general is that they can paint on so many different surfaces! I think wood looks fantastic because you can still see the grain coming through. We have a great time using them most frequently on paper, especially the Thin Stix as they are thinner than the regular sized ones.

Here are some projects we did..

Thin Stix Creativity Pack Project

This was fun…and really, the candy looked a lot better before the black outline was attempted. Forgot that the black had been used on something with a rougher surface and once we started outlining the candy we just didn’t feel like we could quit. Ah well, we will know more for next time!

These paint sticks basically feel like you are coloring with a lipstick, so the tips do get worn a little faster than say, a crayon or something… And you can see that this project could definitely have used a red color as we all know that reds taste the best, right? 😉

Thin Stix Creativity Pack Project

We had seen something similar to this online somewhere a while back and thought it would be fun to try with the selection of colors that we had. We would probably do it a little differently next time, but we thought it turned out cute!

Thin Stix Creativity Pack Project

Out of all three of these projects, I think this one was the most interesting! We weren’t even sure it was going to work at first! We went out and got some of the leaves from outside and colored them with different paint colors. The metallic ones turned out so awesome, but it just doesn’t come through in my phone pic.

Since the paint dries fairly quickly, I do think it would be better to stay with the smaller sized leaves if you were going to do this. Unless you are a fast painter, ha! I love how the detail came through so well on the various leaf shapes! Next time I would like to try even more colors!

If you want to see what projects others came up with using this Thin Stix Creativity Pack then feel free to click the banner below!

Thin Stix Creativity Pack {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

Thin Stix Creativity Pack

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What I read in October

I am not sure where October went, how about you? It seems like I was at the airport every other day, which I probably was! Thankfully that season is about over…I did get a few extra pages read while waiting in the cell lot, so that’s always nice. How close are you to reaching your Goodread’s challenge goal? I still don’t know if I should change mine for next year or not..I have a couple months to decide. Here is what I read in October, let me know if you have read these or if you have any suggestions for future reads!


Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant – The more I touch someone, the more I can see and understand, and the more I think I can help. But that’s my mistake. I can’t help. You can’t fix people like you can solve a math problem.

Math genius. Freak of nature. Loner.

Eva Walker has literally one friend—if you don’t count her quadruplet three-year-old-siblings—and it’s not even because she’s a math nerd. No, Eva is a loner out of necessity, because everyone and everything around her is an emotional minefield. All she has to do is touch someone, or their shirt, or their cell phone, and she can read all their secrets, their insecurities, their fears.

Sure, Eva’s “gift” comes in handy when she’s tutoring math and she can learn where people are struggling just by touching their calculators. For the most part, though, it’s safer to keep her hands to herself. Until she meets six-foot-three, cute-without-trying Zenn Bennett, who makes that nearly impossible.

Zenn’s jacket gives Eva such a dark and violent vision that you’d think not touching him would be easy. But sometimes you have to take a risk…

What I thought: I thought this was a cute book and I enjoy the way it was told. I love books where someone has a strange ‘gift’ like that.


Into the Water by Paula Hawkins – In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.

But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . .

What I thought: While the story line was interesting, bits of the book seemed repetitive. I did enjoy the story…but.. I think the ending was a bit odd too if I remember right.


Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton – Cry, the Beloved Country, the most famous and important novel in South Africa’s history, was an immediate worldwide bestseller in 1948. Alan Paton’s impassioned novel about a black man’s country under white man’s law is a work of searing beauty.

Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.

The eminent literary critic Lewis Gannett wrote, “We have had many novels from statesmen and reformers, almost all bad; many novels from poets, almost all thin. In Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country the statesman, the poet and the novelist meet in a unique harmony.”

Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.

What I thought: I enjoyed this book! The story wasn’t fast or anything but it was a very interesting read. I liked the main character and his adventures.


Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather – There is something epic—and almost mythic—about this sparsely beautiful novel by Willa Cather, although the story it tells is that of a single human life, lived simply in the silence of the desert. In 1851 Father Jean Marie Latour comes as the Apostolic Vicar to New Mexico. What he finds is a vast territory of red hills and tortuous arroyos, American by law but Mexican and Indian in custom and belief. In the almost forty years that follow, Latour spreads his faith in the only way he knows—gently, although he must contend with an unforgiving landscape, derelict and sometimes openly rebellious priests, and his own loneliness. One of these events Cather gives us an indelible vision of life unfolding in a place where time itself seems suspended.

What I thought: I just couldn’t get into this book. I enjoyed some of the stores within, but overall it just seemed like it was all over the place.


The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea – Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors in the small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. When they disappear from a beach party one warm summer night, police launch a massive search. No clues are found, and hope is almost lost until Megan miraculously surfaces after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.

A year later, the bestselling account of her ordeal has turned Megan from local hero to national celebrity. It s a triumphant, inspiring story, except for one inconvenient detail: Nicole is still missing. Nicole’s older sister Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, expects that one day soon Nicole’s body will be found, and it will be up to someone like Livia to analyze the evidence and finally determine her sister’s fate. Instead, the first clue to Nicole’s disappearance comes from another body that shows up in Livia’s morgue that of a young man connected to Nicole’s past. Livia reaches out to Megan for help, hoping to learn more about the night the two were taken. Other girls have gone missing too, and Livia is increasingly certain the cases are connected.

But Megan knows more than she revealed in her blockbuster book. Flashes of memory are coming together, pointing to something darker and more monstrous than her chilling memoir describes. And the deeper she and Livia dig, the more they realize that sometimes true terror lies in finding exactly what you’ve been looking for.

What I thought: I enjoyed this book! The characters were written well and I could really get into the story. One part was more of a ‘duh’ moment for me because of course it had to happen, but it didn’t take away from the story for me..


The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship by Lisa Verge Higgins – What makes a wife a lover?
For Kate, the spark went out of her marriage long ago but her husband doesn’t seem to notice. Their role as parents consumes their lives so they need to rekindle the romance they once shared.

What makes a woman a mother?
For Jo, a high-powered career has led her to believe that she doesn’t have a single maternal instinct. When an orphan unexpectedly enters her life, she is forced to confront her own unhappy childhood and the walls it has built around her heart.

What makes a man the love of your life?
For Sarah, home is the steamy jungles of Africa while the man of her dreams waits in the air-conditioned confines of Los Angeles. Her longing for this man from the past is blinding her to a new love standing right in front of her.

What these women all have in common is a friend with a generous soul, an irrepressible spirit- and a serious illness. In her final letters, Rachel raises one last question: What makes a friend live in our hearts forever?

What I thought: Gah…to have friends like these! I really enjoyed this story and how everyone changed, it was nice to read..


Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis – In the classic The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis, the most important Christian writer of the 20th century, sets out to persuade his audience of the importance and relevance of universal values such as courage and honor in contemporary society. Both astonishing and prophetic, The Abolition of Man is one of the most debated of Lewis’s extraordinary works. National Review chose it as number seven on their “100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Twentieth Century.”

What I thought: Well, I just don’t even know what I read…bits of it were ok, but most just ended up being nothing. Maybe because I was reading this one out loud? Just seemed like someone would be yelling these words at me…just didn’t like it.

Well, that’s what I read in October! I hope you have read some good books lately!!

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Done with school?

done with school

Done with school? Our school year is officially over!!

In case you didn’t know this, our school year runs approximately January/February to October/November.

It makes it great since fall is our favorite season here in NC! It gives us opportunities to travel around anywhere from the city right next to us, or maybe even a little further! And more than likely it won’t be crowded with everyone else off of school and such. At least for a good portion of our break.

It does make it tricky when it comes to graduating. Poor Ryan had to keep doing school for a few months after we did his graduation with our local homeschool group. But he is officially done now! He can work on finishing his Associates in Arts at the local college whenever he wants.

This schedule also lets me get in on holiday deals for homeschool curriculum and such. They usually have great deals at Christmas time that would be perfectly timed for the start of our new year!

The kids usually get a little break in the summer when my niece comes to visit…and any time that one of the grandmas visit. Those smaller breaks help break up our school year, since really, we don’t even take off most holidays that fall in between those months, lol.

When we were still in Arizona I kept to a normal school schedule so that the kids could play with their friends and family when they were out of school. Realizing that we were going to be in the RV for longer than we thought when we first moved here, that pretty much started the whole wonky scheduling at first. We didn’t get moved into our house until September 1st, and by the time we got situated and got our curriculum figured out, it was well into October, so we just stuck with it!

I know it is a little out of the ordinary, but it works for us!

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