Meet Me in Monaco: Book Review

This story was a breath of fresh air. It’s a perfect beach read although I’m just imagining that part as I read it during a snowy April weekend.. It may pull me straight into the historical romance genre. Is that a thing? I should check. Anyway,
I loved this story that I thought would be about the wedding of Grace Kelly and her Prince.

Instead James the photographer and Sophie the perfumer are in the forefront of this story that reads like the script of Roman Holiday or some other classic Hollywood flick. In a way both James and Sophie are alchemists and I loved the detailed descriptions of both of their arts.

The entire love story of James and Sophie captivated me. Grace Kelly turns out to be a bit of a fairy godmother in this tale of second chance love and I could picture the Cote d Azure setting perfectly in my minds eye.

If you are looking for a delightful grown up fairy tale that has a satisfying surprise ending this book is for you.

Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

July 23, 2019

Nat Geo Kids Make This!- a book review

Make This!: Building Thinking, and Tinkering Projects for the Amazing Maker in You

Such a cool book. I count 8 chapters with 49 projects most doable with just one kid. Basically a whole year (or Summer?) of science projects for like $12!

If you’ve got a kid who likes detailed step by step instructions this book has plenty of ideas. What if you’ve got a natural maker on your hands who only needs inspiration? That kid is covered here too.

I especially liked the Challenges called Solve This! that are listed in each chapter. They aren’t cookie cutter solutions and many have more than one answer.

The publisher lists this as 7-12 year old. My son is 13 and we did a few of the medium and hard projects and had fun. I think ideally the age would be an interested 7-10 year old but your mileage may vary.

We’re waiting for warmer weather to make the solar oven, those s’mores look delicious! All in all, lots of possibilities for homeschoolers in this volume!

The Hug: A book review

My youngest child is 13 years old and we still sometimes end up with new picture books on our shelves. This flippable book is especially cute. Read from one side then flip it and read from the other side. You end up in the same spot and it is all adorable. You see, tortoise and hedgehog both just want a hug and are turned down by all the other animals until they find each other in the center of the book.

It’s a creative concept that will keep what is a short picture book in the toddler rotation much longer. I think it would be a great addition to an Easter Basket. This book is brand spanking new so you can pick it up anywhere and get that immediate gratification.

My thanks to Faber and Faber for the review copy!

The Hug by Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar

April 2, 2019

Scary Stories for Young Foxes: A Book Review

The title says scary and it means it. This collection of short stories is wildlife documentary scary. If you’ve ever watched PBS and yelled for the baby animal to “Watch Out!” You’ll love this. I’ll give this warning: the stories included are dark and sometimes disturbing. I read parts to my 13 yo and he agreed that at 9 or 10 he would have had nightmares. I’d be completely fine calling this YA, but in my opinion it is not suited for kids under the age of 12. Your mileage may vary. Pre-read it if you have any doubts, by page 33 six foxes have died.

The story aside I want to talk about the actual book a little. It features excellent thick paper, and an easy to read typeface. The best part is that the interaction between foxes (hearing the story) happen on black pages with white print and the stories they are being told to foxes are on white pages with black typeface. It’s simple, and brilliant all at once.

Things I like about this story include that it is perfect for reading a little a day. I’d say bedtime, but you know- scary. The foxes personified keep you at the edge of your seat. I’ll not that one story vilifies Beatrix Potter in a way that although true never occurred to me.

In the end it all wraps up with a happy ending and I loved it. I got the review copy as an ARC so it is a long time before you can read this one. It’ll be a great Summer read!

Scary Stories For Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker

July 30, 2019

Homeschool Hijinks 4/5/19

Welcome to anyone who is new around these parts! I call these posts “homeschool hijinks” because they consist not only of an update to what we’re actually doing, but usually include things I’m plotting for the future as well.

My pay the bills job is ramping up this week to an overwhelming crescendo and so I started digging up some resources that can be used both in the car or on the go. In other homeschool news I’m thinking about the next thing.

Trigger Warning, Homeschool Parent Yearly Spring Existential Rant begins now:

We’ve got 9 ish weeks left with this history syllabus and although I’m open to stretching it out, we’re whipping through it and I may not have time to come up with awesome filler material. I know I want to use Bookshark Level 6, but their updates aren’t out yet. I get a re-purchase discount if I order from Sonlight (their Christian based sister company) and it is real tempting to just order (save some money) and be getting ready now.

On the other hand, I want to support Bookshark and we own stuff we can use until later in the Summer. I mean what if I order now and then they introduce some awesome new thing? Decisions, decisions. You’ll know what I decide as soon as I do.

In the reality of this actual, current school year we’re on week 27/28 in History and LA. I kicked off studying Africa with this song:

It’s a classic and I don’t want to hear that Weezer version anywhere. And yes, I know that two white movie stars dancing around isn’t a politically correct way to introduce the continent of Africa so don’t @ me. We’ll get to all the horror of history and current events soon enough.

In Science I’m using Bookshark Science 6 (week 11 now) which is entirely planned out for me, and so these additions are purely for fun. We started it midyear and since I’m stretching it out, these extras don’t affect our school year schedule at all.

Soil Science Reader 7th and 8th grade- I found this through Middle School Chemistry.

We’re listening to (or reading) this individually, and then discussing over dinner all together.
We’ll read/listen to this one next.

Stuff Matters and Liquid Rules both written by
Mark Miodownik are the perfect addition to our Chemistry unit. Both are free on Kindle Unlimited and are available on Audible where we are listening to them now. I just found out that one of these is included in Bookshark 8 which I’m hoping we’ll get to, honestly it has put me in an entire rethinking mood as I try and decide which level to do next. Maybe we capitalize on this interest and go back to world history in high school? Good thing I haven’t ordered yet.

I know you’ve seen this on Pinterest for years, but I finally have a kid who wants to play Periodic Table Battleship.


Declan’s listening to City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab in his free time. We’ve been discussing “the veil” in the story which brought up String Theory, so I’m searching out some resources to study that a bit more next week!

I think his next audio book might be Sal and Gabi break the Universe? it’s still undetermined. In school we’re reading King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry. Some of the readers are out of order cause I try to get them as audiobooks from the library first and then if I can’t, I’ll check Audible or read them aloud myself. By that time, we’re off the daily schedule a bit. It’s fine.

Know and Tell: A Book Review

I didn’t know I needed a book on narration until this one popped up on my suggested book list on my kindle. I also didn’t know I needed a book on teaching narration until I read this.

Know and Tell written by Karen Glass is a book about narration. For those who aren’t familiar with the term it is one of the mainstays in most of the Charlotte Mason and Classical homeschool programs.

It seems simple and it is in theory. You read and then your child begins by giving a retelling of what was read. Eventually you move into written narrations and finally your child can write a composition on their own.

Since most of us were not taught through narration it is helpful to the parent/teacher to have some instruction in moving through those steps.

One of the great things about this book is that you can use it for all ages. Got a six-year-old? Cool. How about a 16-year-old? You are covered there too.

Karen walks you through the entire learning process explaining what you should ask of your student and why. She includes prompts for creative narrations, and there are several sections directed to the student. You can hand the book over for older kids or read it aloud to younger kids.

Classical, Lit Based and of course, CM homeschoolers will all find some value in including this book in their teacher self education library.

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative In Good Times and Bad

The book everyone needs to read. Austin Kleon seems to know just what creatives want and need to hear at any given time. Mostly because he is in the trenches with us trying to figure it all out too. Reading his books is like bouncing ideas around with a good friend. It is rather one sided though. 🙂

I requested this book from my library and it was in my inbox this morning much earlier than when Amazon will deliver my print copy this afternoon. I don’t feel like waiting to review/post after my quick five a.m. read, so please excuse the screen shot images. These are my stand out very first impressions:

  • Permission to not be connected at all times. You may not realize how much you need to hear that. Those notifications are the enemy of your creative time.
  • Bliss Station? I’ve read The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and a lot of of what David Thoreau has to say and missed this concept in all the places it is mentioned. You’ll need to pick up Keep Going to get Austin’s entire take on the concept but I’ve created a spot like that in my home without realizing that’s what I was doing. I call it my writing nest, but it is a bliss station and my alone time in it is the best time of my day.
  • Point 7: You are allowed to Change Your Mind. Even if you don’t have an artist page social media expects you to be on brand. It’s okay to change your mind about things, have different interests, be off-brand, off line.

This book earns a complete and total thumbs up from me. I may edit and add more thoughts later, but I wanted to get my initial thoughts posted first thing this morning. So many great ideas for what to do when you get stuck, and how to go on creating while your life unfolds around you.

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon