Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Book Review: The Feather Chase (A Cousins Mystery Book) by Shannon L. Brown

About the Book:

Twelve-year-old cousins Sophie and Jessica don’t have much in common. Sophie loves hiking and her small town. Jessica would rather be shopping in a city. The only mystery is how they’ll be able to spend the summer together.

Then they find a briefcase in the forest with a surprise inside. When they hear footsteps behind them and bad guys run after them, they have no choice but to work together to solve the mystery of The Feather Chase.

Visit Cousins Mystery to purchase your own copy today!

About the Author:

Award-winning journalist Shannon Brown had the idea for a mystery for kids—a briefcase full of feathers—pop into her mind while driving on a busy freeway.
The Feather Chase, the first book in the Crime-Solving Cousins Mystery series, was published in 2014. After writing more than 600 articles about almost every imaginable subject including opera, Daniel Boone, and her specialty of jewelry, Shannon switched her focus to marketing her book and writing the next book in the series. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she now calls Nashville home.

If you’d like to connect with Shannon you may visit her website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

My Opinion:

Usually when I set out to read a book that is geared towards ages 8 to 12 I make sure not to set my hopes too high because usually they are written in such a simplistic manner that would honestly insult my 10 and 12 year old daughters.  That is not the case with Shannon L. Brown’s book, The Feather Chase, and I am so excited to be able to share this book with you because it is just fantastic!  At first I didn’t think I’d like the cousins as one seemed a bit too bossy and the other a bit whiny, but as I kept reading the cousins really grew on me and I think the reason for that is that they are respectful both to their parents, aunt and uncle as well as others around them.  That is hard to find in books for children today, as most of the children seem to act like their parents don’t know anything and treat others like they are dumb.

Since this is a children’s mystery book it isn’t as mysterious as an adult book would be but it definitely garners enough suspense to get one’s mind wondering what is going to happen next and the ultimate whodunit.  While I also only limit myself to only the Christian genres, this book in and of itself is not Christian, so it can be read by those who share my faith as well as those who don’t.  There is no ‘religion’ in this book, and even with that absence it was quite enjoyable and as I said the girls were enjoyable characters as they got along well even though Jessica doesn’t like nature and Sophie isn’t fond of make-up and primping.  One thing I will mention is that Jessica does have a bit of a crush on a boy her age named Tony, there is no hand holding or kissing, but it’s evident when Jessica ‘forgets’ how to talk or blushes when he is around.

The other aspect I liked about the book is that even the adults while maintaining their authority also respect the girls and help them as they seek to crack the mystery and solve the case.  While some may think this is only for girls since the main characters are girls, I can see boys liking it given the mysterious plot involved – it would make a great read aloud for the entire family.  I also want to mention if you visit Shannon L. Brown’s website you’ll find a need little download to keep track of the clues as you read and then you have to predict if they are real clues or a red herring – lends a little educational flair to the book.  Another exciting item to not is that she also offers a lapbook, for those who homeschool or who know me, we enjoy lapbooking in this house so I was very excited to see that offered to readers – it’s available as a PDF download for $7.00 on Shannon’s website.

(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws


As We Forgive by June Foster


About the Book:

Tim Garrett saw Jess Colton back to health in Give Us This Day but can’t control his own life. Tim wants nothing more than to serve God as a pastoral counselor, but first must prove to the staff and elders at Bellewood Fellowship he can handle the job he was hired to do — work with the senior high youth.

Roxanne Ratner’s father abandoned her when she was ten, and now she doesn’t trust men. They’ll only hurt her like her parent did. She fills the empty place in her heart with shopping for designer clothes. Though the perky young hairstylist falls in love with the Tim, she must keep her distance from the handsome pastor.

Despite Tim’s efforts to prove himself on the job, everything works against him bringing him closer to dismissal. Tim has one last chance at Camp Solid Rock. When Tim learns a frightening secret from his youthful adversary, can Tim make a difference? Can Roxanne risk giving her heart to Tim?

About June Foster:

I’m a retired teacher and travel full time with my husband in our RV. I began writing Christian fiction in January, 2010. My hope is to minister to Christians who struggle with the same issues as my hero and heroine.

From June’s blog.

My Opinion:

I wasn’t sure what to think when I began this book, having never read June Foster before I was definitely delighted to know that her writing is real and there is nothing fake in it.  As We Forgive has characters that are real and that struggle with daily living and dying to their sins every….single….day – just like Christians in real life.  I didn’t read the first book but that is going to be rectified, however it was easy to just jump in and get to know Tim and the other characters that come along in this book, June weaves anything the reader needs to know seamlessly into the story without feeling like you did miss something.

Usually when I read a book where a pastor is struggling it seems superficial and forced, but not with Tim, his struggles are real and dealing with them proves not to be easy, as some books would make it seem.  He realizes he can’t do it on his own and needs the Lord.  Roxanne, at first seems a little needy and whiny, but once you see past the character’s exterior the rest falls in place and she feels real with her struggles.  I could feel myself relating to the characters, both the adults and the teens, it was like wow! I know I struggle but this book makes it seem like I can overcome, where other books leave me feeling bad about having a struggle at all.

If you’re looking for a real book but fictional then check out June Foster’s As We Forgive, it will be a book that will keep you turning your e-pages late into the night as you seek to know what these characters discover about themselves and just how God fits into their lives.  Just as June says in her bio, she hopes that her stories minister to Christians who struggle, she definitely accomplishes this with a deft manner and one that should keep her readers coming back for more.

**Disclaimer:  I was provided a copy of this e-book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

Leave a comment on this review for a chance to be entered into the As We Forgive Blog Tour Giveaway.  Our prize pack includes two sets of handmade cards (one monogrammed, one miscellaneous cards) A San Juan Island Pendant, and a Amazon Gift Certificate for $10.00.   Visit June’s Blog ( for more chances to enter during the tour September 17th thru October 15th.  Deadline to Enter will be October 18th.  The winner will be announced on October 20th.


The Critical Thinking Co. Editor in Chief Beginning 1

Picture from The Critical Thinking, Co.


I really enjoy Critical Thinking Co.’s products – they don’t just allow passive learning or rote memorization – their products make the child think and actually solve the issue and this is true for their newest product called Editor in Chief Beginning 1.  All children need a good, strong foundation in spelling, grammar, and punctuation – so that their ideas are able to be formed in writing and their ideas are understood – but most programs are boring and the children don’t learn much, enter Editor In Chief.

There are 16 lessons which cover the following:

  1. Capitalization
  2. Punctuation
  3. An and A
  4. Verb tenses
  5. Contractions
  6. Nouns and Pronouns
  7. Singular and Plural
  8. Am, Is, Are
  9. Me and I
  10. Subject/Verb Agreement
  11. Was and Were
  12. Run-on Sentences
  13. Sentence Fragments
  14. Good and Well
  15. Comparisons
  16. Homophones

Working on this one to two times a week would allow for a good basic foundation for spelling, grammar, and other language assets. Depending on how you do the lessons and figure in the reviews, which follow after every two lessons, and a comprehensive review after every four lessons completed this would cover 16 weeks of class work.  Each lesson is followed by six paragraphs in which the child has to find the mistakes – the child will know how many mistakes need to be found by the number of circles to the right of the paragraph.  For example if the child is doing the review for 5, 6, 7 and 8 it would tell the child there are 2 singular/plural mistakes, 1 contraction mistake, 1 noun/pronoun mistake and 1 Am/Is/Are mistake.  This allows for self checking in the independent student and also makes checking the work faster for the parent and or teacher.

There is a teacher’s answer key at the back with in depth explanations as to how the answer is achieved.  Teachers and parents are also given permission to make 35 copies per year for their classes or children – which helps to cut down on the cost of purchasing a book for each student.  The pages are perforated for easy removal if you chose to make copies of the pages.  I really like these for our home school in that I can just copy the pages needed and have my child independently read the lesson and do the pages, freeing me to help my other children with work, and then going over it together.

You can find sample pages at The Critical Thinking, Co. website or purchase it for $14.99 .  Editor In Chief Beginning 1 is geared for grades 2 to 3 and there are other ones for grades 3 through 12 as well as the software version of this great language arts curriculum.  If you’re looking for a simple but fun way to ensure children learn what they need to know for language arts then this is a great way to do it and it’s affordable!

**I was provided a copy of this workbook from The Critical Thinking Co. in exchange for posting my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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Psychology: A Christian Perspective; High School Edition by Dr. Tim Rice

About the book from HomeschoolPsych:

Whatever you think about psychology and its effect on Christian students, the time to deal with it is now.

Some Christians think that psychology is an important discipline, that it is consistent with a Christian worldview, and that it is an acceptable field of study and career choice.  Other Christians see psychology as an idolatrous and ungodly rival religion.  Some Christians think that God created psychology when He created Mankind.   Others describe psychology as psychobabble, psycho-heresy, and the most deadly form of modernism to ever confront the Church.

Whatever you think about psychology, the time to deal with it is now because many Christian students go to college to become psychologists, counselors, or social workers. Most colleges (even Christian colleges) require students to at least take an introductory psychology class.

My Opinion:

I graduated from the local community college with an Associates degree in Social Work, I never went on to actually use my degree, but in same ways I do even being a homemaker.  That said I enjoying reading up on the field of Psychology, I may not be as learned as those who deal with it day in and day out but it does fascinate.  Maybe because I’ve dealt and worked in mental health, my mom is an ANP in mental health, my dad is a nurse so I’ve been around it and I’ve had to take my share of Psych classes in college.

When I saw a chance to receive a copy of Dr. Tim Rice’s book Psychology: A Christian Perspective, High School Edition I knew I had to grab the offer.  Like above some if not most Christians either have strong views for or again Psychology – there are some bad Psychologists out there and there are some good ones as well.  What I really liked about this was the fact that God is at the center of the entire book, there are some differing points of view explained but it always come back to the Creator.

This is written for the high school student and will come in handy if you’re high school student wants to study a course of Psych at home as a credit toward graduation or you or him are just interested in Psych from a Christian world view.  The book is $29.95 plus shipping but of course, like most homeschool families, it can be read by more than one student – there is a free teacher’s guide to download or you can order a physical one.  You can also purchase the accompanying student workbook, quizzes and answer keys in order to make a full study out of this text.

The text covers 15 chapters with an introduction, index and references.  Chapters one through fifteen will cover What Is Psychology?, A Christian Worldview, Sensation and Perception, Human Development, and of course more.  I liked the fact that each chapter has a chapter summary with the basic and most important information summarized as well as some review answers and statements asking the students to pull from what they’ve learned so far – a great help if your student plans on testing and getting a credit for the course.

No worries mom and dads if you’re leery about teaching Psych to your children – Dr. Tim Rice does a 16 part lecture series on this text and students are expected to read the text and answer the review at the end of each chapter.  He doesn’t grade or give tests, that is to the discretion of the parents however if you don’t feel qualified or don’t have enough time to devote to this subject this could be what you need to help your budding Psych student along in his or her endeavors.  You can learn more about the class by visiting the class page, and you can order the text (including Kindle formatted) on the order page.

**I was provided a copy of this book from Dr. Tim Rice in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.

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6 Pence Productions (review)

Tired of T.V. and movies taking away your child’s imagination well then 6 Pence Productions has what you need to revive that lost art of imagination.  Started by a busy mom of 4, Lynn Llewelyn Penny, who had the idea that children would enjoy hearing audio tales produced and performed by children for children.  At this time there are three different choices to choose from, The Fairytale Collection, Princess Reform School and Fairytales and Fables (available at Target).

Most of us are familiar with “Three Billy Goats Gruff” and the “Princess and the Pea” but unless you’ve heard it the 6 Pence Productions way you haven’t heard anything.  On the Fairytale Collection CD you’ll get “Three Billy Goats Gruff’,”Cinderella and Friends”,”The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Three Little Pigs meet the Big Bad Wolves” and “Princess and the Pea”.  The total running time is 57 minutes and the whole 57 minutes is wonderfully occupied with only your child’s imagination limiting them as their minds conjure up the images to go along with the stories.

Princess Reform School comes on two CD’s with two acts and 6 scenes for that princess in your life.  Again, the only thing that limits your princess is her imagination – these don’t have to be listened to exclusively by girls but my son didn’t find this nearly as exciting as the Fairytale Collection.  My daughter’s however did enjoy it and it’s geared for ages 6 to 13. 

Like any audio theatre your mind is the key to what you ‘see’ while listening to the audio and only things that can hinder that is your brain and how the CD is produced.  If the CD is terribly done and there is a lot of ‘feedback’ the experience will be terrible, however that is not the case with these CD’s.  Wonderful production with no extra background noises and clear audio with each actor or actress enunciating the words makes these a pleasure to listen to even if you are 32 years old.

If you’d like to get a feel for how these audio theatres sound like you can listen to a sample on the 6 Pence Production’s shop, which will give you a good taste of what the stories entail and sound like.  The Fairytale Collection sells for $14.95 and Princess Reform School sells for $19.95 or you can purchase The Fairytale Collection on iTunes.

**I was given these two CD’s by 6 Pence Productions in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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"Trivium Mastery: The Intersection of Three Roads" by Diane B. Lockman

As a non-classical home educator I enjoy reading about how Classical homeschoolers differ from those of us who are Eclectic and this book provided that insight.  I think as parents, we have evaluate what will work for each of our children (and ourselves), and whether we choose to use Classical, Eclectic, etc we have to do what works.  I can definitely tell that the author is very much supportive of the Classical approach to home education and that is great.

I loved how things were split up so if you have young children she discusses what Classical education would encompass for the young child, middle aged child and the high school child.  With case studies of families with differing amounts of children and educational viewpoints the reader gets a glimpse of how each family uses the Classical method, which can be a benefit to those who are wanting to make the switch from some other approach to Classical.

There is so much information in this book that at times it seems almost overwhelming however keeping at it and digesting it is very worth while.  While I can’t say that I would switch to full time Classical homeschooling, I definitely can see myself adding elements to our schooling that fits each child.  The one thing that I think would have benefitted the book is the addition of an index, say if I wanted to just read something on grammar, math or phonics however that isn’t an option. 

I can say this is going to be a main stay on my bookshelf for reference through out my homeschooling endeavors.  If you’d like to get your own copy please visit Classical Scholar.

**I was provided a copy of this

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"Constant Christianity" by Jenny Sidri (review)

Book Description from iUniverse:

In her inspirational book, Jenny Sidri offers a practical perspective to the teachings of Jesus that recall his direct words to us: Be perfect, even as the Father is perfect.

The author shares her recovery from illness through a 3-step approach that employs daily meditation, thought training, and a personal inventory to increase self-understanding. Using the Master’s words and universal truths, this volume lights the path to discovering a new sense of well-being and spiritual living.

The busy and burdened lives of today’s population can benefit by using this intensely practical approach for relief of stress and re-energized purpose in each moment. The author encourages spiritual seekers to develop conscious self awareness, using the highest ideals to guide daily choices. The result is positive and productive living that engenders new joy and enthusiasm.

Although this book is religious in nature, its precepts can be applied by all, for the methods speak to the universal side of everyone.

The guidance offered in Constant Christianity will help readers recognize the beauty of developing sterling character, ultimately realizing a balanced and universal life of joy and fulfillment.

My Opinion:

 This was a book that  indeed can be enjoyed by all, however some things are going to need to be evaluated in light of Scripture.  I got the feeling that the book was trying to say that the reason I have this or this issue is because I’m not meditating (praying) or training my thoughts.  This is definitely written from a Catholic perspective, not that I agree or disagree with that if it’s based on Scripture.  The use of the seven Cardinal Sins is one drawback for me in that I believe all sin is sin no matter what it is and God did not design a system of this sin is worse than this sin and so on.  I did appreciate reading about Benjamin Franklin’s list of 13 virtues where he strives to live a more Christian and God centered life.

Overall, this book was a good and short read but as I said above I would read it and approach it with a Bible and a concordance in hand so as to make sure your finding Scriptural references in there truest sense.  There is a lot of Scripture used and referenced in this book , which I appreciate and as with any book we need to ensure that it’s being used as God intended.  I did enjoy it even if I didn’t agree with everything it did give me some insight into things I can improve on, even though I’ll never be perfect.

You can find out more information about purchasing from iUniverse’s site.  There is a e-book and a bounded edition available.

** I was provided a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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Mama Buzz Review: RelaxZen

I was given a product to try from RelaxZen which was a sample of RelaxZen Night and RelaxZen Day.  I like to try products that say they’ll help increase my energy or help me sleep since I’m a busy mom who goes in a thousand directions at one time!  The price of the shots depends upon where you buy them at and you can see a listing of where they are available on RelaxZen’s website.

The ingredients in the RelaxZen Day are the following:

  • Acai Extract
  • Passionflower Extract
  • GABA
  • L-Theanine
  • L-Threonine
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12

The RelaxZen Night has the following ingredients:

  • L-Threonine
  • L-Theanine
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B6
  • Chamomille Extract
  • GABA
  • Pantothentic Acid

Both of these are supposed to increase focus and help you be more alert, be more productive, reduce stress and fatigue as well as balancing your mood.  I must admit while I didn’t feel any effects from the Day shot I did feel a bit more calm and relaxed after taking the Night shot.  I will venture to guess this may be because I’m not using it long term and so there wasn’t enough in my system to become effective, but I can’t say for sure, as I said I did feel calm and relaxed after using the Night shot.

The drinks did have a pleasant taste to them so it wasn’t difficult to drink them and they are easy to drink in one swallow.  However, it is sweetened with sucralose and for those with sensitivities to artificial sweeteners this may not be a good thing.  While it does contribute to there being zero carbs and zero carbohydrate, it’s not good for those like me, who may be sensitive to even a trace amount of this sweetener.

**This is a MamaBuzz Review.  I was given two samples from RelaxZen in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.

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Book Review: "With All My Might" by Gabriella Naseem Akhtar van Rij

With All My Might  is the first book written by Gabriella Naseem Akhtar van Rij, a woman born Muslim, abandoned to a Catholic orphanage in Pakistan and eventually adopted by a diplomatic Catholic family.  Written in an interview style while she was volunteering during the winter Olympics in Canada.

This book proved to be interesting, I enjoy hearing the stories of those who have been adopted however this isn’t your typical happily ever after adoption story.  Gabriella is very honest in her account of what it was like to be adopted before adoption was a well known entity and what it’s like to be of Pakistani/Muslim origins and adopted into a European/Catholic family.  At times when she was talking about her child hood I got the feeling she blamed her adoptive family but as she grew older it seems she had let go of that and turned toward acceptance.

While I did enjoy this book, I will say there are some things that I couldn’t quite bring myself to agree with – as it is with most things we all read.  She does say she believes all religions are worthy of being studied and practiced and she also states she’s not against marriage but she doesn’t feel the need to be in a marriage to be with a man.  There are a couple other items but it is more of a personal preference or where your values and morals lie that will deem how you view or read this book.

Overall, I did enjoy this book – I don’t agree with everything that I read no matter what the source but that just makes me do more of the agree to disagree.  As a mom who desires to one day adopt from a foreign nation – this did help me see what the adopted can feel as they grow up – thankfully there are more agencies around to help both the adoptive family and adoptees to get acclimated to both cultures and even letting the child keep their cultural heritage.

This book can be purchased at With All My Might blog  the physical book is available for $20.00 and the e-book is sold for $12.00 but is not yet available as they are working on the formatting for Kindle, standard e-book, Sony and iPad. 

**I was provided a copy of this book from Bohlsen PR in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.

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"Recipes for a Beautiful Life" by Julie Keye and Madaline Hall (review)

This is a beautiful book by authors Julie Keye and Madaline Hall the pictures in the book invoke a calming effect as you read through the Scriptures.  There are two parts to the book, Recipes for a Beautiful Life, Natures Beauty and Inspirational Bible Verses and Relaxation and Home Spa Treatments.  The book is available on Amazon and Create Space for $17.95  and it’s well worth the read and to try out the recipes for the home spa treatments.

In part one of the book Scripture are accompanied by beautiful scenes of nature, families, babies and other of God’s Creation that really portray the Scripture.  This really makes you focus on the Scripture and meditate on what it means for you and your life and even think what God might have been thinking when His Words were recorded into the Bible. 

For the home spa treatments in part two the authors give advice on which herbs for what kind of skin you have, oily, dry, etc and then you can choose which treatment to try.  You’ll find recipes for:

  • Bath Treatments: Herbs to use in the tub
  • Moisturizers
  • Oily Skin: toners and exfoliants, masks
  • Normal to oily skin masks
  • Normal, dry or sensitive skin masks
  • Hair Treatments

The authors tell you how to mix, measure and use the above recipes.  Like any herbal or at home spa treatment that you make yourself there could be irritation and the FDA has not approved them.  This is an excellent that caters to both the well being of your soul through Scripture and to your body through use of God’s Creation.

**I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.

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