Midweek Mix-Up #16—A Bible Story Book and Blogging Tips

We’ve arrived at the middle of the week again, which means time for another midweek mix-up!

Last week, I spent a lot of time figuring out what needs to be done over the next few months in order to attain some goals I have set. That includes upping the amount of new reviews posted each week, possibly even doubling the past amount! Currently, that seems huge, but one thing I want to focus on is write more reviews, which means taking more time for reading.

Midweek Mix-Up Picture 01: Mom and Little Sis

I was trying to get pictures today of little sis for the website (I had an idea for a new banner!), but she decided she wanted Mom to read her her favorite book instead of posing!

I have about fifty print books in my room at the moment that I haven’t read (they’ve been collecting out here for the last year or more!), so it’s my goal to get through all of them. That’s not counting the 300+ on my kindle that I want to read as well! So I’ve got plenty to read, I just have to make sure to take the time.

Right now, I’ve just finished . . .

212—Resist by Emily Ann Putzke

Resist by Emily Anne Putzke

I’m going back and forth about reviewing this for the website. I loved the story—it’s a true story, fairly well written, and has great historical value. However, there was quite a bit of language at one stage, something I do not appreciate. I will be reviewing this on Goodreads and Amazon, so you can hear my thoughts there, anyway. I’ll include a link in one of these midweek mix-ups when I finish it (hopefully next week).

New reviews this week:

My Big Book of Bible Heroes for Kids by Glen HascallMy Big Book of Bible Heroes for Kids by Glen Hascall — This looks like it would be a great birthday present for someone!
Forty-eight short stories focus on various character qualities that people in the Bible demonstrated.

Underground by David Macaulay
In a combination of descriptive text and detailed ink drawings, Macaulay shows all the systems in place under streets to keep cities moving smoothly.

Home on the Blue Ridge by Pablo YoderHome on the Blue Ridge by Pablo Yoder — I loved this story, and the rest of the family did too, when Mom read it aloud to us recently.
The Sanford Yoder family, now living at Faith Mission Home, continues to have adventures as the boys explore the mountains and learn more about life.

No Children, No Pets by Marion Holland
When Mother inherits an apartment house in Florida, the children pitch in to help with the work so they can stay there.

Palio, the Wildest Horse Race in the World by Marguerite HenryPalio, the Wildest Horse Race in the World by Marguerite Henry — Fascinating story about an interesting horse race!
The big dream of Giorgio’s life is to ride in the Palio, the great historical race held every year in the city of Siena, Italy.

A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by E. L. Konigsburg
While they wait for Henry II to be released from Purgatory, Eleanor of Aquitaine, her mother-in-law, a knight and an abbot pass the time by telling stories from Eleanor’s life.

Interesting and encouraging blog posts:

Do Your Kids Really Know What You Believe? (Not Consumed) — While it is for Moms, this post was really thought provoking. What do I want to teach my children? How will they think about these important issues? Very, very good thoughts here.

But I Homeschool to Keep My Kids From Being Exposed to Worldliness (Not Consumed) — Another one for Moms, this post was also really thought provoking. Very interesting perspective.

James Scott Bell Shares His Process For Brainstorming A New Story (Go Teen Writers) — A fascinating blog post. While I might not follow these exact steps, it does provide a great pattern to study and tweak to make it work for you.

From Blunderer to Blogger: A Cautionary Tale (Money Saving Mom) — Ouch! This hits home more than I’d like to admit.

When God Asked Me To Give Up My Dream (The Rebelution) — Wow. This is well worth the read. I’ve had this experience at least once, possibly more, and while it isn’t fun it’s also wonderful to know that He has a plan—even if I don’t.

Tool of the week:

Aspect Ratio Calculator tool

screenshot of Aspect Ratio Calculator website

Aspect Ratio Calculator is something I use multiple times a week to make sure my pictures are all the right sizes when resized. Plug in the numbers you have, and what you want to end up with, and it will instantly give you the other number you need. It’s slick, easy, and fast. I use it for every blog post I write (so the image in the email won’t end up too big), and I also use it for each review I post as well, along with other miscellaneous things. This is a very handy tool!

Well, that’s it for this week! Next week, I’m thinking of a free resources post, such as planners, programs, apps, and such like. Anything you would add to a list like that?

Esther

Midweek Mix-Up #15: A World War II Novel and Science Books

I realized today that it’s been a long time since I last had a midweek mix-up and perhaps it’s getting about time for another! (For one thing, my “links to share” folder is getting very full!)

Little Brother

Little brother wading in the creek out front of our place. He loved it!

We’ve been having beautiful weather the past couple days—rain, that is slowly working at bringing our side of the country back to life after the 1 ½-year drought we’ve just had. Perfect weather for reading, although I haven’t read as much as I wanted to—there have been to many other things that I’ve also wanted to get done!

Reading lately:

212—Resist by Emily Ann Putzke

Resist by Emily Ann Putzke
Progress: 40%

Emily sent this to me as an advance reader copy—it will be released next month. I’ve been finding the story fascinating! Even though it is written as a fictitious autobiography, it’s basically a biography of a fascinating man—Hans Scholl—and how he worked against the Nazis through publishing a leaflet. The historical value in this story is high—well researched, and presented in an interesting way. I have come across some words I don’t appreciate (taking God’s name in vain and some swearing), but overall so far I recommend the story. View the trailer here!

New reviews this week:

Corner Booth by Chautona HavigCorner Booth by Chautona Havig
After sharing a booth with a complete stranger at a local cafe, Carlie ends up meeting him for lunch every week—even though he never says a word to her.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney — Favorite childhood picture book!
Miss Rumphius has fulfilled her dreams of traveling the world, but what can she do to make the world a more beautiful place, as her grandfather told her to do?

Hidden Rainbow by Christmas Carol KauffmanHidden Rainbow by Christmas Carol Kauffman — I really enjoyed this story, just like I’ve enjoyed all the other CCK books I’ve read!
Living in a strongly Catholic village in Serbia in the early 1900s, the Olesh family had a difficult time learning the truth.

Mystery in the Frozen Lands by Martyn Godfrey
13-year-old Peter is with an expedition in the High Arctic, searching for Sir John Franklin’s missing expedition.

248—The House That George Built by Suzanne SladeThe House That George Built by Suzanne Slade
One of George Washington’s jobs, as the first President of the United States, was to design and have built a house for the president to live in.

Exploring Creation With Human Anatomy and Physiology by Jeannie Fulbright and Brooke Ryan — Personally, I’ve grown to really appreciate Apologia’s science. This book (as well as the one below) both sounded like great textbooks when Mom was doing it with the boys! I’ve used two of their highschool science textbooks, and both were excellent.
A God-honoring study of the human body and all its systems, for elementary-age children.

Exploring Creation With Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day by Jeannie K. Fulbright
This is an in-depth study of birds, bats, flying reptiles, and insects, for elementary-age children.

Interesting and encouraging blog posts:

The 4 Types of Productivity Styles (99u) — I’m a mix of the Planner and the Visualizer (I love color!). Lots of really fascinating and helpful tools and programs here, too.

A List of Smells and Tastes (Go Teen Writers) — This is a great list! Lots of wonderfully descriptive words, and there’s a printable PDF, too, if you wish to go that way! I’ll be keeping this link around—it will be very handy!

From the Keurig to the French Press (Kindred Grace) — This is a beautiful, encouraging article. So often, I too find myself busy with not enough time to relax and be thankful for what God has given me. A great reminder of where our priorities should be!

Twitter 101 by Dora Hiers (Seriously Write) — I think I need to read over this post every few weeks, until I really “get” how this whole Twitter thing works. This was very helpful, though!

The Only Habit You Need as a Writer (The Write Practice) — Very encouraging blog post, and very practical. Just sit down and string some words together, it’s that simple. Simplicity is sometimes so needed! This is one of the things I want to keep working on!

Be Brave (Everyday Encouragements) — It’s so easy to be fearful, and so hard to step out in faith sometimes. This beautiful blog post/devotion is very encouraging and thought-provoking.

In God’s Waiting Room by Jodie Wolfe (Seriously Write) — You know the thing I love about Seriously Write? It’s Christian, unapologetically Christian. In this challenging post, Jodie shares how sometimes we do need to wait on God’s timing—but that is no reason to stop improving altogether! I was encouraged and inspired through these simple, yet profound thoughts.

Well, that’s it for this week! I’d do more, but it’s already late and I want to get to bed on time. Have a wonderful rest-of-the-week!

Esther

Midweek Mix-Up #14: Indians, Spotify, and Goal Setting

Welcome to this week’s version of midweek mix-up! Since I missed Tuesday’s post, I thought I’d share an extra-wonderful resource that I personally love with you today.

Reading this week:

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
Progress: Finished.

This book turned out to be a fascinating read! I loved how Elizabeth Speare showed Matt interacting with the Indians, learning their ways, and how she worked the ending—that was quite sweet. Overall, this is a well-written story about pioneers and the life they led in the mid 1700s.

All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
Progress: Page 63 of 189 (34%)

This book was part of my school work when I was eight or nine. I loved it then—it’s a clean, fun story—and recently realized it should have a place on the website as well! So, time to re-read it! Since this book is for younger children, I’m not finding it quite as enthralling as I did a few years ago, but even so it’s still very enjoyable.

Elsie’s Womanhood by Martha Finley

Elsie’s Womanhood by Martha Finley
Progress: Finished!

As with the other books in this series, Elsie’s Womanhood picks up where Elsie’s Girlhood left off—at the scene where Elsie is finally engaged. This story continues the tale, and while it’s fairly slow at times, there are several interesting diversions with Tom Jackson trying to kill Mr. Travilla—or Elsie, if he can—in order to get revenge for not being able to marry Elsie himself. Then Elsie’s family starts to grow, and the Civil War begins, with friends fighting on both sides. After five long years, the war is over—with many family members dead or permanently changed. This was another great book in the series—I’m looking forward to reading Elsie’s Motherhood!

New book reviews this week:

The Adventures of Unc Billy Possum by Thornton W. BurgessFun family read-aloud!
Unc Billy Possum’s greed for fresh eggs gets him into big trouble.

Farewell for a While by Sharon A. Lavy
Dustin and Rebekah, just a few weeks before their wedding date, discover that they have some issues they must work through before they are married.

Moses the Kitten by James HerriotOne of our family’s favorite picture books!
As the vet arrives at Mr Butler’s farm, he finds a kitten huddled in a freezing marsh and takes it to the house for the farmer’s wife to care for.

The Adventures of Mr. Mocker by Thornton W. BurgessAnother fun family read-aloud!
When Mr. Mocker moves to the Green Forest from Ol’ Virginny, he uses his talent of imitating other people’s voices to bring chaos to the animals and birds in his new home.

My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara
When day-dreaming Ken is given a colt of his own, his life begins to transform.

This week’s blog post roundup:

Ask Annie: 5 Twitter Mistakes Writers Make and How to Avoid Them (Writer Unboxed) — Super helpful advice. I’ve recently started exploring Twitter (not much, I don’t really “get” how it works, but I can see the potential in it), and this is really helpful. I need to work on no. 2—that’s basically all my Twitter has been used for so far. Woops.

Slip Away and Be With God (Youtube) — This is an excerpt from one of Paul Washer’s sermons. Challenging, to say the least!

The Absolutely Enormous List of Christian History Books {By Grade and Time Period} (Thinking Kids Blog) — This is an absolutely enormous list! So many great-looking books on here, and a wonderful resource for homeschoolers!

Setting Achievable Goals (Heritage Literature) — Great post on goal setting. Reminds me that I ought to add some deadlines to a few projects I’ve got going right now….

The Ultimate Book List For Boys! (The Modest Mom Blog) — Lots of familiar titles here! Great books—and this isn’t only for boys, of course. Many are wonderful for girls as well.

Scene Creation P. 2: 5 Essentials for the Framework of a Scene (Christ is Write) — Good tips here. For non-outliners, some of these things might be difficult, but there are some really helpful ideas here, regardless.

Resource of the week:

EZBlocker (Spotify Ad Blocker)

EZBlocker Screenshot

Truth be told, I love music. Probably a little bit more than I ought. When Grooveshark shut down a few months ago, I wanted to find another customizable music source—Pandora is fine for a while, but being able to control what you listen to is also nice at times.

Enter Spotify. I’d used Spotify—briefly—before, but when I already had music I liked sorted out in Grooveshark, I really didn’t have any reason to add another website to the mix. When Grooveshark was no more, I decided to try Spotify again. And I immediately encountered commercials…lots of commercials. Like, a full minute of them every quarter or half an hour. I got to the place where I could recognize a commercial within the first two seconds or so, and turn the volume off so I wouldn’t have to listen to it. But then, of course, you have to remember to turn it back on as well, and that didn’t always happen right away.

After a while, I was fed up, trying to find something commercial-free. Then I began to wonder if others were annoyed with the problem, and figured that someone probably was, so thus initiated a Google search—which ended in finding EZBlocker. As soon as I installed it, I noticed a difference. Ah, bliss. No more commercials and (incredibly!) with the “Block Banner Ads” setting on, I didn’t even have to see any flashing ads! Wonderful!

Oh, and a couple tips:

  • Apparently, EZBlocker works best with Windows 7 or 8 (I’ve got 8), and there’s been some success with 10 as well. There is an Android version, but no current plans for an iOS version.
  • You only have to open EZBlocker whenever you want to start up Spotify—it will automatically open Spotify for you.
  • To block the banner ads (besides the vocal commercials), open EZBlocker for the first time as an Administrator. You should be able to do that by right-clicking the icon and selecting “Run as Administrator”. Then, check the “Block Banner Ads” box and close and reopen the application.

Question: What is your favorite source for music?

Midweek Mix-Up #13: Romania, Adoniram Judson, and Tools for Writers

Well, midweek mix-up is a bit late this week. I’ve had a full schedule lately uploading new book reviews, enjoying spring time, and writing the September newsletter. Here I am now, with a few more books for you to peruse!

Reading this week:

Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand
Progress: Finished!

Oh, this book. I love it, and at the same time I hate it. It’s…powerful. Through Richard’s eyes, we see the harsh reality of what it means for many Christians in restricted nations to never be able to know—from one day to the next—what their future is going to look like. What it’s like to always hide—even from your own pastor at times!—that you’re a believer. Richard suffered much under the Communists—when the USSR had control of Romania—and while he doesn’t go into a lot of detail, he shares enough that you can understand where he’s coming from.

This book was great for me to hear, although I hated hearing it the whole way through—the picture it showed me was not pretty at all. It showed me the ugly apathy in my own life, and challenged me more than I ever remember being challenged before. Even though I may never read or listen to a recording of this book again, it’s given me a lot of food for thought—I’ll not be forgetting its message any time soon.

A Different Kind of Courage, by Sarah Holman

A Different Kind of Courage by Sarah Holman
Progress: Finished!

I loved this story! Being both a bit of a history nut (thanks, Mom), and a lover of good historical fiction, I was really looking forward to reading this story. I’ve read other books by Sarah before—and loved every single one of them—and this one didn’t disappoint me at all.

Through the eyes of William, we are shown the conflict that would have arisen between families and friends when the American Revolution got underway. I loved seeing that the historical facts didn’t override the story—especially considering how much research went into this book to make it what it is today. William’s story is very relatable—trying to follow God’s will and yet stay in the good graces of everyone else is a struggle I can understand all too well. I also loved the slight romance through the story—it was there, but not overdone. If you want a fascinating perspective of the American Revolution, this is a great resource. (I’ll be writing a full review of A Different Kind of Courage soon, to post on the website.)

Adoniram Judson, Bound for Burma by Janet and Geoff Benge

Adoniram Judson: Bound for Burma by Janet & Geoff Benge
Progress: 95%

This is another great book in the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series. I love how it shows the early life of Adoniram—how he struggled to please his preacher father at times, how he became a Deist for a while (until he heard his Deist friend dying and realized this wasn’t what he thought it was!), and much more. The last part is very sad—because of the poor living conditions in Burma, many of his friends died, and he lost both his first and second wives to sickness and bad diets. Overall, this is a great story, one that would to go along well with any Church history or missionary course. (I’ll be writing a review of this to go on the website soon, too.)

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
Progress: Chapter 10 of 25

While uploading books this week, I noticed that Mom mentioned this book in a review—but she hadn’t reviewed it yet! So since it’s really good, I’m re-reading it with the goal of reviewing it when I’m done. Not a hard job!

Twelve-year-old Matt is in charge of keeping the cabin tidy and ready for his father to bring his mother and siblings out to their new land. Then his gun is stolen, a bear destroys all food supplies when he forgets to properly bar the door, and he is attacked by some swarming bees. How is he going to survive long enough for his father to get back? This is quite the fun adventure story!

New reviews this week:

Granny Han’s Breakfast by Sheila Groves — Wonderful book about faith in God.
When all her money is stolen, Granny must trust God to supply her needs, which He does abundantly.

There’s an Owl in the Shower by Jean Craighead George
While Borden’s dad is out of work because logging has been halted, Borden finds a baby owl in need of help and they raise it.

Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express by Margaret K. Wetterer
When a storm causes a train to crash into a creek, Kate must go for help for the men who were on it.

Flame Over Tara by Madeleine Polland — Great story about St. Patrick.
When Patrick brings the gospel to Ireland, he must win the approval of the High King, Leary, in order for his mission to succeed.

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey — Favorite childhood story!
Sal and her mother go picking blueberries, and Little Bear and his mother go eating blueberries, on the same hill.

This week’s blog post roundup:

15 Productivity Hacks For Procrastinators (Lifehack) — Good, solid tips. Very helpful article!

Conventions and Obligatory Scenes (Steven Pressfield Online) — This post is writer’s gold. Seriously. It’s a bit on the long side, but worth while reading. (You can see a video version here, if you wish.)

Free Music & Background Sound Resources for Writers (Raychel Rose) — Great sites listed here. Good resource to bookmark and go back to later.

The Next Chapter: I’m No Longer Writing Twice Per Week. Here’s Why (James Clear) — Interesting. I’m enjoying a twice-per-week rhythm, but I enjoy seeing others’ thoughts on how they do their blogging, too.

5 Criteria for Selecting Read-Aloud Books for Children (Year Round Homeschooling) — Good tips for homeschool mothers here!

This week’s resource:

The Story Grid: A Five Part Video Series on the Craft of Story Editing

This is a superb resource for writers! In five fairly short episodes, Shawn Coyne shares his methods for editing. He shows you how to break your story up into bite-sized chunks, see the big picture of where your story is headed, and figure out the loop-holes without feeling overwhelmed at the size of your story.

This series was so good I stopped teaching writing to my brother for a little bit, so he could have the chance to go through this as well.

Note: There are some words used that I don’t consider appropriate, and the story they use as an example isn’t one I’d normally read. Be warned!

What have you been reading lately?

Midweek Mix-Up #12: World War II, Pessimism, and Free History Videos

Hello! How has your last week treated you? In today’s midweek mix-up, I’m sharing some of the interesting and slightly mismatched things I’ve come across this week.

Reading this week:

I’ve had a very interesting week when it comes to books. Part of my work right now has been on the computer, so I’ve been listening to an audio book while I did that. Also, I got sucked into a historical novel, and I had a fantasy going for school . . . and somehow I ended up reading all three simultaneously!

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
Progress: Finished.

The Hiding Place never fails to challenge and encourage me. Through faith, hope, and perseverance, Corrie shares snapshots of her early life, the events leading up to their family taking in Jews to hide them from the Germans, and eventually her arrest and imprisonment. This book was written to remember her father and sister Betsy, but it is so much more. Her faith in God brought her through many trials, and over and over God is shown faithful through her life. This is also a powerful picture of what life was like under the Nazi regime, and how people lived and worked in their concentration camps. I’ll be writing a review of this soon, which will be on the website after a while.

The Gammage Cup, by Carol Kendall

The Gammage Cup, by Carol Kendall
Progress: Finished.

The Gammage Cup is one of the most fun fantasy books I’ve ever read. One morning, Muggles wakes up and sees a fire on the mountain. There shouldn’t be fire on the mountain, but there is and soon it becomes apparent that the whole countryside is in great danger of the Hairless Ones—their enemies of the past—even though there is hardly anyone who believes in the old stories anymore. I love this story, not only for its depth of characters and well-planned plot, but because of the humor and ingenuity presented through the story. I’ll be writing a review of this, as well.

Elsie’s Girlhood, by Martha Finley

Elsie’s Girlhood (the Elsie Dinsmore series, book 3), by Martha Finley
Progress: Finished.

I finished Elsie’s Holidays at Roselands quite a while ago now, and had this one on my Kindle waiting to be read, but for some reason I never started it until the end of last week. I had figured this was going to be one of the more boring books—after she gets married it’s more interesting for a book or so—but I had forgotten about the plot twist half-way through this book! So Tuesday, while waiting for internet pages to load, I read bits and snatches—and then couldn’t wait any longer, so I finished the remaining three chapters that night.

Elsie’s Girlhood is basically the story of her late teenage years, when everyone wanted to marry her. It also contains the story of Mr. Dinsmore marrying one of Elsie’s best friends. I loved the ending of the story—it was very sweet. My review of this story will be on the website eventually.

A Different Kind of Courage, by Sarah Holman

A Different Kind of Courage, by Sarah Holman
Progress: 18% (last week: 16%)

I’m not quite sure how I managed to forget about this one until now—maybe all those other books were too distracting—but I’m back to it now, and still really enjoying it.

New books this week:

Ian and the Gigantic Leafy Obstacle, by Sheila MillerOne of my favorite childhood stories.
When Ian finds a tree across his road, he prays and God answers his prayer in a surprising way.

Sojourner Truth: American Abolitionist, by W. Terry Whalin
A biography of the famous anti-slavery, women’s rights speaker who was herself born in slavery.

The Lantern Bearers, by Rosemary Sutcliff
After escaping from the Saxons who took him as a slave, Aquila joins Ambrosius, king of Britain, and battles not only the Saxons but his own anger and hatred.

Dolphin Adventure, by Wayne GroverGreat early reader story!
As Wayne was diving, he was approached by a family of dolphins who needed a fishhook removed from the baby’s tail.

You Are There Bible Adventures, by Paul J. Loth and Rick IncrocciBible stories in a truly fun setting!
Choose-your-own-adventure books about Bible stories.

Looks like we’re sharing quite a few books for young children this week! Here are more great preschooler books to check out.

This week’s blog post roundup:

When Your Well is Dry…Building Your Creativity Muscles from the Source (Writer’s Alley) — This is a highly inspiring post! The Lord had great plans for Bezalel, and He definitely equipped him with the tools to complete that—and if He can do that for Bezalel, can’t He also do that for us? Definitely worth a read.

Why I Choose to Be Public About My Faith (Michele Cushatt) — This is a question I, too, have struggled with, but I believe I agree with Michele. I hate hiding, and don’t want to put up a false front. On the other hand, I do not want to be offensive to other people. For myself, I’ve decided that I’m going to talk about Jesus because He is such a big part of my life and identity. If you do not agree with me, feel free to leave. It’s your choice. I’m planning to read Donald Miller’s post soon.

Season 5, Episode 1: Escape the Overwhelm [Podcast] (Michael Hyatt) — Great podcast on momentum and how to focus on the things that matter most.

Season 5, Episode 2: Nature’s Calling [Podcast] (Michael Hyatt) — Fascinating statistics! Maybe this is why I took a thirty-minute bike ride last Sunday? And why my mind feels clearer after a walk? (Not that I do it much!) Good tips; I’ll be thinking about this for a while.

Season 5, Episode 3: How to Wreck Your Future [Podcast] (Michael Hyatt) — The thoughts here hit home for me in some respects. If you want to hear a good talk on pessimism, and what it does to you as a person and your chances at success, listen to this. It’s worth every minute.

Nurturing Your Creativity by Norma Gail (Seriously Write) — Wonderful, wonderful tips. Turning “what-if” into something helpful.

Sneaky Ways to Write More Each Day (Seekerville) — Fun, fun, fun. Even though it’s titled “sneaky”, it isn’t—but it does have some sound tried-and-true suggestions and ideas.

Summer Reading List for Preteen Girls (Hip Homeschool Moms) — I’ve read a good number of the books here, and can highly recommend them.

You Don’t Learn to Write… (Just the Write Escape) — Chautona’s posts are always such fun. She also shares some valuable thoughts on occasion.

The World’s Most Expensive Book (AbeBooks) — Who knew that a psalm book would one day be one of the world’s most expensive books?

Resource of the week:

Free History Videos for Kids (Brookdale House)

This is almost an exhaustive list. There are video galleries for Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern history, all totaling to almost 400 videos total. That’s a lot! These cover a lot of ground, too—check out the lists here.

Midweek Mix-Up #11: A Great Revolution-Era Book, and Productivity Printables

This week, as I was adding some books to Goodreads (follow me here if you’re interested!), I realized that I had forgotten to update this year’s reading goal for the past couple months! I was thankful that I had the record on here of past midweek mix-up posts—that made remembering what I’ve been reading much easier. So besides the fact that I enjoy putting these posts together, I was thankful I had taken the time to keep a record of what I’ve been reading!

Reading this week:

The Destiny of One, by Sarah Holman

The Destiny of One, by Sarah Holman
Progress: Finished

I finished this book Saturday. What an adventure! I’m thrilled to know I have the second book in the series, too, but I’m slightly hesitant to start it because I don’t want to get to the end and not have the third book ready to start! I found the first half of this book pretty slow going, but after the 60% mark things really picked up and I finished the whole thing one afternoon. This book isn’t quite as good as some of Sarah Holman’s later books—but considering it was her debut, I can understand. Overall, I really enjoyed the story, and plan on writing a review of it for the website.

>> My review of The Sound of Diamonds is up! You can read it on my personal blog here.

A Different Kind of Courage, by Sarah Holman

A Different Kind of Courage, by Sarah Holman
Progress: 16%

Looks like I’m on a streak right now reading Sarah’s books! A Different Kind of Courage is about the revolutionary war, and I’ve found this book to be very interesting. I really like how dedicated Sarah is to keeping the historical facts accurate, and the different characters—both fictional and those who actually lived at that time—are well developed. I’m looking forward to finding out what side William ends up on—and what happens to Matthew, his black free man who wants everyone to believe he can’t hear or talk!

New books on the website:

Thanks to Mom’s fast reading and reviewing, this is the tenth week straight that we’ve posted at least five new reviews a week! We now have well over 100 books up, and this week’s job for me is to work on uploading all the most recent reviews.

Ten Boys Who Made History by Irene Howat
Stories are told from the lives of 10 boys who became great men of God, showing how God worked in their lives.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Janet & Geoff BengeFascinating family read-aloud!
As a Christian theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was faced with a dilemma: Was it right to kill Hitler to save the lives of millions of other people?

Gladys Aylward: No Mountain Too High by Myrna Grant
Gladys Aylward, an English maid, bought a ticket and went to China to teach people about Jesus.

The Silver Branch by Rosemary SutcliffGreat introduction to British history!
Justin, a surgeon in the Roman Army, and his kinsman Flavius, a centurion, become involved in the resistance effort when a usurper takes command of Roman Britain.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler WarnerFun read-aloud for the young children!
Four children whose parents have died are trying to hide from a grandfather they think dislikes them, and make a home in an abandoned boxcar in the woods.

Want to see other recent reviews? Discover more great reads here!

Helpful blog posts this week:

Resource of the week:

Printable productivity tools at DavidSeah.com

Productivity Tools Screenshot

David Seah’s Productivity Tools (screenshot)

David Seah has a lot of different productivity tools here—task management, goal tracking, a NaNoWriMo tracking calendar (used this the second year I did NaNo, and loved it! it was my lifesaver!), and much more.

Midweek Mix-Up #10—Science Fiction and a Free Motivating Chrome Extension

Another week, here already! I’m not sure what happened with last week’s midweek mix-up (unless it got buried under the work to get the newsletter written and sent, which is a good possibility). Whatever the case, I’m back—and hopefully I’ll remember next week to do it!

Reading this week:

Last week, I found this fancy Chrome extension that converts blog posts to Kindle books (and sends them directly to your Kindle) with only a few clicks. So I’ve been reading a lot more blog posts recently than I had been for quite a while. Consequently, I haven’t read a whole lot in the way of real books this week, but I have read a fair amount in . . . .

The Destiny of One, by Sarah Holman

The Destiny of One, by Sarah Holman
Progress: 44%

This is a fascinating book. The first true science fiction book I’ve ever read, I believe—apart from the Magic Schoolbus series, of course (I guess The Twenty-One Balloons is sci-fi, but that doesn’t feel like the typical sci-fi book). I’m not sure it’s completely my genre—I’ll probably be a stickler for good ole’ historical fiction—but Maria has certainly interested me in her story and quest. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

New books on the website!

It’s fun to know there are fresh reviews for you to read each week. Here’s this week’s offering:

Most helpful blog posts this week:

  • Be More Productive: The 15-Minute Routine Anthony Trollope Used to Write 40+ Books (James Clear) — This is a very useful tip, and a post I’m going to keep around for a while!
  • How to Write a Bio That Will Turbocharge Your Guest Posts (Write to Done) — Great thoughts on what should make up a good bio—would be useful in writing an “about” page, too.
  • Fantasy and Science Fiction: Good or Bad? (Heritage Literature) — I find it a bit ironic that I’m currently reading a science fiction book right now, and linking to this post—but that’s how things happen at times! Obviously, I don’t completely agree with Lauren, but at the same time I see her point. Very thought provoking article; I’m glad she had the courage to post it!
  • No, You Don’t Have to Work 24/7 to Succeed (Michael Hyatt) — What do you think about the recent news on how Amazon operates? I’m not very impressed! Michael Hyatt has some great thoughts on why such a mentality is wrong, and what we should actually do to be the most productive we can be.
  • Twaddle-Free Literature by Grade Level (A Charlotte Mason Home) — I’ve heard of (or read) many of these—they’re pretty much all very good books.
  • The Daily Word Counts of 39 Famous Authors (Writers Write) — This post is very inspiring. I doubt I’ll ever be able to keep up such strict routines as some of these writers, but they knew how to stick to their work even when it was hard, and knowing that they were able to do that, I have hope that one day I’ll be able to get better at my jobs too.

Resource of the week:

Be Limitless: Track your time and stay focused on your goals. Constantly be motivated to stay at your best.

A nice title for a great extension (or prod, if you prefer to think of it as a slave driver). Basically, this new tab replacer gives you detailed stats on how you’re spending your time (um…maybe not so nice, but it is good to face facts once in a while), tells you what goals you should be working toward right now, and overall helps you stay focused and inspired.

And that’s it for this week! Have a great weekend!

Question: Do you read (or have you read) science fiction novels? What’s your take on the issue—think they’re okay for Christians, or maybe we shouldn’t be reading them (as Lauren believes)? Comment below—I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Midweek Mix-Up: A River Mouth, and an Impressive Resource List for Writers

Welcome to this week’s midweek mix-up! I’ve had a full, fun, informative week, and I hope there’s something interesting or useful for you here today. Grab a cup of coffee—or tea, if you so desire—and let’s dig in!

Reading this week:

Confessions of a De-Cluttering Junkie, by Chautona Havig

Confessions of a De-Cluttering Junkie, by Chautona Havig
Progress: Finished

Just a few random thoughts on the book. I loved De-Cluttering Junkie, and I’m beginning to suspect I’d love any of Chautona’s books. Even though this book apparently has no real plot—okay, maybe it’s just that it doesn’t have a “generic” plotline, because it does have introduction, conflict, and a resolution—it’s both fun and exciting. I suspect it would be more interesting for Moms to read than for me, a teenager, but even so I found it gripping—taking it so far as to prefer reading over watching the scenery when we went sight-seeing with my aunt!

One thing I really appreciate about Chautona’s books is how careful she is about the amount of romance she portrays—or refuses to portray. That was especially clear to me in this book, where there were several scenes that could have easily gotten, um, yucky, but she skillfully avoided subjecting us to anything bordering on too much detail. It’s obvious, through the book, that she knows what she’s talking about—but she never uses it to wrongfully stimulate the senses. I really appreciate that. Yes, there is kissing, but it isn’t dwelt upon, and isn’t cast into any other light than normal—which is absolutely acceptable, because that is real life. Husbands and wives do kiss, and they should. I don’t mind reading about it if it’s treated as the normal way things work.

Another thing I loved was that Chautona doesn’t push homeschooling in this book at all—something she has every right to do, seeing as she’s a homeschool mom of a large family. She does mention it in a very favorable light in the Aggie’s Inheritance series, but in this book it just gets a passing mention. Although I am homeschooled, I really, really appreciated that because that is normal—not everyone wants to, or has the ability to homeschool their children. Chautona gets that. I highly recommend her for choosing to portray real life the way it is, rather than creating a perfect homeschooling world—as I’m sure it would have been both easy and tempting to do.

Alright, I’ll get off my soap box now.

What we’ve been up to:

I said goodbye to my visiting aunt early this morning. Yesterday afternoon, we took one more quick family trip to show her a few local sights—including a river mouth not far away. It’s been fun to show her around our little corner of the world.

River Mouth Adventure

#1: The view…always beautiful! This is looking south from a lookout, toward the river mouth. (River mouth is just on this side of the hills, almost in the middle of the picture.)
#2 and 3: Baby sister kept trying to escape from Mom’s arms.
#4: Three oldest boys decided to foot it down the track, so they’d have more time to explore.
#5: Sign of spring! Plum blossoms are just starting to appear! I love spring….

Useful blog posts:

  • Share Your Resources Day (Go Teen Writers) — Very helpful. Over 25 links to different resources. It’s pretty fun to go through this list!
  • How To Describe A Voice (Go Teen Writers) — One of my brothers really struggles with doing this, so I’m looking forward to share this post with him. Lots of great ideas, and several good sized lists of words you could use!
  • How do you stay self-disciplined when your schedule is inconsistent? (The Rebelution) — Interesting question, and several very good answers.
  • Life: A Gift and a Responsibility (Noveltea) — A very challenging post about the responsibility of a Christian when it comes to abortion, and a great idea for all those who enjoy doing handiwork!
  • Why I May Never Write a First Draft on a Computer Again (The NaNoWriMo Blog) — I’m slowly starting to agree with Courtney Montgomery—for some reason, it makes a lot of sense for me to write the first inklings of a story out by hand. Are you a computer writer, or more of a pen-and-paper type?
  • 100 Books You Should Read by the Time You Turn 20 (Blog, She Wrote) — How many of these have you read? I’ve read/listened to 17. I think I have a ways to go! I have heard about almost every one of these books, and have even heard abridged audio versions of some. Others are on my “don’t-think-I’ll-ever-want-to-read” list.

New books on the website:

See more of our most recent books here!

Resource of the week:

Software and Tools Masterpost (Write World)

This post…is like the ultimate post for writers to drool over, ever. Here’s a quick screenshot, to show you what I mean:

Tools for Writers

Yes, some of that stuff is pay-to-use, but still there’s quite a few free tools there too. I’d recommend you start here if you want to try something new, or want to see if something will work better for you. Just be warned: Trying out new programs can be very addictive!

How has your week been? Learned anything new, come across anything interesting, or just had a “normal” week? Share below—I love hearing from you!

Midweek Mix-Up: Mud Flats and a POW

Welcome to this week’s midweek mix-up! I enjoy putting these together, although sometimes life does not allow that to happen. I hope you enjoy them, anyway, when I do get them up!

What I’ve been reading lately:

The Sound of Diamonds, by Rachelle Rea

The Sound of Diamonds, by Rachelle Rea
Progress: Finished.

I ended up mostly enjoying this book. While I didn’t appreciate the romance as much, I loved reading about the time period and seeing all the historical tidbits through the story. I’ll be writing a full review to post on my personal blog soon.

In the Presence of Mine Enemies, by Howard and Phyllis Rutledge

In the Presence of Mine Enemies, by Howard and Phyllis Rutledge
Progress: Finished.

I loved this book! Although it does have some adult content, it was spiritually very encouraging and I loved the historical value of the book—as well as getting a glimpse into what the daily life of a POW is like. I’ll be posting a full review of this book on the site sometime in September or October, Lord willing. (Please note that this book includes some adult content, all in relation to the way the Vietnamese treated their prisoners. It is not a suitable read for children.)

What I’ve been doing lately:

As a family, we just got back from a fun trip with our aunt who is currently visiting us! We went up to the north part of the island we live on, and had a wonderful week of exploration, walking, fascinating history, and family time.

That view!

Right: One of the gorgeous views we were treated to along the mudflats at Farewell Spit.
Left: One of my brothers trying to hide from the camera.

 

New books on the website this week:

See more of our most recent books here!

Resource of the week:

I’ve recently come across AppSumo, a site that highlights good deals or freebies of truly useful things. Not too long ago, they had Scrivener for less than half it’s normal price on there. Then soon after, they had a freebie offered of Joseph Michael’s Learn Scrivener Fast course. Just yesterday, I got an email offering Workflowy Pro for free for a year. I’d highly recommend you sign up for their email newsletters (which you can do either by creating an account through “login > not a member yet” or by “claiming” a freebie)—this is a resource worth keeping.

Midweek Mix-Up — the Cold War and a Free Outlining Course

Hello again! In today’s midweek mix-up, I’ve got some great resources for you, as well as some fascinating books I’ve been listening to lately.

Reading this week…

I haven’t actually “read” much this week—mostly because I’ve been doing quite a bit of computer work, and when I’m doing that I can’t read. But I have been listening to a lot of books, and I suppose that counts as well!

Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems, by Janet & Geoff Benge

Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems, by Janet & Geoff Benge
Progress: Finished (last week: 89%)

This is a beautiful retelling of Amy’s life. There was a lot about her early life, which I enjoyed immensely—often, we tend to hear the most about her time in India, and little about the rest of her life. I hadn’t realized before that she spent a while working in Japan before eventually being called to India, so that—along with the legacy she led and left behind her—was very encouraging for me. Highly recommend this biography—I’ll be putting a review of the book on the main site after a while.

The Lilies of the Field, by William E Barrett

The Lilies of the Field, by William E Barrett
Progress: Finished

I loved the story of Homer Smith—how he just happened to come across a group of four German nuns who badly need help, his coming an answer to prayer. Mother Maria Marthe put him right to work building a chapel for her, but he thinks she’s a bit crazy to ever expect him to be able to do it on his own.

Even though this story is a bit different from the books I usually read, it was fascinating and I’m planning to review it soon.

The Mouse That Roared A Novel, by Leonard Wibberley

The Mouse That Roared: A Novel, by Leonard Wibberley
Progress: 68%

What happens when a little country is slighted by a bigger country—namely, the United States? Add in the current world events—the cold war—and the little country running out of money to feed their citizens. The government of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick decides the only way to get enough money to feed their citizens—and settle their quarrel with the US—is to declare war on the US. There’s no way such a small country could win the war—but when they accidently seize the most dangerous atomic weapon in the world, they have suddenly won the war. This is a very humorous tale, one that I’m enjoying even though I’m sure I’ll get more out of it in a few more years.

Inspiring posts this week…

  • 12 Letters That Didn’t Make the Alphabet — Mom sent this to me earlier this week. Who knew that there were twelve other letters we could be using now—but generally aren’t? The only one that we actually use anymore is ampersand (“&”). Remember that old Apple Pie ABC rhyme? “…X, Y, Z and ampersand all wished for a piece in hand….”
  • Tips for Writers Who Don’t Work Well With Outlines — Great post. I think I tend to be on the outlining side, but many of these tips would apply to me, as well.
  • Two Harvard Professors Reveal One Reason Our Brains Love to Procrastinate — I found this post fascinating. Useful tips on how to change the way you look at procrastination, and how to practice being productive.
  • Grammar Websites For Writers — This is a great list of resources, not only for writers, but for homeschoolers as well. Some of the spotlighted websites are for editing, others are for researching and learning about grammar. I’ll be bookmarking this one for future use!
  • 5 Reasons To Pray Before You Write — I’m guilty of not doing this enough. It’s wonderful to have a reminder of where my responsibilities should lie, even if I always seem to forget this until all else has failed.

Resource of the week…

I’ve got two resources for you this week!

For Writers:

Write Your Non-Fiction Book Quickly and Easily: The Magic of Outlining

This is a free outlining course by Nancy Hendrickson, a renowned author and writing coach. I don’t know how long it will be free, but it looks very useful, and I’m planning to take time to go through it soon. My outlining skills need a lot of help.

For Homeschool Moms:

LessonTrek
Get a free lifetime membership!

From the website:

Easy-to-use online homeschool and private school planning.

In just a few minutes you can set up your school year & subjects, create lessons & assignments, record grades, and more.

Features:

  • Grade recording
  • Easy drag-and-drop interface
  • Copy/paste lessons easily
  • Print weekly lesson plans
  • Ongoing improvements based on your feedback

My aunt recently shared this on Facebook. If you want to get a free lifetime membership on the site, simply go to the site, sign up for a two week trial, and put in the referral code FFL15. No payment info to enter, and within seconds of signing up you can be planning away! I don’t know how long this deal is going to be available.

If you want simpler version of planning, you could try making your own chart for each child—I cover that in depth on this post.