Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Force by Joyce and Alexandra Swann: A Review

The Force, written by mother/daughter team, Alexandra and Joyce Swann, is a Christian sci-fi thriller.  This book is the sequel to The Fourth Kingdom but can stand alone.

Unabashedly Christian, Jarrod and Joshua Sinclair, are brothers who are tasked with discovering who is responsible for the deaths of the world's most beautiful women.  They follow on the heels of their childhood nemesis, Josef Helmick, until they uncover years of evidence of human cloning for profit and are brought just to the edge of the unleashing of a more powerful force that will usher in the New World Order.

The theme of end times is an old one, but the Swanns present it in a new way.  They tackle the idea of cloning from a noncontroversial (plants) and controversial way (humans).  Human cloning is depicted as evil with the clones being expendable like a worn-out pair of shoes.  This does not sit right with the Sinclair brothers, but there is not much emphasis on whether clones have any rights or humanity in themselves.  They are simply depicted as creations of Josef who is himself a clone.

As I read The Force, I found myself rooting for the Sinclair brothers to defeat Josef.  I wanted there to be justice for everything he got away with in The Fourth Kingdom and The Force.  I wasn't completely satisfied with what happened to him, however.  I would have liked to have seen more of a break down of his character.

I felt there were some inconsistencies in the book.  Even though human cloning is not currently a reality, the Swanns present it so well that it is completely believable in their two books.  Once Josef begins to tamper with the minds of the people, his methods for doing so seem quite unrealistic.  There is a lot of senseless killing.  It isn't explicit in the first book or the beginning of the second, but the description becomes increasingly gruesome as the book nears the end.  There is also a discussion about how Karl Helmick, Josef's "adoptive" father, did not like art, but Karl and Alexander Sinclair had a long conversation in The Fourth Kingdom about Karl's Native American Art collection.

Despite the inconsistencies, far-fetched turn of events, and horrific details, I was still able to enjoy reading The Force.  It provided a very fresh scenario in the battle of good versus evil.  The Sinclair brothers were strong characters who were not afraid to share their faith as was Fred Kowalski, the retired detective we meet in the second chapter.  He traveled to Dubai to investigate Josef for the Sinclair brothers and was able to lead a small child to Christ.

The Force is available in paperback on Amazon for $12.95 and Kindle for $4.99.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

50 States: Missouri


Located in the Midwest, Missouri became the 24th state on August 10, 1821.  First explored by Marquette and Joliet in 1673, this land was claimed for France by Sieur de La Salle in 1682.  The first permanent European settlement was not until almost 70 years later.  Spain controlled the Louisiana Territory of which Missouri was a part from 1762 until 1800 when it returned the land to France.  In 1803, the United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France.  The Territory of Missouri was created out of the Louisiana Territory in 1812, and the first petition for statehood was presented to Congress on January 8, 1818.

As Missouri desired to become a state, the rest of the nation argued about whether Missouri should be allowed to enter the Union as a slave state or a free state.  The Missouri Compromise, in 1820, allowed Missouri to be admitted as a slave state, but Maine would be admitted as a free state.  The second part of the Compromise was that all states admitted to the Union from the Louisianan Purchase land north of the southern border of Missouri would be free states.  This Compromise lasted until the Kansas-Nebraska of 1854.  Missouri ended up being the first slave state to free its slaves.

The Missouri flag contains a red, white, and blue stripe reminiscent of the French flag since it was an area that was once owned by France.  The Missouri state seal is surrounded by 24 stars which represent the number of states present when Missouri entered the Union.  The grizzly bears represent the ideals of bravery and strength.  There is a knight's helmet and 24 more stars along with two mottoes, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall" and "Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esta" (Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law).  Inside the circle, there is an eagle holding an olive branch and arrows, as well as a crescent moon and another grizzly bear.  The Roman numeral for 1820 is also seen, which stands for the year of the Missouri Compromise.

The following are the state symbols of Missouri:

Bird - Bluebird
Animal - Missouri mule
Insect - Honeybee
Fish - Channel catfish
Flower - White hawthorn
Tree - Flowering dogwood
Nut tree - Eastern black walnut tree
Musical instrument - Fiddle
Folk dance - Square dance

Missouri's nickname is "The Show Me State."  It is said that Missourians need to be shown evidence before they will believe something.  Some famous people born in Missouri include Maya Angelou, Burt Bacharach, Yogi Berra, Chuck Berry, Molly Brown, Calamity Jane, George Washington Carver, Walter Cronkite, Sheryl Crow, T.S. Eliot, Edwin Hubble, Langston Hughes, John Huston, Jesse James, Casey Jones, J.C. Penney, Harry S. Truman, and Mark Twain.  There are also many actors, writers, musicians, and political figures who were born here.  Pick one and research him or her.

Missouri is home to some wonderful creations and some famous/infamous events.  Iced tea and the ice cream cone were invented at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.  Aunt Jemima pancake flour was created in 1889 in St. Joseph.  Missouri is the location of the U.S.'s most powerful earthquake, 1811, and the most destructive tornado, 1925.  

The capital of Missouri is Jefferson City, named in honor of Thomas Jefferson and planned by the son of Daniel Boone.  It was incorporated in 1825.

Some interesting places to visit in Missouri include the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Grant's Farm in St. Louis, Titanic Museum in Branson, Fantastic Caverns in Springfield, Mark Twain Boyhood Home in Hannibal, Daniel Boone Home and Boonesfield Village in Defiance, Harry S. Truman National Historic Sites, Jesse James Home in St. Joseph, and Pythian Castle in Springfield, just to name a few.

Of course, there are Civil War battlefields, zoos, museums, theme parks, ball parks, and state parks.

Here are a couple of sites to learn about Missouri:

The following resources come from

***I am an affiliate with  If you choose to purchase through my blog, I will receive a commission.***

272015: Missouri History In Light Of The Cross, Worktext Missouri History In Light Of The Cross, Worktext
By Sarah Crain / The Homeschool Planbook

This worktext lists the state facts about Missouri before chronologically covering pre-historic Missouri through the current decade; additional chapters cover natural resources and the state government. Multiple choice, sentence completion, fill-in-the-blank, and composition exercises are included throughout. 141 pages, comb-binding.

495739: Missouri Jography, Grades K-8 Missouri Jography, Grades K-8
By Carole Marsh / Gallopade International

Geography activities include information on rivers, museums, historic places, sites of interest, bordering states, climate, topography, crops and more! Approximately 30 activities and 200 geography-related places and facts are covered. This book is filled- with exercises that reinforce learning, sharpen research skills, and provide a lively resource about their state. Includes: Fast "Fax", word search, multiple choice, and more! Reproducible. Available for all 50 states! Grades 3-8; ages 8-14.

067340: The Positively Missouri Puzzle Book The Positively Missouri Puzzle Book
By Carole Marsh / Gallopade International

120191: The Missouri Compromise of 1820 to the Tariff Compromise of 1833 DVD
The Missouri Compromise of 1820 to the Tariff Compromise of 1833 DVD
By TMW Media Group

Henry Clay and the Struggle for the Union explores the turbulent forty years leading up to the Civil War. This program examines the impact of slavery on the expansion of the Nation westward and how conflict between North and South, free states and slave states, was, in the end, irrepressible. Illustrated with stunning period photographs and art, footage of the Old Senate Chamber in the Nation's Capitol, and dramatic scenes of Clay and his senate colleagues played by skilled professional actors, Henry Clay and the Struggle for the Union brings the history of the years before the Civil War alive on the screen.
Students will learn:
What event triggered the need for compromise in 1819?
What other event in 1820 saved the nation from splitting apart?
What was the final compromise of 1820?
After a compromise was reached admitting Missouri and Maine as States, what caused a second crisis over Missouri's admission to the Union?
What act of Henry Clay's nearly ruined his political career?
What events triggered the need for compromise in 1833?
What kept South Carolina from seceding and plunging the Nation into civil war?"
Grades 8-12. 20 minutes on DVD.

443283: Just The Facts: America"s State Capitals
Just The Facts: America's State Capitals
By Cerebellum Corporation

Quick . . . what's the capital of Missouri? What state has Augusta as its capital? After viewing Just the Facts: America's State Capitals those questions will be easy to answer. The interactive format of this DVD invites viewers to test their knowledge of our state capitals and makes watching (and learning!) fun for all ages.The fast-paced program intertwines history and geography with points of interest and fascinating facts about the 50 capital cities. Viewers learn, for example, that Tallahassee was the only Southern capital that was not captured by the Union during the Civil War and that it also lays claim to Tarzan and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.The segment on Boston includes that famous Tea Party, a quick tour of the Freedom Trail, and a swan boat, among other interesting sights and facts. Each state capital is unique, and viewers will enjoy learning about them all.

119429: The Twain Legacy - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn DVD The Twain Legacy - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn DVD
By TMW Media Group

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Twain (1835-1910): The Twain Legacy introduces an overview of Mark Twain's life, times and interpretation of This episode in the Masters of American Literature DVD Series, The Hawthorne Legacy,The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This episode in the Masters of American Literature DVD Series, The Twain Legacy, covers Twain's references to his early childhood in Hannibal, Missouri, his use of African American Dialect, his antipathy toward slavery, and his effective use of irony in the story line. Even today The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn faces challenges from educational groups and whether this fictional story should be taught in the classroom. Leading scholars Shelly Fisher Fishkin, Justin Kaplan and David Lionel Smith put forward significant commentary promoting this classical American novel reading and studying.This DVD is divided into five chapters intended for class and individual learning and discussion. Knowledgeable scholars explore themes, ideas and narrative style in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. By examining and exploring why his historical and moral concerns were important, the presenters weave Twain's themes of slavery, prejudice and class into a coherent awareness. Grades 8-12. 30 minutes on DVD.

95960X: The Lewis & Clark Expedition The Lewis & Clark Expedition
By Globe Pequot

Lewis and Clark lived one of the most exciting chapters in American history, and their expedition shaped America's destiny. Learn about their two-year journey that took them from St. Louis, Missouri, up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Ages 9-12.

8858EB: Harry S. Truman: Thirty-Third President of the United States - eBook Harry S. Truman: Thirty-Third President of the United States - eBook
By George E. Stanley / Aladdin

One of the most popular series ever published for young Americans, these classics have been praised alike by parents, teachers, and librarians. With this lively, inspiring, fictionalized biography -- easily read by children of eight and up - children will swept into the story of Harry S. Truman, our 33rd president. 256 pages, paperback.

774849: Harry Truman"s Successful Presidential Succession Harry Truman's Successful Presidential Succession
By Michael Louthian / Xulon Press

355735: George Washington Carver George Washington Carver
By William J. Federer / Amerisearch

659440: George Washington Carver George Washington Carver
By Coughlan Publishing

Introduce your young students to George Washington Carver and his life's work! This brief biography of the African American scientist who overcame tremendous hardship to make unusual and important discoveries in the field of agriculture features simple text and engaging photos. Ages 4-8. 24 pages, paperback.

002789: Heroes of History: George Washington Carver, From Slave to  Scientist Heroes of History: George Washington Carver, From Slave to Scientist
By Janet & Geoff Benge / Emerald Books
The Heroes of History series chronicles the true stories of fascinating men and women who changed the course of history.
Once a kidnapped slave baby, George Washington Carver found freedom in learning everything he could about the world around him. Overcoming poverty and racism, George became a brilliant scientist and a gifted professor who dedicated his expertise to helping black farmers escape the devastating grip of poverty. For ages 10 and up.

939127: Heroine of the Titanic: The Real Unsinkable Molly Brown Heroine of the Titanic: The Real Unsinkable Molly Brown
By Elaine Landau / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Learn about the real unsinkable Molly Brown! This fascinating biography looks at the humble beginnings and meteoric rise of socialite Margaret Brown. Her activities for the poor mining families and her efforts to help France post-WWII are documented alongside family photographs from throughout her life. A fine portrait of a woman and an era. 132 indexed pages, hardcover with dust jacket.

594775: The Old West: Villains and Avengers -Unabridged Audiobook on CD The Old West: Villains and Avengers -Unabridged Audiobook on CD
By Joe Loesch / SpringWater

Experience the rugged frontier as you encounter villains and avengers in legendary locations.
  • The Saga of Frank and Jesse James - These two brothers began their reign of terror during the last days of the Civil War in the no-man's land of Missouri.
  • Billy the Kid - In the late 1870s, this skinny young boy vowed to live above the law with other criminals in the sparsely populated territory of New Mexico.
  • Tombstone - The colorful western town was home to the O.K. Corral, the Crystal Palace, the Bird Cage Theater and the notorious Earp brothers.
  • The Hatfield McCoy Feud - For years these two families in the mountains of Kentucky and West Virginia took justice into their own hands with the barrel of a gun.
  • The Valley of the Greasy Grass - When General Custer and his men rode into this valley, they launched the Battle at the Little Big Horn. Unabridged. 5 CDs. Read by various artists.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Emergency Hiatus

I was called out of town this week due to a family emergency.  I only connected to the virtual world twice through my computer all week.  I was unable to blog.  I hope to have Missouri up by tomorrow night or Saturday afternoon.  Please forgive my absence.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"At Home in Dogwood Mudhole" Review

 photo athomeindogwoodmudhole_zps737c60fa.jpgFranklin Sanders moved to the country with his family at a time when the world was concerned with the potential fallout of Y2K.  He has packed a great deal of Southern history into his book, At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, which is a compilation of letters written to the readers of his newsletter, The Moneychanger.  He has a wonderful sense of humor, and I found myself laughing at different situations throughout the book.  I was also amazed by his faith in the midst of some horrific circumstances.

  As a Northerner, I found his Confederate patriotism a bit hard to stomach at times, but it gave me a view of the Civil War that I had never had before.  I enjoy history, and I like to get a more rounded perspective of events.  Since moving to Florida a year and a half ago and also not being in favor of some of the global decisions the government has made that take away states' rights, I have become more sympathetic to what the southern states were fighting for in the Civil War (states' rights).  

It takes some time for Franklin to get around to the business of moving his family in the book, and then it is interspersed greatly with other stories that have nothing to do with farming.  From the description of the book, I thought it was going to be more about farming and living off of the land.  Things like "Franklin Sanders and wife Susan go from nuclear family to multigenerational farm" and "running account of an attempt to live an authentic life" painted a picture in my mind.  It is more than just that, though.  It is ordinary, everyday situations that Franklin and his family experience.  It is also amazing, faith-filled situations in which God was evidently at work.  He shares these stories with the reader using humor, faith, and pride.  The description on the website, honestly, does not do the book justice.

His comments about the government, local and federal, made me slightly uneasy.  You know, that big-brother-is-watching-me-read-this uneasy.  In a book about moving to the country, I probably enjoyed this part the least.  I suppose, though, when you begin to live "off the grid' you become more cognizant of the foolish decisions made by lawmakers in the name of the "common good."  He is certainly a man who tells it like he sees it.  He made several comments throughout about not liking different styles of architecture, describing them with words like American Fascist and "Modern" with the quotes.

 photo Franklin_Deal-300x451_zpsb3f59745.jpgSporadically, Franklin provides addresses and phone numbers of places he and his family visited during their travels.  He says he includes this information when an establishment has earned mention so that we can experience something besides Walmart, Pottery Barn, and Burger King.  Some of the descriptions he provides really make me want to travel to these southern states just to try them out.

Despite my uneasiness with his expressed exasperation with various aspects of society, I have a great respect for Franklin Sanders.  This man loves the Lord and is not afraid to show it, and he loves his family.  He states, "I must be the most helplessly uxorious man in the world.  I'm never quite at peace when Susan's out of the room."  Of course, I had to look up the word, uxorious.  It means "having or showing an excessive or submissive fondness for one's wife."  He is evidently over-the-top in love with his wife.  I mean that in a good way.

The paperback version of At Home in Dogwood Mudhole retails for $22.95, and the Kindle/ePUB/PDF version is available for $16.95.  I received the Kindle edition.  I have not read any of this book to my children but have been cozying up on my couch and reading it to myself.  It is nice, sometimes, to have a thing that is just mine.  Of course, this could easily be read by a younger person, but they would probably miss many of the references since the letters from which the book were written from date back to June 1995.

This book is worth the read!


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Monday, November 11, 2013

50 States: Mississippi

Achieving statehood on December 10, 1817, and becoming our nation's 20th state, Mississippi lies in the southern United States.  In 1540, Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, discovered the Mississippi River.  He was buried in it in 1542 after he died of fever.
More than 100 years later, French explorers Marquette and Joliet explored more of the Mississippi River.  In 1682, La Salle and Cavalier traveled along the Mississippi River and claimed all the land along it for France.  The first colony was established in 1699.  The French controlled the area until the French and Indian War when it was won by the British.

When the British were defeated in the Revolutionary War, the southern part of Mississippi was given to Spain, and the northern half became part of the United States.  The U.S. laid claim to the southern half after the Louisiana Purchase, claiming that the land was a part of the deal.  With U.S. military force and little resistance by Spain, this area became part of the Mississippi Territory.

Mississippi, postal abbreviation MS, is the 32nd biggest state.  The capital city is Jackson and is named after Major General Andrew Jackson who would come to be the seventh president of the United States, serving from 1829 to 1837.

Mississippi's two nicknames are "The Magnolia State" and "The Hospitality State."  The former is the official nickname and is because the Magnolia is the state flower and the state tree.  The Magnolia is depicted on the Mississippi quarter.

The state bird is the Mockingbird, and the state mammal is the white-tailed deer.  The bottlenosed dolphin is the state water mammal.  The honeybee is the state insect, while the state butterfly is the spicebush swallowtail.  The fish is the largemouth bass, and the state shell is the oyster.  

Mississippi's state flag was adopted in 1894 and contains a small Confederate flag in the upper left corner and one blue, one red, and one white horizontal stripe.

People who live in Mississippi are called Mississippians.  Famous people born in Mississippi include boxer/minister Henry Armstrong; radio/television personality Red Barber; mayor of Washington, D.C., Marion Barry, Jr.; civil rights activists Ruby Bridges and Medgar Evers, singers Jimmy Buffett and Brandy and Bo Diddley; football coach Tony Dungy; authors William Faulkner and Shelby Foote; creator of The Muppets Jim Henson; founder of BET Robert Johnson; Elvis Presley; Leann Rimes; Ike Turner; Conway Twitty; and Oprah Winfrey.  There have been many authors, sports stars, civil rights activists, and musicians/singers born in Mississippi.

The world's first lung transplant was performed at the University of Mississippi.  The observance of Memorial Day resulted from the kindness of women in Mississippi who, on April 25, 1866, placed flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers.  This state is the home to the International Checkers Hall of Fame.

Mississippi boasts some "Capitals of the World":

Greenwood is called the "Cotton Capital of the World."
Belzoni is "Catfish Capital of the World."
Vardaman is "Sweet Potato Capital of the World."

Root beer was invented in Biloxi in the late 19th century.  Pine Sol was invented in Jackson.  There is a cactus plantation in Edwards; it is the only one in the world.  Holmes County is home to the very first 4-H Club; it began in 1907.  It is said that the Mississippi Delta is the birthplace of the Blues.

There are many things to do in Mississippi.  Like every state, there are zoos, museums, amusement parks, and state parks.  There are also military parks.  Mississippi lost more men in the Civil War than any other southern state.  Sixteen separate sites are national parks.  The antebellum life is represented by numerous plantations.  Rowan Oak is William Faulkner's House and can be toured.  Dockery Plantation is a cotton plantation and sawmill. It is said that the Blues began here.

Try your hand at some Mississippi learning games.

The following items are for sale through

495542: Mississippi Pocket Guide, Grades 3-8 Mississippi Pocket Guide, Grades 3-8
By Carole Marsh / Gallopade International

The perfect reference guide. This handy 4" x 6", easy-to-use guide is divided into seven color-coded sections which include: basics, history, geography, people, places, nature, and more! Riddles, recipes, and surprising facts make this guide a delight! Available for all 50 states! Grades 3-8; ages 8-14.

069408: Historic Churches of Mississippi Historic Churches of Mississippi
By Sherry Pace / University Press of Mississippi

771929: It Happened in Mississippi It Happened in Mississippi
By Marlo Carter Kirkpatrick / Globe Pequot

066246: My Vicksburg My Vicksburg
By Ann Rinaldi / Harcourt Children's Books

Claire Louise and her family are forced to leave their home in Mississippi when the Yankees lay siege in their town during the Civil War. The inhabitants of Vicksburg, Mississippi, take refuge in caves for forty-seven days. When Claire's older brother, Landon, a doctor in the Union Army, shows up with a Confederate soldier, Claire knows that there's more to this story than what she is being told. With war comes difficult choices . . . will Claire make a decision where she can live with its consequences?

530575: Mark Twain: Life on the Mississippi Mark Twain: Life on the Mississippi
By Mark Twain / Library of America

891738: The Storm: Students of Biloxi, Mississippi, Remember Hurricane Katrina The Storm: Students of Biloxi, Mississippi, Remember Hurricane Katrina
By Barbara Barbieri McGrath / Charlesbridge Publishing

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the coastlines of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. It was a storm the people of Biloxi, Mississippi, like many other Gulf Coast residents, will never forget. Students, teachers, and administrators from the Biloxi Public Schools share their stories from the days preceding Hurricane Katrina to those first days of recovery after the storm. And even while their city lay in ruins, one remarkable lighthouse survived, serving as a beacon of hope. Their powerful images and moving personal accounts pay tribute to the resilience of the human spirit. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book will be donated to the Biloxi Public Schools.

46236: The Civil War, a Narrative, Vol. 1 The Civil War, a Narrative, Vol. 1
By Shelby Foote / Random House, Inc

Twenty years ago, in 1954, novelist Shelby Foote began this monumental work with these words: "It was a Monday in Washington, January 21; Jefferson Davis rose from his seat in the Senate..." In the third -- and last -- volume of this vivid history, he brings to a close the story of four years of turmoil and strife which altered American life forever. Here, told in vivid narrative and as seen from both sides, are those climactic struggles, great and small, on and off the field of battle, which finally decided the fate of this nation. "Red River to Appomattox" opens with the beginning of the two final, major confrontations of the war: Grant against Lee in Virginia, and Sherman pressing Johnston in North Georgia. While the Virginia-Georgia fighting is in progress, Kearsarge sinks the Alabama and Forrest gains new laurels at Brice's Crossroads. With Grant and Lee deadlocked at Petersburg, Sherman takes Atlanta -- assuring Lincoln's reelection, together with the certainty that the war will be fought (not negotiated) to a finish. These events are followed by Hood's bold northward strike through middle Tennessee while Sherman sets out on his march to the sea, to be opposed at its end by the ghost of the Army of Tennessee. Hood is wrecked by Thomas in front of Nashville-the last big battle -- and Savannah falls to Sherman, who presents it to Lincoln as a Christmas gift. Meantime, Early has threatened Washington, Price has toured Missouri, Farragut has damned the torpedoes in Mobile Bay, Forrest has raided Memphis, and Cushing has single-handedly sunk the Albemarle. And Sherman heads north through the Carolinas, burning Columbia en route, while Sheridan rips the entrails out of the Shenandoah Valley. Lincoln's second inaugural sets the seal on these hostilities, invoking "charity for all" on the Eve of Five Forks and the Grant-Lee race for Appomattox. Here is the dust and stench of war, a sort of Twilight of the Gods, with occasional lurid flare-ups, mass desertions, and the queasiness that accompanies the risk of being the last man to die. Then, penultimately. Lee at Appomattox, the one really shining figure in this last act.Davis's flight south from fallen Richmond overlaps Lincoln's death from Booth's derringer, and his capture at Irwinville comes amid the surrender of the last Confederate armies, east and west of the Mississippi River. The epilogue is Lincoln in his grave: and Davis in his posthumous existence. "Lucifer in Starlight." So ends a unique achievement -- already recognized as one of the finest histories ever fashioned by an American -- a narrative of over a million and a half words which recreates on a vast and brilliant canvas the events and personalities of an American epic: The Civil War.

779367: Battlefields of the Civil War Battlefields of the Civil War
By Peter Cozzens / Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

83042: Behind the Blue and the Gray: The Solider"s Life in the Civil War Behind the Blue and the Gray: The Solider's Life in the Civil War
By Delia Ray / Puffin Books

Telling the story of the "common soldier", Behind the Blue and Gray tells the stories of the men who fought and died behind the walls of smoke and battlefield commotion. Comprised of actual letters, photographs, and essays on the Civil War, this personalized view of the war is touching and a good reminder of the sacrifices made throughout history. 102 pages, softcover.

423560: The Atlas of the Civil War The Atlas of the Civil War
By Edited by James M. McPherson / Running Press

Follow the drama of the war that changed America with this unparalleled reference. Major campaigns and skirmishes from Fort Sumter to Appomattox are plotted on 200 full-color maps. Dynamic reconstructions depict every confrontation on land, river, and ocean. Timelines provide play-by-play commentary of battlefield action. Filled with photographs, illustrations, and gripping eyewitness accounts. 223 pages, 9" x 12" hardcover from Courage.

750035: Battles of the Civil War Wall Map (in a Tube) Battles of the Civil War Wall Map (in a Tube)
By National Geographic Maps

Created originally as a supplement to the April 2005 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine, Battles of the Civil War is rich with detail, showing battle sites with numerous call-outs describing specific battles as well as dates and battle routes. Insets highlight ''Turning Points of the War,'' ''Battle for the Capitols,'' as well as battle death tolls.
36 x 23 inches (approx).

786797: Great Writers: William Faulkner Great Writers: William Faulkner
By Kultur International Films

CD88429: I Believe: The Gospel Masters, 4 CD Set I Believe: The Gospel Masters, 4 CD Set
By Elvis Presley / RCA Records Label

Worship the King of heaven with the king of rock 'n' roll! This definitive gospel collection features over 65 favorites from Elvis, including "I Believe"; "Take My Hand, Precious Lord"; "Joshua Fit the Battle"; "How Great Thou Art"; "Down by the Riverside/When the Saints Go Marching In"; "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"; "Bosom of Abraham"; and "Oh, How I Love Jesus." Four CDs.

CD54792: Christmas Duets CD Christmas Duets CD
By Elvis Presley / Provident Music Distribution

Celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace with the king of rock and roll and some of today's most popular country stars! Martina McBride, Anne Murray, Jessica Simpson, Sara Evans, LeeAnn Rimes, and others join Elvis in heartwarming duets of "Blue Christmas," "Silver Bells," "Silent Night," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," "O Come All Ye Faithful," and more.

7907EB: The Gospel Side of Elvis - eBook The Gospel Side of Elvis - eBook
By Joel Moscheo / Center Street

Gospel music was a significant part of not only who Elvis was as a man, but as an artist as well. This book looks at his roots and the role of gospel in his foundational years, as well as the comfort, solace, and strength it offered him in the years of his meteoric rise in popularity. From the All-Night sings he attended in his youth to the gospel quartets he incorporated into his shows, Elvis insisted on having constant access to the music he loved. He found it to be a source of comfort when the demands of his career were too much. He used it as a way to stay in shape vocally or to pass the time while on movie sets. He gathered friends, family, and admirers in his suite after shows to unwind during which Gospel was the music of choice. It was enrichment, it was comfort, it was home for him.

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Review

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Apologia Educational Ministries has many superb resources for learning, including science, Bible, history, and language arts.  We received Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics and the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal.  I used them with Paige, who is in sixth grade.

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The chemistry and physics textbook is a hardcover book geared towards children in grades K through 6 and retails for $39.00.  There are 14 separate topics spread across this 280-page book.  Some of the topics are matter, atoms, compounds, mixtures, mechanics, friction, energy, sound, light, heat, electricity, magnetism, and machines.

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The notebooking journal we used and which is pictured here is a spiral-bound book for upper-elementary grades and retails $24.00.  There is another journal, the junior notebooking journal, which is for early-elementary grades and is $24.00 as well.

We have used Apologia's science curricula for years: Botany, Astronomy, Swimming Creatures, etc., and have always loved it.  This was the first year we used the notebooking journal.

As soon as we received the book, we started using it.  The science concepts are taught so that even young children can understand them, but the book seems cluttered.  There is a lot going on on each page.  Since the book is appropriate for all elementary-aged children, some things are worded so that the younger children are engaged, i.e., things are repeated to get a point across, rhetorical questions are asked, silly comments are made.  Those things, however, are below the level of a sixth grader.  They do not detract from the learning, though.

There are sections in each chapter called, "Try This!"  Some are games; some are experiments.  We did not do each one since there are so many of them.  They are set apart from the rest of the text inside a blue box.  Inside the box is a paragraph or two of instructions.  I don't know if it was the fact that there were so many Try This! sections or the fact that they were cluttered, but I felt overwhelmed by them.  It would have been easier, for me, if they were subtitled with words like 'games' or 'experiment' and set up in an outline form.

There are beautiful and interesting images and illustrations throughout the book that helped Paige understand what she was learning.  We liked the snowflake pictures and the drawings of gas molecules heating up and then coming together to form rain—very cute!

The notebooking journal has a syllabus in the front of it, which we followed.  Every other day or every third day, there is work to do in the journal after reading from the text.  Paige did not enjoy having work to do, but I was glad for the journal.  It provided structure and a means to gauge her learning.

At the beginning of each section, there are a few pages on which she could take notes.  There is a crossword puzzle and some copywork pages which include a page for printing a verse and a page for cursive writing.  Each lesson has a hands-on project (mini-book, wheel, envelopes) and additional experiments.  The last part of each lesson in the journal has a page or two of questions to see what she remembered.  Most of the time she was able to recall the information without having to look back in the book to find it.

In the back of the textbook, there is a supply list for each lesson and an answer key for all of the "What Do You Remember?" sections.

What I liked:

*It is written with a Christian worldview.
*It is easily understood but not dumbed down.
*There are a lot of different activities to enhance learning.
*The journal is a super resource!
*There are great illustrations.

What I didn't like:

*It is very wordy without significant section breaks.
*The Try This! sections are overwhelming.

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