Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Complete Language Pack French

9780756692391HComplete Language Pack French
From DK Canada

About the product

Combining the solid grounding of a practical language teaching course with the instant accessibility of a phrasebook, each Complete Language Pack is structured around simple conversations used in everyday situations. The courses cover basic vocabulary and grammar in sixty fifteen-minute daily units. Pronunciation guides and the audio CDs make speaking easy, and "cover and test" flaps and flashcards reinforce learning and make testing yourself fun.

Teaching what you need to know fast — arranged thematically, with simple conversations based on real-life situations, Complete Language Pack French includes the bestselling 15-Minute Language Course, Visual Phrase Book, and three audio CDs.

With a pronunciation guide for every word and phrase, a two-way dictionary that provides ready reference on the go, and a phrase book including useful cultural tips, Complete Language Pack French is ideal for both business and vacation travelers.

My Thoughts

I am impressed with the presentation and the French lessons on this product.    Yes the lessons are made with two French speaking people from France but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from it if you live in Canada and desire to learn French.    French Canadian is a bit different that French from France but nevertheless these CDs and books will be useful for someone willing to learn the language.

I couldn’t help but smile as I heard the “teachers” speaking English.  It was quite evident that it wasn’t their primary language.   Even when I speak myself people know that I am not English.    However, they are very professional, speak clearly and slowly, and will guide you through a series of exercises to learn how to communicate in French.

The pack comes with three CDs – two of them contain the lessons while the third one is in fact the visual phrase book CD.    Also included in the pack you will find an Easy Grammar, a Visual Phrase Book as well as the lesson book.   The Easy Grammar booklet provides useful information on the French grammar with sections on nouns and pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, questions and a reference section on numbers, days, months and time. The Visual Phrase Book is very compact and can be carried everywhere you go when you are visiting a French country or Quebec.    Sentences and images are both listed in English and French to help you communicate at the restaurant, at the store or anywhere you go.  

The CDs and lesson book is broken down into five daily lessons over the course of 12 weeks.    Each lesson is specifically designed to last 15 minutes and you will have plenty of exercises to practice.   You will have warm ups, Say It exercises, introductory paragraphs, as well as cultural and conversational tips.    At the end of the week, you will have the opportunity to review and repeat the lessons.    I originally tested this product while driving and realized that though it is a nice to be able to listen to the CD while driving, it is quite difficult to check the book at the same time.   So I would suggest that you could practice in your car while driving but when they are suggesting that you look at the book it would be preferable that you do so when you are at home or during your lunch time at work.  

Here’s the list of the lessons from both CDs.

CD 1

Week 1  Introduction – Hello, relatives, my family, to be and to have

Week 2 Eating and Drinking – In the Café, In the restaurant, To want, Dishes

Week 3 Making Arrangements – Days and months, Time and numbers, Appointments, On the telephone

Week 4 Travel – At the ticket office, To go or to take, Taxi/bus/metro, On the road

Week 5 Getting About – About town, Finding your way, Sightseeing, At the airport

Week 6 Accommodation – Booking a room, In the hotel, At the campsite, Descriptions

CD 2

Week 7 Shopping – Shops, At the market, At the supermarket, Clothes and shoes

Week 8 Work and Study – Jobs, The office, Academic world, In business

Week 9 Health – At the pharmacy, The body, At the doctor, At the hospital

Week 10 At Home – At home, In the House, The garden, Pets

Week 11 Services – Post office and bank, Services, To come, Police and crime

Week 12 Leisure and socializing – Leisure Time, Sport and hobbies, Socializing

As you can see, this product covers everything you will need to travel and communicate safely when you go to a French country or province.

Though I smiled when hearing the teachers as I listened to it, I can see that this product was specifically designed for anyone wanting to be able to communicate easily with French people around them.    I also think it is a great way for practice a second language.   As you might know we are a French language family – but I must be honest and tell you that the kids have a tendency to speak English first.   Knowing this, I figure these CDs will help them to interact more in French and also expand their vocabulary.    While I was listening to the CD as I drove for a last excursion at the Agriculture museum with the younger two, my son Jérémy took the time to repeat at each lesson.    My daughter was a bit more stubborn but I figure that she has no choice than listen as well…     Reinforcing the French is one of my objective this year – and yes in case you are wondering we do speak French at home but when the kids play I always hear English…

Other Complete Language Packs are available at DK Canada – Italian and Spanish.  

The Complete Language Pack French is available for purchase at your favourite bookstore, even amazon.ca.

Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for sending me the above mentioned products for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Monday, July 30, 2012

O.O.T.W. Dolls

Recently I have been approached with an opportunity of reviewing a new line of dolls.   I knew this wasn’t a good time because of our move but I agreed to review one of them if they could guarantee the delivery by a certain date.   

When I got the Out Of This World Doll that I was assigned to review I couldn’t help but smile.   We received Techno!

Techno_InPackageTechno was born with a dance party in her head.  Sometimes she get so mesmerized by the music that she can actually see it!   Planning parties to show off her fresh mixes is what she do best – in fact, she can spin better than anyone in the while girlaxy.   Everywhere she goes, dizzying lights and an ultra-fun time are sure to follow.  

Some of you might not know this but a few years back, my husband and I – with a team of wonderful people – were planting a church in the downtown core based on electronic music and techno.    We also held what we called Christian raves.    Jasmine, our daughter, was born during that time and learned to crawl and then walk at the sounds of techno music.


To this day, our girl loves to dance and spin around when she hears music.

So you can understand why I was smiling when I saw Techno in the package I received…  

But wait….  you must be wondering what are the Out Of This World girls?  Also known as O.O.T.W. Girls the dolls are supposed to encourage girls to use their imagination and celebrate their own uniqueness.   The line possess low-tech electronic functions that are unique to each doll.  TechnoThis new line of dolls is geared for girls age 4 to 12.

At first sight, the doll looked sturdy to be handled by little hands.    Knowing that Techno is supposed to move at the sound of the music, I was looking for the switch to make her go around.    Unfortunately, there wasn’t one but I did found a small button at the centre of the doll (See on the image) which could be press.    Instantly, music and sparkles will go in her head and the doll will vibrate to turn on the table.   However, as soon as you let go the button, the doll stops…  What?  That’s it?  A one second twist?  There gotta be something more.   But no…. the more I searched the less I could find.   That was it.   Very disappointing.   I wish that the music/dancing would go on for a good 10-15 seconds at least.   

As much as I like the design, the interactive part of this doll leave me wanting more of it…     So because of this feature that doesn’t seem to stay on for a long time, I can’t recommend this doll to my readers.  

On another note, I think that most of the girls are fabulous (though a bit more work is needed for the electronic functionality) but one of them put some emphasis on seeing the future and personally I wouldn’t want my girl to own such a doll as we do not believe in future telling.   On the other hand, Gigi is another cute girl who loves to laugh!   

Finally, you will also find a QR code on each package which will allow your child to connect with the characters using an electronic device.  I personally don’t think it is wise to let your kids learn to use QR Codes at a young age.   The kids these days are inundated with advertising and don’t need more of it in their lives.    

The initial launch includes five and two pets.   Note that the line will also expand later this year with play sets as well as other girls.

This new line of dolls (O.O.T.W.) is produced by Blip Toys and will be available at retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us as well as Amazon.com. The O.O.T.W. girls will be available for the price of 9.99$.i

p Toys

Disclaimer: Thanks to Blip Toys for sending me the above mentioned products for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Koosh Galaxy Solar Recon Ball Launcher


38877EEC5056900B10D3210A8BE8E786About the product

Guard the galaxy with glow-in-the-dark blasting power and awesome sounds and lights! Feed the KOOSH balls through the top of the ball launcher and watch as the LED lights brighten and charge the glowing KOOSH balls for awesome glow-in-the-dark blasting effects! Kids can hear the ball launcher powering up, firing, and going back into standby mode so they can be ready for their next adventure. Includes 4 glow-in-the-dark KOOSH balls. Blast off with KOOSH!

My Thoughts

From the makers of Nerf comes a new out-of-this-world fun product called Koosh Galaxy.   I didn’t know what to expect when I received confirmation that I would get one of these new products to review.     How can it be better than NERF?   Because my kids adore their Nerf and play whenever possible with them.

But now that I have experienced the Koosh Galaxy Solar Recon Ball Launcher, I think these new line of products will bring hours of join and laughter in the lives of your kids.   Seriously,I think this particular launcher is totally awesome and deserve a place of honor in your camping trips…

Why camping?   Well, let’s just says that this launcher comes with GLOW-IN-THE-DARK balls – four of them to be exact – and will entertain parents and kids alike when the sun goes down.   The best part is that you will be able to find your balls without problems because they glow so well.    How do I know?  Well yours truly has tested the balls and the launcher in the darkness of her walked-in closet!  Hey this was the best place I could test it for the time being so please do not laugh.   The place was pitched dark and when I switched the launcher on a soft blue light came in and I could hear some futuristic sounds to make the track of aliens more fun.   The balls did indeed glow-in-the-dark and were easy to find.   

The launchers can also be used on targets in your backyard or in the house.    There is a wealth of possibilities with this new product from Hasbro!  And if you are wondering, the balls are completely soft and won’t hurt a bit if you become the target of a very imaginative child.

I am totally sold out to the Koosh Galaxy items and I would strongly suggest that more electronic launchers be made in the future so that futuristic pretend play can happen in every households around the country.  This is definitively a product I would recommend for Christmas 2012!    With four kids of my own, I will keep an eye on other Koosh Galaxy products in the future.  The Space Agent Ball Launcher looks very interesting with its ability of shooting curved balls…

Other products in the Koosh line are the Koosh Ball Refill Pack, Koosh Galaxy Alien Archer Ball Launcher, Koosh Galaxy Ball Clip, Koosh Ball Refill Glow-in-the-Dark, Koosh  Galaxy Space Agent Ball Launcher, and Koosh Galaxy Star Scout Ball Launcher

To learn more about the Koosh Galaxy products, visit http://www.hasbro.com/koosh/en_US/.

All Koosh Galaxy products are available at your favourite toy store.


Disclaimer: Thanks to Hasbro Canada for sending me the above mentioned products for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Princess Fairyland Giant Floor Puzzle

show_image_in_imgtagPrincess Fairyland Giant Floor Puzzle
Created at Innovative Kids

About the puzzle

With princesses, fairies, mermaids, and more, this enchanted forest floor puzzle is a dream come true for little girls. As they put it together, kids will discover something new in every inch of this magical world.

My Thoughts

My daughter likes to do girly puzzle but unfortunately for her, there isn’t many of these in our home because she has three older brothers.   She likes to pick up a 24 pieces puzzles whether is has My Little Pony or X-Men on it and do it on the floor in the living room.    But when I saw this particular puzzle in a catalogue I knew she would be delighted to have it because she loves pink and adores princesses.  

The puzzle once complete measures 2 feet by 3 feet.   it is made of 98% of recycled materials and uses eco-friendly ink.   Which means it is not only good for the child but also for the environment.


The pieces are big to help little hands to manipulate them.   And they are quite sturdy too.   I am very impressed on the quality of the puzzle.   The colors are vibrant, the pieces sturdy and easy to manipulate, and the complete image is fabulous.   I was curious to see how well the pieces would stay together on our carpeted floor and let me tell you the result is impressive.   This puzzle is perfect for any kind of floors – whether you have carpet or not.  

So if you know a little girl who loves princesses and likes to do puzzles, I would strongly recommend the Princess Fairyland Giant Floor Puzzle for her.   She will be challenge to put together a bigger puzzle without having to deal with tiny pieces.   It is a great transition toward the puzzles with more pieces.

The Green Start Giant Floor Puzzles are also available with the following themes: dinosaursnumber hunt, on the farm, my doll house, puppy palooza, and under the sea.   Some will have 35 pieces and others 60 pieces.

The Princess Fairyland Giant Floor Puzzle is available at your favourite toy store, even on amazon.ca.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Thomas Allen for sending me the above mentioned product for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Predator in 3D

9780756690212HPredator in 3D
Published at DK Canada

About the book

Includes 3-D glasses!

Discover the excitement of nature's most skillful, beautiful, and deadliest animals!

Nature's hunters leap off the pages in stunning 3-D. Incredible photography takes the reader deep into the world of lions, grizzly bears, great white sharks, fierce-toothed piranhas, kingfisher birds, robber flies, and more.

With an overview of how each hunter tracks and captures its prey, readers also get an inside look at each animal — from muscle power and limb shape, to keen eyesight or sense of smell.

My Thoughts

This book will give you everything you wanted to know about predators and more.   Though some pages are in 3-D and require the glasses to be seen in three dimension, you won’t need to wear them for the whole book.  

The book starts by giving you a definition of what a predator is and immediately jumped into the list of predators presented in this book.  You will have information about the great white shark, the constrictor, the tiger, the polar bear, the cheetah, the kingfisher, the dragonfly, the peregrine falcon, the African wild dog, the army ant, the piranha, the lion, the rattlesnake, the jellyfish, the scorpion, the mantis, the ornate horned frog, the crocodile, the chameleon, the komodo dragon, the humpback whale, the Venus flytrap, the angler fish, and the spider.  3-D photos are available at six places in the book as well.   My favourite one is the one titled The Salmon Run where you see a grizzly bear running in the water.   

The photos included in this book are fabulous!   I particularly love the Kingfisher pages as it show how the bird fish in the water.     I have learned quite a bit about the kingfisher as I read the information included about it.   For example, did you know that nesting kingfishers must catch as many as 2500 fish to raise a family of up to eight hungry chicks?   Kingfisher birds nest in a deep tunnel in the riverbank, which inevitable will start to smell with the fish remains and bird droppings.   This bird has to flap its wings powerfully when in the water in order to swim back to the surface.   The picture showing the bird under the water is breathtaking to say the least.

My only disappointment is that is you are a person who wear glasses on a daily basis, the 3-D paper glasses are a bit tight to fit with the regular glasses.  You could decide to wear the 3-D glasses under your regular prescription glasses or you could opt to simply hold the 3-D glasses whenever you need them while reading this book.    I must say that I am impressed with the publisher who has specifically indicated in the table of contents as well as on the 3-D pages where you will need the 3-D glasses to see the image pop-out of the page.  

Nevertheless, this book is a great resources to learn more about predators and see their tactics to catch their prey.   A great book for animal studies and to let your kids learn during the summer time!

Predator in 3-D is available at your favourite bookstore, even amazon.ca.

Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for sending me the above mentioned products for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Big Truths for Little Kids

1581341067Big Truths for Little Kids – Teaching Your Children to Live for God
Written By Susan Hunt & Richie Hunt
Published at Crossway

About the book

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Deuteronomy 6:6-7a

Your children are a blessing from God. A gift that brings an abundance of joy and the privilege of teaching them God's ways. When they're young their potential to learn is amazing. And because actions and beliefs go hand in hand, the lessons they learn from you now will shape their lives forever.

This wonderful book, with its easy-to-use story format, can help you teach the basic truths of the Christian faith to your children. They'll learn right along with Caleb and Cassie that God's ways are the best—and that even as kids, they can live for His glory every day.

Who are Susan Hunt & Richie Hunt?

Susan Hunt is the women’s ministry consultant for Christian Education and Publications. She is also a mother, grandmother, pastor’s wife, author, and the former director of women’s ministries for the Presbyterian Church in America. Hunt has written a number of books, including Spiritual Mothering and Big Truths for Little Kids.

Richie Hunt is the children’s and youth minister at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Georgia. He has served in children’s and youth ministry for almost 20 years and is a husband and father.

My Thoughts

This book is interesting to instill devotion time for little ones.  

Before each stories, a series of questions and answers are written so you can ask your child to evaluate his level of understanding of the Bible truths.  At this point, you will have to encourage your child to memorize the answers to these questions.   Personally, I would prefer that the memorization encouragement would be more linked to the Scriptures – as my kids are learning to do in AWANA.  

The goal of this book, it to read a store each day.     Once you have read the devotional story with your child, you can discuss it with the suggested questions in the Let’s Talk section.   These questions will help your child to take the time to think about the story and how it glorifies God.   Ultimately, it will help him/her to see how this story can apply in life in general.

At the end of the devotion, a Let’s Pray section highlights a specific scriptures and a way to pray about it.   I would also encourage your child to memorize the scripture depending of the age he/she is.    If the child is 3 or 4 I would shorten the Scripture but for kids age 5 and up I don’t have any problem to help them memorize the whole scripture depending of the length of it.

Each stories have some illustrations helping to visualize the context and the characters.   I am a bit disappointed that these illustrations are not in color.   I think it would have made the book more interesting for little kids.   

This book is an interesting introduction on how devotions can be done for children.   It will give them a good starting point on how to do it in the future.

Big Truths for Little Kids  - Teaching Your Children to Live for God is available at your favourite bookstore, even amazon.ca.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Crossway for sending me the above mentioned product for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Monopoly Zapped

C8B98E275056900B1005F98D63963932Monopoly Zapped
From Hasbro Canada

About the Game

Take an app-enhanced trip through the whirlwind world of property trading with MONOPOLY ZappED! Get the app free from the APP STORE and play your IPAD and gameboard together. (IPAD required, not included.) Use the app to buy and auction property, and transfer MONOPOLY dollars to your iPad with touch-banking cards. Are you raking in the cash? Own the most assets when a player goes bankrupt, and you win! Experience MONOPOLY mayhem with this IPAD edition! Requires IPAD, not included.

For 2 to 4 players.

Game Board comes with Rubber Pads, 6 tokens, 28 Property cards, 32 green houses, 12 red hotels, 2 dice, 4 MONOPOLY Touch-banking cards and instructions.

Download the free app –Adult Assistance Required.

Our Thoughts

For as long as I can remember the Monopoly game has been part of my life…   When I was younger, the game we had at home included wooden hotels and houses.    This game is long gone but Monopoly is an icon in many families still today.    We have numerous Monopoly games in our home – one based on Star Wars, one based on Marvel Comics, Junior Monopoly as well as one for the Wii.   We also have a version based on homeschool and the apps for the iPhone/iPad.    But earlier this year, I had the opportunity to review the Game of Life Zapped Edition and I C8B9859B5056900B10BD7A195610BD6BIMG_4960knew that it was a matter of months before the Monopoly Zapped Edition would be on the market.   So when I realized that it was available on the Hasbro website, I asked if I could review it.   They agreed and within a week or so I had received my copy of Monopoly Zapped. 

The app that you need for this game is free but  you definitively need an iPad or iPhone to play the game as it interacts with you through the game.

The game has been somewhat modified to allow you to manage your money via a bank card, deal with millions of dollars when purchasing as well as paying your opponents.   The app will interact with you when you land one a Chance, Community Chest, or Get Out of Prison.  You will have to present you bank card to add/deduct the money as well.  There are more features in this app to help you have a different experience with Monopoly.  

We gave the game to my oldest son for his birthday.    He was looking forward to try it out…  Unfortunately, we were in the midst of packing as we will be moving sometime later this summer and he had to wait a bit.   But just before I left for a week in Calgary in early July, we decided to make a Family Game Night and took the Monopoly Zapped out of the box. 

We had a blast discovering this new edition of a legendary game.   Only four players could play around the board so the adults teamed up with the younger kids.    I think it would make the game more fun if more people could play it. 



Throughout the game, you will encounter challenges to see who will have to pay the penalty.  Fun interactive games are included for you to pick an opponent and battle to see who will win.    Real dice are included in this game and it is somewhat disappointing that this functionality has not been included in the app.   It would have been fun to have a complete virtual game with the board I think.   The fact that the dice are not part of the app, makes it hard for the device to know exactly where you are located on the board.   You also have houses and hotels that are transparent making me think of a more 21st century style of building – all glass surrounding it.    Though this version of Monopoly is partly virtual with the help of the app, you still need to track your moves, pay your opponents, and manage your own money via the bank card. 

The game is definitively different than the regular Monopoly and will bring some fun interactions at the same time.   My daughter ended up in prison at some point  and in the possibilities in how to get out of jail, she could try to jump over the fence and get in the car.    With a flick of her little fingers, she was able to send Mr. Monopoly above the fence and he left the jail with a cloud of dust behind the car.   We had a good laugh when we saw what happened.   It is a great game to bring along while you go camping or to the cottage.    I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t have a normal edition of Monopoly but is interested in the game.     

The new Monopoly Zapped can be purchased at your favourite toy store.


Disclaimer: Thanks to Hasbro Canada for sending me the above mentioned products for review purposes . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Awesome Science Explore Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest with Noah Justice

meteor-crater-petrified-forestAwesome Science – Explore Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest with Noah Justice
Available through New Leaf Publishing Group

About the DVD

Join 14-year-old host Noah Justice as he explores the fascinating Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest in Arizona. In this third episode of the Awesome Science DVD series, Noah unveils amazing evidence that confirms the biblical record of Genesis. In this 30-minute segment, viewers learn how a large meteor was not what killed off the dinosaurs, and that millions of acres of petrified forests were created during the Flood.

Awesome Science is a high quality DVD series produced by a family that homeschools and works on the series together. Kyle Justice, Noah’s dad, has produced video which has appeared on networks including National Geographic, ESPN, and the Outdoor Channel. Noah is the field guide and host for this exciting production, which includes Explore the Grand Canyon, Explore Yellowstone, and Explore Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest, all releasing March 2012. Each episode offers a study guide which is sold separately. The series can be used in any Christian education setting including churches, schools, and homes.

5 x 7 • 30 Minutes • DVD

My Thoughts

This is my third DVD from the Awesome Science series that I had the opportunity to watch with my kids.    Earlier this year, we were able to watch Explore Grand Canyon and Explore Yellowstone.   So when the opportunity arose to review the DVD titled Explore Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest, I jumped on it because I  particularly like the Biblical account in these scientific dvds. 

Once again I was impressed with the information found in this DVD.   Not only will the young Noah Justice will explain how a petrified forest can be formed and how the Meteor Crater in Arizona was made but he brings evidence with other sources of information.  In the case of the petrified forest, he will explain in details how the Flood account must be considered to explain this phenomenon by using Mt. St. Helens as an example.  When Mt. St. Helens burst back in 1980, it created a similar situation with the trees found around it.    When it went active again in 1982, it happened during the time of the year where snow was present.   This time, it created various layers which help to explain the Teepees found in Petrified Forest National Park.awesome-science-meteor-crater-petrified-forest-sg

Using evidence from the Bible as well as scientific facts, Noah Justice will help you and your kids to understand how things happens many years ago and how you can defend your belief about it.    Noah also does an interesting scientific demonstration on how a meteor crater could happen on Earth.   My kids really like to see him shooting a bullet inside the ground to demonstrate how a crater would formed without leaving much pieces from the meteor.

The Study Guide is specifically designed to enrich your experience while watching the DVD.   It includes bonus activities, fill in the blank and true/false questions as well as discussion questions.   My only disappointment is that this study guide does not fit in the DVD case which I would personally prefer.    

Other DVDs from Awesome Science are/will be available:  Explore Grand Canyon, Explore Yellowstone, Explore Yosemite and Zion National Parks, Explore Mt. St. Helens, and Explore John Day Fossil Beds.   Please note that the last three titles will only be available in the Fall of 2012.  Also available is the Study Guide that goes hand-in-hand with the DVD.   It is available at New Leaf Publishing Group.

The DVD Awesome Science – Explore Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest with Noah Justice should be available at your favourite bookstore.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the DVD on amazon.ca but they do have the Study Guide.

Disclaimer: Thanks to New Leaf Publishing Group for sending me the above mentioned product for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A whirlwind of happenings

There are times right now that I feel like I live in a perpetual tornado.   It isn’t that bad really just never ceasing activity around me.

First an foremost, we were a whole month in Toronto because hubby had a contract there.   Turns out the company wants him full time as their IT manager.

When we got back early June and it took about two weeks to get a firm offer which we accepted.   So we are MOVING!   Never thought I would move in the North of Toronto area but with the lack of contracts in the past three years or so, we have decided to see this as a blessing from God and follow the path He is directing us.

What are my thoughts about this?   Well I always thought that if we move it would still be around Ottawa.  Now we will be about 5 hours away.    All my homeschool contacts are around here.   All our immediate family (within about 2 hours of drive).    Most of our friends.

Moving means – finding new friends, a new church, searching for homeschool contacts…   

Moving also means packing… which we have been doing like crazy for the past three weeks or so.

I also left the kids and my husband for a week of training in Calgary and came back last Saturday.

While I was away, we have put the house for sale…

So far two showings – one last Friday and one this morning before lunch.

And two more to come… tonight.

Ultimately it’s in God’s hands.   He knows what we need – ie sell this house and get a new home.

I will trust Him as I know that He can do what seems impossible in our eyes.

Hubby starts his new work on Aug 7th.   

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Deposit Slip

ImageThe Deposit Slip
Written by Todd M. Johnson
Published at Bethany House

About the book

$10,000,000 Is Missing.

Erin Larson is running out of options. In the wake of her father's death, she found a slim piece of paper--a deposit slip--with an unbelievable amount on it. Only the bank claims they have no record of the money, and trying to hire a lawyer has brought only intimidation and threats. Erin's last chance is Jared Neaton.

How Far Will One Lawyer Go to Find the Money?

When Jared wearied of the shady ethics of his big law firm and started his own, he never expected the wheels to fly off so quickly. One big loss has pushed him to the brink, and it's all he can do to scrape by.

And How Far Will Someone Go to Stop Him?

He's not sure if Erin's case is worth the risk, but if the money is real, all his problems could vanish. When digging deeper unleashes something far more dangerous than just threats, both Jared and Erin must decide the cost they're willing to pay to discover the truth.

Who is Todd M. Johnson?

Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. This is his debut novel. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter. Visit his website at www.authortoddjohnson.com.

My Thoughts

I am always a little skeptic when I take a debut novel because I don’t know what to expect from the author.   In this particular case, the genre interested me and the plot was very intriguing.    When I received the book I immediately started reading it.   Since I was schedule to go to Calgary for a week, this book also found its way in my bag for reading when aboard the plane.   By the time I was in Calgary, I had reached the 3/4 of the book.

I really enjoyed the Legal Thriller genre of this novel.  Not only does it keeps you on the edge and want to discover more about the mystery but it also makes you wonder what the heck is happening in this story.    Mystery, danger, strong characters as well as a story based on the legal system are making this story amazing and leaving you wanting more from the author.  

The mystery is linked on the 10 millions which seem to have disappeared from the surface of the Earth.  Where is the money?  Who is hiding it?   Is there anyone willing to tell the truth about it?   Follow Jared Neaton, his client and collaborators in a search for the truth behind a simple deposit slip discovered in a deposit box.    And at the end of the book, you will want to follow more of the cases of Jared Neaton.    I am so looking forward for the next novel with this interesting character.  

Though the book is published at a Christian publisher, there isn’t much Christian content in it.    You will encounter a pastor and discover that a confession has been made as well as efforts to correct an error from the past but the author has not incorporated the Gospel message and/or scriptures throughout the story.   Part of me is a bit disappointed about not finding more scriptures in it and part of me enjoy the different style of this author.   Bottom line is that this book can be read by anyone you think might like the genre without feeling overly based on the Christian faith.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this title for anyone wanting to discover a new author or simply explore a new genre in literature.   This book is definitively a title to discover during your holidays this summer!

The Deposit Slip is available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group – even at amazon.ca!

Disclaimer: The book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

First Wild Card Tours–A Promise for Miriam

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Vannetta Chapman has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America. She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas Hill country. Her first two inspirational novels—A Simple Amish Christmas and Falling to Pieces—were Christian Book Distributors bestsellers.

Visit the author's website.


Amish schoolteacher Miriam King loves her students. At 26, she hasn’t yet met anyone who can convince her to give up the Plain school at Pebble Creek. Then newcomer Gabriel Yoder steps into her life, bringing his daughter, an air of mystery, and challenges Miriam has never faced before.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736946128
ISBN-13: 978-0736946124


Pebble Creek, southwestern Wisconsin
Three years later
Miriam King glanced over the schoolroom with satisfaction.
Lessons chalked on the board.
Pencils sharpened and in the cup.
Tablets, erasers, and chalk sat on each desk.
Even the woodstove was cooperating this morning. Thank the Lord for Efram Hochstetler, who stopped by early Mondays on his way to work and started the fire. If not for him, the inside of the windows would be covered with ice when she stepped in the room.
Now, where was Esther?
As if Miriam’s thoughts could produce the girl, the back door to the schoolhouse opened and Esther burst through, bringing with her a flurry of snowflakes and a gust of the cold December wind. Her blonde hair was tucked neatly into her kapp, and the winter morning had colored her cheeks a bright red.
Esther wore a light-gray dress with a dark apron covering it. At five and a half feet and weighing no more than a hundred and twenty pounds, Miriam often had the unsettling feeling of looking into a mirror—a mirror into the past—when she looked at the young woman who taught with her at the one-room schoolhouse.
In truth, the teachers had often been mistaken for family. They were similar in temperament as well as appearance. Other than their hair, Esther could have been Miriam’s younger sister. Esther’s was the color of ripe wheat, while Miriam’s was black as coal.
Why did that so often surprise both Plain people and Englischers? If Miriam’s black hair wasn’t completely covered by her kapp, she received the oddest stares.
“Am I late?” Esther’s shoes echoed against the wooden floor as she hurried toward the front of the room. Pulling off her coat, scarf, and gloves, she dropped them on her desk.
“No, but nearly.”
“I told Joseph we had no time to check on his cattle, but he insisted.”
“Worried about the gate again?”
Ya. I told him they wouldn’t work it loose, but he said—”
“Cows are stupid.” They uttered the words at the same time, both mimicking Joseph’s serious voice, and then broke into laughter. The laughter eased the tension from Esther’s near tardiness and set the morning back on an even keel.
“Joseph has all the makings of a fine husband and a gut provider,” Miriam said. “Once you’re married, you’ll be glad he’s so careful about the animals.”
Ya, but when we’re married I won’t be having to leave in time to make it to school.” Esther’s cheeks reddened a bit more as she seemed to realize how the words must sound.
Why did everyone think Miriam was embarrassed that she still remained unmarried? Did it never occur to them that it was her own choice to be single?
“Efram had the room nice and warm before I even arrived,” she said gently. “And I put out your tablets.”
Wunderbaar. I’ll write my lessons on the board, and we’ll be ready.” As Esther reached to pull chalk from her desk drawer, Miriam noticed that she froze and then stood up straighter. When she reached up and touched her kapp as if to make sure she was presentable, Miriam realized someone else was in the room.
She turned to see who had surprised the younger teacher. It was still a few minutes before classes were due to start, and few of their students arrived early.
Standing in the doorway to the schoolroom was an Amish man. Pebble Creek was a small community, technically a part of the village of Cashton. Old-timers and Plain folk alike still referred to the area where the creek went through by its historic name.
Miriam was quite sure she’d never seen the man standing in her classroom before. He was extremely tall, and she had the absurd notion he’d taken his hat off to fit through their entryway. Even standing beneath the door arch, waiting for them to speak, he seemed to barely fit. He was thin and sported a long beard, indicating he was married.
In addition to clutching his black hat, he wore a heavy winter coat, though not the type worn by most Wisconsin residents. The tops of his shoulders, his arms, and even parts of his beard were covered with snow. More important than how he looked standing in her classroom was the fact that he held the hand of a small girl.
Gudemariye,” Miriam said, stepping forward and moving past her desk.
The man still didn’t speak, but as she drew closer, he bent and said something to the girl.
When Miriam had halved the distance between them, he returned her greeting as his somber brown eyes assessed her.
The young girl next to him had dark-brown hair like her father. It had been combed neatly and pulled back into a braid, all tucked inside her kapp. What was striking about her wasn’t her hair or her traditional Plain clothing—it was her eyes. She had the most solemn, beautiful brown eyes Miriam had ever seen on a child.
They seemed to take in everything.
Miriam noticed she clutched her father’s hand tightly with one hand and held a lunch box with the other.
“I’m the teacher of the younger grades here, grades one through four. My name is Miriam King.” The girl’s eyes widened, and the father nodded again. “Esther Schrocks teaches grades five through eight.”
He looked to the girl to see if she understood, but neither replied.
“And your daughter is—”
“Grace is eight years old, just this summer.” Almost as an afterthought, he added, “I’m Gabriel Miller.”
“Pleased to meet you.” Miriam offered her best smile, which still did not seem to put the father at ease. She’d seen nervous parents before, and obviously this was one. “You must be new to our community.”
Ya. I purchased the place on Dawson Road.”
“Dawson Road? Do you mean the Kline farm?”
Ya.” Not quite rude, but curt and to the point.
Miriam tried to hide any concern she felt as images of Kline’s dilapidated spread popped into her mind. It was no business of hers where this family chose to live. “I know exactly where you mean. My parents live a few miles past that.”
“It’s a fair piece from here,” he noted.
“That it is. Esther and I live here at the schoolhouse during the week. The district built accommodations on the floor above, as is the custom in most of our schoolhouses here in Wisconsin. We both spend weekends at home with our families.”
“I don’t know I’ll be able to bring Grace in every day.” Gabriel Miller reached up and ran his finger under the collar of his shirt, which peeked through the gap at the top of his coat.
Miriam noticed then that it looked stiff and freshly laundered. Had he put on his Sunday best to bring his daughter to school on her first day? It said something about him if he had.
“A man has to put his farm first,” he added defensively.
“Some children live close enough that their parents can bring them in the winter, and, of course, most everyone walks when the weather permits.” Miriam paused to smile in greeting as a few students began arriving and walking around them. “Others ride together. Eli Stutzman lives past Dawson road, and he would be happy to give your dochder a ride to school.”
“It would be a help.” Mr. Miller still didn’t move, and Miriam waited, wondering what else the man needed to say.
She looked up and saw one of the older girls, Hannah, walking in the door. “Hannah, this is Grace Miller. She’s new at our school. Would you mind sitting with her and helping her this week?”
“Sure thing, Miriam.” Hannah squatted down to Grace’s level and said something to the girl Miriam couldn’t hear.
Whatever it was, Grace released her dat’s hand and took Hannah’s. She’d walked halfway down the aisle when she turned, rushed back to where they stood, and threw her arms around her father’s legs.
One squeeze and she was gone again.
Though it was fleeting, Miriam saw a look of anguish pass over the man’s face. What could be going through his mind? She’d seen many fathers leave their children for the first time over the last eight years, but something more was going on here.
“She’ll be fine, Mr. Miller. We’re a small school, and the children look after one another.”
“It’s that…” he twirled his hat in his hands once, twice, three times. “Before we moved here, Grace was…that is to say, we…well, her grossmammi homeschooled her.”
“I understand. How about if I write a note letting you know how Grace is doing? I’ll put it in her lunch box at the end of the day.”
Something like relief washed over his face.
Danki,” he mumbled. Then he rammed his hat on his head and hurried out the door.
Esther caught her attention from the front of the room and sent a questioning look toward the man’s retreating back, but Miriam shook her head. She’d explain later, at lunch perhaps. For now they had nearly forty children between them to teach. As usual, it would be a busy morning.

Gabe did stop to talk to Eli Stutzman. He wanted to make sure he trusted the man.
It helped when three girls and a boy who were the last to climb out of the long buggy stopped to wish their father a good day. The littlest girl, probably the same age as his Gracie, wrapped her arms around her daddy’s neck, whispered something in his ear, and then tumbled down the steps into the chilly morning.
“That one is my youngest—Sadie. Always full of energy, but she’s a worrier. This morning it’s about a pup she left at home in the barn.” Covering the distance between them, the older man removed his glove and offered his right hand. “Name’s Eli Stutzman. I take it you’re new here, which must mean you bought the Kline place.”
“I am, and I did. Gabriel Miller.” Gabe stood still in the cold, wishing he could be done with this and back on his farm.
“Have children in the school?”
“One, a girl—about your youngest one’s age.”
Eli nodded, and then he seemed to choose his words carefully. “I suspect you’ll be busy putting your place in order. It will be no problem giving your dochder a ride back and forth each day.”
“I would appreciate it.”
Stutzman told him the approximate time he passed the Kline place, and Gabe promised he’d have Gracie ready at the end of the lane.
He turned to go and was headed to his own buggy when the man called out to him.
“The Kline place has been empty quite a while.”
Gabe didn’t answer. Instead, he glanced out at the surrounding fields, covered in snow and desolate looking on this Monday morning.
“If you need help, or find something that’s worse than what you expected, you holler. We help each other in Pebble Creek.”
Gabe ran his hand along the back of his neck but didn’t answer. Merely nodding, he moved on to his buggy.
He was accustomed to people offering help. Actually delivering on it? That was often another story, though he wouldn’t be judging the people here before he knew them.
Still, it was in his nature to do things on his own if at all possible.
Was his new home worse than he had expected?
Ya, it was much worse.
The barn was falling in on itself, and the house was not a lot better, but he knew carpentry. He could make them right. At least the woodstove worked. He’d been somewhat surprised to find no gas refrigerator, but he had found out who sold blocks of ice carved from the river. The icebox in the mudroom would do.
Gracie would be warm and fed. She’d have a safe place to sleep and to do the drawing she loved so much.
He didn’t think he’d be calling on Eli for help.
He’d see that Grace Ann made it to school and church—he’d promised her grossmammis as much. But other than that he wasn’t looking to make freinden in Pebble Creek. He wanted to be left alone. It was the reason he’d left their community in Indiana.
He could do without any help.
His parting words to his parents echoed back to him.
“I can do it on my own.”
As he drove the buggy toward home, Gabe looked out over high ridges and low valleys. Dairy farms dotted the snowcapped view. Running through it all was Pebble Creek, no doubt a prime place for trout fishing most of the year. He’d heard the call of wild turkeys and seen deer. It was a rich, blessed area.
Pebble Creek ran through the heart of Cashton, the closest town. It also touched the border of the school grounds and meandered through his own property. It bound them together.
As he approached home, Gabe’s mind was filled with thoughts of the day’s work ahead of him. He wondered where he’d find the energy to do it all, but somehow he would.
For Gracie he would.
His parents had offered to send his youngest brother along for the first year, but Andrew was needed on the family place. And, truthfully, Gabe preferred to be alone—just he and Grace.
“I can do it on my own.”
“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” his mother said. She had reminded him as he was packing their things that pride was his worst shortcoming, though the Lord knew he had many to choose from when it came to faults.
Was it pride that scraped against his heart each day? He couldn’t say.
He only knew he preferred solitude to company, especially since Hope died.
That seemed ironic, even to him. She had been his hope, his life, his all, and now she was gone. Her death had happened so quickly—it reminded him of one of the Englisch freight trains barreling around the corner of some bend.
A big black iron thing he hadn’t seen coming. A monstrosity with the power to destroy his life.
Which wasn’t what the bishop had said, or his parents, or his brothers and sisters.
He slapped the reins and allowed his new horse, Chance, to move a bit faster over the snow-covered road. He’d left Indiana because he needed to be free of the looks of sympathy, the well-intentioned words, the interfering.
So he now had what he’d wished for—a new beginning with Grace.
If it meant days of backbreaking work, so much the better. Perhaps when he was exhausted, he would begin to sleep at night.


My Thoughts

It has been a while since I read an Amish novel.   And I wasn’t disappointed with this one.   Miriam is a beautiful character and I learned quite a bit about Amish schoolteachers through her.    When Gabriel Miller and his daughter arrive in town, she offers her help on a specific issue.  First she is turned down but following a tragic event her offer is seriously considered.   Will she be able to help Grace?  And how is her relationship with Gabriel will turn out?

To know more about Miriam, Gabriel, Grace and the other characters of the book, you will have to read it.   I personally enjoyed the different style of Amish novel which concentrate on a different type of problem than previous titles I have read through the past years.    I had never read a book from Vannetta Chapman and enjoyed discovering a new author.  

Though I must admit that I am getting a little bit fed up with Amish titles.   It always turns toward Christian romance and such.   I’m not a huge fan of romance novels so  even though I appreciate the friendship of the characters, I know immediately that it will turn as a romance story.  However, in this particular title, not only is there a bit of romance (not too much) but you will also have tragedy and an important issue to be resolved with a project in town.   So you will have a lot of events covered through the pages of A Promise for Miriam.   I will keep my eyes open for the second installment of the Pebble Creek Amish Series simply because I want to know what will happen with Miriam, Gabriel and Grace.   

If you like Amish novels and would like to discover a new author, I would suggest that you check out A Promise for Miriam.  

A Promise for Miriam is available at your favorite bookstore, even amazon.ca.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Beneterre Food Wraps

imageBeneterre Food Wraps

About the products

Sandwich WrapIt!sandwich-wrapit_lg

Reusable sandwich bag that is ideal for kids and adults whether for lunches, portable snacks, picnics or other social events!

  • Use in place of sandwich bags, plastic wrap, foil
  • 100% natural cotton lined with non-dyed nylon that is lead free, phthalate free, BPA free and PVC free.
  • Pleat in the bottom of the bag to ensure room for the sandwich
  • Double fold seals in freshness
  • Wipe clean or machine wash, air dry
  • 7 1/4” w x 6"h x 1” d

snack_wrapit_lgSnack WrapIt!

A reusable snack bag that is ideal for kids and adults whether for lunches, portable snacks, picnics or other social events!
  • Use in place of sandwich bags, plastic wrap, foil
  • 100% natural cotton lined with non-dyed nylon that is lead free, phthalate free, BPA free and PVC (vinyl) free.
  • Seals easily with elastic band
  • Wipe clean or machine wash, air dry
  • 9 1/2” diameter x 3” depth

My Thoughts

As the summer goes buy, the times for picnics, camps for kids as well as soccer nights are filling the days/evenings of many families.    And Beneterre offers fun products to bring a snack or a sandwich with you while participating to these activities. 

The Food Wraps are easy to carry, made of natural cotton and will help to ensure freshness of whatever you put in them.    Recently, my son participate to a special camp for the kids who completed three years of Sparks with AWANA.   The Camp-A-Rama was to be held a full day and I wanted him to have a few snacks just in case.   So I used the Sandwich WrapIt! to include some granola bars and other goodies for him to share with a friend.   I didn’t have to send a sandwich as his lunch was provided.   But having the Beneterre bag helped the snacks to stay in good shape and fresh for the day.    Though I find this product quite interesting, I have concern on how your sandwich would look like at lunch time when it was packed in your bag.    I understand that these days we need to be environmentally careful, that we need to stay away from anything that could contain BPA, but a good old plastic container marker BPA free will protect your sandwich from getting squished.    The other product – the Snack WrapIt! – seems good for a round fruit like an apple or an orange.   However, I have mixed feelings about putting dried fruits and/or nuts in it as I find the bag doesn’t close as good as it shows on the site.   I personally wouldn’t want to find a bunch of granolas at the bottom of my backpack.  

Nevertheless, it is always nice to have other options for bringing little snacks when you go for a walk in the woods, go to a picnic or simply lay on the beach.  These two products are perfect for that because they are not bulky, will keep your food fresh, and will store easily in your bag!     

Other products in the Food Wraps are the Cool Wrapit!, the Max WrapIt!, and the Fold n WrapIt!.  Beneterre also offers Produce Bags and Wine Bags.

You can only order these products directly from their website - http://www.beneterre.com/eco-reusable-bags.php?/.   When ordering you can pick the pattern you prefer for your WrapIt! products.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Beneterre for sending me the above mentioned products for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.