Thursday, August 31, 2017

Books With Bean ~ Pride and Prejudice

book reviews for children, book reviews by teens, books with bean

Books, books, books, there are so many out there these days and books as a whole are amazing. Why you may ask? Well because in this world of new and modern and science there is still a lot of power in the written word good bad or otherwise.

Now I know the point of my mom’s blog is to encourage others and give a little helpful advice so I thought I would do some book reviews. Yes I know we do a lot of reviews but not like the others, these are just books that I like that I wanted to share about because they were fun. 

My mom gets this question a lot and I know others do too: 

Does anyone know what are good books for my kid to read? They are (insert age) and in (insert grade), but their reading level is (insert level much higher then their grade) and I can’t seem to find anything that is good and clean that they haven't already read.

Well as someone who has been reading for a long time and loves books and words I thought I would help all you moms (and others) by sharing books that I have read that I liked. My hope that this will help you find at least one book that you (or your kid) will like. 
So welcome to Books with Bean (it is a family nickname don’t ask)

So how am I picking the books to share? Well there are a lot I have read that I like so I am going to start at the top shelf of my personal book collection and go from there once we are done with that I will move on to books I have borrowed from friends and the Library. My collection is arranged in alphabetical order by author last name however not all my books fit on this shelf so if I find one around my room that I like I might post it next even if we are past that section of the alphabet or not quite to it yet. (or I might get a new book from somewhere while I am doing theses reviews and so put it in out of order).

A note on my collection is that I have been collecting books since I was little so while I won’t be doing any picture book reviews there will be books in here from elementary age on up. 

Also these books will be everything from old classics to more modern books that have come out within the past few years. I have read many books not all of which I liked. These will only be positive reviews of the good ones. If your kid looks at a new book and your not sure about it feel free to comment on a post and ask me if I have read it. If I haven’t written about it I either did not like it (for language, scenes, or maybe some there reason like it simply wasn’t my style) or I simply haven’t gotten to it yet. If I did not like it because of one of the aforementioned subjects I will let you know my reasons for not posting a review of it in reply to your question.

Some things I will include in my reviews. Author Name, Date published, what I liked about the book, etc.

I will be noting what I thought about the amounts of Language, romance, and violence. Because while I have always considered my mother in the middle of the scale between really strict to really not caring what I read about, I know others are a little more cautious about what they let their kids read. 

Also with fantasy books I will be noting how Magic is used and dealt with in the book as I know this is also something a lot of parents are cautious about.

I will also be including what age I think is good for the reader to be before they read it. Of course this is a general thing as I know some kids are more mature and it is up to the parent to decide when their kids is ready to read certain things, however I will always include why I think the age I put is appropriate for the book.

Anyway I think that is long enough for an introduction so I will stop with this introduction now and get on to the first book.

book reviews by teens, Pride and Prejudice, books with bean

Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen   Published: 1813   Genre: Romance

It is a truth universally acknowledged that this is a good book and it is one a lot of people know (that paired with the fact that is the first one on my shelf) so I thought I would start with it. 

Summery & What I liked about it: (This is probably going to sound like many other reviews you have heard about it but I am writing it anyway) There is something so ageless about this book, the way it deals with human emotion and thoughts is so unique and amazing that I don’t think it will ever be unpopular. Most of you probably know the plot line so I won’t bother to summarize it here for you. 
I loved the style of the writing, there is something about old books written when they take place that makes them special and somehow more entertaining then almost any historical fiction written that is set during that time. I have read several regency historical fiction books but as good as they were, none of them (despite similar plot lines) will ever beat Jane. 
Lizzy and her look on human life is interesting and it shows us timeless concepts that people are still trying to learn today. The wording is amazing and so is the world that it is set in. Ok so I guess this isn't really telling you much about the book itself but this is my first time so this going to be a bit less cohesive then my later ones.

Language: Um… I cant think of any right now.

Romance: Well being a romance book what can you expect except people falling in love. Yet despite that being on of the main themes I found it very clean, after all Miss Austen was keeping within what was appropriate to speak of at the time so this romance book (as opposed to a lot of the cheep romance books written today) is fairly clean. There is however the part with Mr. Wickham and Lydia. It is an interesting lesson and way that she writes about it is not too reveling in details and they do end up married. However it is not something that I would consider appropriate for younger children.

Violence: None that I can think of as I write this.

Recommended Age: I would say because of the wording and because of the more complex themes, as well as the part with Lydia and Wickham I would say 14+ for age. 
It is not that I think the wording itself to hard to understand for an avid younger reader, but I know as a girl who would watch the 2005 movie avidly with her mother whenever she got it from the library from a young age that there is a difference between complex, and more more formal old fashion wording and mature themes. My mother has had a copy of the book for as long as I can remember, but while I loved the movie I will admit that most it went over my head as a child. I will also admit that while I waited to be old enough for mom to let me read it, I tried, but as advanced of a reader as I was I just couldn't understand it. So for all these reasons I give it the 14+ for age.

How I Love Jesus

hand lettered songs, how I love Jesus

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Design Your Day ~ A Moody Publishing review

Design Your Day, Moody Publishing, goal setting, productivity help

Would you like to enjoy more of your life while still remaining a responsible adult, caring for your family, and exercising your faith? What if the solution actually lay in doing less each day, not more? What if I told you the answers you are looking for are found in a small, 140 page book by Claire Diaz-Ortiz from Moody Publishing?

I hope by now I have gotten your attention! We all have a desire to be more productive and accomplish more real work in less time, but we often lack the planning it takes to get there. In Claire Diaz-Ortiz’s newest book: Design Your Day she goes beyond the usual steps of telling the reader to be more productive - she shows us examples from her own life, and the lives of her friends, that illustrate the actual steps to making lasting changes in how we organize our lives.

Design Your Day: be more productive, set better goals, and live life on purpose is a refreshing change from the traditional productivity books widely available today. In her book, Mrs. Diaz-Ortiz shares practical ways to be more productive, while still leaving time to care for our families and our faith. This gem of a book is divided into two sections. Part One: Decide and Part Two: Organize. I recommend reading through the book twice in quick succession. The first time through will give you an idea of how your life might look different if you lived it on purpose instead of just drifting along. The second time through will take you longer as you work through each of the recommended exercises. They will help you find and define your goals and priorities for the season of life you are currently in.

I appreciated Claire’s reminder to look at your current season of life. Not every goal setting plan needs to start on January 1st, and not every goal needs to take an entire year to reach. If you are a Christian you are going to want to take time not only to think about your goals, but to pray over them as you refine your list. Claire’s words of encouragement shine particularly vibrantly in this aspect as she reminds the reader often that the reason we should want to be more productive with work is to be able to live a life of meaning, not just of accomplishments.

Design Your Day is as pertinent to a stay at home mom as it is to the President of a major corporation. Each step taken helps us to regain the best use of our working time so that the chaotic days become the exception and productive meaningful days become the rule. Working through the steps to be more productive while actually doing less each day causes the reader to evaluate how the techniques can be applied to their own work/life situation to create a win-win. 

If you feel like you are spinning your wheels and getting nowhere fast, this book is a lifeline. It can help you understand how to separate the list of what you currently spend all of your time on into things to keep, and things to either delegate or just stop doing altogether. We so often need a good friend to help us talk through this process of purging activities from our lives and this book reads as if you were sitting having a cup of coffee or tea with Claire in her own kitchen. Design Your Day is pinpointed accurate advice while still remaining conversational. It reminds us that is is possible to be productive, and still be a caring human being.

I was encouraged by the reminders to take the time necessary on each step, and yet to not drag your feet on the path to change. I do not like to be rushed while trying something new, and as a working and homeschooling mom I need to be able to adapt strategies to my reality. More than in any other time-management book I have read, this one focuses the reader on creating a plan that works in your own life, and not trying to superimpose the writer’s life plan over your own calendar.

In a world that keep telling us more, more, more, Design Your Day reminds us that less is ok. Less busyness, less failure. More meaning. 

As you take the steps one by one to reclaim your productive time, you are sure to find something special: joy. 

Design Your Day: be more productive, set better goals, and live life on purpose is available from Moody Publishing in either paperback or eBook formats. Visit their website for more details.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product from Moody Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.


Monday, August 28, 2017

2018 DaySpring Agenda Planner ...and why I chose it!

Just so you know, today's post is a little different. I'm going to tell you about my new planner from DaySpring, but it is not a regular review because this one I bought with my own money, at a regular store. I like it so much I felt I needed to tell you about it in case you too are on the search for a better-for-you planner!

2018 DaySpring Agenda Planner, planners for moms, pretty planners

So here is how it all started ... back in early June, Kate over at Five Minute Friday shared about using an editorial calendar for blogging as a way to plan ahead. In that post she shared about the new 18 month 2018 Agenda Planners from DaySpring. She included some pictures, and told what she liked about them - it was short review, but well said. 

I had purchased a different planner for 2017 late last year and frankly, I had been disappointed with it. I had used the same company's planner successfully in 2016, but the changes to the layout they had made for this year were not working well for me and it mostly just sat on my desk - unused.

I was curious about the new DaySpring planners. Kate's post had shown the pretty colors and said good things about them. One of the joys of the online world is being able to leave a message for other writers... so I sent Kate a request. I asked her a couple questions about her new planner and she graciously emailed me a few pictures she had taken that addressed them. Now I knew I needed to get myself one. Thankfully, I had a little extra cash available thanks to some affiliate sales and I was determined to make up my mind and decide which design I wanted. Choices -ugh!

As a working and homeschooling mom who was in the throes of 4-H season, I did not want to make any more choices, but I knew I needed to. So I looked at the choices online, again, and again, and again. Finally I knew I would have an easier time if I could see them in person. The thing is, DaySpring is located in Arkansas, and I am living in Indiana. Then it hit me, call the customer service line! The helpful lady who answered my call said that they would be carried in some retail stores, but she was not sure which ones yet. She asked me if we had a LifeWay store nearby, and I said yes. 40 minutes is nearby right?! She suggested I check there as they are a big supplier of DaySpring cards.

Here is where it really got interesting. Just the week before I had received a postcard in the mail from LifeWay, encouraging me to visit, since the Christian bookstore located in our town had recently closed. Yes, I bet you can see where I am headed with this... the postcard had a coupon! :)
Hey, just because I bought it with my own money does not preclude me from getting a good deal-LOL!

So a couple days later (like June 29th or 30th) Arlene and I were going to Trader Joe's, which happens to be across the street from LifeWay, and we stopped in to look for the planners. They had two of the five designs in store, including one of my two top choices. Thank you God for making the decision for me!

We came home, I snapped a few photos of the unused planner, and then promptly started using it!

It can be quite difficult to find a practically useful planner that is still pretty. Trust me on this, I've looked at and rejected dozens of other designs that just did not have enough space for what I need, or were downright ugly. This Agenda Planner is hefty, especially since it is for 18 months, but it is laid out so well that I've not really noticed the weight when I toss it in my bag and head out to the library or an event.

Let me tell you about some of my favorite features, then, if you still have questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you! Sometimes technology can be quite useful. :)

2018 DaySpring Agenda Planner, planners for moms, pretty planners

The monthly two-page spread has a laminated tab to make finding it quick and easy. It also has a built-in to-do list for the month. The daily pages are between the monthly pages so you can easily flip to the week you need to write down more details. The daily spaces on the monthly view are large enough to actually write in, and the weekly pages give a large amount of space per day to write out the specific details. At the end of each month is one extra note page. These are great for brainstorming ideas for the month, or keeping longer lists ... like books you've read.

2018 DaySpring Agenda Planner, planners for moms, pretty planners

Not only does this planner come with stickers, it has one page of blank ones so you can make your own! In the back behind December of 2018, there are 4 extra lined pages, 2 graph pages, and two plain pages for your notes. Then come the stickers and a nifty pocket! DaySpring sells extra pockets if you want to add in more. They also have some cute sticky-notes and clips that coordinate with the planners, but I think one pocket will be enough for me. 

How sturdy is the cover? Pretty darn sturdy. I'm pretty sure in a pinch I could use it to slice up one of those cucumbers I bought at the farmer's market on Saturday morning, but it is so pretty I am hoping I never have to. :)

Overall, I have used this planner more than any of the other similar planners I have had in recent years. I still really like it, and its size of 7"x9" makes it easy to grab and take with me. I have a large, full-page 3 ring binder planner that I use while at home for blogging and another basic one for homeschooling. Those things take up too much space to want to take with me. This planner from DaySpring is my brain on paper - just the way I like it. The ability to look at the big picture, and pull the pieces of those other plans together to keep organized on a daily basis is exactly what I need.

My new agenda planner is pretty, practical, and well used. Money well spent! :)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Upcoming reviews :)

 I thought you'd like to see what is coming up by way of reviews on here soon... we've got a few great ones coming up! Not shown below is a new card game from Chara Games: Unauthorized. 

I've just finished reading Design Your Day by Claire Diaz-Ortiz for the second time through. So needed in my life right now. Isn't it great how God sends us what we need at just the right time? The review is mostly written, and I hope to get it up around Labor Day. Thanks to the great people at Moody Publishers we have a second copy to give away to one of our readers -awesome!

Moody Publishing, Claire Diaz-Ortiz, organization

Arriving in this week's mail:

#8 from Heirloom Audio Productions: Captain Bayley's Heir
Arlene was so excited when this one arrived yesterday. We'll start listening to it this afternoon on our car ride. Review will post in late September.

Heirloom audio productions, captain baileys heir, US gold rush, audio dramas

Also in this week's mail: Becoming Mom Strong by Heidi St. John. She is one of the most encouraging modern authors I've read and I'm looking forward to reading this one soon. Hopefully I'll get to start it next weekend if not sooner. 

Heidi St John, Mom encouragement, parenting, Tyndale House Publishers

2 Corinthians 3:4-5

Scripture Writing, 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

Friday, August 25, 2017


This week's Five Minute Friday prompt is: guide

five minute friday writing prompt, guide, Jesus

Do you ever wish the parts of your life came with instruction books? 
You know, with titles like:

How to be a young adult

What every parent should know

Teething and potty training 101

How do I get my child ready for college ?

How to avoid a mid-life crisis

We often look to the advice of others to guide us through our lives. While there is so much to be gleaned from the wisdom God has given to others, we need to make sure we are always going back to The Good Shepherd to guide us, to lead us beside still waters, and to restore our souls.

As a young mom just starting to homeschool I looked to those with more experience for advice. 
The best advice I got was this: pray.

Pray often, pray deeply, pray without saying Amen because you know as a mom you are going to need just as much help from God this afternoon as you needed this morning. :)

As we look to the One who guides us by His holy and mighty hand, may we remember to give the same advice to those who follow along this path behind us. If you are now one of the older moms, are you encouraging the younger moms to look to God for help and to pray? I truly believe this is what Titus 2 commands, for us to tell others about how God leads us through the good times and the bad!

Wherever you are today, know that God is there too. May you look to Him, and may you feel His loving arms guide and protect you through the days ahead.

May this song remind you to always look to Christ, because He is watching out for you.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

High school record keeping, encouragement, and what comes next!

So my friend Lori from At Home: where life happens asked me last week if I could gather a few of my high school related posts together in one place. 

She specifically mentioned record keeping, and while these do include some of those posts, they also include a few others you just really should read if you are approaching the high school years.

To keep this easy to read, I'm just going to link the articles here and let you choose your favorites. For some of them I've included the graphic, others are just the link. If you've got questions about any of them, feel free to leave a comment and I'll try my best to answer soon!

Carol  :)

This is still one of my most read guest posts for the Schoolhouse Review Crew, take a look and you'll find out why - it offers hope!

This intro post for the Spring blog hop led to a series of honest answers about high school challenges and triumphs... and planning

Now-is-time-high-school-record-keeping : there are five posts from this week, this is the link to Monday's post

Eclectic Experiential Learning - our favorite thing...but it takes a minute or two to get it on the transcript :)

This post about Transcripts and graduation is a perennial favorite 

Then there is always this one about making a plan for high school

Hopefully somewhere in the posts you will find some useful advice. Now I need to remember to get around to putting a search box on my sidebar - thanks for the suggestion Lori!

In the meantime, you can click on the tags at the bottom of any of our posts to get more in the same theme. Homeschool High School is a popular one - just click the orange tag below and read more posts!

John 4:14

Scripture Writing, John 4:14

Monday, August 21, 2017

Courageous Love ~ A Book Review

The review was originally written for The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine in May of this year. To read the original, click here.

Circle C Adventures, Circle C Milestones, susan marlow, horse stories

Courageous Love is the final episode of the Andrea Carter books. While it is the fourth book in the Circle C Milestones series, Susan K. Marlow has written about Andrea’s life since she was just six years old, and first nicknamed Andi, in the first book of the Circle C Beginnings series set in 1874 California. 

In Courageous Love, Andi is nearing her 17th birthday and has finally convinced her mother and older brothers to allow her to learn some trick riding from Riley Prescott, one of the Circle C Ranch’s hands. Andi and Riley have been friends for many years, as Riley’s uncle Sid has been the ranch foreman for as long as anyone cares to remember. After graduating school, Andi’s family has finally allowed her to work full time on the ranch, which has always been her dream.

Trouble starts at the Circle C as Riley and Andi find a cut barbed-wire fence. The fence is supposed to surround Andi’s brother Mitch’s black Angus heifer calves. Then more trouble appears that evening at her brother Chad’s engagement party at the Fresno House hotel in town. One thing is certain, the Carter family will not go down without a fight! Andi’s older brothers, including Justin, a lawyer who now lives in town, work to plan protection for the ranch, the livestock, and their families.

Each chapter in this 186 page paperback book begins with a thought, supposedly copied from Andi’s diary. Although this is a fictional story, Mrs. Marlow has done an excellent job of researching the everyday lives of people near Fresno, CA in the mid-1880’s, and including such exquisite details, that the characters and the places seem quite real. We have found this to be true of all of the Andrea Carter books, of which we have read quite a few. At one point in a previous book, my daughter commented “Mom, you know Mrs. Marlow is a good author when you find yourself cheering with, or crying alongside, the characters during the plot twists and turns.” I whole-heartedly agree!

After yet another attack on the Circle C Ranch, this one burning down their barn, the Carter family decides no one should be left alone. Because Justin needs to travel out of town for a court case, Andi is asked to stay in town with his wife Lucy and their small son Sammy. Lucy is suffering from morning sickness, and Andi’s family thinks it will be easier for Andi to recover the rest of her strength from the smoke she inhaled during the barn fire if she stays in town, instead of chomping at the bit to get back to ranch chores. Little do they know that the Mexican outlaw Procopio, that the Carter family helped identify and send to prison several years before, has escaped and is plotting his revenge on the family.

Andi, Lucy, and Sammy are kidnapped from town. Riley had been sent to town to check on them, but Procopio’s outlaws jump him, beat him, and then leave him for dead in Justin and Lucy’s shed. Then the outlaws fake the deaths of Lucy and Andi to throw any search party off their trail.

Will Riley recover soon enough to find them before the trail goes cold? Will Andi be brave and trust God to tell her what to do and when to do it to protect Lucy and Sammy? Will Procopio ever be brought to justice? Find the answers to these and many more plot twists when you read Courageous Love for yourself!

Both Arlene, aged 16, and I enjoyed this action-filled adventure novel immensely. Besides being an excellent author, Mrs. Marlow loves to interact with her readers of all ages. She has a Facebook fan page, an annual writing contest, and she blogs about life on the Circle C Ranch regularly, as Andi of course! Mrs. Marlow, a former homeschool mom herself, understands the value of enrichment studies to go alongside a good book. She has both free learning activities and in-depth enrichment guides or lap books available for each of her Andrea Carter books for all ages groups from six on up. 

Courageous Love is written for ages 12 and up, but would probably be best enjoyed by ages 14 and up. If you have a daughter age 12 or above that loves horses, consider getting her all four books in the Circle C Milestones series so she can grow up with Andi! Since she already had the first book, I purchased books two and three of the Circle C Milestones series for Arlene last year. She was so excited for this final installment to be released and to read the conclusion of Andi’s story. We highly recommend Susan’s books to others - often!

More information about all of Susan K. Marlow’s Andrea Carter books, and the companion activities and guides can be found on her website:

Circle C Adventures, horse stories for girls

Wondering how much Arlene likes Susan's books? Here is a picture of her helping Mrs. Marlow at her booth at our state homeschool convention this spring. She bagged orders, stocked the displays, and talked to lots of little girls about horses. :)