Motivate Your Child Action Plan

Back in January I was given the amazing opportunity to review the book, Motivate Your Child a Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told. The book was great and gave me a lot of incite on AJ and on my parenting style. Recently I was given the chance to review a wonderful resource that goes along with the book, Motivate Your Child Action Plan. It is written by the same authors, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN – the founders of the National Center for Biblical Parenting.

About Motivate Your Child Action Plan

Buy the Motivate Your Child Action Plan before May 31 2015 and get 25% off

The Motivate Your Child Action Plan is a 162 page soft covered book, broken up into 12 chapters. It is really a workbook to help you as the parent identify specific problems in your child and form a plan that is unique to your child. Throughout the book there are questions for you to think about and answer. In chapter 1 you are introduced to the 5 step plan that should help you to motivate your child in 40 days.

When I first read that change was expected in the first 40 days I was a little skeptical. As I continued to read I came to understand that the book wasn’t claiming to change AJ completely in 40 days, but to make improvements. Page 16 really says it best,  “It’s not about taking solutions from another family or finding an easy fix. This book is about developing a strategy for change.”

Chapter 2 has you figure out what character traits your child needs in order to grow in the area of their life that they are lacking. They may need honesty, responsibility, or respectfulness. There is a long list, but what I like is that your are not asked to only focus on the negative, but the positive as well.

Throughout the book you are instructed to have meetings with your child. I really like this approach because you are working with your child to help them change their heart.

Like Motivate Your Child a Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told, this book focuses on parenting to the heart and focusing on the conscience. Along with sound parenting advice and practical tips it is full of Biblical values and helpful verses.

There is so much to this book! Although the two books can be used separately, in my opinion they are really best used together. Throughout the Motivate Your Child Action Plan you are pointed to the chapter in Motivate Your Child a Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told that go with the section you are working on.

What Did I Think

I have not completed the 40 plan with AJ yet. This month has been really busy for us so I decided to wait to implement the plan completely. Even so, just reading the book and putting some of the advice into action has helped me a lot. I have noticed a lot of changes in AJ. She is more thoughtful, considerate, and honest, when she wants to be. She can be the best kid in the world and help me do the things that need to be done. There are days that she feeds the dog, puts away the dishes, does her school work willingly, and takes out the trash without being told. Then there are days I can tell her five times to take out the trash, and when she finally does it she doesn’t put a new bag in.

I am seeing progress, but I need to take the time and fully commit to the plan, not just take bits and pieces of it in order for it to work completely.

Coupon Code for $5 off of Motivate Your Child Action Plan

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely in a heart beat! I think it is full of wonderful advice, and numerous examples of families in different situations. I think that the two books together are really a great set to help motivate your child! If you are looking for a way to motivate your child, check out this book!

Disclaimer

Firmly Planted Bible Study Review

I feel the Bible is a very important subject in our day. This year we have made it a priority to study the Bible a lot more often. We have been looking at in in a historical way, but haven’t gotten to the New Testament yet. AJ knows the story of the birth of Jesus and how he died on the cross for our sins, but she has a lot to learn still. When I learned that Heidi St. John had created Bible studies, I was excited to try one out!

A to the point Bible Study that has things for every member of the family.

We were able to review Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 1 from Real Life Press. We were given a downloadable PDF of both the Family Study Guide and the Student Book.

What is the Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 1?

The Study Guide is a 127 page PDF that is broken up into ten different lessons about the life of Jesus. Each lesson follows the same basic format. It starts with a passage from the Bible in the ESV version. Then it gives the big idea of the study, memory verses, a section called Watering the Seed where a little story is given to help understand the importance of the main idea, and then the Daily Study.

Real Life Press Review
Each day for the Daily Study you are instructed to read part of the passage then read a few paragraphs that explain the Bible reading and make you think about it. After each daily study there is a digging deeper section that explains even more and gives additional details, and a Taste the Fruit section. The Taste the Fruit section is a place where it shows how the passage is applicable to your daily life. There are 4 Daily Studies for each lesson.

The Student Book is a 225 page PDF. It is full of activities for a variety of ages to help with the main idea of the Bible Study. Some of the activities included are; mazes, word searches, crossword puzzles, fill in the blank passages, nature studies, journaling pages, copywork, mapping, and more. Each lesson has between 20 and 26 pages worth of activities.

While the two products go together and complement each other, there is not a set schedule given to use them together.

How did we use it?

The first week I printed off the study guide for the week and about ten different activities that I thought AJ would enjoy. We read through the passage, went over the main idea, and then went on to the first daily study. When we were done reading and discussing she did a few of the activities.

It seemed like a lot of printing, so after the first week we would read through the lesson on my computer and then have her do some of the activities. Some days she would look up the vocabulary for the section and then da a maze. Another day she would look up the passage and do a fill in the blank puzzle. Other days she would look up verses in the Old Testament that showed how events from the New Testament had been prophesized. Each day was a little different.

She enjoyed the mazes, word searches, crosswords, and fill it in puzzles. She also liked the vocabulary. The nature studies didn’t seem like a good fit for us, so we skipped them. We also decided to skip the coloring pages and copywork sections that seemed to young for AJ. Each day she did between two and three pages of activities. The daily work seemed to take about 15 minutes.

What did we think?

The Firmly Planted Gospels, Part 1 has a lot of great features!

Pros

  • The lessons are short enough to keep kids attention.
  • The student workbook has activities for a variety of ages, making a family study very easy.
  • It is broken up into 4 daily study sections giving those who school with a four day schedule an easy way to fit it in.
  • The print quality is nice in both black and white and color.

There were a few things that we didn’t enjoy.

Cons

  • There was a lot of printing. Even with only printing out the desired pages from the student workbook, I was printing between 8 to 12 pages a week and that was with one student.
  • There were a few theological differences in beliefs between the author and myself. This may or may not be a con for you. There was nothing outlandish or wrong, but a few small things that I didn’t agree with. It was easy to leave those points out of our lessons.
  • Our biggest complaint was that the study was just not enough. Each day we went over a few verses, I thought that there should have been more Bible reading each day. While the short lessons do provide a quick study with the family, I would have liked to see more. Maybe it is because we are use to studies where we study a few chapters a day, that this just didn’t seem like enough.

Overall I think that it is a good study, and if AJ was younger or I had more kids it would have been a really good fit. Right now I feel AJ was too old for a lot of the activities and that she needed more from a Bible study. There are a few activities that help an older child did deeper into the study, but they just didn’t seem to fit with AJ’s hands on learning style.

I would recommend this study for those with younger kids who would like a variety of activities to pick from. If you are looking for a short to the point Bible study, this may be what you are looking for. I was one of many who reviewed products from Real Life Press, click the graphic below to read what others had to say!

Real Life Press Review

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Motivate Your Child Action Plan – Giveaway

A few months ago I was given the chance to review the amazing, eye opening book, Motivate Your Child. It really changed how I thought about discipline and motivating AJ. After reading it I changed some things and honestly life has been a little bit better. We still have issues, but not as many as before. When I was recently given the chance to review the Motivate Your Child Action Plan, I was sure it would be amazing. It is like a workbook to help you make changes. It helps you focus on your child’s strengths and areas that need improvement. You will be able to read my full review in a few weeks, but until then, enter this giveaway and join me at the Facebook party!
Motivate Your Child Action Plan Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Motivate Your Child Action Plan, we are joining other members of the Launch Team in a wonderful giveaway filled with an iPod Touch, $50 iTunes Gift Card and several biblical parenting products! A value of nearly $350!

Here’s what you could win:

Apple iPod touch 16GB Black/Silver  ($195 value)

  • In the Box – iPod Touch, Apple EarPods, Lightning to USB cable, QuickStart guide
  • Brilliant 4 Retina display with Multi-Touch IPS technology
  • Front-Facing FaceTime camera with 1.2MP photos & 720p HD video recording.
  • iOS 6 features – Siri, Apple Designed Maps, Integrated Facebook, Shared Photo Streams, Passbook & more

iTunes Gift Card ($50 value)

Because you’ll need apps and music for that iPod Touch!

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide ($56.95 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook contains nuggets of parenting wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18. Learn appropriate ways to correct, instruct, and set limits. Glean wisdom for dealing with emotions, conflict, and developing closeness in your family… and much more. These 50 strategies provide you with hands-on tools for parenting children of any age.

The Companion Guide is a workbook of 50 lessons along with 50 audio tips to take you through The Christian Parenting Handbook step by step. Each lesson contains advice from Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller in a 5 minute audio tip and then offers teaching, an assignment, a Bible verse, and a prayer to help you apply each idea or strategy in your family. The tips are available to you as MP3 downloads and access to them comes in the workbook.

Family Time Activities Book Bundle ($45 value)

Your kids will have fun learning about God’s Word and how it applies to their lives. Science experiments, art activities, and games are all designed to reinforce spiritual truth. Each lesson is clear and simple, yet profound even for parents! You’ll teach kids how exciting it is to learn about God and his ways. Your kids will love these books, but more importantly you’ll build spiritual memories of Family Time in your home. Titles in this giveaway include:

Seeing Is Believing 

Playing for Keeps 

Running the Race

Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter below! This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY to those 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited by law.

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Join us for the Action Plan Facebook Party on Wednesday, May 20 at 9:00PM ET. There will be even more prizes and giveaways there and the authors of Action Plan will be present to answer your questions! The winner of this giveaway will be announced at the Facebook party!

RSVP here for the Party!

Action Plan Facebook Party

VeggieTales Super Comics – Review

This is a sponsred post, I was provided with some form of compensation for writing it.

Do your kids enjoy reading comics? AJ does, and she really likes VeggieTales. Combine the two, and she is a happy camper. We were given the chance to review two VeggieTales Super Comics. AJ was excited to get her hands on them!

VeggieTales Super Comics are a fun way to get your reluctant reader to read!

The VeggieTales Super Comics each contain three stories. Volume one has Dave and the Giant Pickle, Lyle the Kindly Viking, and LarryBoy and the Prideosaurus.  It has lessons all about bravery, sharing, and defeating pride. Volume two has League of Incredible Vegetables, LarryBoy and the Reckless Ruckus, and Josh and the Big Wall. Lessons from volume two include, handling fear, saying your sorry, and obedience. At the end of the comic there are discussion questions and verses to go with each story.

The stories have the same morals and values you have come accustomed to from the VeggieTales name. Your favorite vegetables lead you on fun-loving adventures. They run into problems and try to do their best to solve them.

The illustrations are vibrant, and full of color. The pages are thick enough that you can’t see through them, and the text is easy to read. The drawings are the new version of the VeggieTale characters, AJ didn’t seem to mind, but I know a lot of people are not happy with the new look. I didn’t like it at first, but I am getting use to it.

We found the stories to be cute and a lot like the videos. They don’t follow Bible stories to a tee, but the overall idea is given with a VeggieTales twist.  Overall AJ enjoyed them, but we had one complaint. The comics were very confusing and difficult to read. It was hard to tell if they should be read a page at a time or across the two pages. Some of the time it seemed as if they would work either way.

If you have a comic book lover, I would recommend checking these out!

The VeggieTales Super Comics are available from Family Christian. They retail for $12.99 each. I have a set of the two comic books to giveaway to one of my readers. Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win!

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When Calls the Heart Giveaway

I love it when I can find good wholesome television! Hallmark created an amazing series, When Calls the Heart. It has it all, and best of all it s a show you can watch with your family!  As fans are aware, the long awaited season 2 premier is airing this Saturday, April 25 at 8/7c. It is a two hour premier and you don’t want to miss it! I was given the amazing opportunity to watch the second season premier early. The two hours are full of wonder, and I wish I could tell you all what happens, but I can’t.

When Calls the Heart - Giveawa. Enter for a chance to win a dvd copy of season 1!

In case you are not familiar with the show, here is a little bit more about it.

The series is inspired by Janette Oke’s bestselling book series about the Canadian West. “When Calls the Heart” tells the captivating story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to her high society life, who receives her first classroom assignment in Coal Valley, a small coalmining town where life is simple, but often fraught with challenges. Lori Loughlin plays Abigail Stanton, a wife and mother whose husband, the foreman of the mine, along with a dozen other miners, has just been killed in an explosion. The newly widowed women find their faith is tested when they must go to work in the mines to keep a roof over their heads. Elizabeth charms most everyone in Coal Valley, except Constable Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) who believes Thatcher’s wealthy father has doomed the lawman’s career by insisting he be assigned in town to protect the shipping magnate’s daughter. Living in a turn of the century coal town, Elizabeth will have to learn the ways of the frontier if she wishes to thrive in the rural west on her own.

Season one left us with a lot of questions! Season two starts off by answering some of those questions, but creating even more. Elizabeth Thatcher’s mother has taken ill so she has to return home for a while. After visiting home, will things change between her and Jack? Was their kiss in season 1 a sign of a prospering romance, or just a moment of passion? Will Elizabeth have to leave her home in Coal Valley to stay and take care of her mother? The trial is finally taking place for the wives of the deceased coal miners. Will the new judge be bought off? What is the truth, and who’s fault was the mine disaster? There is also a mysterious man who appeared in town. Who is he and what does he want? There are so many questions that we have all been waiting a long time to find the answer to.

This premier is going to be BIG! Be sure to follow along with other #Hearties on Facebook and Twitter.

Now for the best part! Thanks to Word Films I am able to gve away 1 set of Season 1 When Calls the Heart. This is a $60 value. Enter the Rafflecopter below to enter!

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

fly by disclose 2015

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Grace of God – Movie Review

I love watching  movies, so when I was given the chance to review a new movie, Grace of God, I was excited. The story line enticed me and I thought it would be a good movie to watch when I had to put my foot up.

An amazing movie full of mystery, suspense, and a little romance.About the Movie

Having lost his faith many years ago, Detective Bill Broadly is called to investigate the disappearance of the local church’s collection plate. As he questions its various church members, rumors swirl as more congregants learn about the theft. When one unexpected church-goer confesses to stealing the funds, the confession resurrects Broadly’s views on God, and helps him see that through faith and belief there really is rebirth and redemption.

The DVD includes great actors and actresses including; John Ratzenberger, Erin Bethea, Julia Parker, and Lorenzo Lamas. It is 99 minutes long and received five doves from the Dove Foundation. It is not rated.

To be honest when I saw that the movie received five doves from the Dove Foundation I was a little worried. Lately if they like a movie, I really don’t care for it. The acting is usually lacking and often the movies come off as preachy. I am all for a movie with a message, but I want a movie that I enjoy, and I don’t want it to feel like a sermon. I went in to the movie a little apprehensive.

The movie started off in the church where they are discussing what to do about $30,000 that went missing! Right away I could tell it would be a good movie. The acting was great. The storyline was complex yet easy to follow, and there were multiple messages – but the movie didn’t come off overly preachy. The best part is that I enjoyed watching the movie. It has suspense, drama, and even a little romance. Often times with movies the plot is predictable, but when I found out who stole the money I was more than a little shocked. It will keep you guessing!

My biggest complaint is that it is marketed as “A Story of Easter Traditions Based on the Ten Commandments” I felt this was misleading as it had nothing at all to do with Easter, and the only part that had to do with the Ten Commandments was the theft. Aside from that, it was great!

If you are looking for a good movie that isn’t full of sex and drugs, then you should really check out Grace of God. It is available at WalMart.

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Enter below for your chance to win!

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Adventures of Pajama Girl – Review

AJ loves picture books! When we were given the opportunity to review a cute picture book, The Adventures of Pajama Girl and the Coronation of the Cupcake Queen, I thought she would love it.

The story is exciting and easy to read, making it the perfect read aloud book!  #PajamaGirl

About the Book

A cute, illustrated story about a girl’s imagination and her magical pajamas. In this adventure, Ellie’s cupcake pajamas pave the way for she and her Sis to take a journey to a land filed with all kinds of sweet treats. Their journey quickly turns into an adventure to help the Cupcake Queen find the missing sprinkles needed for her coronation ceremony. In searching for the missing sprinkles, Ellie and Sis uncover a life lesson that is important for every child to learn.

The book is written by, Sandra Hagee Parker and illustrated by, Sarah Bussey. It is an 32 page hard back book with a book jacket. The book jacket is beautiful and the letters on the title are covered in sparkly glitter. The Adventures of Pajama Girl and the Coronation of the Cupcake Queen is based on Exodus 20:15, “Thou shalt not steal.”

The book opens up with Pajama explaining how she dreams about whatever is on her pajamas. Tonight she wanted sweet dreams so she picked cupcake pajamas. She is taken to a wonderful land full of sweets, but then she finds the Cupcake queen crying and upset because someone stole all of her sprinkles.

The illustrations are beautiful! Each page has full colored pictures that take up almost the entire page. The story is exciting and easy to read, making it the perfect read aloud book! AJ really enjoyed it.

The story is exciting and easy to read, making it the perfect read aloud book!  #PajamaGirl

The only thing that I didn’t care for was the “lesson” that the girls were suppose to learn. The end of the book actually gave the thief what she wanted, to me that doesn’t really teach that stealing is wrong.

Overall it is a great book, but I don’t think it teaches a lesson, it is more of a “just for fun” book to me. I look forward to more books in this series. I think this book will make a great addition to any little girl’s library.

Find out more about the book.

The best part?

Thanks to Propeller Consulting LLC, I have one copy to giveaway! Enter below for your chance to win!

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Real Life Homeschooling – Fitting It All In

Today is day 2 of the Real Life Homeschooling Blog Hop. (You can see day 1 here) I will be taking you through a typical homeschooling week at our house. This week we decided to do school Sunday through Wednesday. (This post is based on the week before Easter, because we are on Spring Break this week.)

Sundays are busy around here. It is our day that we do the major cleaning, so it is not the “best day” to do school, but we have to fit in school when we can. Here is how our day went.

My alarm went off at 8:30 and I woke AJ up about 9am. She didn’t want to get up until I reminded her that she had church that night and if her work wasn’t done (As long as she puts in a decent effort she can go, even if everything isn’t finished.) she couldn’t go to church.

Homeschooling in Real Life - Fitting it all in

From about 9 to 11 she got up, ate breakfast (eggs, toast, and an apple), took a shower, and made her bed. She moves so SLOWLY in the mornings sometimes. So slowly that it drives me nuts!

From 11 to about 1:30 we cleaned. The floors were swept and mopped, everything was dusted, and then……. Grandma woke up. She had a wet diaper so we changed her and made her some breakfast. I put a Shirley Temple movie on to occupy Grandma and then supervised as AJ vacuumed the house. Then it was time for lunch. Lunch was simple, a tuna sandwich, chips, pickles, and cucumber.

At about 2pm we started school. I was afraid we wouldn’t get much finished since church was at 5:45. We do the majority of her school work in the garage.

Normally, I would let AJ pick the order of the subjects for the day, but not today. Since we were in a time crunch I decided to start off with history. This week in history we are starting a new unit all about The Children of Israel. It covers quite a few books in the Bible, from Joshua to 1 Kings. Today on the schedule was reading the article, reading a few stories in the Action Bible, and reading a few major verses in her Bible.

Homeschooling in Real Life - History

We read the article and Bible verses together and then she read a few stories in the Action Bible.

The Action Bible - A great way to help kids understand the Bible.

After history was finished, she moved onto Bible. We are reviewing a Bible Study from Heidi St. John called; Firmly Planted The Gospels Part 1 Today we read the first part of Luke 1, and discussed it.

Firmly Planted Bible Study, Luke 1

Then she worked on the vocabulary section while I put dinner on. We need to get a better dictionary, because the one we have just isn’t cutting it any more. She had to use the computer to look up most of the words, and they were basic words.

Looking up words using Dictionary.com

Next on the list was spelling. We are reviewing Spelling You See, and so far AJ loves it. I was concerned about the amount of writing at first, but she has been doing very well with it.

Spelling You See - A hands on way to practice spelling.

First she reads it to me and then she chunks the words based on the vowels. After we go over the chunking, she copies the passage.

Spelling You See - A hands on way to practice spelling.

Spelling only took about 15 minutes total. Today for some odd reason she decided to cooperate and get her work done in a timely manner.  After spelling we moved onto math.

Today’s math was in 2 parts. First she did some online math (more on that tomorrow) then she worked on her Key to Percent book. Today’s lesson was on finding percent by using what she already knew. She had to find  49% by finding both 50% and 1% and subtracting, or find 35% by adding up 25% and 10% of a number.

No need for paper, we do math on the whiteboard!

She worked her problems out on the whiteboard after I went over what she had to do. While she worked on math I folded some laundry and checked on Grandma. Then I checked Facebook and my email. A few minutes later I checked her math and she had them all correct. I love this math! Everything is step by step and she enjoys doing it.

The last major subject for the day was science. We are using Digital Science Online and are working on Weather. Today she watched the video all about weather in action and filled out a worksheet. She watched it alone while I went inside and put my foot up because I was hurting a lot.

Using Digital Science online to promote independence

When she finished science (about 25 minutes) she asked if she could do her literature at bed time. I decided we would try it and she did her PE. I had to add PE to the schedule because otherwise I tend to put it off so that she gets more book work done. In all honestly, if it wouldn’t have been on the schedule I would have skipped it. She loves to ride her bike though, and I think seeing it on the schedule actually makes her work harder.

After PE she watered the plants, and then it was time to eat a snack and go to church. She ended up finishing up everything except literature by 5:15. She says that she really likes the new schedule and if more days go like today, I will gladly take the extra time to schedule each week.

After church, at about 7:15, we ate dinner. Tonight was ham, mashed potatoes, and steamed carrots. When it was time for her to do her literature, she gave a little attitude because she wanted to watch TV.

Working on independence in Home School

After a few minutes of moaning about how she could do it tomorrow, she went in and read her book and answered the questions. She actually ended up doing both Sunday’s and Monday’s work, because, “The book was just so interesting.” I don’t know who kidnapped my child and replaced her, but I am gladly keeping this one!

Each day is different and today everything seemed to work out well. AJ cooperated with her school work, Grandma willingly stayed out of trouble, and the house was cleaned. Most days are not this smooth, but I am thankful when days like today happen.

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop
 Here are 10 more blogs that are participating in the blog hop, check them out!

For This Season
Unexpected Homeschool
For Him and My Family
As We Walk Along the Road
Growing in His Glory
Homeschool Coffee Break
Daily Life
There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Proverbial Homemaker
ElCloud Homeschool

 

The Story of King Jesus – Giveaway

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I love to find new children’s books that teach a message, and The Story of King Jesus by Ben Irwin looks like it will be a great book! It is the Gospel told in a single story designed for kids 4 to 8 years old. It has been vividly illustrated by Nick Lee, and from the looks of it, it will be a great book! The best part is that 4 people are going to win an autographed copy of the book!
The Story of King Jesus - Giveaway Ends 4-20
This giveaway is only open to US residents and will end on April 20, 2015. Enter below for your chance to win!

Thick as Thieves – A TOS Review

I don’t know about you, but I have a very reluctant reader. She reads well, but just doesn’t like it. If I give her a book with a lot of pictures or a non fiction book  she will read it with a fake smile, but if I give her a fiction book with no pictures at all, attitude is usually around the corner. This year I have been focusing on her reading. She has read a lot of different types of books, and I have noticed that the ones that keep her interest the most have a strong, believable, young girl as the main character. I was thrilled when we were given the opportunity to review a wonderful book, Thick as Thieves by Susan K. Marlow. Thick as Thieves is the first book in a new series, Circle C Milestones. After reading about the book, I thought it would be the perfect fit for AJ.

Full of suspense, wonder, and excitement. We stayed up until 3am because we couldn't put this book down!
 

About the Book

The Circle C Milestones series takes readers on an adventure with fourteen year old Andrea Carter (known as Andi) who is growing up in California in the 1800’s. The book opens with Andi worrying about her horse, Taffy, who is going through her first foaling. Andi is in that awkward stage where she isn’t a little girl any more, but where she isn’t old enough for anyone to take her seriously. After some scary stuff happens, that keeps you on the edge of your seat,  Andi has to return to school instead of being able to stay with her horse.

When school starts more drama and conflict occurs as a new girl, Macy, comes to school. Macy is dirty, smelly, and full of secrets. As Andi’s luck would have it, Macy ends up as her new seat mate.

Just when things start to settle down, cattle rustlers start stealing horses. When Andi’s family’s ranch is hit, suspense and adventure fill the story. Will Andi’s family get their horses back? Will Andi make it through the school year sitting by the crude Macy? Throw in a few plot twists, and you may be surprised by the ending. I sure was.

Thick as Thieves is a 173 page soft covered book that is broken down into 26 chapters. It is recommended for kids ages 12 and up.

Free 40 page Study Guide. There are sections on idioms, characterization, similes, and so much more

To go along with the book there is a free downloadable study guide. The study guide is 40 pages long. It covers vocabulary and comprehension questions like most study guides, but it goes much deeper. There are sections on idioms, characterization, similes, and so much more. There are even fun sections that teach a little more about life in the 1880’s.

The study guide is recommended to be used one of two ways. It can be used after reading a number of chapters or you can read the entire book and then come back and do it.

How We Used It

This book arrived the day we finished up our previous novel study. My plan was to print out the study guide and have AJ start reading the book the next day. That didn’t happen. When the book arrived in the mail she read the back and wanted to start reading it that night! When she asks to read, I don’t usually say, “no.” We did a little bit of shared reading (I read a page then she reads a page) and stopped after a few chapters. She did the study guide the next day and we read some more. We did that for the first two days, but then we decided to wait and do the study guide at the end of the book. The book was just too exciting to put down. On the third day we stayed up until three in the morning because she had to find out what was going to happen. We still had a few chapters left, so we finished up the next morning.

The problem came when she went to work on the study guide. She couldn’t remember what happened in each chapter. She knew how both Andi and Macy had changed had grown, but she couldn’t remember what part of the book things happened in. We decided to skip the comprehension questions and just did the fun activities that went along with the book.

If I were to do another study guide with one of Susan K. Marlow’s books I would do it a little differently. I would have AJ do the vocabulary section before she started the book so that she would be more familiar with it. Then I would make sure to at least ask the comprehension questions after each set of chapters. The rest of the study guide we would do after the book was finished. The study guide is amazing! It is well put together and a wonderful resource. I really wish we would have utilized it better.

What We Thought

We loved this book! It was full of fun, adventure, suspense, and wonderful character traits. Andi is not perfect, and I think AJ really understood her. AJ was so into the book that a few times in the beginning she said, “Andi just needs to punch that Macy!” Both of the characters were so deep and interesting. The theme of the book is friendship, and it really shines through. There are biblical values intertwined throughout the book, but it is done in a way that doesn’t come across as preachy.

This was the first book that either of us had read from this author and we were plesently surprised. She has a wonderful writing style and we can’t wait to read more of her books about Andi. There are two other series about Andi; Circle C Beginnings (for ages 6-9) and Circle C Adventures (for ages 9-14) and AJ wants to read them all! We have the Circle C Beginnings set on order at the library and we can’t wait until it comes in.

Any book that can spark AJ’s interest in reading is a win in my book. I would recommend it whole heartedly!

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