Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Samantha Project Series Review.

Today I have a little something special.  I was graciously given a copy of the Series "The Samantha Project" for my honest review.

I started reading The Samantha Project and turned the pages so quickly that in just a matter of a few hours I had finished the book.  I immediately grabbed book 2 to find out what would happen next.  Now I'll give you a bit about the books.  Both what I liked and didn't like.

The very first thing I have to say is I loved the way the author wrote the dialogue!  I enjoyed the characters even though at first I felt Samantha was a little too perfect a student/child.  But then when things started happening I understood why she was the way she was.  I loved Colin her boyfriend. I also liked how the time period was one we could relate to, it was in the now.  Not years from now on some odd planet.  And with all the genetic manipulation going on in today's world I could actually see this being true.  This book has a lot of twists and turns and will keep you wondering what's going to happen next.  There are also many horrible things that happen in this book and I must say that it is not a book for younger kids.  For instance I wouldn't want my 10 year old to read it but I would let my 16 year old read it without a problem.

All in all book was for me was a successfully written story that captivated my attention and had me flipping pages and on the edge of my seat enough for me to immediately grab book 2.

Book 2 picks up exactly where book one left off.  Samantha and Eric are trying to find a way to stop the ticking time bomb which is inside them.  I won't give too much away because there are things you will already know by this point that you discover in book 1.  Suffice it to say this was again a well written and suspenseful story.  This book deals with some more mature issues in regards to teens.  There were references to sex in this book that were missing from the first book.  But it was done in a manner that was definitely tasteful and also quite realistically necessary to the plot.  I think the entire genetic manipulation aspect of things remind me of a few of the TV shows I enjoyed and maybe that is why my attention is grabbed with this book.  I have to say that the characters show quite a bit of growth in this book.  Once again the author has successfully created a world that is both dangerous and yet realistic to our modern day world.  I have to say I finished this book in about 4 hours and grabbed book 3. Yes I spent an entire day and half the night reading this series.

Now last but not least is the final book.  This book once again picks up exactly where we left off in book 2.  The story has become much more complex.  Luckily the author actually went into details about genetic manipulation and the entire scientific aspect was made simple for even the most unscientific.  So references made in this book are quite easy to understand.

This series was one giant jigsaw puzzle.  I figured out a few things long before the end of the book.  This book WILL keep you on the edge of your seat.  The growth of the characters is wonderfully done.  Erik, Brittany, Colin all change and mature as they handle the different situations thrown at them.  Even the adults show some growth which I liked.  Now what I didn't like is that in parts of this series it seems that Samantha just doesn't show the same growth that the other characters show.  For someone who is supposedly so genetically enhanced she seems very weak willed and wishy-washy at times.  At other times she seems to be highly sexually oriented and mature.  It's a very strange mix.  She does finally show growth and she does finally seem to come into her own.  Which is a good thing.  Now in my personal opinion if this is the final book it feels unfinished.  I'm not exactly sure why, it just seemed after everything we went through that the ending felt anti-climactic for me.  
Now I did enjoy this series, and if I had to give a rating on the entire series I would give it a 4.  Book 1 and 2 I enjoyed more than book 3.  There is a LOT of scientific details in all three books.  Information regarding Genetics, DNA, and other science is thrown around quite a lot.  If you don't like books where you actually can learn something then this series is not for you.  I however didn't find it too distracting to have small information dumps about something that I actually knew something about and enjoyed the thought that if we could just change a few things in a person's DNA we could create super humans.  Although at the same time I am totally against that due in part to playing God, and in part to the simple fact that just because we can do something doesn't mean we should do it.

I give this series a very series 4 stars total and suggest to anyone who enjoys science fiction or even romance stories that this series is a good solid read.  Again this is not a book for younger than 16 due to some of the graphic dialogues in the books.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Slow Hand Quickens

I had the honor of reading Allie Mathews first book "Slow Hand Quickens".  No from the title you would have no clue about what this story is about. By a quick look I actually thought it might have something to do with poker.  I know I'm lame, what can I say.  Then I read the blurb and went, wow, this is totally not what I expected. And from there the book grabbed me and sucked me in.  Here is the "Official" blurb of the book and you will see just why it grabbed my attention.


New Adult Contemporary


Growing up in an apathetic household with an abusive family friend, Kristen Weatherly doesn't know life can be better or that she even deserves it. When all your life you're told to be grateful for what little you have, no matter how awful, how do you know that your life can be more fulfilling?

Kristen's perspective begins to change her senior year in high school when she's befriended by Mila, a girl who shows Kristen that there are people in the world who care without expecting anything in return. Then comes Chris, a boy she's dubbed Mystery Eyes. She soon discovers that Chris' life is similar to her own in ways she never could have imagined.

Can the two get past their shocking and dreadful family histories together, or will their pasts come between them when it matters most?

This novel contains dark themes, sensitive issues and is intended for mature audiences only.

Pretty intense stuff there huh?  Just makes your brain go okay now what in the heck is going on, where is the author going with this story, and oh god I just have to read it.

So read it is exactly what I did!  And let me tell you, this book is NOT for the faint of heart.  I do not think it is appropriate for younger children but since it is in the New Adult Category the author recognizes this and labelled it accordingly.  This book addresses some fundamental issues for children in abusive situations.  And as the author states it does contain very sensitive issues and ones which sadly for our girls many of them may face at one time or another in their life.  1 in 3 women will be sexually molested in their lifetime.  That is a sad statement of the men of today in my humble opinion.  

This story is deeply moving coming of age-story.  The focus of the book is abuse, love and friendship. And the author did a wonderful job of combining the three.  Your heart will break for Kristen and Chris, and even for Mila.  The author touches upon such terrible subjects in a well crafted story.

The author has created characters that are rich and very much alive.  Kristen is a young girl who has suffered at the hands of the people she trusted the most.  She is approaching her 18th year on earth, and has lived with the circumstances for many years.  She has like most abused children been brainwashed into believing it is all her fault and that she is somehow bad.

I LOVED the growth the author wrote into this young woman.  I loved how she changed right before my eyes.  I especially liked the forming of her first real friendship with her best friend Mila.  And how much that one single friend changed how she started to see herself.  And I love how I am so not going to tell you anymore so you just have to go out and grab a copy for yourself!

Yes I know I'm evil.  

Now lets just talk about the young man in the book, Chris.  I loved him from the second I read about him.  I won't tell you a thing about him, except to say that I wish more young men were like him.

And Mila is a doll.  She happens to be rich, have the perfect life, and yet for reasons unknown to anyone she has taken to Kristen.  And she really is such a wonderful young girl.  She makes me think of my own daughters, and how they never judged a person by how much money they had, or how they looked and I thought how wonderful Mila's mother must be, and sure enough when you read about her, you will just have to agree that she is a wonderful role model for all us mom's to mimic.

I totally hate spoilers, and if I spill anymore, I just know I'm bound to slip up and say things. So here is where my review will just have to end.  There are characters in this book you will LOVE, and there are characters in this book you will HATE! 

***I just have to say this one thing...  
ANY MAN who cannot take NO for an answer isn't a man.  Any man who treats a woman with disrespect deserves the worst thing that I can think of to happen.  Rape is not about sex, it is all about controlling another person, and any man who rapes a woman should have ALL control taken from him permanently!  Can you tell this is something I feel strongly about?  Well I do because I am one of the one in three.  I survived!  And as a survivor, I can say that a woman is so much more than men think they are.  We are far stronger than most people believe, and we have strong minds which help us to overcome the most horrendous of happenings.  Men tend to blame women for wearing certain clothing or acting a certain way, but it is their own weakness and insecurities which cause them to act the way they do. Blame us for all the ills, but the truth is, only a woman can bring a new life into this fabulous world of ours!

And here is where my review seriously ends.  You should go and get this book.  You won't regret it!  I recommend this book to ages 16 and up.  I say 16 because girls are having to face these sorts of issues at a young age.  Here is a link to go buy the book.  Trust me, you won't go wrong reading this book and Kristens growth during the book is precisely the hope we need for these kids! I have to praise the Author Allie Mathews for a well written and inspiring story for all ages.

Disclaimer: Review copy was provided for an honest and fair review.  This free copy held NO determination on my final review.

Allie lives in North Carolina and works at a university bookstore. She reads and writes in her spare time, including lunch breaks. When she's not reading or writing she's usually watching something on television, whether a good show or movie; or she's hanging out with friends...also perhaps drinking. A small amount. Usually rum. She likes rum. Oh, chocolate! She also enjoys eating things chocolate-y. She's always open to book recommendations. She listens to music while she cooks, usually throwing in a few dance moves. Allie thinks random things at random times and writes them down, even when they don't seem to be in any sort of order. She is a work in progress.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Not Just Tacos! Free ebook for a limited time!

Not Just Tacos Cookbook Review + Get Your Own Copy for FREE (Limited Time Offer)

Continue reading to find out how!

Meet homeschool mom Shirley Solis author of Not Just Tacos, creator of Building Character with Your Children and owner of Lifetime Books and Gifts, mom to six children and wife to Gus. Shirley was born in Ecuador and has recently been named "International Mom at Home" because of her passion to introduce other cultures to families in the United States. Read more here about the Solis family and their journeys.

Here are some of the countries you will explore in Not Just Tacos:
-Costa Rica
-and more...

So now you have seen a couple of the yummy recipes now its time to grab your FREE eBook copy of Not Just Tacos! 

Yes you read that right get your very own FREE copy by visiting the Not Just Tacos website and entering your name and email (super easy). But HURRY this is only available from September 16th-20th!
Get your FREE Not Just Tacos cookbook!!!
Watch this video to find out more Not Just Tacos:

Where to buy:

Get your FREE copy by visiting the Not Just Tacos website and entering your name and email. But HURRY this offer is only available from September 16th-20th!

If you miss the promotion you can always purchase Not Just Tacos on 
Amazon. The Kindle version is $9.99 and hardback version is $20.13 (reg $25.00).

Friday, 13 September 2013

I'm Baaaaackkkkk!!!!

So I've been gone for a while now.  First my laptop decided that it was done, taking with it not just every single book I own, but also all the stories I've personally written.  Can you say Christina was one very unhappy camper?  But those losses are just the beginning of the tidal wave of misery that my destroyed laptop took with it.  Photos, Projects, Home School materials, the works all just gone.

BUT, since I am the perpetual optimist, or slightly insane as my dear hubby keeps telling me, I decided to make lemonade with the lemons my life handed me.

So I bought a new PC, OMG she is beautiful, I am pretty sure I am in love!  Isn't she pretty?

But then I open her up and what do I see but Windows 8.  I sat there staring at the start-up screen saying well I'll be, how the heck do I log in?  After a few moments of confusion I realized I just use my xBbox log in.  Okay I can handle that!  I log in and stare for a few more minutes at the beautiful and complex screen in front of my face.

Then reality hits, oh no, all my programs gone! So I anxiously dig through the piles and piles of as my hubby says crap in my desk and finally find some of the programs I desperately need to not only run a successful home-school, but to read and write and paint.  Then once again I am stuck because quite a few of them don't work with windows 8.  At this point my optimism has taken a huge hit, and I sit there mumbling to myself about the insanity that is Microsoft.

In the end I get my programs installed, I figured out how to get apps working, and I learned an entirely new operating system.  Then I say to myself "Well since I'm starting fresh, how about we take a whole new approach to Conmans home education."  So the research began.

And here is what I've decided:

First of all I am switching to something that not only interests the Conman, but also myself.  

Ancient History! 

We will be using a few books but the main one will be The Story of the World: Volume 1: Ancient Times.  So this will be the spine of our new program.  We will be using the workbooks and activity guides along with many other fun things, but the best part of this will be at the end we will have a giant 42 chapter lapbook covering an interesting time in History.  Well for Conman I think the best part is that he gets to watch videos with me, and he gets to read along with me whatever story we choose.  I'll compile a reading list soon and post it here so you can see how stories can be added for a complete Language Arts program.

I also discovered lapbooking, and for the last two weeks Conman has been working on lapbooks.  We used the ready made one week unit from Amanda Bennet and he loved it.  (http://www.unitstudy.com/He has actually learned and retained the knowledge which tells me I am moving in the right direction.  I personally always love to scrapbook or do art in a book, so this is like an extension of that which is an absolutely brilliant idea.

But while the Ancient History program covers, Language Arts, History, Art, and even Music, what it doesn't cover is Math and Science.  Then I had an epiphany.  If we are starting with Ancient History then how much more Ancient could the Big Bang be? So BAM like a bolt of lightning I realized that my science curriculum is actually already built into my History Curriculum.  We just need to think outside the box a bit and use great scientific discoveries along with the timeline.  I practically did the jig?  *scary thought there*

That still left Math.  Oh how much I hate Math.  So after much soul searching and struggling, I decided to keep using the Mammoth Math's program that I currently use, but not stress that aspect as much as I have been.  Conman hates math, and he struggles so much with it.  I've also decided to give the Life of Fred series a try with Conman.  This series is a Language based Math Program, so I decided to buy the first 4 books.  Yes they are below his current needs, but it will help build his confidence and also give us a taste of the books.  We also lucked into my getting some of the Math-U-See books.  So we will be using some of those worksheets as well.  And I have a bunch of Logic Puzzles which Conman will use.  I know he hates puzzles, but I'm hoping that the Logic Puzzles will slip by his hatred of Puzzles.  I also discovered an absolutely PERFECT and I do mean PERFECT online Math's program that is FREE!!!  Yes FREE!!! BigBrainz is a Math Game that is actually a GAME!  Conman is loving it!  They also offer a paid version which has more places the kids can go, but I'm currently using the Free version, and he is loving it because he gets to pick his character, explore the world and do battle by doing maths.  How much fun is that?  Here is a link for those of you who are still searching for a math game that won't cost you a fortune. ( http://www.bigbrainz.com/ )

Now here in Australia, foreign languages are not mandatory until Grade 7.  However,I never follow the rules, so Conman chose Spanish (Japanese is taught in the schools here) and last year he used Rosetta Stone.  He loved that program, and we are going to keep using it for him, but we have also found a FREE online course.  Duolingo is a fabulous site, I've tested it out and played around with it, and I have to recommend it to any Home Schooler who can't afford to pay for the Rosetta Stone program.  Conman tested it out, and he is loving it more than Rosetta Stone because he gets to earn coins.  Here is a link for all you mom's out there who want to either learn a new language or have your children learn one. (http://www.duolingo.com/)

Now you would think that this curriculum is enough for the HEU (Home Education Unit)  Well surprisingly not, they asked about Technology.  Which seriously made me laugh since we will be using the Computer and Tablets and the like to do our research into the History or Science.  What is even more confusing it they KNOW my son keeps a blog.  I felt like I was going to scream, because the only two things they have an issue with seemed to be PE and Technology.  Okay I feel a rant coming on so I'll steer this off that now.  So for them and for you guys reading my long winded ramblings I am giving you the fabulous websites that we use.  

  • The first is iKnowthat, (http://www.iknowthat.com/com) and it is fabulous and if you purchase it through the Homeschool Co-Op very very affordable.  As the teacher/parent you can choose what you want your child to do.  They earn things and can play tons of games. Conman loves it.  We used it last year, and he will continue to use it this year.  I love the fact that I can set certain tasks for him to complete in certain subjects.  This allows me to give him freedom to play but also control over what things he can use.
  • But I have also sprung for another website called Clever Dragons.  It is a great site for kids!  They have the main subjects and you can set what things he is to do.  For doing them he earns coins which he can use to buy pets and to take care of their needs.  What a fabulous idea for a child who struggles to remember to brush his teeth or wash. http://clever-dragons.com/login Clever Dragons is for Boys but if you follow that link you can choose to go to the girls site which is exactly the same as the boys only set up with a more feminine theme.  I like that as the adult I can set up which grades to allow him access to, and what things he has to do.  I love things where I have a bit of control over what is being taught.  It even offers a Christian and Jewish Religion classes which while I won't be utilizing now we may in the future as we move onto the Religions of the world part of History.
  • And the last site that we belong to is called BrainPOP. (http://www.brainpop.com/) take a look at it for yourself but I actually think its a nice site with a lot for Conman to do.  They offer Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Engineering and Tech, Health and Arts & Music.  Lots of fun videos to watch and games to play.  Conman just started using it so I'm not sure how much he likes it but if the fact that he is sitting there watching, and playing has anything to show I'd say its a good one.  What I like is that I can set up what I want him to do. This site has an educators area which is really good because you can compare where your child fits in with the standards.  Very much like iKnowthat and Clever-Dragons so I think his Technology is more than covered along with fun things to do on off school times. 

So now we are left with PE/Health.  This is a constant struggle in our home.  Conman doesn't like to do anything other than computers or TV.  So getting him to even ride his bike proves to be a chore.  So we decided that we would try an exercise program.  It begins with a rousing game of Dance Central on the xBox.  Yes I know its a gaming system but wow does that get your heart pumping.  But that isn't the only thing we use.  We have a number of other exercise games to play on the xBox.  Our favorites would include Zumba fitness, UFC Personal Trainer, and Nike+Kinect Training, but our ultimate winner hands down is Your Shape Fitness Evolved.  Wow do these programs get your heart pumping and your muscles burning.   What's so good about this is we are all playing, and laughing and having a good time while we exercise.  The other program we are using is called Family Time Fitness.  You can find it here http://www.familytimefitness.com/  there is a free two day trial so you can test it out for yourselves.  They offer a complete workout program with videos of how to do the exercises.  

Our new curriculum will officially start on October 1st and will continue on through the next school year.  We are seriously excited about it.  Especially since we get to read tons of stories and we get to watch some fabulous Discover Education videos.  It's mandatory for children to attend school for so many weeks per year, and our program actually has Conman in lessons of some sort for three extra weeks per year, but it works out well for us all and if the last year is anything to judge by it works for him.  Probably because of his learning issues, but that an entirely different kettle of fish.  

For those of you who don't know Conman was classified as having Tourettes, NVLD/Aspergers, Dysgraphia and ADHD.  The doctors wanted him on drugs, and we did break down and give them a try but they simply don't help and they make him a different kid than he normally is.  So for our family they simply don't work.  On them he was more subdued, and he would have break downs and the tics and verbal sounds were worse, he also had trouble sleeping and he seemed to be depressed.  Off them he is a happy, loving little boy, who rarely cries but does throw a mean tantrum if he doesn't like something and his tics are more controllable.  Either way he has the attention span of a hyperactive gnat.  Luckily we can deal with that with one on one attention.  All in all,I do recommend doing what is best for your family, sometimes drugs help, sometimes they don't, what works for you is the best bet.

I've added links to just a few of the great things for Home Schooling.  I know there is a ton more out there, but these are just the ones I thought of while typing this all up.  I'll be keeping an online record of our Home-Schooling success's and failures online.  That way maybe I can help other mom's with special needs children or perhaps find help for issues I am struggling with.

Thanks for stopping by this mad-house I call my life...

Sites I've mentioned in this update.

Some Extra sites I love!

Tons of Great things for Home-Schooling at a fabulous discount!

Great things for the Home-School

Wonderful things on this site especially the lap book materials and ideas.

This one looks interesting and we are probably going to give it a try.