Thursday, April 17, 2014

Canyon of Danger (Book 3) and River of Peril (Book 4) by Susan K. Marlow (Review)

Canyon of Danger (Book 3) and River of Peril (Book 4) from Goldtown Adventures

By Susan K. Marlow

(received in exchange for an honest review)

Genre- Juvenile Fiction / Christian

Published by- Kregel Publications

Copyrighted- 2013 (Canyon of Danger) and 2014 (River of Peril)

Number of pages- 152 (Canyon of Danger) and 144 (River of Peril)

Age Group- Juvenile

Description of book- paperback, listed price- $7.99, ISBN 978-0-8254-4296-4 (Canyon of Danger) and ISBN 978-0-8254-4297-1 (River of Peril)

In Canyon of Danger, by Susan K. Marlow, twelve-year-old Jem Coulter is going to be taking care of the ranch while his father, Sheriff Coulter, takes a prisoner to Sacramento.  Jem has no idea what is in store for him.  There are problems with the cattle herd, someone is hurt, and Sheriff Coulter’s rifle and Jem’s horse are stolen.  Will Ellie, his sister, and Nathan, his cousin, be able to help him with the problems?  Will Aunt Rose help him solve the problems.

Read an excerpt!

Jem and his family are on the way to Sacramento in River of Peril.  It takes them two days on the stage and they are held up by the Knights of the Golden Circle.  Strangely Jem’s father is not upset, why? 

Once they are in the city, Jem, Ellie, and Nathan explore the river wharf and make friends with someone who lives on a paddlewheel steamboat.  They find some of the Knights of the Golden Circle on the steamboat, then Ellie vanishes.  Jem knows he needs to find his sister.  Will he?

Read an excerpt!

About the Author-

Susan K. Marlow enjoys leading writing workshops.  She finds that looking at the historical sites is the best part about writing historical fiction.  She is the author of the Circle C Adventures and Circle C Beginnings series. 

My thoughts-

My family and I have read Tunnel of Gold (Book 2) together and really enjoyed it.  I was excited when the opportunity arose to review books three and four in the Goldtown Adventures series, by Susan K. Marlow. 

We read Canyon of Danger (book 3) as a family.  In a couple of months when C is at the right reading level, she will read it to herself.  If we don’t read it as a family first.  C was really excited to hear Canyon of Danger during our family reading time.  She wanted me to keep reading more and more.

I really enjoyed these books, they have a wonderful message about faith in God, how to persevere, they work well as a living book for history, and they are just fun books to read.  There are also literature guides at  I highly recommend readers use them to learn even more about the books. 

Marlow has written a fun good quality book for children.  I highly recommend them for your family.

C (girl, age 8) said, “I liked listening to Canyon of Danger, by Susan K. Marlow.  It was a really exciting book.  This would be a good book for children my age and older.”

B (boy, age 12) said, “I liked Canyon of Danger best.  I liked Rafe’s role in the story.  My least favorite chapter in River of Peril is chapter seventeen.  I don’t like it because a steamboat boiler explodes.  Both books are good for children to read to themselves.”   

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received Canyon of Danger and River of Peril, by Susan K. Marlow, for free from the Kregel Publications’ Blog Tour.  All links were current when posted.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Picture of the Week! (April 14, 2014)- Train Station

Wooden trains are so much fun.  Here is a sample of what B and C have done in the past!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Curiosity Quest (Review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew)

We received the Curiosity Quest DVD Combo Packs for review purposes!

Product Links: DVD Combo Pack – Produce (Mushrooms, Cranberries, Orange Packing) and DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea (Sea Turtle Rescue, Penguins, Salmon)

Vendor Information Link: Curiosity Quest

Age Appeal: ages 7-14

Format: DVD, 3 episodes which are about 30 minutes long each

Price: as of April 11, 2014, each DVD is $24.95

Curiosity Quest is a television show for families, hosted by Joel Greene.  In each episode Greene takes the viewer on a quest by on a question from another viewer.

In our two combo packs we learned about:

  • Mushrooms: how they grow and how to pick and pack them.
  • Oranges: how they grow and how to pick and pack them.
  • Cranberries: how they are harvested, cleaned and selected, then packed.
  • Salmon: what they eat, how long they live, and how they know how to come back to the same place where they were born.
  • Penguins: what they eat, how to pet them, what noise they make, why penguins don’t fly.
  • Sea Turtles: how fast they swim, how big they can get, and reasons why they need to be rescued.
  • and more!

Our Experience: 

We love learning about different subjects.  Videos can be a fun way to learn about something we may never be able to experience ourselves.

B and C were excited when we received the DVDs in the mail, so we stopped what we were working on and decided to watch the episodes about cranberries, mushrooms, and oranges.

We learned how mushrooms are grown, about harvesting cranberries, and orange packing.  We couldn’t believe the amount of information that was given in thirty minutes.

On another day we learned about sea turtle rescue in the Florida Keys, Magellanic penguins, and King, Pink, and Sockeye Salmon.

I know these videos will be favorites in our family for years to come.  We plan on watching them with the cousins this summer. 

Mama’s Thoughts:

  • I really enjoyed how involved each episode was.  Even though each episode was only 30 minutes, I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about salmon, sea turtles, penguins, cranberries, oranges, and mushrooms.
  • One of my favorite parts of each episode was when they asked questions to people off the street.  The questions were interesting and not all the people knew the right answers.  That was interesting.  There were many questions where I did not know the answers.
  • I did not know it was against the law to touch a sea turtle.  Now I am wondering what happens to you if you have to touch a sea turtle to rescue it when you are at sea.
  • I enjoyed everything about these videos, there was nothing to dislike.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fourth grade):   

I really liked Curiosity Quest

Here is what I have to say about each episode:

  • The episode about mushrooms was my favorite.  I really liked how they broke down the hay and turned it into soil.  I also liked learning that the hay can get over 100 degrees.  It was interesting learning how mushrooms grow. 
  • I enjoyed learning about cranberries.  I learned a lot of new things in this episode.  I used to think that they grew cranberries in water, not that they flooded the bogs to make the cranberries float.  I also learned about all the products that contain cranberries. 
  • I learned a lot about oranges.  I did not know there were so many steps to take before they arrive at the grocery store. 
  • The episode on penguins was my second favorite, because the penguins were so cute and cuddly.  I really liked how they walk.         
  • I liked watching the episode about salmon.  I thought it was interesting how millions of fish are raised in the hatchery each year. 
  • The episode on sea turtles was my third favorite, because I like the way they look, move, and swim. 

What I didn’t like:

  • In the episode about salmon they didn’t mention what they did with all the salmon after they die from spawning.

Overall, I think these two Curiosity Quest DVDs would be good for people of all ages.

C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in second grade): 

I really liked Curiosity Quest

I really enjoyed watching the episode about penguins.  I learned what they ate and how to pet a penguin.

The other episode I liked was about oranges.  I learned that they took good care of the oranges when they were in the processing plant.  There was even a washing machine for the oranges.

It would be good for people of all ages.

Dad’s Thoughts:

Joel Greene's Curiosity Quest videos are informative, fun, and best of all realistic.  He doesn't rely on special effects to make the videos entertaining.  His direct approach to conversations with the owners/operators/staff is refreshing and informative.  I like how Joel uses readers' letters to determine the topics for each Curiosity Quest episode.  I would say that Joel does his best to make each topic a learning reality show and that's what makes you want to keep watching episode after episode.  You can watch sample episodes at their website,, which I highly recommend because they have some great stuff on Rugby, Go Karts, and Challenge Courses.

Joel and his crew are doing a fantastic job with Curiosity Quest !  My kids and I will keep coming back for more.

Mama highly recommends Curiosity Quest DVDs!

Social Media Links for Curiosity Quest:

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Uncovered by Rod Tucker (Review)

Uncovered: The Truth about Honesty and Community

By Rod Tucker

(received in exchange for an honest review)

Genre- Christian Life / Spiritual Growth

Published by- Kregel Publications

Copyrighted- 2014

Number of pages- 160

Age Group- Adult

Description of book- paperback, listed price- $12.99, ISBN 978-0-8254-4334-3

Christians are not always known for showing what their lives are really like.  Rod Tucker has written Uncovered, to show that we need honesty in our lives and how to do it.  We need to have honesty in our lives and also in our churches.

He discusses personal honesty, honesty and the church, and honesty, the church, and how to see past ourselves.

Excerpt from the book!

About the Author-

Rod Tucker currently lives in Michigan and is the founding pastor of The River:pm.  You can learn more at

My thoughts-

I thought the idea behind Uncovered was great, but I don’t think Rod Tucker wrote a book which fully captured what it needed to be.

We do need to have honesty in our churches, communities, and homes.  The honesty we should have, could open our churches to accept people the way they are, not the way that is expected.

There are a couple of questions at the end of each chapter, but I think there could be more.  I was unable to meld it all together.  It might have helped if I was in a group discussing the questions and book.  More feedback would have developed stronger answers and more delight in this book.

I personally did not find this book very interesting or helpful.  You will have to check the book out for yourself. 

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received Uncovered: The Truth about Honest and Community, by Rod Tucker, for free from the Kregel Publications’ Blog Tour.  All links were current when posted.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Victus Study Skills System (Review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew)

We received Victus Study Skills System for review purposes!

Product Links: Student Workbook and Teacher Edition

Vendor Information Link: Victus Study Skills System

Age Appeal: Works for all ages, but is most appropriate for 5th to 12th grade.  There will be more teacher instruction with younger students. 

Format: Physical bound books

Price: As of April 7, 2014 the Teacher Edition is $40 and the Student Workbook is $20.

Do your children need a system for learning and studying?  B did and he learned how to learn and study using the Victus Study Skills System.

This study skills system has 10 lessons based on three cornerstones (“Where am I am now?,” “Where do I want to be?,” and “How do I get there?,” and includes:

  • Learning strengths.
  • Listening.
  • Note taking and test taking.
  • Time management.
  • and more!

The Teacher Edition includes the answers to the questions in the Student Workbook along with instructions on how to best teach the course.

There are a variety of helpful videos and samples along with other products on the Victus Study Skills System website.

Our Experience: 

As a fourth grader I think B is at one of the youngest ages for this study system.  I think C would be too young, even though I did have her work on some parts. 

I knew after working on the first lesson that it would be too much for B to work on lesson a day.  I decided to work on the lessons for twenty minutes at a time, so he would get tired of working on it.  I was very glad I chose that way, because he was always interested to work on the lessons.

I had C work on some lessons too, because there were things she needed to learn, even at her age.  She leaned what type of learner she is and how to make goals.  She found those to be a lot of fun.

Some of the parts were more difficult, because our learning method doesn’t utilize tests.  B and C also do not have homework.  They get their work done during school.  I am planning on to start using tests in school in the next year or two, because I know they will need to know how to take them when they are in high school and college.

Mama’s Thoughts:

  • I liked that the purpose of the Victus Study Skills System was to help the student be successful in life.  That was great that the the word, victus, from the title means a way of life.  That is just what I wanted for B, a study system that would become a way of life for him.
  • I would have liked a better way of filling in the blanks, like a list of words or a section of text to read.
  • I think this is a homeschool product we could use every couple of years or review often, so that B and C don’t forget the best ways to learn and the importance of a schedule, goals, and knowing how to take a test or study.
  • The appendix had a lot of information.  It is something that needs to utilized.
  • It is a system that needs to be constantly, to help improve study skills and habits.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fourth grade):   

I liked the Victus Study Skills System.  I think it would be a good study system for public school, not so much for homeschool.  For example, we do not have homework and we do not take formal tests.  It dealt a lot with homework and taking tests. 

I liked making my goals.  I now have goals for videography, math, and healthier eating. 

I learned that I am a kinesthetic learner.  Mama has been trying to make my lessons more kinesthetic.  Mama is almost equal in auditory and visual.  Auditory is my lowest one. 

Overall, I would highly recommend the Victus Study Skills System to people older than I am.

C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in second grade): 

It was fun writing goals.  It was fun to see learn that I am an auditory learner. 

Dad’s Thoughts:

The Victus Study Skills System (or V3S) is a great program to have for your homeschool. It teaches the skills needed on how to: be organized, note taking, listening, goal setting and more. The V3S helps students to understand where their learning strengths are: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Knowing how you learn can help you prepare for classes, projects and goals. The Victus 3S program builds the skills students will need to be successful in school and in life. It teaches how to learn not just memorize and repeat for homework and tests. It's important for us to teach our children how to learn so they can learn how to think on their own. And the Victus Study Skills System is a great way to achieve that goal.

Mama recommends the Victus Study Skills System !

Social Media Links for Victus Study Skills System:

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Picture of the Week! (April 6, 2014)- Onion Tops

Here are some onion tops from the onions we grew last year.  I am really looking forward to the new growing season.  I hope it arrives very soon!