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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Now THIS is What You Call an AWESOME Teacher

Homework Letter for the Weekend Before the Big Test–I love this teacher!

Kindness Blog

It is unfortunate that many School Teachers have been placed in a position where they have to be so concerned about their pupil’s exam results and how children ‘perform’.

Children work hard all week at school, do their best and then also have homework set to complete at weekends. We know that many parents think this is too much work and too much pressure for our young people. They deserve a childhood!!

One teacher, Mrs Thom, obviously understands that having a good life-balance is of the utmost importance to a child’s well-being.

Please see the wonderful homework letter below that Mrs Thom gave out to all the pupils in her class prior to their latest exams.

homework kindnessAnother teacher cried when she read about this on Facebook and wrote;

“I’m only a student teacher and I don’t teach in year 2 or 6. The tension at my placement school is still palpable……

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“Books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life.” ―Christopher Paolini

So true!



“Books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life.”

―Christopher Paolini, Eragon

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Pumpkins in Paradise–Great Example of a Cozy!

Pumpkins in Paradise

by Kathi Daley

Pumpkins in ParadiseI love mysteries–the kind you read.  Not the kind where you wonder where you hid something so no one else could find it! I love the type of mystery that focuses on the puzzle, not on the actual blood, gore and violence.  I’m not interested in the extremities of psychological madness or depravity. When I retired, and before I began reviewing, I sated my appetite by reading all of Agatha Christie’s novels.  Although I didn’t care for her mysteries that dabbled in the occult, most of the rest of the works of this prolific writer are excellent.

Having conquered the Christie mountain of 78 mystery novels, I read from a variety of genres and stumbled across a sub-genre developed at the end of the twentieth century, the cozy mystery.  While I don’t limit myself to cozies, I do intersperse them with my other readings.  Cozies downplay sex, violence, and inappropriate language while providing the reader with a puzzle.  The story is usually set in a small town where everyone knows everyone else. The amateur detective is usually a woman with some contacts in the law enforcement community.  A cozy series may be thematic and there is often an element of humor and a touch of romance.  Christie’s Miss Marple books fit into this category as does the television series Murder, She Wrote.

Pumpkins in Paradise is the first novel in the Tj Jensen Mystery Series written by Kathi Daley.  There are currently seven books in the series, all set in the little town of Paradise and most with a seasonal theme.  Our heroine in this cozy series is Tj Jensen, a single, high school PE teacher and coach who has moved in with her father and grandfather. They run a local woodsy resort and are helping her care for her two newly orphaned half-sisters.  Pumpkins in Paradise meets all the criteria for a good cozy and excels in the puzzle category.  In order to solve a murder mystery, Tj has to solve a final puzzle created for her by the victim.  The story is populated by interesting, colorful townsfolk and visitors. The setting has small town appeal: Paradise is decorated for fall and bustling with pumpkin activities.

I recommend Pumpkins in Paradise as an excellent cozy that you will not want to put down.  I plan on reading other books in the series–comfortable excitement in a feel good setting.  But don’t be fooled–Pumpkins in Paradise has a healthy dose of suspense as well!

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Henery Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wisdom From an Old Father: “Mind Time” ~ By Denis Ian

DON’T RUSH KIDS! This is a great post, but if you are pushed for time, start reading where the blue letters say “mind those sweet moments…” And read to the end. It is an excellent passage–especially if you have anything to do with kids (parents, teachers, grandparents, etc)

Kindness Blog

I’m an old father now. Suddenly it seems.

My sons have sons. I own lots of memories. I polish the sweet ones and never dust the ones that hurt.

I mind time now. I didn’t used to. In fact, like lots of you, I was reckless with time. Not any longer.

When I was a boy of about 9 or so, I had the temporary misfortune of being the last to the dinner table … and that meant sitting just to the left of my father. That was like sitting next to the district attorney … or the pope. My brothers loved my dilemma … because that’s what brothers do. It’s in the Irish Manual of Life.

So … there I was … waiting for my moment of challenge. The knives were clanging plates and there were two or three different conversations happening around this table with the fat legs…

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DISILLUSIONED–Didn’t Disappoint This Reader


by Christy Barrittdisillusioned

Disillusioned, a Christian thriller by Christy Barritt, plunges the reader into a tense scene of media pursuit. It then segues before the end of the first chapter into an attempt to coerce Nikki and her brother Bobby, a Navy SEAL, to accompany some armed men.  Are their attackers terrorists or feds? The action continues at a fast pace through the whole book with a cast of strong characters.

Interwoven with and integral to the main plot, in which Bobby is accused of being part of a Columbian terror group, are three major subplots. One deals with Nikki’s complicated romantic relationships.  Another with spiritual faith and trust issues Nikki has in the aftermath of several traumatic years.  The last is the mental state of her brother and the possibility that his years of captivity in Columbia have altered his character.

I strongly recommend this book on two levels.  As a thriller I find the ins and outs of the plot to be fascinating.  Except for the high stress level I occasionally needed to relieve, it is a book I didn’t want to put down.  As a Christian novel, I found the implicit challenge to be personal.  If confronted with the extreme difficulties and disappointments Nikki faced, would my faith in God remain strong? Would I remember that “God is on my side even when all seems lost.”?

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Waterfall Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Farewell, Hastings!

hard back cafe

On my way back to Mexico, I spent the night in Roswell, NM near a Hastings bookstore.  Out of country for most of 3 years, I was unaware of the Hastings bankruptcy and closing.  It was sad to see the store being liquidated.  I bought a hardback Daniel Silva book for $4.00. I would have bought more books, but my truck was already bursting at the seams with things I had missed or needed south of the border. I could do a whole blog post on bookstores versus online sales and ebooks, but we’ll save that for another time.

I snapped a picture of the Hard Back Cafe sign–such a clever play on words. The cafe was closed that evening but not liquidated. What a feeling of nostalgia as yet another bookstore closes.

the heist

The Daniel Silva book will be the subject of another post down the reading road. I have a number of ebooks that should be read and reviewed first. I read a review of one of his books (maybe in an airline rag?) over a year ago and thought I would enjoy his books. It was a good opportunity to pick one up; and in spite of my appreciation of ebooks, I do so love to hold a book in my hands as I read!











We went on a long vacation in northern New Mexico and discovered our cabin now has very slow Internet connections. So, forgive my sporadic appearances as I could only occasionally make contact with bloggers, Facebook friends and email correspondents. It will take time, but I hope to catch up a little day by day. On the up side, what a blessing to visit with family and friends, enjoy the beautiful surroundings, and work and relax every day in what seemed like my own bed and breakfast. I am now back in our little town in Mexico where we usually have good connectivity–except now, the rainy season. At times, I have no connectivity; but when it works, it is fast!

A Changed Agent–a good historical romance

A Changed Agent

by Tracey Lyonsa changed agent

Waterfall Press, a Christian publishing branch of Amazon, released a new historical romance on July 19, 2016. A Changed Agent by Tracey Lyons, who has written a number of historical novels, is well-written and has an engaging storyline and characters.  Set in the 1890’s in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, this tale draws together a beautiful and kind schoolteacher, a Pinkerton detective, and his recently orphaned niece and nephew.

The “spinster,” Miss Elsie Mitchell, has strong Christian values and faith and feels led by the Lord to help Will Benton with his new charges as he settles into what she believes is his new job as a lumber foreman in her hometown.  There are, of course, relationship issues as these characters come together, and danger bubbles beneath the surface as Will hunts for an unknown railroad bond thief.

Grab a copy of this book if you are looking for a fast-paced read that you won’t want to put down.  It has characters you will like, set in a time removed from our age of technology, with enough adventure to transport you out of the confines of your world and back in time to a small town with muddy streets, a saloon with ladies of questionable repute, and an annual church picnic.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Waterfall Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.


Admission: Yes, I left the book cover picture REALLY big because I am a PURPLE freak.

Collision of the Heart–good historical romance

Collision of the Heart

by Laurie Alice Eakes

Collision of the HeartCollision of the Heart is a historical romance set in 1856 in frigid winter in Michigan, the author’s home state.  Laurie Alice Eakes gives us a story in which the main characters have to ultimately decide if their love for each other is strong enough. Does Mia love Ayden more than the opportunity to become a professional writer? Does Ayden love Mia more than a successful, secure career surrounded by loving extended family? Just when all seems predictable, the author twists the plot twice with surprises.

In Collision of the Heart, Eakes uses words as brush strokes with her well written descriptions of cold winter nights that draw the reader in to experience the evenings as the characters do. For example, Eakes writes of an upset Ayden that “His footfalls crunched on the frozen snow, loud in the quiet of the night.” The author arouses our senses with “The wind carried the scent of wood smoke with its promise of warm fires, hot soup, and hotter coffee.” In another passage, the author uses repetition of “ached” to good advantage to drive home both the thoughts and emotions of Ayden as he tries to work through his feelings for Mia.

Collision of the Heart is an easy going, enjoyable romance which captures the reader’s interest immediately with a train wreck, leaving passengers hurt and stranded in a small town for many days.  We witness the kind and generous responses of most of the townspeople and follow the intrigue of an abandoned child. I recommend this book which will be released by Waterfall Press on August 23, 2016.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Waterfall Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Diane Ravitch’s Feet of Clay

Why I No Longer Follow Diane Ravitch’s Blogclay-foot-of-statue-3072x2048_75664

When I retired from teaching and began reading blogs, I was excited to find Diane Ravitch’s very active blog.  She posted things I had been thinking and saying for years about CCSS, overtesting, and VAM. Diane Ravitch is an education policy analyst, an author, a research professor at NYU and a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education. I admired that she had originally supported No Child Left Behind (NCLB), but later publicly reversed her position.  She was David against Goliath, fighting big business and politicians in their grab for education dollars.

My idol, unfortunately, has clay feet.  Too many of her posts are now only about politics.  She says that none of the candidates support her position on education, but she has chosen a candidate to support anyway in post after post after post. She supports one candidate with vehement enthusiasm and works against the other with vehement invectives.  What happened to education?  She says her blog is “A site to discuss better education for all.”  What happened to that discussion?

I do not want to invite one-sided trash into my heart and mind.  I want to work towards the best educational system possible for our children.  I’m leaving Diane Ravitch behind.

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