Review of “The Alabaster Jar” by Anna Alden-Tirrill



Today’s review is the 5th book in the Annie’s Adventures Series called The Alabaster Jar: The Miracle of Love by Anna Alden-Tirrill.  It was my 10-year-old daughter’s favorite book of the series!

Annie, who is a 13-year-old Christian homeschooled girl is now living in Australia with her parents.  We see her do a few things in Sydney, but soon the focus of the story is on Europe and Israel.  She sure is a world traveler!

Annie receives a package from a lady who was a character in the fourth book, The Promise Box.  In it is an ossuary with several items inside that were believed to have belonged to Mary Magdalene.  We learn about Mary and about the special items in the box.  Everything is checked out and is believed to be genuine.  We then follow Annie on an adventure with her aunt, uncle, and cousin, running from the bad guys who want to steal the priceless relics. There is danger and excitement, with a little history, geography, and science thrown in.

The story was fun to read.  There were a few moments where the action got bogged down by too much narration.  But overall, the book flowed and was an easy read.

I think most teen and pre-teen girls will really enjoy reading this story.  By the way, you don’t have to have read the other books to follow this one.  Everything relevant is explained again.


Read my reviews of the other Annie books: My Paris ConnectionMy Timeless Locket,  My Riviera Connection, and The Promise Box.

Check out Annie’s Adventure’s website to order the books.

Or here:

(Disclosure:  I received complimentary copies of the Annie’s Adventures series in order to write these honest reviews. This post contains affiliate links.)




Review “The Pioneer Adventure” and Sale on “The Pilgrim Adventure”

Just in time for back-to-school,  The Pioneer Adventure by Susan Kilbride is now available.  This is the fifth book in the Our America. . . series.  I have also reviewed The Pilgrim Adventure, The King Phillip’s War Adventure, The Salem Adventure, and The Revolutionary War Adventure.
The twins Finn and Ginny are still trying to find their parents who are lost back in time.  Each time they go back, they enter a different period of history and experience it first-hand while always keeping an eye out for their parents.  This time they land back in a wagon train that is heading to west on the Oregon Trail.  They find out that it’s not all fun and games traveling with wagon train.
Susan Kilbride, the author, pored through many journals of first-hand accounts of traveling west on the Oregon Trail.  She chose several exciting, true events which have been incorporated into this story.
The twins experience a cholera epidemic, Indian attacks, floods while trying to cross rivers, dangers traveling through the steep mountain trails, having to take their wagon apart to go down river a while and then put it back together, oxen dying, and Finn even gets amnesia when he falls off his horse.  A couple of the stories are truly amazing, such as one where people hear a mysterious voice calling out a message which ends up saving many peoples’ lives.
There is also a surprise at the end.  If you’ve read the other books, you’ll definitely want to read this one as well to find out what it is!
I have said numerous times that reading books like this is the best way to study history.  It really brings you into the time period.  This book is perfect for older elementary or middle school kids to read to themselves, or for Mom to read aloud to all.  It’s 114 pages long and includes a drawing and a map.
Susan has also provided a free pdf of activities to do along with reading the book!  There are recipes for beef jerky and apple fruit leather (and more), and directions for making a daisy chain, a Thaumatrope, a silhouette, and a yarn doll.  Have fun studying the Oregon Trail this year!
The Kindle version of The Pilgrim Adventure will be on sale for $2.99 on August 4, 5, & 6. 
Susan Kilbride’s other books:
(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Pioneer Adventure in order to write this honest review.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review “Body & Soul” by Bethany Hamilton

Bethany Hamilton, world-champion surfer, has written a new book that I love!  Today I share a review of Body & Soul: A Girl’s Guide to a Fit, Fun, and Fabulous Life (co-written with Dustin Dillberg.)

You may remember Bethany as the 13-year-old young lady whose arm was taken by a tiger shark off the coast of Hawaii where she lived.  She had been surfing all her life, and even after losing her arm, couldn’t wait to get back in the water.  She wrote an autobiography called Soul Surfer (which I also enjoyed reading) that was turned into the movie Soul Surfer. Through the years Bethany has learned techniques for exercising and eating well to keep her body in top-notch condition for surfing competitions.  Bethany recently married and is a believer in Jesus.  I found this book to be a wonderful opportunity to share a role model with my daughters.

Body & Soul is written specifically for teen and tween girls.  It is a 155-page paperback book that is beautifully graphically designed.  I just love looking through the book!  The photographs of food and exercises, the fonts and graphics–it’s all gorgeous!  But the content is even greater.

Here is the list of the chapters (with explanations and highlights):

1. In Total Confidence:  This first chapter presents the challenge.  Do you really want to get healthy?  Lots of encouragement from Bethany and from Scripture (verses are sprinkled throughout the book).

2. Your Body is a Gift:  You’ll learn how God made your body for a purpose and it’s our responsibility to take care of it.  We are made in His image.

3. Have an Amazing Outlook: Change your mindset in order to make healthy changes.  No using the word “can’t.”  Set goals.

4. Get Your Eat On:  Understanding about how food affects our bodies.  Learning about protein and carbs, whole foods, where to buy them, portion sizes, creating meal plans, what healthy snacks to take with you, how much water to drink (and how to spice it up), and recipes for green smoothies and sun tea.

5. Surfer Secrets For Your Best Bod:  First, Bethany shares about why posture is so important.  Then there are four workouts–with full instructions and pictures.

6. Tackle Your Challenges:  Q and A, like what other fitness options there are, identifying your fitness style, making eating healthy fun, and not getting burned out.

7. Go the Distance:  More encouragement to persevere.

8. Clean Green Recipes:  An awesome chapter with tons of recipes: breakfast (mango muffins, poached eggs with kale), juices/smoothies, lunch (chicken nori wrap, summer rolls), theme salads, dinner (macadamia nut crusted chicken, grilled veggie salad), side dishes (oven-roasted broccoli, guacamole), desserts and snacks (kale chips, banana “ice cream”).

9. Your Perfect Plan: Another favorite chapter of mine with the meal selections for every meal and every snack for a whole week!


One really fun thing about this book (that I know the teens will love) is that they can use the HarperCollins Unbound app to scan throughout the book to get multimedia and interactive content on their device!  I especially liked seeing videos of a couple of exercises and Bethany and a friend making the recipe for a Green Smoothie.

Overall, I recommend Body & Soul for anyone who has a teen or tween girl they would like to inspire to get healthier.  It will also encourage them in their walk with God!

I review for BookLook Bloggers


(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Body & Soul from BookLook Bloggers.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review- Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate

Flourish Book Review
I have another wonderful book to recommend today called Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms from Apologia Educational MinistriesWhen I was reading it, people kept asking if I was reading it for a review. I said I was, but that I would have read it regardless.  Flourish is now a staple homeschool book on my shelf.  I will refer back to it often and encourage all my homeschooling friends to read it.  It’s that good!

Mary Jo Tate suddenly found herself single, with four boys to raise.  She had already been homeschooling and didn’t want to stop in order to get a job to support her family. Flourish is where she shares what she has done all these years to make it work!  I really learned a lot and have already put some of her suggestions into practice.

If you look at the Flourish website, you’ll find a sample chapter and the table of contents.  But let me share what you’ll find in each chapter here:

Her story, “Life Management”–not time management, FREEDOM (where each letter gives you something for your “toolbox”), how to schedule your time (using a time log), setting goals, planning tools (goals, plans, to-do lists), being OK with interruptions, adjusting your attitude, how to take care of your health, training your children, making family memories, home management, homeschooling, how to flourish if you’re a single mom, running a home business effectively, and how to figure out what to do if it’s not working.

There are 2 appendices in the back of the book: Recommended Resources (wonderful books about life management, family life, homemaking, home education, reading, single parents, and home business) and Planning Forms (Pre-Book Self-Evaluation, Time Log, Big Dream, Yearly Review, Yearly Goals, Monthly Calendar, Weekly Plan, and Post-Book Progress Check).

I really found the Planning Forms to very helpful.  I filled out the evaluations, answered the questions about my dreams, and filled out goals and plans!  Somehow this was different from how I had done similar exercises before.  Mary Jo teaches in a way that really related to me.  She understands how hard it is, but she knows using these tools can make life work better.

These are some of the things she shared that made the most impact on me: People ask her “How do you do it all?”  She says she doesn’t.  And she redefines “it all.”  “True balance doesn’t mean spending an equal amount of time and attention on each area of your life.  It means spending an appropriate amount of time and attention on each area.”  She doesn’t allow whining–not from her kids and not from herself!   If don’t have time for something, ask yourself, “How can I make time for it?”  Make a list of 5-minute jobs that you can quickly do if you have a few minutes.  (I did this one this week and cleaned out part of my car.)  The goal-setting was fun.  For my Big Dream list, I said that I’d like to plan for my husband and me to go to Israel for our 20th Anniversary!  And the most important thing I learned was to make a “Stop-Doing” list.  I already have several things on it that I will stop doing when we start back up to school next month.

Here is a final quote I’ll leave you with.  You’ll just have to pick up the book to see how it’s done!

“Just half an hour of weekly planning will multiply your productivity and relieve stress and frustration.”

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms is a paperback book, 288 pages and is intended for homeschool moms. It’s only $15!

Flourish Book Review

Be sure to follow Mary Jo Tate on Facebook and Twitter.



Flourish Book Review

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Review of “The Promise Box: The Miracle of Commitment” by Anna Alden-Tirrill



Today I have a review of the book The Promise Box: The Miracle of Commitment by Anna Alden-Tirrill.  It’s the 4th book in the series Annie’s Adventures.

Once again, I have learned some very interesting things that I have never heard of before!  We follow 13-year-old Annie to Germany.  She is homeschooled and an only child, so Annie and her parents have been traveling around Europe living in different cities while her father works for the universities in different cities.  In The Promise Box we not only experience the adventures Annie goes on, but we learn about German food, culture, and a lot of history!

While out shopping in an antique store one day, Annie and her mom find a pretty box.  They are able to open it and discover some wonderful secrets that have been buried since World War II.

They are living in a small town called Oberammergau which has a long history dating back to the bubonic plague in 1632.  The town has been performing a Passion Play since 1634 as a thank you to God for sparing their lives from the dreadful plague.  Then, many years later residents from the town decided to help rescue people from the German concentration camps during World War II.  You’ll follow the story as they read through an old diary and follow leads to uncover the whole mystery–including one about the Spear of Destiny (the sword which allegedly pierced Jesus on the cross and which Hitler was supposedly “using” to give him power.  As soon as the sword was confiscated by the Americans, Hitler killed himself.)

The story itself was really exciting.  But the writing gets a bit bogged down at times.  I would recommend it for ages 13 and up, although my 10-year-old daughter read it and then immediately started book 5! Girls would probably enjoy it more than boys, simply because it has Annie for the main character.  The book is also unabashedly Christian–which I love!  Scripture and prayer are woven through the story.

Read my reviews of My Paris Connection, My Timeless Locket, and My Riviera Connection. The next review will be book will be Annie’s Adventure #5 when she travels to Sydney, Australia!

Check out Annie’s Adventure’s website to order the books.

Or here:

(Disclosure:  I received complimentary copies of the Annie’s Adventures series in order to write these honest reviews. This post contains affiliate links.)