Sunday, April 29, 2018

MMGM Maker Lab Outdoors

Written by Author Jack Challoner

ABOUT THE BOOK: {from Goodreads}:
Twenty-eight science projects and experiments to be done outside will spark kids' creativity and help them develop science skills through hands-on learning.

Projects focus on Earth and the environment, plants and animals, rocks and minerals, and space, bringing science learning home and into the backyard. Young scientists can make a cave system and find out about underground rivers, construct a working model of tectonic plates and learn about earthquakes, build a telescope and look to the planets and stars, and more.

Supporting STEAM education initiatives and the Maker Movement, Maker Lab: Outdoors includes 25 interactive projects to inspire kids' creativity and their scientific side, and, as the founder of Maker Faire Dale Dougherty says, "to realize with their hands what they can imagine in their minds."

With stunning photography, succinct step-by-step instructions, and detailed explanations, Maker Lab: Outdoors takes readers on a journey of discovery. A must-have for every young scientist curious about their surroundings, and for makers, crafters, and those who enjoy exploring the outdoors.

This book is such a fabulous resource for individuals who teach and work with middle-graders! The book is divided into four thematic chapters:  Nature Watch, World of Weather, Water Power, and Earth and Sky. There are several projects in each chapter.

I cannot say enough about the quality of the projects in this book. From the very first project--'How to Build a Periscope'--to the last project--'Paper Sundial'--these are engaging, useful, fun projects for middle-graders and adults alike!

In addition to the project photos and instructions, there is an introduction to each 'how to' sharing the science behind the DIY activity. The 'Wormery' project extends the idea of the project to the 'real-world science' of composting. The 'Soil-Free Planter' extends to aquaponics. The 'Brilliant Barometer' extends to meteorology and isobars. You get the picture.

Two of my favorite projects are the 'How to Grow Mycelium' in the Nature Watch chapter and the 'Anemometer' in the World of Weather chapter. The mycelium-in-a-jar project is unique; I've never seen it in any other science manual or STEAM education book before.

The author has done an excellent job of explaining difficult theories in interesting, yet down-to-earth terms. The projects are clever and are supported with user-friendly stepped-out instructions with photos. Makers are encouraged to use recycled goods from around the house, i.e. plastic bottles, cardboard, glass jars, shoe boxes, etc.

Back matter includes templates for the projects, a thorough glossary, and an index. 

Highly-recommended for teachers, science camp counselors, parents/grandparents/care-givers, and teens and adults interested in upping their own science knowledge! {I'll admit I learned a lot about fungus/spores/mushrooms, weather, and aquaponics.}

I borrowed this book from the 'new book' shelves in the children's section of my local public library. 


-- Wednesday, May 2nd: Book spotlight, snippet, artwork feature, and giveaway for a new children's activity book from Cedar Fort, Inc., 'Wizard's Workshop'. Event hosted by Singing Librarian Books.

-- Friday, May 4th: Book Blast with $50 giveaway for a new clean romance, 'Scarlet'. Event hosted by I Am A Reader.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018


'PELICAN POINT: A Harbor Point Novel' 
 by Author Irene Hannon
--Book Spotlight, Excerpt & Review--

In the midst of life's storms, unexpected love is a beacon of hope.

A crumbling lighthouse is not part of the inheritance Army doctor Ben Garrison expects to claim when he journeys to Hope Harbor. Fresh out of the service, he wants only to unload the tower of bricks, decompress from years of treating battlefield trauma, and prepare to launch his civilian career.

Hope Harbor Herald editor Marci Weber has other ideas. She may not be a Hope Harbor native, but the small Oregon seaside town has become home--and she's determined to save the Pelican Point landmark.

Sparks fly as the two go head-to-head over the fate of the lighthouse. But when they start to cooperate, a different kind of fire ignites. Can Hope Harbor heal the hearts of these two romance-wary souls?

Come home to Hope Harbor...
where hearts heal--and love blooms
--Praise for the Hope Harbor Novels:

"A place of emotional restoration that readers will yearn to visit."--Publishers Weekly on Hope Harbor

"Summer romance doesn't get much better than this." on Sea Rose Lane

"A beautiful love story."--RT Book Reviews on Sandpiper Cove


--Where to Purchase: 



Irene Hannon is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than fifty contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels, including Dangerous Illusions, as well as the Men of Valor, Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series. In addition to her many other honors, she is a three-time winner of the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America. She is also a member of RWA's elite Hall of Fame.  In addition, she has received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews for her entire body of work. Each of her suspense novels have been ECPA/CBA bestsellers. Learn more at

After I had read the first few chapters of this book I started asking myself why I hadn't read any of this author's previous books. The depth of her characters, flaws and all, is so engaging. The setting of Hope Harbor on the Oregon coast is appealing on many levels. And for a history buff such as myself, the focus on the renovation of an historical lighthouse was an added bonus!

Ben Garrison returns to Hope Harbor upon the death of his grandfather, Ned Garrison, a beloved longtime member of the community. Ben spent summers with his grandfather during his childhood, tween, and teen years after Ben's father basically abandoned him due to divorce. Ned is a guiding force in Ben's life and his faith walk.

Ben is a US Army combat orthopedic surgeon who has served in the Middle East. He is looking to make a change in his career. When he learns he has inherited a decrepit historic lighthouse at Pelican Point, he feels burdened by having to deal with the property before he can move to Ohio to join the new medical practice which he is joining.

Marci Weber is the owner, publisher, and editor of the small local newspaper, the Hope Harbor Herald. She is dealing with her own traumas from her past and is reluctant to begin a friendship with Ben Garrison until she takes a moment to realize he is not a bad guy after all. It doesn't hurt matters when she admits to herself that she finds him to be attractive.

One reason I enjoyed this story is because the community came together to work on saving the lighthouse from demolition and the subsequent development of the historic property. The surrounding characters in the community were varied and interesting. From the mysterious Charley to the struggling young couple of Rachel and Greg, the subplots in this book are gratifying. In fact, I felt as if the story of Rachel and Greg was worthy of its own book. {Maybe the author will have the same opinion.}

If you are looking for a good read to make you cry, laugh, and root for the charactes and their close-knit town, 'Pelican Point' should be on your 'To Be Read--Soon' book list.

Highly-recommended for fans of inspirational romance, Christian fiction, clean romance, and Northwest Coast fiction.

Disclosure from blogger: I received a paperback copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review to be posted on my blog and on retailer sites and Goodreads. I received no compensation for my review or posts here or on any other site.
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-- Monday, April 30th: Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday S.T.E.A.M. Education post featuring a book spotlight and review of Author Jack Challoner's 'Smithsonian: Maker Lab Outdoors'.

-- Wednesday, May 2nd: Book spotlight, snippet, artwork feature, and giveaway for a new children's activity book from Cedar Fort, Inc., 'Wizard's Workshop'. Event hosted by Singing Librarian Books.

-- Friday, May 4th: Book Blast with $50 giveaway for a new clean romance, 'Scarlet'. Event hosted by I Am A Reader.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018


--  'Summer of '65'  --
by Author Brooke St. James 


Summer of '65 by Brooke St. James Ivy Lewis went home to Memphis in the summer of 1965 unaware of the adventure that awaited her. She was content to go through the motions of her predictable routines back home while safeguarding a few little secrets about her life in Nashville. In her mind, the two worlds weren't meant to intersect. Then Michael Bishop entered the picture. He had just moved to Memphis from Detroit in hopes of expanding his motorcycle company. He appeared to be nothing more than an outlaw and a menace to the community. Any type of relationship between them was sure to be met with resistance from Ivy's family and friends. But Michael Bishop was too great of a temptation for Ivy. The summer of 1965 would be one of first impressions, first dances, and forbidden love.


I glanced at Alice who gave me a wide-eyed smile. I heard the noise of shifting gravel, and I looked up to find that Michael was getting off of his motorcycle. "Ivy Lewis," he said, closing the distance between us. "Michael Bishop," I returned. "You came back to look for a hairpin," he said as more of a statement than a question. The other waiters came closer to help me look, which caused their shadows to block the light. "I think it was over here," Alice said, redirecting them. She had, thank goodness, caught on to the fact that I might want to say a couple of words to Michael and was helping me out. "I really liked that song," he said. He must have known I wasn't really there to look for a hairpin, because he didn't even bother looking down. "When can I hear you play again?"

“Just like her other books, you get everything a good book provides. It has a beautiful love story, nostalgia and a bit of mystery without repeating things over and over. Love it and will read it again I'm sure.” 
“I'm always anxious to see what Brooke writes and this book didn't disappoint. Michael and Ivy experienced typical 1965 prejudices and problems but the fun and flirty dialogue is still there. Motorcycles and the preacher's kid, misunderstood music and parental expectations... this story had it all. Can't wait for the next generation!”
 “What an amazing new book by an incredible author! The story was sincere and well-paced with adorable dialogue, poignant moments and surprises along the way. I can't get enough of these charming and realistic main characters and eagerly await the next book in this series."
Author Brooke St. James is an author of contemporary romance novels with Christian and inspirational themes and happy endings. She was born and raised in south Louisiana but has had the opportunity to travel and live throughout the U.S. An avid reader, writer, audio book addict, and fan of all things artistic, Brooke constantly has her hands in some creative activity. She's currently back home in Louisiana enjoying life with her husband, children, and two lazy dogs. 

Giveaway Details:  Ends 5/14/18 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or gift codes via Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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-- Friday, April 27th: Revell Reads Blog Tour. Book spotlight and review of award-winning author Irene Hannon's latest inspirational romance, 'Pelican Point'.

-- Wednesday, May 2nd: Book spotlight, snippet, artwork feature, and giveaway for a new children's activity book from Cedar Fort, Inc., 'Wizard's Workshop'. Event hosted by Singing Librarian Books.

-- Friday, May 4th: Book Blast with $50 giveaway for a new clean romance, 'Scarlet'. Event hosted by I Am A Reader.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018


~ Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday
Retro Fiction Feature ~

ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:
Trixie’s summer is going to be sooo boring with her two older brothers away at camp. But then a millionaire’s daughter moves into the next-door mansion, an old miser hides a fortune in his decrepit house, and a runaway kid starts hiding out in Sleepyside!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from Goodreads}:

Julie Campbell was born on the 1st of June 1908 in Flushing, New York and shares the same birthday as her character, Mart Belden. As the daughter of an Army Officer, she travelled widely during her childhood and, at the age of eight, won her first short story contest while living in Hawaii.
Campbell married Charles Tatham Jr. on the 30th March 1933 and they worked together on many magazine stories and articles. Campbell lived in a remodelled farmhouse in the Hudson River Valley with her husband and two sons when she began writing the Trixie Belden series.

She had her own literary agency in the 1940s when Western Publishing invited literary agents to find authors who could produce mystery and adventure books that would be marketed to children at an affordable price. Campbell proposed four series, two that would be written by herself and the others by two of her authors Hal Burton and John Henry Cutler.

Both series were published under her maiden name, Julie Campbell. The Ginny Gordon series consisted of five books published between 1948 and 1956, while her contribution to the Trixie Belden series consisted of six books between 1948 and 1958. At the same time, Campbell stepped in to take over the Cherry Ames and Vicki Barr series and wrote twelve books in total for these series over the same time period. It is believed that Campbell wrote Cherry Ames, Cruise Nurse in three weeks during the same period she was also writing the first Trixie Belden and Ginny Gordon books.

Campbell wrote the series under her married name of Julie Tatham. There are several similarities to the Trixie Belden series. Cherry Ames: Dude Ranch Nurse is set in Tucson, Arizona which is the setting of Campbell's last Trixie Belden Mystery. The last Cherry Ames book Campbell wrote in 1955, Cherry Ames: Country Doctor's Nurse, is set in Sleepyside-on-the-Hudson, the setting of the Trixie Belden mysteries. So is a wonderful book called To Nick from Jan, which has many similarities to Trixie Belden except the main character is almost 17 years old.

She is also credited for writing "Rin Tin Tin's Rinty" for Whitman in 1954, but in an article Campbell denied having written that book and wonders why Whitman credited her with the title.

The Trixie Belden series was set in "Sleepyside" but was based on the town Campbell was living in at the time in the Hudson River Valley near Ossining. Her home, "Wolf Hollow", was the model for Crabapple Farm and Campbell actually lived on Glendale Road.

After completing Trixie Belden and the Mystery in Arizona, Campbell decided to stop. Her experience as a literary agent assisted her in negotiating a royalty on the next six books of the series as she owned the characters, but it meant her giving up the originator rights to this series. Western Publishing decided to continue the books under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny. Campbell also relinquished the Cherry Ames and Vicki Barr series when Helen Wells decided to return to writing them. The Ginny Gordon series was not continued.

There is evidence that Campbell sought a writing position with the Stratemeyer Syndicate in 1957. Timothy P. O'Herin spent an afternoon going through the Stratemeyer archives and found correspondence between Campbell and Harriet Adams, the daughter of Edward Stratemeyer.

"The letters occurred around 1957 and they consisted of Ms. Tatham seeking a writing position with the syndicate. Mrs. Adams responded with glowing praise for her work, but questioning whether Julie would want to relocate for the job. Julie indicated she would be willing to commute. There were only a few letters in this brief correspondence..."

I read some of the Trixie Belden books when I was in elementary school and just loved them! An older cousin of mine gave me a well-worn copy of 'Trixie Belden and the Gatehouse Mystery' when I was probably around ten years old. I read and reread that book until the binding literally broke and the pages began to fall out.

Our local public library purchased the first three books in this series last year, so I wanted to give them a try as an adult reader. I wasn't disappointed.
This book was originally published in 1948 and was rereleased in this format in 2003. This installment is the first book in the series and introduces the setting, core characters, and Trixie's adventurous personality well. 

The adventures she and her new next-door neighbor, Honey, enjoy are fast-paced, fun, and a little dangerous at some points. Trixie is strong-willed and high-spirited to be certain, but I did not feel she was a poor role model for young readers. Instead, I felt as if her spunk and sense of fun would encourage youngsters to play outside and make their own fun as we used to say.

***NOTE:  Since this book was written seventy years ago, please be aware that some vocabulary usage and socially-accepted behavior and parenting techniques documented in the text are very different than those accepted and practiced in the twenty-first century.

The educator in me liked the way the author teaches first aid and fire safety and such life skill techniques throughout the plot. This is a fun adventure that leaves the reader wanting to read more of Trixie's and Honey's pursuits.
I borrowed this book from our local public library.

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-- Friday, April 27th: Revell Reads Blog Tour. Book spotlight and review of award-winning author Irene Hannon's latest inspirational romance, 'Pelican Point'
-- Wednesday, May 2nd: Book spotlight, snippet, artwork feature, and giveaway for a new children's activity book from Cedar Fort, Inc., 'Wizard's Workshop'. Event hosted by Singing Librarian Books.

-- Friday, May 4th: Book Blast with $50 giveaway for a new clean romance, 'Scarlet'. Event hosted by I Am A Reader.

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