Friday, December 28, 2018

Snowflakes Keep Falling on my Head...Let's Write About January with Free Writing Prompts

Winter scene logo

Is this the year you will start writing regularly? Perhaps in your homeschooling children need something new to fuel their imagination in writing or you wish to pick up the pen (or keyboard) and get back to creative writing yourself. Sometimes all one needs is a good prompt to get one started on their writing journey. Images can spur the imagination or a great question or prompt might start a novel. Why not try these free writing prompts this January? 

Photo Prompts 

Lantern hanging in tree photo prompt

Home in winter photo prompt

Soup photo prompt

Writing Prompts 

January Writing Prompts

Download Here

Missed our other writing prompts? 

December writing prompts

November Writing Prompts

October Writing Prompt

Friday, December 7, 2018

Book Club: Book Review of A Cobbler's Tale: A Novel

cover of A Cobbler's Tale: A Novel book

Disclaimer: I received access to the e-book for free on NetGalley in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

A Cobbler’s Tale: A Novel by Neil Perry Gordon is an intriguing look into the lives of three individuals – Pincus, Jakob, and Clara – as they navigate New York City and Poland in the early 1900s. The story introduces the reader to life in a Jewish village in Krzywcza and New York City. I really found the tale to be an interesting one as I learned more about each individual and their lives and families.

Cover of A Cobbler's Tale: A Novel and a photo of New York City

The story starts in July 1910 aboard the SS Amerika where we meet Pincus Potasznik who is seasick and his new friend, Jakob Adler. Both are Jewish and escaping persecution and trying to make a new life in America. A Cobbler’s Tale provides many details about the life of Pincus in the United States and that of his wife, Clara, in Poland. One of the groups to which we are introduced – in addition to the gangs of New York – is that of the Landsman Society of Krzywcza, which helps the newly immigrated from Pincus’ village find a job, a place to live, and provide religious assistance as well.

One of the features I liked about A Cobbler’s Tale was that everything seemed to hold a significance. Things that might only seem to have a passing importance to the story – like the meeting of the palmist Dora Meltzer – are actually more important to the plotline than they first appear. This assisted to create a tale that was woven together from the first page to the last page of the book. I most definitely wanted to see what was going to happen in each successive chapter of the book.

Clara was a strong character of A Cobbler’s Tale. She was key for keeping her family together while Pincus emigrated to America. There were many things that Clara needed to accomplish without her husband. From the birth of their last child, Anna, to keeping the cobbler’s shop running in Krzywcza with the help of Shmuel, while raising the children, Clara was kept very busy. She also handled difficulties with grace and strength.

My recommendation requires you to read a few potential spoilers. A Cobbler’s Tale: A Novel by Neil Perry Gordon is not the typical work of Christian fiction I usually review for my blog. So while I may have enjoyed it – as I really enjoy works of historical fiction and non-fiction – there may be some parts that some might find disturbing.

Warning and Potential Spoilers

There are a great number of raw details included in the story that are not normally found in books that I review for my blog. For example, there is persecution, gang warfare and violence, murder, rape, and details about war in general. Personally, the way in which Clara must ‘handle’ the police chief in Krzywcza was upsetting to me as well as that of the problems that Moshe (the son of Pincus and Clara) got into with the palmist towards the end of the book.

Even with the raw details of the story of the three characters, I do not feel disappointed in having read A Cobbler’s Tale: A Novel. I loved the little details included about life during the 1900s and felt the individuals came to life. I enjoyed the book.

Looking for more books to read? 
Why not check out these other book reviews? 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Spending Time with the Bible: A Review of Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women from Zondervan

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Over the past several years, I have been introduced to the idea of devotionals – I have read and reviewed more than a handful during this year alone. When given the opportunity to review the new devotional from Zondervan, I was excited because Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women looked like a truly lovely book. And it is! Such a beautifully designed and well-produced book from a company that I have come to trust.

How do we know as young or old women who we are supposed to be? How can we guide our daughters to be the best women they can be? As Lindsay A. Franklin states in Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women: "we're bombarded by lots of different messages" (Introduction). In this new devotion I am reviewing, young women can find out what the Bible has to stay about women and look for encouragement, wisdom, and inspiration. 

If you are unfamiliar with Zondervan, you can read more about this great publishing house that has been providing quality Christian content since 1931. Our family has several of their books in our home so I knew that adding Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women to our shelves would be a great thing. 

From the story of Eve in Genesis to the mother and grandmother of Timothy, we read about so many different women (and a few men) from whom we can learn and gather inspiration for our daily lives. And of course, there are several days examining the definition of an ideal woman as provided in Proverbs 31. 

There are many topics discussed in Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women such as:
  • Relationships (by examining the lives of Hagar, Sarai, and Abram we see how we are all entwined with others' lives) 
  • Favoritism 
  • Repeating mistakes of our parents
  • Blessings in today's world
  • Taking care in our speech and words 
  • Victim-blaming 
  • Physical attraction 
  • Female leadership
  • Pride 
  • Standing up for one's self 
  • Expectations of God 
  • Compassion
  • Hospitality 

There are also a great number of women who are discussed in Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women including the following: 
  • Sarah
  • Rachael 
  • Potiphar's wife 
  • Dinah
  • Miriam 
  • Rahab
  • Hannah and Peninnah 
  • Tamar 
  • Widow of Zarephath 
  • The Shunamite woman 
  • Esther 
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus 
  • Salome
  • Martha and Mary 
  • Lydia
  • Eunice and Lois 
  • Others throughout the Old and New Testaments 
The days and the devotions are interconnected so I would not recommend just picking it up and starting on whatever day or page you wish. It is important to read from day one through to the end, as the book is chronological. 

Through the devotions, young women can learn that – even though they are not in the spotlight at all times – they are just as important by reading about Miriam. Readers are also reminded that God cares about us – "our spiritual, physical, and emotional needs" (115) and God will help us overcome stronger problems. Through the examination of women in the New Testament, we are clearly reminded that Jesus showed compassion and we can as well. We can show compassion to those with chronic illnesses, loved ones who are hurting emotionally, those who take care of ill loved ones, and others. 

What I Like 

There are so many aspects to Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women that I enjoyed – from the fact that is a hardcover book to the inclusion of women who are not always discussed in the Bible – it is a great book for women (and men) of all ages. 

  • I like that it does not start with a date (i.e. January 1) so one could pick it up at any time of the year and read through the devotions 
  • Conversational in tone – I felt like the author was speaking directly to me 
  • Each page has four lines for reflections or notes 
  • Ribbon bookmark to keep one's place 
  • Chronological in its examination of the Bible 
  • Inclusion of women from the entire Bible – and not just the famous women 

Notes to Readers 

I do want to share a few topics that you may want to consider before you give this as a gift or purchase it for your own daughter. When discussing the story of Dinah, Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women examines the idea of victim-blaming and whether the relations with Shechem were consensual or rape. Some may find this problematic or difficult to read or consider. There is also discussion of Tamar, consent, and abuse. Personally, I did not feel any of it was discussed in an inappropriate manner but there were several pages devoted to suffering and healing from sexual trauma. 

We are presented with more than 50 ways young women can walk in the footsteps of the ladies (and men) of the Bible in Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women from Zondervan. While I may not have read the devotion cover to cover, I did skim through each entry and found myself reading many of them as I was writing this review. Beloved has a way of drawing the reader in and wanting to learn more so I highly recommend it as a gift for young women. 

To learn more please visit: 

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew were also blessed with reviewing Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women from Zondervan – I recommend you check out their opinions of this wonderful new book as well! 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Dice, Decks, and Boards: Cauldron Quest

This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

We love cooperative games for kids. Therefore, the games we have from Peaceable Kingdom have not disappointed us. They "believe that children (and adults!) thrive when they work and play together in respectful ways. Cooperation encourages bonding, teamwork, shared decision making, trust, and emotional health."

Cauldron Quest is a game for two to four players aged 6+ that takes about 20 minutes to play. The object of the game is to get the three correct ingredients into the cauldron before all six paths on the board game are blocked. The story of the game is that there is an evil wizard who has cast a spell that will destroy the kingdom. The players have the power to break the spell – but only if we work together! We must find the three correct ingredients and move them down the paths to the cauldron.

"Work your Magic! Break the Spell!" 

Game Pieces include:
  • 6 plastic potion bottles with ingredient stickers 
  • 6 cardboard cauldron ingredient disks
  • 6 cardboard path blocker disks
  • 1 cardboard wizard hat & plastic stand 
  • 1 cardboard spell breaker token
  • 3 action dice
  • 3 "magic dice" (normal D6) 
  • 1 circular game board
  • 1 set of instructions 
The set up and instructions for play are clearly written with appropriate illustrations to further explain the game. On our first play through, I read the instructions prior to playing and referred to them during game play. 

Our entire family – 3-year-old, 5-year-old, teen, and parents – played the game. Except for our daughter wanting to use her own pink dice, we all were able to play the game successfully. We even won!

I would recommend Cauldron Quest to families of young children, day-care centers, preschools, and others. It is fun and will have a good replay value as things change each game play with different ingredients needed and the rolling of dice.


Looking for more posts about games and gaming? Please check out the following: