{Tyndale House Publishers Book Review} The Sea Keeper’s Daughters by Lisa Wingate

HD The Sea Keeper's Daughters

The Story

Whitney Monroe has run into a snafu. Her new restaurant is under attack in Michigan and her aging and estranged stepfather has taken a tumble in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. She must decide which is more pressing.

The Excelsior, the old hotel in The Outer Banks, is buried in a deep historic past, one that Whitney thought she knew. But during her stay her unearths numerous items from years gone by. The most fascinting find is the old letters from Alice to Ziltha Benoit, Whitney’s grandmother. Among her grandmother’s other items she finds a small beautiful necklace and wonders if this might be her ticket out of debt.

As she ponders the price she could fetch for the old artifacts she is intrigued with the brewing romance she reads in the old letters. Could this be the key to saving everything she knows or will it open new doors she didn’t even know exisited?

Budding romance is in the air as Whitney debates weather her life should be in Michigan or begin anew in The Outer Banks.

Journey into the past as Whitney reads about the life of her great Aunt Alice and all of the important work she was doing during the Great Depression.

Will Whitney’s past have any effect on her future? Will she be able to overcome the hurt and rejection she has always felt to pursue a new life and love?

What I Thought

This is the first story I have read from Lisa Wingate and it will not be the last. It was a gripping story from start to finish. I loved the characters and fell completely head-over-heels for Mark, the owner of the Rip Shack. Whitney could not have been written any better, in my opinion. She was as true to life as I have read lately.

The conversations felt real, the inner thoughts and dialogues were well done, and the deep emotions of the characters were pretty spot on.

I really enjoyed the reading of Alice’s adventures via her letters to Ziltha. It was incredible work that she was doing and I was so amazed at her ambition, determination, and dedication to the cause.

Without question, this book was an emotional roller coaster and brought me to tears more than once. The author has a way with words and conveying emotion through her writing. Incredibly well done. I will be on the lookout for more books by this author in the future.

I hope you enjoy this book if you get a chance to read it, it will be well worth your time. It was a wonderful twist of historic information and intrigue mixed with the trials of life today. A fantastic read for any lover of historic fiction.


Website: Lisa Wingate’s Website
Facebook: Lisa Wingate’s Author Facebook
Twitter: Follow Lisa Wingate on Twitter
Pinterest: Lisa Wingate’s Pinterest

Thanks for reading the latest book review, visit again soon to see what other books are on my shelf.

In His Grace.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale House Publishers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”





Homeschooling on the Hard Days {Encouragement from a Mama that Understands}

Mamas Coffee Shop - Homeschooling on the Hard Days {Encouragement from a mama that understands}

It happens. Usually when you least expect it.

The day it all falls apart.

Homeschooling has hard days. Some times multiple hard days. Some times it can turn into weeks… I know, I’ve been there many times.

There is a method to the madness of homeschooling on the hard days though.

It can be done. But there a few tricks to making it happen.

First, you just have to understand that there will be hard days. Examples what a hard day looks like around my house:

  • Grumpy kids
  • Grumpy mama
  • Sickness
  • Stress
  • Marriage issues
  • Family visiting
  • Curriculum isn’t working
  • Bordem
  • Animal issues

This is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

There are countless reasons why there are hard days when it comes to homeschooling.

Since your house and life are different you will experience different hard days, but they will be hard days no less.

Second, when things start to spiral out of control, you must take a step back to examine what the potential issue could be.

If any thing (including your emotions) are off, you might want to call recess for a short time. Let yourself breath, let the kids breath, pray, then regroup.

Try again.

If meltdowns ensue (this again includes you mama), it might just be better to let the school day end right there.

One lost day will not ruin all of the good days. I promise.

Once you have reached the point of quitting for the day but you would still like to feel like some thing was accomplished, turn the rest of the day into a park or field trip day. The kids will be thrilled and you can count it as school on the road.

I read this quote a while back, “One bad day does not make bad mamas.” I firmly believe that this can be applied to homeschooling too.

The onslaught of other people’s opinions make homeschooling rather tedious and hard. Maybe you have noticed…I sure have.

Because of this, I find it the best policy to eliminate the potential for interrupts during school time. It doesn’t always work, as emergencies do arise, but it helps.

  • Turn the house phone off or mute it.
  • Silence your cell phone, or for that matter, leave it in the other room on silent.
  • Stay off of the computer…Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest are time killers and huge distractions, for you and the kids.
  • Require electronics to be put away until school work is completed, unless they are required for school.

Lastly, if it gets to the point where you think that the kids would be better off at the public school down the road, just STOP. For the day. Walk away. Do not even let those thoughts continue.

It is perfectly normal to have hard days.

It is perfectly normal to feel like a complete and utter failure as a homeschooler.

It is perfectly normal to lock yourself in the bathroom and cry your eyes out.

It is perfectly normal to doubt your abilities.

It is perfectly normal to ask if this is ever going to get better.

You are perfectly normal mama.

So, now that you are at this point, go clear your head, apologize for losing it and screaming your head off, make some popcorn, turn on a good movie, and snuggle on the couch with your little (or big) people.

Mamas Coffee Shop - One Bad Homeschool Day

Because one bad homeschool day is not worth the heartache that it can sometimes cause.

Because one bad homeschool day does not define you.

Because one bad homeschool day does not mean you cannot teach.

Because one bad homeschool day does not mean your kids are not learning.

Because we serve a much stronger, higher, mightier, grace-giving, merciful God.

A God that sees our hearts as we wade through days that we wish we could erase. He wants us to do our best, even on the hard days.

Because in our weakness He is made Strong.

In our inabilities His Grace shines through.

In our lack He is Sufficient.

In our darkness He creates Light.

This is How I manage on the really hard, dark, weary days that creep up in our homeschool. They are inevitable, but they are manageable and when I am overwhelmed, I run to the Rock that is Higher than I (Psalm 61:2).

Stay Strong Mama.

*** Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

*** I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

*** For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And his truth endures to all generations. Psalm 100:5

*** And thou shall teach them diligently unto thy children, and shall talk of them when thou sittest in the house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou lies down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 6:7

In His Grace.




{FlyBy Promotions Review & Giveaway} The Bridge Builder The Life and Continuing Legacy of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein by Zev Chafets

The Bridge Builder

The Story

This is a story of a real life hero. There are not to many in today’s world that could even hold a candle to that term. But Rabbi Eckstein has made it his mission in life to create a bridge between the Christian and Jewish culture. One that would bring each into the other’s lives by the deep roots that are shared.

In an incredible tale of hardships, trails, and rejections we witness the amazing determination of one man. Rabbi Eckstein is a man of strength in the face of defeat, a warrior in a cultural battle. He wades through the misinformation and rallies back victorious as he lends a helping hand to the Jewish people in need. For his entire career he has helped the Christians understand the life of the Jewish people, and then provided the Christians with the means to administer help, by way of financial support.

He was told that he was un-Orthodox, that he was trying to convert Jews to Christianity. In fact, Rabbi Eckstein just wanted the world of Jews and Christians to be on the same page. To garner a better understanding about each other.

Journey through his life and legacy as you read about all of the fascinating people he has dealt with, worked with, and helped. This is a story that shows you a different side of life, one that you just might want to join in.

This book was an inspiring read. I am amazed at the depths that Rabbi Eckstein has gone to bridge the gap between Christians and Jews. He has done untouchable amounts of assistance, financial and otherwise, for the Jewish people in his lifetime. I am so glad I took the chance to read this book, it is a book that anyone that claims to be a Zionist should take time to read.


UnknownAbout Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein:

Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and Goodwill Ambassador for the State of Israel, Rabbi Eckstein has devoted more than 35 years to building bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews and broad support for the State of Israel.

He is recognized as the world’s leading Jewish authority on evangelical Christians. Rabbi Eckstein received Orthodox Rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University in New York. He holds master’s degrees from Yeshiva University and Columbia University, where he also completed studies for his doctorate. Rabbi Eckstein has served on the faculties of Columbia University, Chicago Theological Seminary, and Northern Baptist Seminary.

He currently serves on the executive committee of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.




About the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews:

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews was founded in 1983 by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to promote understanding between Jews and Christians and build broad support for Israel and other shared concerns. Their ministry’s vision is that Jews and Christians will reverse their 2,000-year history of discord and replace it with a relationship marked by dialogue, respect, and cooperation.

Among the many things they do as an organization, they also create materials for teaching about the significance of connecting Israel and Christianity through such resources as A Woman of Valor: Celebrating The Proverbs 31 Women In Our Lives, A Man Of Faith: Reflections On Godly Leadership From The Ancient Shepherds Of Israel (both devotionals by Rabbi Eckstein), and Seven Fruits of Israel: Recipes And Devotions From The Holy Land (by Yael Eckstein).


About the author:

Zev Chafets is the bestselling author of fourteen books of fiction, media criticism, and social and political commentary. He has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine and is a former columnist for the New York Daily News.



Official Websites:

Twitter: @TheFellowship


YouTube Channel:

Website to Purchase: Amazon – The Bridge Builder


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{Curriculum Product Review} Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide from Writing with Sharon Watson


As the high school years drew closer, I know that I would need to include a literature class. I honestly was all in knots trying to figure out which one would be the best one for Isaiah. Well, God made it much easier for me when he made the opportunity arise for us to review Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide from Writing with Sharon Watson.

For so long I thought I would just require that Isaiah read some classic books and call it good. But then I was reminded that Lit Class was more than just reading, it was actually understanding the meaning behind the books. Thank goodness for Sharon Watson, she makes Lit Class much more enjoyable!

The Goods

Cover-Teachers-Guide-Illuminating-Literature_zpsie4qrftcThe Teacher’s Guide is a thorough and well laid out guide for any teacher. It is a glossy covered paperback book, with a beautiful eye catching image on the front cover. It has the lesson plans for each book, it is suggested that each book take about 4 weeks to complete. There is a full list of tasks to finish with each week. This is only the layout for the first book…each book may vary in how the weeks are done.

  • For instance, the beginning of the class there are four lessons to be completed, this would be Week 1.
  • Then you begin reading the first book in the class, Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain, the first set of chapters suggested, this would be Week 2.
  • The continuing chapters of the book need to be read for Week 3.
  • At last, there is an activity that will need to be done for the follow up of the book, finishing lessons listed, hand in your activity, and this would be Week 4.

The activities listed for each book are listed after the end of lessons, if the book being read has activities. Some books listed for this class do not have activities.

The lessons include discussion of the books, vocabulary words learned in the book, conflict, literary terms, and so much more.


Cover-Student-Illuminating-Literature_zpspdj6ffijThe Student Book is an incredible detailed book for the student in this Literature Class. It is also a glossy covered paperback book with the same image as the Teacher’s Guide. From what we have done so far in the course, I have determined that this could very much be a self led course for a motivated student.

This class is so much more than just reading a book. With this Student Book the student is brought along with a slow tether while in the midst of reading the suggested book. It asks pointed questions about the language being used in the stories, it talks about the genre of the stories, it also points out fun facts about the authors. Including sometimes a link to a fun video for the student to watch.


Illuminating-Literature-Novel-Notebook-cover1_zpse8wsjy1pThe Novel Notebook  is a wonderfully handy tool for this class! This is a PDF that is offered for print at home. This Novel Notebook is not required but it is useful for the class. It has a fun and youthful slant in the fonts that are used as well as it is bright and colorful.

It is designed to be used while the student is reading the story. It has space for favorite passages, questions about certain characters, and the best part (for Isaiah) is the “What I liked about the book” and the “Not so crazy about this” sections. It makes reading the stories much more “his” and as a teen, it is always nice to be asked your opinion.


Cover-Quiz-and-Answer-Manual-Illuminating-Literature-hi-rez_zpsgtygpjjjThe Quiz and Answer Manual has three specific sections

  • The “Yes, I read it” Quiz
  • The Literary Terms Quiz
  • Opinion Survey

The quizzes are not perforated for removal and the answers are listed in the very back of the book. The quizzes ask detailed questions and require knowledge of the book. These quizzes are also able to be taken online with all results emailed to the teacher of the class.

We were also blessed to receive Puddn’head Wilson by Mark Twain as well as War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells as part of our review.

Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide is written for Christian high schools, homeschools and co-ops. This is a literature course that is 70 lessons, so once completed, it can be counted as one full credit for Language Arts/English. There will be a total of 44 literary terms taught over the course of the 2 semesters. The seven novels and one memoir covered in this class (literature books sold separately), includes:

  • Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
  • The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
  • The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
  • Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie
  • Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis 

How This Worked for Us

This is a course that I knew Isaiah would enjoy. And I was correct. He loves to read and having something new to read has been a challenge as well as an adventure. He “loves the way that Sharon teaches the class” and he is “looking forward to reading books that he has only heard about.” He is especially looking forward to reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

As I have read through the Teacher’s Guide, Isaiah has been following along in his Student Book. I give a gentle nudge on Monday to get him going for the week. After we have a sit down to discuss what is on the weekly plan, he is required to do the work listed in his student book and complete the required reading. We have a follow up session at the end of the week for me to make sure he is staying on course. And if the lesson calls for discussion, we have a mini gab fest.

We are just now finishing up Puddn’head Wilson this week, and he is already looking forward to getting into War of the Worlds.

I have found that the way the Sharon brings the class together is a rather pleasing take on literature. Isaiah and I both like that she makes literature less of a chore and more of a relaxed, fun class. It has been an enjoyable class and we look forward to reading the other books listed for this class. Some, I have never read either, so it will be fun to get into them together and that way we both garner the true meaning of the stories.

I remember taking Literature Class in high school and it was never as fun as this course. I am excited that my teenager has the opportunity to see literature as fun instead of a “must-do” class.

See what my fellow Review Crew had to say about Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide:


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I hope you enjoyed the latest review that we have done and that you visit again soon!

In His Grace.








{Curriculum Review} Horizons 1st Grade Math Set from Alpha Omega Publications

Mamas Coffee Shop - AOP Horizons 1st Grade Math

Math. You must learn to add, subtract, divide, and multiply. At some point anyway. So what better way to get a good foundation than to start with a company that has been helping mamas (and schools) teach math. Joseph and I have been reviewing Horizons 1st Grade Math Set from Alpha Omega Publications the past few weeks and it is good!

I have used other math programs through the years with Isaiah and Ana, but so far, this one is exactly what Joseph needed.

The Product

The Teacher’s Guide is by far one of the easiest ones I have ever used. This teacher’s guide is a whopping 578 pages! A big, beautiful glossy paperback book. Here are just a few of the laid out plans and tips for using it for school:

  • Student readiness evaluations – this was incredibly helpful when trying to see if this book was going to be too much for Joseph or just the right fit.
  • Lessons Plans – these daily lesson plans guide you through and discusses what should be learned upon the lessons end.
    • Concepts
    • Objectives
    • Teaching Tips
    • Materials, Supplies, & Equipment
    • Activities
  • Detailed manipulatives list – this list shows which manipulatives will be used in each lesson. It makes it easier to have the need items on hand instead of trying to scrounge them up at the last minute for a lesson.MC-AOP-MathSet
  • Where to Use the Worksheets – this list shows what lessons you will use the extra worksheets in the back of the book.
  • Scope and Sequence – this list is the concepts and ideas that will be taught during the year.
  • Detailed items list – this list is wonderful so that you can have crayons, colored pencils, etc,…on hand for the day as well.
  • Answer Key – every work page has the answers in the back of this teacher’s guide
  • Extra Worksheets – lots of extra sheets in the back for helping to solidify the lesson of the day, they are reproducible for multiple uses.

With the added information given in the Teacher’s Guide it makes this Horizons math so much easier to teach. The lessons are laid out in an easy to understand fashion, a plus for me. I rationalize that if I am having a hard time understanding the lesson, how in the world can I teach it well? I appreciate that in this curriculum.

The answer key is a nice change for math. Other programs I have used do not offer the answers, I like that this one does. The Extra Worksheets in the back are able to be copied easily, as they do not tear out.

Student Book 1 and Student Book 2 are quite lovely! Each book has 80 lessons in it. (For 160 lessons in all.) These lessons are one page in length, closer to the end of the book they are heading into two pages. They are bright and colorful, a real eye pleasing look. It helps engage the student and lends a hand in the lesson retention.

The spacing is larger than that of other programs we have used. I like that aspect of the lesson pages. It absolutely makes it much easier for a little one that is still in the beginnings of writing to feel comfortable. The spaces are large enough for the ease of writing without marking all over the other problems on the page. A+ for thinking through on that area when laying out the pages!

The book is a glossy paperback that has perforated pages for easy tear out.

A brief overview of the concepts that are being taught in the 1st Grade Horizons Math:

  • place value
  • greater than and less than
  • addition 1-9
  • word numbers 1-10
  • calendar
  • equal to and not equal to
  • word problems
  • time, hour
  • addition 10-18
  • money, penny
  • time, half hour
  • inches
  • money, nickels
  • money, quarters
  • fractions 1/2
  • word numbers 11-20
  • addition, 2 digit
  • time, quarter hour
  • fractions 1/4
  • subtraction
  • word numbers 20-100
  • place value (hundreds)
  • shapes

A well rounded math program for any first grader.




How We Used This Product 

As of right now, we have been doing one lesson every other day. Joseph is doing well and some of the concepts are just difficult enough to be challenging.

I am pleased to say that he is able to do a math lesson and the extra worksheet(s) within a 20-30 minute block. I am sure that some of that time is due to his persistence in fussing with me about something though. He has had no issues understanding the concepts that are being taught and he appears to actually enjoys math! YAY!

The gradual increase of work has yet to threaten his interest level. So, I am looking forward to the lessons farther down the line to see how he reacts to the added work.

Some of the worksheets are more game oriented so he doesn’t even realize that he is still doing math, so as a mama, that is a fun feature. He has completed pages that have connect the dots, coloring the ordinal number, and counting money. The added activities in the lessons make math fun, instead of the ole boring counting. Joseph and I are well pleased.

I am looking forward to using this for the rest of the school year, and the potential exists that if he does well, I will add it for next year too.

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I hope you enjoyed the latest review and visit again soon to see what the kids and I have been up to.

In His Grace.