Monday, July 30, 2012

Mastering Essential Math Skills, Book 2 and DVD

Math  can be a bear for so many reasons, for so many people. Because of this, it's really nice to be able to take some of the pressure off of Mom and hand some of the "Teaching" over. With Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 (20 Minutes a Day to Success) book and DVD, you can welcome Veteran 6th grade teacher Richard W. Fischer into your home to teach the fundamentals of math, preparing the way for Pre-Algebra and Algebra. Perfect to try out with my Middlest child who is 11 years old.

As a student who is actually pretty good at math when he is on, but frustrated by the fact that his attention will wander when the math just takes too long(which in turn means silly mistakes and missed problems), Math Essentials certainly offers a thing of beauty to my cant-wait-to-get-outside-and-do-something 11 year-old: The promise of only about 20 minutes/day spent on math, as long as he can get one page of math 80% correct (My determination, not the curriculum's).

The lessons really are short, so much so, that if one is used to assigning pages of math problems per day, one might be inclined to think that this program isn't enough. The lessons include:
  • two speed drills
  • review exercises (4 problems)
  • a helpful hints section
  • the new material with 2 sample problems to be worked with the teacher (Mom or Dad, NOT Mr. Fischer), and 10 problems to worked alone
  • a daily word problem
Not counting the simple, yet essential speed drills, that equals 14 problems for your student to face each day~ certainly not insurmountable!

"But what about the teaching?" you ask...  "Didn't you mention Mr. Fischer handling some of that ?"

Well, yes, I did! Mastering Essential Math Skills comes in 2 levels, 4th/5th grade(Book 1), and Middle/High School(Book 2). These books come with a complete tutorial DVD, where Mr. Fischer becomes your child's personal "Tutor," explaining each topic covered in the book (download the Table of Contents, if you like, as well as some sample pages).

The videos are nicely done, without a huge amount of repetition, and I have the feeling that watching/listening to Mr. Fischer is kind of like listening to my dad teach... just that sort of guy! :) He explains things in a no-nonsense sort of way, without any real bells and whistles (That we could see), but clearly, and fairly concisely, which is a big deal to my kids. Almost every lesson has an accompanying presentation on the DVD, so marking those lessons in the TOC with a little "V" is a helpful reminder to check out the video. ;)

Notes at the beginning of the book suggest how to implement the course, and there is an answer key in the back of the book to make correcting quick and easy.

The separate book on Problem Solving that we received does NOT include a DVD. It focuses on one specific fundamental (ie: Problem Solving~ other books are available that focus on Decimals/Fractions, Whole Numbers, etc...), and is a good "Go-to" to help hone those specific skills. I like to intersperse the pages from Problem Solving with the pages from Mastering Essential Math Skills, using the Problem Solving pages 2 x / week and Mastering Essential Math Skills the other 3 days.

Now, I have to be honest and say that I don't feel that our review period was quite long enough for me to have a real sense of progress, as we are mostly reviewing skills Middlest was taught this year at this juncture. However, I do feel that I can say that once he finishes Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 I will be fairly confident that I can reasonably start him in a Pre-Algebra or Algebra course sometime this year. Not bad progress for a young 7th grader! :)

The Not-So-Nutty-Nitty-Gritty
Company: Math Essentials
Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 ($33.95 for book and DVD, $15.95 book only)
Mastering Essential Math Skills: Problem Solving ($11.95)
Age: Middle School(remedial High School)

As always, I hope that this review is helpful to you as you choose where to best spend your homeschool budget. Be sure to click on the banner below to read more reviews on these books as well as other Mastering Essential Math Skills books and No-Nonsense Algebra, all put out by "America's Math Teacher" Richard W. Fischer.


Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew 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."

Monday, July 23, 2012

TimeMaps Collection for Mac Knowledge Quest

Terri Johnson of Knowledge Quest is a homeschooling veteran, who knows what it is to be looking for a particular resource while teaching her children, only to discover that no one has come up with it just yet. Now, many of us have come to love and respect Terri's knowledge and ingenuity in the history and geography fields as she has made available the resources that she created to fill those voids that she was finding on her own, and hearing about from fellow homeschool families and customers. 

TOS Review Crew members were sent 2 of Knowledge Quest's newest products, the TimeMaps Dynamic History Maps Collection (Download version for either PC or Mac), or the MapTrek 6 E-book set.

We were sent the TimeMaps Collection to use.
The collection itself is made up of 7 individual TimeMap units covering:
  • Ancient China
  • Rise of Rome
  • Fall of Rome
  • Rise of Islam
  • The Black Death
  • European Exploration
  • The Atlantic Slave Trade

Technicalities: Each map collection is presented via Flash, a free Adobe Software (Which means that this is not currently compatible with my iPad, just in case anyone is wondering...). Each collection includes the TimeMaps themselves, as well as coordinating Teacher notes.

The map is identified by the time period in the top right corner. Also included in that area is an information icon. When it has been clicked little information circles pop up on the map (You can see a whole line of these along the west coast of Africa).  Each one of these can be clicked to open up a text box with some encyclopedic information relevant to the area and time being portrayed on the map. There is also a "Quiz" ("Q") button which opens up a text box with questions that relate to all of the information presented on that map page. Once each of the information buttons has been clicked and the text box read and reviewed, the time period arrow can be clicked to move to the next map.

If you'd like to see this "in action" please play the video below. 

Because we have been studying Explorers and focusing on American history this year, I decided that we would use the European Exploration unit for the duration of our review period. Middlest would read through the information give for about 5 of the "buttons" each day that he did his history each week (Usually 2-3 days/week). After completing the reading for each map he would go through the questions accessed by clicking the "Q" quiz button/icon.

What I liked:
  • I really like the concept of being able to see the advancements (or decline) of movement on historical maps. The dynamic movement (In our case of exploring ships) makes it easy to follow what's happening historically. 
  • The information is interesting and, again, the visual of seeing where the history took place and how things moved was much more memorable in my opinion that reading a plain chart or pages history.
  • The Quiz questions are more open-ended than one often sees, and can really help your student to stop and THINK about what they are reading, and try to determine why things might have happened the way that they did.  While a clickable "Multiple choice" quiz might be more along the lines of what I was expecting, the actual quiz style is a much better measure of how well the material is being understood.
  • The included Teacher Notes which give extra background information on each map as well as maps to print out and use in the class. 
What I didn't like: 
  • I felt that the "Quiz" component was a little clunky. It would be nice to have all the questions included as printable sheets in the teacher notes. It seemed a little scattered to be scrolling through the little text box with the questions, and then potentially looking at the information text boxes to find the answers, all the while either having to answer orally or writing the answers down on paper. Having the questions on a printed sheet would eliminate a little bit of the back-and-forth motion going on.
  • The "Worksheets" are more like "Suggested Activity/Discussion" sheets than actual worksheets. I had imagined something more.... well workbooky, I guess, given the title. My dislike of the feature is simply that it was not what I expected. The activities themselves are good, and thought-provoking. If I can jump back a bit to the "Like" aspect here, I do like that the activities are printable through the Teacher Notes.
All in all, I feel that Time Maps is a "Cool tool" to use as a supplement to your history and/or geography lessons. The kinesthetic and visual child in particular will benefit from this particular sort of presentation.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty
Company: Knowledge Quest
Product: Time Map Set
Ages: Can be used by all, but probably most appropriate for Middle School and up, in my opinion.
Price: $9.95 for individual modules, 7 set collection for $44.95 downloads, or 7 set collection on CD-ROM for $49.95
Platform: Macintosh and Windows

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say about the Knowledge Quest Time Maps and the Map Trek e-book set. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.


Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review 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."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hewitt Homeschooling ~ Lightning Lit ~ Early 19th Century American

If there is one course that I have heard recommended by MANY present-day "pioneering" homeschoolers, but had never had opportunity to peruse in person, it would have to be Hewitt homeschooling's Lightning Lit & Comp courses. As a matter of fact, the "founder" of our local group had great success with her children who used Lightning Lit courses... with at least one professor at a prestigious Boston area University commenting on how well prepared one of her sons was for his University courses. With recommendations like that, when members of the TOS Review Crew were given the opportunity to choose one of Hewitt's courses, I jumped at the chance.

We were given 11 of the 12 high school Lighting Lit courses to choose from, as well as the 2 Jr. High courses~ a variety of K-6 and 3-4 courses were available for families with younger children, so make sure to click on the banner at the end of my review to get some more insight~ there should be a diversity of information in all those reviews!

Lightning Lit is split into time periods as well as themes, but most of the "Theme" options are for the upper high-school grades, so I was happy to choose American Literature:Early-Mid 19th Century as it meshed well with our history studies, and is recommended for grades 9-12.

Alright, so now on with the review!

We received the softcover Student Guide (Approx 168 pages) and the stapled three-hole punched Teacher Guide (Approx 40 pages). The Student Guide starts with a comprehensive 22 page "Introduction" that talks about the course in general:
  • Why To Read Literature
  • How to Read Literature
  • How to Read Poetry
  • Why Learn How to Write?(With a "Paper Writing 101" mini-guide)
  • Perspectives on The Fluidity of Language and Pronoun Confusion
  • How to Use the Guide and Get the Most out of this Class. 
Wow~ That is a lot of information, and we actually spent the first 2 "classes" just going through the introduction, because I felt the material was so valuable.

For the purposes of this review, my daughter completed Benjamin Franklin (The Autobiography), the first lesson in Unit One. The lesson started with an introduction to the person Benjamin Franklin and some questions to think about whilst reading the story. There were 11 sets of Comprehension questions, followed by a Literary Lesson on writing an Autobiography. The final section of the Lesson encompassed the Writing Exercises (There were 8 to choose from), which all related either to Benjamin Franklin and his autobiography, or writing something more autobiographical in content. My daughter chose to write about one of her favorite hobbies, Irish Step Dancing.

There are discussion questions that can be used to further depth and insight into the reading selection. I particularly enjoyed the question framed around this quote: "So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make it a reason for everything one has a mind to do. " Hmmmmm......

The other selections included in this course, their styles, and Literary Lessons are:
  • Washington Irving (essay, text in the Guide: "The Angler", Sources of Ideas)
  • William Cullen Bryant (selected poems, text in the Guide, Rhyme and Lines in Poetry)
  • Frederick Douglass (nonfiction: Narrative, Persuasive Writing)
  • Edgar Allan Poe (short story, text in the Guide: "The Tell-Tale Heart", Tone and Mood)
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne (novel: The Scarlet Letter, Conflict)
  • Herman Melville (novel: Moby-Dick, Character Development)
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (selected poems, text in the Guide, Meter in Poetry)

As you can see, the scope of style of writing and lessons is fairly comprehensive.

Hewitt recommends a semester for each lightning lit course. Adding in optional reading (including introductions to the books as well as multiple additional literature selections) comprises an "honors" course. It is also possible to use a one-year schedule without any of the optional reading for those who struggle with writing. Because our review time was during a very busy "Summer" month, we chose to do a mix of the 1 year schedule (completing the first lesson) and the Semester course (with some of the optional reading).

There are a number of project ideas in the student guide appendix that can further your student's enjoyment of their studies including suggestions for art, history/geography, science, religion/Bible, and others. Although she hasn't completed any yet, I expect my daughter will particularly enjoy choosing an art project for a future selection.

I liked the set-up of the entire program with the introductory reading, the comprehension and discussion questions, and the variety of writing assignments. I believe that the amount of "Choice" available for the composition portion is helpful for semi-reluctant writers.

I will add in a little note here~ Hewitt uses specific print versions of each book, and in the case of Benjamin Franklin, using that version would be the wisest course of action, as Franklin did not delineate chapters, so the comprehension questions are by page number. If reading a pdf version, this can get a little tricky (Guess what we chose to do???? :D). However, the other books are all organized by chapter, so if you've jumped on the Kindle/Nook/iPad bandwagon, those versions should work just fine.

The Not-So-Nutty Nitty Gritty~ 

Company: Hewitt homeschooling
Product: Lightning Lit, specifically American Literature:Early-Mid 19th Century
Age Recommendation:9th-12th grade (recommended 1 semester course)
  • $29.95 Student Guide
  • $2.95 Teacher Guide  (mainly for answers to comprehension questions and teaching and grading aids, with other information from the student manual included for convenience)
  • $46.56 Pack with Student Guide, Teacher Guide and the 4 books to be read by the student

As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where to most wisely spend your homeschool dollars.



Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review 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."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Promise For Miriam (FIRST Wild Card Tour)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Vannetta Chapman has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America. She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas Hill country. Her first two inspirational novels—A Simple Amish Christmas and Falling to Pieces—were Christian Book Distributors bestsellers.

Visit the author's website.


Amish schoolteacher Miriam King loves her students. At 26, she hasn’t yet met anyone who can convince her to give up the Plain school at Pebble Creek. Then newcomer Gabriel Yoder steps into her life, bringing his daughter, an air of mystery, and challenges Miriam has never faced before.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736946128
ISBN-13: 978-0736946124


Pebble Creek, southwestern Wisconsin
Three years later
Miriam King glanced over the schoolroom with satisfaction.
Lessons chalked on the board.
Pencils sharpened and in the cup.
Tablets, erasers, and chalk sat on each desk.
Even the woodstove was cooperating this morning. Thank the Lord for Efram Hochstetler, who stopped by early Mondays on his way to work and started the fire. If not for him, the inside of the windows would be covered with ice when she stepped in the room.
Now, where was Esther?
As if Miriam’s thoughts could produce the girl, the back door to the schoolhouse opened and Esther burst through, bringing with her a flurry of snowflakes and a gust of the cold December wind. Her blonde hair was tucked neatly into her kapp, and the winter morning had colored her cheeks a bright red.
Esther wore a light-gray dress with a dark apron covering it. At five and a half feet and weighing no more than a hundred and twenty pounds, Miriam often had the unsettling feeling of looking into a mirror—a mirror into the past—when she looked at the young woman who taught with her at the one-room schoolhouse.
In truth, the teachers had often been mistaken for family. They were similar in temperament as well as appearance. Other than their hair, Esther could have been Miriam’s younger sister. Esther’s was the color of ripe wheat, while Miriam’s was black as coal.
Why did that so often surprise both Plain people and Englischers? If Miriam’s black hair wasn’t completely covered by her kapp, she received the oddest stares.
“Am I late?” Esther’s shoes echoed against the wooden floor as she hurried toward the front of the room. Pulling off her coat, scarf, and gloves, she dropped them on her desk.
“No, but nearly.”
“I told Joseph we had no time to check on his cattle, but he insisted.”
“Worried about the gate again?”
Ya. I told him they wouldn’t work it loose, but he said—”
“Cows are stupid.” They uttered the words at the same time, both mimicking Joseph’s serious voice, and then broke into laughter. The laughter eased the tension from Esther’s near tardiness and set the morning back on an even keel.
“Joseph has all the makings of a fine husband and a gut provider,” Miriam said. “Once you’re married, you’ll be glad he’s so careful about the animals.”
Ya, but when we’re married I won’t be having to leave in time to make it to school.” Esther’s cheeks reddened a bit more as she seemed to realize how the words must sound.
Why did everyone think Miriam was embarrassed that she still remained unmarried? Did it never occur to them that it was her own choice to be single?
“Efram had the room nice and warm before I even arrived,” she said gently. “And I put out your tablets.”
Wunderbaar. I’ll write my lessons on the board, and we’ll be ready.” As Esther reached to pull chalk from her desk drawer, Miriam noticed that she froze and then stood up straighter. When she reached up and touched her kapp as if to make sure she was presentable, Miriam realized someone else was in the room.
She turned to see who had surprised the younger teacher. It was still a few minutes before classes were due to start, and few of their students arrived early.
Standing in the doorway to the schoolroom was an Amish man. Pebble Creek was a small community, technically a part of the village of Cashton. Old-timers and Plain folk alike still referred to the area where the creek went through by its historic name.
Miriam was quite sure she’d never seen the man standing in her classroom before. He was extremely tall, and she had the absurd notion he’d taken his hat off to fit through their entryway. Even standing beneath the door arch, waiting for them to speak, he seemed to barely fit. He was thin and sported a long beard, indicating he was married.
In addition to clutching his black hat, he wore a heavy winter coat, though not the type worn by most Wisconsin residents. The tops of his shoulders, his arms, and even parts of his beard were covered with snow. More important than how he looked standing in her classroom was the fact that he held the hand of a small girl.
Gudemariye,” Miriam said, stepping forward and moving past her desk.
The man still didn’t speak, but as she drew closer, he bent and said something to the girl.
When Miriam had halved the distance between them, he returned her greeting as his somber brown eyes assessed her.
The young girl next to him had dark-brown hair like her father. It had been combed neatly and pulled back into a braid, all tucked inside her kapp. What was striking about her wasn’t her hair or her traditional Plain clothing—it was her eyes. She had the most solemn, beautiful brown eyes Miriam had ever seen on a child.
They seemed to take in everything.
Miriam noticed she clutched her father’s hand tightly with one hand and held a lunch box with the other.
“I’m the teacher of the younger grades here, grades one through four. My name is Miriam King.” The girl’s eyes widened, and the father nodded again. “Esther Schrocks teaches grades five through eight.”
He looked to the girl to see if she understood, but neither replied.
“And your daughter is—”
“Grace is eight years old, just this summer.” Almost as an afterthought, he added, “I’m Gabriel Miller.”
“Pleased to meet you.” Miriam offered her best smile, which still did not seem to put the father at ease. She’d seen nervous parents before, and obviously this was one. “You must be new to our community.”
Ya. I purchased the place on Dawson Road.”
“Dawson Road? Do you mean the Kline farm?”
Ya.” Not quite rude, but curt and to the point.
Miriam tried to hide any concern she felt as images of Kline’s dilapidated spread popped into her mind. It was no business of hers where this family chose to live. “I know exactly where you mean. My parents live a few miles past that.”
“It’s a fair piece from here,” he noted.
“That it is. Esther and I live here at the schoolhouse during the week. The district built accommodations on the floor above, as is the custom in most of our schoolhouses here in Wisconsin. We both spend weekends at home with our families.”
“I don’t know I’ll be able to bring Grace in every day.” Gabriel Miller reached up and ran his finger under the collar of his shirt, which peeked through the gap at the top of his coat.
Miriam noticed then that it looked stiff and freshly laundered. Had he put on his Sunday best to bring his daughter to school on her first day? It said something about him if he had.
“A man has to put his farm first,” he added defensively.
“Some children live close enough that their parents can bring them in the winter, and, of course, most everyone walks when the weather permits.” Miriam paused to smile in greeting as a few students began arriving and walking around them. “Others ride together. Eli Stutzman lives past Dawson road, and he would be happy to give your dochder a ride to school.”
“It would be a help.” Mr. Miller still didn’t move, and Miriam waited, wondering what else the man needed to say.
She looked up and saw one of the older girls, Hannah, walking in the door. “Hannah, this is Grace Miller. She’s new at our school. Would you mind sitting with her and helping her this week?”
“Sure thing, Miriam.” Hannah squatted down to Grace’s level and said something to the girl Miriam couldn’t hear.
Whatever it was, Grace released her dat’s hand and took Hannah’s. She’d walked halfway down the aisle when she turned, rushed back to where they stood, and threw her arms around her father’s legs.
One squeeze and she was gone again.
Though it was fleeting, Miriam saw a look of anguish pass over the man’s face. What could be going through his mind? She’d seen many fathers leave their children for the first time over the last eight years, but something more was going on here.
“She’ll be fine, Mr. Miller. We’re a small school, and the children look after one another.”
“It’s that…” he twirled his hat in his hands once, twice, three times. “Before we moved here, Grace was…that is to say, we…well, her grossmammi homeschooled her.”
“I understand. How about if I write a note letting you know how Grace is doing? I’ll put it in her lunch box at the end of the day.”
Something like relief washed over his face.
Danki,” he mumbled. Then he rammed his hat on his head and hurried out the door.
Esther caught her attention from the front of the room and sent a questioning look toward the man’s retreating back, but Miriam shook her head. She’d explain later, at lunch perhaps. For now they had nearly forty children between them to teach. As usual, it would be a busy morning.

Gabe did stop to talk to Eli Stutzman. He wanted to make sure he trusted the man.
It helped when three girls and a boy who were the last to climb out of the long buggy stopped to wish their father a good day. The littlest girl, probably the same age as his Gracie, wrapped her arms around her daddy’s neck, whispered something in his ear, and then tumbled down the steps into the chilly morning.
“That one is my youngest—Sadie. Always full of energy, but she’s a worrier. This morning it’s about a pup she left at home in the barn.” Covering the distance between them, the older man removed his glove and offered his right hand. “Name’s Eli Stutzman. I take it you’re new here, which must mean you bought the Kline place.”
“I am, and I did. Gabriel Miller.” Gabe stood still in the cold, wishing he could be done with this and back on his farm.
“Have children in the school?”
“One, a girl—about your youngest one’s age.”
Eli nodded, and then he seemed to choose his words carefully. “I suspect you’ll be busy putting your place in order. It will be no problem giving your dochder a ride back and forth each day.”
“I would appreciate it.”
Stutzman told him the approximate time he passed the Kline place, and Gabe promised he’d have Gracie ready at the end of the lane.
He turned to go and was headed to his own buggy when the man called out to him.
“The Kline place has been empty quite a while.”
Gabe didn’t answer. Instead, he glanced out at the surrounding fields, covered in snow and desolate looking on this Monday morning.
“If you need help, or find something that’s worse than what you expected, you holler. We help each other in Pebble Creek.”
Gabe ran his hand along the back of his neck but didn’t answer. Merely nodding, he moved on to his buggy.
He was accustomed to people offering help. Actually delivering on it? That was often another story, though he wouldn’t be judging the people here before he knew them.
Still, it was in his nature to do things on his own if at all possible.
Was his new home worse than he had expected?
Ya, it was much worse.
The barn was falling in on itself, and the house was not a lot better, but he knew carpentry. He could make them right. At least the woodstove worked. He’d been somewhat surprised to find no gas refrigerator, but he had found out who sold blocks of ice carved from the river. The icebox in the mudroom would do.
Gracie would be warm and fed. She’d have a safe place to sleep and to do the drawing she loved so much.
He didn’t think he’d be calling on Eli for help.
He’d see that Grace Ann made it to school and church—he’d promised her grossmammis as much. But other than that he wasn’t looking to make freinden in Pebble Creek. He wanted to be left alone. It was the reason he’d left their community in Indiana.
He could do without any help.
His parting words to his parents echoed back to him.
“I can do it on my own.”
As he drove the buggy toward home, Gabe looked out over high ridges and low valleys. Dairy farms dotted the snowcapped view. Running through it all was Pebble Creek, no doubt a prime place for trout fishing most of the year. He’d heard the call of wild turkeys and seen deer. It was a rich, blessed area.
Pebble Creek ran through the heart of Cashton, the closest town. It also touched the border of the school grounds and meandered through his own property. It bound them together.
As he approached home, Gabe’s mind was filled with thoughts of the day’s work ahead of him. He wondered where he’d find the energy to do it all, but somehow he would.
For Gracie he would.
His parents had offered to send his youngest brother along for the first year, but Andrew was needed on the family place. And, truthfully, Gabe preferred to be alone—just he and Grace.
“I can do it on my own.”
“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” his mother said. She had reminded him as he was packing their things that pride was his worst shortcoming, though the Lord knew he had many to choose from when it came to faults.
Was it pride that scraped against his heart each day? He couldn’t say.
He only knew he preferred solitude to company, especially since Hope died.
That seemed ironic, even to him. She had been his hope, his life, his all, and now she was gone. Her death had happened so quickly—it reminded him of one of the Englisch freight trains barreling around the corner of some bend.
A big black iron thing he hadn’t seen coming. A monstrosity with the power to destroy his life.
Which wasn’t what the bishop had said, or his parents, or his brothers and sisters.
He slapped the reins and allowed his new horse, Chance, to move a bit faster over the snow-covered road. He’d left Indiana because he needed to be free of the looks of sympathy, the well-intentioned words, the interfering.
So he now had what he’d wished for—a new beginning with Grace.
If it meant days of backbreaking work, so much the better. Perhaps when he was exhausted, he would begin to sleep at night.

Not so Nutty Nitty Gritty~
How wonderful to read a well written piece of Amish fiction! There were so many facets to this story beyond the "unmarried Amish girl/widowed Amish man" theme. Vannetta Chapman provides a gripping story that encompasses community, teaching, mental/emotional challenges, as well as a unique interplay with the Englisch world. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and even those who aren't particular fans of Amish-focused literature will likely appreciate this narrative.


Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the FIRST Wild Card Tour. 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."



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