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CanadianMother (Ontario)
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Karen Andreola's Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning: A Story for Motherculture
Karen Andreola's Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning: A Story for Motherculture
by Karen Andreola
Edition: Paperback
11 used & new from CDN$ 32.03

5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle and sweet book for mothers to enjoy., Jan. 18 2009
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Because of the unusual format of this book, and because of the mixed reviews here, I was unsure if I would like this book--but I purchased it anyway, because I very much enjoyed Karen Andreola's Charlotte Mason Companion. Fortunately, I was not disappointed, and indeed I was pleasantly surprised.

Let me say first of all that this book is an EXCELLENT resource for homeschooling mothers who want to incorporate nature study into their children's lessons, but aren't quite sure how to go about it. Within each chapter of this "journal," Carol describes in detail what she and her children do for nature study, the drawings the children make for their journal, etc, so clueless people (like me!) can really get a concrete idea of what nature study looks like.

It's also a useful resource in that Carol uses Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study extensively, and she writes in her journal about how she uses it and about what information she found there. I have heard many homeschooling moms say that they like the Handbook of Nature Study but that they aren't sure how to use it.

At the end of the book is a wonderful list of "living books" with a nature theme that Karen recommends.

I feel confident after reading this book that I can successfully bring nature study into our homeschool.

Now, as for the story--yes, as one reviewer put it, it IS unrealistic. Carol's husband seems "practically perfect in every way," just like Mary Poppins, and in fact everyone that Carol knows seems to be strangely delightful. I don't think there is one unpleasant person or incident mentioned in Carol's journal. But, perhaps Carol just thinks the best of everyone? Perhaps she tries to always focus on the positive? Regardless, the story is pleasant to read. I found it enjoyable and refreshing to take a break from my busy day and read this sweet and gentle story. I didn't mind at all that it was unrealistic. I get enough realism in my daily life already!

So thank you Karen for writing a book that has blessed me in many ways. :)

Festivals Family and Food
Festivals Family and Food
by Diana Carey
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.93
41 used & new from CDN$ 16.91

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for mothers, Jan. 18 2009
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I bought Festivals, Family and Food in order to get some ideas for celebrating holidays and the changing of the seasons with my children, whom I homeschool. I was not disappointed! This book has a little bit of everything--it's packed with poems, stories, songs, recipes, and ideas for crafts and decorations. It's truly a valuable book for me to have in my collection, and one that I refer to often for ideas.

It is nicely organized into sections relating to the seasons of the year, and at the end there is an extra section with ideas for miscellaneous things like convalescence and tea parties. Finishing the book is a lovely section with graces and blessings.

Several of the festivals and holidays mentioned in the book are British (for example Guy Fawkes Day) but in even those sections there are interesting crafts and recipes that anyone can use.

I should mention that I also bought All The Year Round, from the same publisher, and I ended up returning that one because it was very different from Festivals, Family and Food. All The Year Round is very strongly a Waldorf book (we are not a Waldorf homeschool) and mostly focuses on creating Seasonal Tables. It does not contain nearly as great a variety of materials as Festivals, Family and Food, which is more for a general audience.

So if you are looking for a book that contains a variety of ideas for celebrating the seasons, including lots of recipes and fun poems, choose this one! I feel it's definitely worth the cost.

Persuasion
Persuasion
by Jane Austen
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 6.00
63 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Austen novel, Jan. 14 2009
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This review is from: Persuasion (Paperback)
I don't think I can add much to the glittering collection of well written reviews here, so I will merely say that Persuasion is my favourite Austen book, by far. The variety and realism of the characters in the book are delightful, and the ridiculous things Anne's father and sister say made me laugh out loud many times!

In short, Persuasion is a joy to read, and potential readers have nothing to lose in giving it a try with the Dover edition that only costs $2.95.

Dr. Jack Newman's Guide To Breastfeeding
Dr. Jack Newman's Guide To Breastfeeding
by Jack Newman
Edition: Paperback
25 used & new from CDN$ 6.44

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best breastfeeding resource, period., Jan. 5 2009
After having been unsuccessful breastfeeding my first two babies, I was determined with my third that I would succeed. So I started checking out breastfeeding resources from the library. Because I had already tried breastfeeding, I knew that problems do occur and I wanted to be equipped withe knowledge to conquer those problems.

Imagine my surprise when I found that most breastfeeding books just talk about what a great experience it is, and then cover the basics, but tend to gloss over the potential problems as easily fixable. Ha!

Then I read Dr. Newman's book, and then, I knew that I could do it, because he gave me all the information I was looking for. This book is, simply put, the BEST, and MOST COMPLETE resource that I have been able to find on breastfeeding. He talks in great detail about subjects such as how to increase milk production through taking herbs; how to treat problems such as thrush, blocked ducts, sore nipples, and mastitis; how to deal with colic in the breastfed baby; and so much more.

Dr. Newman treats hundreds if not thousands of women yearly in his Toronto breastfeeding clinic--so he knows the sorts of problems women have with breastfeeding, and he knows how to deal with them. He also knows which ideas should be tossed out the window (for example, restricting the mother's diet, or telling smoking mothers they shouldn't breastfeed). I can't say enough good about this book, and I also can't say enough good about Dr. Newman himself. He truly is a gem for breastfeeding women everywhere! He even answered my emails promptly when I had questions for him.

I love the style the book is written in too--Dr. Newman writes with a friendly, casual, conversational style that makes you feel like you're having a personalized visit with him in his office.

In the end, I DID succeed with breastfeeding my third baby, but I guarantee I would have given up if it had not been for Dr. Newman's detailed advice for treating thrush. God bless him!

River Into Darkness 02 Compass Of The Soul
River Into Darkness 02 Compass Of The Soul
by Sean Russell
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down!, Jan. 4 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed The Compass of the Soul, the second part of the River Into Darkness duology (which as another reviewer stated, is really one book split into two, so make sure you get both). This surprised me, because I had read the Moontide and Magic Rise first, and those books take place about thirty years after the River into Darkness events--so I thought what suspense can there be when I already know how everything turns out?

Well, there is a lot of suspense indeed in this book (as in Under the Vaulted Hills). Russell introduces a lot of new characters that are not in the later books, so I wanted to keep reading to see what happens to them. Mystery and suspense fill the plot right up till the last chapter. It was very hard for me to put this book down!

I will also say that many of the happenings here had richer meaning for me because of my knowledge of the later books (for example, Kent painting the Countess's portrait).

Furthermore, Russell did an excellent job developing the characters in this second book. They are all complex characters. Not a single one can be neatly categorized as "good" or "evil," but rather they are all various shades of grey. Personally I found the character I had the most sympathy for was the mage, Eldritch--although he was portrayed as the villain of the story.

Perhaps I would have liked to see a little more "wrap up" at the end of the book--for example, I would have dearly liked to see Averil Kent again, and the Countess as well--but all in all, it was a satisfactory ending. In my experience, Russell's books are more about the journey than they are about the ending. And this book does provide a fascinating journey, beautifully written too.

I would recommend any of Russell's books to fantasy readers. They're definitely a cut above the rest.

Klutz Extra Stuff: Paper Fashions Fancy
Klutz Extra Stuff: Paper Fashions Fancy
by Klutz
Edition: Misc. Supplies
Price: CDN$ 12.30
18 used & new from CDN$ 10.65

5.0 out of 5 stars My daughter loved this!, Dec 30 2008
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My daughter (who is 9) loves creating fashions using the Klutz kit, Paper Fashions Fancy, which is sort of like making clothes for paper dolls (although there are no dolls). This "Extra Stuff" package contains more patterned papers for making the fashions.

She opened up this package of extra materials today, and was just about beside herself with excitement. There are many of the original papers here, as well as many that she had not seen before. She is very eager now to design some new fashions.

As with the materials in the original kit, the paper quality is very good and the variety of patterns here is excellent. Good for many hours of creative play!

Beneath the Valuted Hills (The River Into Darkness, Book One)
Beneath the Valuted Hills (The River Into Darkness, Book One)
by Sean Russell
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.99
43 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid fantasy read, Dec 30 2008
I enjoyed Beneath the Vaulted Hills. I read it soon after reading World Without End and Sea Without a Shore, which were written first but actually take place after the events of this book. Therefore, in this book I was able to see some characters I was familiar with, only at a younger age, such as the Countess of Chilton and the painter, Averil Kent. It was also most interesting to meet characters such as Erasmus Flattery and even the mage, Eldritch, who had passed into legend by the time of the other books.

It's difficult for me to say if I would have enjoyed this book so much if I hadn't already been acquainted with some of the characters. I can say that the passages of the book which take place within the caves were very suspenseful and well written. These passages take up quite a big chunk of the book, and after a while I was starting to feel the claustrophobia of the characters myself. I couldn't stop reading, because I felt as desperate as they did to find a way out!

The discovery that the characters find within those caves was also very interesting in light of what happens in Sea Without a Shore. Once again, this section would have lost some meaning without having that knowledge.

But still, this is a good book, a solid fantasy read. I like Russell's setting, which is similar to the 1700s in our world, a time when science and logic are overtaking the superstitions of the past. Certainly, if you choose to read this book, you MUST get Compass of the Soul, because very little is resolved at the end of this book. On its own it is not complete; it must be followed by the second part of the duology.

I would also recommend Russell's Swans' War Trilogy, if epic fantasy with a more medieval setting is more to your taste. This trilogy is very good, and more poetically written than these earlier books of Russell's.

Agnes Grey
Agnes Grey
by Anne Bronte
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 6.00
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly enjoyable, Dec 18 2008
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This review is from: Agnes Grey (Paperback)
I have read all the novels written by Emily and Charlotte Brontë, and enjoyed them very much. But I wasn't sure what to expect with Agnes Grey, as Anne Brontë is the sister that you never seem to hear about. I assumed that perhaps her writing didn't match the quality of her sisters' writing.

Well, I was wrong on that assumption. As a novel, Agnes Grey is wholly delightful. It follows the story of Agnes, a young lady who decides to work as a governess to help her impoverished family. She soon finds that the life of a governess isn't quite as satisfying as she had imagined! The first children she has to teach are absolute hellions, and after that she moves on to teach a group of teenage snobs who treat her like she is a lesser form of life--as many servants were treated in those times. I will reveal that Agnes does find happiness in the end of the novel, but not before she endures several years of loneliness and misery.

I was often very surprised at the realism in this book. Apparently critics at the time it was written were quite shocked by it. Anne Brontë does not shy away from descriptions that many of her contemporary novelists would avoid. For example, the descriptions of the beastly behaviours of the Bloomfield children, or the complaints of Lady Ashby of her husband's gambling and "opera women" do not seem tame enough to be found in an early Victorian novel. Of course to a modern reader these elements make the book all the more interesting, for they provide a clear picture of what life was like for women in the mid 1800s.

It IS different than the novels of Emily and Charlotte--namely, it is shorter, and simpler, and easier to read. But this would be a plus for many readers. I read it over several days, but a quick reader with time to spare could easily read it in one day.

I would highly recommend Agnes Grey to readers who have loved the novels of the elder Brontës. And for readers who have never read a novel by a member of this celebrated family, I would recommend this one first as it is undoubtedly the easiest. If you like Agnes Grey, then I would recommend moving onto the more challenging Jane Eyre (by Charlotte) or Wuthering Heights (by Emily). I would only recommend Shirley and Villette (by Charlotte) to more serious readers, as they are the more challenging and complex novels of the group.

A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning
A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning
by Karen Andreola
Edition: Paperback
12 used & new from CDN$ 21.87

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pay attention to the title..., Dec 14 2008
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Another reviewer was disappointed in this book because it was not a concise guide to Charlotte Mason's methods. I would agree that this book is more rambling than concise, but I would also point out that the title of the book is quite accurate. It is not titled "A Guide to Charlotte Mason" but A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning.

I think this title describes this lovely book perfectly. It is indeed not a clear guide to Charlotte Mason's ideas, but a companion to them, and the book is made up of Karen Andreola's personal ideas, and her stories of how she taught her children the "Charlotte Mason way."

Physically, this is an attractive book. It is a nice thick size, with heavy white paper, and is sprinkled with beautiful antique illustrations throughout.

The Victorian illustrations are the reader's first clue as to the author's love affair with the Victorian era. Some readers might be put off by the old fashioned tone and old fashioned ideas in this book. Others, like myself, might find it an interesting change. This is certainly the first homeschooling book I have read which includes instructions for knitting Victorian lace!

Ms. Andreola includes many other interesting tidbits towards the end of the book (after she has spent many chapters explaining the benefits of using "living" books, narration, etc)--for example she dedicates an entire chapter to playing with sand, and another on how to take your children on a pleasant picnic. I found these later chapters the most interesting, and I received some fresh ideas for our homeschool from them.

In short, this is a pleasant and helpful book to read for homeschooling mothers. It will especially appeal to those who admire not only CM's ideas on education, but the Victorian culture from which those ideas came forth. I'm not sure if this book would be a good introduction to Charlotte Mason--it is a bit rambling (in a nice way!) for that. For those wanting to know more about this method of education, I would look for websites to read first before I bought this book (there are many websites dedicated to CM out there).

But if you are a homeschooling mother who is already familiar with CM, or is already using her methods, and you are looking for a bit of inspiration, then this book is for you! I'm so glad I bought it myself, It is well worth the cost.

Sea without a Shore
Sea without a Shore
by Sean Russell
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.43
46 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!, Dec 6 2008
This book picks up right where World Without End stops, without missing a beat. I started this book eager to find out what happens next, and I was relieved to find that Russell didn't bother reviewing events but just dove into the story.

The same fascinating story continues in this second book, but I actually enjoyed this book more. It seemed that Russell made this book more exciting by not only skipping some of the boring details (such as the sea battle in the first book that was really bogged down in details), but by adding in more points of view. We get to experience many varied points of view here, which adds a richness to the story. Tristam is still there, and he is still the main character, but we also get to spend a lot of time with Sir Averil Kent, Alissa Somers, Jaimy Flattery, Prince Wilam, and others.

Sea Without a Shore was a very suspenseful book, and by the time I had gotten to the halfway point I found it very difficult to put it down! The story just kept getting more and more intense and exciting, and as mysteries were solved more were created.

There were some interesting themes explored in this book though. If you can manage not to whip through it too quickly there is some interesting food for thought to be had--for example, many of the characters are thinking about what it means to age, and several of them have to chose between aging gracefully and artificially extending their youth.

My only complaint is that the ending isn't quite neat and tidy--actually, it seemed that Russell was leaving things open for another book, which I suppose was never written. I can't say more without creating spoilers.

Anyway, this book together with World Without End make for a very interesting and original fantasy duology. I would definitely recommend them to fantasy readers who are looking for something a bit different.

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