Tuesday, 22 December 2015



If there is one thing I have learnt this year it is 'growth begins with gratitude'.  It is not what others can do for you; it will never bring happiness.  They will never add up to your expectations.  At times, I wonder if they have any idea of my expectations.

You can search for happiness in endless things but with out growth we become stagnant.  When we become stagnant nothing good follows.  The more I look for things to be grateful for the more I see the beauty in the little things.  In the buttercups of my life.

When I was a little girl, my teacher would send my class for a run around the school grounds.  I loved running, but the buttercups and daisies were more interesting.  Us girls would sit and make the daisy's into chains and the buttercups would glow under our chins as we laughed over who 'liked butter'.  As I got older, the buttercups became weeds.  Every week I mow them down.  Every week they have the strength to poke their heads back up and grow again.  As I walked down my driveway the other day I stopped and took the above picture of the buttercups in my driveway.  The weeds that need to be chopped down.  I saw beauty in the picture.  I thought of the strength behind the small flower and thought of how I am no longer grateful for their beauty as I was years earlier.

I thought of the people in my life, the buttercups that are mowed down without knowing.  Those people have a strength we should all be grateful for.  Each week they turn up.  Each week they put on smile and help. 

I am grateful for all the buttercup people.  The people who have laughed with me when they wanted to cry.  The ones who made me coffee when they were tired.  The ones who encouraged me when they really needed the encouraging.

Who are you grateful for this Christmas?

Merry Christmas everyone!  I am grateful to each of you that look in every week, making my reading and writing a joy.

Happy reading


Monday, 21 December 2015

Life of Fred

Life of Fred
Author: Stanley F. Schmidt, Ph.D.

Hi everyone,
Today I bring to you my favourite curriculum for the year, 'Life of Fred'.  The kids have loved working their way through the story of Fred a six-year-old genius who teaches.  It sound's like an impossible concept, but the kids enjoyed it.  Now this is no little kids curriculum; it goes right up to teaching linear algebra.
How often do you hear, "Why do we have to learn this I will never use it anyway?"  This is exactly the question that led me to the purchase of this series.  I was able to teach algebra, but I could not answer how it would be used.  Life of Fred does this in a fun way, through a story.  At the end of each chapter, there are questions to try, and answers.
I liked the way this captured the thinking of the kids.  I also like that it is a complete series.  So often I have been able to get primary aged books, but secondary curriculum lacks.  As you can see from the following list, there is good follow on from book to book:
Life of Fred: Fractions
Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents
Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology
Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra 2 with Economics
Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra
Life of Fred: Advanced Algebra
Life of Fred Geometry
Life of Fred: Trigonometry
Life of Fred: Calculus
Life of Fred: Statistics
Life of Fred Linear Algebra
I have been using this curriculum in addition to Saxon Math this year, and it has been a great extension to the kids math.  I know of others that are using it as a stand alone curriculum and are finding it good without the addition of Saxon.  The reason I have done both is because Saxon math works with the kids I am teaching.  The reason I added 'Life of Fred" was to answer the questions of why would algebra be of any use in the real world. 

Happy reading

This was available from: Amazon, Stanley Schmidt, Engaging Minds, and Life of Fred math

Friday, 18 December 2015

Taking Tiffany

Taking Tiffany
M K Harkins
ISBN: 6456984532454

This novel was refreshing to sit down and read at the end of each day.  I enjoyed the richness of the characters as they lived in a world that could give them everything yet they all still desired everything else.  Although Tiffany had all the money one could envision, she still had a spirit about her that made her likeable.  I hate it when I read a novel with spoilt rich young adults, but this one went beyond the normal plot with Tiffany wanting to live a normal existence within her world. 

Angela was another character that I found myself connecting with.  She seemed to have issues beyond imagination, yet I liked her.  In fact, I would say she made the story for me.  I loved the way her hardness disappeared but not in a predictable manner.

The connection between Angela and Tiffany didn't unfold to later in the book which left me guessing and I can't tell you if I guessed right or wrong without spoiling the book.  You will have to pick up a copy, along with a coffee, and read it.  I am sure you won't be disappointed it has just enough of everything: love, drama, suspense, action and mystery.

Thank you to NetGalley for supplying me with a copy of this novel to review.


Young socialite, Tiffany Thompson, seems to have it all, everything but love, that is. Guarded since her high school boyfriend’s betrayal, she wouldn’t recognize real love if it hit her over the head. Unless it’s a can of paint, and successful financier Todd Jameson is behind it.

Todd fell hard and fast for Tiffany a year earlier, but, unwilling to risk his own heart after a college sweetheart shattered it, he avoids Tiffany and vows to keep his distance. Fate has other plans, however, and changes both their minds.

But not everyone is happy with their budding romance. Unbeknownst to either of them, a vengeful enemy stands in the shadows with plans to take Tiffany, and Todd is in the way.

Halfway around the world, Angela Bartholomew, a former foe in Tiffany’s circle, is serving a year-long sentence as a volunteer in a Romanian orphanage in payment for her lying, manipulative ways. That or be disinherited by her parents. The spoiled debutante is determined to get home at all cost, but Fate has plans for her, too, and Angela is not prepared for how her life will change.

Will love conquer heartbreak, or will greed and revenge ruin all three lives?

Happy Reading

This was available from: Amazon


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Worthy of repeating

Hi everyone

This morning I woke up, jumped out of bed (sorry I am a morning person) and sat down with my breakfast and emails.  Marie Forleo regularly inspires me or gets me thinking and this morning was no different.  I have placed her posting below for you watch.  I think she makes some good points about how we spend our days working when we want to spend time doing the things that are really important to us.  It is all about choice.  Sometimes I think I have no choice as the demands around me expand.  In reality, I do.  I just have to breathe.  I am sure I forget to do this sometimes!  Come on guys, who out there goes about their day and hardly takes the time to breathe, I can't be the only one! 

As we enter into the holiday season, first off take the time to breathe.  At least, take enough time to realise you are breathing.  It is so important to relax and realise you are alive, you are a person, and you are worthy.  Then look around you.  See the family and friends.  If you have little or no family then what friends have become your family.  If you feel alone... it's a lie!  Just shut your eyes and see what stands in front you, it may surprise you to remember the people you haven't phoned this year.

All the best
Keep reading and smiling

Special thanks goes out to Marie Foleo for staying true to herself as she inspires people to be all they can be.  Your video clips are always fun and informational, keep going girl!

Marie Forleo's youtube channel link:

You can also find her at:

Monday, 14 December 2015

The old lady who loved to read

The old Lady who loved to read
Author: John Winch
ISBN: 1863884610
Picture book

Hi Everyone
I had trouble finding where to get this book from so if you can find somewhere that I can link below let me know in the comments.  I got this from the library so try your libraries if you can't buy a copy.

The pictures are full page beautiful colour.  The story is simple and enjoyable.  What I liked most about this story was the fact the lady thought she should move house to get peace and quiet so she could read.  Life proved to be just as noisy and busy as the city.  It's the old tale of life isn't always greener on the other side of the fence.

This story is a brilliant way of showing children that what we wish for isn't always what we want.  The animals will attract any child as they are characters in themselves in each picture.


The old woman thought that when she moved to the country she would have plenty of time to read.  But she soon found that each season brought other tasks to keep her busy...

John Winch, who lives in the outback New South Wales, lovingly depicts the ups and downs of rural life.

Happy reading

Saturday, 12 December 2015

the ship of sight and the hand of shadow

The ship of sight and the hand of shadow
Author: Brydie Walker Bain
Pages: 209


Thanks to Brydie Walker Bain for sending me this book, I got to experience the second adventure of Nat and her friends as she travelled throughout New Zealand to complete a task or die.  This book follows after 'The Secret of Sinbad's Cave' and the adventure continued without disappointment.

This book has a lot of Maori place names, just like the first book did.  In the back is a glossary that will help any reader who stumbles over the words.  I read this aloud to my kids and I stumbled over the pronunciation but that is only because I knew what they should sound like.  This book is one that should be read in all New Zealand schools as they venture to include Maori as part of the curriculum dynamics.  What I liked most were the places Nat and her friends ventured to places I recognised, throughout the North Island of New Zealand.  The scenic adventure included rivers, waterfalls and the ocean, all of which are in part what makes New Zealand such a beautiful country.

The adventure and fantasy continued to impress me.  There was more fantasy in the first novel but, the adventure in this novel was greater.  The friendships were close and the dialogue between the characters re-enforced this, making it a great middle read of friendship and adventure. 
So, for all you teachers in New Zealand, this book should be on your class shelve.  Pick up a copy and include it into your class reading for 2016.


A phone call before dawn launches Nat Sheppard into a world of intrigue that leaves her fighting for her life. Entrusted with a sacred task that must be completed within two phases of the moon, Nat and her friends race up New Zealand toward Cape Reinga. But the ruthless villain they outwitted last holidays is hunting them, and she will do anything to stop Nat completing her mission.

This was Available from Amazon


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Worthy of repeating

Hi Everyone,

Summer is here!  Now I know that many of my followers are waiting for snow but I got to walk in the beautiful sunset of this photo.  To finally head to the beach, with no wind, was amazing.  To arrive there and walk in the quiet, that the scene presented, was tranquil after a day keeping everything under control. 

When I opened my mail the next morning, there was a quote stating 'Close your eyes and see'.  Now quotes are there to make us think.  To seek deeper past the distractions of everyday noise.  I had seen the beauty of the sunset, in the heat I had long awaited.  Had I heard past the noise?  Past the distractions of the day?  To be honest, no.  I had enjoyed every moment with my family, walking in the tide yet the noise still drained some of the peace. 

I love to sit, quietly and clear my mind, listening past all distractions.  I am learning to do this, and I recommend it to everyone.  When I sit in my own space, I hear my dreams.  I block out any worry and listen deep within.  I find peace in myself rather than seeking it from others.   I hear myself rather than hoping someone will just hear me and listen. 

Are you worthy of being heard?  Start by shutting your eyes and hearing yourself.  Your dreams and passions.  If you don't want to hear you, then why do you expect others to find you worthy of hearing?  You hold treasures beyond imagination, you just have to shut your eyes and hear, you!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Animal Soup

Animal Soup
Author: Ian Whybrow & Teresa Murfin
ISBN: 978-0-439943-05-5
Picture book

Hi Everyone
This has to be one of the brightest, imaginative picture books that I have picked up in a while!
I remember the joy of alphabet soup when I was a child.  We mainly had rice in our soup, but when we got alphabet pasta it took soup to a new level of enjoyment.  The author of 'Animal Soup' has taken this imagination and placed it into a brilliantly illustrated book.  The placement of the pictures versus text enhances the story and read along effect.  I have to give this book top marks for presentation and language.
Each page rhymes, yet the rhyme doesn't overtake the story like some narratives do.  I read this book to some kids then went back over the narrative to seek out the rhyme.  They enjoyed the exercise, and I will use it again when teaching.  We giggled at the concept of the story and enjoyed each accompanying illustration.  I will be taking this book from shelf to couch, to classroom.
Hold on to your witch's hat - it's time for some animal magic!
Oliver loves his Animal Soup, especially when the animals come to life...
Watch out for elephants, whales and crocodiles in this spectacular soup adventure!
This was available from: Fishpond, Book Depository and Amazon


Friday, 4 December 2015

Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia
Author: Katherine Paterson
ISBN: 0-140-36618-0
Pages: 141

I have always enjoyed the movie that is based on this book.  It screened here a couple of months ago and upon raving about it, my sister handed me the book to read.  It is such a cute little paperback novel.  I thought I would have it read in no time, so decided to read it aloud to the kids.  Well, don't be deceived by size.  This book took quite a bit of reading.  I put this down to it being a classic.  All classics seem to have depth in the language which make reading aloud different from modern novels. 

Did it match up to the movie?  No.  I still like the movie more.  This is the first time I have liked a movie over a book.  I suppose it had to happen sooner or later.  That being said though, it is a lovely story of friendship.  The movie was based more on the happenings in Terabithia.  The book was based more on friendship.  It was Terabithia that grabbed my imagination in the movie and I thought the book lacked this. 

If you want a book on friendship for your kids, this is worth the read.  It does come with loss though, so this may be something you want to consider before choosing who to read aloud to.  My kids enjoyed it.  They thought the book had its merits but still enjoyed the movie more.  I think this book is best read to and by those who haven't seen the movie.  It is a good, traditional classic that hasn't lost its spark or interest in today's modern world.
'We need a place,' Leslie called to him, '...just for us.'
It was Leslie who invented Terabithia, a secret kingdom on an island across the creek.  Here Jess is strong and unafraid.  so when something terrible happens, Jess finds he is able to cope better than he could ever have imagined.
A powerful, moving story about friendship.
This was available from: Amazon, Fishpond and Book depository

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Worthy of repeating

Hi everyone

I have a few things to repeat today.  First is I have a Facebook page for you to connect into.  Search read learn and shine, and it will give you another way to connect into my reviews.  Also, check out my twitter by clicking the link in my side panel.  It's great connecting with you all, so please link in.

The next thing is the Goodreads 2015 votes are completed. Look in on your Goodreads and see what won.  Did you vote?

Now to what I found interesting and thought-provoking this week. I have no idea where this came from other than the fact it was sent to me on my Facebook page by a wonderful friend. This friend is the greatest of people at lifting others up.  I love the people in my life that don't spend all their time running others down.  In fact, I have left behind the people who spend their time degrading others.  There is only so many people one can help in life, and the rest needs to be done by the individual.  I have heard the odd friend comment that it is a good thing to set people straight.  Yes and no.  To the benefit of the person, with grace and love, then yes.  But you had better be a really good encouraging friend before you pick holes in someones life just because it doesn't measure up to your thoughts.  To use your words to support and encourage a friend, will grow the individual and the friendship more than you can imagine.  I don't understand why we put people down other than the inner issues we hide.

Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to be all you can be.  You are free to dream.  You are free to seek those dreams.  Find the people who will encourage you and help you.  Then do the same for someone else.  One person at a time, one friendship at a time.