August 23, 2016

Circuit Maze~ Electric Current Logic Game from ThinkFun {Timberdoodle Product Review}

My boys have very engineering minded personalities. They love to build and design and are constantly working out new LEGO creations. They recently reviewed a product that gave us a great introduction to electrical circuits, which both of my boys LOVED. When I was offered the chance to review the Circuit Maze by ThinkFun through Timberdoodle Co., I accepted hoping that it would further my boys' interest in how circuits worked.

About Circuit Maze

Circuit Maze is a single player game created by the award winning educational game company ThinkFun. In the game your child can safely explore the world of electrical circuits, through series of circuit building logic puzzles. Your child will get to experience series circuits, parallel circuits, series and parallel circuits in combination, and parallel circuits in bypass--all concepts of simple and advanced circuitry! By mixing how electricity and electrical circuits work with reasoning and logic skills, Circuit Maze really is a delightful first look into electrical engineering.
Designed as a single player game for ages 8+, the Circuit Maze game includes:

August 22, 2016

Fresh from the Bookshelf: The Goodbye Bride~ A Summer Harbor Novel by Denise Hunter {Book Review}

As you know, I am not a huge fan of contemporary novels. I would rather just hid in historical fiction to get my reading fix. One of the authors that I am willing to make an exception for is Denise Hunter. I just love her style of writing and now seek her novels out. I loved her Summer Harbor series when I was introduced to it in the book Falling Like Snowflakes, and I determined to read all the rest of the novels in the collection. When I had the chance to review yet another Summer Harbor novel The Goodbye Bride for the Fiction Guild, I was eager to get back to Callahan family and hear Zac's story.

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Zac Callahan was on the verge of marrying the love of his life Lucy Lovett, when she vanishes without a trace just weeks before their wedding. It's been seven months since she left and he's trying to move forward with his life.

Lucy wakes up, after hitting her head on a floor, to find herself in a wedding dress she doesn't know, surrounded by people she's not familiar with, and in a city she has no recollection of ever moving too. All she knows is that she's supposed to be marrying Zac in a couple weeks. So why does she have an apartment in Portland, ME and why is she engaged to marry someone she can't remember?! Where is Zac?

Lucy arrives back in Zac's life, vulnerable, homeless, and as much in love with him as ever. How come she can't remember the last 7 months of her life? What's going on? Is this Zac's second chance to be with the love of his life, or will Lucy's memory return and tear them apart again?

My Thoughts

I really fell in love with the Callahan brothers in Falling Like Snowflakes and was eager to read Zac's story as it sounded like it was a humdinger! I really enjoyed The Goodbye Bride right from the first chapter. I LOVE how Denise Hunter opens the story immediately with Lucy's "awakening", as it sucked me in right away.

I enjoyed "visiting" with the Callahan brothers again and seeing Beau and Eden from the first book again. I think Denise does an excellent job keeping each book separate, but still sharing threads of the story. Going with a family of brothers makes it easy I think! LOL!

I really liked Beau and Eden, but I think I like Lucy and Zac even more! They both were in love with each other so much, but with Denise writing the story so we see Lucy's thoughts and then Zac's thoughts, it allows us to see all the doubts they each had in themselves and each other. I appreciated how Denise kept the secret behind Lucy's memory loss hidden until much much later in the book, to build up the anticipation and speculation.

Another aspect of the book I liked, was the setting up of the third book in the series (Just a Kiss, coming out soon!) with the third brother Riley. I just love it when author's do that (subtlely, not brazenly) because it makes me wait for the next book with baited breath. 

I really really liked this book. The plot sucked me in from the get go and the characters LIVED on the pages. The story was so good and drew me in to the lives of each character. Yes, even needed tissues. I thoroughly recommend the Summer Harbor series to anyone looking for new books to try--and really, just give Denise Hunter a go! You won't be sorry!

The Goodby Bride
by Denise Hunter
ISBN #978-0718023737

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August 19, 2016

Simbrix Expert Kit {A Timberdoodle Product Review}

If you have children or grandchildren, you are probably aware of the latest thing in crafts: fusible beads. These beads are super popular because of the creativity they encourage--BUT many a parent has had to deal with a child's emotional meltdown, when transferring the beads to the ironing board causes the beads to fall out of place, or {horrors} the pegboard holding them in place gets dropped on the floor causing UTTER destruction. Enter Simbrix! These new-to-the-market fusible beads created in Nottingham, Great Britain help eliminate that worry--they INTERLOCK! No pegboard is necessary and the designs can be moved around easily without fear of messing them up. Although I didn't have first hand experience with fusible beads, I have heard and seen all the stories about their cons from my friends, thus I was very interested when I had the chance to review the Simbrix Expert Kit for Timberdoodle with my boys!
Simbrix Expert Set {A Timberdoodle Product Review}

About Simbrix Expert Kit

The Simbrix Expert Kit contains 4,000 interlocking fusible squares which can be put together to create pixelated art. Once in place, the creation can then be ironed, thus fusing the beads together to create a "permanent" version of the design that was created. Because the pieces are interlocking, your child can design, and then take apart their design and try something else. The Simbrix help your child to create 2D images for anything their imagination can design. 
The Simbrix Expert Kit contains 4,000 pieces in 17 different colors, and includes a basic instruction pamphlet that even gives several design ideas to get your child's imagination started! The set is geared for ages 5+, retails for $56.95, and is a component in the Timberdoodle 2016 4th Grade Curriculum Kit.

Our Experience with Simbrix Expert Kit

This was one set that I was very eager to get my hands on. I had a feeling that the design element of it would greatly appeal to my engineering minded boys who have a passion for buildling things. I had never had a chance to explore fusible beads in the past, and honestly stayed clear of them thanks to the horror stories from friends about how careful you had to be with them. I was curious to see how these would work for us.
I was impressed right away with the fabulous drawstring bag that the set came in. How handy for storage! Once I explained how the Simbrix worked to my boys, they eagerly cleared off a table, grabbed two bowls to hold the beads, and helped me dump them out. The beads came in three plastic bags: one for primary color tones, one for more pastel color tones, and a small package with glow-in-the-dark beads. I poured each of the larger bags into a bowl, and kept the glow beads separate. The boys went RIGHT to work seeing how they fit together. 

He loves that he can stand up what he's making without it falling apart

Little Britches made a creature

Yep, even i got involved. I wanted to make a ladybug from the pamphlet

So I did.

Concentrating hard on his creation
I think we must have worked on these Simbrix for at LEAST 45 minutes. Everyone working on their own thing and allowing their imagination take over. My boys really liked that they didn't HAVE to fuse their creation together. They wanted to use the pieces again later, so we just put their creations in a little baggy and poured the rest of the beads into ziplock bags and put them all back into the drawstring bag.
It was interesting that later that evening, when my husband came home, I caught a glimpse of him trying them out himself. He thinks they are pretty cool and easy to work with.
The next time we got the Simbrix out, my oldest decided he wanted to make the minion that was in the ideas pamphlet. Now there aren't any directions, you simply have to count the number of squares for each color and go from there. No problem!
They both decided they DID want me to fuse this one together, so following the included directions I did just that. It works well and I LOVE that the pieces stay locked together for easy transport to my ironing board. No worries that they would all come apart. 
Because these make pixelated designs, just about any pixelated image can be replicated. This is something that really appealed to one of the boys' friend who is really into Minecraft. He could see how easy it would be to replicate things from that game with these pieces.
I think these are GREAT for a child's imagination. I also love that if you wanted to, you could purchase some of the other Simbrix sets besides what Timberdoodle carries (you can find them on Amazon) and they would all still fit together! I think a set like this would be an excellent gift for a family with children and a definite alternative for the much complained about yet still loved popular fusible bead pegboard sets.
I definitely see us continuing to pull these out to play with, and I plan on trying to work them into our homeschool studies this year as well. 

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