Monday, June 30, 2014

What I have been doing for 2 years - taking classes to get my teaching license and pass the MTLE's

MTLE (Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations) logo

I have been taking classes at Augsburg College working on my Master Degree in Education and my teaching licence.  Finally I am down to 1 class left and student teaching this fall in the 8th grade for my license and then 3 classes left to finish the Master's.  It has been a long haul and the reason I have not been accepting books for review like I used too.....but that is almost over YEAH!!!  I wanted to share my experiences with the MTLE's since if you want to be a teacher in Minnesota you must take them even if you have been teaching in another location for decades.  Here are some of my experiences with these exams.  Good Luck!!!!

This is for anyone who still needs to take the MTLE tests to become a licensed teacher in Minnesota.

Basic tests - math, reading, and writing - I took up to the time they allowed us on all of these tests (60 minutes each).  I passed all 3 but my score on the writing test was the lowest of the 3.  I ran out of time mid paragraph on my last essay.  You need a 240 on each exam to pass that portion.

My advice - 
Math is tough - study Khans academy - go to IXL and look over topics in Algebra and Geometry - study for this test if you are not 100 percent confident in you math abilities - this test is nothing like the California or other states basic tests- this one is tough - basic for college algebra students maybe.

Reading - just read the questions 1st and then read the passage by skimming or you will run out of time - this test is fast and you will not make it to the end if you read every word in the passages.  Skim big time on this test.

Writing - go through the questions quickly so you have time to do the essay writing at the end of the test - write a quick outline and then write fast - keep the outline at the top so that they can see what you were going for if you run out of time, 2 paragraphs for this test. 

I will post again about the pedagogy and the special education content tests.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Book Review - Artful Dodger - A Maggie Kean Misadventure - Nageeba Davis

Title:  Artful Dodger


Review:  Maggie Kean is an art teacher and sculptor who can’t cook even toast without burning it. To make matters worse she stumbles upon a dead body all before 8am. After giving her statement over and over again to the police Maggie learns she is the prime suspect. To clear her name Maggie starts her own investigation only finding herself falling for the sexy detective, finding an illegitimate child and trying to avoid two spoiled brats all before lunch.

I am sent a list of free Amazon books each week and this week Artful Dodger was on the list and I thought it sounded cute. Little did I know I would find myself laughing out loud, totally rooting for Maggie as she tries to help the police find the person who murdered her dear friend.
The Artful Dodgers is an easy fun mystery with the right amount of dark and light humor to make it an enjoyable read.

Nageeba writes wonderful scenes with verbal sparring between the hero and heroine that will have the reader laughing. Nageeba created a strong female heroine who doesn’t back down from a fight and will fight for what she knows is right.  Did Nageeba create an original character? No but what she created was two very fun and memorable characters who had me laughing. It’s a wonderful summer pool read with the right amount of mystery and romance. Do I plan to read the next in the series? Yes. I could recommend this book to almost anything since there was very little languages and no sex scenes.

Thanks Heidi for this review.

Published:  Published April 26th 2013 by Barrel Boat Enterprises
Page Count: 212
Quick Review:  5 out 5 stars –
Why I Read this Title:  Free on Kindle.

Synopsis: Take one funny, wise-cracking artist, one gorgeous, sexy detective, throw in a grizzly murder, a little amateur sleuthing, and you have the makings of a wild, romantic, misadventure.

Art teacher and sculptor Maggie Kean thought she was having a rotten day, burning her toast, stubbing her toe, and all before eight in the morning. Things just couldn't get any worse. At least, until the dead body clogs up her toilet. To make matters worse, Maggie becomes the prime suspect. Now all she has to do is evade the police, clear her name, trap a killer...and deal with one mouth-watering, hunky detective who drives her crazy while making her hormones do the happy dance.

Author Information:    I knew I wanted to write from the time I was a little girl. I was writing in journals long before John-boy Walton ever picked up a pencil…but, in full disclosure, I did switch over to tablets after watching him on the show. (Just writing that sentence made me nostalgic enough to go online and purchase one again.) As so often is the case, reading and writing go hand-in-hand. When I was young, my mother took the kids (there were three of us at the time) to the library every week. Years later, she told me that I was always much more enthusiastic about the trips than my older brothers, who would rather spend time beating each other up–but I loved to read. A true geeky bookworm. If I could have built a home at that age, it would have looked exactly like a library…minus the brothers.

Writing was a natural path for me. What could be more exciting than creating a story of my own, getting it published and seeing it on a bookshelf? Life just couldn’t get any better than that.

Other Reviews:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review - New York to Dallas - JD Robb

Title:  New York to Dallas

AuthorJD Robb

Review:  I have been reading this series for years now.  I must admit I skip a book here and there due to the fact that they are only days or weeks apart in their timeline so not much happens in the ongoing plot that often.  But, I do enjoy this series and the characters.

This book carried the on-going plot quite a bit with her history as she goes back to Dallas to find a criminal and face her demons.  This is a fast paced book that keeps you turning the pages and I did read this one faster than I have a few in the past that seemed to drag on and on.

I love Roarke and Eve and look forward to more adventures and maybe a baby in the future.

Published:  Published September 13th 2011 by Putnam Adult (first published January 1st 2011)
ISBN 9780399157783
Page Count: 402
Quick Review:  4 out 5 stars –
Why I Read this Title:  Picked up at my local library

Synopsis:   The new novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author, which takes readers deeper into the mind of Eve Dallas than ever before.

The number-one New York Times-bestselling author J. D. Robb presents an intense and terrifying new case for New York homicide cop Eve Dallas, one that will take her all the way to the city that gave her her name-and plunge her into the nightmares of her childhood.

When a monster named Isaac McQueen-taken down by Eve back in her uniform days-escapes from Rikers, he has two things in mind. One is to pick up where he left off, abducting young victims and leaving them scarred in both mind and body. The other is to get revenge on the woman who stopped him all those years ago.
 J.D. Robb
Author Information:   Eleanor Marie Robertson was born on October 10, 1950 in Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A. She was the youngest of the five children, also the only girl, of a marriage with Irish ancestors. Her family were avid readers, so books were always important in her life. She attended a Catholic school and credits the nuns with instilling in her a sense of discipline. During her sophomore year in high school, she transferred to a local public school, where she met Ronald Aufdem-Brinke, her future first husband.

In August 17, 1968, as soon as she had graduated from High School, Eleanor married, against her parents' wishes. The marriage settled in Keedysville, Maryland. Her husband worked at his father's sheet-metal business before joining her parents in their lighting company. While, she worked briefly as a legal secretary. "I could type fast but couldn't spell, I was the worst legal secretary ever," she says now. After their sons, Dan and Jason, were born she stayed home. Calling this her "Earth Mother" years, she spent much of her time doing crafts, including ceramics and sewing her children's clothes. The marriage ended separating, and they obtained the divorce in January 1985.

In February 1979, a blizzard in forced her hand to try another creative outlet. She was snowed in with a three and six year old with no kindergarten respite in sight and a dwindling supply of chocolate. During the now famous blizzard, she pulled out a pencil and notebook and began to write down one of those stories. It was there that a career was born. Several manuscripts and rejections later, her first book, Irish Thoroughbred, was published by Silhouette in 1981 as Nora Roberts, a shortened form of her birth name Eleanor Marie Robertson, because she assumed that all authors had pen names.

Eleanor wrote under the pseudonym Jill March a story for a magazine titled "Melodies of Love".

Eleanor met her second husband, Bruce Wilder, when she hired him to build bookshelves. They were married in July 1985. Her husband owns and operates a bookstore in Boonsboro, Maryland called "Turn the Page Books". Since that time, they've expanded their home, traveled the world.

In 1992, she decided adopted other pseudonym so to publish a futuristic-suspense novels, she first decided to use the pseudonym D.J. MacGregor, but she discovered that this pseudonym was used by another author. In 1995, her first "In Death" serial novel was published under the pseudonym J.D. Robb, the initials "J.D." were taken from her sons, Jason and Dan, while "Robb" is a shortened form of Roberts.

Eleanor has also been known as Sara Hardesty, because when the "Born In" series was released in U.K. it carried that name instead of Nora Roberts. She has since changed publishers.

Eleanor has been plagiarized by another best-selling romance writer, Janet Dailey. The practice came to light after a reader read Nora Roberts' "Sweet Revenge" and Janet Dailey's "Notorious" back-to-back; she noticed several similarities and posted the comparable passages on the Internet. Calling the plagiarism "mind rape," Eleanor sued Janet Daily. In 1997, Janet, admitted to repeatedly plagiarizing from Nora Roberts' work, and that both "Aspen Gold" and "Notorious" lifted heavily from Nora Roberts's work. Both of those novels were pulled from print after Janet's admission. She acknowledged the plagiarism and blamed it on a psychological disorder. In a settlement, Janet paid Eleanor an undisclosed sum, which Eleanor donated to the Literacy Volunteers of America.

A founding member of the Romance Writers of America (R.W.A.), she was the first inductee in the organization's Hall of Fame. She also is a member of several writers groups and has won countless award.

Other Reviews:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Elizabeth Gilbert - The Signature of All Things - Coming in paperback tomorrow - contest now!!!

For my review of this title please follow this link.  I gave the book 5 stars out of 5 - this book is a journey you will take and is not to be rushed.

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert, Penguin Books, and White Flower Farm want to bring the gifts of nature into your home. 

Elizabeth Gilbert’s New York Times bestselling novel The Signature of All Things is a spellbinding journey into the heart of the natural world through the eyes of Alma Whittaker, a young nineteenth-century woman who becomes a world-renowned botanist. 

In honor of this exciting paperback release, Penguin is offering a sweepstakes for a chance to win a year’s worth of plants from White Flower Farm—a plant for every month! Visit here for terms, conditions, and a chance to win!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Review - Final Arrangements - A Ginger Barnes Main Line Mystery - Donna Huston Murray

Title:  Final Arrangements

Review:  A story of murder at a Philadelphia flower show. The amateur sleuth is Ginger Barnes. The story moves at a slow but sure pace as the murder is solved. I will admit that I was taken by surprise at who the actual murderer was in the end. Some of the clues were there but I do not think they were all presented. This book is part of a series called Main Line Mysteries.

I would rate it at 3 stars. Enjoyable but not memorable.

I picked this book up at because the synopsis peaked my interest.

Thanks Frank for this review.

Published:  Published (first published March 15th 1996)
Page Count: Kindle
Quick Review:  3 out 5 stars –
Why I Read this Title:  Picked up at

Synopsis:   Gin Barnes never expected to become a detective, but when the Main Line horticulturist she escorts to the Philadelphia Flower Show is strangled, she finds herself seeking a vicious killer among the world's most famous green thumbs.
 Donna Huston Murray
Author Information:    Donna Huston Murray has been writing since she was ten, but just let one of her books achieve #1 on Amazon’s Top 100 in addition to #1 for Female Sleuths and now she refuses to stop. Her seven Ginger Barnes Main Line Mysteries (originally with St. Martin’s Press) feature a woman much like herself, a headmaster’s wife transplanted to an upscale neighborhood by her husband’s job.

Donna also created Lauren Beck, a young cancer survivor and former cop, whose debut, CURED…BUT NOT OUT OF DANGER, was described as, “a real gem of a novel” by a judge for the Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards, and ranked among her top picks.

Other Review:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Kindle Giveaway -

Enter to win 1 of 2 great prizes. Winner’s choice of a Kindle Fire HDX or $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 Paypal Cash! The first prize is available via the rafflecopter below. The 2nd is available only to bloggers who post about this giveaway. You can find info on how to enter the 2nd giveaway in the rafflecopter. June Kindle Fire  
Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)
  Or $229 Gift Card (International)
  Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)
  Sponsors I Am A Reader Feed Your Reader Author Rachael Anderson Author Karey White Chelsea Author Promotions Illusio & Baqer BookReviewsAndGiveaways Author Alecia Stone Lori's Reading Corner Author Inger Iversen Shelf of Imagination Candace's Book Blog Where The Broken Lie by Derek Rempfer Helen Smith (author) Christine's Blog Reviews from a Bookworm More Than a Review Tressa's Wishful Endings Pieces of Whimsy Laurie Treacy, Author The Loopy Librarian Author Dorothy Dreyer Author Deanna Lynn Sletten Author Steven Brown Claudia Burgoa Launching Sisters to WitchCamp Rhiannon Paille Author Amanda Tru Melissa McClone, Author Author Michelle Merrill Author M. Kircher Author A&E Kirk Author Melissa Lemon My Story That I Like Best Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf J.L. Weil Maia Sepp Luthando Coeur Making it Happen Jennifer Laurens Author Extraordinary Reads Grimmtastic Girls series: Snow White Lucks Out (tween)   Sign up to sponsor the next Kindle Giveaway here:   Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7", $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash. Ends 7/15/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 16, 2014

Things we love review - Cinnamint Supreme Lip Gloss from Bigelow - Bath and Body Works

Cinnamint Supreme 2X Lip Gloss - C.O. Bigelow - Bath & Body Works

ManufacturerC.O. Bigelow
Review:   Love this lip gloss – my sister gave me the menthe lip gloss a few Christmases ago and I loved it so I decided to try a few others – this is my favorite – I love the tingle on my lips and the smell of cinnamon and the flavor and the fact that my lips smells as good as they taste.  This is a product I have given to friends many times ----since I love it!!!  I love the buy 2 get 1 sale and that is when I pick up extras for gift giving and just because giving to friends I love also.

Buy this lip gloss you will love it and it is a high gloss shine so pretty with a lipstick color under or alone.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Review - The Disappeared - Kristina Ohlsson


Title: The Disappeared

Author: Kristina Ohlsson

Review: It is not that the rich and powerful ever commit crimes; I am sure they do. It is just a vast majority of crimes are committed by the average, including murders.  It has been an American crime fiction tendency that all murderers are serial killers; or the thought we would only enjoy it if the characters are super rich or powerful. I realize there are some fantastic exceptions to this generalization, but as a trend it is easy to spot.  I bore of this trend and have found great solace in the crime fiction of Scandinavia.  Its detectives, crimes, victims, and motives tend to be as bleak as their winter landscapes. Ordinary people committing ordinary crimes for the dumbest of reasons.  This stark reality is doggedly tracked down to its roots by troubled yet determined detectives.  It is an unsensationalized look into the reality of our lives.  It is this unvarnished view of the worst of humanity that brings me back to Nordic Noir.

The Disappeared at its heart follows these principles and through the details our investigators are able to uncover the hidden, and expose the secrets to the harsh light of day.  The procedural part of this story is fantastic and I applaud the author for another great work.  I just did not enjoy the original crime and the conclusion.  It is straying too much into the American school of crime fiction and find that worrisome.

The great news though, if you are a fan of the sensational found in contemporary crime fiction and are looking for a bridge step into the world of Nordic style, then this book is perfect for you.  You get the over the top crime coupled with the gritty investigation.  A wonderful baby step to whet your appetite.

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3400-2
Copyright: 2011 (translated 2013)
Pages: 406
Quick Review: 3.5 stars out of 5
Why I Read It: I have read the other books in the series and enjoy Nordic
crime fiction in general.
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent to me by the publisher for review

Synopsis: A young woman is found carved up and buried in a forest glade in a Stockholm suburb. She is identified as Rebecca Trolle, a student who went missing two years earlier. While Fredrika Bergman and her team try to find out why Rebecca met such a violent demise, more bodies are found in the same area. Fredrika Bergman is inevitably drawn into the case, but it becomes much more complicated when her lover’s name is mentioned in the investigation. The investigative unit are nearing a resolution, but the killer is still at large. One question remains: whose body will turn up next when the killer returns to the grave in the forest?
Kristina Ohlsson 
Author Biography: Kristina Ohlsson is a political scientist and until recently held the position of Counter-Terrorism Officer at OSCE (the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). She has previously worked at the Swedish Security Service, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Swedish National Defense College, where she was a junior expert on the Middle East conflict and the foreign policy of the European Union. Kristina lives in Stockholm.

Other Reviews:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review - Deception - Barbara Warren

Title:  Deception

Author:  Barbara Warren

Review:  I enjoyed the book overall. It was a good plot and was creditable. However, that said I felt that the secondary character, Neil  Vaughn needed to be fleshed out with more background as he appears early in the story from nowhere and very little information is provided. 

I would rate it at 4 stars.

I picked the book up from because the synopsis appealed to me. I would read other offerings from this writer.

Thanks Frank for this review.

Published:   June 26th 2013 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Page Count: 197
Quick Review:  4 out 5 stars –
Why I Read this Title:  Kindlebuffet.

Synopsis Their parents paid the ransom - the kidnappers released one child.

Haunted by her sister's desperate cries, Tess Howard spent twenty-four years searching for Rhona.

Reunited at last, the sisters unearth a mystery that could cost them their lives ...and the life of the one man who knows their dark secret.
 Barbara Warren
  Author Information:  Barbara Warren is a freelance editor with twenty years experience. Her editing firm, Blue Mountain Editorial Service has an extensive list of both published and non-published writers. For beginning writers she acts as a writing coach. She has had short stories and articles published in magazines such as Mature Living and Home Life. She is a member of the writing pool for Open Windows, the Southern Baptist devotional magazine. Her romantic suspense, Murder At The Painted Lady is available from Avalon Books. She is one of the founders of the Mid-South Writer s group and has been a speaker at writer s conferences and area groups. Barbara and her husband, Charles, live on a farm in the beautiful Ozarks where they raise beef cattle. 

Other Reviews:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Book Review - Killer Librarian - Mary Lou Kirwin


Title: Killer Librarian

Author: Mary Lou Kirwin

Review: A good cozy mystery introduces a likable character who needs to fall in love (or at least relationship issues), a quirky location, and filled with interesting side characters.  Killer Librarian has all of these elements so it is an excellent freshman effort in the genre.  Our heroine is a librarian whose relationship is in flux so she sets of for London (my hometown - so way interesting) wherein she settles into a bed and breakfast that is doubling as a used bookstore.  Throw in a eclectic cast of side characters and a fairly tame mystery and you have got cozy gold.

The book moves along at a decent pace and keeps you guessing until the end. Our heroine is all set for a new adventures.  The only problem I had with the structure of the book is the author did not definitely settle on a world for the lead to inhabit.  She has on one hand her little library in rural Minnesota with the weird coworker and grumpy patrons; and then she also has the B&B/bookstore with her possible love interest in London.  That gap is really too wide to bridge overtime and the author really should have settled it by the end of the first book.  We can always give allowances for book one when they are creating the world in which the adventures will take place.

My vote is for London.  Either find a reason for her best friend to move there too, or just rip that band-aid off and write a new best friend.

Overall a decent beginning to hopefully a long running series.

Publisher: Pocket Books
ISBN: 978-1-4516-8464-3
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 308
Quick Review: 3.5 stars out of 5
Why I Read It: Like a good mystery and do enjoy the occasional cozy.  Plus
I am a Londoner who lives in Minnesota (the book is a Minnesotan in
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent to me by the publisher for review.

Synopsis: Champion of the mystery section at a small-town Minnesota library, Karen Nash is about to embark on a dream trip to London, a literary tour inspired by every murderous intrigue, wily suspect, and ingenious crime found in the pages of the British mysteries that she devours. But she's clueless why the love of her mid-life, Dave, would dump her hours before takeoff, until she spies him at the airport with a young honey on his arm! She decides the best revenge (for now) is to get on that plane anyway . . . and entertain schemes for Dave's untimely demise while crossing the pond.

After touching ground in the hallowed homeland of Christie, Sayers, and Peters, she checks into a cozy B & B run by charming bibliophile Caldwell Perkins. Soon she's spilling tears in her pint at the corner pub, sharing her heartbreak saga with a stranger. That night, a B & B guest drops out of circulation permanently. And when Dave and his cutie turn up in London, Karen realizes they are an assassin's target. With the meticulous attention to detail that makes her a killer librarian, Karen sleuths her way through her own real-life mystery in which library science meets the art of murder.

Author Biography:  Mary Lou Kirwin has lived in France, Belgium, England, and New York City. She now lives a quiet life in the wilds of Minnesota and Wisconsin. She feels she owes a great deal to all the librarians in her life—for handing her the right book at the right time.

Other Reviews:

Disclaimer for all reviews sent by the publisher, publicist or author for review.