Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Rules in Rome by A L Sowards

Rules in Rome, The (c) 2015 by A L Sowards
The Rules in Rome by A L Sowards  is an exciting WWII novel about a pair of spies working together in Rome during the Nazi occupation.

I really enjoyed this story, and I loved getting to know the characters. Bastian and Gracie are both brave, heroic protagonists who help me appreciate what real life people went through in WWII to bring the war to an end. I really liked that minor characters, including the Antagonists, the Nazis and the SS were portrayed as real people, not just mindlessly evil psychopaths. I liked Heinrich especially, though his nickname was a little distracting.

There were some things the main characters did that didn’t make sense to me, that from my perspective were, well, blindingly stupid that I don’t think they did for any other reason than that the author wanted them to do it to create conflict, kill off someone, and/or move the story forward.

These bits however, were mostly overshadowed by the powerful writing of the rest of the story, the characterizations, and the rich history. I liked the slow way the two grew into their feelings for each other, and the very satisfying twist at the end. I especially liked the epilogue!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Phantom of the Opera performed by Layton High Drama

The Phantom of the Opera (c) 1986
by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Last night, I hat the exciting opportunity to go with my son to one of my favorite musicals, The Phantom of the Opera performed by Layton High School Drama!        
The Phantom of the Opera was published in 1986 by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. It was based on a book by the same name by Gaston Leroux.

Christine DaaƩ, a talented soprano who sings in the Paris Opera House is reunited with her childhood friend Raoul, and realizes she has romantic feelings for him, but fears offending the Angel of Music who has been secretly tutoring her in her singing.

On investigating who this mysterious character really is, Christine and Raoul discover that he is a physically deformed genius who lives beneath the Opera House. This Opera Ghost has an unhealthy obsession with Christine, and is displeased that she is developing a relationship with Raoul. What happens when the Opera Ghost tries to interfere with the two sweethearts? Watch the play to find out!

Sadly, tonight was the last performance of The Phantom of the Opera by Layton High School Drama, but I highly recommend the Play itself, and after watching Layton High’s performance, I was very impressed! If all their productions are even a fraction as good as this one, then they’ve got some great performances coming in the 2019-2020 school year!


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites by Chris Heimerdinger

Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites
(c) 1989 by Chris Heimerdinger
Recently, I listened to the book on tape of one of my old favorites from my teens, Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites by Chris Heimerdinger.

Jim Hawkins, no relation to the character of the same name from Treasure Island, his friend Garth Plimpton, and Jim's younger sister Jenny are exploring a cave when they fall into an underground river and find themselves wisked away to the past. They wake up in a strange place, and find that they've traveled back in time to pre-Colombian MesoAmerica, and are smack dab in the middle of a conflict between Nephites and Lamanites! How the three kids are going to get out of this fix, none of them know. But as they team up with the likes of Teancum, Moroni, Pahoran and others, their hopes start to rise.

This is a good book for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints who enjoy a good adventure, and in fact anyone who enjoys a good adventure story might like it. It was as fun to read this time, as it was the first time I read it!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Cat Who Smelled a Rat by Lilian Jackson Braun

The Cat Who Smelled a Rat by Lilian Jackson Braun is a cozy story about Jim Qwilleran and his two Siamese cats, Yum Yum and Ko Ko. 
Cat Who Smelled a Rat, The (c) 2002
by Lilian Jackson Braun
Quil and his cats are living comfortably in Pickax City which is in Moose Country which is “400 miles north of everywhere” waiting for the “Big One” the major winter storm that always hits this time of the year, when mysterious things start to happen. Fires are starting near the historic mine shafts, and Qwil and his cats suspect arson. Then, when two people die under mysterious circumstances, a volunteer firefighter is murdered, and the local bookstore goes up in flames, Qwil and his cats know that something sinister is afoot! How do Quil and his feline companions track down the bad guy? Read the book and find out!

I recommend this book to people who love clean, cozy mysteries. And cats!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Holes by Louis Sachar

Holes (c) 1998 by Louis Sacher
Holes by Louis Sachar follows the story of Stanley Yelnats,who after a string of misfortunes in his family finds himself falsely accused of a crime and sentenced to labor in Camp Greenlake digging holes.
While Stanley digs holes, the reader is also given the stories of characters from the past, Sam and Katherine, whose tragedy intertwines with the story of Stanley’s no good dirty rotten pig stealing great great grandfather as well as his descendants, stemming from his accidentally broken promise to Madam Zeroni. The story is fun and well written with great twists and likable characters. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys adventure stories with satisfying endings.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Fablehaven Book 1 by Brandon Mull

Fablehaven (c) 2009 by Brandon Mull
The first book in the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull introduces the reader to Kendra and Seth, a brother and sister who go to stay with their Grandpa and Grandma Sorensen for a time while their parents go off on a cruise.  Thinking that they're going to be bored, the kids come with some amount of trepidation.

But what they find when they get to their grandparents' property gives them no time to be bored! Discovering that mythical creatures really exist and have taken refuge in the preserve their grandparents watch over, is just one part of their grandparents' secrets. That some of these creatures have evil intent is another. From demons who want to take over the preserve to naiads who want nothing more than to pull them underwater and drown them, Kendra and Seth have to be careful where they go and what they do. But when all the adults (except grandma and I won't explain why) are kidnapped on midsummer's eve, the kids have no choice but to brave the dangers of Fablehaven in order to try to rescue them.

I enjoyed this book, and recommend it to readers young and old who enjoy fantasy for young readers.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Passage to Avalon by Mike Thayer

The world building in Passage to Avalon by Mike Thayer is breathtakingly magnificent! I was thoroughly impressed by the detail of this world; the magic systems that are in place, the unique species, the established government etc. Middle grade readers, especially kids who love fantasy, will absolutely enjoy this book!

Mike Thayer is a master at creating a unique and completely believable world; one that is separate but parallel to our own. And I might add, close enough that the main character is actually able to communicate on occasion, (when he can find enough bars) with the Earth side of the dimensional divide.

Passage to Avalon (c) 2018 by Mike Thayer
While Samwise (Sam for short) Shelton and a friend are pulling a mean prank on someone, they experience an earthquake and subsequently find themselves transported to Avalon, a world separate but parallel to our own. The particular geography of this parallel dimension seems to match ours, and Avalon is where New Zealand is on our half of the dimensional divide. There, he encounters a society that is similar in dress and thinking to the middle ages of Europe, but also with a magical system. When coming into contact with a couple of ne'er-do-wells, Sam unwittingly defeats them, because, as it turns out, he is what the people there call a "void" someone who isn't affected by magic at all, and can actually drain it from others. As the story goes along and as he meets new allies, he learns to use this odd skill as he sets about trying to rescue his friend who came over with him, but who landed in another part of Avalon.

What actually happens when he finally comes into contact with his missing friend was something I predicted would happen, but it was still very exciting, since the protagonist and his friends had not anticipated it.

For myself, and taking into account that I am not a member of the target audience, I really did not like Samwise. He is a downright cruel boy who plays mean tricks on people, thinking himself clever and witty as he does so, and calling the mean tricks "pranks" to justify them. I do understand the appeal of such books to many middle grade readers, however, and were I a younger person and a member of the target audience of this book, what Samwise did wouldn't have bothered me.

I hoped Sam would grow as the book moved along, but from what I saw of him, he largely didn't.  As the story neared the end of the book, he even said that the "pranks" he played were only done to people who "deserved" it. I wondered what the librarian at his school had done to him that was so terrible that she deserved to have her lunch ruined which is a difficult thing at best, and at worst could be outright dangerous if she has health issues and needs to eat regularly. (I mention this because I have witnessed first hand "pranks" being pulled on a teacher almost just like this, and the teacher spent the next day sick at home, and unable to keep anything down.) I also wonder what the vice-principal did that was so horrible that Sam believed that it was appropriate to risk causing serious eye damage to the man. Had the egg Sam dropped hit the vice-principal in the eye rather than the forehead, it could have seriously injured his eye or even blinded him, and Sam was old enough to know that. What he was doing right before the earthquake wasn't much different than chucking a frozen turkey off an overpass. Being young does not excuse him from being unkind or ignorant to such potential problems. He's not five years old; he's fourteen and at this point in his life, he has the ability to know better. If he doesn't know better, it's because he has consciously chosen not to learn better. He mentioned, also toward the end of the book, that pulling his so called "pranks" was something his dad (who is deceased when the story begins) had taught him to do. I was a bit surprised at this. If his dad would approve of and participate in such meanness, then alive or dead, he's not a great guy. But would his dad really approve of Sam treating people in such a cruel way and think it funny? I seriously doubt it; most likely, the mean pranks Sam has pulled on teachers, police, and likely others is more a misguided interpretation of harmless and playful jokes his dad taught him that would entertain everyone, not just the person doing the prank.

In addition, again near the end of the book, Sam still hasn't learned much about honor or honesty and shows it when he lies to one of the characters who asks him if anyone could learn to use his phone; he leads the person to understand that he, Sam, is the only one who can or ever could use the phone the way he does. The person who asked hadn't given any indication of being a bad or dishonorable person, and Sam had no reason to withhold the truth from the person.  The only reason he did it, is because he wanted others to see him as special, as the only one with the ability to control his phone and all the things it could do.

From his attitude, it appears that at the end of this first book he still hasn't learned a significant amount of character. It will be disappointing if, at the end of the series, he still sees half-truths as acceptable, or  teachers as dross, and as suitable brunts of cruel jokes like he does at the beginning.

That being said, much of his acting out in such mean ways may have something to do with the fact that his dad passed away before the story began. Sam does try to rescue his friend, and even endures difficult and dangerous situations in his attempt to find and save the other boy. It will be interesting to see if he learns to extend that compassion to others including his mom and other adults (teachers, the police and other authority figures) in our dimension (not just the cool cowboys and rebel leaders in Avalon's dimension) and if he learns to appreciate the often raw endurance that such adults exercise when dealing with a child like him and what they all do and go through for him by the end of the series.

Of course, this is just the first book of a series, and the following books may see Sam learn and grow in surprising ways. The world building, as I already mentioned, was absolutely astounding, and Avalon, with its environment, people, magic system and rules, and the deliciously corrupt government is completely riveting.

Middle grade readers will find this book engaging and exciting, and will look forward with much anticipation to the rest of the series!

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill

The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill is a touching middle grade novel about a young girl who doesn't know what to make of life and her relationships when her dad leaves, and she doesn't know where he is.

Three Rules of Everyday Magic, The (c) 2018
by Amanda Rawson Hill
The book gives young readers a good look at the realities of depression and dementia, and the readers learn, along with Kate, how to care and trust, even when the people she once trusted the most let her down.

Kate's dad, once her best friend and once so seemly happy, now has depression and doesn't seem to want Kate to know where he is.  Her grandma is sinking deeper into dementia and Kate doesn't know what to do about that.

She tries following her grandma's advice about "everyday magic" but at first, things don't seem to work, and even backfire on her. Or at least don't work out the way she expected. But as she learns about all the rules of "everyday magic" she begins to come to a greater understanding about what her dad is suffering and what her grandma is going through and is able to develop greater compassion for each of them.

This book is a good book for young people, especially those who have loved ones who are dealing with depression and/or aging.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen is a powerful book aimed mostly at older kids, but it's something that adults would appreciate as well.

Resistance (c) 2018 by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Chaya Lindner is a young Jewish girl whose family is torn apart by the Nazis during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Despite the terrible risks to her, she chooses to fight back by running messages, food, etc. into the ghettos. She even manages to sneak people out. She faces terrible risks, and great danger, but still presses forward.

The things that she sees in the ghettos, (starving people, etc.) and the terrible risks she faces may be scary for really young kids, but this is a story that needs to be told. I believe older kids and teens as well as adults will learn valuable lessons about WWII, the cruelty of the Nazis, and most importantly, the strength of human courage by reading this book.

History should not be forgotten if we do not want to repeat it, and the extent to which human depravity can sink should never be underestimated. And yet Chaya's example shows that the opposite is true, too. The extent of courage that can be shown in the face of great evil also should not be underestimated.

I recommend this book without hesitation to older elementary kids, teens, and adults.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Squint (c) 2018
 by Shelly Brown and Chad Morris
Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown follows Flint (Squint as some kids call him) as he works to create the graphic art of his original superhero Squint and his side kicks. As he makes friends with McKell, he starts to get to know her brother Danny as well, but not directly; only through the challenges he offers people through his youtube channel, that encourage them to do difficult things that stretch them and help make them better, kinder people.

As McKell and Flint work through Danny's various challenges, they grow and learn, sometimes in unexpected ways. But when tragedy strikes, will they be able to continue forward and work through the last few challenges?

Squint is a great book for young and not so young alike, and leaves the reader with something positive to think about.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Grump by Liesl Shurtliff

Grump by Leisl Shurtliff is a middle grade novel that follows the life of Borlen (also known as Grump) who ends up being one of the dwarves who help Snow White.

Grump (c) 2018 by Leisl Shurtliff 
Borlen is unlike other dwarves. Because of an accidental cave in, he wasn't born where most dwarves are born, deep down, in the best caverns, he is born near the surface, so close that his parents can see tree roots growing down into the cave where he is born. Because of this unfortunate predicament, the only things they have to feed their baby are pebbles, except for one nice ruby his father was saving for their child when he was born.

Perhaps because of this, or perhaps because of something inherent in his character, Borlen is fascinated by stories of the surface world and always wants to go there. One day when his crew of seven dwarves (they always dig in crews of seven) is digging in a tunnel, they come across his namesake, borlen, and realize they might be close to the surface. Few of the other dwarves want to stay here, but Borlen convinces them that he should, and bring back the borlen, which is a prized commodity in dwarf communities. They let him, but when he digs a little bit further, and finally breaks through a few more rocks, he sees sunlight streaming in. What happens after that? You should read the book and find out for yourself!

People who enjoy the story of Snow White would enjoy this unique look at the lives of the dwarves before they met Snow White, and especially at the life and background of Grumpy before and after their encounter with her.

This was a really fun book for me to read, and I think that adults as well as kids would enjoy it!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Rush Revere and the First Patriots by Rush Limbaugh


Rush Revere and the First Patriots by Rush Limbaugh is a fun way for kids and adults to experience history. It is the second book in the series, the first book being Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, and in my opinion, it is just as fun as the first.

In this second book, Mr. Revere, a substitute teacher at Manchester Middle School, is teaching in place of Ms. Borington, the regular history teacher. But Mr. Revere has something that Ms. Borington doesn't have. He has the ability to travel to any time in history where something happened that affected the United States. He doesn't have this skill on his own, though. He has a time traveling horse named Liberty who can talk, and can travel to specific events in American history.

In this episode, four students, Tommy, Freedom, Cam, and Elizabeth are able to travel through time to periods just before the American Revolution began. They meet people like Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, King George, and others who were participants in that period of history.

Tommy, Freedom and Cam are nice kids, Elizabeth is not. She's a power hungry child who wants to change American history so that King George knows about the Boston Tea Party before it happens. She is a decidedly unpleasant child, and I would enjoy watching what happens to her in continued episodes. Perhaps she will change for the better, and learn that Freedom and Liberty both the concepts and the people) are pretty great.

I recommend this book because of its fun characters, and its exploration of historical events in a creative and entertaining way.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims (c) 2013
by Rush Limbaugh
Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims is a fun book written by Rush Limbaugh for a middle grade to junior high audience, and is a great way to teach young kids about the history of America. I listened to the audio book of the story, read by the author, Rush Limbaugh, and he does a great job, The story follows the adventures of four main characters, Rush Revere, the title character, his talking horse Liberty, and two kids, Tommy and Freedom, who are from the middle school where Mr. Revere is teaching temporarily.

Liberty is no ordinary horse. He can talk, and he can time travel. He was born in the 1700s, and his backstory is given a little bit about how he and Mr. Revere came to be friends. A lightening bolt struck near him, propelling him into the 21st century. Confused, the horse wandered around for a while until he saw Mr. Revere. Mr. Revere had been dressed in a costume from the 18th century because he'd been promoting something for his company. I forget exactly what. But seeing someone dressed in clothes with which Liberty was familiar, the horse proceeded to follow Mr. Revere along. Realizing that a horse was following him, Mr. Revere began a dialogue with the animal in which he discovered that Liberty could talk. They also discovered, some time later, that Liberty could time travel to any period in American history that was involved in some way with the establishment of our current government. So he could travel to anywhere from recent history all the way back to the landing of the pilgrims.

In this particular story, the first of the series I believe, Mr. Revere, Liberty, and two young kids, a boy named Tommy and a girl named Freedom, travel back and interact with the first pilgrims and the Native People who saved them, including William and Dorothy Bradford, Samoset, Squanto, Miles Standish, and Massasoit. The difficulties the pilgrims faced, including the death of Dorothy Bradford is mentioned in the book; William Bradford speaks of his grief at losing his wife, but not to the degree that it brings the fun and light-hearted mood of the book down (the main characters, in their travels back and forth in time were not present at the deaths of Dorothy or the others who died during the Starving Time).

I really enjoyed listening to this book, and highly recommend it to adults and young people alike as a way to explore the early history of the United States.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Angels Can Laugh Too by Alberta Rothe Nelson

Angels Can Laugh Too is a sweet, uplifting story written by Alberta Rothe Nelson and published by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media. The story follows Randolph Rippenhoffer (also known as R squared) from just before his death through his adventures as a guardian angel. He helps various people through various trials, some of them are funny, and some of them are sad.

Angels Can Laugh Too (c) 2004
by Alberta Rothe Nelson
The saddest was a story of a boxcar full of Jewish orphans during WWII. It was interesting to watch R Squared's emotions as he tried to help the children. Imagining the emotions of a soul who has passed on was a sweet addition to the book. It makes me wonder who might be watching me, trying to help me through various blunders. I also liked the addition of the bad "angels" that R Squared had to deal with as he tried to help the man battling his alcohol addiction. The bad "angels" reminded me of C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters, and the devils in that, which were trying to tempt people in the wrong direction for their own insatiable hunger. I liked that even though R Squared didn't reach his goal with the man, that he didn't give up on him, and made plans to continue trying to help him.

I really enjoyed listening to this book and recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading inspiring, religious stories.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Samantha, An American Girl by Susan S. Adler, Maxine Rose Schur, and Valerie Tripp

Samantha, An American Girl (c) 1998
The American Girls collection is an inspiring series of stories about girls from different eras of American history. Samantha's story begins in the Edwardian period, specifically 1904, and follows Samantha through various adventures believable to the time period.

I listened to the Samantha Story Collection about Samantha, a little girl growing up at the beginning of the 20th century. The stories were written by Susan S. Alder, Maxine Rose Schur, and Valerie Tripp.

Samantha is a good example for young readers. She is a wealthy, yet compassionate girl who is not afraid to befriend anyone who needs and appreciates her help. She is extremely altruistic, going to great lengths to help her friend Nellie many times throughout the series. Yet she doesn't come across as a character who is fake, or too good to be true. She seems realistic and genuine, and her actions show the value of friendship and believing in one's own abilities.

Since the story happens around 1904 there are various themes that are addressed, which were realistic concerns of the time, particularly women's suffrage, and child labor in unsafe factories. These themes are addressed in a way that the target audience, children, can understand, and also that adults can appreciate.

I recommend the Samantha Story Collection to young elementary aged readers. Adults reading with children will appreciate the stories as well.

I have not read all the American Girl Series, but from what I have read, the books are well written, entertaining, and teach valuable morals to their readers.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Alpha- Movie Review

Alpha, (c) 2018 by Albert Hughes
Keda is a young teenager who lives 20,000 years ago, going on a hunt with his father and the other men of his tribe. But when he's tossed over a cliff by a buffalo, his father and the others think he's died, and go home without him. Later, he regains consciousness, gets himself to safety, and gives himself first aid. As he's trying to make his way home, he's attacked by a wolf pack, and as he's climbing a tree to get away, one grabs his leg, and he stabs it with a knife, then gets up into the tree. The other wolves give up on catching him, and leave. But the wounded wolf isn't able to go. Unable to bring himself to kill the wounded wolf, Keda takes care of it. Over time, the two become friends, and the wolf, whom he names Alpha, continues his journey with him.

I enjoyed the movie, and thought it well made. There was a twist at the end that I did not expect, but it made sense, and I liked it.

It was directed by Albert Hughes, and produced by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. It was put out on DVD in 2018.

The movie is PG-13 because of scenes related to hunting animals. There is no swearing in the movie. I think that dog lovers would enjoy this movie.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

Janitors (2011) by Tyler Whitesides
Janitors by Tyler Whitesides is a fun story for middle grade readers about the adventures of a couple of kids, Spencer and Daisy, who discover the secret world of the janitors at their school.

It turns out that Marv Bills and Walter Jameson do more than mop floors. They're fighting toxites, little creatures invisible to most people unless they've been exposed to magical glop, that want to sap the smarts out of kids. Marv and Walter's problem though, is that while they want to help the kids, the BEM, Bureau of Educational Maintenance, has withdrawn support for them, as if the BEM actually wants kids to get stupid. Not knowing why the BEM has withdrawn support, Marv, Walter, and a handful of other "rebel janitors" continue to use glopified equipment, struggling to fight back the toxites on their own. But when the BEM start coming after them, the kids want to step in and help.

What will happen when the BEM start coming after the kids?

The book is a bit long for its target audience, but I think it would be an enjoyable read for most upper elementary aged readers.


Pillage by Obert Skye

Pillage by Obert Skye is a novel written for middle schoolers and high schoolers, and which older elementary aged readers would enjoy as well.
Pillage (c) 2009 by Obert Skye

Beck Phillips goes to live in the quaint town of Kingsplot with his estranged uncle when his mother dies. There, he begins to uncover dark family secrets, and discovers a strange ability to get plants to do what he wants. Not only that, but when he goes exploring in places where he's been specifically told not to go (Beck has a thing about disobeying authority) he discovers another talent that he didn't know he had, but that is a bit more dangerous than being able to control plants. Of course it involves dragons.

Without giving away spoilers, the book is not one that dragon lovers would enjoy because of certain events in the book that were painful to witness. But it is well-written for its target audience, and young people would enjoy it.

For myself, I had a hard time liking Beck after the first scene. He wants to get out of a few days of school, and tries to do this by releasing a hive of bees into the school. Did he not consider that some students might be so allergic to bee stings that his doing so could be fatal to them? It might be realistic for a fifteen year old not to consider such consequences, but that fifteen year old isn't any more likable to me because of the lack of understanding such consequences. He knew enough to know it would cause difficulty and disruption, even pain to others, and that's enough to make him an unlikable character to me.

However, to the target audience, the opening scene could be very funny and enjoyable, and many readers would even be able to relate to Beck. After all, what high schooler or middle schooler wouldn't want to get out of school for a few days?

Like many books for young people, the adults in the book tend to be bumbling idiots, harsh bullies, neglectful, dismissive, or crazy. Something that usually turns me away from such books. But it wouldn't bother the target audience. After all, using such tropes leaves the way open for the young protagonists to step in and save the day. Which is what young audiences like.

The main conflict of the story seemed to take longer than it ought to develop, which might try the patience of its target audience, but there was enough action along the way to keep teens interested. There are twists and turns that I didn't anticipate, and that young readers would find delightfully frightening. These twists and turns are what helped me overlook the things I didn't like, and kept me interested in the story despite not being a member of the target audience.

The end leaves it obvious that a sequel is coming, yet wraps up the present conflict in a satisfying way. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Beowulf by ???

Beowulf
Beowulf, written possibly around 700 A.D., is the story of the title character, Beowulf. He is a hero from the land of the Geats who hears rumors of a terrifying monster wreaking havoc in Denmark at the castle Heorot, ruled by Hrothgar. Feeling an obligation to help, Beowulf sets off for the land of the Danes.

From there, the audience follows Beowulf through three main battles in the story. Beowulf's battle with Grendel, his battle with Grendel's Mother, and his battle with a dragon at the end. The story was originally written in Old English, and there are multiple translations into modern English.

I see Beowulf as a Christian allegory of the age old battle of good against evil. There are references to Christianity throughout, woven through with old Pagan beliefs that would have held over from before the coming of Christianity to Europe. I personally enjoy the story, and recommend it to people who enjoy mythology, and stories of heroes who fight against difficult odds despite the danger and pain to themselves.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis

I've reviewed The Magician's Nephew on this blog  before, but I enjoy C. S. Lewis's work so much, that I want to read it over, and over again. Books like his, as well as Tolkien's books, especially The Hobbit, and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee are books that I simply can not tire of reading.
Magician's Nephew, The (c) 1955 by C. S. Lewis
In The Magician's Nephew, not the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia, but the first chronologically, Polly and Diggory, girl and boy protagonists, embark on an adventure when they are tricked into touching magic rings by Diggory's unscrupulous uncle, Uncle Andrew. On their adventure, they find themselves in Charn, a dying world, and encounter Jadis, the cruel and ruthless witch who, against their wishes, accompanies them. Then joined by Uncle Andrew who is more than willing to be Jadis' yes man, as well as a good-hearted cab driver Frank and his horse Strawberry, the children find themselves in Narnia. But now with Jadis here in Narnia determined to wreak havoc, the children are recruited by Aslan the Lion to fetch a silver apple from a certain garden far to the west in order to plant a tree that will protect Narnia from Jadis' evil for many years. 

Will the children be able to accomplish their goal? And will Diggory get his wish to bring a healing apple from Narnia to save his dangerously ill mother? Read the book to find out!

The Magician's Nephew is a wonderful book for children and adults, and I enjoy reading it now as much as I enjoyed reading it as a child.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Farmer Boy (c) 1933 by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder follows the adventures of little Almanzo Wilder between his 9th and 10th years as he goes to school, watches his teacher deal with school bullies, and works alongside his family on their farm in New York state.

Farmer Boy is the 2nd book of the Little House on the Prairie series.

Like other books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the book doesn't have a story question, end goal, or plot, it simply follows Almanzo through various adventures in chronological order. The writing is simple enough for children to read and understand, yet vivid and descriptive as well. Each chapter works as its own short story, and that is the magic of the book. The story shows us how people lived back in the 1800s, and gives us a glimpse of a life when things were a little tougher, yet a little simpler, and people were happy with what they had. Almanzo, his brother and his two sisters, for example, are ecstatic Christmas morning when they wake up to find presents in their stockings. Just their stockings, not a room full of wrapped gifts. Yet, they're happy and contented. He and his family work hard for what they get, and while he may not have everything someone else might think he needs to be happy, Almanzo is. He's happy with his family, a boughten cap he gets for Christmas, and a full plate of food!

I enjoyed reading this story when I was young, and I enjoyed listening to it on cd just recently. I recommend this book to both children and adults who would enjoy an easy read about life in the 1800s.