Friday, January 26, 2018

Holes by Louis Sachar

Holes (c) 1998 by Louis Sachar
I recently finished a really enjoyable book, which was made into an equally enjoyable movie. Holes by Louis Sachar gives us the story of Stanley Yelnats IV, who, because of his no-good-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather, has had bad luck all his life, just like his dad, grandpa, greatgrandpa, and great great grandpa. His great great grandpa, Elya Yelnats, being upset because he was thwarted in love, forgot to carry Madam Zeroni up the mountain so she could drink from the stream up there. He up and went to America, forgetting his promise.  And as a result, he and his decendants have had  bad luck all their lives. His son, the first Stanley Yelnats was robbed by Kissin' Kate Barlow, and later, his great great grandson Stanley is convicted for a crime he didn't commit! Finding himself at Camp Greenlake and required to dig one hole every day, five feet wide and five feet deep, Stanley doesn't think things can get any worse, and that they can never get better. But he's wrong, both times! After meeting X-Ray, Armpit, Squid, ZigZag, Magnet, and especially Zero, Stanley, also known to his new friends as Caveman, realizes his adventures are just beginning!

If you enjoy funny mysteries for young people that also make you think, I highly recommend both the book and the movie!

The book Holes by Louis Sachar was first published in 1998, and the movie Holes directed by Andrew Davis and put out by Disney, came out in 2003.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (c) 1998 by J. K. Rowling
I recently finished (again) reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling, published in 1997 in the U.K., (as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) and 1998 in the U.S., the first book in the Harry Potter series, and an absolutely delightful story.

Harry Potter has spent his childhood with the Dursleys, his mother's sister and her husband and son, and they are the only family he has known for as long as he can remember, his parents having died when he was a baby.  They have treated him terribly, making him living in the closet under the stairs, and being generally unkind. They especially get mad when he talks about anything acting in a way it normally wouldn't; Uncle Vernon, for example, shouts furiously at Harry simply because Harry mentioned a dream he'd had in which there had been a flying motorcycle.

But all this changes when Harry meets a fellow named Rubius Hagrid, who presents him with a letter to Hogwarts, school of witchcraft and wizardry.  He is a wizard, it turns out, something his aunt and uncle had tried to hide from him. And he's able to go to school at Hogwarts. But are his problems over? Goodness, no. They're just beginning! Even so, he faces them with courage and determination, and the help of Hermione and Ron, two friends he meets at school.

I enjoyed the book immensely, and recommend it to both children and adults who enjoy magic, fantasy, and fun!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables (c) 1908 by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery, especially my favorite, the first book, is a fresh, uplifting series of stories about Anne Shirley, an orphan who moves in with an elderly brother and sister, Matthew and Marila Cuthbert when she is eleven years old. They live in Green Gables, a house near the town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island in Canada.

In Anne of Green Gables, first published in 1908, Anne is heartbroken at first when she learns that the Cuthberts had wanted the orphanage to send them a boy, and that there had been a mix-up. But when the Cuthberts decide to keep her anyway, she cheers up. What follows is a hilarious series of adventures and misadventures as Anne gets herself into one predicament after another, only to get herself out again because of her pluck and tenacity, from accidentally flavoring a cake with linament oil instead of vanilla, and jumping onto a bed only to find a poor old lady, (her best friend Diana's great-aunt Josephine) already in it!

I enjoy all of L. M. Montgomery's stories about Anne, and Anne of Green Gables is my favorite of them all. I highly recommend it to adults as well as children!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New LDS Church Presidency

Russell M. Nelson, President
While I was sad on the 3rd to find out that Thomas S. Monson, prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had died, I was pleased recently to learn about the calling of his successor, and his counselors.

Russell M. Nelson has been called to serve as the President of the church, and has asked Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring to help him as his counselors. I'm glad, because I like both Elder Oaks and Elder Eyring.

Dallin H. Oaks, 1st Counselor
Elder Eyring had served as one of President Monson's counselors, and so has experience serving in the presidency. Elder Oaks has been an apostle since 1984. Both of them have a good amount of experience as General Authorities, and I am confident that they will help President Nelson considerably.

Henry B. Eyring, 2nd Counselor
I think these three men will do a marvelous job leading the LDS (Mormon) church, and my prayers and support are with them.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales characters, by Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales, written, oh, gee, a long time ago, (between 1387 and 1400) by Geoffrey Chaucer, is an example of a story within a story narration. A group of travelers, the narrator plus twenty-nine others, meet at an inn before they set out for Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. The group of them decide to travel together.  The innkeeper decides to go with them, and suggests to the group that to make their journey more enjoyable on the way, that each of them will tell two stories on the way there and two on the way back, and he, the innkeeper, will decide which is the best story. Then, the winner will be given a meal paid by the others at the journey's end. The tales were never finished because Chaucer died before completing them. But the stories the characters gave, and the descriptions of the many characters give us a glimpse into what life was like back in the day. I particularly enjoyed the story about Chanticleer and Pertelote, a mock-heroic story which was
a romance between a rooster and a hen, and the Pardoner's story. The nun's priest's tale, the one about Chanticleer, the rooster, and Pertelote, the hen, was funny, and the Pardoner's story was a good reminder that greed can do great damage.
I recommend The Canterbury Tales to people who enjoy stories from history, and learning about life from long ago.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Clinton City Storytelling Festival

Yesterday, I had the wonderful priviledge of participating in the Clinton City Storytelling Festival, hosted by Clinton City Recreation.
About a month ago, my former brother and sister-in-law contacted me, and said her dad was helping to put together some authors and storytellers who would participate in the Festival, and asked if I would be willing to come and read some of my work. I was very happy to do so, and came out to participate.
I'm so glad I went! I really enjoyed it! I didn't read as much of my work as I had hoped, because I didn't want to go over the six minutes I'd been given, but I hoped what I read was enjoyable to the adults and kids who were there. I sure enjoyed myself.
There were storytellers of various ages, including one young lady who was ten! And their stories and songs were very fun!
If I am not mistaken, this was the first year that Clinton City, Utah has done a Storytelling Festival. And I hope they continue to do so for many more

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (c) 1876 by Mark Twain
I recently finished, again, an enjoyable classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, which was the pen name for Samuel Clemens who wrote many books during the late 1800s, including A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, first published in 1876,
was a fun, entertaining book that explored a few months in the life of Thomas Sawyer, a boy who lives with his aunt since his mother died. He is an adventurous boy who doesn't like school or manual labor, but he does find that he likes Becky Thatcher, a new girl in town. With his pal Huckleberry, who after this book has an adventure of his own, he gets into all sorts of scrapes, including being witnesses to a murder! While some might say that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, it ended up being a good thing they were there, since Injun Joe, the real murderer, tried to frame innocent Muff Potter for the deed, and the boys, while mischievous, are at heart compassionate boys and do the right thing in witnessing in Muff Potter's defense, saving him from being hanged for a crime he didn't commit. But then when Injun Joe escapes, Tom starts worrying that Injun Joe is going to come after him next! To maker matters worse, when he and Becky, on an outing with some other kids, find themselves hopeless lost in a cave, the only person they come in contact with as they're trying to find their way out, is Injun Joe!

I really enjoyed the story, and while it dragged in a few places, it was a fun adventure story over all. I recommend it to people who enjoy classical literature, and fun adventure!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Far World: Air Keep by J. Scott Savage

Far World Air Keep (c) 2013 by J. Scott Savage
I recently finished, again, a very entertaining book, the third of a series by J. Scott Savage, entitled Far World: Air Keep. It is preceded by Far World: Water Keep, and Far World: Land Keep, and it is followed by Far World: Fire Keep, the last book in the series.

In the book Marcus and Kyja, the hero and heroine of the story are tasked with finding and getting the help of the Air Elementals, about whom there is very little known. As they go on their journey, they are joined by Mr. Z (short for Zithspithesbazith) whom they met in the previous book and who guides them along. As they go, they discover the capriciousness of the Air Elementals, and begin to despair if they will ever get their help. What do they do to finally gain the Air Elementals' trust? Well, read the book and find out!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis

The Horse and His Boy (c) 1954 by C. S. Lewis
The Horse and His Boy, another of the many great books in the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, follows the story of Shasta and Bree, a young human and a talking Narnian horse who work together to escape slavery in Calormen. Along the way, they meet up with Aravis and Hwin, a young Calormene noble woman, and a talking mare who are also escaping together. Aravis is running away from an unwanted betrothal, and Hwin, like Bree, was kidnapped as a young foal.

The four of them have various troubles and setbacks on their journey north, particularly in the city of Tashbaan, but doing so they learn important information about a planned invasion by Prince Rabadash on Archenland and Narnia that they take with them as they escape Tashban and cross the desert toward Archenland.

The story was an enjoyable one, and like the other books in the Narnian Chronicles, is a story that I believe both adults and young people will enjoy. Mr. Lewis, as he does in all his books, shows the natural consequences that come when people choose wisely and unselfishly, as with Shasta and Aravis' choices, and the natural consequences when people choose unwisely and selfishly as with Rabadash's choices.

I enjoyed the book very much, and heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy/adventure story!

The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis

The Magician's Nephew (c)1955 by C. S. Lewis
The Magician's Nephew, by C.S. Lewis was first published in 1955. While it wasn't the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia to be written, it was the first that happened chronologically.

It follows the adventure of Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer who stumble by accident, into Digory's uncle's study where he tricks them into traveling between worlds as his human guinea pigs. On their adventures they meet Jadis, who eventually becomes the evil witch who causes trouble for Narnia later, and they come into Narnia just as it is being formed by Aslan. Digory eventually grows up to be Professor Kirke in whose house Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy eventually stay and whose wardrobe they take to get into their adventure in Narnia.

I enjoyed The Magician's Nephew tremendously when I was ten and heard it read to me by a teacher at school. And I was pleased to enjoy it again, just recently.  I loved the adventure when I was young, and I love it now. I especially appreciate the lessons Mr. Lewis put into the book, without being overly didactic, of how the goodness and morality of the children and Frank, the kind cabby, win in the end over the selfishness and cowardice of Uncle Andrew and the evil witch.

This is the kind of book that both children and adults would enjoy reading, and I heartily recommend it!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Thomas S. Monson

Thomas S. Monson
I was saddened just now, when I learned, checking my emails, that Thomas S. Monson, the 16th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, died last night. He was 90  years old.

I remember when I was in my youth, singing in a choir for our Regional Conference in the Tabernacle at Temple Square, and sitting not to far away from him since he had come to speak. I remember his stories about World War II and how he had stood alone, or thought he stood alone, when his superior was dismissing men to go to church. The man had called out several religions to dismiss them, but not his, and since he hadn't been officially dismissed, he stood there, by himself. Only when the man asked what he and the other men behind them called themselves, and the other men answered, "Mormons, sir!" did he realized there were still others there. And he was able to go with them as they all went to church together.

I remember watching the funeral of Gordon B. Hinkley on the news, and knowing that Elder Monson would soon be called as the next prophet. I remember sustaining him in General Conference. I was, and am, grateful for his example of goodness, service, unselfishness, and faith.

If I'm not mistaken, Russell M. Nelson will be called to be the next president of the church. And I am confident that he will do as wonderful a job as President Monson has done.