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Thursday, 27 October 2011

Learning through Books

There are so many things we can learn through reading. Life lessons, things we never knew before . One thing I unexpectedly learnt was the existence of a certain force of nature: Auroras - the aurora borealis/australis. I read how characters saw this natural phenomena in the sky. Curious, I checked it out and found :





Wow! I found a good explanation on them at http://www.exploratorium.edu/learning_studio/auroras/happen.html

Its formation has to do with the magnet field as well as atoms and acceleration. Cool sciency stuff:)

 "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork"-Psalm 19:1
"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
 4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?"-Psalm 8: 3,4
 How Great is our God!


What unexpected knowledge have you gained through reading? Have you heard of Auroae before?



Not-in-30-days Book Challenge Post 3

Time for another Book Challenge Post!

Day 11- The Book that made you fall in love with reading
I distinctly remember my mum taking me to the library when I was in Grade 2 and picking out and Enid Blyton book for me. I didn't want to read it-it didn;t have a pretty cover-but she said, "Trust me, you'll love it".
I fell in love with the Famous Five series. From then on I read and reread their adventures, getting lost in a world of mystery , adventure , secret passages and bad guys-who always were caught in the end.


Day 12- A book so emotionally draining you couldn’t complete it or had to set aside for a bit
Christy by Catherine Marshall
I read the adapted, 4 book series when I was about 12. I absolutely loved it! Christy was like a role model for me. She was a girl who left her home to do mission work in the Smoky Mountains. The series details her adventures and such. It was all really exciting and gave me a good picture of  mountain life . However a few years later I picked up the clasic version -the original by Catherine Marshall. The tone was different, as was the writing, but I still enjoyed it. Hoever there was one horrifying scene in the book when a character recounts a bad experience. I felt so sick I set the book aside and had to emotionally recover to stop freaking out and getting angry at the injustice portrayed.


 Day 13- Favorite childhood book
Another Enid Blyton series, I'm afraid:P
The island of adventure, the castle of adventure...The Adventure series was probably the set of pages I got the most innocent thrill out of reading. I loved kiki the parrot, who added the humor element to the story. I liked the characters-each who had their own faults, but who were still so brave and caring. Their adventures were a highlight to me- secret islands where conterfeit money was being produced, castles where bad guys are dealing, mountains where crazy scientists test their work and so much more! Looking back, the plots are so masterfully crafted, and the language rich. I thoroughly enjoyed the tension and of course, adventure, not to mention the settings. Hope to revisit this wonderful series soon!


Day 14- Book that should be on hs/college required reading list
hmmmm....It would have to be a book with exceptional writing as well as relevant themes which would reach an audience of more than just a girlll like me...probably A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. Rich in historical detail, it's an awesome novel with an action-packed plot. Slaves, Romans, and Gladiators -an epic combination. Not only does it have a beautiful storyline, it also has meaningful themes and really makes you think. Definately a must-read.

Day 15- Favorite book dealing with foreign culture
Most of the books I read deal with western lifestyle...but I do read some Historical Fiction. I think a book that aptly portrays  the culture of the Mediveal perods(one of my favourite eras) is Waterfall by Lisa Bergren.
Not only is it rich in the detail of the lifestyle and customs 14th century Italy, it is an amazing adventure. From the blurb: In Waterfall, American teenager Gabi Betarrini accidently finds herself in Fourteenth-Century Italy . . . Knights. Swords. Horses. Armor. And Italian hotties. Most American teens want an Italian vacation, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archaeologist parents. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds... until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves catapulted into the Fourteenth Century and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another.
Gabi is an awesome character. She is daring, smart and passionate. I loved the way she adapted to the lifestyle, but also how she was willing to go against the norm and wield a sword in battle! Though, it must've been  hard to fight in a dress...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

BOOK REVIEW: The Gift by Bryan Litfin


This second book in the Chiveis Trilogy continues the search for the New Testament in a world where the Bible has been lost
The Chiveis Trilogy takes readers hundreds of years into the future. War and disease have destroyed civilization as we know it. Much technology has been discarded and history is largely forgotten. Slowly, the few survivors have begun to build new communities, and kingdoms now prosper in a kind of feudal order. But the Word of God has been lost for centuries. 
After the finding of an Old Testament in book one of the trilogy, The Gift picks up the story of Teo and Ana. Exiled from their homeland and trying to survive in unknown and dangerous lands, they search for any record of the missing Testament. Their journeys lead them into the region we know as Italy. An elite society welcomes Ana, who finds she must choose between her new life and her dream of returning to Chiveis. Will Teo and Ana’s relationship withstand the circumstances and new enemies pulling them apart? And can Teo keep ahead of a powerful and mysterious force opposing his search for the New Testament?
Litfin’s imagination and fast-paced narrative style will capture the hearts and minds of all fiction readers. 


MY RATING: *****
Loved, loved, loved this book!!! Not only is the cover awesome (I love the colours, not to mention the exciting/scary scene) but the entire book was enthralling from start to finish. I found that the author wrote much more smoothly than in the prequel, and the dialogue was less stilted. The fast-paced move of the book was suitable for the storyline, which is really brilliant. I love the idea of reverting to a medieval world because of a massive nuclear war(the details of which are outlined in The Gift).

I liked how it was divided into 3 parts:Solidarity, Extravagancy and Victory. They all symbolised certain aspects which occurred in the story. Ana and Teo's character develops further, and both good and bad desicions are made. What I really liked was the theme of sacrificial love which was repeatedly displayed; a love which was willing to lay down reputation, and even its life, for the sake of another.
Teo and Ana are faced with even more danger than they were in the last book. They face a new foe in their new life, one which is even more dangerous than the high priestess. Their peril intensifies as they seek the NewTestament, which the dark forces are determined to destroy. There is both action and adventure, love and war. There were stark contrasts in this book: between the elite society ana is pressured into, against the lowly status Teo is forced to maintain. There was also a group called the Exterminati which, loyal to their name, literally exterminated people who were considered inferior or 'unwhole' in some way. This aspect of the story was pretty freaky, and seemed like a dark echo of the WW2 Nazi concentration camp-type thing.  

This book is more emotional and portrays more suffering than its prequel. The characters uncover more about the Christ figure who is Deu's son. There is a greater cast of characters introduced, and even the least adds an important aspect to the story. I think Bryan Litfin has a winner in this series!

Check out the series at http://www.chiveis.com/

The Gift Trailer from Crossway on Vimeo.

Not-in-30-days Book Challenge: Post 2

Day 6: A book that makes me cry
An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers
This is the sequel to the series A voice in the Wind. I suppose I cried from a mixture of happiness, wonder and satisfaction. This was a really touching story. I was amazed at how everything weaved together beautifully , and all the unanswered queries from book one were answered. (Hoping will do a review on this later)

Day 7: A book that's hard to read
I've always found Shakespeare difficult to read on my own. It's always on school reading lists. Surprisingly, I understand it when we go through it in class and it gradually becomes a favourite. I like the way the themes are portrayed in the book by characters who are often eerily fallible and who are dire examples of tragedy, eg Macbeth.

Day 8: An unpopular book I believe should be a best-seller
                                         The Schoolmaster's Daughter by Meredith Resce
I love this story! It is original and sweet. I was really surprised that it is not well known. A solid plot with unexpected surprises. Hope to one day see it on the bestseller list!



Day 9: A book I've read more than once
Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue by Chuck Black
An exciting adventure which I have returned to time and time again. Lady Carliss, loyal knight of the prince , is in a race against time to find an antidote which will save her fellow knight . She must face deadly ememies in the strange city of Moorue, where she uncovers an evil plot. As she struggles to overcome a swampful of poisonous creatures, she faces an impossible choice:save the man she loves or let him die so that others might live...
This book never gets old! The Knights of Arrethtrae is a series you don't want to miss!

Day 10:The first novel I remember reading
I'll have to say I don't remember :(
 One of the first 'grown-up' novels I do remember reading though was Fire by Night by Lynn Austin. I think I was too young for it then...
However it is a good Historical Fiction novel which graphically portrays the horrors of the American Civil War. The lives of two women are entwined through unforseen circumstances: rich, pampered Julia seeks to change the opinions of those around her and Phoebe poses as a soldier. Both face the battlefield and see the reality of war. A novel filled with drama, love and of course, war, Lynn Austin has penned an unforgettable story which will keep you thinking long afterwards.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Not-in-30-days Book Challenge: Post 1

Day 1: Favourite Book

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

I guess it wasn't only the story itself, which was heart wrenching, that made this my favourite, so much as the truth that ran through it. I'm  planning on doing a review on this soon, so for now I'll just say that this book is AMAZING.

I'm also very excited because a movie is hopefully on the way! It's in pre-production now...and I really hope it'll do the book justice (don't you just hate it when a great book is wrecked by its not-so-great dramatization?)



Day 2: Least Favourite book
Well, I'm guessing 'least favourite' either means 'dislike the most' or 'like the least'. hmmm.
Since I'm not sure about this one, a book that's certainly not a fave is:

The pearl hunters by Kim Wilkins
I'm sorry 'cause I know there are always books people like that others dislike. Though the cover's great, this book just wasn't my cup of tea. The plot was a good idea; however the characers seemed cliche and flat. The romance was shallow and based on superficial things. Another concern was the fact that  behavior like lying and dishonesty was encouraged and condoned

Day 3: A Book that completely surprised me
Hangman's Curse by Frank Peretti
The title gripped me, as did the story. I was prepared for a mystery-filled night. However I was NOT prepared for the crazy twists in this story!
This was my first book by Frank Peretti and after I was done I knew it wouldn't be my last. From the blurb:'...In Hangman's Curse, the family goes undercover in a small town high school where it appears that a mysterious curse is spreading throughout the school, attacking popular athletes and immobilizing the student body with fear. As the Springfields uncover the truth, they see first hand the devastating effects of peer-abuse'
I was really surprised by the intriguing plot as well as the cool characters.

Day 4:A Book that reminds me of home
The Homeplace by GilbertMorris
Regardless of the title, this book had a decidedly 'homely' feel to it. It's a novel set in the Depression era  and describes the struggles of the Freeman family. I enjoyed the family atmospere and the interactions between the various members. It was a sweet to see the love and care shown, not to mention the tragic moments as well.
A warmhearted story with likeable charaters and enligtening historical background.


Day 5: A non-fiction book I actually enjoyed
 Run Baby Run :the biography of Nicky Cruz
Although this is a biography it read really well, thanks to co-author Jamie Buckingham. I picked this up, intrigued by the back cover. It's the story of
Nicky Cruz, former New York gangster.
I absolutely loved this book! It was exciting and engaging. The first hand account of gang life was pretty scary, but really enlightening. It was amazing to read the transformation in the life of a gang leader and I put the book down satisfied, feeling just a bit more aware of reality.

Not-in-30-days Book Challenge

In the next 6 days I'll be doing this challenge, posting 5 'days' per day(hence the title)
This idea was conceived by my friend Cass who is doing a LOTR challenge over at http://fashandboo.blogspot.com/.
The following questions are:

Day 01-Your favorite Book
Day 02-Least Favorite Book
Day 03-A Book that completely surprised you (bad/good) -    
Day 04- A Book that reminds you of home
Day 05- A Non-fiction book that you actually enjoyed
Day 06- A Book that makes you cry
Day 07- A Book that’s hard to read
Day 08- An unpopular book you believe should be a Best-Seller
Day 09- A Book you’ve read more than once
Day 10- The first novel you remember reading
Day 11- The Book that made you fall in love with reading
Day 12- A book so emotionally draining you couldn’t complete it or had to set aside for a bit
Day 13- Favorite childhood book
Day 14- Book that should be on hs/college required reading list
Day 15- Favorite book dealing with foreign culture
Day 16- Favorite book turned movie
Day 17- Book turned movie and completely desecrated
Day 18- A Book You can’t find on shelves anymore that you love
Day 19- A Book that changed your mind about a particular subject (non-fiction)
Day 20-A Book you would recommend to an ignorant/racist/closed minded person
Day 21-A guilty pleasure book
Day 22-Favorite Series (Edit)
Day 23- Favorite Romance Novel
Day 24 - A Book you later found out the Author lied about
Day 25-Favorite Autobiographical/Biographical book
Day 26-A Book you wish would be written
Day 27- A Book you would write if you had all the resources
Day 28- A Book you wish you never read
Day 29- An Author that you completely avoid/hate wont read
Day 30 - An Author that you will read whatever they put ou

 What challenges are you book lovers doing?

Friday, 21 October 2011

BOOK REVIEW: 'Unlocked' by Karen Kingsbury


Before You Take a Stand ... You Got to Take a Chance. Holden Harris is an eighteen-year-old locked in a prison of autism. Despite his quiet ways and quirky behaviors, Holden is very happy and socially normal---on the inside, in a private world all his own. In reality, he is bullied at school by kids who only see that he is very different. Ella Reynolds is part of the 'in' crowd. A cheerleader and star of the high school drama production, her life seems perfect. When she catches Holden listening to her rehearse for the school play, she is drawn to him ... the way he is drawn to the music. Then, Ella makes a dramatic discovery---she and Holden were best friends as children. Frustrated by the way Holden is bullied, and horrified at the indifference of her peers, Ella decides to take a stand against the most privileged and popular kids at school. Including her boyfriend, Jake. Ella believes miracles can happen in the unlikeliest places, and that just maybe an entire community might celebrate from the sidelines. But will Holden's praying mother and the efforts of Ella and a cast of theater kids be enough to unlock the prison that contains Holden? This time, friendship, faith, and the power of a song must be strong enough to open the doors to the miracle Holden needs.

MY REVIEW:

 I did not expect to fall in love with this book. But head over heels I went...
WOW. This is not your typical Karen Kingsbury story, for all you fans out there. This is definately not some high-school melodrama, or even a documentary on autism, which I admit is what I first thought it would be. This story is one of the most heart moving books I have ever read which has solid themes of reality, acceptance and love, and aptly portrays the horrors of bullying and its effects.


The story was written well, and the writing flowed quite expertlly. Contrary to some of the reviews I've read, i liked the short, gritty sentences that ended each chapter, which made me flip the page in angst to discover what happened. There was a wide range of characters in this story:Holden Harris, trapped in a world of autism, Ella Reynolds, his childhood friend, bullies, victims, and the parents. What I appreciated was the way they were portrayed, not 2 dimensional and flat, but with feelings so tangible I was experiencing the same while reading. It was neat to see what Holden was thinking, and his innocence and good character made him a favourite.


This story gave me a better perspective on bullying. Because of it, someone is driven to commit suicide. I cried so much when it happened-it was a real shock, and yet it's a reality many are faced with every day. The message is clear: Don't just stand by and do nothing when others are hurting. Help those who need it; reach out.


Austism plays a major role. It was amazing to see how Holden gradually got unlocked from his 'prison'-a person with severe autism who had communication problems as well as 'living in his own world' type thing was later able to communicate and interact with those he loved. Music as a major means to his 'unlocking' aspect. Holden and Ella's friendship was another really beautiful aspect of the novel.


The only problem that I had with the story is way Holden's autism was repeatedly suspected (by his mother) to have come from multiple vaccines he had as a child. This freaked me out a lot but in truth this theory is very controversial, and some say even disproved, which is why I thought it should not have been seen as the cause of Holden's autism.


All in all it was a really uplifting story which, by the way is inspired by a true story. Check out the book trailer here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-n4Vt3H5NXo


Friday, 14 October 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Don't look Back by Lynette Eason

 
Twelve years ago, forensic anthropologist Jamie Cash survived a brutal kidnapping, torture, and rape. After years of therapy, she has made a life for herself--though one that is haunted by memories of her terrifying past. She finally lets herself get close to a man, FBI agent Dakota Richards, when signs start appearing that point to one frightening fact--her attacker is back and ready to finish the job he started all those year ago. Can she escape his grasp a second time? And will she ever be able to let down her guard enough to find true love? Filled with heart-stopping suspense, gritty realism, and a touch of romance, Don't Look Back is the second book in the WOMEN OF JUSTICE series. Readers will be hooked from the beginning, finding that once you are in Lynette Eason's world, you're trapped until you turn the very last page.
My Rating:




What a thrilling read! Lynette Eason is an amazing writer who kept me hooked into the story. The plot itself is brilliant; it mixes all the elements every good suspense novel should have. Who is the killer? Will he get Jamie this time? I suspected who the attacker was but it still really freaked me out when I was right!

I had a real connection with the protagonist, Jamie. It was exciting to read her own story after meeting her in the first book of this series-'Too close to home'. The author revealed-bit by bit- what Jamie went though in her terrible encounter with her kidnapper, and I admired her determination to overcome her past. It was really encouraging to see how she was still able to trust God through every thing.

'One man wants her dead, but the other is fighting to keep her alive.' Her killer - referred to in this book as 'The Hero'-has his own POV's in the book. I found it pretty creepy to see what was going on through his mind.   Dakota Richards, FBI agent-a man who really cares about Jamie and does everything he can to protect her. But where is safety when a killer can enters you home and dogs your every step?

One of the best suspense novels I've read, 'Don't look back' continues the 'Women of Justice' series and delivers gripping action in a masterful plot which will keep you thinking about it through the night!