Saturday, April 30, 2011

Knot Gneiss by Piers Anthony

Knot Gneiss (Xanth)
This is the 34th book in the Xanth series by Piers Anthony. 
I have read all of them.
In this latest novel, Wenda Woodwife, goes to see the Good Magician Humphrey to find out how to deal with her moodiness, which, she learns was caused by the swing at her castle - the swing was a mood swing - one of the many puns which abound in the land of Xanth.  She is sent on a quest which she goes on with several companions all of which find what they are looking for amid the puns that are involved. 
Due, most likely to the author's aging and health problems, the later novels in this series rely more heavily on sexual innuendo and less on plot, but they are still fun to read.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson

Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan

While I was reading this book, the tv show 60 Minutes did an exposee on Greg Mortenson claiming that many of the stories in his first book, Three Cups of Tea, were exagerated or lies. 
Here is one of the articles about that.
If Three Cups of Tea really is not all true, that is sad.

I liked the book Stones Into Schools very much anyway. 
It has a different co-author than Three Cups of Tea, and he is not even listed as a co-author, but rather is acknowledged in the end of the book.  This book has two co-authors in addition to Greg Mortensen.  I think this book is written better than the first book.  It is written in the first person, rather than in the third person, which makes it easier to read and it flows nicer.  The language and imagery in this book are also better than the first book. 
I learned a lot about the history, geography and politics of Afghanistan from reading this book.  It is well-researched as well as being well-written. 
I found the book a bit long and it is rather self-aggrandizing of Greg.  However, the issues that it brings up, and the concept of fighting the war on terrorism with books, not bombs and the importance of educating girls and women are very important and valid. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars by Daniel M. Pinkwater

Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars

I used to teach middle school reading classes and I still substitute teach in reading and language arts classes a lot and I love literature written for this age group.  Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars is one of my favorite books for young people that I have read lately!  I love the author's use of funny words and descriptive language as he tells the story of Leonard Neeble, a short, portly (not fat or chubby), boy with glasses, whose clothing is always wrinkled after he has moved to a suburban yuppieish town and is the new kid in a middle school filled with kids who are all alike - or want to all be alike and who are quite different from him and who reject and laugh at him.  Luckily, Alan Mendelsohn, a new, even stranger boy moves to town and takes Leonard's place as the biggest outcast in the school and they become friends and have many interesting adventures as they learn  how to read minds, control other people, and visit other planes of existence. 
This is a fantastic book for kids age 10 to 15 and I highly recommend it!

The Thousand Year Man: Book of Prizom by John Harasimo

Book Cover
I have had the priviledge of reading this first book of a new author, John Harasimo. 
In this novel, a man named John, after having had visions when he saw church artifacts at a museum, has a recurring dream about an unusual book in a cave. His wife contacts a Catholic priest she knows to help find out more about this book, which eventually leads John to Rome, where he finds that the book is in posession of the Catholic church, but they have kept it secret and they are unable to translate it. 
John, however can read it and this book is the beginning of his adventures related to the Book of Prizom.
It is an intriguing story leading the reader to want to know what will happen in the next books of this series.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Empty by Suzanne Weyn

Product Details

This book is set in the near future and the world is quickly running out of oil.  There is a gas crisis, electricity grids go down, wars over oil, and the US is hit with a super hurricane caused by global warming.  The book follows several teenagers as they go through the crisis and have to learn to cope with a new way of life that does not rely on oil. 
Ironically, I had to fill up  my van with gas the day I read this book and I went to Costco because gas was about 10 cents per gallon cheaper there and there were long lines at the gas pumps.  In the beginning of the book, gas was selling for about $20 per gallon.  I paid $3.64 per gallon but at the rate the prices are going up, $20 per gallon is not looking as outrageous as it might seem.  I am seriously thinking about working closer to home more often to save on gas.
The book is written for an audience of kids in about grades 5-9 and it is a quick read. 
I wish there really was some sort of magnetic electricity generator like the one described in the book.  I think the book may help kids to realize that we really do need to find alternative sources of energy pretty quickly. 
The way the wind is blowing outside right now, wind energy is looking like one good source.  It blew over a huge chunk of one of our trees last night.  Luckily it went over the fence and did not even knock down the fence and no trees landed on our house.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The boy who came back from heaven by Kevin and Alex Malarkey

The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World

This book tells the story of Alex, who was 6 years old when he was in a horrific car accident with his father, who was driving.  Alex's head was severed from his spinal cord and he was not expected to live.  However, many people prayed for him, and he did live. 

Alex has told others that he went to heaven and spent time with "God and angels and that angels are often with him.  There are examples of some of those times given in the book of some of those times and a picture of a painting that a woman painted that shows Alex with angels surrounding the head of his bed.

He also has said that there are times when Satan or demons attack him.  I thought that was interesting.  He said that when demons are around, they accuse him of things, make him feel doubt and sadness and that he feels like he would never be healed and that God won't protect him.  However, he has learned to pray in Jesus name to make the demons leave. 

I find that very interesting.  Are doubt, insecurity and unhappiness and sorrow always indicators of the presence of demons?  Can we pray them away? When we pray to Jesus we are brought into His presence and enjoy Him and have His peace.  But not always right away.  Why is that?  This book, and Heaven is Real, both indicate that the children saw the spiritual warfare that is going on.  I really am not sure what to think about all of that.  It is something that is just not in my realm of experience.  I think I probably prefer it that way. 

Alex wants to go back to heaven.   He does not fear death.  I like his description of heaven as not the "next" world, but existing now, and not in the sky, but being both everywhere and nowhere  and indescribably wonderful.  He does not  describe heaven like the Christian religion often portrays it with mansions and golf courses and other such nonsense.  Alex claims to visit heaven in his sleep and that he prays unceasingly. 

Interestingly, in the past, I had always thought the whole heaven and hell concept was a lot of malarkey .
The more I read about people's expereinces of it, the more I wonder though.  I have experienced God.  I know that He is real.  I believe that angels do exist and watch over us because I have seen things happen to my children that were such near misses that it really seems that an angel stepped in and moved them so that they were not hurt.  I like Alex's message that God is always with us and that we need Jesus in our hearts.
I like his vision of heaven and that he does not give too many details.