Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Falcon Quinn and the Crimson Vapor by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Falcon Quinn and the Crimson Vapor
This is the second book about Falcon Quinn, who is half monster and half guardian - the beings whose goal it is to eliminate monsters.
Caught in the middle of the battle between the monsters and the guardians is Falcon Quinn, angel, who is both and neither.  Will he be able to fit in with either group, or will he have to join the filtchers, a group of outcasts?  Can the monsters and the guardians ever get along?  Perhaps they will have to take a walk in each other's shoes for that to happen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Jewish Approach to God: A Brief Introduction for Christians by Neil Gillman

The Jewish Approach to God: A Brief Introduction for Christians
This is an interesting book that expounds a very liberal Jewish viewpoint. In this liberal Jewish view, Torah, or the Bible, is not the literal "word" of God, but rather the human understanding of God, written by our ancestors in a metaphorical form.

I was raised in the Reform Jewish religion, then, as an adult, became a born-again Christian so I went from a very liberal concept about God and religion to a very conservative view. In the past few years, I have been studying the Jewish religion and have come to appreciate many things about it that I did not learn while growing up in it.

One interesting statement from this book is the author's interpretation of the verse from the Shema - the phrase "On that day, the Lord will be One and His name shall be One". According to the author, "On that day", refers to the end of days, the age of the Messiah, and for the Lord to be One and His name to be One means that the entire world will acknowledge God.

I also found it interesting that the author refers to Jonah as the only successful prophet in the Bible. I had not thought of it that way before.

The author shares that in the Jewish religion, the Bible is not the final authority on doctrine, but rather tradition plays a large part as well. Judaism does not have creeds and no one has the final word - everything can be argued. When I left the Jewish religion years ago, that was one thing that I disliked about it. I felt that it made the religion pointless if there was not an "answer", and everything could be argued. I was thrilled, as a born again Christian to find that Christ is the answer to everything. Now, I am also appreciating the more Jewish view that God's ways are not our ways and we really cannot truely understand Him and, in my opinion, those who claim to know the exact answers and truth are, many times, deluded or deceived.

The author states that "Judaism is the only religion in which study is equivalent to worship." He shares that ha-satan, refered to in Job, means the satan, not "Satan" as a proper name and that the Jewish view of the satan is not the same as the Christian view in that in the Jewish view, the satan does not act independantly from God, but rather co-operates with God.

I find Gillman's understanding of what it means for Jews to be the "chosen people" refreshingly different. He explains that just as we might chose an apple from a bowl of mixed fruit , that does not mean that we might not chose a pear another day nor does it imply that the apple is superior to the pear and all of the other fruit. He states that "the doctrine of Israel as God's chosen people is Israel's self-perception, not God's own perception of Israel. No human being knows objectively what God wants, feels, or does. God transcends human understanding."

Rabbi Gillman presents the liberal Jewish view that the Bible is man's word, man's understanding of God and the world. He shows how some Christian viwes are based on those of the Jewish religion and how some Jewish beliefs are influenced from the Greek philosophy that also influences the Christian religion. For example, the concept of an immortal soul, which is one concept that some Jews believe, originated in Greek philosophy.

This is an interesting and insightful book.        

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
At 849 pages, this is a very looooooong book. It is, however, a very satisfying ending to this 4 book series. It has a lot of fighting and descriptions of the fighting and pain and wounds that I kind of skimmed over, but the plot and the way the characters resolved everything was really quite good.
In this last book of the series, Eragaon and his dragon Saphira set out to defeat, and kill, Galbatorix, the insane and evil king who terrorizes their world. We see Eragon's cousin, Roran Stronghammer prove his might and cleverness, and how strong and what a good leader Nasuada is. We find out why and how Murtagh became enslaved to Galbatorix and how he overcomes that. Elva and Arya are prominent and we learn more about them and Glaedr is also a major character in this book.
I want to look back at the first book and re-read it or at least parts of it to see how the author's writing has changed since he wrote the first book twelve years ago when he was only 15 years old. I am very impressed with this author's writing and I really enjoyed this book even though it is soooo looooonnnggg. :)       

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

The Dovekeepers

This book is a hauntingly beautiful masterpiece of suspence, love, and history.  It follows the stories of 4 women on their journeys to Masada,their joys and sorrows, their loves, their hopes and dreams and their lives at Masada and it's horrific end.  Based on extensive historical research, this book brings the people of Masada, their lives and deaths and their fate, to life and reality sharing the faith of the people who lived and died there in a heart wrenching and captivating story. 
We follow the stories of Yael, the daughter of an assassin,who goes to Masada with her father after an ardourous journey through the desert; Revka, a baker's wife who goes with her grandsons and son-in-law to Masada after seeing her daughter murdered by Roman soldiers; Aziza, daughter of Shirah, who was raised as a boy and is an excellent warrior, and her mother Shirah, a witch from Alexandria.  Their lives are intertwined even before they all became dovekeepers in Masada as they live out their fates together.
The author spent 5 years researching the history behind this story and visited Masada and it shows in her writing.  Totally uber-fantastic! 
This is the first book that I have read by Alice Hoffman and it certainly won't be the last.

Friday, February 10, 2012

So What A Single Mom's Guide To Staying Sane In The 21st Century by Laynee Gilbert

So What A Single Mom's Guide To Staying Sane In The 21st Century
This little book is not just for single moms, but for all moms.  The author gives great advice about just going with the flow and saying "so what" sometimes and how that can be a helpul and useful parenting tactic rather than always insisting on being in control.  Sometimes it is better to just say "so what" and be flexible about things or you and your children may go crazy.  It is ok to do what you think is best and not worry about what other parents may think about how you parent your chilren if you are doing what is best for you and your children. I got this book free to review from Goodreads and it is a refreshing reminder to just relax about things sometimes.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Prodigy Project by Doug Flanders, MD

The Prodigy Project

What a fantastic book!  It is kind of like the Duggars meet the Spy Kids, except that the dad is the spy and only the older kids really get involved in the spy stuff although the younger ones have their own little adventure too.  Jon Gunderson is a doctor, a father of nine children who his wife homeschools, and a spy.  His masters degree in microbiology makes him a good candidate to fight biological warfare and, with his unsuspecting large family in tow, he fights crime surreptuously on their family "vacations".  When two young Chinese prodigies discover that their medical research that they think is to find a cure for cancer, is really being used by the Chinese military to create a new, nefarious biological weapon, they decide to defect to the USA with Jon's help.  Thinking that they were dealing with an adult researcher, Jon and his cohorts are suprised to find that they are instead taking two orphaned teenage child prodigies out of the country.  Jon's family becomes involved, there is a kidnapping, fighting, shooting, tranquilzer darts, stuff that gets blown up, high speed chase scenes and all sorts of espionage, plot twists, and action. 
This is a fantastic book and I think it could also make an awesome movie. 
I received this book free to review from Book Crash and this is my honest opinion. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Switched! TJ and the Time Stumblers by Bill Myers

Cover: Switched!
In this 5th book in the TJ and the Time Stumblers series, TJ is the new kid at a junior high school and she arrives along with some strange happenings, that are caused by her invisible time traveling friends from the 23rd century, Tuna and Herby, who are constantly hounded by their nemesis, Bruce Bruiseabone.  In the meantime, TJ's nemesis is the beautiful 13 year old teen superstar, Hesper Breakahart, who due to the mishaps of the bumbling Tuna and Herby, switches bodies with TJ. 
TJ finds out how difficult it is to live Hesper's life while helping Tuna and Herby "borrow" some plutonium so they can power their time pod and return to their own time.  She learns the power of forgiveness as she walks in someone else's shoes - and body.
This is a fun, cute book for children ages 8 to 12.  I got the book for free to review from Tyndale and I am passing it on to my 10 and 12 year old children to read next.  I am sure that they will enjoy it!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Drizzle by Kathleen Van Cleve

Eleven year old Polly Peabody lives on a magical rhubarb farm.  It grows chocolate rhubarb and giant rhubarb and it rains there every day at 1 pm.  Then, when her aunt wants to sell the farm, the rain stops, her rhubarb friend stops talking to her and her brother gets deathly ill.  Only Polly can save the farm, but she does not kow how and she is too afraid to do many things.  Throughout this magical adventure, Polly learns to conquer her fears as she finds out the secrets that her farm is hiding and how she alone can help to save it.  This is a fun and uplifting fantasy for kids.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Witch & Wizard The Fire by James Patterson and Jill Dembowski

This is the third, and I am guessing final book in the Witch and Wizard series.  I really love James Patterson's writing, and it is as fantastic as ever in this series and in this book, but I must say there were some things about this book that I did not love as much as his other books.  Nevertheless, due to his writing, it is fantastic anyway.  In this book, Whit and Whisty, brother and sister, wizard and witch, once again have a facedown with The One Who Is The One who has taken over the world and the underworld and is trying to become God.  In order to do so, he needs Whisty's powers over fire and electricity.  Together and apart, Whit and Whisty fight the One and his New Order in another gripping tale. 
This is a fantastic ending to this series and if you liked the first two books in the series, you will love this one!