Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Northanger Abby by Jane Austin

This was a very disappointing book. I don't think it was one of Jane's best. It was one of the earliest she wrote but wasn't published till after she died. That might be why I had never heard about it before. It had a rushed ending. It also had a lot of nothing in the book. Which might have been the point, people back them with nothing to do but gossip about what others are wearing and talk about themselves and their boring lives. She kind of makes fun of things and then tries to be serious about marriage but skips all the romance.
This book was about a not so rich or intelligent girl and she goes to Bath with some rich friends, has a few boring adventures and falls in love. She is very fickle and has some dumb friends which she eventually ditches. She makes new friends and gets invited to their home at an old Abby, remodeled and made very "modern". She lives in a fantasy world most of the time because her life is so boring. She likes novels and thinks she is a heroine in a story.
The only good thing I can say about this book is that the guy she falls in love with is entertaining and smart. I don't know why he likes her but everyone really likes him. He made the book worth finishing and lived happier-ever after in the end.

Whole Book

Monday, March 26, 2007

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

I am so disturbed by this book I don't even know where to begin! It was copyrighted in 1959. Of course a lot of stuff is very outdated but overall the ideas are still very real. Russia attacks with atomic bombs and wipes out most of the US in one day. I read this particular book for a book group where we only read TJed's 5 pillar certification books. I can't wait to hear what everyone has to say about it and the feelings and thoughts it brought to their awareness.

On the front cover it describes the book as, "The startling novel of the end of the world and the day after." yep that is what it was all about. I don't know why this book is causing me so much anxiety. I think on many levels it just scares me to not be ready for a change in my life brought on from a disaster. I am very content each day with what I know and love all around me. There is that itchy feeling in the back of my mind telling me I am stupid to be so passive in preparing myself and my family for "the end of the world". I shouldn't just be sitting here waiting for change and knowing that I could prepare myself better but I don't.

Our 72 hour kit is far from ready for a disaster. I live in Earthquake land, what am I thinking? I lived through a house fire destroying practically everything we own yet I can't get myself to face reality and rebuild. When I think about all that was lost in the fire, one side of me says, what a waste the stuff I had ready ended up being, it was just burnt. We were waiting to use it in an emergency and it was all destroyed so what is the use? The other side is saying, I shouldn't forget the blessings that rained down on us from outside sources probably because we were trying to the best of our ability to be ready for a disaster, maybe the Lord blessed us for the effort...I don't know. As I read this book I had the urge most of the time to just get up and scream or run. There is so much to do and so many things that can happen. I really have no control over most of it. I will just have to deal with it when it is sitting in my lap.

I think the book wanted to scare people into waking up to the reality of a war happening right in our neighborhood. Maybe it wanted to remind us that we can't depend on the government to just give us hand outs when life is hard. You will be on your own especially if the government is completely wiped out. What are you going to do? You can roll over and die or get up and dig in.

Most of the people that survived in the book were just lucky and then when they survived longer it came down to resources available and the knowledge to use them. They also pulled the strengths of their neighbors and their knowledge combined sustained them enough to keep going on.

I wear glasses. If my glasses get broken then I am pretty much blind and won't be able to do a lot of the things I can do now. The glasses won't be able to be replaced very easily if there isn't resources to use for the making of glasses. I can't make a new pair myself. This is scary. Something so simple and so taken for granted really makes a big difference every day of my life.

In the book the library wasn't destroyed and it became a very important and busy place. So many people needed to know how to do things and you could find that in books and teach yourself. I'm glad I can read and I am glad I have a library card, maybe that should be on the disaster preparedness list!

I wish I knew how to salt and preserve fresh meat. I also wish I had a few doctor skills. Something useful would also be knowing how to use a ham radio.

hmmm, we need more candles, canned food, a fresh water source and I wish I had a large pot. In the book the people run out of salt. I forgot how important this was to life. We can't live without it, too much is bad but none is deadly.

Some of the more inspiring parts of the book was when they were talking about hope. Despite all the odds and all the horrible stuff around them people were able to rise up and take courage. They started rebuilding and they didn't give up.

In the book they talk about this too:
"Toynbee theory of challenge and response, applies not only to nations but individuals. Some nations and some people melt in the heat of a crisis and come apart like fat in the pan. Others meet the challenge and harden."

Which will you be like, fat in a pan or will you harden and meet the challenge?

This was a Healing Book for me. I recommend it to anyone that is planning for the unknown future of the Earth in an upcoming FHE lesson. :) No seriously it had some very good ideas for what to expect when the lights go out in our nation.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Emma by Jane Austin

Hooray for Austin! This was a very LONG book. I liked the beginning and the ending but the middle was so full of tediously long paragraphs. Despite that, I made it through and can give her another thumbs up for old fashioned miscommunication and falling in love.

I was browsing the VHS section in a thrift store last week and despite my resolve to downsize our VHS collection and replace it with family classics on DVD...I found EMMA with Gwyneth Paltrow. Excellent! It was only .69 cents! I couldn't pass it up or a few other interesting finds...

I think the movie was very well done despite the two kissing scenes in the end that Jane would have blushed and then got angry and "her manner would be too decided to invite supplication; and in this state of swelling resentment and mutually deep mortification" she would have snubbed the the director of the movie if ever they met at a ball or in town. She would have looked down on the whole thing and said something about the shocking lack of discipline. Then some higher society would immediately start circulating the news among its circles of friends at Highbury or at Bath. I did find the movie to bring out some of the finest achievements of men and women finding self awareness and identity in the mist of society they are sometimes powerless in and dependent on.

Hmm, I really wanted to use the word quintessential bore, I guess I will say Mrs. Bates was a quintessential bore but very well cast in the movie. I almost cried when Emma hurt her feelings. But in the book I just wanted to skip all of her ramblings and get to the kissing...which wasn't in the book but I'm sure there was some...Jane left it to the imagination but never implied that it actually happened - ever! Isn't that funny?

Next I will read Alas Babylon and Northanger Abbey, at the same time of course. This will be fun!

Amazing Grace (2006 film)

My book group in CV couldn't stop talking about this movie in the theaters during the month of Feb. and March. I made a mental note to remember to rent the DVD when it came out. THEN my other book group at Liber Academy couldn't stop talking about it either. We had just read Uncle Tom's Cabin and then the biography of the author Harriet Beecher Stowe and this movie was like the missing piece of the puzzle. We all got babysitters and met up in Dublin to see it. It was well worth the time and effort. My baby didn't even cry or disrupt anything the whole time.

Amazing Grace the movie was released on the 200Th anniversary of the date the Parliament of the United Kingdom voted to ban the transport of slaves by British subjects. Later this helped in the freeing of the slaves in Britain. William Wilberforce is a member of Parliament during the 18Th Century. He has quite a following if you Google him. He was the one that had enough courage to see this through despite the toil on his health and family.

"Wilberforce was elected to the House of Commons at 21 and took on the issue of slavery, successfully assembling a diverse coalition that went up against the most powerful men of the time."

He was so successful because of the people that helped him. They had some great ideas for letting the people become more aware of the horrible things that happened to slaves and pointing out that Christians could not be part of something so horrible.

What is also interesting is that this guy did a lot more then just free the slaves...he just didn't stop there even though that was a pretty big thing. Anyone else would call it a life and just sit around and drink wine and stroll around the extensive grounds near their mansion but he actually was the guy that made some very important matters of social reform some to light. He started a lot of societies but unlike most these actually made a difference and most were very successful. Here are a few of the things he started.

Proclamation for the Discouragement of Vice in 1787 a remedy for immorality and vise.
He introduced Christianity to India with religious teachers being sent there and missionaries. Eventually, this resulted in the foundation of the Bishopric of Calcutta.
Wilberforce was also a founding member of the Church Missionary Society (since renamed Church Mission Society).
Also founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (now the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
He also gave his support to local projects and was treasurer to a charity school near where he lived...much much more but some of it I didn't understand.

He also published many books and was a very religious man. He wanted to do what was right before God. He did this through politics.

The man that wrote the famous song Amazing Grace was his friend. He was a former slave ship person and then turned to religion and Christ's gift of repentance when he was older. The first verse of Amazing Grace is particularly interesting because John Newton was blind in his later years (this was pointed out in the movie) and yet he couldn't see with his body his soul could finally see the grace of God. This part was a big tear jerk er for the audience. I think the whole song is very powerful not just the first verse which is what we usually only hear.

Original form by John Newton
As published in 1779 and 1804, the lyrics read:

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

I really liked the movie and learned a lot more about the "freeing of the slaves" America was not the only bad guys in this ugly history, many other countries contributed to slavery. It took very brave and inspired people to make a change in societies thinking and greed. I learned that even though Harriet, Lincoln, William, and others did so much for the cause the slaves were still under oppression for many years to come. It is hard to imagine that even right up to before I was born there was so much hatred and laws and discrimination running strong.

Martin Luther King Jr's I Have A Dream speech was really inspired. (even though it was plagiarized) It wasn't given until 1963. That was only 10 years before I was born. It was a powerful truth that prompted the Civil Rights Act. The Declaration of Independence was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How did we get so far from these words promised by the "architects of our republic"? Martin L King Jr was to America like William Wilberforce was to Europe.

Now we look back on slavery as if it was all a bad dream. Anyway hopefully by learning about the past we learn from the past and do not repeat it in the future. If you haven't seen Amazing Grace then rent it on DVD soon. We saw it on the last day it was showing in the Bay Area, whew. Also take another look at Uncle Tom's Cabin. Good stuff.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Whole and Healing book.

Oh I loved this book. I won't say much about it becasue I don't want to give away the ending which I cried through.

A young boy in a disfunctional family learns a lot of lessons on being a friend, big brother and becoming a man. A girl changes his perspective on life and inspires him with imagination and friendship that last even more then a lifetime.

Do you remember 5th grade? I could relate because the book was written so well.

I think they made a movie based on this book. I can't wait to see it. If you saw it don't spoil the ending for anyone. This was a fast read. I think it was written for maybe 10-11 year olds but has some really deep themes to discuss with a parent.

What Type of Homeschooler are you?

What Type of Homeschooler Are You?

Salvador Dali Melting clocks are not a problem in your reality. You are an unschooler. You will tolerate a textbook, but only as a last resort. Mud is your friend. You prefer hands-on everything. If your school had an anthem, it would be Dont Worry, Be Happy. Visit my blog:
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

I love this book! It was book four of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. My sisters would like these books. I laugh a lot out loud while reading them.
This one was actually clever and cute. The Son of the King of the Enchanted Forest is the main character, the other three books it was mainly his mom's adventures.

One day his mom just hands him a sword and sends him into the Enchanted Forest. He doesn't know why or where he is going. Everyone he meets knows who he is and why he is there but they won't tell him. He meets a fire-witch and she needs to learn some manners. They become friends and have a fun adventure figuring out the who's and whys and what's in the story.

I read this out loud to the kids and my oldest girl of 7 years really liked the story and actually snuggled right up on the bed and listened for hours. She even laughed at the funny parts so I know she was really listening. It has been raining so it was perfect timing for a good book. My oldest 9 yr. old son of course took the book the first day and read to the end before we did. He couldn't wait that long to find out what happened.

Whole Book.