01. September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction · Tags:

Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik, 323 pages, read by Kira, on 08/31/2014

Dragon, Temeraire and Capt Lawrence are asked to return to the British Air Force (where dragons serve as airships), after having been dishonorably discharged.  Temeraire is delighted, Capt Lawrence is less thrilled.   Iskierka and her Capt Granby and Kulingile with his Capt Demane.  After several day and nights of storming, the drunken sailors catch the transport ship on fire, and sink the transport ship. More mishaps occur, but eventually they persevere.  I love these characters, and the way they play off each other, though there are so many of them, that it can get confusing.  Here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Temeraire_characters is a list of characters in case you need some refreshing, though it seems to be slanted toward the middle of the series.  I also really enjoyed the humor, arising from the clash of duty/protocol and doing the right thing; the humor arising from the clash between Temeraire and Izkierka.  Novik has developed these wonderful characters.  There are also some realistic losses experienced by these military engagements.
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31. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Inspirational, Kira, NonFiction

A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-first Century by Rebecca Ann Parker and John Buehrens , 184 pages, read by Kira, on 08/30/2014

download  download (1) Rebecca Parker West President of the Star King Ministry, as well as a Methodist Minister co-writes this with John Buehrens (co-author of A Chosen Faith).  They examine the commonalities of liberal Christian theology, exploring what is fruitful among various interpretations.

Progressive Protestants are committed primarily to the healing and creative transformation of themselves, their neighbors, and their world. They often experience ‘theology’ primarily as ideas and teachings that are authoritatively presented and hamper more than they help the work of the followers of Jesus. Their lack of a positive theology is one reason for their marginalization in today’s religious scene. Buehrens and Parker begin with the life of service and work for justice and deepen it to show the implicit beliefs that it assumes and that are implicit in it. They show that progressive Protestants can be proud and articulate about their beliefs

One of the themes woven throughout this book, is that we are called to build Heaven on Earth.  The structure of the book did Not work for me, they assigned different aspect of liberal Christian religion to various structures of a house.  The foundation or the floor makes sense, but I just wished they had defined their terms (I’ve encountered eschatology, but don’t remember what it means), and Not attempted the metaphorical bridge.  However, I really enjoyed this book, Christian-Leftwanting to incorporatedownload (2) it into my life.

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, How To's, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

The Beginner's Guide to Dream Interpretation by Clarissa Pinkola Estés , 100 pages, read by Kira, on 08/24/2014

indexindex2Estes guides you in how to interpret your dreams.  First she gives you guidance in remembering your dreams, including writing them down, having a tape recorder near your bed, and vowing to remember your dreams.  She discounts, using standard dream dictionaries to interpret symbols.  She advises paying attention to the nouns in your dreams, and then looking for synonyms to figure out what they might represent. Often, I find there is a major difference in the tone or feeling of my dream, compared to what actually happens in my dreams.  Sometimes, there are really yucky feelings, without anything ominous actually happening.  So I wasn’t sure the noun approach would really work for me.

She also covers specific dream narratives that lots of people experience, like flying dreams, or waking up late for a test, of finding yourself without your clothes.  The one recurring dream that I have that she didn’t cover is the one where I am choosing my bed in a dorm room, or some variant thereof.

I tried her methods and got some advice from my subconscious that I’ve ignored, that I know I should take care of, but don’t really want to.  So much for amplifying my subconscious.

butterfly-dreams goddess3 images4indexpI have really enjoyed this authors work and will continue to keep an eye out for her.

23. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Hunted by Maggie Stiefvater , 195 pages, read by Kira, on 08/23/2014

I love Maggie Stiefvater’s work.  So when I discovered that she had written one of the stories in the Spirit Animal series, I had to read it.  In the series, some individuals are able to bond with animals at their 11th birthday.  4 young children have bonded not just with any animals but with the great beasts from the legends.  Abeke has bonded with a leopard, Connor a shepherd boy bonded with a giant wolf, Meillinthb82245f4ab30dd370f3e95ec7e3954eeeeth kh Animal Spirit Guides 2-T 9th rrth bonded with a giant Panda, and Rollan a street urchin bonds with a falcon.llth eth the This was a fast-paced  enjoyable story.

23. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags: , ,

Bras & Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski, 320 pages, read by Kira, on 08/22/2014

home_hdrbras-and-broomsticks-sound41eB3vGFWRL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_   9789892310312 Cute story.  Protagonist Rachel learns her younger sister is transitioning into witch powers.  Rachel pressures her younger sister to use her magic for things like making Rachel more popular, getting their dad to Not marry the Stepmonster… Problems are neatly wrapped up, with authentic relationships the prize.home_nav_spellsimages

22. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

The Smartest Kids in the World : and How they Got that Way by Amanda Ripley, 306 pages, read by Kira, on 08/22/2014

on-the-shelfPISA 2009ChartQuoteTime Magazine journalist, Amanda Ripley, examines the superpowers of education thru the stories of 3 American foreign exchange students.  Kim goes to Finland, Tom to Poland,screen shot 2013-12-03 at 5.29.16 am and Eric to South Korea.    She asks why do US students continue to lag behind other developed countries.

So, do you think parental involvement with extracurricular activities helps children in school? actually there is a slight negative correlation with parental extracurricular involvement and children’s education scores.  However, reading to your kids, or reading at home (books, magazines) and discussing books, social issues, etc with your kids, is associated with higher educational scores.

 

Why is education so uforeign_exchange1nder-valued in the US? and whyAugust 8 I phone, last of Korea, Groths 987 d9789863204275oes this field get so mdownload (3)uch more respect in other developed score-testscountries?  Why do we as Americans think Mathematics is really an optional topic.   An interesting example was of the Bama pie making factory.  They couldn’t find smart enough people to work in their factory, so they opened another factory in Poland (okay, they can probably get skilled and cheap labor there).  Another example, was that even Head of Maintenance jobs require a fair amount of skill these days.  One needs to be able to be able to read blue-prints, perform applied mathematical equations, motivate subordinates, and communicate well, including writing reports.

I wish she has examined the effect of students studying in groups.  I had one prof who clearly believed in it, and it was a practice that I took up, finding other motivated students to study with.

She claims to only be transmitting information, and letting the reader decide, but she does seem to have a something of political agenda (though it is neither right nor left).  She advocates stronger requirements for both teachers (of which we seem to have a plethora) and for students to pass classes.  She dismisses technology and gadgets.

19. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Science Fiction, Teen Books, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves., 239 pages, read by Kira, on 08/19/2014

interworld-by-neil-gaiman-and-michael-reaves Inter_World917 itrs 8dd7103b2bb3074baa5d7ad59f963f3a Interworld-neil-gaiman-1548448-258-410 interwrld Interworld_by_Neil_Gaiman_and_Michael_Reaves_200_312 50130_interworldThe setting is the Multiverse or all the different possible versions of realities our world could have taken. Two factions at opposite ends of the multiverse continuum are fighting for supremacy, destroying worlds with impunity.

In our world Joey Harker takes a wrong turn, and first winds up in a world very similar to our own, except that his mother has a fake arm, and her offspring is a girl Josephine, who looks very much like him, just a female version.  In the next world, it turns out he drowned in the river a couple years ago, instead of having a close brush with death, and getting a huge lecture from his father on water safety.  Another look-alike Joe Harker look-alike J is sent to rescue Joey Harker before the warring factions can use his soul for energy in their never-ending war.  The Joe Harker look-alikes vary widely from girls with wings, to cyborgs with implants.  This was a quick and enjoyable read.  It leaves room for a sequel.  Lastly, I liked the mudluff sidekick.

19. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books

Wings by Aprilynne Pike, 294 pages, read by Kira, on 08/07/2014

Protagonist Laurel discovers that she isn’t human, but rather a plant belonging to the fairy kingdom.  Her family has recently moved into town, in part so that Laurel attend a school (instead of being homeschooled), and in part so her father can open and run his dream business a bookstore.  At school she meets David, a calm, smart, good-looking guy.  Then she starts growing a flower from her back.

This was a nice book, a bit predictable, in the plot line, and David and Laurel modeled near-perfect interpersonal interactions, a nice change, if a little unrealistic.  I will Not be reading further into this series, and only “picked up” this book, because choices in downloadable books are limited.wings  XMix7p6N50lraY1LfPibuO3H1Os wings-aprilynne-pike-5966588-348-500th

16. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Fiction, Humor, Kira, NonFiction

Diary of a Mad Diva by Joan Rivers, 289 pages, read by Kira, on 08/15/2014

Wow! If you think Tina Fey’s humor is scathing, you need to check out Joan Rivers.  I’d heard snippets of her on TV years ago, and didn’t think she was all that much.  But I heard another snippet more recently and all I can say is OUCH!  Well, I do find her funny, well mostly, some of her numbers are pretty harsh.  But she does direct a lot of the really nasty stuff at herself.  And by nasty I mean in both senses of the word, more offensive terminology and raunchy scenes than perhaps anyone else (though often I can’t understand the words of some of the raunchier comics, so I don’t bother).  She is entirely shameless and unapologetic.  51tATqwNyvL._SL500_AA300_PIaudible,BottomRight,13,73_AA300_Joan-Rivers-4

15. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Fiction, Kira, Memoirs, NonFiction · Tags:

Bossypants by Tina Fey., 277 pages, read by Kira, on 08/14/2014

Another downloadable title, that wouldn’t have been my first choice of something to read, but hey it was available and looked interesting.  It was a bit slow to start and I put it down, then didn’t have anything else on my tablet, came back to it, and it got better.  She details her life and experiences infused with her social commentary humor.The best piece was her SNL skit as Sarah Pallin, so funny!tfey downloadSNL_Palin_Clinton

13. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

Dragon Outcast - Age of Fire Bk 3 by E.E. Knight., 400 pages, read by Kira, on 08/12/2014

dragon 550px-LineoftheSiblings2drgsn  This was an enjoyable read.  Rugard, the protagonist, loses the clutch-war, which occurs between all the males as soon as they hatch.  He is crippled and survives just barely.  After a long journey aided by bats to the Lavadome, he finds a haven of sorts.  Here the danger lurks in the form of political alliances and deception.

This is a fast-paced engaging, hard-to-put-down, story.  It tackles a variety of themes from family relationships to slavery,and racism.  I look forward to the other titles in the series.  I had no trouble starting with book 3, the author has done a good job, of making them accessible as “stand-alones”.

10. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Kira, Teen Books

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, 470 pages, read by Kira, on 08/09/2014

Before I FallBefore I Fall picI loved this book!  If you liked Replay by Ken Grimwood, or the Time Traveler’s Wife by Niffenegger, or Singing the Dog Star Blues by Allison Goodman or even the movie Groundhogs Day, you need to read this book.  Protagonist Samatha Kingston, part of the popular and MEAN girls at her highschool repeatedly lives through an eventful Friday trying to get it right.  You see her grow from a shallow, rationalizing unlikeable character to a deeper person, who comprehends what it means to live life well.  I so wish they’d make a movie from this book.  I could read this book a couple of times.Kent and Sam a5caa651fe239a6675b249209c9d08c9

08. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains: a Tale of Travel and Darkness with Pictures of all Kinds by Neil Gaiman and Eddie Campbell., 80 pages, read by Kira, on 08/03/2014

The_Truth_is_a_Cave_in_the_Black_Mountains_by_Neil_Gaiman_200_254  imagesimages3  This is a dark tale of a man’s quest into the Black Mountains for the truth.  There is a mystery to be solved.  The narrator is a small man, a dwarf, whom we meet as he is about to hire a guide, Calum MacInnes, to take him to a cave on the Misty Isle reputed to be filled with gold.  I liked the story, it had a haunting quality to it.  It wasn’t entirely fair though.02images2

04. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Grave Dance: an Alex Craft novel by Kalayna Price, 400 pages, read by Kira, on 08/01/2014

GraveDance grave_witch_cover_by_leafofsteel-d4v7vbqprice  In this second book of the series Alex Craft, raiser of “shades” is tasked with finding the killer who has only left feet as remains.  She also has to keep from being captured by various Fae courts.  Then there are the 2 guys competing for her, one is a grim reaper named Death, the other Falin Andrews is the Winter Court’s Assassin.  Another rousing fast-paced mystery!  I look forward to imagesDSC_0036the next book in the series.

31. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Informational Book, Kira, NonFiction · Tags:

Globish: How the English Language became the World's Language by Robert McCrum, 331 pages, read by Kira, on 07/31/2014

It seems unlikely that a small island conquered repeatedly would provide the world with a global language.  McCrum provides a historical review of how the English language developed, how its fluidity and subversive nature allowed it to flourish and become the lingua franca of the world.  He also details all the colonizing by the Brits. index globishpiespeakers   I wish only one timeline of history had been provided, I got a little confused going through history periods a couple of times, while focusing on other aspects of the language development.

30. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal

Hunted The Iron Druid Chronicles Part 6 by by Kevin Hearne, 384 pages, read by Kira, on 07/20/2014

index  Hunted is more like Part II of book 5, in that it picks up seconds later from where Trapped left off.  Atticus, Graunuialle, and Oberon get chased across Europe, with Artemis & Diana trying to kill the 3 of them.  I didn’t like to see these 2 strong female role models – Artemis & Diana – being portrayed in such a stupid manner.  And as another reviewer said, Atticus is way too powerful in comparison with the “Gods” in the novel, he seems to be able to get them to do whatever he wants. I did really like the epilogue where Graunuialle got her own wolfhound.

29. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal

Trapped by Kevin Hearne, 320 pages, read by Kira, on 07/19/2014

Finally, after 12 years of training in secret to become a full druid,  Granuaile is ready to for the binding ceremony.  However, all the deities, that thought Atticus had died, now learn that he is still alive.  The saga continues.  They also have to help prevent Ragnarok.  I read this book back-to-back with the next book in the series “Hunted”, which is good, because Trapped ends on something of a cliffhanger.  They also kind of blended together in my mind, reading both in one straight shot.   trapped c92439bb9a4e1b7db76d3fc7fd23066eatticus_and_granuaile_by_codyvrosh-d63iuwe35ee3eae8e474884125d4c5c4b056dcbwlfh This was a fast enjoyable read, but sometimes Atticus is so arrogant, it is really annoying.  Iron_Druid_Chronicles images

29. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Kira, NonFiction, Science · Tags:

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell., 512 pages, read by Kira, on 07/20/2014

davgol  Malcolm_GladwellBoy with menacing shadowAnother great book by Gladwell!  In this title he explores how our wounds our struggles can be the source of our strengths.  Interesting pieces that I learned: apparently Goliath was suffering from acromegaly (due to pituitary tumor) that caused him visual difficulties (thus he had another person guide him to the battle field) in addition to his giantism; Marching Day in England is where the Protestant march and celebrate their victory over the local Catholics! imagine if the Northerners came down to the South and celebrated the South’s loss in the Civil war!   He talks about the advantages that come from being a big fish in a small pond.  For example, the same percentage of Science majors switch over to Humanities in a Top School as compared to a medium school, despite the fact that the ATC test scores of students at the top school are generally way above those at medium schools (unless all these schools are grading on a curve, which wasn’t clearly discussed).

When the impressionists were shunned from the high art society in France, they created their own art show. And their art became more popular.  The most interesting take-away message is, if you’re going to fight the big and powerful, you don’t play by their rules.  You change the game.

Negatives: Though Gladwell holds up Jay Freireich’s cure of childhood leukemia as admirable, Freireich violated the physicians oath – do NO harm

22. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington, 278 pages, read by Kira, on 07/14/2014

livfor  Liv is a scholarship student at a rich school. You know that Liv has been killed at the start of this novel.  The question is why did she die, and why have there been so many mysterious deaths in the past.  This was a fun read, not particularly deep, but I like ghost characters.  The ending of the book leaves the possibility of sequel, but this probably won’t happen.Huntingdon-College-CC-Spyder-Monkey-e1351559840834The_Haunted_Mansion

17. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Inspirational, Kira, NonFiction

Unitarian Universalism: a Narrative History by David E. Bumbaugh, 236 pages, read by Kira, on 07/14/2014

rainbowchalice index       I read this for a class I took at my church this summer [we called it Summinary :) ].  It gives a history of liberal religion and the quest for tolerance for religious freedom.  I was amazed at how often, religious change came about due to other power struggles.  The Germans were chafing under Roman authority.  So when Luther  made his religious objections, the powers of state used the theological dispute to their advantage.

A repeatmichael-servetuseEmersond theme was reformers in one decade turning into the old guard against whom the newer thinkers rebelled in the next generation.  I was Ariussurprised at how enriching I found thisHosea_Ballou read.francisdavid