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review 2017-09-24 12:40
IS SUNDAY SCHOOL DESTROYING OUR KIDS by Samuel C. Williamson
Is Sunday School Destroying Our Kids? How Moralism Suffocates Grace - Samuel C. Williamson

An interesting look at how we teach in Sunday School and how it works in the real world.  I know as a Sunday School teacher I had questions about why we use certain people as examples of how we should live.  Their flaws get in the way of the good they may have done.  Too often they have committed most of the 7 Deadly Sins.  I liked the common sense the author brought to the discussion.  I also liked that he said bring Jesus into the stories as we read them.  I did that as I thought about the Good Samaritan and it was interesting to see the story with Jesus as the victim left by the side of the road then as the travelers passing the victim.  What would Jesus' actions be and what can I learn and use to make me live the gospel better?

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review 2017-09-19 22:37
Shadow of the Zeppelin - Bernard Ashley

Trigger warning: Attempted rape scene (once)

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The setting is World War I. We settle on two brothers caught up in the conflict - one of whom joins the war effort, the other of whom is too young to join the army and has his own problems at home. In addition, we also focus on one of the German soldiers manning the zeppelins during the Blitz! I really enjoyed that.

 

Well, what we have here are two brothers, Will and Freddie. Will is old enough to join the army but refuses to join (it is not yet compulsory), and his girlfriend Amy stands by his decision. It isn't until a bomb lands nearby and scars her face that he is spurred to join the war effort. 

 

We also focus on a German bomber called Ernst who, for the most part, isn't much different from the English soldiers. He follows orders, he has a wife waiting for him back home in Germany, and they've just had their first child. He constantly worries that his zeppelin will easily catch fire and go down in flames, much like they do. He is also responsible for the dropping of many bombs during the Blitz.

 

Freddie doesn't join the war, but he certainly has his fair share of troubles - especially when a bomb lands on his own house and he barely makes it out alive. I can't really go into that without spoiling it however.

 

There is an attempted rape scene in this book, however it was not described in detail thankfully and I thought it was dealt with appropriately.

 

I really enjoyed all these characters. Will, Freddie, their family, the rest of the army, Ernst as well...each of them was well-rounded and I would even say that Will is rather relatable. The Germans were not made out to be "evil" or anything like that.

 

I felt this book did a good job of describing the war, too - in bits and pieces, anyway. You get to see what the Blitz is like back home with Freddie. You get to see what it's like on the front lines with Will. You get to see what it's like for other soldiers to die. 

 

However, I'm not sure all of the content was there. I get that this is a YA book and so the violence and imagery is toned down a bit, but I don't think it shows all the true horrors of war. Will doesn't participate in more than a handful of skirmishes before he's removed from that part altogether (but there's a reason for that). I can't help but think that there could be more to that, but then again I understand that they already had a fair amount of detail going on.

 

I didn't find any serious flaws with this book, it fit the time period really well. The author really researched this properly - in the author's note at the back of the book, he makes several references to historical events during the time of the Blitz. Even the street names are preserved.

 

Overall, I liked this book very much. I wouldn't say it's amazing - it tugged at my heartstrings during one particular scene, but not that much. It could be better, really, but I found it to be very well-rounded and well-written in general. 3.5/5.

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review 2017-09-15 04:57
Killing for Tenure

Passport to Murder (Professor Prather Mystery #2)Passport to Murder by Mary  Angela

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A murder mystery set in and around academia. Working for tenure can be murder, literally. I enjoyed it. I liked the bookish heroine and her way of investigating that depends on her emotional intelligence.

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com.



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review 2017-09-15 00:40
Stand-off (Review)
Stand-Off (Winger) - Andrew Smith,Sam Bosma

I am finally reviewing a book I actually read this year! However… I finished it in May, so here’s to the (almost) last shorter-than-normal review. I borrowed a copy of this book from a teacher, so I don’t have any notes or ability to flip back through it and remember my thoughts better; I’ll still give this my best effort at detail, though!

 

As you may remember, Winger was one of my favorite books. It’s not a book that someone like me typically goes for as Ryan Dean West is not typically the type of character I enjoy reading. However, something about Andrew Smith’s ability to craft him as this realistic, perfectly imperfect guy just struck a chord with me. Winger also ripped my heart out unexpectedly, which always scores points with me.

 

When I discovered that Winger had a sequel, I had to read it right away. Fortunately, the teacher I was working with let me borrow it, and I got to reading right away. I got through the first third no problem, but then it took me several months to pick it up again. When I finally did, I binged the last part in a day or two. I worried that I had outgrown Ryan Dean, but I was delighted to discover that Andrew Smith still had the ability to make me laugh out loud and cry within mere pages of each other.

 

Stand-off explores a lot of themes related to grief and especially avoiding grief. Ryan Dean goes through a lot of things he can’t quite explain, and this book is about him trying to understand himself again and dealing with the fact that he doesn’t want to be miserable for the rest of his life. I completely empathize with NATE (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) because I experienced the same thing after one of my friends passed away in high school. I thought this novel was excellently crafted, and it is a great follow-up to Winger. However, it lacked the same sparkle, and I found myself missing that all-encompassing enthusiasm for the book. It had an overly-satisfying ending, in that everything wrapped up with a pretty, little bow, and the resolution seemed forced to me. After the unexpectedly world-shattering ending of Winger, I could have stood an ending less-than-ideal than this one. It felt like Smith really wanted to end this story, and he wrote out a resolution that would leave no room for speculation or further wondering. I loved the ending of Winger without the idea of a sequel, so having a sequel that perfectly wrapped up the story I’d loved so much was fairly disappointing.

 

Overall: As with Winger, I don’t recommend this to younger readers. Ryan Dean West may be fifteen years old, but I doubt I’d let my kid read it at fifteen. Use discretion because there is a lot of language and Ryan Dean West is a teenage boy who thinks like a teenage boy, but, unlike how I usually feel, it all contributes to the characters and the story overall. Stand-off wasn’t as brilliant as Winger, but it’s still worth reading if you loved the first book.

 

Read the review on my blog:

http://thaliasbooks.tumblr.com/post/165345904967/stand-off-review

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review 2017-09-13 22:17
A solid short-story, scary and chilling, and a great introduction to the author’s writing.
HER: A Horror Short Story - Danielle Rose

It is a bit difficult to write this review without sharing any spoilers, as the story is very short indeed. Blink and you’ve missed it. Despite that, it is atmospheric, intriguing, and fairly dark (although there’s no gore involved at all, so don’t worry if you’re squeamish).

The author uses many of the tropes of horror novels and films (an old gothic-looking property, a ghost story, night, cold, a daring young girl who refuses to show others she is scared) and puts them to good use.

The story is not long enough for us to get a great insight into the characters, although we easily identify with Avlynn, as we see all that happens from her point of view, we hear the screams, we realise our roommate is not there, we wonder which way we should go and we face… (No, I’m not telling you what). The twist at the end is perhaps not totally unexpected but it works very well and makes the story all the more chilling. Yes, we should remember that we ignore some warnings at our peril.

A solid short-story, scary and chilling, and a great introduction to the author’s writing. Recommended to anybody who enjoys ghost stories, especially to those who like short reads and don’t want to get bogged down in too much backstory.

I was given an e-copy of the story as part of a blog tour organised by Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR and I freely chose to review it.

Thanks to Lady Amber and the author, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

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