Friday, June 1, 2012

May 2012 Book Reports

Edmund Campion: Hero of God's Underground by Harold Gardiner - This book shows the English Reformation very much in black and white. The bad guys are truly bad and the good guys are wonderfully good. I don't know how historically accurate that is, knowing almost nothing about the English Reformation, but I plan to read a few actual histories to get a feel for that. I think this could be a good book to read aloud to First Son next year as a supplement to our history studies, but I'll certainly read it when the girls are busy with something else because the descriptions of tortures and the martyrs' deaths are rather disturbing. (purchased used copy)

Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle  - This was the last book for my science fiction and theology class. In it, a science fiction author dies ignominiously and finds himself being lead through Dante's Hell (updated for contemporary sins and full of real and imaginary characters). It's been more than fifteen years since I read Dante's Inferno, but the authors do a good job of presenting it here so you don't have to remember it or know it to enjoy this novel. It's a bit impertinent, but I think is an engaging book to read concerning the problem of sin and eternal damnation. (purchased new by Kansas Dad)

The Gammage Cup: A Novel of the Minnipins by Carol Kendall - In this book, the Minnipins have become complacent, following leaders who have forgotten the dangers of the past. A few brave Minnipins are voluntary outlaws from a village that has become inhospitable to those who dare to wear different clothes or study history. They are the first to discover a great danger to their village and risk their own lives to warn their people and defend them. The more I think about this book, the more I like it. I will definitely encourage First Son to read it. (library copy)

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla: The Gift of Life by Susan Helen Wallace, FSP with Patricia Edward Jablonski, FSP (a review for The Catholic Company)

Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air by Stewart Ross and illustrated by Stephen Biesty (library copy)

Zoya's Story: An Afghan Woman's Struggle for Freedom by Zoya with John Follain and Rita Cristofari - I picked up this book at a library sale and decided to read it when the reviews looked good. It was a startling memoir of life in Afghanistan during the Russian occupation through September 11th and the immediate aftermath. Zoya's voice is clear in the novel, young and blunt. I was particularly disturbed because she is nearly my age; I would often compare our lives at different times during the book. I'm not sure how to best help the women of Afghanistan. (RAWA, Zoya's organization supports the use of contraception.) Certainly prayer is a good place to start. (purchased used copy)

The Whisper of Glocken: A Novel of the Minnipins by Carol Kendall is a sequel to The Gammage Cup (above) and I think I liked it even better than the first one. In this book five New Heroes set out to seek the reason for the overflow of the river which flooded two of their villages. They are average Minnipins without even a strong bond between them, but set out nonetheless. (library copy, and shockingly, they had to pull it from the storage shelves which don't even have bar codes; this book deserves to be read more!)
Like the true chime of the golden Whisper which cut through mountains, it came to him--the truth about heroes. You can't see a hero because heroes are born in the heart and mind. A hero stands fast when the urge is to run, and runs when he would rather take root. A hero doesn't give up, even when all is lost.
The Saints Pray for Us edited by Christina Miriam Wegendt, FSP (a review for The Catholic Company)

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (first book Kindle edition, from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, second and third books purchased for the Kindle)

Adulthood Rites and Imago by Octavia E. Butler are the second and third books of the Xenogenesis series. I read the first book as part of the science fiction and theology class. These continued the story of Lilith's children on a changed Earth. I wanted to read the end of the series, but I can't say it was entirely satisfactory. The whole concept is bizarre and disturbing. (desk copy of Lilith's Brood)

The Perilous Road by William O. Steele is a book I was considering for our homeschool lessons next year when we'll be studying the Civil War. Chris is a young boy who struggles with an extreme hatred of the Yankees even when his own brother joins them. In the end, he realizes that Yankees are just men, some of them kind and lonely, and that war is a terrible thing. It includes a violent scene of a Civil War attack and its aftermath. I found Chris's hatred overdone, but I think this could be a fine book for a child to read to themselves. I will not be reading it aloud with my young girls. I think First Son could read it next year in third grade but I haven't decided if I'll ask him to do so. (library copy)

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