Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book review: Spirit Animals 5 pulls you like a current

Hi everyone. Today was one of those days where I got a new book and read through it entirely. Today is a review for the fifth book in the Spirit Animals series, Against the Tide:
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
In this adventure we find Conor, Abeke, Rollan, and Meilin with the Greencloaks heading towards Oceanus, which consists of the Hundred Isles. There they plan to find the Great Beast that actually wants to meet them, Mulop the Octopus. However the journey is not going to be easy as the Conquerors have already seized control of the Hundred Isles and the mysterious mole that is giving them secrets. Will they be able to find Mulop and claim his talisman, or will the Conquerors get one step closer in freeing Kovo the Ape? As the stakes continue to rise no one will be able to leave without great sacrifice.
The stories, being geared for a younger audience, might appear fast paced for older audiences. However I still found myself highly entertained by the way so much can be conveyed without overdoing the details. I found myself seeing the Hundred Isles as based off locations like Polynesia and the Philippines. As we get closer to the series end we see that the story is getting a slightly darker tone, both for the characters and the locations. This may seem kind of ironic or counterintuitive as the Hundred Isles are essentially a tropical paradise that you'd would want to vacation at. These changes are definitely going to be useful for having the characters develop and grow as they continue to strive to save Erdas. All I'll say is that the ending left me shocked and scarred as the characters. There is no way I'm missing books six and seven.
A boy burns to death after standing on a magic rock for too long. Sharks attack whales and blood is mentioned. There are battles between people and animals, and it might be intense for some. A boy mentions forcing an animal to do his will and we see the animal with a broken leg. A girl has a dream where she sees a ruined garden and her dead father, which might scare younger readers. A snake takes control of people.
The choices we make today can have an effect on future generations, for good or evil. It is wrong to force our wills and desires upon others. People with Christian backgrounds might want to use Gerathon and Kovo as examples of how the Devil can manipulate people. When we use harmful substances we only hurt ourselves and those around us.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Remembering my Grandma

As some of you have probably heard on Facebook my Grandma passed away this week. To remember her I'm doing a special blog post for her.

Pauline Ira Higginbotham was born on the eighteenth of September in the year of 1923 in Edom, Van Zandt County, Texas. She was the first child of Captain McKinley Higginbotham and Martha Lou Norris. She had three brothers and two sisters who she loved very much.
            She went to 1st grade through 9th grade in Beckville, Texas. She went to high school in Carthage where she was a student with Jim Reeves. Her mother died September 5, 1933 and her father passed away November 14, 1939. She graduated from high school after her father passed away and worked in Walgreens Drug Store in Marshall, Texas. She worked at another store before leaving to work in a shipyard in Orange, Texas. She worked there throughout World War II in that shipyard.
            After the war she went to San Antonio, Texas, where she worked at Joskes Department Store and at the Elks Club as a secretary. She visited the Circle B night club/dance club where she met the man who would become her future husband: Jack C Glenn.
            On February 23, 1951 she was married to Jack C Glenn in Watkins Glen, Schuyler, New York. Together they had Linda Palmer Glenn, Gerald Wayne Glenn, and Kenneth Lee Glenn. She had a fear of tall trees falling down on the houses where they lived, and so were careful about where they stayed.
            When her husband got discharged from the air force they moved back to San Diego, California, where they established their home. They lived in San Diego and the surrounding area for 30 years before they both retired and moved back to Texas.
            Like her husband, Pauline had a deep interest in genealogy and family history. The two of them had difficulty tracking down the ancestors of her mother and grandmothers. I tried to help while serving as a missionary in the Family and Church History Headquarters mission without success. Eventually they found a death certificate for her father’s mother listing the name of her and her father. Their joy was great that day.
            I remember during one visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Henderson, Texas that I saw a little toy Triceratops on one of their bookshelves. I hadn’t seen any like that since I was a kid. They reminded me that I gave that toy to them when I was young. I was glad that they still had it with them.
            Pauline had auburn hair for most of her life, and her third grandson through Kenneth’s line, who would be me, was very surprised when they came to visit one year and it had gone white. She stood at about her husband’s shoulder in height. In her old age Pauline had several trips to the hospital during which her children and grandchildren came and visited her. She was grateful for the company.
           I learned she was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an adult. She and her husband Jack were raising their children when she felt they needed to raise them in a church environment. However she wanted to join a church she felt was truly interested in their welfare. Jack was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but had fallen into inactivity. A bishop from the church kept visiting them regularly, and Pauline started going to church. She was always accompanied by her children. Eventually she joined and got her husband to attend as well. 

            She passed away on the sixth of October, 2014 in Celina, Texas. May she rest in peace.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Stories for English Heritage

Hi everyone. I've been wanting to do this post for a while now, and I figured now's the time to get it done. For a while I've been wanting to do more to honor my English/Scottish heritage, and I was thinking one way to do that was to familiarize myself with the traditional legends and stories of the countries. Below is a list of the stories I think would be good for anyone who would like to fill their libraries and/or minds with to honor their English heritage.
Starting off on this list is the tales of the legendary King Arthur. Everyone knows the name of this famous monarch and the deeds of his Knights of the Round Table. For generations people have written about King Arthur, his knights, the wizard Merlin, and the legendary city of Camelot. Authors never seem to get tired of writing books that focus on or involve these legendary heroes, and the legends have gone on to inspire countless fantasies throughout the years. Speaking of legendary heroes...
It would also be good for those wanting stories for their English heritage to become familiar with the exploits of the legendary outlaw Robin Hood. The Earl of Locksley as some tales have him became an outlaw due the laws made and enforced by Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham while King Richard was on one of his many crusades. Robin Hood and his Merry Men gave hope to the people by robbing from the rich to give to the poor, showing that sometimes doing what is right means going against what is popular or accepted by those around us.
Another well-known English figure is Sherlock Holmes. First created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle this tale has become known as the greatest detective who ever lived. Sherlock Holmes has set the standard for all detective novels with his knowledge of chemistry, ability to disguise himself, and extensive know-how of forensic science. While we're on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle let's look at another of his famous works.
One of my personal favorites, The Lost World was one of those novels that set the standard for later works of fiction. The story follows the adventures of Professor Challenger and his team as they explore a remote plateau in South America where dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals survived extinction. Since it's release countless authors and filmmakers have been inspired to create some remote corner of the planet where dinosaurs didn't go extinct. Edgar Rice Burroughs, James Gurney, and Michael Crichton have written something that can be seen as inspired by this novel. Michael Crichton admitted he loved the story so much he gave the sequel to Jurassic Park the same name as a way to honor the story.
We should not overlook these works when talking about English literature. J.R.R. Tolkein's stories of Middle-Earth have become increasingly popular over the years, but when they came out they set the standard for all future high fantasy stories. Wizards, dragons, evil seeking to take over the world...what's not to like about the series? Tolkein sometimes viewed what he was doing as making a mythology for England. Guess the tales of King Arthur and Robin Hood weren't good enough for him.
There's no way I'm including J.R.R. Tolkein's works on this post and ignoring the works of his friend C.S. Lewis. Everyone knows Lewis for his series The Chronicles of Narnia, which follows the adventures of children who often make their way from Earth to a realm of fantasy where they must work with an all-powerful lion to defeat the forces of evil and restore peace to this world. The series is loved by children and adults all around the world, and the combination of theology with fantasy makes it truly memorable.
This is more recent, but you can't ignore the huge popularity of the stories revolving around the boy wizard. Since it's initial release the stories have gained an incredible popularity around the world. I enjoy the stories about someone who's learning to use magic, and encountering a wide variety of magical creatures from folklore and mythology, and J.K. Rowling has created many fantastic characters, locations, and beasts in the course of seven books.
We may as well move on to stories that were written for younger audiences now. FYI I still enjoy these stories even though I'm an adult. Lewis Carroll's classic novel was one of the first in modern fiction to have someone travel from one world to another. Originally called Underland, the location in this fairy tale fantasy has over the years been renamed to Wonderland. Though the story lacks in a solid plot the locations and characters Alice meets on her adventures are amusing enough, and if anyone is familiar with the old nursery rhymes will see that Lewis Carroll was poking fun with them as well as at the British government. Oh look, the Cheshire Cat is behind you. Just kidding. Out of curiosity have any of you figured out why a raven is like a writing desk?
Another classic English story that has fallen under the category of fairy tales like Alice in Wonderland is J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. The story follows the adventures of Wendy Darling and her brothers John and Michael as they are taken by Peter Pan, the Boy Who Never Grew Up, to a magical place called Neverland. There they must join with the Lost Boys as they fight against Captain Hook and his band of pirates. People have continued to love this story for generations, and more adventures set on the island of Neverland are still being written, including the popular Peter and the Starcatchers series by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry. I've now got this song in my head so I'm sharing this clip with you (FYI some people consider this film the definitive version of J.M. Barrie's story):
Possibly my favorite song from the film. Now where was I? Oh yes. I was about to tell you about another famous island that comes from English literature.
The classic novel was written by Robert Louis Stevenson was first published May 23, 1883, and follows the adventures of young Jim Hawkins as he and others embark on a voyage to the legendary Treasure Island to find the lost loot of the infamous Captain Flint. However the crew turns out to be a band of pirates led by Long John Silver. I won't say any more in case you haven't read the book, but I imagine you all have seen at least one adaptation in film. This book is one of the classic examples of an adventure novel.
This story is a classic children's novel in England, so it is making it's way onto this list. Made famous by the works of Walt Disney Animation Studios, the books follow the adventures of Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred-Acre Woods. I never got to read the books, but one of my professors has and really enjoys it because it is full of great philosophy.
The last story I'll talk about on this post is The Wind in the Willows, another famous children's book. This follows the adventures of a group of animals as they try to help Mr. Toad with his money-spending problems. Again this is a novel I need to put on my to read list.
I know this isn't a definitive list of every novel from England, but these are stories that I think would be good for a person to be familiar with to honor their English heritage. If there are any that I missed that you think should be on this list please say so in the comments and if there's enough I'll do another post for those books. I'll also see if I can find any Scottish stories to do a blog post on.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Late review: Spirit Animals: Fire and Ice is extreme fun

I know I've been bad about varying blog topics. As many of you know college life is very demanding and schoolwork takes a great deal of anyone's time. However I just got through a midterm and I'm taking the time to do this blog post reviewing this book.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The world of Erdas is in trouble. The Conquerors have freed the serpent Gerathon from her prison, and she is causing mischief in many parts of the world. Meanwhile Rollan, Conor, Meilin, Abeke, the Greencloaks, and their Spirit Animals are traveling to the cold lands of Artica to find the great polar bear Suka and retrieve her talisman. Unfortunately it's been ages since anyone has seen the great beast, and the legends that exist suggest she could be trapped. Not only has Suka's absence been noticed by so many, but the people seem interested in keeping the bear missing. Everyone will have to work with their spirit animals like never before, but will Rollan be able to face a surprise from his past and help his friends?
The series always gives you a wild ride with unexpected twists and turns. I like how the different lands of Erdas capture different parts of the world, and the ability to bond with animals helps too. You can tell the connection between the characters is strongly developing, and each of them grows closer to their animals as well. The story is fast paced, but is well worth the read.
A snake eats someone and possesses people. People are in peril. Fighting between the Conquerors and Greencloaks gets serious, and the action might get intense for some. A giant polar bear goes on a rampage.
Our adoptive relationships can be just as real and true as our biological relationships. We can overcome the past to move to a better future.