Thursday, July 15, 2010

Favorite Summer Books/Movies

I'll add to this list as I read more books. Here's just a taste...

Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld. This takes place just after the archduke of Austria was assassinated, but has an element of sci-fi/fantasy, along with fictional/non-historical characters. In this novel, the Germans and Austrians use "Clanker" technology--zeppelins and airplanes and tanks, of course, plus "Walkers". Walkers are huge machines that, well, walk on 2 legs, and can hold about 3-4 people plus some cargo. The British, on the other hand, are "Darwinists", and this doesn't refer to an ideology. Rather, their war machines aren't machines but living creatures. These creatures are fully contained ecosystems. Instead of a zeppelin, they have a huge whale-type creature, with glowworms providing light as needed, bats that emit projectiles, etc.
The storyline follows the archduke's son on the run after his parents were killed, and a British girl posing as a boy in order to take part in the war effort. Eventually, their paths cross in Europe, as the war is beginning to intensify, and .... I'll leave the rest for later. If I didn't know there was a sequel, I'd be mighty dissatisfied with the ending, as it left much unsaid.

Tea with Hezbollah, by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis. These two guys go to the Middle East and ask America's enemies questions like, "What makes you laugh? What makes you cry?" They also ask these leaders about Jesus, the parable of the Good Samaritan, and Christ's command to "Love your enemies," in a quest to find today's Samaritan (disenfranchised, on the edge of society, perception that they can do nothing right). Highly recommended.

Russian Journal, by Andrea Lee. She and her husband spent a year in Moscow in 1978, and this book tells the stories of the Russians they befriended and their experiences in Soviet Russia. I enjoyed the background of things like the ринок (rynok/farmer's market) and тапочки (tapochki/slippers provided at the door), which very likely is the same for Ukraine today. Some of the stories they told of basic daily life reminded me of aspects of life in Ukraine, though today goods (especially Western ones) aren't as scarce. It was eye-opening to hear more about their experience with the KGB and how the people lived in a constant state of being wary of others, especially for those who wanted to emigrate to the West.

An Intimate Understanding of America's Teenagers: Shaking Hands with Aliens, by Bruce Gevirtzman. The author draws upon decades of experience as a high school speech teacher, offering insight into the lives of his students. At times, he offers explanations from a teen's perspective--obtained simply by asking his students! He provides advice directed at teachers, parents, and teenagers at the end of each chapter.

Other Books:
Peculiar Treasures (Katie Weldon book #1), by Robin Jones Gunn

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