Josiah’s Reading – May 2009

May 31, 2009 Categories: Books , Homeschooling | Comments Off  

Yu-Gi-Oh! Millennium World, Volume 1 by Kazuki Takahashi
The Lost Warrior by Erin Hunter, Dan Jolley, and James L. Barry

Jonathan’s Reading – May 2009

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Horrible Harry in Room 2B by Suzy Kline
My First Devotional Bible by Andy Holmes
The Lost Warrior by Erin Hunter, Dan Jolley, and James L. Barry
Warrior’s Refuge by Erin Hunter, Dan Jolley, and James L. Barry
Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures, Volume 1 by Haden Blackman and Ben Caldwell
Day of the Dragon King by Mary Pope Osborne

Noah’s Reading – May 2009

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney
Bunnicula by James and Deborah Howe
The Lost Warrior by Erin Hunter, Dan Jolley, and James L. Barry
Warrior’s Refuge by Erin Hunter, Dan Jolley, and James L. Barry
Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures, Volume 1 by Haden Blackman and Ben Caldwell

Natalie’s Reading – May 2009

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The Tale of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
The Clue of the Broken Locket by Carolyn Keene
The 39 Clues: The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis
Jinx by Meg Cabot
Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson
Fire and Ice (Warriors, Book 2) by Erin Hunter
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Airhead by Meg Cabot
Message in the Hollow Oak by Carolyn Keene
Ida B: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan
Finding Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson
Forest of Secrets by Erin Hunter
Romancing Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson
I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass

No links – just a quiet Friday night

May 29, 2009 Categories: This and That | Comments Off  

I’m alone tonight, as Kevin has taken the kids camping and given me some much needed alone-time this weekend. I’m not going to take the time to do a links post – I’m having too much fun reading, listening to music, and just being alone. The rest of you homeschooling moms know: alone-time just. does. not. happen. So I’m going to soak up every bit while I can.

Featured DVD: Defiance

May 28, 2009 Categories: Movies , Reviews | Comments Off  

(Defiance was provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review.)

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Daniel Craig (James Bond: Quantum of Solace) stars as Tuvia Bielski, an ordinary citizen turned hero, in this action-packed epic of family, honor, vengeance and salvation. Defiance is a riveting adventure that showcases the extraordinary true story of the Bielski brothers, simple farmers – outnumbered and outgunned – who turned a group of war refugees into powerful freedom fighters. Tuvia, along with his unyielding brother, Zus (Liev Schreiber, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), motivate hundreds of civilians to join their ranks against the Nazi regime. Their inspirational story is a true testament to the human spirit.

I love hearing new stories about the heroes of World War II. I’m not talking about military heroes, I’m talking about the ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things in the face of tyrrany and devastation. Heroes like the Bielski brothers.

In spite of what the DVD blurb says, there were three Bielski brothers who heroically saved around 1200 people throughout the horrors of World War II. Liev Schreiber and Daniel Craig are the “name” actors, but the third brother, Asael, was as much a part of the story as the other two. Asael was played brilliantly by Jamie Bell. Actually, all of the acting in this movie is fantastic, and the movie lives up to all the hype in the blurb above – it is intense, heart-breaking, and full of hope. Definitely a must-see.

Defiance will be available on DVD on June 2nd. The DVD special features include commentary by the director, Edward Zwick; Return to the Forest: The Making of Defiance; Children of the Otriad: The Families Speak; and more.

Holy Spirit or….

May 26, 2009 Categories: Kid Stuff | 3 Comments  

This morning I was reading the story of Jesus’s baptism by John the Baptist aloud to the kids for our Bible time. When I finished, I asked them some questions to make sure they understood. I asked, “What did God send down from heaven after Jesus was baptized?”

Jonathan’s answer:

“A towel?”

Featured DVD: Valkyrie

Categories: Movies , Reviews | 2 Comments  

(Valkyrie was provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review.)

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In a country in the grips of evil, in a police state where every move is being watched, in a world where justice and honor have been subverted, a group of men hidden inside the highest reaches of power decide to take action. Based on the true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg and the daring and ingenious plot to eliminate one of the most evil tyrants the world has ever known.

A proud military man, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) is a loyal officer who serves his country all the while hoping that someone will find a way to stop Hitler before Europe and Germany are destroyed. Realizing that time is running out, he decides that he must take action himself and joins the German resistance. Armed with a cunning strategy to use Hitler’s own emergency plan – known as Operation Valkyrie – these men plot to assassinate the dictator and overthrow his Nazi government from the inside.

With everything in place, with the future of the world, the fate of millions and the lives of his wife and children hanging in the balance, von Stauffenberg is thrust from being one of many who oppose Hitler to the one who must kill Hitler himself.

Kevin and I have watched just about every World War II film made, since that is the era of history that fascinates both of us. Some are great, some are good, and some are just okay. Valkyrie falls into the middle group – it wasn’t amazing, but it was well-done and well worth watching because it’s based on a true story.

One of the things that has always horrified me when I study, read about, or watch movies about WW II, is the Germans who knew what Hitler was doing and either followed him anyway, or turned a blind eye. That’s one of the reasons that the story of Valkyrie is such an important one, and one that people should know. There were a significant number of people who realized that being loyal to Hitler and being loyal to Germany and humankind were two very different things. While their plot (obviously) does not succeed, the fact that there were high-ranking military officials willing to risk their career, honor, and very lives to defy the Fuhrer is heartening.

Because I already knew the outcome of the Valkyrie plot, I didn’t think this movie would be very riveting. I was wrong. The director masterfully created suspense, so that even though I knew their plot was doomed, I truly cared about these men and women, and was rooting for them to succeed. Recommended viewing.

Valkyrie is available now on DVD. The DVD special features include commentary by Tom Cruise, Bryan Singer, Nathan Alexander, and Christopher McQuarrie; Featurette: The Journey to Valkyrie; and Featurette: The Valkyrie Legacy.

Featured DVD: Labou

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(Labou was provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review.)

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When three young friends set out to find a centuries-old pirate ship lost in the Louisiana bayou, they discover an adventure beyond their wildest imagination…and a magical swamp creature named Labou!

With map in hand, schoolmates Gavin, Emily and “Toddster” are undeterred by scary pirate tales…until they run into theghost of Captain LeRouge and one of his real-life descendants! To make matters worse, greedy oil tycoons are buying up swampland to build a huge oil refinery. Working together with their new pal Labou, the kids race to stay ahead of the bad guys and save the bayou from destruction.

Enchanting, endearing and irresistibly fun for the whole family, Labou proves that friendship is the greatest treasure of all!

I have to admit, I didn’t watch all of Labou. I thought the children actors did a good job, but most of the performances by the adult actors were very over-the-top. Throw in the fact that Mayor Nagin appears as the Mayor of New Orleans – and he’s not an actor by any stretch of the imagination – and you have a recipe for a very uneven, poorly acted film.

As you can see by their reviews below, my boys, or, at least the younger two, seem to be much less particular about their movie viewing experiences than I am. So your kids may still enjoy this film, even though I didn’t.

Noah’s review: This is a good children’s movie, but I found it confusing because too many things happened at once and it was hard to follow. 3 and a half stars.

Jonathan’s review: Labou is a type of animal in the movie, which follows music whenever it hears music. There’s a treasure these kids are after, and there are also these cowboys looking for oil. 5 stars.

Josiah’s review: My favorite part in Labou is the last battle part and all the traps. 5 stars.

Labou is available on DVD now. The DVD special features include audio commentary and several “making-of” featurettes.

Featured DVD: Taken

May 25, 2009 Categories: Movies , Reviews | 2 Comments  

(Taken was provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review.)

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Former government operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) begins the longest 96-hours of his life–and the hunt for the fearsome organization that has taken his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace, LOST). Mills had only recently given up his government career as what he calls a “preventer” to be near Kim, who lives with Bryan’s ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen, X-Men and her new husband. To make ends meet, Bryan joins some former colleagues for special security details (like guarding a pop diva), but most of his time and energy are spent re-connecting with Kim. Bryan’s familial goal is nearly derailed when Kim requests his permission to spend time in Paris with a friend. All too aware of the dangers that could lie ahead for Kim in a foreign land, Bryan says no, but Kim’s disappointment leads him to very reluctantly relent.

Bryan’s worst fears are realized when Kim and her friend Amanda are suddenly abducted–in broad daylight–from the Paris apartment at which they’ve just arrived. Moments before Kim is dragged away by the as yet unseen and unknown assailants, she manages to phone Bryan, who begins to expertly piece together clues that will take him to the darkness of Paris’s underworld, and to the City of Light’s plushest mansions. He will face nightmares worse than anything he experienced in black ops–and let nothing and no one stop him from saving his daughter.

Wow – Kevin and I watched this movie Friday night – and it was fantastic. It’s a simple movie really; the plot boils down to one thing: how far will a father go to save his daughter? And if that father is Liam Neeson, ex-CIA, the answer is pretty far. He loves his daughter and is determined to save her from the horrors that await her as a sexual slave on the black market. Because of his history fighting the worst criminals the world has to offer, he knows all to well what his daughter’s life will be like if he doesn’t succeed. And so failure is not an option.

This movie was violent. Neeson’s character engages in torture and brutality in his quest to find his daughter. Some people may find that disturbing, but as a mother wondering what she would do if her daughter was in the same situation, I found everything he did completely justified.

This is the kind of action-thriller that will make an evening speed by, and you’ll be on the edge of your seat the entire time. Highly recommended.

Taken is available on DVD now. The DVD includes both the theatrical version and an extended version.