Friday, September 25, 2015

Return to Nim's Island

In about ten minutes (or so), I'll be sitting down in the living room eating dinner and watching a movie that I really like...

Return to Nim's Island, starring Bindi Irwin and Toby Wallace. (Have you seen it?)

This movie is so cute (I even like it better than Nim's Island, in most respects!), and so adventurous. I've watched it maybe four or so times, and I still enjoy it. 

Sure, it may be slightly goofy at times, but it's so fun! 

One reason I like it so much? These characters: 

Nim (Bindi Irwin), Edmund (Toby Wallace), and a certain intern-professor, Felix (Nathan Derrick). 

Nim is bold, adventurous, and very protective of her wildlife friends. Edmund (my favorite character!), is almost equally adventurous as Nim, and very sincerely wants to tag along and help her out (against her will, o' course). Felix? Probably the funniest character! He goes from uptight, too-careful intern to slightly-crazy, nearly no-holding-back wild man (okay, maybe a bit too far, but really...).

Any-who, just thought I'd quickly pop in, review this super-fun movie, and tell y'all to watch it - if you haven't, that is. Or, on second thought, you can watch it again if you have. ;)

One question - where's the third movie!?
Nim's father, Jack: "Don't trust teenage boys, Nim. I should know - I used to be one." Nim: "Gross."

Postcards from a Faraway Island Postcards from a faraway island! Don’t forget to watch Return to Nim’s Island March 15th at 8/7C on Hallmark Channel!:

Product - Theatrical - Pinnacle Films:

 Have you seen Return to Nim's Island? If you have, did you like it? Who's your favorite character?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Trip, Mt. Rushmore, and Devils Tower

This is Mt. Rushmore - up close and personal. Amazing!

My family and I just got back a few weeks ago from a wonderful road trip to visit my grandparents in Iowa.

It was really such a great trip. The driving wasn't even too bad. ;) We drove through about five states: Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, and then part of Iowa. Wyoming was so...western! (It's called the 'Forever West' state...) It was really cool! It definitely feels western...and looks it. ;) In the part of Wyoming we drove through, there were definitely not many cities; a lot of open land with rolling hills and farmland. On the drive home we even saw a herd of wild horses! I think it was my favorite state we passed through.

South Dakota was pretty too! On the way to Iowa, we passed a field of sunflowers, and the sun was was beautiful! South Dakota has a bunch of flat land mixed in with rolling hills as far as the eye can see, so it's somewhat similar to Wyoming, but not quite the same.

Montana? Well, it seems a lot like Idaho and Washington. ;)

Staying at my grandparents' house was really great, o' course (we always sleep out in their camper in the backyard). We did so much while there! One Sunday we got together with some of our relatives and had a fish fry. (My great-uncle Ed made homemade ice cream...but it was sugar-free, so it didn't taste very good.) ;)  Then there was a whole day of shopping in Des Moines, a trip to a fun tea house (where my sister bought a light-up cherry blossom bonsai tree!), and mowing yards - yes! I learned how to mow. :) My grandpa taught me! Then there were the good ol' days - and evenings - of just relaxing together playing Dominoes Train, and sometimes drinking blended coffees. :) 

Mowing! That's me on the mower, and my grandpa and younger brother, Jeremiah in the back.

Bike rides around town - some days to visit with some of my grandpa's buddies at coffee time at 4:00pm, fishing, kayaking, and even speaking at a Night Owls' meeting about homeschooling! (That was frightening. I don't necessarily want to do that very often.) And there was helping out around my grandparents' house trimming trees, cleaning out the gutters, and hauling it all to the shrubbery-dump on the lawn mowers. And on the last day we were there I had the really fun idea to have a water-fight, complete with buckets, hoses, and...eventually puddles. That. Was. Fun. Crazy, right!? ;) 

Oh, and I actually got to watch Little Women! It was on TV when we were there. I must admit, I was rather disappointed with the second half - we watched it in two nights. I was loving the first hour and fifteen minutes - so fun! I loved Laurie, and they all got along so great, and then.... Part two came along. And it was horrible! Okay, so it wasn't horrible...but maybe it was. Let me explain: Laurie becomes some completely different person when Jo rejects his proposal, and then he ends up with Amy!? I loved him in the beginning! And then Jo marries a German professor, and I admit, he was probably better for her than Laurie was, but... *sighs* Anyways, it had a super fun beginning half, and the ending just...ruined it for me.

I got to reread my favorite book while there (if you guessed Brothers at Arms, you'd be right). Again, it's such a good book. I love it! If you haven't read it it! ;) I will be updating my review on here soon - well, just posting another - so be on the lookout for that. Oh, and in August I reread Secret of the Lost Settlement, the third installment in the Men of Grit series by Mr. John Horn. It was a lot better the second time around. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it more because I knew what was going to happen - I wasn't completely freaked out wondering... "What is going to happen to these characters!?", I am hoping to review that soon too. :)

I believe fall is finally upon us. It got down in the 40s last night! Granted, it's still about sixty-four out right now, so that's not cold at all.

On a whole different note, you might've noticed that I added a page to my part of the blogosphere, titled 'My Reviews'. This is just a page listing all of the reviews I have on my blog, with links to all of them. If you're looking for a new book, go check it out! :) Oh, and I updated my 'About Me' page - I like it better now!

Now, below I'm sharing some pictures from vacation with you. On the drive back home, we stopped by Devil's Tower in Wyoming, Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota, and Waldrug (also in SD). Mt. Rushmore was...really cool; amazing. I would recommend going. That was one of my favorite parts of the trip! I got a snowglobe of both Mt. Rushmore and Devil's Tower too... So now they're on my bookshelf. :)

And more good news: My brother, Jesse, fixed my computer. (Thank you!!!!) It was running incredibly slow on the internet - so much so that I didn't even get on it anymore. All he did was shut down some programs, and a few other odds and ends, and it's working so much better now! Just thought I'd update y'all... ;)

Seeing in detail - and there is a ton of detail! They even carved the pupils of everyone's eyes. It's really amazing to look at!

The gals. (Mom, me, and Ashley)
The badlands - well, in the distance, that is. We didn't drive through them this time.

Ashley, Jeremiah, and I! Oh, and don't forget the fluffy thing on the right: our dog, Azaliah.

A cool looking bridge we saw on the way to Mt. Rushmore.

Driving through Wyoming on our way to Devils Tower.
We're here!

Devils Tower, up close. So big!
And....there are more pictures of course, but these are mainly from our trip back! My grandparents took more photos while we were there that we'll have to get some of. :)


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Island Queen (Book Review)

My hardback edition!
The Island Queen
By: R.M. Ballantyne
My Rating: 4 stars
(Family read-aloud) 11 and up
(Personal Reading) 13/14 and up (for sometimes difficult-to-understand words and phrasing. Also, there is a scene with drunk men, and in the beginning chapter there are some deaths that can be skimmed over when reading to young kids. And there is a skeleton.)

I had The Island Queen by R.M. Ballantyne sitting on my shelf, left untouched, for some months before I picked it up one Saturday morning a while back and started reading it (randomly. I do this sometimes - haha!). The beginning line has such a poetic, scene-setting touch that I decided to read on, completely interested.

And it was a fun read.

It felt a bit different from the other Ballantyne books I've read. It was shorter, or felt shorter, for one thing, and everything moved rather quickly (which wasn't necessarily a bad thing).

I really enjoyed two of the main characters' playful banter - they made for moments of laughter! I also smiled through almost a whole chapter, which never happens to me! The three main characters - Pauline, Otto, and Dominick - are a good bunch, if a bit too perfect.

Plus, one of my favorite authors used a quote from this novel in one of his blog posts, and when I came across it, I thought 'That's familiar!' and then realized where I had read it before. I was slightly excited... (Okay, so, yes, I was excited...)

I do want to note that I would've preferred a different ending. Not that the ending was bad (it wasn't), but, I suppose, I just wish things would've happened with more of an actual end. Something from the book leaves us hanging, and there weren't really many hints as to what happened afterwards.

Overall, I enjoyed this book! It was a quick, light, and charming read, with funny moments and some enjoyable characters. Recommended!

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Fighting the Flames (Book Review)

Fighting the Flames: A Tale of the London Fire Brigade
Rating: 4 stars
By: R.M. Ballantyne
Ages: 13 and up (an attempted murder, the subject of fires, a death, etc.)

I've waited quite a while to review this book (I read it in May of this year). But during the months after having read it, I would periodically think of it and I'd just get happy inside (or tell my sister that she had to read it, of course). Fighting the Flames was really the most enjoyable book by Ballantyne that I've read to date.

Willie Wilders. Enough said. ;) He was my favorite character, by far. At first he seems like just a mischievous boy, but as the story progresses you see more of who he really is. Yes, he had fun confusing his uncle (granted, it would've been funny, considering the situation!), and then his uncle never got to find out the truth until a good bit of time later, but, aside from that...Willie's not too terribly mischievous. ;) I just loved how sweet he was! He was incredibly giving, even when he didn't have much to spare. I really liked that you see him as a young man (I'm not actually sure how old he was. I think he was a young teenager in the beginning - maybe fourteen or so?) and then the story skips ahead to when he's maybe twenty-one. It was cool, because the whole book had progressed during the seven years that you didn't read about, and everything was coming to a climax by that time.

I enjoyed the glimpses into the fire-fighters' lives and reading about their adventures. Plus, Willie's older brother Frank is part of the fire-fighting team you hear about, so everything weaves together in a really cool way.

Plus, Ballantyne managed to engrain his faith into the story as well. It's somewhat subtle, never thrown at the reader. I enjoy finding little moments of wisdom in his books!

And I just have to mention: It's inspiring to find that Ballantyne did his research the old-fashioned way: he went into the 'field', spending time with the fire-fighters and even going on runs with them. How cool, right!?

Anyways, back to the book.

As I mentioned a little earlier, everything weaves together - or, I should say, everyone. Ballantyne did something really neat with this novel: he connected every character through another character. All of the storylines overlap. Each character's story intertwines with someone else's. I've never read a book like that. Suffice to say, I liked it. A lot. He definitely made it work!

The book, as with all of Ballantyne's, can be somewhat long in descriptions, so it did take me a little while to get into it. And there is a somewhat intense scene that pops up nearer to the end that two characters' stories have been building up to. Someone also dies in one of the fires and there is a character who is often drunk (though, Ballantyne always discourages drinking in his books), but nothing is overly described (except for the scene mentioned above).

Overall, the story ends satisfactorily, and maybe even a little surprisingly! I liked most of the characters, I liked the story, and it was informative. I enjoyed Fighting the Flames, and it has officially become my favorite of the Ballantyne novels that I've read. Do I see a reread in the future? Probably.

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