Saturday, March 31, 2012

Soul Surfing...

The last Friday of the month is "Movie Night" at Ihtus. I choose a film which had a good message or deals with a tough subject (or the Princess Bride if I am in the mood!) and we have a short discussion afterwards.

Last night we watched the fantastic movie "Soul Surfer" based on the real life story of Bethany Hamilton. It is an "emotional" movie with a message of hope (more about the movie at the end of this post after the spoiler alert so if you want to watch it I won't ruin it for you!). I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it! 

Up until now we have had varied success with our movie nights, with about 10 people coming mostly... But last night we had over 20! As we have English Conversation Classes also on Fridays, I decided to incorporate Movie nights as part of the English Class - we watch with English subtitles, so they are technically learning some English even during the film and afterwards the discussion (for those that stay) is in English! And as we have been having up to 20 people coming to the classes, and had another few other regular "Movie night" goers coming to see the film we managed to have a great group last night:
The discussion afterwards was great as I managed to pick up a lot of things I missed when watching - even though this was my third time...

 *****SPOILER ALERT***** (don't read further if you want to watch the film...)
Bethany is a girl who was born into a surfing family on Hawaii, who lost her arm in a shark attack. The story is how she finds the strength through her faith to get back up again and eventually become a professional surfer. She also went on a trip with World Vision to Thailand just after the Tsunami which is where she gained a lot of perspective. More about her here.

It is definitely a film you cry through in parts...even the boys said they were choking up a bit... And then one of the English students told me that her sister said that she wasn't able to understand anything at the beginning of the movie. But then half-way through the film she caught her bawling eyes out... so obviously she was understanding something :-)
The movie really is a feel good classic, and helps put things in perspective in our lives as well. At least I have both arms! And here she is able to compete in a sport where two arms are needed for balancing... and is up there amongst the best. And one of the things that is brought out in the movie is this need for perspective: when you look at things too closely it is hard to see them for what they really are. You need to get some distance and get a different perspective... that is a big lesson we all need to learn in life!

Some amazing quotes from the movie:

I wouldn't change what happened to me, because then I wouldn't have this chance in front of all of you. This chance to embrace more people then I ever could have with two arms. 

Who would have thought that teaching a kid to surf would teach me that surfing isn't the most important thing thing in the world? And that something else is. Love. Bigger than any tidal wave. More powerful than any fear.

I've learned that life is a lot like surfing. When you get caught in the impact zone, you need to get right back up, because you never know what's over the next wave. 

I don't need easy. I just need possible.

Normal is so over-rated. :-)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Booksneeze reviews: 3 for the price of none!

Since I now have a kindle, I was able to get three books by Lis Wiehl to review for Booksneeze at more or less the same time, so I have decided to put them all on the same blog post. They are all thrillers, but as she is writing with two different co-authors two are similar, but the other has a very different feel and seems to be by a different author. What they do have in common is that they are all fast paced and hard to put down!
"Heart of Ice" by Lis Wiehl with April Henry is part of the "Triple Treat" series which follows a group of three friends: a TV reporter, a Federal prosecutor and an FBI agent—as they investigate crimes together. The three good friends enjoy spending time looking for criminals, but also hanging out and enjoying life as well. The group did remind me a bit of James Patterson's "Women's Murder Club", but it is a format that works and I will definitely be reading more in this series.

The story starts out fast, and keeps you guessing all the way through. As the plot progresses, you discover more about the background not just of the investigators, but also the people involved in the crimes. The killer is not only pathological but intriguing and throughout the book you are given glimpses of what drives her to do what she is doing.

I also enjoyed the way the author brought a life-changing problem into the life of one of the three friends which gives us more insight into her (and the others) characters and backgrounds.

I really enjoyed this Christian thriller and highly recommend it to fellow lovers of a good fast-paced, hard-to-put-down read. (Disclosure: I received this book to review through the booksneeze program, but this opinion is my own)

So, I was glad to be given the chance to immediately review "Eyes of Justice", which is also another Triple Threat novel by Lis Wiehl and April Henry.
Once again looking at the "Triple Threat" team of 3 ladies: Alison, a federal prosecutor; Nicole, an FBI agent and Cassidy a crime reporter - not just at their relationships, but also at the ins and outs of solving a very intriguing crime. Alison and Nicole, after waiting for their friend to come to dinner with them, go to find out why she is not answering her phone, and discover her dead body under the sink in her apartment. Yes, one of the triple threat has been killed...

The rest of the novel investigates not just her death, but the dynamics of their relationships once again. The characterisation is really well done and you want to find out more about the people in the book.

Another character, Omelia, is introduced and even though she is weird and quirky and I liked seeing how her mind functioned, as it is different from other people, and the other two accept her as such as well. I did kind of think with her introduction that she might take over Cassidy's place in the triple threat team, and by the end of the book it is obvious that this is the case.

It goes without saying with this author, that the novel has twists and turns, is fast paced and keeps you reading. It isn't a book you want to start late at night as you won't be able to put it down! (Disclosure: I received this book to review through the booksneeze program, but this opinion is my own)

"Waking Hours" by Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson is the first in the East Salem trilogy. It has a different feel from Lis Wiehl's "Triple Threat" series mainly because it has a more prominent supernatural element. It is also the first in a trilogy so the ending leaves a lot hanging, whereas the Triple threat series books are all self-standing.

The story follows a former football hero and a forensic psychologist who were homecoming king and queen together in High school, and since them have completely lost touch. As the book goes on, they realise how much they actually mean to each other. And as their romance deepens, we watch the supernatural and evil events unfold in this seemingly sleepy town. A teenage girl is killed, and many the town's teenagers are implicated in her ritualistic murder.  Scary dreams, an old lady spouting Latin and spooky visits caught on security cameras mean that this books is not for the faint-hearted.

I was disappointed when I go to the end and realised that there was no closure in this book, and I would HAVE to read the next two books, but at the same time I can hardly wait to read them as I want to find out what happens!

I enjoyed this book, but would recommended it only to those who don't have nightmares themselves.(Disclosure: I received this book to review through the booksneeze program, but this opinion is my own)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Book Club: more volunteers than kids!

So, we had a lot more people come to volunteer with us at the Children's Home Book Club tonight. It was GREAT! And then there were no kids... yes, we had to wait for 1/2 an hour as they were all celebrating one of the kids' birthdays and it ran long... oh well, the best laid plans of mice and men! But we had a good time getting to know each other, old and new volunteers together:
And then the kids arrived... well some of them... some of the older ones decided that they didn't want to come to Book Club! They took the opportunity to duck outside and hang out there straight from the party... (But don't worry they will be punished by not being allowed to go to the library on Friday: and believe me that is a good punishment! I will just get new books for them - so that they have something new to read...)

Here is Jovana reading with two of the older kids who did actually come!
The younger kids all came and had a wonderful time: with one-on-one attention:
New volunteer, Milijana, with little Mira:
And a new member, little Sara (who is just in the first grade, but already a great reader!) with new volunteer, Ivana:
It was actually nice having more volunteers than kids, and as one of the new people said: it wasn't too bad having fewer kids for a shorter time tonight so they could get used to it! When working with kids, you never know what to expect do you?! Hopefully they will come and be on time next time ;-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Library = Liberty!

After a break of a couple of months (due to the school holidays and then because they feared that they had an "outbreak" of mumps in the home-which it luckily wasn't) we finally went to the library with the kids from the Children's home today. I didn't have a chance to take photos this time, so this is a photo from last year when Tanja was reading to 4 of the younger kids:
I didn't have a chance to get photos as we were kept busy getting new library cards for the kids
(it is a new year), and also this time we had 8 in the morning and 11 in the afternoon (as the kids go to school in shifts we take the in shifts too...) and so it was BUSY!

I drove our "new" kombi/van which was interesting but not too bad... One of the male teachers at the home said "oh no, that means I can't get out of driving our kombi because you are driving yours... now they will say 'look even Belinda can drive a kombi, be a man and drive ours'!" :-) But it is much better to not have to rely on the Children's home's kombi being available because it often happens that it is busy or the drivers are busy and then the kids can't go, so this is MUCH better!

It is so fun to take the kids as they love choosing their books and of course playing with the games there or getting on the internet. And it is really an outing for them. The Library does equal Liberty for them!  We have more kids now in the book club than before, and they are really excited to start reading I am SOOO happy: that is the point of this all!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

KINDLE! (and a booksneeze review)

One of the things that also happened while I was in England in February was that I was given money to buy myself a kindle from some lovely friends (what a blessing!). It has already become a feature at my English Conversation Classes as I have downloaded books with "Lateral Thinking" problems onto it (and we usually finish the class with a lateral thinking problem or two)... so that has been great.

I also am now able to get ebooks from Booksneeze©, so you will be seeing more reviews on my blog, as I don't have to wait for the book to arrive (or not, as has happened twice) and so I can actually read and review more frequently! And of course getting books for free is always a bonus!

I am still getting used to the fact that I have this wonderful piece of technology, but so far I am really enjoying it! One of the funniest things is that I usually read in bed and then start falling asleep and the kindle is so like a book in my brain that I find myself trying to put a bookmark into the "book" in my hand so I don't lose my place!

Here is my first ebook review for you to enjoy:

Nick Polchak, a forensic entomologist ("Bug Man") just about to get married decides to travel to a meeting of all the big forensic minds in the US to meet up with a friend. After being stood up at the meeting, Nick, tries to track down his friend: at his house he sees blowflies through the window - meaning only one thing, there is a dead body in the house: his friend is dead.

The rest of the story continues to track Nick (and his fiance, Alena)'s movements while he chases his friend's killer(s) and she tries to track him down before the wedding... the plot twists and turns and keeps you reading right up until the end.

I really enjoyed this book, and am interested in reading more of this author's other books - including more in this series on the "Bug Man", Nick.

My only negative comment was that the book was from a Christian publisher and so I expected more of a Christian emphasis than there was in the book. There were some pointers towards good wholesome thinking, but sometimes the characters get so caught up with everything that is going on that they forget about each other, let alone God. I know it probably would have changed the pace and the timing of the book, but it was the only thing that I think may have been lacking.

I received this book through the Booksneeze© program of Thomas Nelson Publishers, but this opinion is my own.
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