Sunday, September 13, 2015

Classical Conversations Cycle 1, Week 5

I didn't post last week...but my poor little kiddos didn't get a day off for Labor Day so we were going strong.  We were also dealing with a bad bug bite (little man is allergic), so posting just didn't happen.  Our plan for this school year is to go about 6 weeks and then take a week off to recharge, go on field trips, and gear up for another 6 weeks.  I think this will really help with burnout...which I had a struggle with last year.  I still haven't looked at where the free weeks will fall, but the plan is to hit our time off at the normal holidays.

So I'm just going to briefly put a few links up here that I've found.  Hope they help you this week!

History: split of the Roman Empire
*Love this cute idea from CCing It One Day At A Time...a thumb print display of the history sentence. I think mine will like this!
*We also have two Usborn books that'll be helpful....Romans and History of the Ancient Empires.  I'm sure we'll get some background from there.
*This is a cute site called Sir Dig-A-Lot that gives a brief synopsis of the Pax Romana

Geography: Egyptian Empire
* Love these geography cards...also from CCing It One Day At A Time
*These ancient Egypt coloring sheets are perfect!
*Free Great Pyramid model printable that can be found in this Discovering Ancient Egypt set

Science: invertebrates
We LOVE Brain Pop Jr.  Go here and click on the "Classifying Animals" movie.  We watched it earlier in the school year, but it does a great job explaining invertebrates. : )

Hope you have a great week!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Reviewer's Bookshelf: Chivalrous by Dina Sleiman

Book Summary: Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers. However, that is not an option for her, not even in the Arthurian-inspired Eden where she dwells. Her parents view her only as a marriage pawn, and her domineering father is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit.

When handsome, good-hearted Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, Gwendolyn spies in him the sort of fellow she could imagine marrying. Yet fate seems determined to keep them apart. Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

My thoughts...I enjoyed Dauntless, the first book in this series, so I had high expectations for Chivalrous.  This book is one of several Young Adult/teen books that I've read with a medieval setting.  I have thoroughly enjoyed most of the ones I've read and often tried to read the book with my daughter in mind.  She's not quite old enough to read this level of book (she's only 8), but down the road I'll be looking for books that are appropriate and entertaining for her.

There were several parts in this book that I enjoyed.  There was a joust scene in the beginning of the novel that I found especially exciting, filled with tension.  It was definitely a highlight in the book.  I also enjoyed the interaction Gwendolyn had with Allen.  I admired both for their perseverance despite the hardships they endured.  Allen was a gentleman as well as a courageous knight, which made him a character I rooted for. While there were a few parts that Gwendolyn's way of talking was a little modern for me,  I'm sure it would be hard for many teen readers to relate  to a lot of formal medieval language.  

My expectation was that most of the book would be about Gwendolyn and her efforts to fight like a knight without anyone knowing.  I was a little disappointed in the lack of scenes with Gwendolyn actually doing this.  It didn't really seem like the focal point of this book.  It was more about her efforts to avoid a marriage she didn't want, overcoming the abuse of her cruel father, and spending time with Allen.  All of those helped contribute to the plot, but weren't really what I was expecting.  The main aspect of the story that I really had a problem with was a side plot with Gwendolyn's servant.  The point of view shifted throughout the story from Gwendolyn to her servant, Rosalind, so there was a significant part of the story that involved her.  This kind of threw me off a little because there wasn't even a hint of this from the book summary, but I rolled with it.  Then Rosalind's story got darker more intense, and involved **possible spoiler?** premarital sex, abortion, and severe rejection.  Then Rosalind just drops out of the story and I was left disappointed and confused.  Such an intense side plot is just left without closure and honestly, I felt like it took away from any happiness and resolution that was given to the other characters at the end.  All I could think about was the despair Rosalind was going through and how I would feel if my teen was reading all of this.  This is a real issue with a lot of teens, but it wasn't really addressed appropriately in this book, in my opinion.  

Chivalrous has a lot of potential.  For an adult, many of the heavy themes may not seem so heavy.  If I'm going to be consistent, though, in reviewing this book in light of it being written for a Young Adult/teen audience, I would say that the Gwendolyn/Allen parts are the best....the side plot of Rosalind felt out of place for me and I didn't come away with closure or redemption for the characters involved.

**I was given a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, which I gave.**