Great Britain at War – A Review

11150498[1]If you have been reading this blog for some time you know I am a real sucker for history. I really get into it, when I start learning about a time period I find myself sucking up as much knowledge from as many sources as I can. So when I finished Dan Carlin’s latest episode on World War I I was itching to get more.

I found my self at and stumbled on Great Britain at War. This is a straight read of this book, which in itself is a collection of articles written by Jeffery Farnol. The narrator did a great job getting into the feeling of the articles, and the articles themselves are incredibly powerful and eye opening as the cover the time leading up to the war to nearly at the end. This would be a great resource for first hand material for teaching about this very difficult time in history.

I recommend this book, which you can get here for free on kindle or the podacast version of it which you can get here for free from

I never really thought of podiobooks as a place to look for history, books and they don’t have a huge selection, but what they do have, I will certainly be checking out in the future.


A Reading List for The Young Adult in Your Life

Just in time for all those long car trips, and hours spent with family I bring you a short reading list for the young adult in your life, that is not riddled with “young adult” books but should still be appropriate for the slightly younger set.

Before I get to the list, let me start by saying that, this is not an inclusive list. There are a lot of other books out there that are great reads for both young adults and adults alike, and if you have a recommendation please feel free to leave it in the comments below.

This is the last thing before I get to the list I promise. I have a personal philosophy about reading. It is good. Yes, there are books that maybe your younger kids should not read, subjects that they are not ready to handle, but knowing what your child is reading is probably one of the most important things you can do. Books can have some more adult subjects but if you know that and are ready to discuss those things with your “kids” then you can head off any problems before they start.

If a child wants to read a book and you forbid it, they will find a way to read it without you, and they won’t talk to you about it. It is much better to let them read something that might be just this side of questionable and be ready to talk to them about it than to have them read it, have questions and either A) not ask, or B) ask someone else who might give answers you are not going to like.

So here is the list:

The Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles – Michael J. Sullivan
Tumbler – Brand Gamblin
Quarter Share – Nathan Lowell (the later books in this series do
involve “adult subjects”)
Ravenwood – Nathan Lowell
Zypheria’s Call (Tanyth Fairport Adventures Book 2) – Nathan Lowell
The Hermit of Lammas Wood (Tanyth Fairport Adventures Book 3) – Nathan Lowell
Shooting Stars: A Teenage Vampire Love Story from a Boy’s Perspective – Philip Carroll
Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age – Philip Carroll
Mick Murdoch: Boy Super Hero – Michell Plested
Mik Murdoch: The Power Within – Michell Plested
Elf Stones of Shannara – Terry Brooks
Magic kingdom for Sale – Terry Brooks
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
Ginnie Dare – Scott Roche
A Method To the Madness: A Guide To the Super Evil – Jeff Hite and Michell Plested
Dimensional Abscesses: Portals to Places You don’t Want to Go – Jeff Hite and Michell Plested
The Rookie – Scott Sigler
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Leviathan / Goliath / Behemoth – by Scott Westerfeld
Any of the Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Tarzan Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Belgariad – David Eddings (Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician’s Gambit, Castle of Wizardry, Enchanter’s End Game)
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Riddlemaster of Hed – Patricia A. McKillip, followed by Heir of Sea and Fire and Harper in the Wind…
Spellsinger / Hour of the Gate – Alan Dean Foster
For Love of Mother-Not, The Tar-Ayim Krang, Orphan Star, and The End of the Matter, also by Alan Dean Foster.
Troy Rising (Live Free or Die, Citadel, The Hot Gate), by John Ringo
The Chronicles of Prydain – The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, the High King.
The Three Musketeers / Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
The Damned Alan Dean Foster’s three book series in there. Call to Arms, The False Mirror, and Spoils of War.
Legacy of Heorot – Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Steven Barnes.
First four X-Wing books – Rogue Squadron, Wedge’s Gambit, something something and The Bacta War. _ Michael Stackpole
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Crystal Cave (The Arthurian Saga, Book 1) and the other books in that series – Mary Stewart

Pirate Adventures – A book Review

Pirate AdventuresPirate Adventures by Russell Punter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great book. When reading to my younger kids or getting them to read to me, a little bit of silliness goes along way to making reading more fun, especially when you have read the book several times.

I really enjoy the basic story telling style with words that are easy enough to read without making the story dull and boring.

Three short stories are are long enough to challenge a young reader while not totally overwhelming them.

View all my reviews


I know in my warnings on the right over here, —> I say that I am a space science geek, but I left out that I am also a history geek. I really love history, especially The period starting with the rise of the Greeks to about the beginning and into the the “Dark ages” in Europe. No kidding I read history books for fun. I like learn as much as I can about one group of people, then work my way through all their neighbors. I am currently working my way around the Greek Peninsula (which means almost island in Latin, learned that one the other day. Gold star for me for remembering it)

While history books are great things, one of the greatest things about the rise of the internet has been the absolute explosion of resources available to amateur history lovers like me. I want to talk about three of those now.

Greek Hoplites. The warriors are shown in two attack positions, with both an overhand and underhand thrust.
Greek Hoplites. The warriors are shown in two attack positions, with both an overhand and underhand thrust.
First, I want to recommend a Greek history course offered though iTunes U. (It is an Open Yale Course so I am sure you can get it here) It is called Ancient Greek History by Professor Donald Kagan. This is a straight forward college level course that covers Greek History from the Bronze age until they are conquered by the Romans. The Audio is mostly good, though Dr. Kagan has kind of annoying throat clearing that he does about every 90 seconds. If you can get past that, this a wonderfully informative course.

wallNext, There is a great podcast called The History of Rome. This is an on going project that covers Rome from it’s Mythological beginnings right up to the final curtain. Or at least I think he will one day get to the final curtain, as I said it is a on going. There are nearly 200 episodes That have come out about once a week now for the last few years. The episodes are about 30 minutes long so easy to digest, and wonderfully in depth. They cover every leader great and small along the way, and how they influenced one of the greatest civilizations in the western world. (I think you will see the current pattern pattern here, Greece, Rome, Persia and Egypt are next but not in this review.) The audio quality is great, the historical facts as far as I have checked them are spot on, and when he does make a mistake he corrects it the following week. If you like Roman History at all, this is a podcast worth listening too. He has a great sense of humor that make the podacst that much more fun to listen to.

PS if you read my article “5 Reasons to Write an Essay for The Mad Scientist Anthology” my little tidbit about Caligula came from this podcast.

mainpic_hhLast, but certainly not least is Dan Carlin. He is a former news broadcaster from California. He now runs a history podcast call HardCore History He brings many things to the table. His style and his quality are second to none. He picks a time in history and with a laser’s focus tells you the most interesting details about that time in history. His series on the Eastern front of World War II and the one on the Punic Wars were just fabulous. The audio quality is great, (being that his is a former broadcaster that only makes sense.) His choices of topics are fascinating. Even if you don’t like history, I think you would like this podcast. The back issues (anything older than say 6 months) are I think $2 each, but well worth the price considering the quality of the material.

So there you have it. Three great sources for very interesting history.

Learning Latin

Last week I talked about taking a bigger role in home schooling our children. I started this process by spending some time in the mornings with my older boys. Mostly getting them started on the work that they needed to do, and adding a few things that they needed work on. (Essay writing for example.) The goal was to get into a rhythm with them and then start adding some of the other kids.

This morning my wife had laid out for the older kids to being their Latin. Say what you will about leaning a dead Language but, it is the root of a majority of the languages in the western world so really it is a great building block.

We have tried various Latin programs before with only minor success. Granted learning a language is all about the effort you put in and not really about the program itself. A program can certainly make learning easier or at least more interesting but for the most part it is on you as the “learner” to make it work.

This Morning we started “Visual Latin” from I will add at this point that learning Latin is something that I have been meaning to do for a while so I will be working along with the kids and trying to learn Latin, so yes you will get some updates on my progress as well. I hope to have a review of the program (maybe even in Latin) when we have completed it.

One of the things that like about the program so far and I only watched the first three visuals with them, is that from the get go the “instructor” tells you this is not going to be easy, and that you need to put the time in.

The second thing he does is give you some ideas of things that you can do outside of the course work to help yourself. He recommends for example getting a dictionary, a grammar book and a bible in the language you are learning, start by learning as many of the words as you can, start to study the grammar and then when you think you have some of the basics start reading the bible. I think this is a brilliant idea, though I know it is not original, and I think I will be at least trying to follow it.

So far I have to say that I am pretty impressed with the product. This morning, as I said, we worked through the first three visuals, which if you are interested are on line and for free at the web site above. I encourage you to check it out if you have not. If you have used it before I would love to hear what you have to say about it.