Is Stormbreaker (Alex Rider) a Suitable Book for my Child?

Stormrider Alex Rider Book Anthony HorowitzAs my son has entered high school (year 7) here in Australia we are presented with some challenges when it comes to the books that he reads and is exposed to. This year one of the assigned readers is Stormbreaker (Alex Rider) by Anthony Horowitz. My wife and I are both a bit concerned about the suitability of this book for our 12-year old son.

Some of the reviews that we have read online about it that give us hesitation are:

it is full of all the things that I do not want to promote in the collection for which I am responsible: violence, consumerism, and a disrespectful protagonist. They get enough of this is every other form of media. (Children’s librarian on Goodreads)

Common Sense Media warns of violence, consumerism, drinking, drugs, and smoking:

Parents need to know that this has all of the violence, though none of the sex, of a James Bond movie. (Common Sense Media)

Although Focus on the Family doesn’t give a specific “Yes or No” rating for the book, the do say this:

Stormbreaker is written for kids ages 12 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

About the profanity and graphic violence of the file they state”

Alex curses about his circumstances, though no swear words are seen in the text at that point. H—appears several times, sometimes as a curse word but more often to describe something horrific. The word d–n is also found a time or two. When Sayle says his jellyfish reminds him of himself, Alex asks if it’s because jellyfish have no brain, no guts and no anus. The book contains several disturbing descriptions, including that of the tongueless Mr. Grin whose mouth was deformed in a knife-throwing accident, a man crashing his motorcycle into an electric fence and an account of Sayle’s jellyfish wrapping itself around and killing Sayle’s assistant. Alex is involved with shootings, fiery car crashes and plane explosions. Russian assassin Gregorovich kills people without thought. He urges Alex to get out of the spy business and go back to school, because killing is for adults.

Based on what I’ve read about the book, and the trailer for the movie that was produced in 2006, I don’t think I am too keen on my son reading it. A movie where the main character is driven to violent action by a desire for revenge is not high on my lists of literature for my son to read …

My Review of Ike’s Bluff by Evan Thomas

Ikes Bluff by Evan ThomasThis is a great book that I read about  US President Eisenhower called, Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World by Evan Thomas.

It gave me a real insight into what he was able to accomplish as president, and why his military service was so instrumental in his policy and leadership. Some of my favourite quotes from the book attributed to Eisenhower were:

“God help the nation when it has a President who doesn’t know as much about the military as I do.”, when referring to the Military Industrial Complex, lobbyists, and foolish politicians.

Eisenhower had a healthy skepticism about the grandiose schemes of the  military. He knew how the top brass used worst-case scenarios to  frighten their civilian masters into spending more on unnecessary new  weapons systems and pet boondoggles.

In private conversation and in his public remarks, he often warned  against what he called “the garrison state.”7 Military necessity would  require citizens to give up their cherished freedoms—and, Eisenhower  feared, to become automatons of the state. Ike had witnessed the turn  toward fascism during the Great Depression.

Eisenhower was, in effect, his own secretary of defense. When Defense  Secretary Neil McElroy warned him that further budget cuts would harm  national security, Eisenhower acerbically replied, “If you go to any  military installation in the world where the American flag is flying and tell the commander that Ike says he’ll give him an extra star for his  shoulder if he cuts his budget, there’ll be such a rush to cut costs  that you’ll have to get out of the way.”

There are many more, but those were some that stood out to me, especially in regards to the current situation in the US.

Podcasting Hacks by Jack D Herrington


In this episode of the 3-Minute Book Review we have a look at Jack D. Herrington’s book, Podcasting Hacks.

The most useful portion of the Podcasting Hacks book is by far the chapter looking at the different formats that you can use when producing a podcast. It provides a good place to begin thinking about how you want to produce your podcast and the many options open to you. Some of the format varieties talked about are:

  • Beercast
  • Sports
  • News
  • Theatrical
  • Magazine
  • more …

The biggest limitation of the book is that it was published back in 2005, so given that a lot of the topics covered are technology related the age of the book seriously handicaps the usefulness of some of the content. Many of the sections in the book can be skipped as it talks about software and tools that have been discontinued, replaced, or dramatically updated. Quite a few of the web-sites referred to in the book are also no longer around.

Podcasting does for Internet audio listeners what TiVo does for television viewers–it puts you in charge of when you enjoy a program. Podcasting is a web-based broadcast medium that sends audio content (most commonly in the MP3 format) directly to an iPod or other digital audio player. You subscribe to audio feeds, receive new files automatically, and listen to them at your convenience.

Although I did enjoy reading the book my recommendation would be to pick it up from your public library or try to borrow it, rather than spending your money to buy it. Given the age of the book I feel that it is not worth spending the money on a full book when only one or two chapters are still relevant.

Winter Road: Journey of a Russian Mission by Andy Frecka

In 1999 Andy Frecka went to the city of Perm, near the Ural Mountains in Russia with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). He spent nine years there where he got married, had four kids and tells the whole story in his book “Winter Road: Journey of a Russian Mission”.

The book is a very capturing read and at only 280 pages it isn’t a very long read. Andy experienced a lot of different adventures during his time in Russia, including buying a car, boiling snow for food, working with a local group of prisoners, and more.

The book has been reviewed four times over at Amazon, all a full five stars. You can purchase it through Amazon here.