Monday, November 23, 2015

A Lady Never Starts a Fight...

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

Okay, so just gonna say this has to be one of my favorite reads of the year. I related with the main the character Harper so much (she says her lips are naked without lip product and drinks Earl Grey tea). I felt like I would have made most of the same decisions she did in the different situations that arose.

          She is a strong character who works hard, takes the high road, and has admirable morals. Rachel Hawkins’ writing style is fun and easy to read. I have to confess this is a 345 pg. book and I read it in 2 ½ days. I couldn’t put it down. The dialogue was snappy and fun and I couldn’t wait to see what happened to the characters next.

A southern belle turned ninja-like warrior? The premise of the book intrigued me from the moment I saw a book review of it on YouTube. It was something I hadn’t seen before and something I couldn’t really imagine. I wanted to see how Hawkins pulled it off. The answer? Flawlessly.

As far as content goes I couldn’t find a content review online in the time I needed (of course I found one afterwards) I but decided to wing it anyway and was pleased with what wasn’t in it rather than what was. At the beginning of the book Harper scolds a friend for using the F-word and says “I just think that the F-word should be saved for dire occasions. And having to park a hundred yards from the gym is not a dire occasion.”

I thought this was admirable for a secular book. Now, when someone does say the F-word Harper either notes whether or not they said the actual word or it will be replaced with “effed”. They use it a moderate amount of times but since It is not an actual swear word I will not be including it in the final rating.

In conclusion, I enjoyed this book immensely and as  I said it will probably be included in my top five books of this year which I will be doing a post on in late December or early January. I will also be picking up the second book Miss Mayhem which I am looking forward to devouring.

Language: Moderate, but probably not above 10 words

Alochol/Drugs: There is one mention of “huffing” not related to the main character and there is mention of a teen who was killed while under the influence of alcohol.

Violence: 7 (detailed but cartoonish, at one point somebody gets stabbed with a stiletto).

Sexual content: It is implied by Harper that some of the teens are in a sexual relationship and there is also one or two semi-passionate kissing scenes but nothing graphic.

Spiritual Content:  The whole book’s main theme is mythological powers and magic. One woman is a witch like figure and there are a couple spells and herbal remedies produced throughout the book.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mirror, Mirror

Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen

             A fourteen-year-old girl escapes her evil stepmother by running into the woods. She comes upon a cottage of seven dwarfs and lives with them. All is well, until one day an old woman with a basket of shiny red apples asks for Snow White’s help. And, being the naive but kind girl that she is, she helps her. To show her gratitude for Snow White’s help, the old woman gives Snow one of her apples.

 It turns out that the old women is her stepmother and the apple is poisoned. Snow White dies and the dwarfs mourn her death. They hold a ceremony in the woods with all the forest animals Snow had befriended. As she lays dead beneath a glass coffin the prince arrives. She had met him once before and they sang a duet but that was it.

Well, it must have been pretty spectacular duet because he is so grief-stricken he removes the glass lid and kisses her. A dead, fourteen–year-old girl. She miraculously wakes up and they ride off into the sunset.

Now, don’t get me wrong I love Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It’s such a cute movie and the animation is beautiful. But, when you look at the story-line so literally it seems kind of well…stupid. So, when a book entitled Snow in Summer caught my eye I picked it up to see what it was all about.

With her black hair, red lips, and lily-white skin, Summer is as beautiful as her father's garden. And her life in the mountains of West Virginia seems like a fairy tale; her parents sing and dance with her, Cousin Nancy dotes on her, and she is about to get a new baby brother. But when the baby dies soon after he's born, taking Summer's mama with him, Summer's fairy-tale life turns grim. 

Things get even worse when her father marries a woman who brings poisons and magical mirrors into Summer's world. Stepmama puts up a pretty face, but Summer suspects she's up to no good - and is afraid she's powerless to stop her.

This young adult fantasy novel has a hint of historical fiction as it is based during the early twentieth century (the 20’s I think) in Appalachia. I love fantasy novels and so I was eager to see how Snow White was portrayed in this re-telling. Jane Yolen’s portrayal of Snow didn’t make her out be a naive, stupid girl. She was smart, kind, and wanted the right thing to be done. She was respectful towards her stepmother even when her stepmother was nasty to her.

Her character was much more mature and realistic, as was the story. Her decisions were necessary and well thought through. The seven dwarfs were short men who came to America from Germany with their parents when they were kids. I really like this change in the story and enjoyed their German accents in the dialogue. They were each different but not stereotypical at all which made that part of the story so much better.

The stepmother is so well written. She wasn’t the vain woman filled with hatred for Snow that she is often portrayed as. She’s dark, cunning, deceitful, and manipulative. You don’t really realize what she is doing until a good ways through the book which was refreshing. I actually liked her character a lot.  Not because she was a great step mother (because she's not) but because she broke through the stereotypical evil stepmother persona.

This book made the story of a fourteen-year-old girl who goes to live with seven men into a realistic story of a young girl, who has everything ripped away from her and is trying to uncover the evidence of her misery.

Language: None

Alcohol/drugs: Summer is offered beer in one scene but refuses

Violence: 1.5

Sexual Content: None

Spiritual Content: Summer’s aunt goes to a Baptist church and her step-mother takes her to a church where they practice snake handling as a religious ritual taking Mark 16:17-18 and Luke 10:9 literally. Snow can tell something is wrong with the people there and does not agree with their rituals but her step-mother makes her go.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mazes and Grievers and W.I.C.K.E.D Oh My!

            When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying

I decided to do a book review on The Maze Runner by James Dashner first because This was the first book  I ever wrote a review for and the second movie The Scorch Trials came out this September. I heard about this book when I watched the trailer to the first movie last year and I knew I had to read it before I saw the movie (yes, I’m one of those people).

 I have to say I was wrapped up in the story and intrigued by the characters in the first chapter which is definitely an admirable quality in a book. The only thing I was skeptical about was Thomas, the main character, whose confidence and courage seemed a little unrealistic at times. But, I gave him some more time and he showed himself to be as sensitive and relatable as I had hoped he would be.

 This is a very fast paced novel. The first four chapters alone had as much action as some books do in their entirety. The end of each chapter left you hanging on the edge of your seat wanting to know what will happen next. The storyline is very clever and imaginative.

 I know this book is marketed more towards the male population but I think that both boys and girls will enjoy this action packed book. The challenges presented have you trying to make sense riddles, questions, and strange happenings right alongside the characters.

This is definitely one of those books where everyone has a favorite character and Dashner does an excellent job of working in some great one-liners and funny moments among the seriously frustrating situation these boys are in. Some scenes were a bit disgusting in more if a Sci-fi kind of way. Language wise there was a vocabulary of slang words made for the book and used frequently. Some words are used in place of swearing and sound similar but again are used in place of.

 Here is a few of the words used:

·         Klunk - means "poop" or "crap.
·         Shuck - an exclamation used to bring attention to one's annoyance or frustration.
·         Slim it - means "calm down" or "shut it."
·         Slinthead - a term used mostly by others when one makes a mistake that involves repercussions.
·         Greenbean/Greenie - the newest arrival to the Glade.
·         Newbie - a newcomer in the Glade. Can refer to a Greenie, or anyone else relatively new.
·         Good That - said when a Glader agrees with someone or something.
·         Jacked - describing a person who is messed up in the head

I found the book incredibly unique and some of the things Dasher describes I would never have thought of. The complexity of some of the scenes amazed me yet rarely confused me. The ending of the book was very satisfying but still left me wanting more. I like that the book felt complete at the end. There’s nothing worse than a book that is ended in a way that feels unfinished or like they forgot to tie up a loose end.

      I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend this book for teens 13+ just for some of the intense and sometimes descriptively disgusting scenes.

Language: none

Alcohol: none

Violence: 8

Sexual Content: When the girl arrives a few boys call dibs but it is later stated that no one is to harm her.

Spiritual Content: none