Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Help

Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Pages: 451
My rating: 5/5 stars

Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who's always taken orders quietly, but lately she's unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She's full of ambition, but without a husband, she's considered a failure. Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town... [Amazon Product Description]
            Wasn’t that the point of the book? For women to realize, “We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I’d thought.
            Author Kathryn Stockett defined the above words as the one line that she “truly prized.” They’re the ultimate summary of The Help. I could end this review right now, if I liked. But I won’t. Because I loved this book and I want to harp on it.
            When you read a truly great book, you know it. It gives you a thrill, an excitement that couldn’t be the result of anything else. The suspense kills you, the characters’ antics make you want to scream, and all you ever think about when you’re not reading it is ways to escape the mundane tasks that are keeping you away from the book. But when you’re done, you have an undeniable impulse to jump up and down and tell every single person you encounter how amazing that book is. It’s downright uncanny. It’s the power of well-written words.
            But The Help didn’t give me that excitement. Don’t get me wrong- it was indeed a truly great book- but it was one of those novels that has a…um, calmer effect on you. It touched me, challenged me, and made me think. It’s one of those books that isn’t thrilling, isn’t suspenseful, isn’t anywhere close to sci-fi (a genre I’m very fond of at the moment). But it is one thing: it’s unforgettable.
             I loved Mrs. Stockett’s writing style. Period. And I’m still stunned that this is her first novel. It’s not only a NY Times bestseller, it’s now a movie that will most definitely win a heaping ton of awards. I loved the amazing characters Mrs. Stockett created. I can’t really say which one was my absolute favorite, only because all three of the MCs (Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter) are all so interesting in their own unique way. Aibileen was old and wise, and I loved her sweet, motherly relationship with Mae Mobley. Minny was fiery, fierce, and feisty. (WHOA! Brownie points for Shelby for some awesome alliteration there! Seriously, I didn’t even plan that.) And I felt like I was one and the same with Skeeter. All three of the MCs made me laugh and cry. Miss Celia was the most hilarious of all the characters, but after everything was uncovered, her story really wasn’t very funny anymore. Hilly just made me angry, but for the sake of those who haven’t read the book yet, I won’t spoil it and tell you why. Let’s just leave it at this: Good job, Mrs. Stockett, on creating a character that was the devil incarnate.
            One of the most interesting things about The Help is that there isn’t any other book like it. I read historical fiction rather extensively, and I’ve never heard of someone writing about the black help in Mississippi in the 1960s. It’s a topic I would love to research more now that I’ve read The Help, and I wish I could read more fiction on it, but I doubt I will be able to find any.  If you know of any, please let me know about it in the comments!
            One more thing I forgot to mention: the ending. WHOA. Wasn’t expecting it to end like that. At all. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that. I sat there snuggled in my bed for a while after I read the last page, wondering why Mrs. Stockett allowed defeat. Wondering why all of it ended so abruptly, so unresolved. But then I realized that it wasn’t defeat. The heroines weren’t lost- things just didn’t turn out like a fairy tale. It wasn’t a COMPLETE happy ending. Reputations were ruined, lives were put at stakes, jobs were ended, tears were shed. But through it all, freedom was born. Freedom to start over. Freedom to do what one wanted to do. Freedom to live.          
            In conclusion, if you haven’t gotten my gist yet, this book is amazing. Unforgettable. Yes, that’s the word for it. Unforgettable. I’m sure it’s story will stick with me much longer than any thrilling sci-fi or fantasy novel will. And that, dear friends, is why YOU must give it a try. J

Quick Content Review:
None (Not enough to even worry over- a black maid’s grandson gets attacked and beaten for using a white restroom; he become blind. Minny’s husband, Leroy, beats her for no reason. No description on either of these two instances.)
Sexual: None (Stuart asks Skeeter to go to the coast with him, implying they would stay in the same room, and though Skeeter considers it, she refuses.)
Language: Heavy (There was much unnecessary language in this book. I do realize that it’s not YA, but it was still unnecessary. I tried to keep count of it all, but I lost track after a while. In addition to the list below, God’s name was used 5+ times in various forms.)
G*dd*mn- 10+
H*ll- 2, maybe more?
D*mn- 20+
Sh*t- 5+

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Daily Dose #6....Rockin Around the Christmas Tree

I love books. You probably know that already. But it's not just a love for books. It's deeper than that. It's a love for beauty. I love books because I love the way words delicately flow across a page. They take you to another world and keep you there for however long you want. They make you think. They let you dream. They can change your life.

Pictures can do that, too. Whoever said "A picture is worth a thousand words" was a wise person- because it's true! Pictures can tell stories just like books can. They take you places. They let you dream. You can fall in love with them just like you can with books. And that's why I do this meme. To show you some things I find pretty or beautiful or just plain awesome. 

You'll never know what will catch my fancy, but I promise not to post any pictures that are rude or inappropriate, or include quotes that have dirty or filthy language. By the way, I get all my photos from an awesome site called We Heart It ( Go check it out!  

[I found out about this meme from Holly over at Good Golly Miss Holly ( Gabrielle Carolina from the Mod Podge Bookshelf ( participates in this meme too. Go check out their book reviews or daily doses!]   

Now, thank you for reading my lengthy epistle. And if you didn’t, I’m going to sic my rabid squirrels on you. Just kidding. Maybe.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
May the joy of the birth of Christ fill your life each and every day!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Publisher: Firebird, February 8th, 2011
Pages: 464
My rating: 5 stars
Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells and corridors, but metal forests, dilapidated cities, and wilderness. It has been sealed for centuries, and only one man has ever escaped. Finn has always been a prisoner here. Although he has no memory of his childhood, he is sure he came from Outside. His link to the Outside, his chance to break free, is Claudia, the warden's daughter, herself determined to escape an arranged marriage. They are up against impossible odds, but one thing looms above all: Incarceron itself is alive… [book description from Amazon]
             First off, there are two things you must know about me:
1) I try not one to judge a book by its cover…it’s a tough thing to conquer, and one must have the utmost self-control when in places like Barnes and Nobles or the library. I’m a work in progress. J
2) I’m not one to start out a review talking about the cover of a book. But this review is going to be an exception to that rule.
I believe that the cover of Incarceron couldn’t be more perfect for the book. It depicts the key, which is the central symbol of the novel. The background, which is an assortment of clogs and other clock-y stuff as well as some dead leaves, represents the mechanical-ness of the Prison, and the dead leaves denote the hopelessness of escape and death that emanates with life in the Prison.  It’s not a pretty cover, but it’s a fascinating and thought-provoking one, and one of the best I’ve seen in a while.
Ok. Enough about the outside- now let’s delve into the inside (“delve” is my new favorite word, by the way, so beware- I might use it excessively in this review. Forgive me in advance).
Incarceron is a dark story, indeed. When I first started it, it seemed almost like a steam-punk novel. I didn’t think it quite was steam-punk, though. It had all the aspects of a steampunk aside from the use of steam. J A very essential aspect for a steampunk, indeed. But what it is is one of those books that sucks you in, and you can feel everything. I felt the heaviness, the taste of the metal in the air inside the Prison. I felt the red eyes watching me, all the time, everywhere. I could feel the darkness envelope me, literally and figuratively, as it did Finn. It’s one of the best written stories I’ve read in a long time. Ms. Fisher did a magnificent job weaving this intricate saga- that’s one of the ways that it’s mind-blowing. I can’t imagine ever dreaming up such a brilliant tale.
One thing I didn’t really like, though, was the switching back and forth from Finn’s account to Claudia’s account. I never like that kind of switching back and forth in books- it confuses me and it’s frustrating. But I understand that it was really the best way to write the book, since Claudia and Finn were in different worlds (I hope that’s not giving away anything- it’s kind of obvious from the beginning though…). Also, the book was kind of lengthy. 464 pages is a pretty long novel. It wasn’t that I got bored with it. It was just that…well, it seemed stretched out. It was beginning to get tiring. But it’s not reason enough to not read the book. I still have a high regard for Incarceron and its creator, the marvelous Catherine Fisher.  
In conclusion, Incarceron was a refresher. I haven’t read a fantasy that great in a long time (though I don’t read a whole lot of fantasy in the first place…but I digress. Again.) I hear that there’s a movie coming out in 2013, and to be honest I’m itching to see it! And me, being ignorant, didn’t know that the sequel to Incarceron, Sapphique, was already out. So now it’s on hold for me at the library, and I’m dying to find out what crazy, impossible, mind-blowing thing happens next for Finn and Claudia.
And I guess you’ll have to wait and read my next review to see if I like Sapphique. J
Quick Content Review:
Profanity: Minor- Mild (Four uses of the b-word)
Violence: Mild- Heavy (More on the mild side, but the heavy rating is just for the one scene with Jormanric (sp?) before Finn and his companions leave for their journey. It was a bit descriptive…and bit of a stomach churner. But aside from that, there were only a couple other very mild scenes…a death of a woman by falling down a ravine and someone else is stabbed. No description.)
Sexual: None- Minor (only a brief comment from Casper about him being ok with Claudia having lovers after their wedding, which is clearly something she wouldn’t do. Some people insinuate that Jared and Claudia have a sexual relationship, but that is entirely not true and the idea disgusts both of them.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unplanned by Abby Johnson

            This book was thrust upon me by a friend of my mom’s (yeah, strange…). And I want to thank this friend of my mom’s right now. Because I would probably have never read this book if it hadn’t been for her. Why?
1) I had never heard of it…ever.
2) I don’t usually read biographies. Ever. I’m a fiction girl at heart.
3) Well…I don’t have a third reason. But maybe if I had heard of it and liked biographies, I still might not have read it, because abortion isn’t something I love to go reading about. It’s sick and perverted.
But man oh man. This book was GREAT. AMAZING. FANTASTIC. I flew through it (well, I had no choice…I had to fly through it. It was due the next day and it was checked out on my mom’s friend’s card. Yeah, bummer. But I called her and she most graciously allowed me to keep it for a couple more days if I paid the fine (something I don’t suggest you do often, kids). But I digress.
Abby Johnson never knew where her journey with Planned Parenthood would lead her, but she certainly wasn’t expecting it to turn into an eight year career. But that’s what it did. One day she was just a naïve Texas college girl, and the next thing she knew she was director of one of the fastest growing abortion clinics in the country. And she loved it. Until one day.
That one day changed Abby’s life and countless others. It was the day that she actually participated in an abortion herself. She saw the baby in the womb, and she saw it die. And she’ll never forget it. That was the day she switched sides. She crossed the fence.
I’m so psyched about this book that I want to tell you every little detail of it! But that wouldn’t be much of a book review, would it? It would be a…a book spoiler. J I loved the way Abby wrote this book. She didn’t condemn. She didn’t favor one side to another. She had her views, then they changed. But she didn’t shun pro-lifers or pro-choicers. One thing she did do was give us a peek at both sides and what it’s really like on the other side of the fence (by the “fence” I mean the iron barrier that encircles every clinic). She showed us that clinic workers want to help women just like pro-lifers do. They are filled with compassion and love just like we are for these desperate women. They aren’t blood thirsty murders- most clinic works don’t even like the idea of abortion- they abhor it, just like we do. She showed us that most every woman that walks into the door of a clinic is scared, confused, and anxious. They’re in need of a lot of love.
I also loved how Abby used the fence as a symbol of the tension between the two “warring sides.” She made us think of it as a battle ground, as a wall that marked the end of one side and the beginning of the other. It separated the two groups, the abortionists (I don’t like calling them that, but I have to for lack of a better word…bear with me) and the pro-lifers. It was meant to keep people out, but instead of serving its purpose, it kept people in (such as the clinic workers who loved serving women in this way but didn’t like the idea of having a hand in abortions).  
One other thing that touched my heart was the dedication and sincere love that the Coalition for Life volunteers showed by praying at the fence. It must be such a scene to see something so genuine. Sincere love for people you don’t even know is very rare these days, but these people literally radiate love from their smiles, their kind words, and their fervent prayers for these despairing women.   
In conclusion, I loved Abby’s book and grew to love her and all the Coalition for Life people that she featured in her story. This is not a light read in the least, but it is a story of hidden guilt, buried sorrows, redemption, forgiveness, love and compassion. It will make you look at abortionist, pro-choicers, pro-lifers, and abortion in general in a whole different light. It will make you want to reach out to those on the other side of the fence. It will touch your heart. I guarantee it.  J

Note: The first chapter of this book features a real abortion. It goes into detail of the abortion and how it was done. It’s not something that’s pleasant to read, and it bothered me emotionally. I don’t suggest just anyone to read this- only the most mature teens and adults. I don’t want this to make you shy away from the book, though. Sometimes it’s a good thing to be bothered by things like this, but this is just a warning for the squeamish.

Monday, November 14, 2011


*happy dance* I can't wait!!! Ohhhh how I can't wait!!!!! It's going to be sooo stinkin epic! So dramatic!!! I'm so ready, Katniss! Bring it on!

And may the odds be ever in your favor.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Daily Dose #5...Princesses

I love books. You probably know that already. But it's not just a love for books. It's deeper than that. It's a love for beauty. I love books because I love the way words delicately flow across a page. They take you to another world and keep you there for however long you want. They make you think. They let you dream. They can change your life.

Pictures can do that, too. Whoever said "A picture is worth a thousand words" was a wise person- because it's true! Pictures can tell stories just like books can. They take you places. They let you dream. You can fall in love with them just like you can with books. And that's why I do this meme. To show you some things I find pretty or beautiful or just plain awesome. 

You'll never know what will catch my fancy, but I promise not to post any pictures that are rude or inappropriate, or include quotes that have dirty or filthy language. By the way, I get all my photos from an awesome site called We Heart It ( Go check it out!  

[I found out about this meme from Holly over at Good Golly Miss Holly ( Gabrielle Carolina from the Mod Podge Bookshelf ( participates in this meme too. Go check out their book reviews or daily doses!]   

Now, thank you for reading my lengthy epistle. And if you didn’t, I’m going to sic my rabid squirrels on you. Just kidding. Maybe.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

National Writing Month!

Do you know what next month is? It's the time when all of us aspiring writers get really nervous and excited and high on chocolate and stay up till the wee hours of the morning...doing what? Writing our novels, of course! November is National Writing Month, and in honor of that, a bunch of people from all over the world are doing this amazing thing called NaNoWriMo. It's where we all write our own novel in one month. The only catch is that we only have ONE STINKIN MONTH, and no editing is allowed. Only creativity, coffee, no sleep, chocolate, and long forum chats about the despairs of writer's block is allowed.

It's my first year doing NaNoWriMo, and I'm so nervous! But at the same time, I'm begging, "Let me at it!" I do have a story in mind, but I'm not giving any hints about what it. I'll tell you one thing: it's a dystopian. Well, it is of now...who knows where it'll take me. I'm not really sure how I'm going to get it all done; school, writing, sleeping, eating, and having a life as well. May have to cut out the sleeping part. Anyways, just wanted to let y'all know about this exciting event that's happening, and le you know that if you want, there's still 5 days to sign up! You don't have to have a plot or even a story in mind. The key is just to get those words out onto the page. December is for editing.

So for you brave ones out there, consider joining this giant guild of writers in our annual challenge. It'll be hard, it'll be frustrating, it'll be tiring, and I promise you you'll want to give up, but it's going to be one whirlwind of a month, and you'll have the time of your life!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Something yummy for your tummy...

Oh yummy....oh how yummy you are...could you get any yummier? I doubt it...oh how I love make me all warm and happy inside...oh yes...

Oh! Sorry...I was just enjoying this *points to apple log* delicious bit of heaven I just made. It's a perfect fall recipe. But I can't really take credit for it...I found the recipe over at Erynn Mangum's blog ( Have you heard of her? She's an amazing author who's written a bunch of hilarious Christian chick-lit type books. You should check her out! I adore all her books, especially her Lauren Holbrook series (I believe I've review that series too, so check that out as well). And if you have 1) a love for food, 2) an oven,  or 3) taste buds, YOU SHOULD MAKE THIS APPLE LOG. It tastes a bit like an apple turnover. Have a lovely fall day, and enjoy!

That Apple Thing (taken from Erynn Mangum's blog)

1 can of Pillsbury Crescent Roll Creations (this is just a can of crescent rolls, but they aren't perforated. Makes it a lot easier)
1 Granny Smith apple
3 heaping tbsp butter (or fake butter, should you be like me and not allowed to eat dairy currently)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
1 tbsp sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Chop the apple finely and dump it, the butter, brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon into a saucepan. Mix together on medium-high heat until apple is softened.

Roll out the crescent rolls sheet (if you're using just regular crescents, just mash the perforations together). Spread the apple mixture on it almost up to all the edges. Then quickly roll up from the short side, pinching all of the edges together so you've got a little log of deliciousness.

Brush the top and sides with a little of the egg and then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mix over the top. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Oh, and here's the link to the page that I found this on, if you want to read her whole entry. =) It's the first blog entry, and the recipe is close to the bottom of the entry.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Daily Dose #4...The City of Love and Light

I love books. You probably know that already. But it's not just a love for books. It's deeper than that. It's a love for beauty. I love books because I love the way words delicately flow across a page. They take you to another world and keep you there for however long you want. They make you think. They let you dream. They can change your life.

Pictures can do that, too. Whoever said "A picture is worth a thousand words" was a wise person- because it's true! Pictures can tell stories just like books can. They take you places. They let you dream. You can fall in love with them just like you can with books. And that's why I do this meme. To show you some things I find pretty or beautiful or just plain awesome. 

You'll never know what will catch my fancy, but I promise not to post any pictures that are rude or inappropriate, or include quotes that have dirty or filthy language. By the way, I get all my photos from an awesome site called We Heart It ( Go check it out!  

[I found out about this meme from Holly over at Good Golly Miss Holly ( Gabrielle Carolina from the Mod Podge Bookshelf ( participates in this meme too. Go check out their book reviews or daily doses!]   

Now, thank you for reading my lengthy epistle. And if you didn’t, I’m going to sic my rabid squirrels on you. Just kidding. Maybe.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Book Review for Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Reading Level: YA (Middle schoolers could easily read it, too.)
Publisher: Disney (Hyperion Books), 2011
Pages: 298
My rating: 2 stars            
Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners. There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long — and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous, and that is . . . the emerald is cursed. Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend — the gorgeous Hale — and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time. Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules. (Amazon Product Description)
My Review:
            After reading Heist Society last year, I was pumped for the sequel, Uncommon Criminals. I loved the fast paced action of the last book, and was hoping Mrs. Carter would bring even more to the table this time around. But sadly, Uncommon Criminals didn’t meet all my (enormously high) expectations.
            Why didn’t I love it, you ask? Well, I’ll first tell you what I DID like. 1) Kat’s stubbornness. She’s ready and willing to face up for her mistakes, and she WON’T, under any circumstances, let her friends get hurt anymore. 2) The way Kat’s team works together. They know what the other is thinking, the plan before it’s secretly hatched. They can read a thousand words in one wink, one hand gesture. They’re one mind. 3) Hale. Need I say more? *swoon* 4) The quick change of plans. You can’t skip one page without missing something. It’s non-stop action and keeps you occupied enough for any good con man to swiftly swipe your wallet. (I just had to throw that in…corny enough for you? J) 5) The squeaky-cleanness of the whole thing.
            Now, the one thing I didn’t love about this book (and the last one) was the more than slightly confusing plot. It was worse in Uncommon Criminals, because there were two gems, and I was constantly getting confused about which was which. I had to stop for a minute when I finished the book and just figure out what had happened. Mrs. Carter didn’t exactly explain what happened in plain words. You had to read between the lines. Maybe it was just little old me, not the brightest bulb in the lot, but I found the plot a little too intricate for my liking. It may not bother you, but I was left thinking, “What???”
Quick Review:
Profanity: None.
Violence: None.
Sexual: None. Hale and Kat “accidentally” kiss once, but nothing is described, it’s not sensual in the least, and Kat almost looks back at it with disgust.
Other notables: Like I said in my review for Heist Society, Kat, her family, and her crew are criminals, more or less. They steal and return lost art and treasure to its rightful owners (like Robin Hood), but stealing is stealing. “You shall not steal.” – Exodus 20:15 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We will never forget

Where was I on 9/11? I was just a wee girl of 6. I remember sleepily padding into my parents’ bedroom in my yellow teddy bear nightgown and finding Mommy staring at the TV with horror written all over her face. I didn’t comprehend why the tall, official looking buildings on the screen were toppling over, fire exploding in big bursts from them. I didn’t understand why Mommy didn’t turn the channel- I usually wasn’t allowed to watch violent shows on TV. I didn’t comprehend that our nation, the United States of America, was under attack. Bad men had threatened our freedom, our safety, and our lives. I didn’t comprehend that ordinary men, just like my Daddy whom I admired so much, had heroically placed their lives as 2nd priority and put mine and the rest of America’s first. They knew they were going to die. Some had had wives at home who they loved with all their hearts. Some had children at home. Young children. Unborn children, whom they would never meet.
I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it perfectly now. There were young children on those hijacked planes. Teens, just like myself. They knew they were going to die. Those terrorists had told them that everything would be fine if they just sat still. But they lied. They had put a timer on those people’s lives and it was slowly ticking down. I can’t imagine what those passengers were thinking or feeling as the buildings quickly approached their plane. I know that some felt terror. Some felt anger. Some probably felt peace, because God was comforting His sons and daughters. I’m not sure how I would have felt. Maybe a bit of terrified at the fact of dying. I would have wished I could have done more with my life, helped more people, experienced more. But I know, because I’m a Christian, that I would have felt an overwhelming peace from God. I would have been joyful that I was minutes away from meeting my Savior.
            In the midst of the tragedy of 9/11 and even today, ten years later, people wonder where God was at that time. People wonder if He had turned a blind eye to America’s suffering. No, He had not. He was present with America during that catastrophe. People wonder why He didn’t stop it from happening. I believe that God allows tragedy to see how we react. To see if we turn to Him or blame Him.  Sometimes God allows tragedy because a nation needs punishment. And sometimes He allows tragedy because we need to grow stronger as a nation. I believe that God allowed 9/11 for a little of each of these reasons.
            Today, as we remember the heartache our nation went through ten years ago, let’s remember one other thing. Those Islamic terrorists were thieves. They attempted to take away our freedom. They killed innocent Americans. But God’s presence in our lives did not die. Nothing will ever separate us from the love of God.

This is one of the steel crosses the firefighters found in a steel "cavern" amid the rubble of the Twin Towers. Four crosses in all were found, each standing tall and strong in the remains of a tragedy.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Book Review for Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends, 2010
Pages: 484 (way too long, if you ask me)
Rating: 1 star
Three angels- Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, the youngest and most human- are sent by Heaven to bring good to a world falling under the influences of darkness. They work hard to conceal their luminous glow, superhuman powers, and, most dangerously of all, their wings, all the while avoiding all human attachments.
            Then Bethany meets Xavier Woods, and neither of them is able to resist the attraction between them. Gabriel and Ivy do everything in their power to intervene, but the bond between Xavier and Bethany seems too strong.
            The angel’s mission is urgent, and dark forces are threatening. Will love ruin Bethany or save her? [Description from inside cover flap]
            I’m going to warn you now: brace yourself for a rough review. I usually don’t have to give bad reviews, mostly because I’m very careful about the material I read. But I found Halo in Borders for $5 and decided to give it a go, even though it’s not the sort of thing I would normally read. An innocent, naïve, rather stupid angel comes to earth, falls in love with the hot school captain, then expects to get married and have a handful of little half-mortal children? Um…no. Not the sort of thing I usually read AT ALL. But I wasn’t expecting much out of it in the first place- just hoped it was a light, easy, enjoyable read. Did it meet those hopes? Well, it was light and easy. Enjoyable? Eh. Not so much…
            Truth is, I found Halo just plain pathetic. Some may find Bethany’s dilemma troubling, but I didn’t. She was so selfish. All her troubles rested on her love-dovey feelings for Xavier, when she really should have been concerned about the dark forces in Venus Cove. Heh. Not much of an angel, if she’s so self-centered.
            If Miss Adornetto wanted to write a best-selling novel, she should have made sure she had her facts right about angels. I’m no professional on heavenly beings, but some things about Halo really had me rolling on the floor. First off, angels don’t “fall out of the sky.” Heaven is not located above the clouds. It’s not a geographical place that you can get to by jet. I’m sorry, Miss Adornetto, but by making Bethany and her gang fall out of the clouds, you made Halo a whole lot more pathetic. L (Sad face.) Second, if angels are supposed to watch over humans, then why were Gabriel, Ivy, and Bethany so ignorant about meals, school, and life in general?! They aren’t aliens, for goodness sake! Third, Bethany tells Xavier, and I quote, that “God’s existence is beyond human understanding.” What?! Humans aren’t capable of knowing that God is real?! That’s outrageous! I know that God is real and that He loves me and sent His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for me and forgive me of all unrighteousness. I know God exists. J And you don’t have to be superhuman to know that.
Fourth, I found  the language, sexual content (mostly dialogue), and “demonic” violence (I didn’t read that far, but I skimmed ahead and found it) very unnecessary. I’m not used to reading stuff like that, and it bothered me to the point of making me uncomfortable. That’s why I stopped reading. Not because of the whole pathetic-ness of the book, but because of the immoral content. Please know that I want to read only things that are edifying and will benefit me as a writer (I know that sounds completely old-fashioned, but it’s the truth). I view anything else as a waste of time. And that’s exactly what this book was- a waste of time.
Quick Content Review:
Violence: Mild (Bethany heals, er, more like brings back to life, a girl who was in a car accident. Also, a cafeteria cook gets burned by a fryer; nothing described. Aside from that, I can’t really tell you; I stopped reading. But I know that there is some stuff that Jake does to kids at Bethany’s school. Demonic, evil, disgusting things. I can’t tell you if it’s bad or not, hence the “mild” rating.)
Profanity: Heavy (God’s name in vain at least 10 times, if not more, which is kind of hilarious since this is a book about angels. Also, the h-word at least 4 times, the d-word at least once, maybe more…can’t say)
Sexual: Mild - Heavy (A comment in class about Romeo just wanting to get into Juliet’s pants. Bethany is tentative about sleeping with Xavier; she asks her friends at school for advice. Apparently, they are experts at this sort of thing and tell her “not to do it with someone she loves.” Xavier admits he  and Emily had a physical relationship. Xavier and Bethany talk about sex, but decide to wait because they don’t need it to hold their relationship together. They do, though, lie in bed together naked once. I didn’t get that far, but skimmed ahead and stumbled upon this part.)
Other notable content:
-Bethany and Xavier get their palms read.
-Molly, Bethany’s school friend, has a wild party with underage drinking. Bethany, ever the ignorant one, accidentally gets drunk. There’s also mention of an inappropriate game, the details of which I won’t mention.
-Molly and some of Bethany’s other friends have an unhealthy obsession with fashion, prom, and boys (in other words, themselves!).
-Despite being a heavenly angel, Bethany sure doesn’t mind lying to Gabriel and Ivy about her whereabouts and her relationship with Xavier.

Book review for Elixir by Hilary Duff

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2010
Pages: 336
Rating: 4 stars
Clea Raymond, 17, lives a charmed life. She travels the world with her best friend, Rayna, partying in countries near and far. Her mother is kept busy by her work as a United States Senator, but she loves her daughter with all her heart. And Clea has a cute guy trailing her every move–her bodyguard/voice of reason, Ben. Everything would be just perfect, except for the fact that her beloved father, a world-renowned surgeon, has gone missing while on a humanitarian mission in Rio. She can't stop thinking about him and his disappearance, and one night she stumbles onto something that might help her find him. Looking through photos she took on vacation, Clea notices a strange man who lurks in the background of every picture. Then, she starts having dreams about him. She's always a different woman in a different time period with him–and she always dies a brutal death. With the help of Ben, Clea travels to Rio to try and figure out the mystery behind her father's disappearance and the identity of the stranger in her pictures and her dreams. This entertaining book has a good mix of romance and suspense with a little reincarnation thrown in for good measure. Clea is caught up between the love she feels for the mystery man and the feelings she starts to have for Ben. Yet she soon figures out that there's more to this love triangle than she realizes. The fast-paced story will keep readers turning the pages until the very end. [Amazon Product Description]
I had never heard about this book until I read a (positive) review for it. I was more than a little surprised to find that Hilary Duff had written a book.  Yes, I thought that ya know, valley-girl Hilary Duff was like, totally too brainless to even like, ya know, read a book, much less like, write one! But despite that fact, I gave it a shot. Before I go on…you know those select books that completely engulf you in the life and problems of the hero/heroine and you can barely stop reading to eat and use the bathroom? Well, for me, this was kind of one of those books. I say “kind of” because, as always, I have some dissatisfaction to go with my praises.
So, first off, this is my take on the characters. Clea’s talent with photography was the one thing that made her unique. And that was about it. She was a completely normal 17 year old… aside from being reincarnated four times all throughout history. I kept thinking of her as a younger version of Hilary Duff, and maybe that’s how Hilary created her to be. I don’t know. Anyways. Rabbit trail over. When she first introduced Ben, I was thinking, “Ok, so Ben will be Clea’s big, strong, hot bodyguard all throughout the book, and in the end, they’ll get together and live happily ever after.” Was that how it ended? Nope. Not at all. In fact, halfway through the book, I began to think of Ben as a weak, wimpy, jealous little twerp. This leads me to… SAGE! Oh my gosh, Sage was HOT. It was so romantic that Sage was destined to fall in love with Clea each time she was reincarnated. Rayna really cracked me up with her little obsession with “soul mates” and all.
But there were some things that didn’t really make a whole lot of sense. First, they portray Ben as a hunk, and then when the real danger sets in, he’s trembling in the corner. Also, he seemed like a pretty cool, chill guy in the first few chapters, and then he becomes a jerk when Sage comes into the picture. I know that he was in love with Clea and all, but to make him so jealous of Sage that he becomes a numbskull; it really upset me and ruined his character. Next, it baffled me that one moment Clea is certain that Sage is some serial killer and is out to get her, killing her time after time. But then the next moment, she’s deeply and passionately in love with him, having a little love fest in Rayna’s car on the side of the road. Will someone please tell her to make up her mind?!? Also, one other thing that bothered me was the unnecessary language. There wasn’t THAT much, but just enough to irritate me. Lastly, the sexuality between Sage and Clea wasn’t needed. It just complicated things and added immorality to a truly captivating novel.
That aside, I enjoyed Elixir thoroughly and was dying for more the minute I reached the back cover. Going off of the way Hilary ended the book, I’m guessing that she plans on releasing a sequel. I’m counting the days till it comes out and cannot wait to see how all this ends. All in all, Elixir was entertaining, suspenseful, and steamily romantic, with only a few unnecessary tidbits of language and disgraceful behavior. If you are hungry for a good romantic paranormal, I suggest you try Elixir.
Quick Content Review:
Profanity- Mild to Heavy (Several words and God’s name is abused many times)
Violence- Heavy (Clea is murdered several times in her past lives, usually violently. Clea, Sage, and a group of other people are brutally slaughtered while trying to protect the elixir. Much description, so beware, all you who are squeamish! J)
Sexual- A mix between mild and heavy. (Rayna’s hobby is flirting with boys, and while in France, she goes home from a club with a guy she just met. Clea and Sage have sex in the passenger seat of his car and in one of Clea’s past lives, in the bottom of a boat. Nothing is described, but there is heavy kissing.)
Other Negative Content- Underage drinking at a club and wild partying on the streets in Brazil during Carnival.