Monthly Archives: February 2017

Towers Falling Review

Towers Falling follows the first semester of eleven year old Deja as she begins a new school year at a new school in New York City. She becomes friends with classmates Sabeen and Ben and the three grow strong bonds despite being of different race, religion, and social class and have these bonds grow stronger while learning of the events of September Eleventh and how this tragedy strengthened their bond.

Spoilers from this point forward.

The book starts off with Deja narrating her life and her responsibilities in life despite being only eleven years old. Deja and her family recently moved into a homeless shelter with little to nothing to claim to their name with her mother working during the day and her father suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When Deja begins fifth grade she feels out of place because she is of lower income than the rest of her classmates.

She meets Sabeen whom she finds too friendly and befriends a classmate Ben. Over the course of the novel the three classmates become close friends. I actually like that Jewel Parker Rhodes chose to have Deja, Ben, and Sabeen be from different races and social classes and have the three characters bond despite these differences.

Sabeen comes from a higher income family and is very kindhearted and friendly to many people because of the American ideology of welcoming all people regardless of social class, race, or religion and because of her own Muslim faith. Ben is the more reserved of the three from Arizona who has a dad in the military who is divorcing his mother.

Because of a school assignment the three friends bond over the events of September Eleventh; Deja is out of the loop concerning September Eleventh due to her family choosing not to speak of the day with Sabeen feeling very sensitive about the subject due to her own religion. Ben on the other hand is very knowledgeable of the subject due to his father being a veteran from The War on Terror.

Choosing to have all three characters born post September Eleventh was an interesting choice by the author since it’s a clean slate for them to have no trauma from the events of the day. Ben is the only character to have seen footage of the actual day with Sabeen only knowing about the events of the day due to her family explaining to her about what happened and why she’s occasionally discriminated against because of it.

Deja’s world begins to turn around for both better and worse after seeing video footage of the day for the first time and asking her parents about the day and discovering the day is heavily connected to her father’s PTSD.

I very much enjoyed the book event though I didn’t realize the book was for a younger YA audience when I bought it, it treats it’s target audience with respect that isn’t seen too often in younger YA novels. I will admit there were times the writing style got on my nerves, but I had to remember it’s written from the perspective of Deja who even though is very intelligent, isn’t doing as well as she can in school due to lack of resources in her home life.

I’d say Sabeen was my favorite character who was genuinely kind for the sake of being kind rather than “I’ll just be friends with the new kids because they’re new”. I was a little disappointed Sabeen wasn’t present for the climax of the novel.

I felt the climax of the novel was very touching and glad to see that the actions taken by Deja and Ben were not met with anger and punishment from their parents, but with love and understanding and how these actions led to Deja’s father beginning the slow recovery from his PTSD.

There are strong themes of connection between people in general beyond family relations extending to friendships, social units, coworkers, classmates, and even just regularly seeing a person on a daily basis. A strong message of bringing and finding joy and beauty in life after a tragedy is present along with these themes.

I give Towers Falling by Jewel Parker Rhodes four out of five pretty scarves.

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Wires and Nerve Review

Just when you thought you were done with The Lunar Chronicles, you were wrong. Granted I don’t think anyone thought things were done with The Lunar Chronicles, but things seemed to be fairly wrapped up. With the announcement of the graphic novel Wires and Nerve surrounding the character Iko I was under the impression it was a retelling through Iko’s perspective, I was slightly wrong.

Minor spoilers from this point onward.

Wires and Nerve functions as a continuation to The Lunar Chronicles showing the current lives of Cinder and her friends and aside from Cinder and company trying to tie up loose ends, things are more or less happy. We have Cress and Thorne travelling the world providing vaccinations for Letumosis and sight seeing, Scarlet and Wolfe living a happy quiet life in France, Winter acting as ambassador for Luna, Kai is working on convincing citizens to consider an operation to help resist the influences of The Lunar Gift, and Cinder is trying to convince the citizens of Luna that they do not need a monarchy to continue functioning.

The book’s main focus is Iko and her mission to hunt down the remaining Lunar soldiers on Earth to bring them to justice. However things are more complicated as they appear; with the army of Lunar soldiers on earth feeling Cinder is the same of Levana and would just have them return to their previous way of life.

The graphic novel is well paced and the story is very good, however the artwork of Doug Holgate did put me off at first. As I continued the story along I accepted this was the artstyle chosen for the graphic novel and decided to just go along with it since the story was really good anyways.

My only complaint is, it’s to be continued, like what the hell? I give Wires and Nerve four out of five fancy crowns.

Is Everyone Hanging Our Without Me (and other concerns) Review

Last October I had the opportunity to meet Mindy Kaling and get a book signed by her; sadly this opportunity was destroyed by my friend Sam and I not realizing that other people are huge fans of Mindy Kaling, that and I had some anxiety issues kick in and some other annoying complicated shit that kept me from meeting Mindy at Texas Teen Book Festival 2016 (don’t worry, this is the last time you’ll probably hear of Texas Teen Book Festival 2016 on this blog).

We got to hear a live conversation with Mindy, sadly I did not get to ask my question about how old Mindy was when she lost her Anne Rice virginity (I was 19 when that happened btw). I decided to buy her book anyways despite these two setbacks. I had discovered Mindy Kaling through the television (now Hulu exclusive) show The Mindy Project. It is one of my favorite tv shows and when I heard I might meet Mindy I was happy. For now I have to settle for seeing her in the distance and that I have probably breathed in air she farted in.

Upon realizing how big my list of books to read is I figured I should read ten of these books before purchasing more books, so I grabbed Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and started reading.

Hey there are no spoilers, it’s kind of hard to spoil a story of real life considering Mindy Kaling has a really funny tv show. I just really like typing out these warnings in bold font to be honest.

I was partially convinced that this would be another piece dealing with race, gender, and family struggles because sadly that is what is expected with minorities. I was wrong! Within a few pages I was literally laughing out loud at what Mindy had to say to the individual who purchased her book.

The book is semi autobiographical, but it felt more like a conversation with Mindy; Mindy does touch upon authentic friendships and how some friendships in life die even though we don’t want them too. There is mention of assholes that will be present in life, struggling with post college life and “making it” as a writer for tv and as an actress, and other things present in life.

I thought it was kind of cool that Mindy is a little nutty in her book and that being plus sized isn’t a big deal to her. As predicted Mindy is someone very relocatable to (to a scary degree with me on everything except that I don’t think Will Ferrell movies are funny). My only complaint is that she did spend a lot of time talking about The Office and I’ve never watched The Office, so it’s more of a problem I have rather than the book has.

I give Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) three and a half cupcakes out of five. btw who ate half my cupcake!

I’m Not Ashamed Review

I decided to watch and review something different tonight; I normally don’t think highly of Christian movies and we can blame both God’s Not Dead movies for that. Christian movies aren’t bad, but it feels like the film makers are more interested in the message of the film (and probably advertising Christian pop music) rather than giving the film entertaining or a decent story.

I’m Not Ashamed is different from those movies in the sense that it is a autobiography about Rachel Scott. There is a strong presence of “message” in the film, but it actually has a place in the film. The film shows Rachel’s life from having divorced parents, living the usual ‘highschool teen life’ (smoking, drinking, flirting with guys), to her embracing a christian lifestyle, to struggling with her faith and practicing unconditional love and helping a youth named Nathan grow closer to God, all of this and more slowly leading up to her death.

I will say I am impressed with the film; it looked like and felt like the nineties from the clothing and the fads seen in the film to some of the music played (I’m guessing getting the rights to some of the music from the nineties was a little too pricey), they even had adult actors playing teenagers (a practice done frequently in the nineties as well, and I welcome it).

I would be lying if I said the film was perfect; some of the acting is off and there are moments where the film falls more into “here’s the message right infront of you in bold letters” rather than concentrating on telling the story. There is some inaccuracy to the time period too with dubstep being on the radio in some scenes. Scenes featuring Eric Harriss and Dylan Klebold’s actors are played as very creepy and disturbing to be honest, so props to their actors.

Concerning the controversy that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold only targeted and executed Christians if they said yes to the belief in God it isn’t played up in the way that Rachel was a martyr and said “yes” in the sense that she was targeted solely because she was Christian. The scene still has it’s importance, but rather than treating that moment as Rachel’s moment to shine in her faith before being killed, it’s treated as a moment of shock and horror.

The main concentration concerning Rachel’s death is the events before and after her death. Her moments before involve making peace with a friend who had hurt her, and aiding a youth who’s parents were going through a divorce, and talking to a teacher about a drawing she was making that may or may not have predicted the events happening later that day. The aftermath involves how her loved ones were affected, and how she was remembered, and what her friends and loved ones learned from her.

The movie isn’t for everyone, if you want to watch it it’s fine, if you don’t want to watch it that is fine too.

I’m Not Ashamed is a Visible Pictures Film Production and Distributed by Pure Flix Entertainment.