Double Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart/ Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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I have had a hell of a time recently with my materials.  First, I watched 13 Reasons Why, and then I read this. We Were Liars. This book was lent to me by my wonderful friends and fellow booklovers, Nicki and Dani who had both read the book. It looked fairly short, and sounded interesting, they both said it was amazing, and they were not kidding.

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We Were Liars is the perfect summer read- it takes place on a private island, with the focal characters being privileged kids (with the exception of one), and the secrets kept and the truth behind a perfect, wealthy American family. The main character has an accident, and spends the majority of the book trying to figure out what happened to her since she has amnesia. I can’t give the plot away, but trust me when I say  this book will leave you breathless.

I can’t deny that the title was hard for me to shake, because I actively watch Pretty Little Liars on Freeform, and the fact the main characters are referred to as liars just makes me think of Spencer, Aria, Emily, Hannah and Alison. Also the characters in We Were Liars have some serious secrets they are holding, which is also one of the things that makes this a perfect suspenseful beach read.

Everything about this book is engaging, and indulgent.  The island and its  houses, the teenage cousins plus their friend, and the budding romance between our main character and her friend. Despite their privileged lives, the cousins +1 have deep connections as well as average teenage instincts.  Each one is written vividly, with multiple layers to  their personality. I found myself heavily indulged, and I’m pretty sure I finished it within 24 hours. The ending left me speechless, and I am not going to sugarcoat this for you- it is tear inducing.

Shifting gears, I was pretty emotionally exhausted from consuming 13 Reasons Why and We Were Liars, and it was time to read something cheerful. Enter Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

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Fangirl was the answer to my prayers.  This book felt so real to me, it was insane. I completely identified with so much of this book and its characters.

The story is about Cather, who is a twin.  Cather and her twin sister Wren are as close as twins can be, and after their mother leaves when they are kids, they are left with their bipolar father.  The girls are fans of a Harry Potter style fictional series, Simon Snow.  The girls are such big fans that they write Simon Snow Fanfiction.

An aside note for those of you who are not as ensconced in geek culture- Fanfiction is huge, and has been around FOREVER.  It is when fans appropriate and borrow characters be it from their favorite TV show, comic, movie or even book series-and create their own stories. I am not afraid to admit that I used to write my own fanfiction back in the day, and I’m sure if I read it now I would want to erase it, but you can never truly erase something once its on the internet, right?

The main plot of the story is that Cath and Wren are trying to establish their own identities by going to college and parting ways for the first time. Wren, is more assertive and itching for freedom, while Cath is shy and suffers from anxiety. This book hits the nail on the head so hard with its depiction of anxiety.  There’s a scene where Cath continually waits for her roommate (who she doesn’t speak to) to leave so she can eat her protein bars in peace,  because she doesn’t know where the dining hall is and is afraid to ask anyone. When her roommate finds out, she says “but you’ve lived here a month! how do you not know where the dining hall is?” and Cath replies that she’s never asked anyone.
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Cath’s social anxiety is something that is explored and challenged throughout the book, by herself and the people and situations around her.  I saw so much of myself, my friends, and even my husband in this book. I could relate to almost ALL of the situations in this book, except the part about having a twin sister, because as you know I’m an only child. The characters in this book were believable and charming. I really enjoyed Rowell’s writing style, and became engulfed in the world of Cath, Simon Snow, and university life in Nebraska.  This book also has romance in it, and we all know how much of a sucker I am for a good romance.

This book had everything for me and I enjoyed it so much I stayed up until all hours of the night, and read this as much as I could whenever I could.  I don’t want to give this plot away, because it is gradual and the pay off is really good. This would also make a spectacular beach read, and I recommend it to EVERYONE.  It doesn’t matter if you are a geek or not, but it will definitely hit you in the feel spot if you are. I really wish there was a sequel to this, and there KIND OF is. Cath writes a fanfic titled Carry On and it is basically her biggest project. We get bits and pieces of her fic in the book, but apparently Rainbow Rowell actually WROTE the fanfic Carry On. a FICTIONAL CHARACTER’S FANFIC. It’s the “sequel”, if there really is one. Rowell also has written another book, titled Landline in which a couple of the characters from Fangirl make an appearance, so I am definitely going to have to  check that out, as well as some of her other books.

 

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13 Reasons Why: A Review

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DISCLAIMER: This review contains MAJOR SPOILERS about the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. Please read with caution.

The information in bold are ACTUAL FACTS. Please see list of citations at the end of this article for more info.

 

I’m probably a little late on this bandwagon, since the groundbreaking show 13 Reasons Why hit Nextflix in March. I am all for binging new Netflix shows, especially the hot ones everyone is talking about. I had heard lots of things about 13 Reasons Why, good bad and ignorant. I decided to watch it after my husband Jeff came home and said he watched the first 2 episodes and I needed to see it.

Unlike most Netflix shows, 13 Reasons Why is a show you should NOT binge. It’s heavy, deep, and it doesn’t just leave you wanting more; it leaves you devastated.

The choice to not binge was the right choice to make, instead we watched one episode a day (or 2 if Jeff saw it before me). This gave me time to truly let the things that happened sink in, to a point where I could process the gravity of what I was watching.

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The show itself, if you are still unaware at this point- follows Hannah Baker. Hannah is your typical teenage girl who just happens to be caught in a hurricane of unfortunate events. One moment snowballs into a catastrophic set of circumstances that ultimately lead to Hannah’s decision to take her own life.  However dark and twisted the path is to that point is something we see through a series of cassette tapes left by Hannah. There are 13 tapes, each dedicated to a person who had in some way shape or form contributed to the downfall, the snowball effect that lead to her death. Each person has to listen to all 13 tapes, and when they are finished pass it on to the next person.  The main character we see the story through, is Hannah’s friend Clay Jensen. Clay is a socially awkward, shy, smart kid who befriends Hannah and ends up with a big crush on her. We see through his eyes as the show takes place between the past during the actual occurrence of events, and the present after Hannah’s suicide.  Visually, the past is brightly colored, in contrast with the present which is muted, cool gray tones.  In the past we learn what happened not just to Hannah, but to her friends as well.

This show touches on a world that teens live in, that we rarely have access to. In the first episode, we learn that Hannah develops a crush on a boy named Justin, who plays football. As we cycle through the show we learn Justin is a kid who comes from a broken home, with an addict mother and her abusive boyfriend. We also learn about Justin’s “friendship” with the most well liked, most popular douchebag in school ( you realise he’s a douchebag further in), Bryce Walker.  In Hannah’s world, Justin is the catalyst for insighting the event that causes the snowball.  Justin and Hannah go out,  to the playground and playfully flirt and do what teenagers do. It’s Hannah’s first kiss, and she comes down the slide and he puts his arms around her and kisses her, while simultaneously taking an upskirt picture of Hannah without her knowledge.

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The picture is then sent around the school, and Hannah is branded a slut. Even her friend Clay believes the talk, and tells Hannah sometimes its better to wait. We know  from Clay’s character and situations that his comment was partially out of hurt because of his feelings for her, but also because he ASSUMED Hannah knew about what Justin did, and was ok with it. Its low key slut shaming, but its still slut shaming.  This topic of sexting, slut shaming and bullying- that is just the beginning. 1 in 4 dating teens is harassed or abused through the use of technology.   People slut shame Hannah. People assume she’s easy and try to force themselves on her. Hannah’s reputation falls farther and farther, and instances add up to a reputation that is based on things that are the furthest from the truth. Everyone Hannah reaches out to ultimately fails her in some way, making the situation worse than it was before. You are watching a person fall apart, piece by piece, until there is literally nothing left.

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The other big topic covered in the show, aside from suicide and bullying, is sexual assault. People tend to think of sexual assault as something that doesn’t happen to teenagers, but it does. 8 times out of 10, the person who has been assaulted KNOWS their assailant, and possibly even trusts or likes them.  Hannah, who is hiding out in a room because she’s had too much to drink, witnesses her one time friend Jessica being raped while she is passed out at a party.  Hannah is frozen, unable to move and so affected she can’t help but throw up.  Jessica doesn’t know she was raped, and instead thinks she just had sex with her boyfriend Justin, but as the show goes on you can tell Jess is going through some things, and that maybe she DOES remember, but is unsure. Things only escalate for Hannah, and ultimately she ends up being raped by the same person who raped her friend. This is what throws Hannah over the breaking edge.

The decision to show Hannah’s suicide was risky. We don’t see the television canned “goodbye cruel world” and then a cut scene. We see Hannah tie up her loose ends, clean her room, pick out clothes and a towel, get in the tub and physically slit her wrists and bleed out. It was so awful and uncomforatble (as it should be) that I couldn’t even watch the whole thing, and ended up watching through my fingers as my hands covered my eyes. I sobbed.  That’s what this show does to you- it gets down to the core of these issues and makes you feel, makes you think about these things in a way that is very needed.  There is nothing glamourous about what Hannah did,  or what she left behind. Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for 15-24 year old Americans, and females in this age bracket, attempted suicide 3 times more than their male counterparts.

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The way the show tackles the warning signs of depression, someone who is suicidal, and those who have been sexually assaulted is no easy feat, but in my opinion very realistic.  A lot of people out there claim that the show glorifies these things, and those arguments are shared mostly in my opinion by people who have not seen the show. Schools were banning the discussion, people claimed it gave false glamorization, and parents were vouching their reasons to allow or not allow their children to see the show. A similiar argument arose for my first post on this blog- when Deadpool came out. Parents everywhere were argiung about weather or not it was appropriate to take their child to the movie which touted an R-rating.  This issue was brought up again with the  release of 13 Reasons Why. While I don’t think an 8 year old should watch it myself- I think that these topics- suicide, depression, bullying, sexual assault- all need to be addressed as early as possible.  No matter how many programs you put in place in school, these things will still occur, and it is up to us, to be able to explain this part of the world to our kids and prepare them.  I hope your kid isn’t the bully, or the one who is struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide- but maybe they are. Maybe they know someone who is, and starting this conversation could literally be the difference between life and death.

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Clay is the one person who saw Hannah struggling, but didn’t know why or how to reach out.  I could really feel the emotion after he had finally heard his tape. The infamous line in which he utters, “I cost a girl her life because I was afraid to love her…” will hit you right in the heart.  Hannah attempted to seek help through her school counselor, in a last attempt but ultimately wasn’t handled right. You can’t solely blame the counselor because what he told her was true- without any evidence, and after the fact; it is hard to prove. The fact Jessica, the only other victim Hannah knew about- had no knowledge and wouldn’t come forward- the fact that the attacker was a well known, well liked member of the school and community- and the fact he would be graduating- shouldn’t even have been an issue, but it was.  Unfortunately the way this was handled is just one of the reasons why so many rapes go unreported.

There is a lot of speculation about the second season which is confirmed.  Many think a second season will detract from the impact of the first, and many think Hannah’s story is over.  The show throughout its first season not only shows us the story of Hannah’s death, but also shows how directly or indirectly her death ultimately effects the others who had a hand in her story. Alex for instance, who was responsible for putting Hannah on his “list” as having “the best ass”- shows many signs of depression and despondance, and attempts suicide himself.  The student who spreads an intimate picture of Hannah with a  girl friend of hers- is  repeatedly shut out of the group despite having his own cassette in the mix- is shown in the last episode with a trunk full of firearms, insinuating that he may have ideas of  terrorizing the school for being outcast.  There is also a huge trial going on between Hannah’s parents and the school, which asks the question could they have done something to prevent this? The answer is both yes and no, but it will definately be touched upon in season two, as the trial moves forward. The plot of the trial is going to be just as controversial in my opinion, when you have grieving parents who feel something should have been done, and a schoolboard trying to avoid any blame.

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In conclusion, I think 13 Reasons Why is a phenomenal show.  It is not drama for the sake of drama and entertainment- it is so much more than that. The show is based on the best-selling book by Jay Asher, and although I have not read the book personally (I don’t think I could after seeing the show), I can honestly say that both strive to open the doors to a much needed conversation and awareness about these very hard, difficult topics. It tells a story of the pitfalls and the atrocities, but also of humanity, and connection. Clay is a kind person, and a smart kid; the quintessential goody two shoes-but even he falls victim to peer pressure, criminal actions, and judgement. Even when he is avenging for his darling Hannah, he does not always think, but acts impulsively and often retracts inwards with his feelings of depression and loss.  Clay’s story isn’t just a cautionary tale,  but also a reality.  These sorts of things are not black and white.  Suicide, depression, addiction, bullying- these things don’t look a certain way, or affect just one type or gender, or person.  The worst part is that Hannah COULD have been saved,  not just once but many times.

So what are you waiting for? Stop watching your reality scripted television, or whatever it is you normally watch to zone out.  Grab a box of tissues, and watch 13 Reasons Why.  I promise you it is something that will stick with you, and effect you on a much deeper level than anything else you are watching. I promise you that it will bring up feelings and thoughts, and perhaps start a well needed discussion with your kids, your friends or your co-workers, and isn’t that what we need?  Who knows, someone close to you may be listening, or begging to be heard.  Start the discussion,  because it could be the discussion that saves a life.

If you are interested in supporting the fight against suicide, anxiety, depression, and mental illness, check out these campaigns that I support:

To Write Love On Her Arms
Always Keep Fighting (Supernatural’s Jared Padalecki’s Campaign)
Project Semicolon

This article was written using information from these links:

National Sexual Violence Resource Center– Sexual Violence Statistics
Urban Institute.org-Digital Abuse Through Technology Statistics
Teen Help.com– Teen Suicide Statistics

 

Caprese Stuffed Chicken

I love to cook, mostly because I just love to eat food.  One of my main mantras in the kitchen is that I try to make “restaurant style” meals at home.  This is one of those meals.

As with most of my cooking, I blended recipes from a few different sources. Awhile ago, my friend Dani made chicken stuffed with provolone cheese, roasted red pepper and spinach, and wrapped it with prosciutto. I tried to make her recipe, but when I made it, it just didn’t work out.  Fast forward to today- I decided to use up some things in my fridge. such as the Balsalmic Honey Dressing I made yesterday, some leftover slices of fresh mozzarella, and some spinach leaves. I decided to marinate the chicken in the dressing, and use the remainder of the mozzarella and spinach to stuff it with.   I make small portions since its just the two of us, but you can adapt easily to make more.

Here is the recipe:

 

Kailyn’s Caprese Chicken

Ingredients
-2 Pieces of Chicken
-4 slices fresh mozzarella (from a fresh mozzarella log)
-6-8 fresh spinach leaves
-1/2 cup of seeded, halved cherry tomatoes
-*Balsamic Honey Dressing (to coat and marinade chicken/ drizzle on top before baking)
-1 tsp dry oregano
-1 tsp dry basil (or sweet basil if you prefer)
-1 tsp minced garlic
-Splash of white wine
-Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions
Prepare your assembly stations:
-Chop cherry tomatoes and remove seeds and put in a bowl for dressing.
-Slice your mozzarella ( I got a fresh mozzarella log from Aldis and it was precut if you can find one like that, save yourself a step an just pull off)
-Lay out spinach
-Toss cherry tomatoes with olive oil, minced garlic, and seasonings.  Set aside.

Balsamic Honey Dressing:
-1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar of Moderna
-3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-3 tbsp honey
-1 tbsp Dijon mustard
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
For the chicken:
-Marinade chicken in Balsamic Honey Dressing for 3.5 hours or overnight.
-Butterfly chicken and arrange spinach and mozzarella. Fold chicken back over and secure with toothpicks.
-Spray baking dish with PAM or coconut oil.
-Drizzle chicken with dressing.
-Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.   When pan starts to get  slightly brown and charred, splash white wine in to deglaze. Put back in oven for 30 minutes.
-At the 15 minute mark, remove pan from oven and cover chicken evenly with cherry tomatoes. Any leftover cherry tomatoes can go right in the rest of the pan with the balsamic-wine glaze that is coating the bottom of the pan. Put chicken back in oven. Cherry tomatoes should be roasted and look glossy when they are done.

Side suggestion for this dish:
-Salad, or hot steamed broccoli
-Fingerling smashed potatoes or diced potatoes

 

 

Book VS Movie: City of Ember

So, if you’ve been following this blog, you know that this past year I read the City of Ember series and was completely in love with it. Naturally I wanted to see the movie, which had to be good since the book was so awesome…

Nope.

I really wanted to like the movie as much as I did the book, and it was ok.  The adaptation really skimmed a lot of what made City Of Ember so good- the tension, the mystery, the hope and faith. Lina and Doon’s friendship in the movie makes it seem as if they’ve been friends forever when if you read the book you know that they had a slight falling out and hadn’t talked in years until Assignment Day.

 

Some other noteworthy issues: Giant bugs and critters. I don’t remember this being in the book AT ALL.  I may be wrong, since last I read the book was last spring, but I don’t think I’d forget that.  Giant bugs? That Doon asks his dad how could they have been so small before and so big now? Don’t remember that in the book. In the book I remember Doon being into bugs, but they were regular sized caterpillars and moths, not the giant bird sized moth in the movie that creeped me out even though it was kind of cute.

 

Furthermore, Doon asks that question and it never gets answered. I can only assume some form of radiation or something manmade in the city has happened to evolve the bugs to be so big but this isn’t referenced at all. It’s filler.  Lina plays old tapes from her parents answering machine and I don’t remember that either. Nor do I remember Doon’s dad and Lina’s  parents conspiring to escape together. Lina and Doon are the ones who discover the exit, by no way of any one other than themselves. Also in the movie, Poppy is portrayed as a 5 year old but in the book shes obviously a young toddler, like 2 or 3. The city was portrayed nicely, but that was it.

I get that the film did poorly at the box office. The film was missing the spark that made the story so good. It felt like a PBS special version of Ember and not a feature film. While it has great parts, such as the scenery, Bill Murray and Tim Robbins, Saorise Ronan and great effects- the characters and plot are just shells of what Ember truly is.

My advice: read the book, skip the movie.

Book Dragon Update

I have a published review!
http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=41527

Check out my review of Mois Bennaroch’s short novel, “The Nobel Prize”!

 

In other news,  I have been on a book reading binge as of late.  It’s only March and I’m 14 books in to my 30 book year goal.  I have been actively reviewing books for OnlineBookClub.Org,  and through that I have been venturing in to some new territory as far as genres go.

This is just a quick list of some of the things I have read as of late:

Flaherty’s Crossing by Kaylin McFarren
Genre: Mystery
Making Her His by Lucy Leroux
Genre: Romance* (full review coming to the blog soon!.)
-All I Want Is You (Forever and Ever Series #1) by E.L. Todd
-If Loving You Is Wrong(Forever and Ever Series #2) by E.L. Todd
-You Are All I’ll Ever Need (Forever and Ever Series #3) by E.L. Todd
Genre: Romance*
The Bonding by Imogen Keeper
Genre: Romance
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Genre: Young Adult

Switching up my genres has been somewhat interesting, and I’m switching gears again! I just finished reading both The Bonding and A Monster Calls, two books which couldn’t be more different in terms of their storytelling and subject matter.  I’ve been experimenting with the romance genre as well, and discovering how broad it is. I found All I Want Is You by E.L. Todd as a facebook ad that advertised the first book in the series was free for download! So I downloaded it to check it out and I fell in love with it! I immediately purchased the second book, and upon finishing that I immediately purchased the third book.  I was hesitant to like it before reading because I saw there are seriously 47 BOOKS in the series. I don’t know if I’ll read all 47, but I cant wait to read the next one!
However I am shifting gears to some darker stories, starting with a Crime/Thriller/Mystery/Horror genre book, and I plan on keeping that sort of spooky momentum going by reading Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, and hopefully delving back into supernatural romance and finally read Beautiful Creatures and City of Bones.

I hope to post some new reviews on here for Making Her His, The Bonding, All I Want Is You and A Monster Calls.

 

Book Review: Solaris Seethes by Janet McNulty

Disclaimer:
*This review contains spoilers!*
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
The spoiler free review is still pending. Hopefully it will be posted over at Online Book Club.Org

Before we get started:
I am a fan of books, and if you are a follower of this blog, you  know this by all the reviews I posted during my book challenge last year. Well, I have signed on for another book challenge this year, of reading 30 books.  I completed my 25 book challenge last year, and upped my count to 30 in July when I completed my 25. I didn’t meet my goal of 30 then, but I got to 28, still not too bad.  This year though in addition to reading 30 books, I am trying to shed my genre specific reading  disposition. I also am on a quest to find sustainable income in the form of a side hustle, something that I can do from the comfort of my own home, and something that I enjoy. I’ve  come up with this quest before, but never really dedicated myself to filing through the legitimate sources out there. I also made it a goal to write more. I enjoy writing, and reviewing things, so naturally when I stumbled upon Work From Home Happiness, and found their article Side Hustles for Booklovers: 30+ Money-Making Ideas for Bibliophiles, I just had to see how I could turn my love of books into a side hustle. I came across a couple great options, and one of them was writing book reviews! Something I already love doing. While I am just starting out in this, and I’d like to make money with this eventually, I have to start somewhere. I also would like to expand my reading material, and who knows?  Maybe I will discover a new author, or a new genre.

My first book to review for Online Book Club, was Solaris Seethes. It was my first sci-fi book, and while I had a lot of problems with it (as you will see when you read it), I didn’t hate it or dislike it enough that I couldn’t read it. I still read it over the course of 4-5 days, and I was not rushing by any means, considering it was quite lengthy.
My spoiler-free version I wrote for Online Book Club is still pending,  but I am allowed to post my full review, complete with spoilers on here.  So, without stalling further- here is my HONEST review of Solaris Seethes.

 

Science Fiction has never really been a genre that has drawn me in.  My best friend is a sci-fi fan, so I am familiar with the genre, and while I do like some aspects of it, my interests in it are pretty generic and basic.  I like sci-fi movies, but until reading Solaris Seethes; I had never read a book classified in this genre.

 

The exposition of this story is stereotypical.  Rynah, our main character is happy with her love after getting engaged to her boyfriend Klanor. It’s a normal day in the life of Rynah, going to work, showing off her engagement ring to everyone. At work, it’s life as usual, except for…… an attack! The geothermic lab in which she works is attacked by thieves who are after the crystal that keeps their planet functioning. The band of evil doers is led by none other than *yawn* Rynah’s new fiancé.  Betrayed and angry, Rynah manages to escape as her world is deteriorating around her, and finds her way to the abandoned tower where her grandfather used to work in search of a decommissioned military ship which he was working on. She finds the ship; Solaris, which is the ship’s artificial intelligence system that can communicate telepathically while the pilot wears their helmet. Amidst some obstacles, Rynah manages to escape and her planet falls to ruins as the thieves leave with the crystal.

 

 

The style of writing was hit or miss with me. One thing I did not like, was the constant side notes, in which the author used parenthesis.  Rynah is described as having “pale lavender skin (a very light shade at that)”. This somewhat informal side note kind of confused me, as I don’t see why the author had to put that in parenthesis when it would have worked just fine in description without it. Rynah is also described as having “emerald green hair with flecks of gold.”  Maybe it’s because I’m a Marvel fan, and have seen Guardians of the Galaxy, but with Rynah’s description I kept picturing Gamora from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie.  The similarities didn’t stop there for me either, and at times the book felt like something of a watered-down version of the Marvel story.

 

 

The main plot of the story is that there is the great ancient prophecy that talks about there being 6 crystals- much like the infinity stones in Guardians of the Galaxy- that when brought together can create a weapon of great power and destruction-again with the Guardians similarity, and maybe even a little like the Death Star in Star Wars. Part of the prophecy tells of four heroes, who we later find out are 4 humans from the Terra Sector, aka Earth. The catch is that each human is from a different time period.  Solaris, who is more than just a ship, but also a character herself; transports our heroes to her ship. For being transported from their relevant time periods our characters should take to adapting to being on ship in space with a humanoid alien pretty well.  Alfric is a Viking King, Solon is a scribe from ancient Greece, Brie is a stereotypical scared high school girl from the present, and Tom is an inventor from the future of 2099.  While I like this idea of incorporating the different time periods, the characters don’t really have that much depth to them. Brie is depicted as “mousy” and “timid” and all as an around pushover and weak. I’m not saying all the woman have to be tough as nails, but I don’t like it when they make the girls your run of the mill damsel in distress. Brie is constantly homesick, and constantly whining and crying and complaining she’s useless. She comes in handy towards the end, but she still remains a flat character with little actual development. Even Alfric is    somewhat stereotypical, being depicted as an enormous gruff and tough Viking who always ready for battle and very skilled as it.  The only character who didn’t really fit the stereotype is Tom.

 

That’s not the only two-dimensional aspect either- when explaining the situation to the heroes, Solaris tells them that they will be a surprise to Klanor, since he doesn’t know about that aspect of the prophecy or about the Terra Sector. This is then contradicted when to drive the point of how dangerous Klanor is to to the humans, she tells them that if Klanor succeeds, he will come after Earth next to destroy it- but moments earlier Klanor supposedly didn’t know about Earth.  There is also some backstory with Klanor where it states that he believed in the ancient stories and that the crystals were real, but that others did not believe him. This seems kind of strange considering that the planet Lanyr in which Klanor and Rynah live functions of the existence of a crystal which stabilizes their magnetic field.

 

The contradictions continue, when for a world who supposedly shuns Earth at best, has many earth derived things.  On the Junglar planet which is-you guessed it- is jungle themed with large Venus fly trap style plants and Mayan style temples and human-esque indigenous people.  The indigenous people act and are depicted similarly to the Mayan people with references to their culture such as human sacrifice, and godly worship.  Even the atmosphere of the planet is habitable as they can breathe the air, and there are lush green plants and life everywhere, mimicking a rainforest. This is supposed to an alien planet, mind you. The references don’t stop there either- aboard the ship Brie tells Rynah her breakfast smells life waffles. When Rynah has a flashback to her grandfather making her pancakes, with boysenberry syrup, nutmeg and whipped cream, she then allows Brie a sampling of her pancake which Brie says tastes like a lemon torte.  The planet Lanyr which Rynah is from had orange clouds, and double sunsets.  How would they be able to grow plants to get nutmeg or berry? Not to mention whipped cream is a dairy product that comes from cows. Do they have cows in outer space?  When our band of misfits are abandoned on the frozen world of Ikor after pirates steal Solaris- amazingly they can breathe without helmets on this planet too; they are attacked by a large sabretooth tiger style animal. Alfric the almighty slays it, and later our heroes hear wolf howling.  Wolves and saber tooth tigers are still very much earthly animals. In outer space, on an alien planet.  When they run into lone man on the Antarctic style planet, of course Rynah knows him as a friend of her grandfather’s named Obiah. Upon inviting the heroes into his home within the walls of ice, it is discovered he has a full-fledged Italian style kitchen, complete with a stove.  The heroes cook pasta with marinara sauce.  On Obiah’s cherry wood dining table is a vase of marigolds. I wasn’t aware Ethan Allen Furniture existed in a galaxy far far away, but more of a question is how would marigolds survive on the planet of Ikor. Even to get them inside, the flowers would wilt or die in the frozen atmosphere in transport. Where would one even get marigolds? They need soil, water and sunlight, on Earth. Probably one of the biggest contradictions that bothered me, was when Obiah explains Klanor’s appeal to the heroes in such a way as “People like Klanor always attract the darker side of humanity.” This really bugged me.  Rynah, Obiah, Klanor are all supposed to be aliens. Humanoid aliens- they have purple skin for goodness sake.  When Solaris is stolen by pirates, the captain Jifdar who eyes up fair skinned damsel Brie; claims he believes they all descended from the same parent race, and living in a different galaxy on different planets they have evolved differently but share the same traits and make up. This begs me to question whether or not our humanoid aliens are human or not.  They are described many times as humanoid, which leads me to believe they are not human. If this is indeed the case, claiming Klanor attracts the darker side of humanity is completely out of context. Klanor isn’t supposed to know about Earth at all, remember?

The plot is thin at best, and I feel like it’s honestly been done before and better.  Every now and then I would come across phrases or words that were grammatically incorrect as well as just not sounding right. In one of the chapters, the term “tie-dyed” was spelled “tie-died”, and in another chapter the same term was spelled correctly as “tie-dyed”.  In another chapter, one of the characters says “He walked in just I managed to take this thing apart”, when the phrase is clearly missing the word as and should be read as “He walked in just AS I managed to take this thing apart.” Those mistakes are small, but really threw me as a reader as I had to re-read the lines to make sure I read them correctly.

 

Having stated my issues with the story, I can’t say I hated it or disliked it. I know it’s part of a series, and I typically like to finish series, so I’ll probably eventually try to finish this one.  Regardless of some of the major issues I had with this book, there were things I did like, such as Solaris.  I really enjoyed the idea of the ship being a character and having a personality. I felt if anything, Solaris was the strongest character. Rynah felt too much like a copy of Gamora, Alfric and Brie felt too stereotypical, and Solon had next to no personality for me.
 

I recommend this book if I can for young adult readers into sci-fi.  The writing isn’t the best, but it is full of action, and adventure and makes up in imagination for the things it lacks.  For someone who is into space ships, and time travel this might be a really good read for you.  There isn’t any romance or love triangle, so those looking for that sort of thing-which I fall into that category more often than not- are going to solely disappointed.  There are lots of action sequences with pew pew laser guns and swords, and pirates and hidden treasure. If I had to pinpoint it, I’d say it had elements from Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Firefly.  If you’re not familiar with sci-fi like me, there’s probably a high probability you won’t like this book. I did like parts of it, and was able to read it all the way through, and as I have stated I will probably check out the rest to see how the story ends. Sometimes the sequel or the later books in a series put the first to shame.  I read Neal Shusterman’s Skinjacker saga over the summer and compared to the last 2 books, the first was downright boring, and as I read it I enjoyed it enough to want to read the sequel, and boy was I glad I did, because it was an amazing sequel; and the final book in the series was the best by far.

 

New Year, New Layout!

 

You may have noticed a change here at Plastic Stars & Pixel Hearts….

That’s because this year, I hope to learn a little bit more about blogging, and brush up on some coding (the last time I did any CSS was in 2007).  Please bear with me, and if you notice any errors don’t hesitate to let me know!

For someone who used to be really into .gifs and pixel art, I feel my blog is lacking a bit in the graphics department, and I hope to start incorporating a lot more artwork- from memes to animations and other sorts of graphics to help liven up these lengthy posts!

I’ve been a casual blogger, but this year I really would like to start learning more about blogging in-depth and what makes a blog good, as well as how to run a successful blog. If you’ve got tips or tricks, hit me up!

I’m always open to suggestions here as well, so if there is something you’d like to see on here, maybe a list or article you think I should cover, let me know!