Uglies – Scott Westerfeld – Book Review

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I know it’s been a long time. I will admit, I got busy, and I had sort of lost the motivation to continue. But I’m back now, and hopefully I can be more regular about my posts!

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Pretty is a relative term. If you’re a person of average beauty, and you’re standing next to a supermodel, you’re going to feel ugly. And in the world of Tally Youngblood, everyone is a supermodel; that is, except for those under the age of 16. They’re called Uglies.

On her 16th birthday, though, Tally is going to become a Pretty by undergoing a cosmetic surgery, and she can’t wait. She can’t wait to be rid of her ugly face and body and her squinty eyes. She just wants to be beautiful, like everyone else.

The surgery is so that there is no chance for discrimination among the people; everyone is the same. They are all equally beautiful.

A few months before her birthday, however, Tally meets Shay, a troublemaker like herself, and they instantly become friends. They sneak out together and play pranks. But Shay is different. She doesn’t want to be Pretty, and Tally can’t figure out why.

Tongue Scale: rated “Slap On the Wrist”

There are three appropriate uses of “hell” and one use of “piss”.

Gore Gauge: rated “People Get Wounded”

There’s some fighting, and a few intense scenes, but nothing terrible in the slightest.

Firecracker Scale: rated “Kindling”

I don’t even remember if there was any kissing. And there certainly wasn’t much sexual content, so very clean in that aspect.

Other Negative Content:

“‘… And people killed one another over stuff like having different skin color.’ Tally shook her head. No matter how many times they repeated it at school, she’d never really quite believed that one.”

So now that Scott has brought up the issue of race, what does that mean for the Pretties? Do they all have white skin? Does that imply that people with different colored skin are not as beautiful? Just thinking out loud here.

Positive Content:

At one point, Tally and Shay are looking through some old magazines from when the “Rusties” (people from before the apocalypse that changed their way of life) were still around. Shay is trying to prove to Tally that she isn’t ugly. However, Tally looks through the magazines with pictures of supposedly beautiful people, and she believes they’re ugly.

“‘You’re not ugly.’
‘Oh, come on, Shay.’
‘No, I mean it… Your profile is great.’
‘Don’t be weird, Shay. I’m an ugly, you’re an ugly…'”

Like I said at the beginning of this review, beauty is very relative. But everyone is beautiful. Some in different ways than others. In this story, the surgery took away all the things that make people truly beautiful: crooked smiles, unsymmetrical faces, distinctive noses, unique colored eyes… The imperfect characteristics that humans have that are inherited, passed down, and are incredibly endearing. And later on, when Tally meets another Ugly (ahem, a male, who immediately takes an interest in her), she finally starts to realize that just because you’re an Ugly, it doesn’t mean that you are ugly.

“What you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful.”

As I mentioned in a recent speech I did for class, I almost didn’t read this book based solely on the title. It just never drew me in, and I never read the summary. Silly me.

I picked it up at a used bookstore out of curiosity finally, because the subtitle on the cover grabbed me: In a world of extreme beauty, anyone normal is ugly.

I really liked it, even though I had a few issues with the writing. It was mostly because Scott would throw some new term related to this author’s creative world at the reader, and I’d be like, “Uh, what is that?” However, that was easy to get over after the first few chapters, once I was somewhat familiar with the world of Tally Youngblood.

So an incredibly satisfying read. Go check it out.

(All quotes from Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld.)

Johnny Tremain – Esther Forbes – Book Review

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“… And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass.” Leviticus 26:19

“When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

“Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before the fall.” Proverbs 16:18

What do all these verses have in common?

Pride.

It’s an area of Johnny’s life that Mr. Lapham, Johnny’s mentor and teacher, is trying to convince him he needs to work on. And it’s true. While 14-year-old Johnny is the backbone of the whole Lapham household, he finds joy in bossing Dove and Dusty, the other apprentices, around. He’s the better silversmith of the three of them, and not only keeps them in line, but also Mr. Lapham himself.

So while Mr. Lapham is grateful that Johnny Tremain can remember orders and is an excellent apprentice, worker, and leader, he knows that Johnny thinks a little too highly of himself.

He’s rude. He’s bossy. And he thinks he’s God’s gift to Boston, Massachusetts.

So when John Hancock comes into Mr. Lapham’s silver shop, Johnny is intent on perfecting and finishing his order. In doing so, however, he has to work double-time, including on the Sabbath, against Mr. Lapham’s orders. And when Johnny burns his hand as a result of Dove’s vindictive actions, everything changes.

Johnny’s hand is strange-looking. His thumb is melted to the rest of his hand. He’s in much pain, and learns that boys with crippled hands cannot be silversmiths.

He must swallow his pride, now, to find new work, new housing, and a new life…

Positive Content:

Yes, we’re starting with the positive content first, because there’s so much of it.

I enjoyed this story tremendously. It’s a great piece of historical fiction, and you are introduced to timeless “characters” like John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Samuel Adams. All the characters are very likeable: Rab, the boy who works at the printing shop and has a way of cheering you up and making you happy without saying a word; Cilla, the long-suffering Lapham girl who loves Johnny despite his sometimes harsh manner; James Otis, who everyone insists is crazy but still has a few wise words to say.

It’s a story about change, and friendships that remains despite the change. It’s about humility and kindness, loyalty and bravery. It’s so many good things wrapped into one.

Tongue Scale: rated “Slap On the Wrist”

Someone calls a girl a “slut”. “D*mn” and “hell” are used inappropriately a few times.

Firecracker Scale: rated “Kindling”

Gore Gauge: rated “People Die”

I don’t recall the violence in this being particularly terrible, but it’s there. It’s set during a war. And during war, people die. There’s fighting. It’s the way of life, and it’s prevalent in this story.

Other Negative Content:

Rab and Johnny intentionally get Dove drunk to get information out of him. But really, I’m just pulling at strings here.

Despite that, this story is definitely a treasure. Although the story ends on a sad note, you’re still left with a feeling of strong patriotism. It’s one that I see myself reading time and time again. I see myself reading it to my children, and then passing my battered copy off for them to read.

On a side note, guys, I just wanted to talk about something. I have been told by a few people that my Mortal Instruments and Divergent reviews were both very harsh (which is funny considering I liked Divergent!). Don’t get me wrong, I agree! But I want to put something straight: as I write more reviews, I want to be sure that I am equally critical of all the books I critique.

That means that even the books I like and enjoy need to be analyzed, discussed and evaluated. I don’t want to be the person who’s like, “Gandalf is awesome!” and then, “Harry Potter’s the devil!” …. They’re both wizards, aren’t they? If we’re going to hate on wizards, make sure you hate all of them.

I plan on doing a review on Harry Potter sometime, but probably when I get a bit more experience and I have done proper research. I don’t want my judgement of the story to be clouded because I like Harry Potter. I want to give an accurate analysis and make sure that I am just as critical as I am with other books. That means that I will probably have to tear the whole series apart.

I do not want to be seen as hypocritical, and I want to make sure that my reviews are always Biblically based and solid, and not just my opinions (although there will be some of those).

Anyway, my next review will hopefully come out next week sometime, and I’m planning on doing it on Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld. (Very interesting read, I would recommend it to anyone who’s into dystopians.)

Au revoir!
Harper

James Matthew Barrie is Ruining My Childhood – Peter Pan Book Review

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A few weeks ago, I decided to start edumacatin’ myself and read a few classics. I’m about to start The Count of Monte Cristo, which I am ridiculously excited about since the movie was pretty darn fantastic. (Don’t hate me. I typically read the book before I watch the movie, because when I don’t, I consider it cheating. This is one instance where I cheated. Sue me.)

Anyway, I finished reading Peter Pan by James Matthew Barrie a few days ago. It was an interesting read, meaning I flip-flopped from absolutely hating it to absolutely loving it quite a bit during the course of the story.

I started out, and I liked it a lot. Mr. and Mrs. Darling are very charming characters, and the language that the author uses is very interesting and sweet. I liked the humor surrounding the family’s nurse/dog, Nana. It was just very cute.

As I was introduced to the children, Wendy, John, and Michael, I started to get a bit irritated, honestly. Peter Pan comes along, whisks them away, and they just chill out in Neverland for a few months.

I found that I didn’t appreciate how selfish the children were in leaving their parents for so long. It gets to the point where John and Michael can’t even remember they have any parents, so Wendy has to quiz them every day, asking them questions like, “What did mother’s party dress look like?” or “What was the color of father’s eyes?”

Anyway, who cares about their real parents when Wendy makes a perfectly fine mother?

I also found myself getting incredibly irritated with the author around this time because of his silly narrations. It was kind of like:

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The original version of the story, I found, was much darker than the cheery, children’s cartoon that we are all so familiar with. Which, I suppose, isn’t a horrible thing, but it just caught me off guard. All the death and killing was just a bit of a shock when I grew up under the impression that no one died in Neverland.

Captain Hook isn’t the bumbling idiot I’m familiar with, either. He’s an evil, sinister, mysterious man who kills members of his crew for petty reasons. Although, I must add that I am delighted by the same horrified reaction the readers get when the ticking of the crocodile is heard.

Sometimes, I just disliked it because it wasn’t what I expected, which isn’t a fair judgement. Sometimes, it was shocking, like the fact that Tinker Bell had a bit of a foul mouth, and she was much meaner than I remember her (although I was never particularly fond of her character, anyway).

I must say, however, that as much respect for the book I lost during the plot, it may have been gained back toward the end. It was a sweet ending that makes the reader smile through their tears.

It’s a very powerful last chapter, all about growing up… and not growing up. And I think, “Man, wouldn’t it be nice if I could just never grow up?”

I’m 17, so I suppose it’s a bit late for me to “not grow up”. However, I’m getting closer to the point where I have to start making decisions. I’m trying to get myself a job. My life is coming at me so fast and seems to be flying right by, and I just want it all to slooooooooow doooooooooown.

Growing up is scary. It’s the unknown. You’re not quite sure what’s going to happen, or who you’ll turn out to be. And Peter, poor Peter is just so scared of growing up. He is completely fearless in the face of all dangers, but when faced with the prospect of growing up, he runs the other way screaming.

But then some days, I think that growing up sounds exciting. Like an adventure. A journey. And I pity Peter Pan. In all his seeking of adventure, he has and maybe never will know or understand the joys and experiences of growing up.

And you know, most days, I really do look forward to that adventure.

Love,
Harper

Divergent – Veronica Roth – Book Review

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Here in good ol’ ‘merica, 16 year old teens get their driver’s licenses. Enter their senior year. They’re growing up, applying to colleges. They’re making some pretty tough decisions.

But in futuristic Chicago, teens have to choose among five character traits, and must live that attribute for the rest of their life.

Beatrice Prior isn’t sure what she wants. She was born in Abnegation, a faction where everyone is selfless. She is enchanted with their way of life: everyone always looking out for one another, never themselves. She loves to see it being lived; but when she tries to be that way, Beatrice feels that she is not being genuine. It’s not her first instinct to give up her seat on the bus, or to allow someone else in front of her in line.

There’s that, and then she’s completely infatuated with the teenagers from Dauntless. They jump from the train to get to school each day, and she can’t help but watch them. They are daring and boisterous and loud and free and interesting. And Beatrice wonders what life in Dauntless would be like.

The day before the choosing, all 16 year olds take their aptitude tests. The test is supposed to tell the students which faction they would be best suited for. At the end of the simulation, however, Tori, Beatrice’s tester, is shocked. She is told that her test results were inconclusive.

What does that mean?

The tester explains to Beatrice that because of her responses to some of the situations in the simulation, she could very well fit into 3 factions: Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless.

“… People who get this kind of result are… are called Divergent.” Tori goes on to say that Beatrice should never, under any circumstances, tell anyone this information. She isn’t told why.

At the Choosing, Beatrice transfers to Dauntless, shocking the whole crowd. Immediately after the ceremonies, initiation begins.

Transfers and faction-born alike must complete initiation before they can become members of the faction. If they fail initiation, they become factionless.

At the beginning of initiation, the initiates are informed that only 10 of the group of 20 will make it to the end and become Dauntless members. This ups the pressure for Beatrice, or should we call her Tris, now? Tris must make it through initiation, and must be better than at least 10 of the other initiates in order to make it. Or else she will be factionless, and her sacrifice would have been for nothing.

Negative Content:

This book. *sigh* It was a tough read. I enjoyed it, but it was a downer, for sure.

Gore Gauge: rated “People Die”

Dauntless travel by a train that never stops moving throughout the city, so they have to jump on and off. At the beginning of initiation, a Dauntless-born initiate jumps and misses the building, falling 7 stories to her death.

*Spoiler begins here* Al, a former Candor (the honesty faction) who befriends Tris, hurts her at one point because he’s scared. She’s doing so well in training, and he’s doing so badly… He kills himself as a result of his extreme guilt.

Al is lifted up for his “act of bravery”. Eric, one of the trainers (who is sick in the head and has some issues of his own), commends him for traveling to the afterlife, a place unknown to the living. He stated that, in his own way, Al was braver than all of them.

Killing yourself because you “can’t bear it” or can’t live with what you’ve done is arguably the most cowardly thing anyone could do. Tris seemed to have the same idea, sickened by Eric’s message of what he thought was inspiration.

Besides, other characters later on sacrifice themselves for other and die in a much more noble way. Giving your life so that others may have a chance at it… that is courage. Isn’t that what Jesus did for us? *Spoiler ends here*

Peter, Molly, and Drew make up the “bullies” who harass Tris in more ways than one. When Tris comes out of the shower wearing only a towel, Peter grabs it before she has time to run away, shamefully hiding her body. They laugh crudely at her. Tris, in turn, so strengthened by her fury and hatred, beats Molly to a pulp in training.

Peter is evil. Like, scary evil. When Edward beats him in the first rankings, Peter stabs him in the eye, making it so that Edward is unable to continue, and is made factionless. Peter is never brought to justice.

In fear simulations, sometimes the initiates are forced to shoot and kill their own family members.

Tongue Scale: rated “Slap On the Wrist”

Swearing is mild; God’s name is taken in vain 5 or 6 times, and hell is used in inappropriate ways a few more times.

Even though the factions were created to prevent war, there is still evil and corruption: the Erudite pursue knowledge out of desire for power; the Dauntless have strayed from their pursuit of courage and now induce fear.

Firecracker Scale: rated “Flame”

In one particular simulation, Tris encounters her fear of intimacy. (More specifically, Four ((mentioned later)) trying to have sex with her.) They do kiss, in real life.

Other Negative Content:

Most Dauntless members are donned with multiple tattoos and piercings. A transfer initiate jokes to Tris about getting a nipple piercing.

I think one of the most negative elements is how Tris assures herself that in order to be brave, she has to desensitize herself to death. She forces herself to walk away while a sobbing girl screams for her dead friend. She is disgusted by how weak Al is as he cries to himself in the night.

Positive Content:

Four is the nickname of Tris’s love interest later on, and he is not, by any means, the perfect man you look for in books and movies. He’s handsome, but he isn’t kind. He isn’t sweet, or charming. He’s not even nice. He gets drunk at one point and acts like a complete fool. But he has some admirable qualities, and he is mysterious, drawing Tris in almost immediately.

Tris, for that matter, isn’t in the slightest bit perfect. She’s quite flawed in some of her thinking, and she can be rude. She’s not particularly pretty. She’s sort of plain, really. But as we later come to realize, she has a bit more Abnegation in her blood than she knew. She will stand up for her friends and family, and she is strong-willed and, most of the time, kind and thoughtful.

They are relatable. They are human. They are imperfect. But they are perfect for each other.

There is a lot of self-reflecting done by Veronica Roth. She seems to have the right idea of what bravery and courage really are.

“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”

“I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different.”

“We’ve all started to put down the virtues of the other factions in the process of bolstering our own. I don’t want to do that. I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest.”

And I think that about sums it up. We should strive to be all of these things. Whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue, praiseworthy. That’s what I started this whole blog with. And in the end, amidst all the bad and pain and dark and sadness, Tris and Four just want to be that.

I am incredibly conflicted with this book. While I was instantly pulled in, interested, and engaged, I found that it was incredibly depressing. It’s definitely not meant for young kids… At the youngest, maybe a mature 13 year old.

I haven’t read the sequel, Insurgent, quite yet, but I’m definitely working on it. I’m incredibly excited for it, but also, I’m sure you understand, a bit apprehensive. Allegiant, the last book in the trilogy, is supposed to be coming out soon… so I need to get cracking.

Ranger’s Apprentice – The Ruins of Gorlan – John Flanagan – Book Review

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Will wants more than anything to be a Battleschool apprentice.

He believes that his deceased father must have been a knight… Although no one’s for sure. No one knows who his parents were. But Will knows it in his heart, and believes that going into Battleschool would make his father proud.

Unfortunately, Will is small, not just in height, but in width, and looks puny next to Horace, who teases him every day for it. Horace will undoubtedly make it to Battleschool. It’s not looking so good for Will.

On Choosing Day, the day when the castle wards can request to be apprenticed in the craft of their choice, every one of the other children seems to get their wish. Alyss is to be apprenticed by Lady Pauline in diplomatic services, Jenny gets to work in the castle kitchens, Horace is chosen for Battleschool…. And Will is the only one left.

But Sir Rodney regretfully informs Will that he is just too small, as does the Ulf, the Horsemaster. Will doesn’t want to be a scribe or a diplomat…… And he begins to cry.

But there’s one person left, and that’s Halt, the mysterious Ranger of Redmond Fief.

Rangers are feared among the kingdom by the common folk. They believe them to be sorcerers, for they are silent as ghosts and can move without being seen.

As a matter of fact, Rangers are just trained to see without being seen. That’s what they are. They spy, they gather information, they report to King Duncan. Sometimes they go on special missions. One thing is for sure…. The townsfolk might be scared of Rangers for their mysterious nature, but enemies of the country, Araluen, tremble at the mere mention of the Rangers.

They are dangerous. They are smart. They are cunning. They are fast. And they are very, very clever.

And Halt thinks to himself, “Will’s got what it takes.” He had watched Will grow up; seen him climbing trees nimbly, sneaking around the castle, trying to avoid and hide from Horace.

Yes, Will would make an excellent Ranger.

Tongue Scale: rated “Slap On the Wrist”

There is very little swearing in the books (although it needs to be noted that there is some). The occasional use of God’s name in vain, a rare “d*mn” or use of “hell” in an inappropriate context.

Firecracker Scale: rated “Kindling”

I don’t believe there was any sexual content at all in this first installment of the series, but there are rare instances of romance later on, but nothing inappropriate or bad. Sometimes the characters kiss, but the boys show respect for their ladies and the ladies show respect for their men, and they are generally very healthy relationships.

Gore Gauge: rated “People Get Wounded”

Sometimes the bad guys get killed, and sometimes the good guys even get killed. But never is the violence overwhelming, and never is it described in such a way that it would make someone ill or sick. There’s some sword-fighting and lots of archery, battle scenes and fight scenes, but again, never to the point that it could deter or upset.

Other Negative Content:

There is the occasional drinking of alcohol. Also, later on in the series, you are introduced to the Skandians, who are a Viking-like people. They raid. They pillage, they plunder. The reason I mention them is because they could very well be considered a negative element to the story.

John Flanagan is quite good at making his characters likable, as I have mentioned. They are all crafted beautifully. Unfortunately, he characterizes the Skandians, a race of people who would normally be considered bad, with admirable and good qualities.

I find it difficult to find the distinction between right and wrong there. While the Skandians are a loyal, humorous bunch of people, I have a hard time remembering that they are killers, and they are mercenaries.

Positive Content:

I have pretty much been enchanted with this story since I first started reading the series. It’s beautifully written, and the characters are so lovable. I don’t believe I have ever fallen in love with every character in a story, yet I have managed to do so here. Minus, of course, obviously, the evil, villainous characters.

I love Will. I have from the very beginning. He is so unsure of himself, unaware that he is so much more capable then he believes. But Halt believes in him.

That’s probably my favorite part of the whole story: Halt and Will’s relationship. It is just so endearing. Halt grows to love Will, and Will grows to love Halt; they treat each other as father and son.

Halt’s words of pride for Will are more than enough praise for him. They both, at any point, would give their lives for each other.

Horace turns out to be a key player in the story. After a few days in Battleschool to straighten him out, Horace becomes a humble, brave, loyal companion to Will… And a dear friend.

There is more than enough “good message” to go around. Most days, the bad guys get put in their place. Any of the characters would give their lives for each of the others…. Betrayal, treachery, disloyalty is all looked down upon and punished.

I like how throughout the whole series, there are people (including the Rangers), who are constantly mistaken for sorcerers or witches. But John Flanagan focuses on what the human being can do, and there is specifically no magic or sorcery in the books. They are just people who are incredibly good at their craft, whether it’s medicine or sneaking around and spying on people.

The story is full of positive messages. I love the characters, I love the story. All the way around, I love the series.

PS, guys – if there’s a book you specifically want reviewed, just comment. I’ll be happy to look into it, but I won’t guarantee it.

Have a great week! 😀

PSS, you know it’d really make my day if you’d subscribe. Yes. You. Right there. Thank you.

Love,

Harper

The Mortal Instruments – The City of Bones – Cassandra Clare – Book Review

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Clary Fray feels different. She’s told at one point that every teenager feels that way: estranged, lonely, and awkward in their own skin. Like they don’t belong. However, in Clary’s case, she is different.

She was raised by Jocelyn Fray, a single mother who absolutely didn’t believe in fairy tales. Not vampires, not werewolves, not warlocks, not faeries…. Especially not demons. So when Clary meets Jace Wayland, she begins to doubt everything she ever believed.

“‘Have you had dealings with demons, little girl? Walked with warlocks, talked with the Night Children? Have you -‘

Clary interrupted. ‘… I have no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t believe in – in demons, or whatever you -‘”

She has to face that which she doesn’t believe full-on when a demon attacks her in her own apartment. In a moment of luck, she kills it; but not before it injects her with poison.

Jace finds her, still conscious but slowly weakening, and takes her to the Institution, where his mentor, Hodge, heals her.

“‘I’m an ordinary human being, just like you said…’

‘…I wouldn’t be so quick to brand myself as ordinary, if I were you.'”

She’s discovered to be just what Jace is: a Shadowhunter. Shadowhunters are protectors of the earth and killers of demons. The Institution is a sort of haven for Shadowhunters who want rest, food, and so forth.

The Institution is run by the Lightwoods. The parents and youngest brother are traveling, but Alec and Isabelle, the two oldest, remain with Hodge and Jace. And they do just what Shadowhunters are supposed to do: kill demons.

Clary’s best friend, Simon, who is, as Jace said, “the most mundane mundane” he’s ever met. (A mundane is a human… a non-Shadowhunter/Downworlder) He is dragged into the mess, and Jace grudgingly allows him to come with them, but his patience wears thin on more than one occasion.

It’s also the job of the Shadowhunters to keep the Downworlders in line. Downworlders are half-human: vampires, warlocks, werewolves, faeries. Shadowhunters are obligated to, according to the Clave (the Shadowhunter’s form of government), make sure the Downworlders aren’t getting into trouble, causing problems, or eating humans.

Now that they know Jocelyn is missing, Clary is completely set on finding her. Hodge is more interested in why a mundane household was attacked by a demon to begin with, since Clary insists that her mother can’t possibly be a Shadowhunter. Her dead father has to be, because her mother doesn’t believe in any of that… Right?

Negative content:

The whole book starts out with Clary and Simon going to a club, which is full of dancing, drinking, “a boy with a lip piercing and a teddy bear backpack [who] [is] handing out free tablets of herbal ecstasy”, and “a young Asian couple [is] making out passionately”.

Gore Gauge: rated “People Get Wounded”

I’m going to be very honest: as I’m going back and editing some of my reviews and adding in some of my rating scales, I don’t even remember what happened in this book. I don’t remember if anyone dies (although I can tell you that nobody particularly vital to the storyline does, so there isn’t too much heartbreak if your invested in the main characters). But there is quite a bit of violence and some scary elements.

Tongue Scale: rated “Wash That Mouth Out”

The Lord’s name is taken in vain (in several forms) at least 10 times, along with other profanities: b*st*rd, h*ll, *ss, d*mn, b*tch, and a few other less offensive but still inappropriate words like piss and dick.

Firecracker Scale – rated “Flame”

Alec is presumed to be gay early on (the presumptions are accurate), and Magnus Bane, the High Warlock of Brooklyn, becomes his “potential lover”.

Now Jace and Clary’s relationship. From the get-go, it’s already pretty unhealthy. In his thoughts, Jace admits that he has never want to hurt a girl more in his life.

How romantic?

They do, also, kiss a few times.

FYI *SPOILERS IN NEXT FEW PARAGRAPHS*

Then you find out that Jace and Clary are stinkin’ siblings. Like, WHAT. At the end of the book, it sort of left you thinking, “Oh, there are only brotherly/sisterly feelings there. That’s good.” The unsettling feeling in my stomach subsided.

Now I’m jumping a teensy bit into book two, City of Ashes, so that you have an idea of how their relationship sort of unfolds. You realize that Clary still has feelings for Jace, and they are definitely reciprocated. Which I’m like, “Okay. Yeah. You liked each other, and it’s going to be hard to get over that, but you will!” It seems to me, though, that they aren’t trying hard enough. They still pursue each other in awkward, subtle ways.

STILL SPOILING.

Then, in a very uncomfortable, completely uncalled for scene, Jace and Clary are forced to kiss.

Basically, they go to visit the faerie queen, who demands that in order to leave, Clary must kiss who she most desires. At least I think that’s how it went. To be completely honest, I was doing some serious skimming because I was getting totes grossed out. Because obviously, Clary desires Jace, and it’s supposed to be all romantic, blah blah blah, and I pretty much almost threw up.

Wrong on so many levels.

As I am 99.999999999% sure that Jace and Clary are indeed NOT siblings, I know it will turn out okay-ish. But like, EW.

Let me put it this way: my mom had a foster brother named Michael, and he used to think that if you said, “chicken nuggets” then you were swearing. However, occasionally you would hear him muttering it. So what happened? My grandparents punished him. Not because “chicken nuggets” is actually a bad phrase, but because he thought it was. The sin was in his heart.

Other Negative Content:

Madame Dorothea is rumored to be a witch, and she keeps astrological instruments in her apartment. Later, a witch is defined as someone who is not a warlock but tries to teach themselves magic.

“Nephilim” is another name for the Shadowhunters and are defined as the offspring of humans and angels. Nephilim were “created” when humans became overrun by demons. A warlock summoned the Angel Raziel, who mixed his blood with human blood. Then, whoever drank this mixture would become a Shadowhunter.

These “Nephilim” were mentioned in the Bible in Genesis. “When man began to increase in number on the earth and the daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then The Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal, his days will be a hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days – and also afterward – when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”

…. God wasn’t exactly thrilled that angels were having babies with humans.

“[Jace] shrugged. ‘I’m not really a believer.’

Clary looked at him in surprise. ‘You’re not?’

He shook his head… ‘You thought I was religious?’ he said.

‘Well.’ She hesitated. ‘If there are demons, then there must be…’

‘Must be what?… Ah,’ he said. ‘You mean if there’s this -‘ and he pointed down, toward the floor. ‘There must be this.’ He pointed up, toward the ceiling.

‘It stands to reason. Doesn’t it?'”

You’d think it would. But really, it doesn’t. God doesn’t appear to have any role at all, in fact.

“‘Let me put it this way,’ [Jace] said… ‘My father believed in a righteous God. Deus volt, that was his motto – ‘because God wills it’. It was the Crusader’s motto, and they went out to battle and were slaughtered, just like my father. And when I saw him lying dead in a pool of his own blood, I knew then that I hadn’t stopped believing in God. I’d just stopped believing that God cared. There might be a God, Clary, and there might not, but I don’t think it matters. Either way, we’re on our own.'”

Which begs the question: if God did exist in their world, would He agree with and bless what the Shadowhunters did? What they were? I somehow doubt that He would.

And is it right that Shadowhunters kill demons? I mean, demons are bad, so does that mean killing them is good? Is the enemy of my enemy really my friend?

Positive content:

Considering I’m not a fan of this book at all, even if I weren’t reading it from a Christian perspective, it makes it difficult to find the good in the story. I didn’t find that it was very well-written. I didn’t really like most of the characters. I guess you could say that Clary is brave on occasion and Simon is loyal to the end, but I can’t really give you any other reasons to read this book, or if you have, for you to continue reading the series.

And even if I did enjoy the book, and even if it was a literary achievement, I can’t discount the evil. I can’t shake off the uncomfortable feeling that the book gives me.

Don’t get me wrong, guys. It’s an interesting concept, and there are a few redeeming qualities, I’m sure. I actually thought it was going to be a bit like the TV show, Supernatural. I only watch it occasionally, but it’s a show where they… Well… Kill demons. It’s very dark and yes, demons are scary and evil, but we know that those are real. Not necessarily vampires and such, but we know that demons exist. They are supernatural beings.

But this story had so many other dark elements and references. If it had just been about killing demons, hey, maybe this might’ve been more acceptable. But it runs so much deeper than that here, and it’s not something I want to dwell and think on.

For a while, I discounted all the bad in the books, and sort of just ignored it all.

But the reason I chose this book to start my blog with was because this is what I believe in the most. Out of all the books I’ve ever read, this is the one I am the most convicted of and convinced that I don’t want to fill my head with this.

Again, these are mostly opinions, but all of them have a Scriptural basis.

The Dreaded First Blog Post

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Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8

Alright, hey guys. I started a blog.

*canned cheers*

Anyways, hi. My name is Harper Collins Alexander. Not really. It’s a name that I made up because I’ve always thought having a pen name would be cute. Of course, any of my friends will know my real name, but on my blog and in comments, I’d like to be referred to as Harper.

Not sure if any of y’all are familiar with http://www.pluggedin.com, but it’s a pretty awesome website. I use it probably more than any website (besides Facebook, and I have been spending quite a bit of time on college websites lately). They do media reviews from a Christian perspective… Movies, tv, music, video games. It’s great. The one thing I have missed out on is book reviews.

I know there are probably a bajillion websites, just watch. But I have been trying to think of an excuse to start a blog for a while, and I have no life. Hence, nothing to type about. So, http://www.christianbookreviewsblog.wordpress.com has been launched.

You see the verse I started my post off with? That’s going to be my main go-to verse for all of my reviews. When I read a book, I want this verse to be what I compare it to. If the book is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue, praiseworthy… That’s what we’re looking for. That’s what we seek to fill our minds and our hearts with, because God tells us to guard our hearts.

With that, I am off to work on book review number one: The City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare. Coming soon!