Have you read The Baiji, The Red String, The Red Cloak, The Red Knot or The Shorter Things Collection? Please leave a review!
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“You say that a lot.”
“I feel it a lot.”
-Turtles All The Way Down, by John Green
Ever wonder what it’s like to live with a debilitating mental problem? Or do you not have to wonder because you do it every day? Or does this describe someone close to you—a friend or a family member? Then this is the book for you and you and you.
It’s a given that John Green is one of the best writers of YA fiction, like, ever. This book is great. And I’ll always recommend that everyone read it, because reading, after all, opens one up to worlds they’ve never seen and has the power to change readers into more empathetic people. It’s true—there’s been studies. But I’ll be honest, unless you struggle yourself, you may never truly understand what it’s like to live with mental illness. That’s not John Green’s fault. He agrees with me. Aza Holmes’ mother doesn’t understand. Her best friend doesn’t understand. Even her therapist doesn’t really understand. The scene that explains the title of the book embraces that unanswerable mystery. Mental illness, like pain, grief, faith, and beauty, aren’t something you “understand.” They just are.
Enough philosophy. Read this book. Read about Aza Holmes. And her mother. And Daisy. And Davis.
You might know them already.
“Remember, wisdom is attained by three methods: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.”
A story of friendship and loss, The Baiji involves young Ai Bao and her best friend in the whole big wide world, Shu Rui, a girl with a beautiful smile and a weak heart. During the Spring Festival, the girls venture on a ferry ride over the Yangtze River, hoping catch a glimpse of Ai Bao’s favorite animal, an endangered species of river dolphin called the baiji. Will Ai Bao see the rare dolphin or is the baiji gone forever?
Read The Baiji this summer and leave an honest review!
“You seem okay now.”
She toyed with her gun, flicking the weapon’s safety on and off, her eyes still upward. “It’s easier around you. I don’t know why.”
Well, that was something. It made me think. “Maybe it has to do with your weakness.”
Firefight is the second book in The Reckoners series. The plot picks up where Steelheart left off and starts running. The characters travel from Newcago (Chicago) all the way to Babilar (the former New York City in this dystopian future.) New Epics (bad guys) are introduced, such as Regalia and Obliteration.
Sanderson’s intentional overuse of similes and metaphors remains charming, albeit a stretch at times. The comic aspects of the novel are off-set by the serious theme of weakness and the conflict of Prof’s struggle. Romance blooms, but it’s late and lazy.
The action scenes drag on at times, but quirky new characters like Mizzy and Dawnslight provided sufficient dramatic rest from the all out action. The plot roamed around aimlessly for a while, but then returned to center for the conclusion.
David is an endearing goof and remained static throughout. The biggest character arc was found in Prof, while Megan had an intriguing arc too, though the explanation of her powers was odd and hard to digest. Weaknesses of the Epics were investigated and David’s philosophy about them leaves the reader unsatisfied enough to run out and buy the next installment in the series, Calamity.
Sanderson is fun and games, with comedy and heart thrown in for free. And potatoes.
When a strange terrigen mist descended upon Jersey City, Kamala Khan was imbued with polymorph powers. Using her new abilities to fight evil and protect Jersey City, she became the all-new Ms. Marvel!
So…I like comics now.
I never gave them a fair shot before, I admit. My brother was the comic book nerd, not me. A few years ago, my sons inherited some of his Spiderman comics. Recently, I picked one up and thought, ‘Spiderman’s my favorite, why haven’t I read this yet?’ So I did. And it was so fun! But so short! Word bubbles, art, witty banter (love that Spidey attitude), and lots of ridiculous action. But it’s over pretty fast. Oh well. There’re definitely worse things than a quick story with cool pictures.
Ms. Marvel is a reboot of sorts. The original Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, had a quite active existence in the Marvel universe. I did some research and here’s what stuck out to me about her—she started out in the Air Force, joined the C. I. A., was captured by the KGB, took a position at NASA, fell in love with Captain Marvel who made her a Kree-human hybrid, worked as a feminist writer for the Daily Bugle, fought lots of bad guys, was manipulated and seduced by a stalker named Marcus who impregnated her with a child who grew up into, uh, Marcus (?), lost her memories after Rogue accidentally absorbed too much of her power, was rescued by Spider-Woman, fixed by Professor X, confronted the Avengers for abandoning her, turned into an alcoholic, joined AA, got better, and eventually turned down Captain America’s offer of membership in the new Avengers team.
The new Ms. Marvel is a second-generation Pakistani-American high school student. She’s a nerdy high school girl who never felt like she fit in. She experiences boy-drama, deals with pressure from her family, school, and faith leaders. Kamala is a fangirl. She runs a website called Freakingawesome.com. Her favorite word is definitely ‘awesome.’ Oh, and her superhero schedule is quite full.
School, Avengers, my regular bi-weekly dungeon group in Ancient Scrolls Online…it’s all great, but it’s what Abu would call a problem of plenty. And the thing about a problem of plenty is…it’s still a problem.
-001, Ms. Marvel, 2016
Her powers are interesting. She’s an Inhuman with polymorphic abilities. She can stretch, expand, or compress her entire body or parts into any shape, has an accelerated healing factor which makes her extremely hungry and fatigued. Her body emits a bioluminescence when she uses her powers. Kamala can alter her physical appearance to mimic inanimate objects or other people. She’s vulnerable to EMPs and needs a special biokinetic polymer (super snot) suit that’s damaged by exposure to water.
One of my favorite volumes is 007: 2016. Ms. Marvel has an unexpected sidekick—Wolverine. He’s a totally miserable grouch and she’s, well, a giddy fangirl who says ‘awesome’ a lot. They beat up a massive alligator in the sewers of Jersey City and save the day. At least, for now.
I highly recommend Ms. Marvel for younger teen girls, but also for all the adolescent boys out there. This girl is complicated in all the right ways. She’s anything but shallow, an everyday hero with real-life issues who learns how to balance her superhero activities and risks with her regular life. It doesn’t always work out. Teens can totally relate to her struggles, even if they can’t relate to shrinking to the size of a grasshopper. We all have battles to fight. Teens of faith may find Kamala especially relatable because they understand what it’s like to maintain question certain standards and question traditions that other students may not consider at all.
Well, I’m addicted.
Now I have a growing collection of female superhero comics—Spiderwoman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Wonder Woman. (Feminist Confession Time– I have a soft spot for the Silver Surfer. But that means I can include the Invisible Woman from the Fantastic Four in my Tour of Women Superheroes!)
The Cursed Child is a rehashing of the HP world, an epilogue, if you will, in screenplay format. Will everyone like it? No. Did I? Yes. Why, you ask? (Pretend I’m answering in a British accent, thereby sounding way more professorial and magical than I am.)
Why did I, D. Marie Prokop, like The Cursed Child?
Because, like the most recent version of Harry Potter, I’m a middle-aged, tired, over-worked parent who, deep-down, really wants her kids to like her. I also miss the glory days of inhaling children’s and YA literature as easy to digest and as undeniably delicious as Harry Potter. Though I am NOT off sweets as an adult, there are many things I miss about being young. As a parent of teens, The Cursed Child felt like J.K. included me in the story this time also. There were tears and stuff. Grown-up, muggle-style ones…
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is unrivaled, in my opinion. Her fantasy story about an adolescent misfit wizard inspired millions of children to read fiction. Respect is due. And I hate to let a good story end. Therefore, I thoroughly enjoyed this epilogue-of-sorts. I also appreciated the format. I read a LOT, but I have a jam-packed life, and screenplays are much easier to digest quickly. I took it slow simply because I have a stubborn side that didn’t want the magic to stop. Again.
Anyway, I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I won’t go into details. I’ll suffice it to say, the story was okay. Not fantastic, but okay. It was new-ish, with gobs of nostalgia to take you back in time without a time-turner. Remember Bane, Platform Nine and ¾, Dolores Umbridge, Cedric Diggory, the Mauraders Map, Moaning Myrtle, and the Invisibility Cloak?
Good times . . . again.
TROLLEY WITCH: These hands have made over six million Pumpkin Pasties. I’ve gotten quite good at them. But what people haven’t noticed about my Pumpkin Pasties is how easily they transform into something else . . .
She picks up a Pumpkin Pasty. She throws it like a grenade. It explodes.
HARRY: You really think this could all mean something?
HERMIONE (with a smile): It could do. But if it does, we’ll find a way to fight it, Harry. We always have.
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Oh crap. The retreat.
Kayla clears her throat in a vain attempt to make me feel guilty. She’s bummed that I refused to go to some lame youth retreat with her this weekend. My mother and my new step-father, Bob, are also disappointed. They were about to be outdone in their disappointment by this over-zealous Jesus-freak.
–On The Outward Appearance, a YA Fantasy Short Story by D. Marie Prokop
On The Outward Appearance takes a brave and uncomfortable look at the human heart.
Please leave a review so others can discover this introspective tale that stares cynicism in the face and ponders the conclusion that good and bad aren’t as simple as they look.
Thankfully, neither is love.
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