Thursday, December 30, 2010

*Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Where I Got the Book: Barnes and Noble, in the store. I have one of the original paperbacks (that is, the ones with the gorgeous Alison Jay covers, not the funky photographs. Bleh).

In Short: adventurous, exciting, romantic

I don't think I need to tell you all what a huge fan of Shannon Hale I am. Book of a Thousand Days is my favorite book of all-time, and Princess Academy is lodged in a special place in my heart. Not to mention that this author is a Janeite, has a cardboard Colin Firth Mr Darcy at her house, and is absolutely amazing to meet in person--she's so down-to-earth, so sweet, and positively hee-larious (as is her husband--these two are a bona-fide comic act together).

With all this in mind, it's hard for me to not like any of her books. They're all special to me in their own ways. However, The Goose Girl, though one of the most beautifully written books written in modern times (imo), was, in my opinion, not quite as good as the others. I heard many say that its follow-up book, Enna Burning, was not as good--that it was quite lackluster and fell flat. I beg to defer. Enna Burning is my favorite, favorite, favorite Book of Bayern, and, though not as good as what Thousand Days did for me, it certainly gives Academy a run for its money in my personal standings.

From the moment I cracked open the spine of my delightfully illustrated copy (as I stated before, mine has Alison Jay's artwork on the front) and read the first few pages, I was in love. The Goose Girl had done the same for me when I first read it--I was absolutely spellbound by its first few lines and pages filled with stunning imagery through lyrical structure. Yet, The Goose Girl was slow. It was long. Don't get me wrong--I don't have anything against long books. But the action came in rather sporadic bursts in the first Bayern book.

Enna? Different story. Instead of a wind-speaker, we have our eponymous heroine. Enna had a few lines in The Goose Girl, and from the moment she steps into the picture in that book, she's a joy to read about. A whole book about her should be absolutely fun, right? Yes, it is...however, we're used to Enna's friendly and teasing nature, but her own book is anything but a joke. Funny lines here and there, yes. But much, much darker. I won't give too much away because if you have read it you don't really need to read this summary (and if you haven't, I'll end up spoiling everything), but unlike its predecessor, Enna begins with action, and said action is constant throughout. Our main character's brother, Leifer, seems to be able to control fire, but this "gift" instantly reveals itself to be a blessing in disguise: Leifer easily loses control of the fire, ultimately ending in his demise early in the book when in a battle between Bayern and the neighboring country of Tira. Thence, Enna discovers about her brother's gift and learns to adopt it herself. Determined to control the fire without letting it control her and eventually burn her up, Enna tries to help the soldiers by secretly practicing her power, only to get so carried away as to get captured by the enemy and held prisoner. While remaining captive, Enna must struggle against giving into not only the fire speech but also the Tiran captain Sileph, who may be trying to lure her into using her gift against her own country.

I simply adored Enna's kick-bum character; the wonderfully charming supporting cast (much of whom we met in TGG--my favorites would include Finn and Razo at the top of the list, and TGG enthusiasts will be delighted to see Isi and Geric hop along for the ride as well); the writing (of COURSE); the storyline; the quotes (TGG had many good quotes, but somehow, EB has more quotes I absolutely love)...I'm pretty sure the list simply goes on. Even if you've never picked up a copy of a Shannon Hale book, I definitely recommend this book. (To be really honest, I highly recommend this to those who've never read one of her novels--huge fans of TGG somehow find themselves more disappointed by EB...well, different strokes for different folks).

Red Flags: Granted, it is darker than TGG. There's more violence (not graphically described), and your usual SH clean romance/quasi-romance (kissing is the max). Nothing to be too concerned about...there have been some Amazon reviewers who claimed that it was much too dark. Characters are drugged, tricked, burned, but nothing too blush-worthy.

Plot: 10/10
Characters: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Enjoyment: 10/10
Overall: 50/50

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Original Release Date: August 26, 2004

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Red Flags: Why I Use It and What It Does

For those of you who have read many of my reviews, you will notice that no matter what I review--books, movies, music albums, whatever--I include "Red Flags".

As an elementary schooler, I was extremely sensitive. I was watching the first and second Harry Potter movies yesterday, and I recalled seeing them as a seven- and eight-year-old (respectively) and being rather frightened of the climax with the special effects and all. I'm seventeen now, and I can watch them without flinching. But even now, I don't really care for excessive violence, language, or sensuality. Honestly, what kind of person reads, watches, or listens to it and relishes it?

When I read reviews, I do like hearing about the writer's opinion. But I personally like reading blogs like Reading Teen, Reading Rocks, and Good Clean Reads, blogs that let readers know about any questionable content in books. I'd rather hear from an honest blogger about whether such content is in a book beforehand than accidentally stumbling upon it after paying money for the book and reading it.

Maybe you'll think, "That's just you. I don't think that way. Who even thinks like that anymore?" You'd be wrong. I've been told by readers that yes, they like when I tell them to watch out for something in a book, or if there's some content in a movie or album. And I want to be a blogger who listens to her readers. That's why I started and will keep on using Red Flags. Granted, I sometimes get lazy and like to rely on CSM, but when that site misses something (or exaggerates), I will by all means let my readers know.

If you think I'm odd, crazy, or just a plain prude, don't get ideas that I like to ban books. I don't. Censoring a work of art (yes, books are art--if you're a writer, don't you consider yourself an artist?) is absolutely wrong. I'm not one of those crazies who go off preaching that Harry Potter worships witchcraft and condones misbehavior; that The Lord of the Rings teaches evil magic and is satanic; that To Kill a Mockingbird should be out of high schools; that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is profane; that Shakespeare should be profoundly bowdlerized; that Grimm's fairytales should not be read to elementary school children; that Animal Farm praises communism. So what do all of these books have in common? Yeah, they've been on ALA’s Banned Books lists. But they're also, in my opinion, some of the greatest stories written of all time. I don’t believe in book banning. However, I think that at times, a line has to be drawn.

Here's what I don't understand though: if you have the freedom to speak your mind about whether readers should be informed about content, if you think no books should be censored, if you think artists have the right to utilize their talent in whatever way they wish to the fullest extent of creativity, why can't bloggers write what they want on their blog? I think we can speak our mind about readers being informed about content. I don't think books should be censored. I think artists have the right to utilize their talent. And I think bloggers can express their opinion on their blog. That's what a blog is for. That's what reviews are for. And if you think that not informing your readers about questionable content is a no-no, hey, maybe we should get rid of the MPAA system, too. Because the purpose of that system is exactly that of my blog's Red Flags.

I'm sorry if I offended any of my loyal readers. I mean no harm, but this is a blog--I express my opinions. You're free to have your own blog and express yours. That's my two cents.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas...and some NftN Updates

Merry Christmas, my lovelies! Hope y'all have a good one...and remember why we celebrate this day! And in the words of Tiny Tim..."God bless us, every one!" :)

I'm really not doing much...mostly writing (and trying to churn out these reviews for you guys!). But I just want to give you all a quick notice that I'll be posting a rant soon that I wrote a few days ago (if anyone would like a preview, just shoot me a line. I actually need a fresh pair of eyes to take a look at it before I post :P ).

Also, NftN will be seeing a few changes soon with my review system. My older reviews will remain the same, but those written from this day one will include a new layout. To check it out, look here (books), here (movies), and here (albums).

Have a safe and wonderful Christmas and New Year! :D


ETA: for the record, Christmas really extends to past December 25--it actually ends on Twelfth Night, which is when I will switch up my design. :) So keep saying Merry Christmas and listening to that Christmas music--we're not through with celebrating it yet. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Guess I Should Start with "Hi"...

With that said...

Hello. How are you? Merry Christmas.

I'm fine, thank you. Been busy...which is why I haven't been blogging lately.

So, er...yes, I did go AWOL. But I've been planning my comeback and, uh, here it is.

What have I been doing all this time? Well...
  • Reading (a little)
  • Watching movies (a lot)
  • Writing (sporadically...hey, like my blogging!)
  • Playing the piano and guitar (even less)
And since it IS comeback should be definite. With more:
  • MUSIC!
  • AND....REVIEWS!! (and tumblr...)
    ALSO: I'm thinking of retiring "New Tunes" on this blog. I have way too many to do...I think I'm probably going to move it to my tumblr, where it will dwell very happily.

    AND ONE LAST THING! Check out the poll to the left (if you can't tell your right from your left like me, it's your more dominant hand if you're a leftie and your less dominant hand if you're a rightie ;) ). Please vote! I'm trying to figure out what to review next. :)