Posted in Uncategorized, Miscelaneous Musings, Reviews, Readerly Rants

Allison Reads Bronte – Jane Eyre, Part 3 [AUDIO EDITION]

I was too lazy to jot down my thoughts in full, so I decided to record them instead.  Yay, now you get to hear what I sound like when I’m not acting.  (Truth be told, I’m not the most polished speech-giver/speaker, so this is actually a good exercise in skill and confidence for me.  It’s scary enough sharing my voice with the world when I’m reading other people’s words.)

For context, I marked various points of interest with paperclips as I was reading this section, and flipped through the pages to find them as I was recording.  (I’ve done my best to edit out all the page-flipping noises.)  Plus, because my hands were full with the book, I couldn’t hold the pop filter over my mic, so #nofilter! 😛

Also, before we begin – this portion of the book deals with a lot of romance and briefly mentions a character’s past affair and the possibility of this character’s illegitimate offspring.  This book, while not vulgar, is not for six-year-olds.

For those of you who are worried about how fast I talk without pausing to take a breath, yes, it’s true, I talk pretty fast, but I also edited most of the particularly long, awkward pauses between my sentences.

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, Readerly Rants, Reviews

Review: Jelly Bean Summer by Joyce Magnin (courtesy of NetGalley)

I recently joined NetGalley, a website which provides professional readers (I guess I’m one now) and bookish bloggers (I guess that’s more like it) with advance reader copies of upcoming releases.  By the time I got my Jelly Bean Summer ARC, it was already a few days after the book was released (May 2nd, 2017), but I suppose reviewing it can’t hurt. 🙂  (In case it wasn’t obvious, all opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Publisher’s Details:

Age Range: 8 – 12 years

Grade Level: 3 – 7

Hardcover: 272 pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (May 2, 2017)

Description: Set in 1968 during the height of Vietnam War, Jelly Bean Summer is the story of the unlikely friendship that forms between two lonely tweens during an unforgettable summer of camping on rooftops. 

Joyce has had it with her family (especially with UFO-sighting Elaine who loves her guinea pig more than her own sister). Her solution? Move out of the house and pitch a tent on the roof for the summer. But when she spots a boy watching her from a neighboring roof she’s stunned—and intrigued. 

Brian recently lost his brother, and the two instantly bond over their messed-up families. To help Brian repair his brother’s truck, they concoct a scheme to build and sell tickets to a UFO display. Even Elaine agrees to help…until unexpected events test the limits of Joyce’s family ties.

Reader’s Score: 3.75 / 5 stars

Continue reading “Review: Jelly Bean Summer by Joyce Magnin (courtesy of NetGalley)”

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, Reviews

Great Resource: A Parent’s Guide to Anime from Anime Cafe

Truth be told, I don’t watch anime.  I love the art form and I enjoy the soundtracks to many well-known animes, but I don’t actually watch much of it.  RWBY and Avatar are really the only anime-style cartoons I’ve been able to enjoy.

It’s a cultural thing, really.  Japanese culture advocates for exposure to mature content from a young age.  They aren’t hesitant to include sensuality and graphic violence in their most kid-friendly cartoons.  I think that’s why I prefer Western, anime-inspired shows (although even my favorite, RWBY, is getting pretty mature).  I get to admire the artistic style of people with wacky-colored hair and bug-eyes without the culture-influenced elements I am incapable of appreciating as a prudish person.

Whenever people recommend animes to me, I usually check them out on IMDB first, but with little success.  In my experience, IMDB is fairly lax when it comes to animes and British productions.  Again, it’s probably a cultural thing, that maybe Japanese and British people are both okay with mature content that Americans (and prudish Americans especially) would not be as cool with.

Additionally, whenever I research animes that are kid-friendly (meaning with little to no explicit content), I usually find kiddie animes.  I’m a big kid now – I’d like a nice, big-kid-friendly storyline without too much violence or suggestive content.  The good news is, my research has finally paid off.

If you’re a prudish young person who’s new to the anime community like me, or you’re a parent who isn’t sure what to make of these weird cartoons your kids are talking about, I’ve found a resource that just might come in handy: A Parents Guide to Anime from The Anime Cafe.

They preface their guide with the following message:

Please note that we do not advocate censorship. … Ultimately, it is the parent’s responsibility to determine what is, and more importantly — what is not appropriate for their children.

This is exactly what I’ve been trying to say for years!  I have personal preferences and issues with the world around me, but I’m not one to impose my views on others.  If parents want to keep things from their kids, it’s their right  – and if parents want to expose their kids to mature content early on, it’s not what I’d do, but that’s their right too.   It’s nice to see a website that understands where I and many others are coming from, a site that understands the true meaning of free choice and parental discretion.

The site has a very nice, diverse list of animes at various audience maturity levels.  For me, I’m using the list and reviews to find animes that I could potentially watch.  Parents might find it useful to check titles their kids are asking about, and decide accordingly whether to bring them into their homes.

The one shortcoming I’ve noticed is that many of the modern titles my peers are recommending aren’t there.  It seems like this is a list of slightly older titles, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to start.

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, Reviews, Uncategorized

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice (1940) starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson

Usually, I’ll encourage people to read a book before watching its film adaptation, or just read the book exclusively.  I’ve had a very hard time getting my head around Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, mostly because the plot is sooooo long-winded and monotonous, so I did the unthinkable and watched a movie version instead.

I saw the 1940 film adaptation with Greer Garson and Sir Laurence Olivier, two awesome old-timey movie actors – and I wasn’t disappointed.  The things I perceived to be drawn out monotony in the book were condensed to an entertaining pace, and I was better able understand and thus appreciate the story. Continue reading “Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice (1940) starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson”

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, Readerly Rants, Reviews

Allison Reads Bronte: Jane Eyre, Part One

Reader, you could say I’m a little obsessed with the Brontes.  I’ve been rereading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, mostly after having written a “LEAVE MR. ROCHESTER ALONE” rant based solely on memory and Wikipedia. Since I love ranting about Bronte books, I think I’ll use this as an opportunity to post a long, blow-by-blow review of Jane Eyre as I read it.  I’d apologize for boring and inconveniencing you all, but I’m not sorry in the least. 😛

At the moment, I’m in the book’s early chapters.  So far, the story’s chronicling Jane’s unhappy childhood.  She is bullied frequently by her cousins and aunt-by-marriage, and the servants tend to turn on her in any familial conflict.  (More on that later.)

In these early chapters, we’re introduced to a shy, quiet girl who loves to read and has some really novel perspectives on the world she lives in.  This is the Jane whose character captivated me as a reader.  At this point, I’m seeing the beginnings of the proto-feminist “strong female character” modern analysts praise (despite the book and character’s seemingly counter-feminist shortcomings later on).  When I read about this young Jane, I want to be this kid’s friend so badly.  I want to be a superhero trio that smashes injustice with her and Helen Burns (her friend you’ll meet later). Continue reading “Allison Reads Bronte: Jane Eyre, Part One”

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Hey guys, guess what?  I read a YA book and actually loved every page of it!

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson had me riveted to the page, and I’m not just pulling a book reviewer phrase out of a hat here.  I read the entire book in a day, stopping only for meals and chores, and when I did stop, I got antsy.  I needed to know what happened next in the fictional world of Lee Westfall.  I can read quickly when I’m reading a physical book, but I haven’t been this transfixed by a one in ages.

Summary (as told by yours truly): It’s 1849, and our protagonist is a tomboyish girl from the state of Georgia named Leah “Lee” Westfall.  She’s an only child and her father’s ill, so she does most of the manly work on their farm, including hunting.  So among her peers, she’s already considered a bit weird.  What’s even weirder is that she has a secret ability to sense gold.  This ability has brought wealth to her family, though they can’t really cash in on it without raising suspicion.  Plus, there isn’t much of it anymore in her locale, but there’s talk of finding even more of it in California.  Her best friend Jefferson wants to go west in search of it, and wants Lee to join him.  As tempting as this sounds, Lee hesitates.  Then one day, Lee comes home to find her mother and father murdered, and their hidden supply of gold stolen; at the funeral, she identifies the culprit by the teeny traces of gold dust, imperceptible to the naked eye, that remain on his/her person.  He/she knows about Lee’s secret ability – as the culprit closes in on her, Lee prepares her escape.  Disguised as a boy, she heads West on her own, hoping to reunite with Jeff along the way.  The road is rough, and the company of travelers she joins faces a series of trials, from disease to theft to mysteries only a gold seer can solve.

I can’t get over how tastefully Ms. Carson dealt with so many different subjects and issues.  There’s a lot of underlying social commentary which gets conveyed super-subtly in the way the characters behave and interact.  In short, this book excels at being showy, not telly. Continue reading “Book Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson”