Monday, August 6, 2012


Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
Shadow Mountain - July 30, 2006
359 pages

Kendra and Seth Sorenson's grandparents (on their mom's side) died and left their parents with an adults-only cruise. That means that Kendra and Seth are supposed to stay with their grandparents on their father's side for seventeen days. The only problem is that they have pretty much no idea about Grandma and Grandpa Sorenson's lives. It turns out that their grandparents own a sanctuary for magical creatures called Fablehaven, and the majority of these creatures are dark and can destroy if they are let out. And when rules get broken, these things come out to play.

What book does this sound like to you? It could really be any children's fantasy novel. This is the same old plot that you know; kids go to a distant relative's house and learn that they have some strange connection with legendary creatures that were always believed to be false. The kids break rules and some mythical destroyer attacks. This was the most ridiculous, cliched children's book that I've ever read, though there aren't a lot of original plots in children's fantasy. There's actually a short series of comics about that at featuring Michael, a children's author. Still, they could have at least made an effort.

Grade: D

Thursday, August 2, 2012

No Animals Were Harmed: The Controversial Line Between Entertainment and Abuse

No Animals Were Harmed: The Controversial Line Between Entertainment and Abuse by Peter Laufer, Ph.D.
Lyons Press - October 18, 2011
272 pages

Animals have been used and abused for centuries, even millenia. Everyone has their own opinion: circus ringleaders insist that no animals are abused in their work, while animal rights advocates plead to stop it. So the question is, what is use and what is abuse? Is it black and white, or a gray line? Is there any kind of use that isn't abuse? If there is some use that isn't abusive, then what is it? What's okay and what's not? Homing pigeons? Sled dogs? Dancing bears? Elephant polo? Circuses? Cockfights and dogfights? Slaughterhouses? Horseback riding? Keeping a pet?

This is the first nonfiction book that I have gotten to review, and I am glad that it is a good one. I've always had opinions about the difference between use and abuse for animals, and so I wanted to see what they would have to think. One of the best things about the book, in my opinion, is that it doesn't say, like any other book, magazine, newspaper, or website about this topic, what is right and what is wrong. Instead, it asks you to think of what's right and what's wrong. Peter Laufer goes around the United States and Puerto Rico asking people who work with animals what they think. Obviously, cockfighters think that cockfighting isn't abuse and slaughterhouse owners think that eating meat isn't abuse. But they also pose questions for you. The one thing I wholly disagree with is a militant vegan who envisioned a world without any human interaction with animals. If an emaciated, dehydrated animal with a broken bone came to your door, would you turn it away because humans shouldn't interact with animals?

Grade: A

The Running Man

The Running Man by Stephen King as Richard Bachman
Signet Books - May 1982
219 pages

It is the year 2025, and citizens of Co-Op City are in for a spectacle; a competition known as "The Running Man", where contestants are officially declared to be "enemies of the state" and are hunted down by people known as Hunters, an elite team of hitmen hired by the Games Network. For each hour they survive, the contestant earns $100, and for each Hunter they kill they get another one hundred. If they stay alive for thirty days, they get one million New Dollars, or three million Old Dollars. Ben Richards has a sick daughter and needs money badly. His solution is to go to The Running Man.

Okay, it sounds sort of like The Hunger Games without that silly love triangle, right? Well, that's where you're wrong. It sounds sort of like The Hunger Games without that silly love triangle for about the first half. Then (spoiler alert!)Ben Richards gets into a huge police standoff---must be some kind of Richard Bachman trademark, having a police standoff---in which trades are negotiated, bluffs are made, and ultimately everyone dies. Not joking. This is the end of the book.(spoiler end!) I'm not saying that it was not necessarily a bad book, just not what I was expecting.

Grade: B-