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Archive for September, 2010

A few weeks ago my girlfriend Amy and I made a day trip to Decatur, GA for the Decatur Book Festival. We forgot to take into account that Georgia is Eastern Time whereas Alabama is Central Time, so we were an hour later than we’d planned. We just managed to make it into the church where Cassie Clare was giving her talk.

And that was when I first saw Jackson Pearce. She was wearing a wig and rainbow tights. She was introducing Cassie, and she walked out onto the stage dressed as one of Cassie’s characters, Magnus. Now I haven’t read Cassie’s Mortal Instruments series yet, though it is on the list, so most of what happened next I didn’t understand, but I did get to see how hilarious and charismatic Jackson Pearce is in person though, so I knew exactly where we were going after Cassie’s signing (which we were at the end of): Jackson’s signing.

Because we were at the end of Cassie’s line (which stretched a block… outside.. in the Southern heat) we didn’t get to attend the panel on Sibling Rivalry with Jackson Pearce, Robin Benway, and Michelle Zink. We did however get to be first in line (inside, air-conditioned, sitting down) for the signing afterward. And that is where I picked up the book I am now reviewing, Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce.

The story follows a pair of sisters named Scarlett and Rosie and a friend named Silas. The sisters and friend are hunters of creatures called Fenris, which are basically werewolves. They spend their time protecting others from the Fenris by killing them before they hurt someone. Obviously this leads to isolation from the world, desperation to save it, and constant exhaustion from their efforts.

The first thing I need to say about this book is that it is amazing. It has just the right mix of action and romance and lore to keep people from very different demographics all locked in on the story. It takes from the story “Little Red Riding Hood,” gives it an urban twist, and empowers the women within. The product is an undeniably well-written story. It almost reads like a comic book, with the characters feeling like super heroes. It has a good balance between characters as well. There isn’t one of the trio that is the Aquaman to the others’ Superman and Wolverine. Each of the three have their own characteristics that make them powerful as well as their weaknesses that make them rely on their partners.

The action in Sisters Red is perfect. It is descriptive enough that the battles seem real without being too grotesque or gory. The battles seem real, not choreographed or what the author thinks a battle would be like. The tactics and strategy and reliance on reflex and instincts is what gives it a unique and concrete feel. But even more so than the action, the relationships are real. I say relationships and not romance, because it isn’t just about a romantic relationship. This story contains and highlights many relationships, from grandmother to granddaughters, girl to boy, sister to sister, wolf to world, hunter to wolf, hunter to world.

I highly recommend this book as well as Jackson Pearce. If she ever comes near you for a signing, event, festival, or perhaps even fast food, you should definitely meet her. You can find her event information on her website. In keeping with the story, I am giving Sisters Red 4 axes out of 5.

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Think of your favorite food.
Do you have it in mind?
Well, I don’t like it, so you can never eat it again.

Does that make sense? Is it okay for me to tell you that you can’t consume something because of my personal feelings about it? Would it be okay if it were a book you were consuming? The answer should be no, but not everyone sees that yet. For some reason, people still think that banning books is a justifiable activity.

Throughout the history of mankind, there have been instances upon instances of book banning, burning, or censoring to prove without a shadow of doubt that it does not work. Book banners have been vilified, parodied, dismissed, and denounced and yet there are those who still believe that it is worth their time to tell others what is fit for them.

Tell me, book banner, what would you say to a book that contained the following: murder, drinking, repeated use of ‘damn,’ ‘hell,’ and ‘bastard,’ violence, and it vilifies the church. Would you say that it is not appropriate to be read? Would you want to ban it? If so, congratulations you just banned the Bible. Does this prove to you that book banning based on content is wrong? It should.

This is not to say that censoring what children read is a bad thing. By all means, censor what your children read. But there is an important difference in censoring for your family and censoring for the world. There has to be a distinction there. You can tell your child not to read something, but when you tell someone else’s child not to read something, you have crossed the line.
Who are you to tell them what is fit for them? Do you know what they are going through? Maybe they need to read about a suicide survivor because they are battling thoughts of suicide. Maybe they need to read about a drug abuser because they are toying with the idea of taking drugs. Maybe they need to read about a rape survivor because they have been raped and don’t know how to deal with it.

Books save lives. It may sound ridiculous to you, but I guarantee I can explain it to you.

Let’s have pretend time now. Pretend you are 15 years old. Since you were twelve, you have been ritually molested every night by your step-father, who is supposed to be your provider, protector, and all-around life-guide. That equals out to being molested over 1000 times. You don’t understand why it has happened. You don’t know what to do about it. You don’t know who to tell. You don’t think you could even talk about it if you had someone. You see your only option is to bear the burden, to live with the pain. Maybe in three years you can move off to college and get away from it all and pretend it never happened. Of course, maybe in three years when you move off to college you will find that your psyche is so messed up that you can’t maintain a healthy relationship. Maybe you develop a complex where you have a crippling fear of middle-aged men. Maybe you find someone who loves you, but you can’t love them because you are so worried that they will hurt you like your step-father did and you couldn’t bear that so you push them away. Maybe you find yourself so unbelievably swallowed up by your past, your fears, your hate that you decide to kill yourself. Maybe you succeed.

Now what if you were supposed to read Speak in high school? What if some bigot decided you shouldn’t read that because you don’t need to know anything about surviving rape? Maybe if you had read Speak you would have been empowered to change your own circumstance. Maybe you would have gotten to live. Maybe by reading about a survivor, you would have become one. What if that is all it takes? What if all some people need is to know that it is possible? They just need to know that somewhere, someplace, some world, someone survived what they are going through. Someone lived. Even if that person is fictional, that person is there, which means those people who are suffering aren’t alone.

Books save lives. This is a fact. Book banning saves no one nothing. This too, is a fact. Speak loudly, speak many, and speak to those who need it most.

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