Music: Rise by Skillet

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From the rock powerhouse Skillet that brought you musical hits like Monster, Hero, and Comatose, comes the brand new album Rise.

This new album brings to the table a plethora of new sounds and lots of old favorites, so buckle up. Haters gonna hate? Well TOO BAD THEY’RE STILL POPULAR!
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Book: HIVE: Higher Institute for Villainous Education

Wao. Lots of cool stuff crammed in this one book. I liked this book a long time ago because it was one of the first anti-hero books I had encountered. The story was engaging, the characters were likable (while not necessarily grounded in reality), and the dialogue was fun. The gist of it is an orphan named Otto who is abducted to be forcibly trained as a supervillain in a secret facility. The other side of the gist: A lot of the kids don’t want to be there. What do they ultimately learn? You can’t trust anyone.

Spirituality:
There is a buddhist character who believes in his ancestors, but otherwise everyone seems to be complacent about spirituality.

Sex:
There is some flirting, but nothing of a sexual nature.

Language:
I believe there was a few D–ns, and perhaps a H–l. I’m not completely sure exactly how many, more than one, but not more than 4…

Drugs/Drinking:
I am not completely sure, but I think there were a few cocktails. And cigarettes. Come on, these people are supervillains, what did you expect? I also think there might have been mention of drug trading, although I’m not completely sure. (in any case, it was mentioned in passing and not very extensive at all)

Violence:
Why is this section always my favorite? I think my chromosomes are sitting in tiny little bleachers going RAH RAH RAH when I list everything in here. Guns and swords. More guns and swords. Although interestingly enough, neither of them are lethal. Like, at all. How come nobody can kill anyone? But there is a bevvy of broken bones, bruises, painful falls, and pulled muscles. In short, a overdue trip to the gym. I think a guy might get shot. Wait, yes. He gets shot in the shoulder or something. And I think a few guys get shot fatally. (Who are these people, stormtroopers?) Otherwise, I don’t think there’s much else. Oh, and bombs and man-eating plants. That don’t do anything. Yep.

Misc. other harmful elements:
Otto is extremely disrespectful and makes the Prime Minister moon the entire UK. Through hypnotism. As a joke. Also…..EVERYONE’S A VILLAIN! I think the worst part is the children are eventually becoming acclimated to their high school of evil…which seems weird considering they’re prisoners. And pretty much each of these kids are criminals or are related to criminals. Yup.

Decent elements:Did I just say yup at the end of the last two sections? XD nevermind. Heroism (again) is a prominent role, ironically, for each and every one of the characters. And surprisingly the bad guys are very…not bad. Well they’re bad, but they’re made to seem less bad by making them more human with sympatheticness (not a word) and compassion.

Buy H.I.V.E. at Amazon.com!

Rating: 8.5/10.0
I liked this book quite a bit. I think I was 15 when I first read it, and now I’m 18. I still haven’t read to the end of the series due to the fact that I’m very, very cheap and the books are difficult to get in the US. But I’d recommend it for a 14+ due to the language and sometimes deep/subtle/hard-to-read relationship vibes…or whatever. It’s a book that’s got some language and complex relationships. And that’s all I have. Peace.

Books: Mortal Engines

Yet again, another jaw-dropping sci-fi book from me. 😉 You’re welcome. This one is also by Philip Reeve, the author of Larklight, so it’s sure to be awesome. The whole gist of the story is moving cities! Aptly named Traction cities are crawling towns, hamlets, and villages that are frantically devouring other towns that are smaller than they are! It’s a truly amazing story. And it’s all about a boy named Tom upon wherein his life changes when he meets a girl.

Spirituality:
People decided to imitate the romans and make a dead famous person, Quirke, a “God”. The former mayor is on London’s currency, and they have temples to him and everything, but they’re all about as serious about it as scientology followers. The air traders, however, usually are pretty reverent to the “air gods” which they regard with “rub-buddhas-belly-for-luck” kinda reverence, usually accompanied with a few coins at a tiny altar.

Sex:
This was a really good book in that regard. Mostly just mild attraction. With a kiss. And two characters cellibately survival-sleep together (to not die) during a journey.

Language:
I believe there was a D–n, but I think it was around two or three. At least not enough for me to remember. And I don’t believe there were any other words.

Drugs/Drinking:
There’s a couple taverns where people congregate and share a few steins of…whatever they drink in the future. And the main characters are drugged with a sleeping mixture. (Why does anyone care?)

Violence:
I AM STALKER GRIKE. The Stalkers are robotic beings that are constructed from ancient technology and…dead bodies. Yep. They lop off all the extremities, replace them with claws, and encase the whole mess in an armored body. Then they go and kill people. Everywhere. The Stalker are virtually unkillable, and unstoppable. And singlehandedly, Grike the Stalker is responsible for almost all the violence in the book. People are blown apart, drowned, shot, and impaled (not all necessarily by Grike). I think there are a few moments where surgical procedures are carried out, and last moments are quite plentiful.

Misc. other harmful elements:
Lots of people die. And there’s some…I dunno…location-specific hate groups? The Traction Cities hate the guts of the people who live in “static”, or ground settlements.

Decent elements:
Heroism galore! People sacrifice themselves, manners are used, and ladies are defended. Also, includes some mild AWESOME which makes you wanna read it. For instance, excellent plot twists. But that’s all I’ll say.

Buy Mortal Engines on Amazon.com!

Rating: 9.5/10.0

This was an incredible book! It has a great story (if a little sad, but hopeful) and made me cry. I hope you really enjoy it as much as I did.

Music: Eye On It by TobyMac

Huh? Oh Hi. I just love this new album. Eye On It really soars! I’ve been a fan of TobyMac’s since Diverse City, and I have thoroughly enjoyed his sound evolution since then. I’ve noticed a definite trend traveling away from rap, and more into soft rock and pop. But this is no ordinary pop album. Instead, Toby blends his unique voice and soul-strewn lyrics with just a hint of gospel choir attitude to bring a piece of solely individual music.

Spirituality:
As a devout christian artist, TobyMac has interwoven all sorts of spiritual themes into his songs. Most of them detailing his various trials,

Sex:
As per usual, my repertoire includes nothing but clean.

Language:
I…really have nothing to say here. Because he said nothing there. And so I conclude this section.

Drugs/Drinking:
Nope. Just a repeat of the last section.

Violence:
For…a music album? Yeah there’s nothing.

Misc. other harmful elements:
Nothing…again.

Decent elements:
In addition to being centered around God, Toby’s albums always center around hope. This makes it a plus for listeners, as this album has a hard-hitting punch full of uplifting songs about forgiveness, love, and redemption. My personal favorite is Favorite Song. ^____^
Buy Eye On It at Amazon.com!
Rating: 9.8/10.0

Afternote:
As you can see I have implemented my decimal scoring system. Makes it a little more accurate. You’re welcome.

Scoring System

I don’t know if this actually deserves a new post…but okay. I’m changing the scoring system to be 1.0 to 10.0. That means I can score a 9.9 instead of a 10 if there’s a really minor thing I don’t like about a near-perfect film, or a 1.5 to a film that only had a single good quality. It will fluctuate. Anyhoo just wanted to mark the occasion and let you know.

Games: Super Smash Brothers Brawl

Super Smash Brothers Brawl! The pinnacle of wii games! One of the top ever! The BEST!

Spirituality: Huh? This is a fighting game. The story mode in Subspace Emissary is pretty much the only thing that could contain spiritual content, but it doesn’t. 😛

Sex: Quite complicatedly, this game is only as sexualized as you make it. What I mean by that is there’s a in-game camera that lets you survey the battlefield and scope out everything from every angle while the game is paused.  The obvious downside to this is that you can see characters from every angle, like the camera intended. But as long as it isn’t used incorrectly, your great power will carry its responsibility well. There is one curvy character boasting a skintight suit, but you can simply choose not to play as that character, and she won’t appear in battles.

Language: No language here! I don’t think there’s even any euphemisms….

Drugs/Drinking: None of that! I think there might be a few food items you can quaff and munch during fights, but they only consist of things like grapes, ice cream, root beer and…stuff like that! (honestly, there’s dozens of food items, but you can’t really see them unless you use the camera…)

Violence:
Kapow! Fwoosh! Fwip! Flames fly, punches land, and swords clash! This game is all about fighting, and loves it! I thoroughly enjoy it because the violence is realistic enough to not be ridiculous, and non-realistic enough for it to be appropriate for my 6-year-old brother. It’s actually very difficult to explain, so I’ll just post a video. Suffice to say, there’s exploding and punching and slashing smacking, but no character actually physically shows damage. They get knocked over, flash a few times, then get up again. Here’s the official trailer for the game, so everything you see here will be included in the game.

Misc. other harmful elements:
Mild crude humor elements are involved, although they aren’t necessary. It mostly involves the character Wario, resulting in gassy expulsions of….gas. -_____- Yeah. Parents might not like the fact that you can play online, but believe me, it’s much much safer with nintendo than any other system. The only contact the player will have with other players if they choose to play online with them is seeing which character they choose. All the matching of opponents online is done randomly, however, and unless you’ve exchanged your in-game 12 digit friend code with another Brawler, then there’s no way you can be sure of fighting them again. If you exchange friend codes with another person, then you can see their online names and their custom taunts they can make out of text. But otherwise, no real contact. If you can get their friend code, it’s probably okay to brawl them. If you need any more reassurance or have questions about Wi-Fi play, go ahead and ask me! I won’t mind!

Good elements:
There isn’t any speaking in the Subspace Emissary (the story backbone of the game) but such elements like heroism, sacrifice, and AWESOME are displayed. Here’s some awesome:

Buy Super Smash Bros. Brawl on Amazon.com!

Rating:
5/5
Clean fun? Yes please. Multiplayer? Yes please. Tons of unlockables that last nearly two years? On one disc? How much IS this game!? Well, when it first came out, it was $50. Now the prices have dropped to a reasonable price for how consistently it works to around $25 to $40. The game is incredible, and a blast to pick up and play. I’ve been playing it since 2008, so I’ve been brawling for 5 years…O_O but anyhoo, it’s for any type of gamer, young or old. Dad and Mom, sister and brother, there’s a little bit in it for everyone. I highly recommend you buy it for any kid looking for a good game 8 years and up.

Movies: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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IT’S HERE! I’ve waited nearly 4 years for this film, and I have high expectations. I’m a die-hard LotR fan, so I know quite a bit about what there is to know. This review should be pretty exciting….I hope. Thanks for reading, Michelle. And all other readers! Leave a comment if you want!

Spirituality:
The movie doesn’t really have any overbearing spiritual elements or tones, excepting the mention of the Necromancer, which I will mention later.

Sex:
This is Tolkien, people! Not even a trace from this Catholic-inspired work.

Language:
Crude jokes aside, there really aren’t any obscenities offensive to american audiences. Bifur mentions that croquet is a good game…with which he makes a crude joke. XP And Ori boasts, using crude british slang for backside to explain how he’ll beat Smaug the dragon.

Drugs/Drinking:
Drinking! And tons of it! This is a world where ale is a man’s best friend. The Dwarves guzzle numerous tankards of all sorts of wine, beer and ale at Bilbo’s house, but once they leave, simple provisions are all they get. Saruman does mention Radagast’s mind being addled by mushrooms, but any fool can see he means literal mushrooms

Violence:
Wow. Tons…orc heads are decapitated, people are slashed, smashed, banged and bruised. One particularly nasty scene involves an orc decapitating a dwarf (off camera), then holding up his head and tossing it. Then Thorin lops off his arm, squirting blood. We see him later with a spiked prosthetic through his stumped arm. Gandalf slices the Great Goblin’s stomach. (OUCH) And Thorin is smashed in the face with a mallet/hammer/mace. I would rate the violence up there with LotR, and some of the facial makeup is actually way better…scrapes, cuts, bruises…Definitely not for under 13…

Misc. other harmful elements:
The Necromancer. I won’t go extensively into this, but there are things that are not biblically correct. Strictly speaking, they used a taboo word. Namely, Radagast says WITCHCRAFT. That kinda freaked me out a little bit when he said it, because never before had I heard that in a LotR movie. Dispute it or not, I happen to think magic doesn’t exist in the books…I’m not quite sure about the movies, but they seem to be sticking to the same basic principles. I will eventually post something on my extensive views on magic, but for right now, just know that Radagast uses elvish which has power in itself in Middle Earth to draw some sort of dark power out of a hedgehog and heal it. Gandalf’s staff and such has magical seeming raiments and abilities, and there are a few enchanted blades.

Decent elements:So many decent elements! Heroism is displayed everywhere! Each dwarf, wizard, or hobbit eventually stands up courageously to defend themselves and their friends or even be willing to sacrifice their lives in order to help their friends. I love all of them. They’re awesome. So many valuable lessons are spoken, I can’t even list them all. But the themes contained include mercy, courage, fellowship, and loyalty.

Buy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Soundtrack on Amazon.com!

Rating: 5/5
This is one of the best films I’ve ever watched. I don’t say that just because I’m a big fan, (just) but also because I was sincerely wowed by the awesomeness of the film. Definitely 13 and up, though, as the violence is not for the kiddos. Laters!