Books

A Book Review of A Step from Heaven

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

A Step from Heaven by An Na

Type: Contemporary, Immigrants, Korean

Basic Plot: Young Ju is a young Korean immigrant that moves to the USA with her family, but life in “heaven” isn’t what Ju was expecting.

Quality

Plot: 3½/5 Above Average: The plot moved at a good pace and had good content, but it could have had more. The characters were dynamic and realistic, and the story and events are believable. I could see this story happening to an actual immigrant family.

Writing Style and Setup: 3½/5 Above Average: The author did a good job in dialogue and style. Since it was from Ju’s perspective, things are sometimes written in how they sound rather than how they are actually said. The only problem I had was that some of the Korean was not pronounced correctly, such as “Uhmma” for “mother” instead of “Ohmma.”

Moral: 2/5 A Good Moral and a Bad One: To be positive, let’s start with the main moral of the novel, which is the good one. One of the main themes in the book is how parents affect their children. Ju’s father’s abusive ways cause her brother to be an angry and rude boy and for Ju to be fearful. Neither child is obedient or loves their father, since his only response is to get angrier, his children move away from him emotionally even less. This moral is good for parents to observe, as they can consider how treating their children may cause their child to be respond in an inappropriate way.

The second, less pushed, moral was unfortunately bad. As a little girl, Ju trust God and prays to him to punish her Dad for being cruel to her family. As Ju gets older, she decides no longer to “wait for God” because she is no longer a child, but to deal with the problem herself. God is no longer mentioned after that, as if Ju has thrown God away and now has found a better solution. Now, when Ju decides to take action rather than cower and do nothing, that was good, because if there is an emergency we should act and not expect God to magically fix the problem, but God is not useless as the author makes him look.

Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: A Step from Heaven is recommendable in quality to people thirteen and older in interest. The story would also appeal to adults, especiall if they are Korean or immigrants.

Moral Content

 

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Some Brief Inappropriate Content: When Ju’s brother is using the bathroom outside, the Korean word for a certain body part is used. Ju’s brother is mentioned to have a blue mark on his bottom.

Violence: 3½/5 Moderate Violence: Ju’s father is abusive. Throughout the book he slaps his wife and children and kicks his children in the stomach. Sometimes it is to the point of bleeding, and once the mother has to go to the hospital. In the end though, the problem is dealt with. Ju prays God will spank her father. A mother smacks her children on the head when they misbehave. It is suggested that Ju’s brother slapped her. Ju hoped her brother doesn’t bump into a wall.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2½/5 Some Swearing: The term for a female dog (though not in that context) is used four times. The “bastard” is misused once. “Damn” and “God” are misused once each.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 3/5 Quite Emotioanl: Jus’s father is abusive to his family. See more in “Violence.” It describes the injuries that Ju’s family has from their father, especially for their mother. Ju lies to her class and teacher that her brother died. A woman actually does die, and a bird dies. A woman has a cut on her hand from a knife and there was blood when it happened. It mentions that sometimes Ju and her brother get hurt sometimes when playing with her father. Ju thinks a woman will eat her, because she thinks she is a witch.

Religious Issues: 1/5 Suggested Issues: God is hinted as being useless throughout the book. Ju’s grandma tells her that if you love God you will go to heaven. A Buddha statue is briefly mentioned. It is said that a boys hair looks like a “devil’s horn.”

Magic: ½/5 Suggested Content: The Korean word for “America” is called “magic” by Ju. Ju thinks a woman looks like a witch. There is mention of something looking like a ghost.

Others: Ju’s father gets drunk and smokes. A woman is said to have hair “short as a boy’s.” There is drinking throughout the book. Ju buys a lottery ticket once.

Overall: 3/5 Teenage Appropriate: I would recommend that this book not be read unless a person is sixteen because of the language and violence.

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Apps

An App Review of Alpaca World HD+

Alpaca World HD+ by Ammonite Studio

Type: Animal, Simulation

Basic Game Setup: You are an alpaca farmer. The goal is to try to unlock as many alpaca fur colors as possible and buy clothes and upgrades for them.

Quality

Game Play: 3/5 Average: Alpaca World HD+ doesn’t really have a main goal to it. You can breed alpacas to find different colors of fur and level up, but there really is no set plot or ultimate goal in the game. The game seems mostly made for relaxation.

Graphics: 3½/5 Above Average: The graphic were plain 3D ones. The colors are bright and solid. Most of the art is simple looking, but not outdated and cheap. The clothing fits the alpacas nicely and usually looks natural.

Music and Sound Effects: 3½/5 Above Average: The music and sound effects are cheerful. There are only three songs, but they are all done nicely.

Overall: 3/5 Average: The game wasn’t super special or horribly done, just not unique or interesting. It is recommendable in interest for children of either gender from seven or eight years old to twelve.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 1/5 Suggestive: One of the clothing items is a bikini top. “Sexy” is used to describe clothes twice. One of the clothing items is a bikini top. One of the clothing items is a miniskirt.

Violence: 1/5 Light Violence: The alpacas can fight so that you can catch other ones. All the alpaca does is rush into the other on or send something on it. There are no signs of injury on the alpaca such as bruises or blood.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 0/5 None

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 0/5 None

Religious Issues: 1/5 Suggestive: In the description for the scarf it is mentioned they can be worn for “religious reasons. There are shoes called “Hermes Shoes,” which are in reference to a false god. The description for one clothing item says “Pearls were once thought to be the tears of the gods…”

Magic: 1/5 Light Reference: There are several “Magical” clothes for “magical” alpacas. One clothing description mentions a wizard. One alpaca attack is a meteor and another one is bullets that look like little blue balls of fire. One of the colors is called “magic mint.”

Others: There is an electric guitar. There are popular culture references in clothing, such as Star Wars helmets and lightsabers,

Overall: 1/5 Child Appropriate: Sadly even in children’s games the world feels like it has to put in its two cents. Besides from the “Sexual and Inappropriate Content” I would rate this completely appropriate, because of it though I would say ten and older.

Books

A Book Review of Northanger Abbey

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Type: Classic

Basic Plot: Catherine is sweet but naïve. Unfortunately she tends to be taken advantage of by others because of this or get herself humiliated. This only gets worse when she visits a friends home and believes that her Gothic novels are coming true.

Quality

Plot: 4/5 Well Done: Northanger Abbey’s plot has a good build up and climax, but unfortunately ends awkwardly. Jane Austen builds of the ideas of the story well and develops the relationships among the characters well also. The plot well shows her moral and has several humorous points to prove it. The only thing in the plot that was not as great as the rest of the book was the last few chapters. At the end of the book her characters are rushed through emotions and romance that seemed a bit out of character and a little cliché. Other than that though, the plot was well done.

Writing Style and Setup: 4/5 Well Done: Northanger Abbey is one of the first novels Jane Austen wrote, so it is shorter than and not as graceful Pride and Prejudice or Emma, but it still has a lot of good things. Clever conversation is on of the main building blocks of the way Jane Austen writes. Jane Austen did not use a lot of description for places and people, but explained the nature of an area or the character of a person usually through speech. You can very well tell who is vain, innocent, or vulgar just by how they talk as well as the way they view things. Though Jane Austen mainly describes through this, when she does use an actual description it is still well don.

Moral: 4/5 Good Morals: The main moral of Northanger Abbey is to be careful of what influences you, especially books. Throughout the book Jane Austen greatly promotes novels and books for entertainment but shows that a person should choose the right kind of novels and entertainment as well as not read them in excess. Because Catherine reads Gothic novels in excess, she believes she is in a Gothic novel when she visits a friend and humiliates herself. Even though she is horribly humiliated, she learns to forgive herself, move on, and decides to do better next time. This is a good spirit to use when we deal with foolish actions or bad decisions.

Overall: 4/5 Well Done: Northanger Abbey is strongly recommended for quality. The plot, style, and moral are all strongly recommended. I believe that girls ages thirteen or fourteen and older would understand and appreciate it best.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: ½/5 Slight Suggestive: Catherine’s mom tells her before Catherine goes to bath that she should be careful of “violent” men who may force her “away to some remote farmhouse.”

Violence: ½/5 Slightly Suggestive: Catherine wonders if a man has murdered his wife. Catherine thinks about villains in Gothic novels that were murderers and then had “a violent death.”

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 1½/5 Some Utterances: “Lord” is misused seven times. God’s name is taken in vain at least five times. Swearing is never directly put in the book, but a character makes several exclamations that are printed like this “d—-.”

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1½/5 Suggested Content: Catherine wonders if a man has kidnapped his own wife. There is mention of blood, a dagger, and a torture device each once when having a conversation with another about. Catherine likes to read Gothic novels and mentions one with a skeleton. There is mention how Catherine does not sense anything “murderous” or fear “assassins.”

Religious Issues: ½/5 Briefly Mentioned Religious Content: There is mention of a convent, a nun, a clergyman. The home the Tilneys live in is an abbey.

Magic: ½/5 Briefly Mentioned Magic: A book containing Necromancer in its title is mentioned. A man says his mother looks like a “witch.” No magic is done in the book.

Others: A man (who is shown to be antagonistic) says that men often drink at college and should more. There is therefore mention of wine and liquer. It mentions once how Catherine is not anxious of any “drunken gallants.”

Overall: 1 ½/5 Almost All Ages Appropriate: The book is pretty clean and morally recommendable to almost all ages.

This review does not include commentary, forwards, or afterwords any version may have. It does not include the review, the prologue, or epilogue that a special version may have.