Tag Archives: political issues

Review: Havenfall by Sara Holland

Havenfall by Sara Holland

Havenfall (Havenfall #1)
Sara Holland
Bloomsbury YA
Published March 3, 2020

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About Havenfall

A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it — at any cost.

Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds — each with their own magic — together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.

For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.

But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe…

My Review

After reading both EVERLESS AND EVERMORE by Sara Holland, I was eager to get back into a world she’d created. HAVENFALL is super different than her previous books in that it takes place in this world, but adds other worlds and magic that are connected to this one through portals.

I liked all the politics between the different groups and the different characters with their own goals and secrets piled on top of those political rifts. It created a sense of complexity and made the world feel bigger.

I guessed some of the plot elements pretty early on, but others were a complete surprise to me, so I felt like it had a good mix of predictability and unpredictability. There were a couple of things I thought should have been clarified sooner– for instance, the shape-shifting race can’t just impersonate anyone. They have a really limited number of specific forms they can take.

Maddie and her allies don’t know this early in the story, though. But when someone behaves very strangely, it never seems to occur to Maddie that the person could have been a shapeshifter in disguise (even though she doesn’t know at that point what the limits of shifting are). It does eventually get explained, but not until much later.

That’s a pretty minor point in the story, though. Overall, I liked Maddie’s character and the way she navigates tricky relationships with the people around her. The ending leaves a lot open for a sequel, so I’m really interested to see what happens next.

I think readers who enjoyed THE IMMORTAL RULES by Julie Kagawa or ANGELFALL by Susan Ee should check out HAVENFALL.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Maddie’s uncle is gay and married to a man from Fiorden.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing and reference to sex. (Maddie hopes to have her first time with a boy she’s in love with.)

Spiritual Content
Characters have magic abilities.

Violent Content
Some descriptions of battle and attacks. Some brief gory descriptions of injuries. One scene shows an enslaved child who has obviously experienced a lot of trauma.

Drug Content
References to teens (and adults) drinkng alcohol.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of HAVENFALL in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Legalizing Marijuana: Promises and Pitfalls by Margaret Goldstein

Legalizing Marijuana: Promises and Pitfalls
Margaret Goldstein
Twenty-First Century Books
Published on November 1, 2016

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Many states and experts have vastly different positions on the use of marijuana. Are the medicinal benefits strong enough to justify legalizing it for treatment of some serious health conditions? Is it safer than already legalized recreational substances like alcohol and tobacco?

In chapters populated with information on the drug’s history, scientific studies, and current laws governing use, this book presents a fairly balanced look at issues surrounding the potential legalization of marijuana. Strong arguments in favor of medicinal use are checked by the reality that currently, scientists in the United States do not enough true scientific data to support the various claims of its effectiveness in treating medical conditions. The text explores law enforcement issues arising in states whose laws conflict with those of the federal government. All in all, it’s an informative resource for someone looking to explore the history, use, and arguments for or against the legalization of marijuana.

My Review
I can be honest, right? We’re all friends here.

So here’s the thing. I’m not a fan of recreational drug use. At all. Before reading this book, I had very little information (or even interest, really) in the debate about whether marijuana should be legalized and, if so, for what purpose and with what restrictions. In the last year or so my family, like many of us, has become more politically active. For us this means researching issues and contacting our representatives about important topics. Reading this book has been part of an endeavor to better understand the issues surrounding the potential legalization of marijuana. I think getting more information is a good idea, and I want to find resources I can pass along with confidence.

Legalizing Marijuana raised a lot of interesting points and questions. There were some arguments I’d heard before and some new ones. I liked having specific facts and statistics—though in some cases I would have liked to have even more data.

For instance, one of the most compelling points the book explores relates to the argument about legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. Right now it’s very difficult for scientists to conduct studies testing the effectiveness of different types of marijuana to treat various types of illnesses because it’s a Schedule I drug. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that it helps vastly and more effectively than other drugs with a wide range of problems. But we don’t have great scientific proof because of how difficult it is to get approval for the studies. I felt like that was an interesting point that added weight to both sides of the argument for and against marijuana for medicinal use. It certainly gives supporters some areas in which political outreach may be helpful, too.

One area where I wished the book included more statistics was in a chapter about recreational use. The argument is that marijuana is safer than tobacco or alcohol in terms of its health risks. It would have made for a more compelling argument to give some specific numbers on alcohol-related car crashes versus marijuana-related car crashes for instance. Give some numbers that show some actual comparisons rather than the vague trust-me-it-is-so type of statement here.

I’m not sure this book changed how I feel about the legalization of marijuana—other than pointing out how lucrative it is for states in terms of tax revenue, which made me suspect we’ll see a greater push toward legalization for financial reasons than we have seen in the past—but I feel better equipped in terms of information on the topic. I’m glad I read it.

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Cultural Elements
This is more about the topic than people, so there aren’t really cultural elements highlighted in the book.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
A blog reader noted the book also contains a photo of a shirtless guy and a young woman, representing the 1960s.

Spiritual Content
Brief reference to a high THC form of marijuana used by some groups who believed it would help them commune with spirits.

Violent Content

Drug Content
Lots of information about what kinds of ways marijuana is used. Not specific how-to type stuff—more like exploring the goals or outcomes of people who use it.

As pointed out by a blog reader, there’s also a photo from the “Reefer Madness” movie.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.