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Book Review: Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau is a coming of age novel taking place in Baltimore, Maryland. During the 1970's, fourteen year old Mary Jane is caught in the middle of her family's conservative ideals and the progressive ideals of the Cone family where she is a summer nanny. Mary Jane is a sheltered teen who enjoys cooking with her mother, listening to Broadway Show Tunes, and singing in the church choir. On the first day of work, she is shocked at the mess in the Cone's home and introduces them to home cooked meals and keeping the house clean. In return, Mary Jane gets a front row seat to sex, drugs, and rock & roll. This novel was the selected for the book club I belong to. Again, this is a novel that I likely wouldn't have chosen to read on my own, but I was glad I did. Mary Jane is the first novel I've read by Jessica Anya Blau, and I was impressed with her storytelling.  Touching on race, class, and stereotypes, along with drugs and infidelity, it reminded

Book Review: The Hunter (The Forbidden Game, #1) by L.J. Smith


When Jenny Thorns original plan for her boyfriend Tom's birthday party had to change, she has to scramble to come up with something that will interest every one in their small group. Coming across a store called "More Games", she's not sure she'll be able to find something that will please the entire group. When the store clerk Julian suggests a game in a white, unmarked box, Jenny decides to buy it, and the entire group is in for a huge surprise.
See you at nine . . .
Not sure she heard Julian correctly, Jenny has second thoughts about the game once she gets home. However, she's overruled by the group. Part Jumanji and part Nightmare on Elm Street, the friends are in for the ride of a lifetime. 

I stumbled across The Hunter (The Forbidden Game, #1) by L.J. Smith while I was in high school. Ecstatic that one of my favorite authors had another book out, I immediately bought this book. I loved this book as a teenager and read this book and the other two books in the series multiple times. I was obsessed with it. However, sometime in college, the trilogy was boxed up and put in storage. In my mid-twenties, I moved into my first apartment and had the urge to read the trilogy again, especially the first book in the series. Unfortunately, I forgot what had happened to the books, and I tracked down copies and bought them again. Several years later, my parents found the box of books in storage, and I was reunited with the original books.

L.J. Smith is such a talented reader, that at almost forty years old, I still enjoy reading her books, especially The Forbidden Game trilogy. I recently picked up The Hunter (The Forbidden Game, #1) to reread, and I was not disappointed in the least. In my opinion, I think that tweens and teens today would enjoy it just as much as I did at their age as it has stood the test of time.

What I loved about this book is that it has a lot of the creepy and supernatural factor. It has scenes that remind me of the television shows The X-Files and Grimm. The X-Files was out on television, I believe, when this book was published, but Grimm definitely was not on television at the time. The characters are great too. We have pet loving, mothering Jenny Thorn; artistic Zach, who is cousins with Jenny; athletic, brave Dee; military brat Audrey; lovable, teddy bear Michael; sweet, rich Summer; and arrogant jock Tom.  That's the main characters other than Julian, who I totally had a book crush on when I was a teenager.

The reason I loved the character descriptions was I could clearly picture the way each of them looked in my mind. An example of this was that I had always pictured Zach looking a bit like a young Isaac Hanson from the music group Hanson. Please keep in mind that I originally read this book before the music group Hanson was famous, so I had no idea what he looked like. (And, no, I didn't listen to their music, lol.)

The Hunter (The Forbidden Game, #1) was written in a different era and is much different than YA Books are today, but I definitely think tweens and teens would appreciate it. If you're reading this book as an adult, you definitely need to read all three of the books in the trilogy to appreciate it all. I gave this book five out of five stars.


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