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January's The Blurb

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Rising Voices’ take on all things entertainment  

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Books

What do you get when you combine American history with witty humor? "The Help," a novel by Kathryn Stockett, captures the events of the south during the 1960s while at the same time showing the more personal side of the black maids who worked for many white families. The story focuses on two maids, Minny and Aibileen, and Eugenia Phelan, an up-and-coming journalist who gets her big break by telling the other side of being hired help. This enthralling piece of literature is guaranteed to keep you reading, keep you thrilled and keep you thinking.

— CALEB MOORE, senior, homeschool

Television

"Fear Factor" was a very popular show that ran for six seasons before ending in 2006. It has returned in 2012 and it is just as gruesomely fascinating as it ever was. Contestants face their fears of bugs, snakes, heights and enclosed spaces in a competition for $50,000. The new season has featured, so far, people eating scorpions, laying in a coffin with snakes and climbing a rope ladder that hung from a moving helicopter. The show is gross, creepy and heart-stopping, but it is very difficult to look away from.

— APRIL WINEBARGER, senior, Elizabethtown High School

Music

It seems Andrew McMahon can do no wrong. What began as the ex-Something Corporate front man’s side project has now become a full-time job and with the third studio album released, it’s clear that Jack’s Mannequin is here to stay. With brilliantly written lyrics, powerful vocals and amazing instrumentals, including McMahon’s famous piano playing, the subject matter of "People and Things" doesn’t much differ from the previous albums. It’s all still about life and love, but with McMahon’s cancer now six years into remission there seems to be a more optimistic stance on these subjects. Even the dauntingly titled “Hey Hey (We’re All Gonna Die)” is more about McMahon’s acceptance of the fact that we're indeed all going to die than morbidity. “People and Things” is worth every dime spent and so much more. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

— AUTUMN SANDLIN, senior, Elizabethtown High School

Movies

Expect the impossible once again in Tom Cruise’s latest addition to the action-filled spy series. "Mission Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol" is a great movie for those days when you just want to see some people beat up, but an intricate plot and life-endangering escapades also make this a must-see movie. The gadgets and near-death adventures contrast nicely to Cruise’s signature smile and sardonic humor. All aspects of Mission Impossible IV cater to a new generation of fans. The movie mainly stands alone with only a few elements drawn from previous movies, which is fantastic for new Mission Impossible fans and will encourage them to view the other movies. Overall, "Mission Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol" is an excellent addition to the popular series and an incredible way to spend an afternoon.

— ALEXIS PISCATELLO, senior, homeschool

App

The CBS News app is a free and highly enjoyable way to get the latest national news. When you want, for example, to know what’s next in Afghanistan or Iraq, pull out your smartphone and check out CBS News for their Top News, U.S., World, Politics, SciTech or Health news tabs. If you find an article you like, but you do not have time to read at the moment, you can save it for offline viewing. They also offer videos on national issues, weather and social networking.

 — MICKEY THOMPSON, junior, homeschool