Saturday, May 23, 2009

In which Medeia and Aella say goodbye

Dearest Readers,

This is long overdue. For that I apologize.

Firstly, I would like to take the time to make it officially known that we of the Maelstrom are resigning. Handing in our keys and tossing our nametags in the bushes. If that wasn't perfectly clear from the months of review drought that we've put you through, then let me say it a bit louder We're leaving for good. Yes, really and truly this time. I know I know, we've done this before and always come back, but seriously. Leaving. Right now. *sound of door opening and closing* ... *sound of door opening again* Well I do need to finish this post. But I assure you that after this is posted I am never coming back.

Secondly, thank you. Our readers and fellow bloggers were what made the Maelstrom more than just a swirling vortex of bookish craziness for us. So, we wish you all the best of luck in your (made of awesome) future endeavors (and book bloggery, if you're the book blogging type).

Finally, as a parting gift, I have made this (alphabetized) list of every single review we have ever done, including the ones currently in the clutches of our ferocious kraken (just kidding, you can click the link, he won't... suck your face off or anything... no really, do it).

Best wishes from the Whirly Girls,

Medeia & Aella

· Airhead by Meg Cabot [6 out of 7]
· Airman by Eoin Colfer [6 out of 7]
· Blade of Fire by Stuart Hill [7 out of 7!!!]
· Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce [6 out of 7]
· Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer [???]
· Chains by Laurie Halse Andersen [Awesome out of 7]
· Chanda's Wars by Allan Stratton [6.5 out of 7]
· Chasing Windmills by Catherine Ryan Hyde [7 out of 7!!!]
· Cybele's Secret by Juliet Mariller [6.7 out of 7]
· Daughter of Statues by Phil McGrail [5 out of 7]
· Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz [5 out of 7]
· Death by Bikini by Linda Gerber [6.7 out of 7]
· Death by Denim by Linda Gerber [6 out of 7]
· Death by Latte by Linda Gerber [6 out 7]
· Devilish by Maureen Johnson [6 out of 7]
· Dingo by Charles DeLint [4.5 out of 7]
· Dragon's Keep by Janet Lee Carey [5 out of 7]
· Evermore by Alyson Noel [4 out of 7]
· Genesis Alpha by Rune Michaels [6 out of 7]
· Gone by Michael Grant [5.5 out of 7]
· Graceling by Kristin Cashore [6 out of 7]
· Head Games by Mariah Fredericks [5.7 out of 7]
· Heavy Metal and You by Christopher Krovatin [4 out of 7]
· Hero-Type by Barry Lyga [7 out of 7!!!]
· How Not to Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler [6.7 out of 7]
· How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle [7 out of 7!!!]
· I Can't Tell You by Hillary Frank [2 out of 7]
· Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr [6 out of 7]
· Lamplighter by D.M. Cornish [7 out of 7!!!]
· Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer [5 out of 7]
· Little Brother by Cory Doctorow [7 out of 7!!!]
· Lord of Misrule by Rachel Caine [4.5 out of 7]
· Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast [3 out of 7]
· My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgewick [6.7 out of 7]
· Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan [5 out of 7]
· Need by Carrie Jones [3 out of 7]
· Newes From the Dead by Mary Hooper [4.8 out of 7]
· Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner [5.7 out of 7]
· Ophelia by Lisa Klein [6 out of 7]
· Peeled by Joan Bauer [3.5 out of 7]
· Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock [5.7 out of 7]
· Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz [5 out of 7]
· Prom Queen Geeks by Laura Preble [3 out of 7]
· Revelations by Melissa Delacruz [4.5 out of 7]
· Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks [4 out of 7]
· Runemarks by Joanne Harris [1.5 out of 7]
· Secret of the Sands by Rai Aren and Tavius E. [4.5 out of 7]
· Shelter Me by Alex McCauley [3.5 out of 7]
· Siberia by Ann Halam [4 out of 7]
· Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before by David Yoo [5.5 out of 7]
· Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson [6 out of 7]
· Sweet Miss Honeywell's Revenge by Kathryn Reiss [5 out of 7]
· The Alchemyst by Michael Scott [5 out of 7]
· The Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky [3.5 out of 7]
· The Compound by SA Bodeen [6 out of 7]
· The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill [7 out of 7!!!]
· The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgewick [6 out of 7]
· The Humming of Numbers by Joni Sensel [2 out of 7]
· The Hunter's Moon by O. R. Melling [4.5 out of 7]
· The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine by April Lurie [6.5 out of 7]
· The Luxe by Anna Godberson [5.7 out of 7]
· The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart [4.5 out of 7]
· The Red Thread by Roderick Townley [3 out of 7]
· The Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono [6.5 out of 7]
· The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez by Alan Sitomer [5 out of 7]
· The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu [5 out of 7]
· The She by Carol Plum-Ucci [6 out of 7]
· The Taker by J.M. Steele [6.5 out of 7]
· The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima [6 out of 7]
· The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean [6 out of 7]
· The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima [5.5 out of 7]
· Truancy by Isamu Fukui [4.7 out of 7]
· Undone by Brooke Taylor [7 out of 7!!!]
· Unwind by Neal Shusterman [6 out of 7]
· Violet in Private by Melissa Walker [5.5 out of 7]
· Wake by Lisa McMann [4.5 out of 7]
· When We Were Saints by Han Nolan [5.5 out of 7]
· Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Mariller [5.5 out of 7]

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Andersen [6.5 out of 7]

Also, interviews:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wow. It's been quite some time since I have written a review over here. But you all know how life gets. Complicated, busy, and occassionally dragged down by the world-suck. It's the books that suffer. But today, on my birthday, I have had the time to sit down and for once in a long while, update you as to a review. Awesome.

It appears to be a fiesta of Laurie Halse Anderson over here, because the title I most recently devoured was by her as well (Medeia having recently reviewed Wintergirls). And devoured is the most appropriate word.

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom. -- (Summary from Goodreads. Thanks Goodreads!)

I have never read anything by Anderson that I have not loved and was struck especially by Speak when I read it in sixth grade (oh. so long ago), but this book has completely revived why I love her books so much. Isabel's character was a fantastic narrator, with all of the emotions from growing older paired with the severity of her situation and tactfully intertwined. She gave a different view on the Revolution than I have ever read and I was completely caught up in the changing moods of loyalty as she learned about the bigger war surrounding her. But that didn't leave her personal battles unattended. Oh no. My heart was with her every step of the way.

Don't think because it's a historical fiction that it was at all short on action either. There was plenty. Spying and secrets and battles and fires and imprisonment and running away and and and... just so good. I was not bored at any point and I read this entire novel this afternoon.

I also loved how educational it was (EWwwww... Educationalllll. I can hear your thoughts, because I generally share them). But it was kind of refreshing to see the Revolution taken on from a different POV, no more the gung-ho patriot that we've read a million times. There is nothing wrong with the Johnny Tremains of the book world, just that there are soooo.... many.... of them....

So find yourself a copy! It's worth the read and *drum roll please* there is going to be a sequel in 2010!

Celebrating a birthday by books,

Aella Siofra

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Cassie died. Alone. After calling Lia thirty-three times. After Lia refused to answer thirty-three times. She died in a motel room. The papers hint at a drug overdose, but no one has a definitive answer. Lia lies to herself. She's fine. Not broken and sad and stuck like everyone thinks she is or thinks she should be. She lies to the scale, with her belly full of water and quarters in her pockets. The scale lies to her stepmother. 107.00, it says. No reason to worry. Lia's getting better. Don't send her back to that hell, New Seasons, where they stuffed her full of butter. Empty is strong. Why can't she just eat like everyone else? Empty is strong. Just one cupcake would be heaven. Empty is strong. But one cupcake would turn into two and three and four, until she got back to where she started. Empty is strong. Fatuglystupid, must not eat. Empty is strong. Cassie understood.

This book... this is what I was looking for. Something different and engaging and chilling and wonderful. The writing style was beautiful, to say the least, and made the book memorable. This is definitely not one of those books that you forget a week after you've read it. The fact that it was a gorgeously written novel made it seem absolutely creepy. I say creepy in the best way possible here. It just reached right down into me and made me care. I wanted to yell at Lia and make her eat something. I wanted to scream at her mother and father, for just letting her slip away. Most of all, I wanted to give Emma a hug.

6.5 out of 7 pomegranate seeds (ohhhhh... just got the Persephone reference) for Wintergirls.

Wishing the sun would come out,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Some are Graced with dancing, some with weaving, some with story-telling. Not Katsa. Katsa possesses the despicable Grace of killing. To her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, she is a mere tool. The perfect assassin, who can not only kill quickly and quietly but one that can also be paraded in front of his rivals at dinner. Intimidating even in silks and jewels. Not one (or even ten together) of his elite guards can best her in a fight. The only person who comes close to matching her skills is a visiting Lienid prince, Graced with fighting. Po seems to know what she is going to do before she even makes a move. Training with Katsa provides Po with the perfect excuse to stay in the Middluns while he searches for the person who kidnapped his grandfather. And that's how it begins. Katsa's life changes in ways she never expected as she accompanies Po on a journey to investigate this mysterious occurrence.

Katsa's struggle with humanity, trying to prove that she isn't just a monstrous killer, was excellent. The characters were three-dimensional and intriguing. The world that Cashore created had the flavor of other fantasy realms that I've encountered, but was different enough to distinguish itself from the I've-read-this-before abyss that many novels are falling into these days. My only qualm concerning this book was that it was the tiniest bit predictable. Only in a few instances, though. Overall, I liked it very much. I'd like to bestow 6 out of 7 oddly-colored eyes upon Graceling and add that I am looking forward to Kristin Cashore's future exploits in the YA realm.

In need of something chocolate and delicious,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wake by Lisa McMann

Janie, like most 17 year-olds, finds high-school a very hellish place. Unlike most 17 year-olds, she wishes that everyone would just be awake while they're there. I mean, really. All of the dozing students may be just another part of the background for you, but for Janie they're like little whirlpools, devouring her and throwing her into naked-during-the-big-history-presentation nightmares or falling-but-never-hitting-the-ground dreams or sex-with-the-hottest-girl-in-school fantasies.

Needless to say, it's all getting a little old. And inconvenient to say the least. Having to be ultra careful of the streets she drives on (ever since she almost totaled her car for the second time when she was caught in a nightmare) and sleepovers...hah. She tried that once, and after a peek into her friends' disturbing nighttime adventures, she's not thrilled about trying it again. Something she is thrilled about? Her former-druggie neighbor's transformation. It's shocking enough that everyone at school thinks he's a new student. But he's just the same old Cabel...isn't he? His dreams say otherwise...

Wake was... alright....I just could not identify with Janie at all. I mean, her situation is difficult, but the way she lets her mom treat her is just... *throws hands in the air* ugh. And the fact that she is able to hide this dream thing for so long (and that she chooses to tell no one) and thinks that she's the only one to ever have to deal with something like this... The whole Miss Stubin thing really reminded me of what's-her-name in the third Midnighters book.

4.5 out of 7 snickers bars for Wake. And for those who are interested in the sequel, Fade has been released now, too.


P.S. Speaking of dreams, I just finished Volume One of The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Absolutely reeking of awesome! It's one of those "How have I not read this before?" moments.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Twilig-- I mean, Evermore by Alyson Noel

I find it amusing (and disappointing) that so many novels these days just seem very... similar. I am often able to describe whatever it is I'm reading by mixing multiple books together. This one, for example, is sort of a mixed up Twilight without the vampires (or werewolves for that matter) and a distinct Deadly Little Secret flavoring.

Ever, a car accident survivor, is pretty normal. Well, as long as your definition of "pretty normal" includes having the ability to hear the thoughts of those around you and frequently chatting with your 12 year old sister... who is dead. If your definition of normal does not allow for that sort of thing... well 1.) you haven't read as many fantasy/sci fi/mixes of fantasy and sci fi books as I have and 2.) you might (like Ever's high school classmates) label her "freak" instead. But not to worry, Ever does have some friends, namely an attention-seeking goth chick and the generic gay best friend. Yay for stereotypes. So, basically there's this new guy in school (I believe the word smoldering is used more than once) who everyone from the aforementioned generic gay best friend to the aforementioned goth chick seems to be falling in love with. Ever attempts to avoid him, but when she finally makes contact she (stares creepily at him for a few minutes and) notices something strange about him. He is the only person, aside from her dead sister, who lacks the ever present swirling aura that only she can see.

Even the blurb on the back of the book recalls distinct phrases from Twilight. "...she has no idea just who he really is-- or what he is. The only thing she knows is true is that she's falling deeply and helplessly in love with him." *exasperated sigh* Oh, ye gods of YA lit, I'm sure I've begged this favor of you multiple times but could I pretty please have a (fawesometastic) supernatural romance that doesn't stink of every book I've ever read in my life... okay, slight exaggeration there. But honestly, aren't any of you feeling the same way? I just want something different and amazing. Is more awesome too much to ask for?

A mediocre 4 out of 7 for a not-very-impressive novel.

Fanatically following The Logbook of the Ketty Jay,

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ophelia by Lisa Klein

Ophelia starts off as an ugly duckling with a conspiring lout of a father and an older brother that she loves very much but could never dream of being equal with. But her world changes when she comes into the service of Queen Gertrude of Denmark. Suddenly she has her mind full of the deceptions of court and her eyes full of the image of the handsome young Hamlet, heir to the throne.

Her world is turned around when the prince returns her longing and they fall in the purest of loves. But something is rotten in the state of Denmark (I'm sorry. I couldn't help it) Hamlet falls into a melancholy when the king dies and a plot is uncovered. This is the classic story of Hamlet (and then some) through the eyes of Ophelia.

So. Beautiful. I had never bothered to really think of Ophelia in this way and see her as a strong heroine, despite the many times I have read Hamlet. But the writing gave her this incredible character and these fantastic layers. She was such a real narrator, not to mention the brilliant speech in which she relayed her story. It was Shakespeare for n00bs.

The love she described was brilliant. Passionate without being lewd. Young without being immature. I completely admit to crying in this book. It was just. that. well. written.
Here's the downside.

If you don't like Shakespeare, you probably will not like this piece. It has all the tragedy and much of the language. And understanding of Hamlet is not required, glory be, so I can recommend this with confidence to anyone willing to take the chance on a very straightforward tale of love, hatred, deception, evil, and growth. Ophelia is one of my favorite narrators. Maybe in the top 20. Top 15 even. The only part I did not enjoy was the first 20 pages or so. After that, it picked up in a matter of paragraphs.

6 out of 7 rapidly flowing rivers
. Yay Lisa Klein for writing this. So good. A literary work of art.

Checking out this fantastic author,
Aella Siofra