Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Recalling the Jena/Tati conflict of the previous book, it was refreshing to focus on Paula, everyone's favorite scholarly sister. Due to her knowledge of languages and persistence, Paula is permitted to accompany her merchant father to Istanbul, a city full of secrets and danger. The prize is Cybele's Secret- a cult idol for an ancient earth goddess. But there is more to the simple figurine than meets the eye.
Upon arriving in the city, they discover that the previous owner has been brutally murdered. Paula is immediately put under the care of a bodyguard. But even he cannot protect her from pirates, ancient mysteries, and the darkness of the Other Kingdom. She must use her love of knowledge and growing knowledge of love to survive the cult of Cybele.
Okay. Shevraeth moment. As in, I completely and utterly fell in love with the male characters of this book. Stoyan, the bodyguard, was that excellent and almost familiar stoic type while Paula's other interest, a piratey (word?) rogue was fawesome as well. Le swoon. Okay. Recovered.
I loved the progression of the mystery. There were so many elements that I never guessed at and the twists were extremely... uhhh... twisty. And there were alot of them. You'd get settled into the rhythm and then BAM something crazy and unexpected occurred and threw you for one huge fictional loop. Also, the character development was great. Everything fit together. I may have even enjoyed Cybele's Secret more than it's predecessor. All the same, Juliet Marillier's writing is stunning!
6.7 out of 7 evil priestesses! Highly recommended! Plus, there are all sorts of little things in the cover art that correspond to the story. Look for them as you read through.
Hoping for a 3rd Wilwood Dancing story,
Friday, December 26, 2008
Sonia is like our very own Cinderella. She cooks and cleans while her ama watches telenovelas all day. Her papi is the only one who understands Sonia's dream to be the first in her family to graduate high school, but with him always working one of his jobs the only people around are her ama, her drunk of an uncle, and her useless brothers who all insist that familia is everything. When Sonia has had enough of doing absolutely everything for the family and decides to put her studies first, her ama is outraged. Consequently, Sonia is shipped back to Mexico to learn some life lessons from her grandmother.
The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez was engaging and enjoyable. Sonia is one of those characters that you really care about. When Sonia chooses to go back to school despite the strain this decision puts on her already exhausting life, I just wanted to give a "WOOT!"... I'm pretty sure I did, actually. And the chili-eating contest was -- well, you'll see. The only thing that seemed out of place was Sonia's secret romance with Geraldo. It just felt superfluous.
I give The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez 5 out of 7 *crrrracklecracklekaBOOM* lightning bolts.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
In other news:
- I am addicted to Goodreads. Friend us!
- Has anyone heard of the new movie for The Little White Horse? Check out the trailer! What is this madness? It looks beautiful, but has pretty much completely changed from the book. And it's the director of Bridge to Terabithia! w000!
- I sold my soul to Jacob Black all over again. Forgive me, Medeia. *sob*
- Also there is a review under this post that I would love if you checked out!
Ruben feels things that others can’t. Emotions and character, glimpses of events before or even as they occur, even if he is many miles away. So when his sister Rachel is attacked and killed on a lonely moor road, his mind becomes haunted with her last frightened moments and the face of the Dead Man, her murderer. But what is the word of a frightened and grief-stricken gypsy boy to the law?
Ruben and his brother take off to discover the mystery behind their sister’s death by going to the very place where it happened. But the ghost town of Dartmoor isn’t quite ready to tell them everything it knows. The brothers quickly make enemies, discover underlying mysteries, and find friends in unusual ways. And while they remain focused on the goal of retrieving their sister’s body, they find themselves completely wrapped up in the darkness of Dartmoor’s impending future.
"I knew the Dead Man had killed Rachel".
I could hardly stand putting it down without figuring out each development and hoping against all evidence that the brothers could pull it together and honor their sister. The mystery, although developing a little late in the book, was well formulated and believable. Completely suspenseful. This novel completely “plumbed the depths” so to speak of the capability for evil in humans. And it felt so incredibly real.
Unfortunately (I hate that word), there was a lot going against this book for me as well. I understand the use of violence in describing the murder of Rachel and then later as the excitement mounts. But there was a lot. I’m hardly opposed to violence in books, but woahwoahwoah there is a point where enough is enough. The last 50 pages were definitely the most difficult in that respect and I probably would not have finished if I wasn’t so involved in the story by that point. Also, there were a few questions unanswered that are still poking at the edge of my mind.
So, what can I say? If you have difficulty with an intense CSI episode, I would not recommend this for you. But if you are willing to battle through some pretty graphic and striking scenes to get to the redemptive qualities of a totally engrossing read, then I would definitely put this up as an option. 4 out of 7 gypsy caravans for Kevin Brook’s harsh read. Comfortably in the middle of a rating system.
A little stunned,
Thursday, December 18, 2008
- Participating in one of those weekly things. Like Waiting on Wednesdays or Teaser Tuesdays or whatever they are called. I'm awful with names.
- Having a contest sidebar
- Posting more often
- More reader interactive posts. Like this one! But, you know, more fun...
- An author guest blog (I know that a lot of blogs do these so I don't want to seem like a copy cat. But I always enjoy reading them!)
- Being more active on the myspace
- Being more active on other people's blogs. If you want us to read yours, just leave a comment! I lurve new bloggerzzzz...
- Any more posts from our fab Maelstrom meetings?
Hoping for lots of replies,
BS (Blog Script)- That last question solidified my fears that my use of euphemisms has officially mirrored my grandmother's.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Reynard Muldoon, Constance Contraire, The Great Kate Weather Machine, and Sticky (George) Washington. An unlikely foursome to save the world.
Reynie is an orphan with an exceptional mind. So when a newspaper advertises tests for talented children he is gung ho to take them and broaden his opportunities. But he isn’t suspecting the strange form of exams that they are, each having some sort of secret to them, and some with tests within the tests. But he passes, along with three others and is brought into the mysterious world of Mr. Benedict, Number 2, Milligan, and Rhonda.
They have discovered that a local institute is broadcasting mind control waves to the people of the world. But something far worse is on the way. And only such unusually enlightened children as those that form the Mysterious Benedict Society can stop it.
This was a very cute book. Cute illustrations, cute plot, cute characters. But it was still completely enjoyable. I t was almost reminiscent of Series of Unfortunate Events but, you know, cuter. The humor was light and eccentric, often involving minute details that just completed a scene. Most of the funny parts were in the characters themselves. They were unexpectedly odd and felt caffeinated through the entire book. Not to mention creative. And cute. Did I mention they were cute?
So, if not a deep and introspective read to answer all of life’s questions as to life the universe and everything (the answer is 42, by the by) , it was definitely worth the time. Even if it was rather lengthy for its purpose. 4.5 out 7 secret societies for a mysterious society indeed.
Fetching the sequel,
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Serena is quiet and subtly rebelling against her distant, Stepford-esque mother. Kori is the one with the guts and the voice. Serena is convinced that her friend can do absolutely anything, including tempt fate. This is where the list is born- a list of five things that Kori must do to tempt fate. But when something completely unexpected happens and tears the girls apart, it is up to Serena to fulfill the five simple goals of her best friend, all alone.
This was pretty much amazing. I was so excited when it came in to the library that I returned two unread books, JUST to circumvent my current five-books-at-a-time ban *sob* and take it out. I loved the characters from the beginning, their multilayered fexcellence and attitudes. They felt like my friends, just more tragic. Serena was such a familiar person, in that “Wow-this-author-is-freakishly-accurate-when-it-comes-to-writing-real-people” way. Her insecurities were completely believable and you root for her the entire book.
Plus plot. I liked the unexpected intersections of the character’s lives as they work through trauma. Plenty of unexpected “WOAH” moments and bitter surprises along the way. I don't think I've been so invovled in a realistic fiction since Chasing Windmills. And despite the sadness and darkness of the story, there was a great deal of humor involved as well. Snarky and very adolescent, which gave me even more proof that the author has that unique talent where she doesn’t lose her view of teenagerdom along the way to adultdom. Don’t you love that?
So, definitely 7 out of 7 Pearl Jam songs. Highly recommended! Also, don’t forget about the contest. That is the post directly beneath this one. There are six days left!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Either way. Here are the rules of ze contest. Medeia and I have compiled personal mini lists of our top five books that have been reviewed here on Maelstrom or Charybdis since November 23rd of 2007. Not all are double 7s, but looking back we have seen what we truly enjoyed the most. Here's the deal.
1.5. Pick one book from Medeia's list that you would potentially like to win.
2. E-mail us at maelstrombooks (at) gmail (dot) com with your choices or comment with them.
3. Advertiseadvertiseadvertise. We would be greatly honored if you would tell the world about the anniversary contest. For every different place advertised on you will receive an extra tag in the magical fedora of contest-dom, and two tags if it is a legit blog post.
4. Link us proof in comments or in your e-mails. We love to hear about them either way.
5. Have everything in by December 20th, when we will leave it all to the magical fedora of choosing.
- both books of your choice
- mix of music from our uber-fab Maelstrom meetings
- random bookmark I brought back from Ireland
- UK copy of Artemis Fowl from a small, yet fawesome, shop in Killarney
I think that pretty much covers it. Anyway, we hope that you will continue to read us, even though we have ever so inconveniently moved twice now. And with no further ado, welcome back to Maelstrom! 1 year in the posting!
A-contesting we will go,
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Although we are departing from the Maelstrom, we certainly hope you will take the time to see us again. We have moved our ragged wind-blown selves to a mysterious location, which can only be reached by a mysterious link in this mysterious post. We have been planning this for quite some time due to icky legalities with our current name (which also happens to be the name of a minor publishing house that we didn't know existed). And while nothing of any consequence occurred, we wished to avoid conflict. So on this momentous occasion of 8-8-8, we hope that you will follow us and continue to consider us as reading material (haha...play on words...haha...nevermind.) in your precious time. Farewell blogger. Perhaps we shall meet again someday.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Now we come upon Violet as the newest celebrity attendee of Vassar college. She's left modeling behind forever and is in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. But it seems like her glamorous past won't leave her alone. Angela is still calling and leaving persistent messages. A huge campaign (her last) has just been launched. And maybe Violet isn't ready to sink back into the background. But all of that seems unimportant next to her newfound feelings for you-know-who (HA! Spoiler hunters, you have been foiled again!). With a whole new cast of friends and some refreshing scenery, this was my favorite Violet yet. Not the most creative series on the market, but definitely and completely begging to be read.
I continue to loooove how the fabulous Melissa Walker presents her characters and their growth. I wouldn't think it would be able to relate to the beautiful faces that decorate tabloids and Cosmo, but this series has made it completely possible. Violet is likable and surprisingly vulnerable. There are sometimes when you just want to reach through the page and hug her. And as for background characters, they are all perfectly executed. I am especially fond of Kurt, a new addition to the awesome friends that make up Violet's most important fan base.
The new background really spiced up the series for me. This particular book was more introspective and gut-wrenching than the others. Which is definitely okay with me. There was no slam-bang model action, but plenty of intensity on the "home front".
My only complaint was with Violet's relationship with Oliver. I feel like she has been this place before. In book 1 and 2. Just change the name and the setting. Maybe I'm wrong, he just seems so...familiar? Anyway.
Violet in Private is ready and set for sale tomorrow, August 5th. The buzz is true! This is a great series that reaches beyond superficiality and celebrates the face of strong and independent girls everywhere. 5.5 out of 7 lightnings!
Dying for the Fourth Violet,
Friday, August 1, 2008
You might think that a book full of warring kingdoms, magic, fierce battle cries, and crippled children being sent away to foreign lands (and coming back at the head of massive armies, of course) would be made of awesome. Allow me to say that you'd be right.
Blade of Fire an impressive follow-up to The Cry of the Icemark. Who would've thought that it could get any better? Blade of Fire takes place 20 years after Thirrin (with a few of her trusty friends) fought off the continent-conquering Polypontian Empire. Needless to say, Scipio Bellorum didn't take that well. He's returned with his two sons (also brilliant generals) and a burning desire for revenge. Add to this, the fact that Bellorum now knows the Icemark's strengths and weaknesses and there are no more allies to be found without crossing the lands under Polypontian control.
Oh, what is a proud barbarian queen to do? Send her youngest child across the sea to make friends with the fearsome desert-dwellers, obviously. But Thirrin and Oskan didn't count on the interference of a mysteriously powerful witch. Would they ever suspect their darling daughter Medea (when I say darling, I mean reclusive, arrogant, and malicious)? Of course not! Hm, wait... Medea... can create raging storms... sounds vaguely familiar... Who, me? ha ha... how absurd *shifty eyes*.... aaanyways...
This newest adventure in the Icemark chronicles was absolutely fantastic. The battles just get more and more exciting as the story progresses and the characters don't disappoint. And did I mention the battle cries? They're really cool... almost makes you want to stand on a chair and yell them... not that I would do that....
Do I even need to say it?
7 out of 7... in case you couldn't figure that out on your own.
From the Shadows,
Monday, July 28, 2008
A plasma screen television detachs from the ceiling and begins to fall. Emerson lunges to save her sister, a solitary few feet from the shoes of Nikki Howard, the Stark model. Next thing she knows she is waking up in a hospital bed, being abducted by people who seem to have mistaken her for Nikki, and coming to the realization that maybe- just maybe- Emerson Watts is no more.
The main plot twist was very...err...twisty. At least, I didn't see it coming at all. People of greater intelligence and discernment probably will figure it out before I did, but its still a HA! moment. It also opens up space to a whole new level of character interaction that is really hard to find in "realistic-fiction", even though I'm not sure if this really qualifies for that particular genre title.
Hoping that I Haven't,
Friday, July 25, 2008
You know those books that you see all the time and think to yourself in a slightly distracted manner, "Oh, that looks interesting" and then *BAM* out of nowhere you see the shiny new cover of that book that you've been dying to read forever and it jumps off the nearest library shelf into your arms?... Well that might happen to me more often than most people seeing as I practically live at a library... anyways... Genesis Alpha is one of those books. No, not the jumping off shelves kind, but more of the sitting patiently for well deserved attention variety. I swear I've looked past this book at least fifty times before deciding to pick it up and actually... you know... read it. But I'm glad I did.
Jack adores his brother Max. Max is exactly the type of person Jack wants to be when he gets older. He's smart and cool and totally kicks ass at the popular (and addicting) online game called Genesis Alpha. They get together almost every day (Jack in his room afterschool and Max from a computer lab on his college campus) to quest across the land exterminating all kinds of foul beasts and evildoers and such. One day, during the game Max's character kind of freezes up and turns into a statue, something that happens when the person playing just shuts off the game without logging off. A while later, Jack finds out why. Max has been arrested, suspected of brutally murdering a young woman named Karen. Jack's first reaction is one that most of us would have, to assume that it's all been some awful mistake... but... when Jack meets Karen's little sister Rachel (when I say "meets" I mean, finds her in the cat shed hell bent on getting revenge) he starts to question his brother's innocence, and finds clues to what really happened in some...surprising places.
This book was quite short (less than 200 pages *gasp*) but it's brevity didn't seem lacking in any way. I found Genesis Alpha both twisted and gripping. It certainly left me with more questions than answers in a good way (food for thought, not nasty plot holes) and a bit of suspicion of those people who go to the library to use the internet instead of... you know... books. Seriously... some of those laptop users... sitting in their corners... hissing if I get too close (kidding, they haven't done that... yet). As I digest this leftover feeling of paranoia, I give Genesis Alpha a well earned 6 out of 7 lightnings.
From the Shadows,
P.S. I really want to call this book Dark Genesis. Honestly, I've had to backspace over that typo a ridiculous amount of times. And I have no idea why I keep calling it that.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Secret of the Sands introduces us to Mitch and Alex, two archaeologists excavating a site near the Sphinx. Alex quite literally stumbles over what could be the key to lifting the veil on the Sphinx's mysterious origins. She trips over a chest long buried in the sands. When she and Mitch open the chest, they find two strange cylinders inside, made not of stone but a puzzling metal that they find (thanks to Jack and Bob, their lab-dwelling sidekicks) isn't a known element. Inside the cylinders they find scrolls written in an unknown form of glyphs. Alex and Mitch try to decode their findings while attempting to evade the prying eyes of the conniving Professor Dustimaine.
Alternating with the view of the two Egyptologists is the story of Traeus, a King from the time that the metal cylinders were first made. He struggles to maintain peace, keeping his brother and over-ambitious wife from undermining his work, and finishing the Amsara project (a massive monument to their god-lion).
Keeping in mind that this book was written by a pair of debuting authors, I have to say that I found the book entertaining. However, the dialogue felt awkward at times and there were points where the story didn't really hold my attention. It wasn't awful or anything, but it wasn't spectacular either. I think though, that these authors will improve with time and I look forward to reading more from them (maybe the sequel, Destiny of the Sands). I'm giving Secret of the Sands a solid 4.5 out of 7 lightnings.
From the Shadows,
Sunday, July 13, 2008
This is the second novel in D.M. Cornish's Monster Blood Tattoo series (the first is called Foundling). We find our hero, Rossamund (a young man constantly made fun of for possessing a girl's name), beginning his training to become a Lamplighter in the Emperor's service. On one of the training patrols, the division of Lamplighters in training is attacked by a group of monsters in pursuit of a carriage of calendars (women dedicated to fighting monsters). It is during this attack that Rossamund first encounters Threnody, a young wit who has yet to master her newly acquired abilities. The combined efforts of the Lamplighters and calendars prove sufficient to turn back the beasts and the Lamplighters are able to return home. They take Threnody with them, who wishes to become Lamplighter, more an as act of rebellion against her mother than out of a desire to serve the Emperor.
Threnody becomes a companion of Rossamund's, mostly because he is the only one who puts up with her arrogant and condescending nature. Rossamund also encounters friends, old and new, on his adventures. Among them are Sebastipole the leer, Doctor Crispus, Numps, and of course Europe (also known as the Branden Rose). They are some of the only ones who can help him when he starts to experience odd happenings around the barracks. Rossamund takes part in nighttime pig deliveries from the intimidating kitchen mistress to the creepy, attic-dwelling surgeon as well as helping Numps the slightly crazy seltzerman repair lanterns.
Rossamund comes to find that not all men in the Emperor's service are as noble or trustworthy as they ought to be and tries to puzzle out his own opinions on teratology. Dangerous opinions that may lead to his being branded a sedorner (monster-lover *gasp*).
This second installment in the Monster Blood Tattoo series did not disappoint. Though it is a long one (over 600 pages), the book never lagged or wanted for action. Just at the times when I thought it was going tame on me there was a monster ready for battle right around the corner. I loved that some of the characters from the first novel returned and became real before my eyes. This fabulous tale earns the full 7 out of 7 lightnings *zing-kapow-zap, etc.*
From the Shadows,
P. S. Did you know that D.M. Cornish not only wrote this novel, but illustrated it as well? Click here to find out more.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
The world they knew is gone.
Eli's father built the Compound to keep them safe.
Now, they can't get out.
He won't let them.
Eli has everything anyone could wish for. A never ending music collection, a billionaire father, his own personal gym, and a family of virtuosos in their own right. But (excuse the cliche) there is trouble in paradise. Especially the fact that it is all underground. Eli hasn't seen any human being other than his family members for six full years and there are still nine to go until the time lock will release on the doors of the Compound. Even worse, his twin and grandmother were caught "up top" when the nuclear bomb fell. And however much his father tries to deny it, food supplies and morale are getting low.
When Eli finds the laptop, all his pent in doubts come rushing to the surface. Is it possible that there is still a human remnant in the world outside? Is it even possible that there was never any cause for hiding away in the first place? And what of the Supplements, the young children held captive in the mysterious yellow room? Eli can't bring himself to love them, but could never bear using them to further his survival. The choice seems clear, but if he plans on helping anyone, he'll have to surmount his own personal issues and explore the truth behind the deranged mind of the father that has become a madman.
I haven't read such a twisting suspense novel in a long time. Even if it clocks in at 245 pages, there was enough material to confuse and then delight any mystery fan. I was rooting for freedom the entire time, even when the characters seemed ready to give up. And yet, at the same time, I wanted to figure out what was going on in the Compound for real before anyone else (Inner Aella: Don't look on the last page...don't...don't, Outer Aella: B-but, I gotta know *whining*) The ending was exciting enough to cover the interesting events leading up.
My main complaint about this book was in Eli. At times, he was irritating, mean spirited, cowardly, and rebellious. But then again, perhaps that was what made the entire novel so believable. He was a very real character, though I feel this could have been accomplished with a little less emphasis on the protagonist flaws. This was redeemed by the well-thought out plot and intricacies of the characters he interacts with.
It was very difficult for me to believe that SA Bodeen was a first time author and I reallyreallyreally hope that she will write more books. CRACK-ZING-BAM! 6 out of 7 lightnings!
Expect more reviews than ever before in the coming months,
Thursday, July 3, 2008
But all of that fades when she is kidnapped by the last dragon and taken to the island of Dragon's Keep to raise his eggs as a sort of governess. Abused, hated, exhausted, and still cursed, Rosalind begins to see the repercussions of her mother's own personal secrets and the treachery on both sides of the Dragon/Human War.
I had read a negative review of this book a few months ago and was prepared to not enjoy it, which isn't really a great way to go into reading a book. Sure enough, the heroine was cowardly, whiny, and in denial for a good half of the book (granted- she goes through more than I could ever imagine). But I can still see how that would turn off a few readers (understatement). Due to my love of dragons, I read on and began to note huge changes in Rosalind, although they came almost too late. Close to the end, the writing and plot really picked up as well. Still, the writing was really very beautiful from the beginning. It just got more beautiful in progression. It all felt very Fairytale-y-ish and Grimm-esque. And as you might have noticed, I am obsessed with the Grimm-esque.
Taking the above into consideration, I would have to give Dragon's Keep a 5 out of 7 Lightnings. Hesitant Readers Beware, Dragon-o-philes Enjoy!
Hunting For Carey Books I Haven't Read,
P.S. Even if I wasn't particularly fond of this Janet Lee Carey book, I really enjoyed the Beast of Noor! It was exceptionally fawesome. Wenny Has Wings was fabulous as well. OHOH! And she has a blogger account and blog!
Sunday, June 29, 2008
This novel by Mary Hooper tells the tale of Anne Green, a convicted murderess sentenced to hang. Want to hear the twisted part? Anne is found to be alive many hours later (after being declared legally dead) on a doctor's dissection table . The best part? It's based on the true story of Anne Green's hanging in 1650.
While Anne hangs in a state of unconsciousness, completely unaware that she is alive, her life (forgive the cliche) flashes before her eyes. Well, not her entire life, specifically the events leading up to her being accused of infanticide and hearing her family's screams as she met her end (or so she thought) in the hangman's noose. As Anne remains in a place close to death, the doctors have abandoned their original intent and rally to bring her back from the other side. All the while, they stave off attempts by parties of questionable innocence to bring her back to the noose.
I felt that this was an interesting read. I enjoyed the author's take on a 16th century event through Anne's perspective and that of the doctors who revived her. However, I found Anne's character grating at times. She was quite easily swayed and had an inability to hold to her principles even after this trait gets her into trouble of the worst sort. It was out of my usual reading genre, and it really was a decent book. Not exceptional, but a good book nonetheless.
I give Newes From the Dead 4.8 lightnings [insert flashing light and various sounds of a thundery nature here]
From the Shadows,
Friday, June 27, 2008
How To Be Bad
(e. lockhart, sarah mlynoski, lauren myracle)
Mels, Vicks, and Jesse don't really have much in common. Vicks is the rebel with the dyed-black hair, cursing complex, and boyfriend who has just gone off to college and apparently forgotton her (one text. Stay cool). Jesse is an uber-Christian whose mother has just been diagnosed with cancer: breast cancer, after winning a wet tee-shirt contest. Clearly, a punishment from God. Mel is the new rich girl from Canada who nobody really likes. The only things that these girls are sharing? A weekend, a car, a hotel room, Mel's mom's credit card, and the road trip of their lives.
They will visit landmarks (the world's tiniest police station). They will meet a boy (sexy Marco). They will engage in several illegal activities. They'll fight and bond and get attacked by an alligator and learn, each in their own ways, how to be bad. And at the end of it all, they just might be best friends.
This book is a really great read. I was curious about getting my hands on it becasue of the multiple authors: I'm a huge fan of E. Lockhart's, but I had mixed feelings about Sarah Mlynoski's Bras and Broomsticks and I despise chatspeak far too much to have enjoyed Lauren Myracle's TTYL series. The writing here was excellent, though. The voices were distinct, but they blended together nicely. The styles of the three authors meshed very well.
How To Be Bad is very much a character story, and it's an extremely good one. Jesse, Mel, and Vicks were all believable characters with distinct personalities. I loved how none of them were stereotypical, despite any implications given by their immediate labels. Jesse, for instance, is the Christian girl, but she's also the meanest and cattiest of the trio. One of my favorite things about the book was that each of the characters had tons of their own struggles and problems to worry about, but the story continued to center around the girls as a whole, and their journey together.
Also, it was completely hilarious. All three of the authors worked in plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, even within the most tense parts of the story. There was a lot of verbal comedy, but much of the humor was situational as well.
My only complaint about this book? The drawbacks of carrying around a novel entitled How To Be Bad. Why that gets seven questions per day and my "Free Alan Rickman" tee-shirt gets none is beyond me, but it did. Go figure.
Four cups and a half for How to Be Bad!
Hey everyone (Aella again)! I have not received a hint from the fabulous crew, and I'm not sure if this is a glitch or no. Perhaps there will be something on their page? (*whispering* but don't take my word for it). Have a great rest of POP Hiatus!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Princess Ben of Montagne leads a life almost untouched by the difficulties of her land. That is, until her parents are mysteriously assassinated and the neighboring kingdom of Dragonsbett is the most likely aggressor. The princess must suddenly learn a great deal in order to assume the throne, all the while cringing beneath the gaze of the current regent, Queen Sophia. She must survive torturous dance lessons, near starvation, table manner education, and a stressful move to the tallest tower of the palace. It seems hopeless. And then a great mystery is uncovered in the palace. Ben discovers a secret passageway into the wizard's room of the tower and finds herself with a knack for magic and learning spells. But will the abilities to make mud from nothing and call up fire be enough to save her from the scheming and oh-so-full-of-himself Prince Florian of Dragonsbett? And on a base closer to home- are Queen Sophia's intentions honorable or is there more than simply training Ben for reign on her mind?
I have mixed feelings about this particular Murdock creation. The main character was feisty and fun to relate to, but still had some qualities that set her apart from every other feisty and fun to relate to princess we've read about before. She was strong despite her physical appearance and managed to have grace when her country demanded it of her. By the penultimate pages, I really respected Princess Ben, and that is something I don't often say about a character in a book.
The writing was fun and antiquated to match the medieval world that Ben resides in, but drifted into being weighty or even too formal on occasion. So Princess Ben actually read quite a bit like an old Grimm story, rather than a modern young adult novel. And it was familiar as one of those bed-time stories too. You could predict most plot twists, except those concerning the development of the characters. There were some really great surprises to be discovered in that. Especially Queen Sophia.
So- this book teetered on an edge for me. But even after all the things found that frustrated me, I still look back and can say I really enjoyed this novel. Perhaps it was the nostalgia of an old-fashioned fairy tale or maybe the wit. But I found it really interesting and fairly fawesome that Catherine Gilbert Murdock did something so incredibly different when she already has a good reputation for another style of writing. Brave and creative.
5.7 Lightnings out of 7. w00t!
Going on a few days of non-bloggery,
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Jane Jarvis is a genius out of place in St. Theresa's School For Girls. Not that you'd know her brilliance just to look at her. Ever since the horrific end to her relationship with Elton (the perfect boy), Jane has allowed herself to spiral out of control. Now she's accumulating a record as a troublemaker that might harm her chances of getting into a college worthy of her incredible brain. But college is the last thing on her mind when her best friend's sanity is in danger. Ally is a misfit of the highest degree and only serves to aid her descent when she throws up at an annual school event. After that, everything changes.
Ally comes into school with a new haircut, a new attitude, and apparently, new friends. Jane can't be sure of her sudden drop on the importance list until she goes on one fateful train ride. Where Ally and Elton are (insert my reaction here __NOOOOOOOO__) making out. Enter Jane's freshman stalker, who won't stop trying to convince her that Ally's new friend is really a soul stealer of the corporations of Hell. And it isn't long until Jane believes him. She must quite literally deal with the Devil and find a way to save her best friend, and possibly the world, before it is too late.
I really enjoyed this book. And ever since the suggestion of a few people, *cough* Plenty of Paper girls and Reese *cough* I have been completely hooked on everything Maureen Johnson. Even her blog. It seems that Nerdfighter authors hold a certain intrigue for their fellow warriors/minions. Anyway, back to reviewing. Devilish went by too quickly and was full of Miss Johnson's incredible wit and trademark creativity. I loved all of the characters. Even Ally, when she was being a backstabber. Plus, the demon girl was amazingly written. One of those villains you adore hating. The struggles were convincing on both a physical and mental level, sometimes even spiritual.
All the same, I did not enjoy this particular work as much as some of the other Maureen Johnson books I've read. That is the only thing keeping it from the revered 7 rating. But still...
CRASHBANGSLAMWACHING! 6 Lightnings out of 7! And I highly recommend everything else by her as well!
Reading the Bermudez Triangle,
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Click on the link to my personal blog (if you dare) and you'll find a couple of surprises.... The good kind, not the kind where you turn a corner in the library and find a Casper-like boy leering at you.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The story begins with Kae, a little girl who is content to live a quite life near the forests with her parents and her grandfather. Until one day when the crazed king of her land bursts from the horizon and confuses everything she thought she knew.
Suddenly, her grandfather is revealed as a magician who will do anything to protect his secret from the abuses of the king. Kae watches in horror as the trusted man transforms her parents and himself into statues, all the while signaling for her to escape. She runs into the forest and there her adventures begin. She must follow a string of clues and legends to a near-mythical castle on the edge of the sunset, where the secret of her family's liberation is waiting to be discovered. But at what cost?
This novel read very much like an old-fashioned fable (as the cover suggested), with familiar lessons and fantastic creatures. This is accompanied by quaint-ish writing and some fun dialogue. But creative worlds within worlds and challenges separated it from many stories in the fantasy/legend genre. It is obvious that the author put a great deal of work into the many details of his new universe, known as Lanofar. The main character, Kae, is a constant surprise and very well developed. I look forward to reading her further adventures in the next couple of books, which I will be looking out for.
While it is apparent that this self-published author is new to the scene, I expect good things in the future. I think that there is a lot of promise in the story of Kae and I hope that he acts upon it.
I bestow... 5 out of 7 lightnings. KRACHASHAW! Not too shabby.
Glancing Warily at Rocks,
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Marcus/w1n5t0n is one of the decades most promising hackers. Too bad he can't come up with anything more interesting than jamming the school so he can play his favorite game with friends. But that all changes when his beloved city, San Francisco, is attacked by terrorists and Marcus and crew are found in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are rounded up by the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and taken away to a secret headquarters, where they are brutally questioned and their rights are violated. When our hero is once again released into the city, everything has changed. Everyone is a potential terrorist and subject to a loss of privacy. Marcus realizes the power of the DHS as corrupt and must struggle with the complete faith of some citizens as well as the mindless rebellion of others.
Finally putting his skills to good use, Marcus constructs an entire society using a version of an X-Box Live. In the new underground resistance, M1k3y (Marcus) begins to take down the DHS from the inside out. And soon, he has started something that will change all the people involved forever.
Cory Doctorow is a relatively new voice in young adult fiction. And I certainly hope that he continues to write the equivalent of Little Brother. Although, I'm not sure the quality and sheer awesomeness of this book is even reproducible. I COMPLETELY loved it. Allow me to tell you why.
The characters are fantastic and three dimensional, their actions acting complexly together to create a web of coincidence and occurrence. If Joe has a secret, Suzy has a bigger one that could potentially endanger Joe. This novel went head on with split loyalties and double-agents, as well as discerning between righteous anger and adolescent rebellion. The protagonist struggles with basic problems (girls, friends, parents, etc.) while creating a new society, almost single-handedly. Plus, he is humorous and extremely likable (especially because the book is in 1st person).
What to say for the plot? It was one of the most creative and intriguing/intense things I have read in a very long time. It wasn't shy to use the very real fears of today and turn them into a possible future. Think the 1984 of 2008 (Wait? You haven't read 1984? Gogogo!). Mystery and suspense combined with lots of very cool tech-talk, plus a slight bit of romance.
What else to say? I really loved this book. Completely typhonic. I grant 7 out of 7 lightnings! (+ Far too many sound effects to count).
Reading it again *sheepish*
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Recently I had the opportunity to interview Melissa Marr, author of Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange. My comments are in red. *Note* Ignore the weird box thing above, I can't get it to go away. *yells at Blogger... Blogger cowers and promises to be good*
1.) Forgive me for asking the generic interview question, but what got you interested in writing?
2.) I hear that you like tattoos. How many do you have? Are you planning on getting any more? Do you have a favorite tattoo artist?
3.) What does your dream house look like?
4.) Do you own many books? Which ones are your favorites?
Mmm, good idea... wish I owned books with that much history.
5.) If you weren't writing YA fantasy, what would you be doing?
6.) Did you base your characters off of anyone you know?
7.) What was the last book you read? How was it?
In YA, my two most recent reads that I'd put in the favourite list is THE FOREST OF HANDS & TEETH by Carrie Ryan (out in 09) and I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE by Stephanie Kuehnert (out in July). Very different books, but both were ones I'm still raving over. I'm pre-ordering these for friends, & I'm giving away copies of IWBYJR on my blog.
Hmm... *makes mental note to check that out*
8.) I'm sure you've received numerous good reviews. Are there any that particularly stick out in your mind?
9.) What do you do to overcome writer's block?
10.) Tempests, whirlwinds, or typhoons?
11.) So… Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange…. what's next?
Oh yay! I'll have to keep my eye out for those.
It seems we have come to the end of another delightful interview. I would like to thank Ms. Marr for taking the time to answer my questions.
From the Shadows,