Saturday, April 26, 2008

*sings* It's the end of the world as we know it

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer is a story about a normal girl with normal high-school problems. Well, not really, but that's how it starts. Miranda has a lot to deal with (*ominously* or so she thinks...). She has to convince her mother to let her take up ice-skating again, the sport that she loves. Her Dad wants her to be the godmother of his second wife's baby. She tries not to let her two best friends (Sammi who has a new boyfriend every week and the disturbingly god-obsessed Megan) drive her crazy. On top of that, she has to bring up her failing math grades. All while listening to the repetitive ravings about the meteor that will hit the moon in a short time. It's all anyone can talk about, and frankly, Miranda is sick of it.

However, this event quickly transforms from the harmless, tell-your-grandchildren moment to a disaster. The meteor hits the moon, but in the process, knocks it closer to Earth. This sets up for tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanoes world wide with no end in sight. Everything has become complete chaos. Gas prices skyrocket to around $12 a gallon (if you can get it at all). Food is scarce and soon the temperature starts to drop drastically. Miranda and her family soon learn that to survive they have to work together and put family above all else. Even then, they might not make it through...

I have to say, even though I don't usually go for the diary-style of writing I found this book really easy to get into. It was written very well and actually affected me. When I had to put it down to eat lunch, I got to the table and thought "woah, we have food". It even got to the point that I felt really cold. As in, it was 80 outside and I was sitting in my living room covered in a blanket, reading this book.

All in all, I give Life as We Knew It a 5 out of 7.

From the Shadows,

Friday, April 25, 2008

Chanda's Wars by Allan Stratton

A more serious review from the Maelstrom for a more serious novel. After reading Mr. Stratton's book I have gained a precious insight into the trials of a nation and time torn by poverty and internal abuses.

Six months have passed since the untimely death of Chanda’s mother. Alone, but for a misfit group of friends on her street, she must raise her siblings (aged 5 and 6). All the same, motherhood is a difficult occupation and it isn’t long until she must run to the family that once betrayed her when she had need of them most. But there are more dangers out in the bush than relational dystrophy. Rwanda is split down the middle by a horrific civil war. When the cruel general Mandiki kidnaps Chanda’s brother and sister, she must summon all of her bravery and courage to save them from a horrific life as child soldiers in the rebel army.

Chanda’s Wars was written with a great deal of passion. And truly, that is the only way to write a novel dealing with such enormous (and real) issues. While not among the best-written books I have ever read, the story it tells is important enough that it should be read to educate if not to entertain. Some scenes of graphic violence (many involving children) may be found disturbing. But the ultimate redemption of this novel was in Chanda. This character is unforgettable in her strength and drive and her simple, bold understanding of complex matters is inspiring.

I bestow 6.5 lightnings on this novel and encourage you to find and read it at the earliest convenience.

Somewhat Subdued but Inspired,

*Aella Siofra*

*Edit- It appears that there is a book preceding this in Chanda's story, known as Chanda's Secrets. I was not aware of its existence when reading the sequel and believe anyone to be fully capable of reading Chanda's Wars without first reading Secrets. Sorry for any inconvenience.*Aella*

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The She by Carol Plum-Ucci

I first picked up this book because it looked creepy. Even the title foretold shudders. And who doesn't want to read a good suspense novel when they're sick? But, once again, Carol Plum-Ucci surprised me with her mind bending approach and multi-layered plot.

Evan is just getting over the death of his parents and beginning to push the mysterious occurrences surrounding the event to the back of his mind. And his big brother (now guardian) is helping. Eight years of repressing memories and avoiding belief in a sea man's superstition known only as "The She". But one school project has the power to change all that. When Evan must help a mean girl of the first degree he discovers that they might have more in common than he'd thought and that there might be more to the disappearance of his parents than anyone had ever dared admit.

This book was written with suspense and a great deal of emotion. By the core of the story I felt that I was relating very well to nearly all of the characters and could focus on the twisting plot. And the ultimate mystery at the end was simply the perfect conclusion (but shhh... I can't tell you anymore). My one complaint with the novel came near the end with a plot event that didn't really feel necessary or all that pertinent to the bigger action going on at the time.

6 out of 7 lightnings. BANG ZAP KACHING! And a resounding cheer for the first MySpace review from the Whirlwinds. (*Note* This review was first published a few days ago on the new Maelstrom myspace page)

Studying up on sea superstitions (there certainly are alot of them),


Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Wizard Heir

Seeing as Aella is recovering from a disease that is fondly known as The Plague, I'm reviewing a book. Said book is called the Wizard Heir (sequel to the Warrior Heir, which Aella reviewed a while ago... *scrolls through numerous pages* a really long time ago) by Cinda Williams Chima.

Seph grows up, well, kind of all over the place. Canada, Europe, you get the picture. It's not that Seph and schools don't get along... ok, yes it is. He occasionally (by which I mean quite frequently) has outbursts of a strange and often devastating nature. Yes, Seph is a wizard, big surprise. When he accidentally burns down a local hangout, his guardian (mysterious unknown type of guardian) has to call in the lawyers to get Seph off the hook. Seph is then sent to a private school in Maine.

At first everything seems ok, until Seph notices that all of the students are terrified of the headmaster, Gregory Leicester. The no-eye-contact-ever-do-what-you're-told-without-complaint kind of terrified. When Seph refuses to join a secret cult of Alumni led by the headmaster, he learns why everyone lives in a state of perpetual fear.

The first part of the novel was great. The creepy, everything-is-out-of-my-control eeriness is fawesome (reminded me of Raven's Gate, kind of), but once that feeling was gone I lost interest a little. Just a little. All around it was a wonderful book, and I give it 5.5 out of 7 lightnings *thunder crashes*

{Imagine magnificent flashing lightning graphic here, it's done I swear... I just have to configure it for blog usage}

From the Shadows,

~Medeia Senka~

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Red Thread by Roderick Townley

Dana has terrible nightmares. Dark dreams of tombs, betrayal, and a sneering man. Her only release from a constant terror of sleep is photographing everything in sight, even if her artistic talent isn't registered on every elitist's scale (*cough* cruel school girl *cough*). And the night is only one of her problems. She also has to deal with a paralyzed brother, a confusing relationship, and a psychotherapist who might need professional help of his own. But then sleep begins to leak into day and visions pursue her from the streets of Portsmouth, New Hampshire to the cobbles of London. People she once knew. Happenings she once was present for. And a murder she might have committed.

I am very sad for this book. The plot and characters had so much potential, but fell short of my expectations. But suspenseful moments peppering the storyline were enough to keep me from putting this novel down. Also there were nagging questions, some of which continued unsolved even after the last page turned. But the protagonist is difficult to like and important plot points are skimmed over with juvenile writing style and inconsistencies. Chase and Dana appear to be friends in the beginning and suddenly they are kissing. Crippled Ben goes from mature and intelligent to not understanding anything in the least. Another great flaw was found in the detail of place. The cities of Portsmouth and London are described by streets and landmarks that make no sense to the casual reader who has not visited the places or seen a map of them (myself included).

Ultimately, I would not recommend this novel unless there was truly nothing of value to read in the general vicinity. 3 out of 7 lightnings for the book that tried and failed on most levels.

Reading Up on Calvinism,
Aella Siofra

Saturday, April 5, 2008

National Poetry Month

An epic challenge! A valiant cause! Seek this link to the ends of the earth and accept thine reward. One of fuzzy feelings and a deep sense of accomplishment!