Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So this is the new year....

And we bring tidings of great contesterie! Yes, yes the Fiercely Fawesome First Contest has drawn to a close and now we (meaning Aella) have written all of the names on little slips of paper and we (meaning Medeia) put them into the Fedora of Awesome, now subject only to Fate.

Aaaaaaand the winner of this fabulous contest iiiiiiiisssssssss:

What does she win, you ask?
A copy of Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson, Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr, a UK copy of Artemis Fowl, a Maelstrom-irriffic mix of music, and a bookmark Aella brought back from Ireland!!!
So, now we'd like to offer our congratulations to Holly and offer the rest of you fawesome-tastic people our best wishes for the new year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier

I wasn't planning on fixing up a review for this particular book, because it was a sequel/companion story. But it really does deserve a place of its own. I loved Wildwood Dancing the second time through, but adored Cybele's Secret from the first experience of readage.

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,
Aella Siofra

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez by Alan Lawrence Sitomer

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.

Craving salsa,

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Festively Yours

You know, if you celebrate christmas or any holidays that occur now-ish. If you don't... we're working on the contest, so you'll (hopefully) have something to celebrate as well.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

OOH! OOH! Over here!

So we (Medeia and I) have decided to extend the fiercely fawesome first contest to December 25th. We received more entries than we thought we would, but we would like to give the newly holiday vacationed people a chance to get in their two cents. Spread the word, please? We'll toss in an extra entry if you update people on this contest and of course, it would be sooo appreciated.

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!

Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks

Don’t be frightened by the bottom rating. Read on.

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.

Intense. That is the most accurate word to describe this book. I was sucked in right from the very first line:

"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

Suggestions Anyone

So, with the more hectic parts of my year over, I'm hoping to dive right back into blogging. But I'm not sure what the readers want to see. If we have any readers left that is *big eyes*. So are there any suggestions out there? I listed a few of the things I was thinking about below. Check yes or no (awful country song allusion right there):

  • 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?
So those are a few of the things I was pondering. Any ponders of your own? Or comments on the ones I have up there? Or should we just keep trucking along like we have been?

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

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

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

Undone by Brooke Taylor

Serena and Kori have one of those friendships; one of those, you-are-everything-to-me-sisters-forevah kind of friendships. And to think that it started with a chance encounter in the eighth grade in a school bathroom.

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!