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…but the Charybdis looked at me forlornly (as much as a blog can look forlorn), and I just couldn’t resist. I have honestly read a million books, but whenever I try to do that massive review post something inevitably interrupts me. I think it’s one of those unwritten laws…like the one where you finally run out of patience and buy the book that you’ve been waiting for the library to get for AGES and the next week (as you are waiting nail-bitingly for the shipment to come) the book appears on the shelf.

So this isn’t the huge post that I’ve been promising, but instead a review of a book that we got over the summer and never got around to reviewing. Basically, there’s this girl, Shelby, who’s part of the “Queen Geek Society” with her friends, who are all geeks evidently. One has a crazy tattoo (apparently that makes you a geek now), an “artful goth poetess”, a math-lete, and a computer nerd from Australia. They’re getting together to host an alterna-prom (Which is a cool idea IF it’s all clandestine and secret-like) BUT *cue dramatic music* the non-geeks at school don’t like that the “Geek Prom” is actually competing with the real prom in popularity. O M G.

For starters: really. Can you say stereotype?I know I can. And I did. Frequently. Secondly: really. Can you say cliche? The book is a mix of “omgsupergeekpromawesome! lykomgmyboyfriendwantsmetogototherealpromwhatdoido? waitthere’sanewgirlwho’sgonnareplacemeWHAT? andIhazarobotmaidcuzmydadsamadscientistguy”. It then proceeds to degenerate into the old “I have to be in two places at once”. Like we’ve never read/seen/heard that one before. Prom Queen Geeks, I award thee with 3 neon green Converses out of 7.

~Medeia

I knew right from the first chapter that this was going to be my eerie-fest of the month. I mean honestly, the story starts with… well. You’ll just have to find out.

Tomas and Peter are humble woodcutters, burying themselves in the woodlands outside of Chust, a small town hemmed in by the darkness of the great forest. They share everything in the sparse area, except for the past behind one secret. A long wooden box belonging to Tomas. Peter is never allowed to look within his father’s box, but as strange occurences herald the coming of the winter, the contents prove more important than he ever could have known. A man of Chust is slain… and then another… and then another. In horribly gruesome ways. But no one will acknowledge it as a terrible magic until the coming of the gypsies. Peter and an enigmatic, alluring Gypsy girl enter into several long deep nights of terror and discovery in a story of vampires, night queens, and deep winter.

 

I LURVE a good scary book. Personal favorite is Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Anyway, ze town librarian recommended I pick up this slim Sedgwick volume and take it for a ride in the days before Halloween, to usher in the fool spookiness of the season. And I did. And it was awesome. I’ve never read any Sedgwick books before, but his writing style was beautiful and full of incredible descriptions of the night. Plus, he did some incredible research into vampire legends in the bleak landscapes of Eastern Europe. And what could possibly be more awesome than zombie-esque vampires? Other than zombie-esque werewolves of course.

 

The writing style was detached, but you still felt for the characters. Reading it like a classic fairy tale, if not an incredibly dark one. I cannot recommend My Swordhand is Singing for people weak in the knees, weak at heart, or at all unnerved by bloody death scenes. I was just a little jumpy after tucking in *cough* two in the morning *cough* after the conclusion. But. Completely and totally worth it. I might have even cried a little at the end.

Definitely a recommendation, although I kind of have the feeling this is the sort of book you love or hate. Just make sure you have time to read it all in one night. Preferably while not alone in the Transylvanian forest. 6.7 out of 7 Epic Magical Swords! Plus. Awesome cover.

 

Inter-Library Loaning Every Other Sedgwick book I can find,

Aella Siofra

I am one of those irrational people who sees a book by a young author and immediately wants to read it. Amelia Atwater-Rhoades in all her incredible. Christopher Paolini during the hype of the initial release. Flavia Bujor and my short-lived obsession with her story the Prophecy of the Stones (that sequel has been 4 years in coming). You get the picture. So, of course, when I read that Isamu Fukui was only 17 years old, I commandeered the library copy of Truancy as soon as I was possibly able. The cover art didn’t hurt much either. I’m a sucker for brooding colors and silhouettes.

Tack is a victim of the system. Just another kid going to school within the confines of the experimental City. His main concerns have to do with increasingly difficult exams, the usual brutality and unjust actions of teachers, and his mysterious new friend from the abandoned District 19. But there are far more sinister things happening in the City. A group of school-hating, gun-slinging, ex-students have gathered one banner of Truancy and pose a challenge to the safety of the city’s adults and Enforcers. The despot Mayor will stop at nothing to put an end to the uprising and keep it a secret from the people of the City. And how better to challenge the Truancy than to threaten the welfare of the very thing they are trying to change- the school children. A new No-Tolerancy policy is put in place and the changes begin. But nothing seems all too real to Tack until his sister dies as an innocent in the underground conflict. Near mad with grief and anger, he breaks loose from all he has known and turns to Truancy.

I had heard a lot of negative reviews on this book. Too violent. Too young. Too ill thought out. But I really didn’t think it was that bad. I actually enjoyed it. I don’t claim to be an expert on books, but I’m glad that I wasn’t put off by all the grumpiness circulating about it.

The characters were almost type cast, but managed for the kind of slam-bang dystopia audience that this book will appeal to.  The plot was interesting and the dialogue quick. The action was constant, but with sufficient background. My only shared complaint with much that remains of the blogosphere was in the violence. There was a lot of it. Some scenes were definitely not for the weak of stomach or easily disturbed. Hardly Lord of the Flies, but little frolicking was attended to in the course of events. Still, I was intrigued for the outcome and only moderately disappointed at the violence.

Not a deep book, but a promising start. Rumor murmurs of a prequel sort of publication buzzing about that I would like to get my hands on. 4.7 out of 7 Ninja-Like Assistants. Decent.

Not skipping school- merely putting off homework by reviewing,

Aella

Perdido Beach was a normal neighborhood until the day when it became the Fallout Alley Youth Zone (FAYZ). All the teenagers and adults have mysteriously disappeared into thin air, leaving the city to those 14 years old and under. Bullies are taking control. Strange anomalies are popping up in nature, even in the kids themselves. Food is running out. And there’s no way out, until your 15th birthday.

The madness of Perdido doesn’t sit well with Sam, the quiet hero type. But he finds allies in his friend Quinn and an age-long crush, Astrid. They’ll prove more important than ever before when a new leader shows up in town. Caine and his crew of prep school kids are smart, controlling, and with a very deep secret behind their goals of “unity”. Sam must begin to solve the mysteries behind the nuclear center, a nameless darkness, and even his own history before Perdido Beach is well and truly lost.

This book felt a little bit like young X-Men on radioactive crack. From the first few pages I was drawn into the story and completely interested in the characters. Michael Grant juggled two story lines that would eventually intersect and managed to make them both as interesting as the other. Usually, when that happens, I care about one character and their trials more than the other’s and skim the bothersome parts. And when the powers started surfacing, it got really exciting. I have always been especially fond of superpower stories. Plus, dystopia = made of awesome. Honestly.

Sadly, with a plot like that, Gone sometimes felt a little formula. I predicted a few of the plot twists that I wish had been more difficult to see coming and the bullies were completely stereotype. Which may have been to prove a point, so I was not exceptionally bothered by it. Another thing that kind of put me out was the Sam was fictional. *sigh* Just like Marquis Shevraeth, Jacob, George Cooper, Prosper, Bobby Pendragon, Draco Malfoy… *rambles for several hours*

All the same, it was a very fun and solid read, well worth the 558 pages. I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel. 5.5 out of 7 leaking nuclear plants for Gone.

Mourning Professor Xavier,

Aella Siofra

PS: I thought that the UK cover for this was infinitely more awesome? Am I alone in this? Medeia, any thoughts?

PS2: If you don’t know who Shevraeth is than go read Crown Duel. Poseidon commands it. Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith.

okay okay, I realize that the price of one is free… but I’ve read a bunch of books lately that I meant to review and I don’t want to drag it out and make three different posts for them, hence the three-in-one deal.

First is Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky.

This is a book about sex. And not the in the usual way where there’s a killer plotline and sex is woven into it either to add drama or as an integral part of the story. Well, there is a plotline but I would hardly call it a killer one.

It’s the story of Dominique, the barely-been-kissed high school senior and her first love. The two quickly progress from IM-ing all night to fooling around in the back of Wes’ car. Long story short: they go to prom, have sex afterwards, etc etc then go off to different colleges. Now here’s the part of the book where I thought there would be major drama and cheating boyfriends getting caught when the girlfriend pays a surprise visit or something. But there isn’t. There isn’t anything really, just Dom and Wes growing apart and another conveniently placed boy thrown in towards the end that you can tell is going to hook up with her right after she and Wes break up. So, yeah, the lack of anything but various descriptions of them screwing around made this book kind of unimpressive. I don’t know about you, but I like my characters to have some personality. Anatomy of a Boyfriend gets 3.5 undressed Ken dolls out of 7.

Next up: Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz.

Have you ever wanted to break into a haunted mental hospital and film a movie in it? I’m going to assume that your response is “Hell yeah!” because that’s what I would say. Well, not really. I tend to go for abandoned amusement parks, personally.

Derik and his ragtag band of “actors”(I use that term very loosely) break into Danvers State Mental Hospital the night before it is due to be torn down. I did mention the place is haunted, right? So they run around seeing loads of creepy stuff. Like a doll hanging from a noose, singing a creepy song. And that’s just the beginning. Soon they get sucked right up into the fate of one of the hospital’s ghosts.

I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that this book was a cool one. All of the characters are really… real. They all have their own reasons for going along with Derik’s plan, and often misjudge each other’s motivations. Which is awesome because I hate flat characters. Okay, so 5 out of 7 on that one.

Almost done, guys. Wow, when I started, I didn’t think the post would be so long… ah well. I’ll keep the last one short, I promise. It’s for Marked by Kristin and P.C. Cast.

Pretty much your run-of-the-mill vamp story. Girl gets turned into a vampire, has to go to vampire academy, falls in love with super hot vamp boy, has to defeat leader of evil vampire chicks who summons ghosties on Halloween. Nothing really amazing here. It just felt like a bunch of books I’ve read before smooshed into one.

3 out of 7 glasses of wine spiked with vampire blood. Yummy…

So there you have it. Believe it or not, I still have more books to review, but I didn’t want to overload anyone. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, after all. Expect more reviews later this week. Of better books, too…

~Medeia~

My brothers loved heavy metal. I used to sit up in my bed until 2:00 in the morning, listening to barely coherent words and an unholy abusive sound of guitars stream through the floor over my head. I used to count down from 100 and see if the neighbors called within that time span. And when I was older, they passed on those midnight albums to me. This book made me feel compelled to go through them again and I was astonished by how many I had that were mentioned in the pages of Heavy Metal and You. But at the same time, I really wasn’t surprised at all. Anyway. We should probably move on from unwanted anecdotes of Aella’s life. Sorry ’bout that.

Sam is so head over heels for Melissa that he can barely see straight. The only thing he loves more than her is the sheer power and release of his metal music. And Melissa wants to know more about metal so she can connect with Sam. How perfect is that? Not very. Not when Melissa begins to poke a little more into that side of his life than she is welcome to. Not when she objects to his friends. Not when she’s more interested in his reformation than him. What is the answer to all of this chaos? Why, music of course.

I thought this book was okay-ish.  It has the hardcore and music edge of Nick and Norah‘s with some of the profanity and less of the awesome. Sam was a good narrator, funny and honest, with clear insight into the subculture of metal. Not for the faint of heart- descriptions of a dark underworld were very frank and in your face. Which was really very cool.

Unfortunately, I found that this was one of those books that actually supports stereotypes while trying to destroy them. Metalheads= violent, lost, frustrated, goth. Goth= all black, emo, lost, metalheads. It was prevalent enough to really affect how much I enjoyed the story, which was a sweet story of sacrifice and love, if a little over-used (boy meets girl. falls in love. girl meets friends. hates friend. boy freaks. fightage occurs). But if the stereotypes in fiction don’t bother you, then go for it. Not a bad book. Just irritating if you let things like that get to you. And, Ireallyreallysuperdidn’tlikeMelissa. There. It’s out.

4 out of 7 demented howling Slayer albums!

OMC! Lyk, Black Sabbath!,

Aella

Ze cover, it is good, no?

Ze cover, it is good, no?

Hellohellohello!! I have returned to the Charybdis with much to tell and much to catch up on. I plan on covering our upcoming contest and experiences from Trinity Library in a post yet to come, but I was so eager to do a few reviews that I’ve put them on the back shelf for the moment. So I’ll be around quite a bit for the next few days.

Nothing is going right for Dylan Fontaine. His mother, a talented artist, just left his family for another man. His father, an obstetrician/gynecologist, is using the hospital as an excuse to ignore the problems at home. His brother, a musician, won’t stop smoking weed long enough to realize that Dylan is having some issues. And his best friend Angie, is on friends only basis. Not to mention, our hero has just been arrested for marijuana that isn’t his and stealing underwear (vedddy embarassing). It’s time for a change. Even from an unexpected direction.

Angie has just finished a summer program on film at a New York college and is participating in a short film festival. Who better to base it on than her best friend, the intriguing and drama besieged Dylan Fontaine? Reluctant at first, Dylan discovers that the film may mean more than 15 minutes in a crowded theatre hall. It may be his one way ticket to himself.

I want to say right off the bat that I loved this book. Dylan’s character is in your face and so honestly conflicted that you feel for him from the first few pages. I wanted to see him discover his latent powers more than anything in the world while reading through this. And the characters around him are just as awesome. They all have unique personalities and different senses of humor. Also, even if the story doesn’t come right out and say it, you know that Dylan’s discovery of himself is helping everyone he’s associated with to do the same.

April Lurie writes with A-level humor. I laughed a lot, not only at Dylan’s hilarious first person narrative, but also at the border-line impossible situations that come his way. His “raging hormones” also provided a great deal of comic relief, while not going over the edge with… icky. The only disappointment was that it every so often felt like Dylan was too passive about his brother’s drug use. I had this secret scenario going on in my head where he jumped in, stole the joints, ran away and dumped them in the harbor. But ah well. C’est la vie, I suppose.

6.5 out of 7 something-or-others. Have we still not decided? Anyway. That’s a nice rating to come back to, either way you look at it.

Rearranging my bookshelves (again),

Eoin Colfer is made of awesome. He is one of those authors whose work you never have to doubt. When I see one of his books with its shiny new cover begging me to pick it up and turn its lovely pages, I never think, “Oh, I hope this won’t be one of those books that looks fantastic and is just… not.” Which makes me happy because books with shiny covers disappoint me all too often. *sighs and rambles for a while about how books with awesome covers should, in themselves, be awesome*

But getting back to Airman. Our hero, Conor Broekhart, has been (literally) flying since birth. He was born on a hot air balloon, and has been obsessed with aircrafts of all sorts since. He is a resourceful and clever youngling (as shown when he rescues Princess Isabella from the king’s tower… which they may have set ablaze in the first place…) and is assigned a tutor, Victor, under whom he learns about aircraft, fencing, and other studies necessary to an illustrious youth. Okay, maybe not necessary but certainly helpful.

However, Conor’s world falls apart when he witnesses the assassination of King Nicholas, by the devious scoundrel, Bonvilain. Victor and Conor are blamed for the king’s death. Victor is shot by Bonvilain and Conor is sent to Little Saltee, the island prison. Now, Conor has to learn to survive the daily beatings, poor conditions, lack of air and sunlight, etc. Oh, and he needs to find a way to escape, too. What kind of story would it be if our protagonist rotted away in a cold, dank cell? How is he going to escape? Well, maybe, just maybe, looking at the title of the novel would give you a hint ;).

Eoin Colfer never disappoints. His characters were solid and the adventure was exciting. The two year time skip was a necessary evil (I mean, who wants to hear about two years in prison?) and very appropriately placed. I actually liked this book better than the newest Artemis Fowl, to tell you the truth. 6 out of 7 balloons full of fireworks for this one [insert explode-y noises and such here].

~Medeia~

Now, I have been told (by many people) that Maureen Johnson is a fabulous author and threatened (by one person in particular) with heavy exposure to Swedish techno if I did not read at least one of her books. Swedish techno is actually fun to listen to… in small doses. More than that might melt your brain. Seeing as I like my brain in its non-puddinglike state, I snagged the nearest one, which happened to be (as you can probably guess from the title of this post) Suite Scarlett.

Scarlett Martin’s family owns and lives in a hotel. The Hopewell has fallen on hard times and while it may not have a plethora of Egyptian cotton towels or toilets that function 100% of the time, it has what is called “the personal touch”. Meaning, that the Martins can no longer afford to hire staff and the only people around who will work for free are Scarlett and her siblings. Following family tradition, Scarlett is given the key to the Empire Suite and the responsibility of its upkeep. Due to the family’s financial troubles, Scarlett has to drop her plans of getting a summer job in favor of working at the hotel… but her plans are saved in an entirely unexpected way by Mrs. Amberson, a former actress turned writer/director/agent, who moves into the Empire Suite and offers Scarlett the chance to be her assistant. As this position pays $500 a week, she snaps up the opportunity and quickly gets to work.

This mainly consists of fetching exotic delicacies and helping Mrs. Amberson write her novel…. uuuntil Scarlett’s brother Spencer gets involved in a local “Broadway” production. The cast is evicted from the parking garage where they’ve been practicing and where do they choose to stage the rehearsals? The basement of the Hopewell, of course. Things quickly pick up and between Mrs. Amberson’s meddling in the production of the play, and Scarlett’s maybe-boyfriend-maybe-not (who also happens to be Spencer’s friend and in the cast of the play) events around the hotel quickly get tangled. And once everything starts to fall down around their ears, Scarlett has to take charge and show that she’s good for more than delivering organic Japanese plums.

I found Suite Scarlett to be a fun and funny book. It was cute and I loved the interaction between the family members. They seemed very real and atypical and interesting. Very different than what I had thought a book about a hotel would be like… much more entertaining. And if you happened to be looking for a book to take to the beach I’d recommend this one. Not that I read it at the beach, but it seems like that’d be a good place to do so. 6 out of 7 … wailing mermaids?… that sounds good, let’s go with that.

The dictionary defines a hero as:

“a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal”

Kevin Ross (Kross, to his friends) never thought that his name and the words “model” or “ideal” would be used in the same sentence, much less actually being seen as either of those things, but when he saves the mayor’s daughter Leah from a grisly end at the hands of a serial killer things begin to change. Kross attends ceremonies in his honor (with reluctance), gives speeches about his heroics (with difficulty), accepts the key to the city (with fake excitement), and gets a great deal on his very own car (with real excitement). However, things soon start spiraling out of control when Kross tosses some magnets (those “support the troops” ribbon things) into the trash. Suddenly, he has gone from the “town hero” to an ungrateful soldier-hater. Interesting how that works…

This book displays many different facets of awesome. From the funny and entertaining pranks of the Council of Fools (the circle of Kross’s best friends) to the debates about things that most people never give a thought to. As well as Kevin’s dark secrets and inner battle about whether he really deserves to be called a hero.

Needless to say, I loved it. All of the plot twistyness and owning the narrow-minded in fantastic verbal duels and bitter little ironies made it a wonderful read. Even comparable to Little Brother in its awesomeness (which Aella reviewed, once upon a time). I’m not exactly sure when Hero-Type comes out…but when it does, go buy it. Yes, I said buy. Seeing as I only have space for one shelf of books (and whatever I can pack into the various untrodden corners of my home) books have to be amazingfantasticwonderfulsplendidmagnificent before I’ll actually buy them. And I don’t just recommend books for buy-age lightly.

And I’d love to get some thoughts on this one: What makes a hero?

P.S. 7 out of 7… somethings…. not exactly sure what we’re giving books these days