Tuesday, January 29, 2013


By Alex Flinn

Bewitching can be a beast… Once I put a curse on a beastly and arrogant high school boy. That one turned out all right. Others didn’t. I go to a new school now—one where no one knows that I should have graduated long ago. I’m not still here because I’m stupid; I just don’t age. You see, I’m immortal. And I pretty much know everything after hundreds of years—except for when to take my powers and butt out.

I want to help, but things just go awry in ways I could never predict. Like when I tried to free some children from a gingerbread house and ended up being hanged. After I came back from the dead (immortal remember?) I tried to play matchmaker for a French prince and ended up banished from France forever. And that little mermaid I found in the Titanic lifeboat? I don’t even want to think about it.
Now a girl named Emma needs me. I probably shouldn’t get involved, but her gorgeous stepsister is conniving to the core. I think I have just the thing to fix that girl—and it isn’t an enchanted pumpkin. Although you never know what will happen when I start bewitching.

Like Alex Flinn's other books, A Kiss Across Time, and Beastly, I was happy to be reading her fun and unconventional takes on fairy-tales in modern times. And honestly, I think this is my favorite by her thus far for a couple of reasons: It surprised me at the end, and secondly, it didn't have as much hanky-panky as usual; only one scene I can think of actually. Those were the only things that knocked down my liking for her other books. I loved Emma, she was nice, average, and in a lot of pain and hurt that was totally relateable to I think everyone.  The side story of Kendra and her misnomers was fun, and a little sad at times. But the main story went along with Cinderella...of sorts. I loved the twist at the end that I wasn't expecting. Usually Ms. Flinn does what I'm expecting and she pulled a fast one on me that I really appreciated. 

I give it a 3 out of 5 

Jacob T. Marley

By R. William Bennett

“Marley was dead to begin with…”

 These chillingly familiar words begin the classic Christmas tale of remorse and redemption in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Now R. William Bennet rewinds the story and focuses the spotlight on Scrooge’s miserly business partner, Jacob T. Marley, who was allowed to return as a ghost to warn Scrooge away from his ill-fated path. Why was Marley allowed to return? And why hadn’t he been given the same chance as Ebenezer Scrooge?

 Or had he?
This has got to be one of, if not the, best finds of last year. If you love Christmas Carol, you have to read this, just give it a chance. I was intrigued, but figured it would be somebody trying (and failing) to ride the coattails of Dickens. This is not only a great book in it's own respect, but it is a wonderful addition to a much loved Christmas classic that has been told and retold in more ways than I can count. It is the story of Marley, before Scrooge, with Scrooge, and after Scrooge. It gives readers a glimpse into the reasons for Scrooge's fall through Marley's past and mistakes. It takes us readers into the story we all know so well through a different perspective: dead Marley and the ghosts themselves. And most fantastically, we get to see what happens to Scrooge after Tiny Tim proclaims "God bless us, every one!" And what happens to Marley, who you will grow to love. This is a great story that will warm your heart.
I give it a 4 1/2 out of 5

The Odyssey

By Gareth Hinds

 Homer’s classic comes to life in this full color graphic novel by Gareth Hinds.

So this graphic novel is a fun alternative for kids in getting them into the classical greek mythologies. I believe there is another one that is about Beowulf.  I do have some warnings though: it is a graphic novel. If you aren't familiar with them, most of them are like adult primetime, and sometimes a little more...revealing. There are naked men and women, not fully portrayed, but enough to make this girl pretty uncomfortable and itchy for her handy Sharpy to pen in some clothes. There is also a few scenes of gore that were fairly grimace-worthy, but it is a book about war and death and cyclopes and strange creatures. But when Polyphemus bites a dude's head off and the main color on the entire page is red...I get squeemish. So, while this is an alternative to get kids interested, I'd be mighty careful in letting them read it.

I give it a 3 out of 5 because of the graphic nature of this well, graphic novel. But that's sort of like giving demerits to Babe Ruth for hitting a homer...no pun intended.

Sweet Venom

By Tera Lynn Childs

 Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

 Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double though.

 Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they’re triplets, supernatural descendents of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

 These three teenage descendents of Medusa, the once-beautiful Gorgon maligned in myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.
This is one of the books that I got for free on my Kindle Fire and decided it looked interesting. And that's about how my review will be: it was interesting. It wasn't really fantastic, but it was fun to read and had some imaginative takes on the mythology of medusa and her descendents. The biting was cool and a little gross, but I liked how the sisters were portrayed. They were all raised differently and apart, and each of them is very well developed and defined, with the small exception of Greer; she was really stereotypical for me and fake.  Grace and Gretchen were fun. Not hugely in depth, but believable and entertaining to meet and watch. If I find the next books in the library I'd probably pick them up and keep reading if I didn't have anything else fun at the moment.
3 out of 5 Average entertainment

Ender's Game

By Orson Scott Card

 In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in Zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.
Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

This book has literally been on my 'to read' list for at least ten years. I finally got to it around Thanksgiving and was pretty floored by this book. If you haven't heard of it, it won a couple medals and people tend to either love this book or hate it, which is pretty telling that it is a book that gets a lot of discussion. I was pretty surprised at the load of profanity in this book, but it does lend itself to the story and what is going on, not that I'm excusing it, it still bothered me a great deal. It's really hard to see Ender as such a little kid through the whole book, what with his being a super genious and all the kids in this book being smarter than Einstein. I guess that's part of the fantasy, and the eventual horror. I had no clue what was going to happen and was shocked to say the least at some of the 'reveals' at the end of the novel. Holy smokes. It takes quite the story to get me going like that, and Mr. Card outdid himself on that front. It is apparent from the first pages why this book is contriversial, and why it has won so many awards. This is a book about belonging, about growing up, and about society and war. It's about a whole lot of things and anyone who reads it can find something to latch onto. It's pretty amazing. That being said, I had mixed feelings when I read the last pages. I couldn't stop thinking about it, but I was sad as I finished and more than a little disappointed in the future Mr. Card painted. There was hope, but it was bleak throughout, and I had a hard time swallowing it. But, that in itself, is a sign of what superb writing, and touching story he was able to write. And it only took someone twenty years to make this book into a movie...I just found out it's being made into a movie coming out this summer. We'll see how it goes, looks promising when they cast Harrison Ford.

I give it a 4 out of 5 for excellece, even though I felt a slight emotional scaring by the end.

Skullduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire

By Derek Landy

 Skulduggery and Valkyrie are facing a new enemy: Baron Vengeous, who is determined to bring back the terrifying Faceless Ones and is crafting an army of evil to help him. Added to that, Vengeous is about to enlist a new ally (if he can raise it from the dead), the horrible Grotesquery, a very unlikeable monster of legend.  Once Vengeous is on the loose, dead bodies and vampires start showing up all over Ireland. Now pretty much everybody is out to kill Valkyrie, and the daring detective duo faces its biggest challenge yet.

 But what if the greatest threat to Valkyrie is just a little closer to home?
And one of my new favorites does it again. Now, generally speaking, this story plot is much the same as the first book, but differs in execution and sheer hilarity as Skullduggery and Valkyrie try to defeat Baron Vengeous and prevent the rise of the Faceless Ones while battling one grotesque...Grotesquery.  And also, THAT my friend is a vampire.  Let the puns fly and the sarcasm drip as you are launched into yet another adventure/mystery of Skullduggery Pleasant. I just smile thinking about this series.
I give it a 4 out of 5 because I'm in love!
Favorite Quote: (Well, one of them)

“He looked at her. 'In order to finish, I'll have to have defeated six Infected, Dusk, and Vengeous himself.'

Yeah. So?'

The Infected I can manage.'

She frowned. 'And Vengeous? I mean, you can beat him, right?'

Well,' he said, "I can certainly try. And trying is half the battle.'

What's the other half?'

He shrugged. 'Hitting him more times than he hits me.”

Heroes of Olympus 3: The Mark of Athena

By Rick Riordan

In The Son of Neptune, Percy, Hazel, and Frank met in Camp Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Camp Halfblood, and traveled to the land beyond the gods to complete a dangerous quest. The third book in the Heroes of Olympus series will unite them with Jason, Piper, and Leo. But they number only six—who will complete the Prophecy of Seven? The Greek and Roman demigods will have to cooperate in order to defeat the giants released by the Earth Mother, Gaea. Then they will have to sail together to the ancient land to find the Doors of Death. What exactly are the Doors of Death?

What isn't to like about Rick Riordan's books about greek mythology in our present day world?  This next book in the projected 5 book series was just as great as the first two- though I have an unexplainable love for the first book in this series, this book was awesome in its own right. It's all about how the kids are setting out to fufill the new great prophecy. Demigods vs. Gaea, ready go!  I gotta say, while I usually am not a fan of the multi-perspective story telling, it works for this series exceptionally well. I was a little disappointed not to hear much from Jason though. But I loved Annabeth and Percy...little warm fuzzy feelings and girl giggles at their cute love story. And the ending was the most epic wonderfulness and at the same time dreadfulness that he could've done for his fans that enjoy the romantic moments. Sigh. I'm pleased to be waiting for yet another installment. I would be happy to have one of Mr. Riordan's greek mythology spin-offs waiting for me to read every year for the rest of my life.  If you haven't read them, go start with Percy Jackson and the Lightning Theif, then on to Heroes of Olympus.

P.S. If you didn't already know, they are making another movie out of Sea of Monsters that comes out this summer and I pray that it is better than the first one...because honestly as far as books into movies goes, that one was on my most hated list along with the movie of Ella Enchanted. (shudders people...shudders)

I give it a 4 out of 5