Shadow Kiss: A Vampire Academy Novel

Shadow Kissby Richelle Mead

So, I’m not really going to describe what’s happened in this novel seeing how it’s book three and so much hinges on what has happened in books one and two.  Just know, the story continues to build.  The Strigoi are becoming a bigger and more puzzling threat that will definitely add to the action and suspense in future installments.  More elements of the special bond between Rose and Lissa will come to light, with some frightening consequences for Rose.  Of course, the relationships (or lack-there-of) between Rose and Dimitri and Lissa and Christian keep things interesting, and adding the element of Adrian, the spoiled royal Moroi who is also a Spirit practicer, has consequences on both relationships.  Plus, there is a HUGE ending…and you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Reaction: When I started the book, I was really excited.  I had been waiting for this for what seemed like forever though it was only a matter of months.  Then, about 200-250 pages in, I started getting impatient and a little annoyed.  There didn’t seem to be much development.  Little things, sure, and now that I have read the whole things I realize how essential many of these little things were to the story as a whole and also how they could potentially be important in the future, but I was beginning to feel like this book was just going to rehash things I already understood–Rose’s devotion to Lissa but the scary consequences of their bond and the fact that Rose may never have her own life; Rose’s frustration over her relationship with Dimitri; Lissa’s need to practice Spirit despite the many negative consequences; etc.  Once I hit page 335, though, it was full throttle to the end.  WOW!  Let me say this, I cried like a little baby with snot and all.  I have become very emotionally invested in these characters, mainly Rose, and she has gone through so much hurt already…but there is so much more to come.  Despite how I was saddened by parts of the end, I was also heartily relieved by other parts and very glad to see the quest that Rose is about to embark upon.  She needs this!  Ok, that’s all I’m going to say, well, except for this: READ IT!

What’s Next: A yet-to-be-named 4th and 5th installment slated to be out in 2009 and 2010, but when specifically, that’s what I want to know!  I guess we will all have to continually check Richelle Mead’s website to find out.

Other Reviews: From another V.A. fan, The Story Siren.

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Cybele Wordle

At our Teen Services meeting yesterday, someone discussed the use of the website Wordle (which she had heard about from one of her sessions at the YA Lit Symposium) for a fun programming idea.  To illustrate Wordle she used my review of Cybele’s Secret.  Here’s the end product:

(Click on the image for a larger view)

My reaction, I didn’t realize I used the word “bit” so much…maybe I need to work on that.

If you want to make your own Wordle tag cloud, check it out here.

Also experimenting with Wordle, Trisha from The Ya Ya Yas.

Cybele's Secret

Cybeles Secretby Juliet Marillier

Paula, the family scholar with dreams of owning her own book-selling business, is travelling with her father to Istanbul to help him obtain an ancient religious artifact called Cybele’s Gift.  While they realize their journey could be dangerous, they have no idea what truly awaits them.  When they arrive in Istanbul, they find that their close friend, and their link to Cybele, has been murdered.  Undeterred, Paula and her father hire the guard Stoyan for extra protection but still seek Cybele, and they are not the only ones.  The dastardly pirate Duarte da Costa Aguiar also has his sights set on Cybele.  Misplaced trust, rumor, and treachery help set in motion a quest for the three, Paula, Stoyan, and Duarte, put upon them by the Otherworld.  Paula is not so unfamiliar with the Otherworld having spent a lot of time their as a child, and while she realizes that she must fulfill her quest she is not so certain why they have been sent on the quest or whether she will be strong enough or wise enough to complete the tasks set before them.

Reaction: Cybele’s Secret was a really enjoyable fantasy read. The setting was richly detailed.  Paula was feisty but flawed.  Stoyan was almost too perfect but I couldn’t help but fall in love with him a bit and I have a soft spot for charming pirates, so of course I loved Duarte.  I thought the first half of the book moved a bit slowly and the second half read like an Indiana Jones movie–steep, rocky climbs, rickety rope bridges, hidden passages, caves with creepy crawlies.  Even the main treasure room had me thinking of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or maybe it was more Pirates of the Carribean.  Either way, it seemed a bit over the top.  While I believe I enjoyed Jena’s story in Wildwood Dancing better than Paula’s, I look forward to reading more from the talented Marillier.  I do believe younger sister Stela needs a story.

Wildwood DancingPreviously, as mentioned: Wildwood Dancing.  Cybele’s Secret is a “companion novel” to Wildwood Dancing because it takes place six years after the first and is set in a completely different location.

Covers!: You know I’m a sucker for a wonderful cover and I LOOOVVVEEEEE the covers to both Cybele’s Secret and Wildwood Dancing.  Beautiful!  The images I found of them do not do them justice–they’re a bit blurry.  Oh, well.  I hope you check them out in person.  Also, this item is going on my Christmas list.

Cybele’s Secret

Cybeles Secretby Juliet Marillier

Paula, the family scholar with dreams of owning her own book-selling business, is travelling with her father to Istanbul to help him obtain an ancient religious artifact called Cybele’s Gift.  While they realize their journey could be dangerous, they have no idea what truly awaits them.  When they arrive in Istanbul, they find that their close friend, and their link to Cybele, has been murdered.  Undeterred, Paula and her father hire the guard Stoyan for extra protection but still seek Cybele, and they are not the only ones.  The dastardly pirate Duarte da Costa Aguiar also has his sights set on Cybele.  Misplaced trust, rumor, and treachery help set in motion a quest for the three, Paula, Stoyan, and Duarte, put upon them by the Otherworld.  Paula is not so unfamiliar with the Otherworld having spent a lot of time their as a child, and while she realizes that she must fulfill her quest she is not so certain why they have been sent on the quest or whether she will be strong enough or wise enough to complete the tasks set before them.

Reaction: Cybele’s Secret was a really enjoyable fantasy read. The setting was richly detailed.  Paula was feisty but flawed.  Stoyan was almost too perfect but I couldn’t help but fall in love with him a bit and I have a soft spot for charming pirates, so of course I loved Duarte.  I thought the first half of the book moved a bit slowly and the second half read like an Indiana Jones movie–steep, rocky climbs, rickety rope bridges, hidden passages, caves with creepy crawlies.  Even the main treasure room had me thinking of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or maybe it was more Pirates of the Carribean.  Either way, it seemed a bit over the top.  While I believe I enjoyed Jena’s story in Wildwood Dancing better than Paula’s, I look forward to reading more from the talented Marillier.  I do believe younger sister Stela needs a story.

Wildwood DancingPreviously, as mentioned: Wildwood Dancing.  Cybele’s Secret is a “companion novel” to Wildwood Dancing because it takes place six years after the first and is set in a completely different location.

Covers!: You know I’m a sucker for a wonderful cover and I LOOOVVVEEEEE the covers to both Cybele’s Secret and Wildwood Dancing.  Beautiful!  The images I found of them do not do them justice–they’re a bit blurry.  Oh, well.  I hope you check them out in person.  Also, this item is going on my Christmas list.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

First: Let’s revisit (from one of my earlier posts) this awesome book trailer…

Now, on to the review:

Adoration of Jenna Foxby Mary E. Pearson

Jenna was in a horrible accident and it has taken her a year to wake up.  Now that she is awake she can’t remember anything.  Her father, a doctor, says it will come back with time but she doesn’t even understand the word time.  How is it that she can recite whole books and every fact about a historical incident but she can’t remember ever having friends?  Something is horribly wrong, Jenna just hasn’t figured it out yet.

Reaction: This is a very hard book to review because I don’t want to give too much away.  What I can say is that The Adoration of Jenna Fox is a very well-written, thought-provoking book that just may make my favorites list for the year.  Jenna’s time is some point in the future, and while many things are different, many things stayed the same.  Pearson’s future world could be 5 years from now, 10 years, 100 years.  The characters and their problems are timeless but shaped by the advanced medical technologies and an over-use of genetic engineering.  Jenna’s central conflict involves her search to understand who she is and her place in the world.  She struggles against her parents’ smothering love and wonders at the choices they have made for her.  She longs for friendships, relationships but is not sure that she deserves them.  While Jenna deals with the issues all of us have faced at some point in time, her situation and what she has become because of the accident make her journey more difficult than any of us could imagine.

Quotes: Here are some of my favorite passages.  They are a bit spoilery.  Read at your own risk.

I sensed that Father thinks I should be impressed.  Maybe even grateful.  But what about my missing heart?  My liver?  I don’t want five hundred billion neural chips.  I want guts. (126)

“What about my soul, Father?  When you were so busy implanting all your neural chips, did you think about that?  Did you snip my soul from my old body, too?  Where did you put it?  Show me!  Where?  Where in all this groundbreaking technology did you insert my soul? (129)

Check it out: Mary E Pearson’s website.  My library’s TeenSpace webpage is quoted.  Woohoo.  Oh, and it’s going to be a movie.  I’ll be very interested to see that one!

Impossible

Impossibleby Nancy Werlin

Lucy Scarborough is looking forward to prom and her first date with the shy Gray Spencer.  She has a pretty dress and the ironic red high tops to go with it.  She’s ready to go.  The only thing marring the beauty of the moment is her mentally ill mother, Miranda.  Lucy lives with her foster parents, Soledad and Leo, because her mother went mad right after Lucy was born.  Often, Miranda disappears to no one knows where but occasionally she shows up and ruins Lucy, Soledad, and Leo’s lives.  Miranda makes an appearance on prom night shouting crazy things and throwing bottles.  Little does Lucy know that this is Miranda’s way of protecting Lucy.  Lucy ends up going to prom and sets in motion a curse that has plagued generations of Scarborough women.  Rejected by the original Scarborough lady, Fenella, the Elfin King cursed all Scarborough women to become pregnant at 17 and go crazy right after their daughters’ births.  The only way to save themselves and their daughters is to break the curse by solving and fulfilling the riddles in the song Scarborough Fair before giving birth.  Lucy luckily finds out about the curse early in her pregnancy when she reads passages of Miranda’s diary which the lucid, pre-baby Miranda left hidden for Lucy to hopefully find.  Though they are skeptical at first, Lucy has the support of her foster parents and her childhood friend Zach.  The four of them are determined to find the solution and save Lucy but will they be able to succeed where so many have failed?

Reaction: Impossible grabbed me and never let me go.  I LOVED it!  First of all, it was wonderfully written.  Werlin definitely has a gift.  She is a National Book Award Finalist so I suppose her writing ability should be no surprise.  Second, I loved how the Elfin King and the curse were the only fantastical elements of the novel, which is so different from many other “faeries are real!” books.  In Impossible, Lucy didn’t suddenly see faeries everywhere or discover an alternative universe.  She and the rest of her family continued about their real lives, going to school, working out, going to work, going to the doctor, etc.  It was reality with a twist not an alternative reality.  Finally, I enjoyed watching Lucy evolve.  She grew from a teenager to a women in about a year.  In fact, I believe Lucy and Zach at the end of the book were more mature than I am now but I suppose that’s what happens when you’re raped, then become pregnant, then realize you are cursed to go mad in a matter of months.

This book is definitely for romantics at heart.  It is a story about the strength of love.  I don’t want to say much more for fear of giving too much away, but the ending definitely hinges on the main characters’ bond.  My only hesitation regarding the novel is the maturity of the romantic relationship.  It works in the context of the novel and I certainly wouldn’t change a thing but it is a relationship that is much, much bigger than what pretty much any teen reading would be experience or have experienced.

Check it out: Nancy Werlin’s website which lists all of her books.