Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli neve...moreOutside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth, not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians, but as an artist and leading lady in her own right. Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school's production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary? Sing must work with a mysterious Apprentice as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But he has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there.
Strange Sweet Song is ethereal and mystical, a slow magical tale of magic, wishes, and one girl's desire to sing. But something lurks in the forests and the shadows around her, something that could change everything.
Sing isn't a normal girl, daughter to world-famous musicians. What I noticed most about her was her insecurities. She has some confidence in her ability, yes, but she's trapped in her mother's shadow. She's in a precarious situation in which she wants to sing in the role of Angelique, she desires it above all else, she craves to prove her worth to the world, but it's those inadequacies she feels that weigh her down. It's only until she's pushed by her father and to the side by those around her does her ego appear and she becomes ruthless in her quest. But that part of her is still missing, the honest part of her that will shine when she sings. Without it, she's nothing.
The rotating points of view tell different sides that come together to form the story as a whole. One is the Felix, one is a tale of magic and curiosity in Dunhammond's past, and the last is Sing in the present day. All three worked with each other, revealed secrets and suggested possibilities as the book went on.
Sing heads to the conservatory to spread her wings, metaphorically, in a new place. To sing as she wants, to find a place of her own, to grow. Of course, what she gets beyond that is the competitive setting of a musical academy for gifted people. What she gets is high-stakes, high pressure, divas looking down their noses, and more than a little backstabbing and cattiness.
The book moves at a gentle pace, never rushed, never missing a beat. I was surprised at the slow build in tension considering the mystery and the intrigue. A slow book, yes, but also an enjoyable one. I imagine this will intrigue those with a love of music and a slight gothic quality to their mysteries.(less)
We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for s...moreWe weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper. Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same. So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.
Don't Even Think About It is a quirky, funny, interesting look at possible downside to flu shots. What if after the shot you could read minds? Cool, right? But what if the other twenty people in your homeroom could also read minds? What if it then became impossible to keep secrets from them? What would you do?
The story is told by "we," by all of them, an ensemble cast from Homeroom 10B with a few stand out voices. Olivia. Mackenzie. Cooper. Tess. Pi. Because of the multiple characters, the book becomes multiple glimpses into their lives as their new-found ESP ruins their lives. They get caught up in secrets and truths, hearing what they don't want to hear from friends and family members. It was an interesting way to tell the story. Complicated and busy, but interesting. Everyone's voice was heard. Everyone has moments, quips, quirks, snide comments, and harsh realizations.
Secrets are a curious thing, and often painful when revealed. To the person who isn't supposed to find out. To the people around you who aren't part of the situation. When you're the one keeping it. When you discover those close to you are keeping it from you. Secrets can suck, they can stab deep into the heart of us, and they will always be revealed.
The idea of this book is what initially drew me in: flu shots giving a class of teens psychic abilities. Why not? I thought it was a great idea, very inventive. I was a little surprised at the collective narrator but not put off. I found this book to be very funny, very entertaining, and rather believable in terms of everyone's reaction and subsequent actions. This was my first time reading a book by Sarah Mlynowski, and if they're going to be this fresh and amusing, it won't be my last.(less)
Dusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn't make her life even remotely easy. Whe...moreDusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn't make her life even remotely easy. When one of her mermaid friends is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school's jokester, Lance Rathbone, is accused of the crime, Dusty's as shocked as everybody else. Lance needs Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker, but that's easier asked than done. Eli's dreams are no help, more nightmares than prophecies. To make matters worse, Dusty's ex-boyfriend has just been acquitted of conspiracy and is now back at school, reminding Dusty of why she fell for him in the first place. The Magi Senate needs Dusty to get close to him, to discover his real motives. But this order infuriates Eli, who has started his own campaign for Dusty's heart. As Dusty takes on both cases, she begins to suspect they're connected to something bigger. And there's something very wrong with Eli's dreams, signs that point to a darker plot than they could have ever imagined.
The Nightmare Dilemma is dark and dangerous. Here we have the return of an unlikely detective and her friends investigating the curious and the deadly at their magical boarding school. Unfortunately for me, I felt something was missing from the first book.
This time around, after revealing some secrets and getting tossed around in more ways than one, Dusty is torn between a lot of things. Between getting on with her life post-Marrow, getting back to school, and doing what's asked of her. Between Eli, the other half of her Dream Team, and Paul, her ex-boyfriend who was part of the plot that changed everyone and their magic. Between worrying and not worrying over her mother, whose morals are questionable.
There were times where it felt like the love triangle/romance situation was taking over the mystery. Dusty and Eli are teens with normal teen angst and hormones and emotions, yes, but it just seemed like the romance was taking over, that Dusty was worrying more about how she felt for both Eli and Paul instead of worrying about her classmate's assault, what might happen next, and her nightmares. If she didn't want to deal with Paul, as she sort of doesn't, she could've said no when asked to spy on him.
I sort of miss Dusty from the first book. This Dusty has a huge weight on her shoulders. She's tired, stretched thin, she can't move beyond the image in her nightmares or her feelings for Eli (who avoids her) and Paul (who doesn't want her to avoid him). There's still some spunk, some snark, but not as much, and I'm wondering if that's because things have changed. I didn't necessarily like this one as much as the first, but I'm still curious as to what the next book will bring.(less)
When Morgan's mom gets sick, it's hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one, until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a...moreWhen Morgan's mom gets sick, it's hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one, until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn't as far away as she thought. Now that they have a summer job together, Morgan's getting to know the real Adam and he's actually pretty sweet, in a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She's not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend, and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can't imagine living without.
16 Things I Thought Were True is an honest look at those truths in life that we never see coming, those hard times and sudden surprises that change how we see the world. This is a wake-up call in more ways than one for Morgan, a smack in the face for a girl who has so many assumptions about the world only to have them all shatter at her feet. What Morgan realizes is that the world is far more painful than she realized, but it can also be far more exciting.
Morgan is bitter about some things, self-centered in certain ways. She has flaws, and in a way she knows she's not perfect, but her way of dealing with that seems to be avoidance. And she might as well have her phone permanently glued to her hand with how often she's checking her Twitter follower count. She supplements real life with Twitter, avoiding the skeletons in her closet, but she can't avoid any longer when her mother drops the biggest bombshell ever about her absent father.
In life, there are different kinds of friends. Real life in person friends, online friends, popularity-seeking friends, honest friends, Facebook friends, ex-friends. We all have different kinds, and most have a hand in shaping us as people, but which will be the ones that matter? Which kind of friend will mean the most to Morgan in the end? Which will she grab hold of and never let go? Which will teach her all about what she's been missing?
Reality comes crashing down on Morgan more than once in this book, and it sucks. It's never easy or gentle when it happens, and it's often accompanied by screaming or crying or raging against anything or everything that moves. There are things in life we think are true, things we think we know about people, and when we learn they aren't is when we learn the most.(less)
Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years...moreListen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival. There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition. But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected. Such was Trondheim's fate until Owen Thorskard arrived. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard. Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I alone know the story of Owen, the story that changes everything. Listen!
The Story of Owen is entertaining, unique, and Canadian to the core. The dragons may come flying out of fantasy but this book is very present and relevant in a real world setting, a small down with real and intelligent people trying to protect it, a group of characters that can't help but make you laugh and cry and listen intently to the tales of their heroism.
Owen and Siobhan are both interesting in their own ways, Owen and his dragon slaying, his knowing that he will be a dragon slayer like his parents and his aunt before him, his acceptance and strength, and Siobhan with her understanding, her support, her attitude. It's a curious friendship they have, one that began because of proximity and continued through tutoring and her acceptance to become a bard. To tell the tales of Owen and his dragon slaying.
This story is told in such a compelling way, in a style befitting a bard. I couldn't turn away from this book, it was almost as if I could hear Siobhan recounting the tales of Owen and his father and aunt as she saw them, calling out to the good people of the town and sharing tales of bravery and fortitude. Or about how he was failing algebra and she was brought in to tutor him. Siobhan also provides historical backstories on the dragons, the men and woman that slay them, and the countries that try to protect their people and carbon emissions.
Because of the dragons, history as we know it has been altered, tweaked and played with. Dragons are seamlessly woven into our world until it becomes Siobhan and Owen's world. A world where dragons set barns and houses alight so they can feed off of the charred remains. A world where dragon slayers are recruited to do battle for their country, to face off against sharp teeth and burning flames.
While I knew this would take place in a small town, I didn't expect to get so involved in Trondheim and the politics of dragon slaying in a small town. It lead to the comparison of small towns and large cities, how both are important but the towns are often overlooked because of the needs of the cities. But it doesn't mean those small towns aren't important.
This book is so Canadian when it comes to humour and character, a little easy-going but practical and thoughtful. Almost every Canadian or Southern Ontario reference made me laugh, including the mental image of a dragon flying straight into Toronto during a hockey game. It's certainly an intriguing look at what it's like in a small Canadian town when everyone comes together to protect it, protect their homes. It's so Canadian, with the small-town hero and the people around him, and the one to tell his story (while being involved herself). I want more of this town, more of these characters, and more from this author. What an adventure.(less)
Beaten and left for dead, Tula finds herself abandoned on a remote space station with aliens she must work to understand. One of the aliens, Heckleck,...moreBeaten and left for dead, Tula finds herself abandoned on a remote space station with aliens she must work to understand. One of the aliens, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station. When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula's desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind.
Tin Star is a story of survival and strength. What does it mean to be human? What will it take to survive, to keep on living when you have nothing? In the depths of outer space, on a station filled with different aliens and you're the only human, who will you give your trust to?
Tula was abandoned and beaten by someone she thought she could trust. Now, alone and forgotten, she's left to somehow survive on a space station where she's the only Human, a species that most aliens couldn't care less about. Trapped in a bleak situation, Tula somehow finds the strength to come back, to keep on living when most would give up and waste away. She does what she must over the years, but as much as the aliens on Yertina Feray have helped her to survive, she has one mission she cannot ignore. She must find Brother Blue and kill him for what he did to her.
After spending years on the station without any human contact, with only different aliens and their customs, habits, and rituals, her world tilts once more when Humans appear in her life again. But the differences between them are so distinctive. What does that make Tula? Is she still Human? Or is she more alien now?
For Tula, alone and not cared about, survival is crucial. She doesn't know anyone on the station, she can't find anyone willing to take her back to Earth or to her family for no money. She has nothing. But she's not willing to give up. Perhaps an alien or two help her out in the beginning, but it's her decision to continue on trading and pushing to survive on the lower decks. It's the hidden strength inside her that keeps her alive.
This is such a curious book. The space station was a rather interesting setting, but I never felt trapped or enclosed. Perhaps it was the vast openness of space that the station sits in, slowly orbiting a dead planet. I was so enthralled with Tula's journey, with her sort of coming of age, with her growth as a character. She starts off alone, afraid, and angry. I'm so glad that there will be a second book, but I'm not looking forward to the wait.(less)