“You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into…”
The island of Blessed.
At least, that was how I felt while reading Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. It felt like I was reading something out of The Twilight Zone. I couldn’t get the do-do-do-do theme song of The Twilight out of my head while reading.
And that’s totally in Midwinterblood‘s favor because it comes off as super eerie.
It’s sort of a book of short stories, because Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick consists of seven different stories, with new characters and plot lines for each one. They each have a creepy note to them.
Unlike your typical book of short stories, however, they are tied together through small, but concrete things: people with some variation on two names. A phrase. A plant. A few other small symbols.
And most importantly, they all take place on the island of Blessed, this island that we know from the start of the first story as “mysterious.”
While there are some bits I still found confusing (like the opening paragraphs of the book), this book was satisfying. It was just eerie enough to be interesting, but not so much that I jumped at small noises. And as we move through the stories, we find more and more to tie them together.
And, thankfully, Sedgwick wraps it up to reveal to us how they’re all tied together, for which I was SO GRATEFUL. I think I’d have driven myself crazy if I continued to try to puzzle it out.
To sum up: If you want eerie and mysterious but not outright SCARY, Midwinterblood is a solid choice.(less)
Oh, anthologies… you are so difficult to review. Diverse Energies was an anthology that appealed to me because I usually do...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
Oh, anthologies… you are so difficult to review. Diverse Energies was an anthology that appealed to me because I usually do enjoy dystopian stories, but have been a little burnt out on them and it focused on stories from underrepresented cultures.
But the thing about reviewing anthologies is that I feel differently about all of the stories in them. In this one thought that some were very strong and some seemed very weak. The anthology opened on a strong note with Ellen Oh’s The Last Day, though and with that note in mind, I kept reading even when the stories were a bit weaker. But let’s break it down to the strongest and the weakest points…
Good Girl by Malinda Lo- Lo managed to create a vivid and bleak world in only pages and the allure between Kyle and Nix jumps from the page.
Blue Skies by Cindy Pon- Her main character is so interesting. He does something technically “bad,” but I couldn’t judge him for it. I loved how so much of this story is about just… wistfulness, I guess? That’s not quite the right word, but that’s close to it. Pon’s character wants higher standing, wants blue skies and I loved the ending to the story as well.
Least favorite story:
Freshee’s Frogurt by Daniel H. Wilson- I nearly put the book down and this was the second story. I kept having to remind myself that the first story was strong, and I’m glad I did so as I discovered several stories that I really enjoyed. Freshee’s Frogurt was told like a police interview and seemed so stilted. Perhaps because it’s technically all dialogue, but the voice of the main character in this anthology irritated me beyond measure.
To sum up: A little uneven, but that tends to happen in anthologies. I’d recommend this one if you’re tiring of dystopians. You can get quick doses of the genre this way instead of overwhelming yourself.(less)
Fallon has been given a mission. Her first. She's told to kill one of the king's knights, Xander, and prove her loyal...moreTo be posted on PageTurnersBlog:
Fallon has been given a mission. Her first. She's told to kill one of the king's knights, Xander, and prove her loyalty to the Rebels and the woman who has raised her.
But to Fallon's dismay, when she meets her mark, an unbidden attraction springs up between them. Despite being a knight of the Force, Xander too wonders at what lies Outside. And he's never heard of the Rebels.
So why do they want him dead?
I love a good dystopian and though it's not a novel, the novelette Unveiled definitely fits that criteria. I am so very glad that Page Turners Blog was contacted for a review and that I was lucky enough to be able to read it!
The world that Trisha Wolfe has created is certainly intriguing. It's futuristic, but harkens back to an earlier time simply because the King has commanded it so. Both the history-lover and dystopian drama queen in me loved it.
I also found the characters of both Fallon and Xander to be utterly absorbing. Fallon wants so badly to prove herself and will do almost anything to do so. And Xander is both adorable and gallant, ever the gentlemen. Even when Fallon is doing her damnedest to kill him.
My one quibble is that Xander and Fallon seem to progress from attraction to full-blown relationship status awfully quickly. It only takes a couple of days. I would have liked to see more of development personally. But it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the story.
This novelette is fast-paced and absolutely jam-packed with action, intrigue, twists and turns. In the course of a night, life as Fallon knew it is turned on its ear and she must move forward with new knowledge and responsibilities.
I look forward to reading the upcoming novel set in this world and more of Trisha Wolfe's work. Unveiled was short, but riveting.(less)
Oh essays. I used to loathe you, you know. All that rhetorical analysis that I had to do in AP English back in high school,...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
Oh essays. I used to loathe you, you know. All that rhetorical analysis that I had to do in AP English back in high school, I suppose. But it’s nice to see that we’ve reconciled. Now that I don’t have to get too hung up on you, it’s nice to read the insights that you have to offer.
I couldn’t have asked for a better set of essays on The Hunger Games than this one. They explored such a wonderfully broad set of ideas from reality voyeurism to the American Dream and even to fashion and how it makes us view people.
Each author’s essay is well-crafted and intelligently presented (though I could have done without the constant referral of Katniss as “Kat” in one particular one). But were definitely ones that I liked more than others.
In particular, I’m think of my favorite essay in the collection. It was most decidedly Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s take on the Team Peeta vs. Team Gale debate. Barnes chooses Team Katniss, arguing that the point of these books is not that Katniss needs a man. Though I’m definitely guilty of crying “Team Peeta” before, I thought it was a great point. These are books that would be powerful with or without the romance or love triangle.
The Girl Who Was On Fire will make you think– really think about The Hunger Games beyond the amazing story itself. And if you’re anything like me, it will make you positively itch to reread Suzanne Collins’s amazing trilogy.
Overall rating: 4/5. If you’re looking to explore The Hunger Games more deeply (and why wouldn’t you?) be sure to pick this up.(less)
How to review such a fun anthology...? Let's see. Ah! I know! Story by story!
Sleeping with the Spirit by Laurie Faria Stolarz: Brenda and her parents have moved into a new home after the death of her sister and now a ghost keeps popping up into her dreams. A very cute ghost. It seems strange to call a ghost story adorable, but that's kind of what I felt this one was.
Stupid Perfect World by Scott Westerfeld: In a futuristic world, Kieran and Maria have an assignment for their Scarcity class. They must adopt a condition that existed in the "old days." Kieran has chosen to start sleeping. Maria has stopped regulating her hormones. This story was probably my favorite in the collection, owing to the craziness that Kieran and Maria start to deal with as they get further and further from their ordinary states and Westerfeld's style.
Thinner Than Water by Justine Larbalestier: Jeannie lives in a tourist trap of a village, where the modern world is ignored in favor of the old world. But Jeannie wants to become a doctor and she feels nothing but trapped here, in a world where she isn't even allowed to go to school anymore. She handfasts with Robbie, a boy that she genuinely likes. A boy that she grows to love. A boy that the rest of the village thinks is fey. This story was sad and creepy at the very same time.
Fan Fictions by Gabrielle Zevin: Paige loves to read and spends a great deal of her time in the school library, where she meets Aaron who seems just too good to be true. Aaron's story, when he finally tells Paige, is unbelievable.
Truth? First of all, as an avid fanfiction reader, I loved the title of this one. Second, this story freaked me out the most because it messed with my head when I realized that Paige was not a reliable narrator. I find nothing creepier than a character(maybe?) losing her sanity.
Love Struck by Melissa Marr: I actually bought this is a single story e-book for my Kindle a few months ago and adored it! Love Struck is centered around the myths of Selchies and to be quite honest I hadn't heard of Selchies before reading this. It's also a story about Alana, who is a bit of a commitment-phobe who gradually finds herself falling for the selchie Murrin and is rather terrified of the feelings. I really liked it and it was by Melissa Marr so I am now going to make the horrible pun that it was WICKEDLY LOVELY. (I am groaning with you at that joke, I assure you.)
Overall rating: 4/5. A very enjoyable set of stories. (less)
Well-written as always by Marr... In some ways reminiscent of Wicked Lovely... a supernatural creature (in this case, a selkie) picks a reluctant mate...moreWell-written as always by Marr... In some ways reminiscent of Wicked Lovely... a supernatural creature (in this case, a selkie) picks a reluctant mate. How it differs: they actually fall in love. I cooed over the romance, liked the paranormal (duh) and pretty much dug this story.(less)
I heard about Enthralled because it includes a couple of my favorite authors: Melissa Marr and Jackson Pearce. I’ll admit th...morePosted to Almost Grown-up:
I heard about Enthralled because it includes a couple of my favorite authors: Melissa Marr and Jackson Pearce. I’ll admit that the story that I was most looking forward to was Jackson Pearce’s Things About Love because it takes place in the As You Wish universe, which was a standalone novel and one that I found adorable.
And while I enjoyed Things About Love immensely, I can’t say that it was my favorite story in the collection.
The thing that was really wonderful about this collection is how different all of the pieces are. Sure, they all have the common thread of the paranormal to bind them together, but they’re all so different. Some are adorable. Some are funny. Some are spooky. Some are damn near chilling.
This basically lead to me reading each new piece and going “Okay, this one’s my favorite. No, this one’s my favorite… no, this one…” and so on and so forth.
I thought about it and realized why. Almost every piece was my favorite in different ways.
Overall rating: 4/5. If you’re looking for an anthology to… well… enthrall you, this is it!(less)