Book Review: Sisters Red

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Sisters Red Sisters Red by
Series: Fairytale Retellings #1
Published by in 2010
Genres: , ,
Pages: 328

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

My Review:

Talk about a change of pace after reading Cloaked! Sisters Red is the polar opposite of Cloaked despite both being about fairy tales.

I have heard so many good things about Jackson Pearce. It seems like everywhere I turn there’s another book blogger raving about her books. Honestly, this one had been on my list for a while, just for peer pressure. That said, it did not disappoint.

I think the thing I liked best about this book is the relationship between the sisters. They often describe their own relationship as being 2 halves of the same heart. While poetically this is a great description, I think it is also a great literary device. In a way, each girl is Red Riding Hood, representing different sides of her personality. Pearce uses this to explore the many facets of human nature. The way she writes it, she shows that both personality types can be good – we feel sorry for each in their turn, and at times I honestly couldn’t decide which I believed was right.

I also really liked the turn around take on the story – the hunted (red riding hood) is actually the huntress. It’s almost like this could be the “what comes next” story instead of just a retelling. There are so many layers to this book! Every time I think about it, I discover something else intriguing and amazing. I’m just a little bit speechless when it comes to what I liked about the book. I want to say “I loved ALL OF IT!” but that wouldn’t be a very interesting review now would it? lol

I’m meandering a bit. The point is, if you’re one of the few people who have been living under a rock (like me!) and somehow managed to miss out reading this one, then I’m telling you DO IT NOW! You won’t regret it.

Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society

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The Mysterious Benedict Society The Mysterious Benedict Society by
Series: Mysterious Benedict Society #1
Published by in 2007
Genres: ,
Pages: 492

After Reynie Muldoon responds to an advertisement recruiting "gifted children looking for special opportunities," he finds himself in a world of mystery and adventure. The 11-year-old orphan is one of four children to complete a series of challenging and creative tasks, and he, Kate, Constance, and Sticky become the Mysterious Benedict Society. After being trained by Mr. Benedict and his assistants, the four travel to an isolated school where children are being trained by a criminal mastermind to participate in his schemes to take over the world. The young investigators need to use their special talents and abilities in order to discover Mr. Curtain's secrets, and their only chance to defeat him is through working together.

My Review:

This book was a little out of my comfort zone, but I’d heard good things about it, so I decided to give it a try. It is most definitely an MG novel, which I don’t mind so much as long as it’s well done, and I think this book was one of the best MG novels I’ve read. As an adult reader, I still had some questions, but they weren’t so pressing that they overwhelmed my enjoyment of the book. I think that’s the true test of a novel for a younger genre (either YA or MG) – can the book be enjoyed without all the answers.

Part of the enjoyment, of course, was the cast of characters. I found Reynie very easy to relate to, despite our difference in age. Kate and Sticky were the perfect Ron and Hermione to Reynie’s Harry, and Constance… well Constance was a nuisance as she is supposed to be, but it makes sense once you find out how old she is. And Benedict, dear old Mr. Benedict, is so cute! He really personified that “tired old man” vibe that we get from all the great mentors; Merlin, Dumbledore and all the rest.

But perhaps the best part for me, and one of the reasons I will definitely be recommending it to all ages, is the tone of the novel. One of my hugest pet peeves as a kid was being talked down to just because I was young. I wanted to be treated as an equal by adults, and I hated people, and novels, that just assumed because I was younger, I was ignorant, and unable to understand. This novel not only avoids that tone, it acknowledges the problem. This is the novel I wanted to read in Elementary School, because I would have felt just as put-upon as Reynie when his orphanage master didn’t even let him try to get into another, better school. Granted Reynie is the extreme, but the main point is still one worth listening to: Children are nowhere near as dumb as adults often make them out to be.

If you haven’t read this one yet, then I suggest you immediately put it on your TBR pile. Besides being educational, it’s pure fun!

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures

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Beautiful Creatures Beautiful Creatures by ,
Series: Caster Chronicles #1
Published by in 2009
Genres: , ,
Pages: 563

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

My Review:

Wow, there is a lot of hype around this one! I’ve seen both really positive and really negative reviews for it. If I’m honest, I fall right in the middle. I’m not going to gush and say this book was the best thing ever, because I had some trouble getting into it, and I got really frustrated with the prejudice some characters were showing (I mean come on, I get it already, just get over yourself! Of course, there are people like that in real life, and it wouldn’t be an accurate representation without them, but they’re frustrating nonetheless.)

Once I got past the fairly complicated, and hence rather slow exposition it was a really good book! I read the last 200 pages or so in one sitting last night, even though it was really late and I knew I had school this morning. Some things I really liked that kept me reading:

1) Finally we have a male protagonist/mortal in one of these paranormal novels! I was getting kind of tired of the girl always being the one who “can’t live without him” even if she is a strong woman in other ways. Let’s spread the lovesickness around more often, please?

2) The setting was amazing! I loved the infusion of history in everything, because frankly we all know a whole lot more about the history of our hometown than we really want to (I think we had a lesson at least once per year on the Great Black Swamp growing up, and I bet the majority of you, dear readers have never even heard of it. You lucky, lucky people!) But the history wasn’t just thrown in as part of the atmosphere, it was essential to the story and that is awesome!

3) The Mythology involved in this paranormal is extremely interesting, and I would keep reading just to find out more. They create this extremely intricate and complicated mythology, but somehow they manage to keep it a secret from the readers at the same time as the people in the town. I can’t wait to find out more about the Casters, because I have a feeling they have it all worked out somewhere and just aren’t telling us yet.

Bottom line: If you like this sort of thing, definitely go read it! It’s wonderfully fresh and new and you won’t be disappointed. Just be warned that you should give yourself a little more than your usual time to get into it.

Book Review: The Name of this Book is Secret

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The Name of this Book is Secret The Name of this Book is Secret by
Series: Secret #1
Published by in 2007
Genres: ,
Pages: 364

When adventurous detectives Cass, an ever-vigilant survivalist, and Max-Ernest, a boy driven by logic, discover the Symphony of Smells, a box filled with smelly vials of colorful ingredients, they accidentally stumble upon a mystery surrounding a dead magician's hidden diary and the hunt for immortality.

My Review:

I really, seriously, loved this book! I know, I’m a few years behind in reading it (it first came out in 2007), and my friends have been telling me to read it for years, but it wasn’t until I saw it on sale at my local Borders that I really decided to pick it up and actually do so. Why did I ever wait so long?!

I’m sure the comparison between this book and the Series of Unfortunate Events has been made many times over, but this book didn’t just remind me of that series (which I haven’t finished by the way, which is probably why that comparison isn’t as strong). No, the main thing this book reminded me of was the film Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. It wasn’t a huge film – it came out around Christmas in 2007 and had Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, and Jason Bateman in it, along with this really talented kid actor named Zach Mills. Reading this book has inspired me to go rewatch the film, which means there will probably be a review up soon, so I’m not going to go into too much detail. The important part for this review, is that between the illustrations and the tone of the narrator, I had a lot of fun imagining that this book was actually written by the bookbinder Bellini, who lives in the basement of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (which is a toy store). The resemblance pretty much ends there, but I had so much fun with imagining how he knew this story, and why he was telling it.

The other fun thing about this book is that the author doesn’t tell you everything. In fact, he points out that he hasn’t told you things, and makes it very clear that the names and faces of the characters have all been changed so anything he told you could be a lie. My imagination always goes wild at that point. The writer in me absolutely loves it when an author gives it express permission to participate in the story. There’s even a chapter at the end where he gives you all the facts and then a ton of blank lines for you to write in your own ending! Though, of course, the reader in me won’t let me deface a book by writing directly in it. Maybe eventually I’ll fold up a few pages with my version and just stick them in without attaching them to anything.

I would definitely recommend this book to a friend, because it is such a fun read. But the people I would love to recommend it to are the younger, perhaps more reluctant readers. This is an easy, engaging read that is perfect for kindling (or re-kindling) a love of reading!

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