The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix is a standalone adult fiction book.

Patricia Campbell gave up being a nurse to become a homemaker and mother in a respectable community–white picket fences and all. She cooks, cleans and looks after the children. The only thing she really has to look forward to is her monthly book club, a group of southern mothers like herself, who share a mutual interest in true-crime and mystery novels.

When a single bachelor, with some strange habits, moves into the neighborhood, Patricia ropes her book club into a different sort of mystery. And when children in the poorer neighborhoods begin to go missing, Patricia begins her own investigation. But what she uncovers is even more horrible than she could ever have imagined. Will Patricia and the girls be able to fight this monster and still get dinner on the table by five?

Sorry, I had to add that last line. God this was weird. I went through several different emotions while reading this one. First, I was stoked because I didn’t actually read the blurb about the book and was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was actually going to be a vampire that the girls had to fight. Then, I got a little bored. Finally, things got waaaay too graphic and I was pretty much grossed out and happy to get it all over with.

There’s some real twisted moments in this book and the way they are described is just… icky. I normally don’t have a problem with dark books, even those that deal with some pretty horrendous stuff. But I sort of felt like I was being fooled a little bit here. The author goes to so much trouble to make the reader feel like the book is going to be a peachy, easy going book with a vampire or two thrown in. And then BAM out of know where, it gets dark, gritty and graphic.

Some people are going to love this book but it was not for me. I’m not even sure why I am giving it three stars, I disliked it so much, but I am.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Eighth Day

The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni is a juvenile fiction book for 4-7th graders.

Between Wednesday and Thursday, there is an eighth day. It is a quiet, empty day, with few people and hardly anyone knows it is there. When Jax wakes up on this day, it takes him totally by surprise. Could it be a zombie apocalypse or worse? So when he runs into eighteen-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, he is relived to learn of this extra day.

As Jax begins to navigate his new life as a Transitioner, he learns that some people–like himself–live all eight days, most live the normal seven, and a very few live only on the eighth day. And one such eighth day-er lives right next door.

Evangeline is in hiding. Decedent from a powerful sorcerer, there are those who wish to use her blood to alter the eighth day time table. Determined to become her friend, Jax doesn’t realize what is at stake and his ignorance could be the ruin of them all.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was unique and fun and I want to pick up the sequels right away.

There was this great balance between folklore, fantasy and science fiction. You aren’t really sure if it’s science or magic or something else at play here. And because of this, juvenile fans of all three genres will feel at home with this book.

I just really liked this world. I liked the factions of good guys vs bad guys, the hereditary aspects passed down from generations and the crests denoting them. The tradition and incorporation of myth and legend. This was all done very smoothly.

Overall, this was a fun read and I think my book club crew will really enjoy it.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Poisoned

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly is a fairy-tale re-imagining of Snow White for a Young Adult audience.

To rule, once must be strong and powerful; there is no place for kindness and the gentle hearted. Or at least, this is what Sophie has been told her entire life. According to her step mother, Queen Regent, and the rest of the court, weak, foolish, silly Sophie doesn’t have what it takes to be the ruler her country needs. So when the huntsman pulls out his knife and plunges it into her heart, Sophie shouldn’t have been surprised.

And even though Sophie believed everything they said about her, it was still a surprise. But, what was more surprising, was waking up.

Given a second chance at life, will Sophie muster the bravery to fight for her kingdom and the will to rule it as she seems fit?

I really enjoyed Donnelly’s Stepsister, so I was excited to pick this one up. And, although it was an entertaining read, I wasn’t wowed by it. I enjoyed it but I could have used a little bit more toward the end. Like Stepsister, the villains, weren’t ordinary villains–they were abstract entities personified. <<And that’s about as much as I can say without giving anything away. And this was interesting, a little preachy at times but it’s meant to be written as a “lesson.”

Now that I think about it, what I liked best about the book, were the side characters. I just loved the hound master’s son, the dwarfs, Will and Arlo, even our villains. But Sophie, fell a little flat for me. We see her journey throughout, both physical and emotional, but she still felt a little two dimensional to me.

This one gets 3.5 stars from me. I’ll be interested to see which fairy-tale Donnelly picks up next.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Shadow Cipher

The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby is the first book in the York series, a juvenile fiction, historical re-imagining, series for 4-7 graders.

In 1855, the Morningstarr Twins, the greatest and most mysterious architects New York City has ever seen, go missing and in their place, a cryptic puzzle promising to lead to a treasure greater than can be imagined. But decades later the puzzle still hasn’t been solved.

In the present day, twins Theo and Tess, along with their friend Jamie are determined to solve the puzzle and save their home, one of the original Morningstarr buildings, from being torn down by rich developers.

Most people have given up on the puzzle and don’t even think it ever ends but Tess, Theo and Jamie believe that the puzzle is just waiting for the “right” people and time to be solved.

Will they solve the cipher before it is too late?

This was a fun, action packed book that actually got a little dark toward the end. Going into the first hundred or so pages, I really just thought it was going to be a happy go lucky book, where the kids solve the puzzle and save their home… Willy Wonka-esq. But by the end, you find out that there is so, so much more going on and that is why this is a series.

That being said, I enjoyed the eccentricities of the children and the friendship they are forging. But I think the best part of this book is the re-imagining of certain historical facts, an alternate history, that bring a really great dynamic to the story. Little things like the Statue of Liberty being copper colored still because they used a chemical to keep it from oxidizing. To bigger tweaks like the Colonies not pushing the Indians off their land.

You also see a lot of “hints” in this book that, may not make sense or seem important at the time, but will definitely show up later in the series. Theo’s “dreams” for one, I predict that these will be more than just dreams.

Overall, this was an interesting read and is going to make a good book club discussion. I am going to give it a low 4 stars for now.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Sky Beyond the Storm

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir is the fourth and final book in the An Ember in the Ashes series.

Picking up not long after A Reaper at the Gates, war has come and no one will be spared. The Jinn, lead by the vengeful Nightbringer, are on the attack and their battles are bloody and devastating. At the Nightbringer’s side is the self declared Empress, Commandant Keris Veturia, who is determined to strike down anyone in her way.

Laia of Serra and the Blood Shrike ally together to battle the darkness. Laia is determined to bring down the Nightbringer and the Blood Shrike is equally set on killing Keris.

And alone with the ghosts, amidst the Waiting Place, is the Soul Catcher who wants only to pass the spirits on without the memories of his past weighing him down. But ignoring the world, the love, he left behind could very well lead to the destruction of all.

All in all, I really enjoyed this series and I thought that this was a fitting end to the series. This last book really felt like the culmination of what came before. All of the characters, the story-lines, they merge in this final installment and there is one last, epic battle to win or lose it all. It was nice to feel like everything was coming to an end and satisfyingly so.

The relationships built in this book have also evolved through the series, in both good and bad ways. Elias’ struggles to turn off and on his emotions could maybe have been done a little differently. I felt more like he was trying to turn it off, rather than Maud(sp?) pulling him away.

Not giving anything away, but I really felt for one of the characters, who always seemed to get the short end of the stick. His/Her revelation at the end is nice but man Tahir, couldn’t you give him/her a little something more at the end.

Overall, this was a neat world to be sucked into for four books. This one gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-