In The Lost Hero, we return to the world Percy Jackson but with a new cast of lead characters and a new twist to discover. I was very glad to see some...moreIn The Lost Hero, we return to the world Percy Jackson but with a new cast of lead characters and a new twist to discover. I was very glad to see some familiar characters and equally glad that Percy Jackson was not among them (I enjoy Percy, but I feel that he would have overshadowed the new characters). All in all, this was an excellent introduction into the new series and I will wait with baited breath for "The Son of Neptune".(less)
Title: Wildefire Author: Karsten Knight Publisher: Simon & Schuster Release Date: July 26, 2011 Rating: 3/5
Cover Impressions: Oh so pretty. I absolute...moreTitle: Wildefire Author: Karsten Knight Publisher: Simon & Schuster Release Date: July 26, 2011 Rating: 3/5
Cover Impressions: Oh so pretty. I absolutely love this image. The colors are dark, but stunning and the unassuming title font doesn't take away from the beauty of the smoke curls. Even better, the physical book feels almost velvety to the touch. I have no idea what treatment they used on the book jacket, but I love it.
This is a re-read for me and I seem to remember enjoying it a whole lot more the first time around. Perhaps my tastes have changed or, perhaps, most of the allure of the book comes from not knowing what is going to happen next.
When this book opens, we meet Ash, who seems, at first glace, to be a badass. We are quickly shocked by her sister, Eve, who swoops in a creates a great deal of havoc and seems to thrive on violence. It bothered me that, despite the fact that Eve becomes a very important character, we never really get to know Eve's backstory or why she is so angry with the world. In the wake of Eve's destructive powers, Ash escapes to a private school and we jump forward several months to see her partaking in a night of debauchery. When a mysterious call for help is only heard by a select group, she discovers that she may not be quite as ordinary as she thought.
I really enjoyed watching the kids as they stepped into their powers and using my (somewhat limited) knowledge of mythology to try and guess which teen would be which god. I did think that the kids seemed to accept this whole god thing rather quickly and they went from using their powers during one catastrophic event to using them skillfully and at will. I would have enjoyed seeing some of this progression as they practiced these newfound skills. They also seem to jump straight from complete and total strangers to a tight knit group of friends a bit too quickly to seem realistic. Even my beloved Raja, queen of the withering looks, morphed into a dress-lending, advice-giving uber bestie.
Some of the kids are awesome and I had entertained the thought that perhaps the next book would follow a different teen (come on Raja!) but, alas, we are to leave those kids behind and continue to listen to Ash whine. She is not a particularly interesting character and I quickly bored of her woe is me attitude and her lackluster flirting. The relationship between her and Colt is not exactly insta-love but it does progress rather quickly and I could not quite get over the fact that he is an adult man and she is a 16??? year old girl. That is far too creepy for me.
I am definitely on board for the next book, Embers and Echoes because I have a copy of the third book waiting for review.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Both Sex: Sexual Activity (no intercourse) and vulgar language Violence: Violent Death Scenes, Gunplay, Knifeplay Inappropriate Language: Piss, Bitch, Whore, Pussy, Fuck, Dick, Ass, Bastard, Shit, Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking (less)
Cover Impressions: Pretty girl in a pretty dress, but wait! What's this? A MASSIVE CROSSBOW?! This just got much more interesting! I love the look on...moreCover Impressions: Pretty girl in a pretty dress, but wait! What's this? A MASSIVE CROSSBOW?! This just got much more interesting! I love the look on the model's face and the hair and makeup are well done (though I do wish it had featured Ismae's fancy poison pearl hairnet.) I particularly enjoyed the tagline "why be the sheep when you can be the wolf?".
The Gist: Ismae has been sired by death. At the hands of the Sisters of the convent of St. Mortain, she learns the art of dispatching a man from this earth and finally finds the strength to stand against the men that have filled her life with cruelty. Sent to on assignment to the court of Brittany, she must wade into a world of secrets and intrigue and follow her own guidance about who to trust, and who to kill.
Review: This book gets an A+ for the originality of the idea. A convent of nuns trained in the deadly arts and willing to assassinate based on the will of their God - now that is something I have not read before. In fact, I so loved this idea that I am a little disappointed that LaFevers did not spend more time describing Ismae's training. The opening was incredibly strong, but then instead of watching Ismae learn the skills that will allow her to kill a man in seconds (or stretch his agony out for days), we get a three year time jump which was more than a little unsatisfying.
I enjoyed most of the characters (and the glimpses of Sybella made me long for the next installment in this series). Ismae is strong willed, though young and inexperienced. I loved her cold hearted certainty and willingness to follow her convent's orders without question. However, I found her less enjoyable as she developed a conscience. I was also thrilled to read descriptions of the weapons that she carried rather than the diatribes about sumptuous gowns that one often finds in period novels.
Despite the strong opening and a very interesting premise, the plot had a tendency to lag. For a book about an assassin, it was sorely lacking in assassinations. I like politic intrigue as much as the next reader, but after pages and pages of political maneuvering I was practically foaming at the mouth for some bloodshed! As for the mystery element, it is laughably transparent who is to blame for the current state of affairs and I kept waiting for some plot twist because surely it couldn't be this obvious, alas - it was.
I will be back for the second book in this trilogy, mostly because I am intrigued by Sybella but also because I am too in love with the concept of deadly nuns to give up hope for a dark and compelling sequel. Stay Tuned.
Teaching/Parental Notes: Age: 15 and up Gender: Female Sex: One instance, tastefully written Violence: Domestic abuse, garotting, poisoning, shooting with arrow, knife play Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: Drinking of wine Additional Notes: This is a decent introduction into historical fiction (less)
Cover Impressions: The cover is quite beautiful and matches well with the previous one in the...moreThis review can also be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: The cover is quite beautiful and matches well with the previous one in the series. I like the styling of the model in a simple dress and headband with natural wavy hair. Although a small part of me does wish it showed some reflection of the opulence of the Underworld palace.
The Gist: After winning both her immortality and a seat as the Queen of the Underworld, Kate Winters must now fight to win the heart of her King and husband, Henry. Just when she is ready to spend some time getting to know the man that she married, her new-found family is attacked by Chronos, King of the Titans and Kate must put her own jealousy and mistrust aside to enlist the help of Persephone, her sister and the woman who broke Henry's heart.
Review: Goddess Interrupted is one of those books that leaves me wishing I could shake the author until she agreed to go back and fix it. I love this world. LOVE! I enjoy the new take on the Gods and Goddesses, I love how they had to re-invent themselves and how they depend on mankind to keep them relevant. I was really intrigued by the imagining of the Underworld as being whatever the spirit expects it to be and believe that this opened the door to explore the moral ambiguity of a person spending eternity being punished, not because they deserve it, but because this is what they have always been told to expect. The plot itself hinges on the many instances of infidelity among the Gods and could question whether or not a person should be held accountable for their actions after having their heart broken over and over again for millenia. Had the author chosen either of these paths, the second half of this novel could have been interesting and thought provoking. However, she did not. Instead, Aimee Carter choose to write page after page of an increasingly whiney girl begging a boy to love her, despite the fact that his words and action show little more than disdain.
The first half of this novel described a fascinating world in which resplendent meadows gave way to rivers of fire and back again. Kate explores this world, enlists the aid of the sister she never wished to know and is part the battle against the King of the Titans. The characters showed major flaws, but we still had half the book to go in which they could grow - I was hungry for more. Then things quickly fall apart. We spend the second half of the book listening to Kate as she laments that Henry doesn't love her. *Knock, knock "Hello Kate? Just thought I would remind you that the world is about to end. Yeah, this big mean dude made of fog is going to kill everyone in the ENTIRE WORLD, could you maybe concentrate on the big picture for one, teeny, tiny moment?" Nope. She didn't listen.
Kate goes on and on about Henry's lack of interest and, normally, I would chalk this up to her being an annoying, self-deprecating character who is unable to see the truth, but no, based on Henry's behavior, I don't think he loves her. He treats her like garbage, refusing to speak to her, refusing to be alone with her and comparing her to his first wife at every turn. At one point I found myself yelling at Kate to get angry, start throwing things, storm out of there, do ANYTHING but cry on your bed and make excuses for why you should overlook his behavior and "give him time".
Goddess Interrupted gets a 2/5 because the world is wonderful and interesting. It is also slightly redeemed by the last couple of pages which leaves me considering reading the next book in the series. But please, no more sycophantic teenage girl characters who are willing to overlook not only major flaws, but horrid mistreatment, for the man that they "love". It sets a poor example to young girls everywhere and with all the Snookies and Lindsay Lohans out there, aren't there enough bad role models already?
Age: 16 and up Gender: Female Sex: Talk of sex between two characters, A LOT of talk about infidelity, one sex scene. Violence: Cuts, attempted strangulation, loss of a limb Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: None(less)
Title: Embers & Echoes Author: Karsten Knight Publisher: Simon & Schuster Release D...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Title: Embers & Echoes Author: Karsten Knight Publisher: Simon & Schuster Release Date: August 28, 2012 Rating: 3/5
Cover Impressions: Oooooh pretty. Love these covers. Not only do they have stunning images and fonts that don't overpower - but they feel super soft and velvety.
Review: The first time around, I really enjoyed Wildefire. But clearly not enough, because when Embers & Echoes was published I bought it - but it sat on my shelf until just now. I just never felt the desire to read it. Now, with the impending release of the final book in the trilogy, it was time to crack the spine (but just figuratively - I hate cracked spines.)
Embers & Echoes opens exactly where Wildefire left off, with the car wreak on the highway and Colt emerging unscathed. I understood Ash's anger at this point, but really? You didn't have the least little inkling that in this newly discovered world of gods, your boy toy might just be special as well? I was very happy to see how she left him and that, despite her being a bit of a boring character, at least she wasn't a pushover.
I really liked that the characters came from a wide range of backgrounds and ethnicities. It is something you don't see all that often in YA. However, most of these characters are barely explored and it almost feels like Knight is trying to tick as many boxes as possible, without actually having the page time to flesh them out. Having her meet up with a new group of gods in this book is interesting and fun, but I do wish there was some more continuity with the characters we had already grown to know. I will only be happy with this choice if, in the third book, they are all brought together again. I miss Raja!!!
The whole Four Seasons things was a bit 90s Saturday morning cartoonish. I simply couldn't take them seriously as a threat because I kept giggling at their name.
The plot of Embers & Echoes had some real peaks and valleys. When it was exciting - it was super exciting, but when it was boring oh god was it ever boring. We see lots of gods get killed (usually ones that we barely know and don't have a great connection to) and some romantic elements that are nothing special. There isn't a great deal of forward movement between the first book and the third. I would have liked some character development or some wins on the side of the good guys but, instead, we seem to get a supernatural blood bath without anything of consequence being accomplished.
I'm still in for the third book. I am hoping it ties things together and that we bring back some old characters for more than just a page or two.
Age: 15 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Death by supernatural means, gunplay, hand to hand combat, kidnapping Inappropriate Language: Prick, Bitch, Bastard, Shit Substance Use/Abuse: Underage drinking(less)
Cover Impressions: OOOOOOHHHHHH PRETTY! I love the colors and the transition from hair t...moreThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: OOOOOOHHHHHH PRETTY! I love the colors and the transition from hair to snake reflecting Ari's pending transformation.
The Gist: Having survived Athena's attack, Ari attempts to learn about her enemy and formulate a plan for rescuing her father and friend, Violet. (Really. That's it. Can you tell that I am less than enthusiastic?)
Review: I love re-tellings of the Greek Myths. I am particularly fond of the Medusa myth and love the concept of following her lineage to modern day. However, this sequel to Darkness Becomes Her, fell flat for me.
Ari was not the kick ass character that I longed for her to be. She is petrified of her own power and constantly fights her abilities (even though she knows that it is her best bet to defeat Athena) and, to make matters worse, she CONSTANTLY reminds the reader of how weak she is - RIGHT, can turn people to stone = weak as shit. Has she even READ the myths?? She bitched and complained fought valiantly for the right to get into the Novem School (I forget what it is called and am not looking it up) but then skips out on the very classes that are supposed to be helping her learn about her enemy. She enters the super secret library, stumbles upon important information, but instead of using it to formulate a plan, Ari just runs in blindly with a bunch of kids while the magical elite sit at home twiddling their thumbs. Right, this is a great plan when you are going up against THE GODDESS OF STRATEGY!
I couldn't keep all of the characters and their powers straight and I didn't remember any of the hierarchy stuff from the last book. And can someone please tell me why there are like 6 different types of vampires in this book?? Most of the secondary characters were flat and/or completely undeveloped. Honestly, I would much rather read a book about Violet than about Ari. I found it difficult to read the motivations behind some of the characters actions and this made me care less about them.
It seemed like I was reading action scene after action scene and I needed time to re-coup and get in touch with the characters. There were some scenes of torture that were pretty disturbing (as they tend to get when you are torturing an immortal) and I didn't feel they fit with the YA theme.
Despite *almost finishing this book in the doctor's office (one of the most boring places on earth) I still couldn't concentrate on the plot and did not emotionally connect with the characters or their suffering. I don't think I will be sticking around for #3.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Both Sex: None Violence: Swordplay, Knifeplay, Gunplay, Torture, Vampirism Inappropriate Language: Shit, Blow Me, Bitch, Jesus, Bastard, Fucking Substance Use/Abuse: Drinking(less)
Cover Impressions: This cover is kind of boring. We have Gwen's often mentioned violet eyes as a focal point but I am not a fan of the dragon? Griffin...moreCover Impressions: This cover is kind of boring. We have Gwen's often mentioned violet eyes as a focal point but I am not a fan of the dragon? Griffin? in the background. I am also annoyed by the portrayal of her snowflake necklace. The description in the book is of a delicate diamond tipped snowflake - yet the one in the cover image looks like it was picked up at the dollar store.
The Gist: Still reeling from the escape of Loki and Gwen's brush with death at the hands of his reapers, her safe haven at Mythos Academy is shattered by the appearance of the Protectorate. Suddenly Gwen is being accused of the unthinkable and she must defend herself or face execution.
Review: I read Crimson Frost right on the heels of finishing the first three books in this series. In the beginning, I cut Gwen quite a bit of slack. In series like these you often find a deeply flawed (and often annoying) main character whose experiences force her to grow as a person and gain some confidence in her abilities. However, Gwen just seemed to get more irritating as the books continued. I kept wanting her to grow up a little, but she never does. She is unable to piece together even the most obvious of clues and spends a lot of the book whining about her circumstances. She never stands up for her self and is incredibly self-centered. The other characters serve only to rescue Gwen, or to listen to her moan. Despite including several interesting mythologies, the only characters we really get to see in action are Spartans, Valkyries and, occasionally, Amazons. Why even bother mentioning the other types of warriors if you never plan to use them?
The plot itself is very predictable - partly because Gwen has to be beaten over the head with multiple clues before she will clue in to what is going on. I often found myself skimming pages because I had already figured out the plot twists and was waiting for Gwen to catch up. The action also ground to a halt every time that we came into contact with one of the villains. They seemed to all be suffering from some strange compulsion to spend pages explaining plans and facts that the reader has already figured out. It is almost like a satire of every action movie where the villain takes an inordinate amount of time to reveal every detail of his nefarious plot - except in the Mythos Academy novels, it isn't funny.
The first half of this book was dull and frustrating. Jennifer Estep is the queen of the re-cap. She feels the need to repeat (often in a very close to copy - paste fashion) nearly every detail from every book. I know what you are saying: but recapping is great for those who don't read the series back to back and yes, I agree. However, the repetition that bothers me is of innocuous points that do nothing to further the storyline. For example, in every single book she feels the need to remind me that the library is more hangout that place of work and that students go there to hook up, even going so far as to remind the reader that Gwen regularly finds condoms in the stacks. I DID NOT NEED TO READ THAT FOUR TIMES!
All of that being said, I think that I am mostly upset by this book because it has so much potential. The world that Estep has created is unique and interesting. I love novels that re-work and combine different mythologies. I enjoyed the side characters whenever they got a (brief) moment in the spotlight and sometimes found myself longing for the series to follow Daphne instead of Gwen. I also keep getting the feeling that this series is being stretched too thin. It could have been well developed and wrapped up within three or four books but, based on the plot progression thus far, is more likely to take nine or ten. Unfortunately, I think I will be getting off on this stop - that is, unless the next book promises more Logan and Daphne, less Gwen and some closure on a few underlying issues.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Female Sex: Kissing, talk of hooking up/sex Violence: Swordplay, lots of death Inappropriate Language: Whore, Slut, Bitch, Pissed, Ass Substance Use/Abuse: underage drinking, talk of marijuana use. (less)
Title: Afterglow Author: Karsten Knight Publisher: Simon & Schuster Release Date: Nov 1...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Title: Afterglow Author: Karsten Knight Publisher: Simon & Schuster Release Date: Nov 12, 2013 Rating: 3/5
Cover Impressions: I did a little searching and found out that Laurent Linn is the cover artist for all three books. Man, does he ever do good work. All three of these covers are stunning and, as I said before, I loved that extra step of making the covers velvety soft. They make me want to cuddle them.
Review: Afterglow is an enjoyable read with enough action to keep most readers interested. Unfortunately, it does suffer from some of the same issues that the previous books did. Ash has grown into her powers and is, at the same time, more and less reluctant to use them to hurt other gods. Eve is back, and electric as ever (heh - see what I did there?). I almost wish the series were written from dual (or tri) points of view. I would have loved seeing different scenes from inside the heads of each of the three sisters. I am a fan of the flashbacks though, they showed an interesting view of the Goddess Pele and gave some insight into the way in which the past has been influencing the present.
As I mentioned in a previous review, I really liked how we got to see a number of gods from different cultures but I wish that there was more time spent developing those characters rather than just dropping them in to hit some sort of multi-cultural quota. I am a little bitter about the arrival (and quick dismissal) or one my favorite characters from the first book. I really wanted these characters to be more than just plot movers. Every time we met an awesome and amazing god - They Die!
As with the last book, this one has definite peaks and valleys. There are lots of exciting moments and action scenes. There are, however, very few wins in the good guy category. It got a little old to see Ash and crew constantly having their asses handed to them or, when expecting a win, having it snatched out of their hands at the last moment. This does have the positive side effect of making me really hate Colt. By the end, I was itching for his death just as much as Ash was.
And then there was the ending. I was left a little unsatisfied. There were some awesome characters that were lost and then we had this strange afterword that was more than a little unbelievable*
Overall, the series was an enjoyable read, and I liked seeing all the different incarnations of the gods. And the plot was fast paced enough to keep most readers interested. Definitely buying this one to add to my classroom collection.
Age: 15 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing, Possible sex - very vague Violence: Death by supernatural means, hand to hand combat Inappropriate Language: Fuck, Bastard, Asshole, Whore Substance Use/Abuse: None
* Seriously? You expect me to believe that after 80 years, the new incarnation just happened to pick out Ashline's book from the millions that would have been printed in all that time? Assuming that the book was actually still in print?! (less)
Title: Antigoddess Author: Kendare Blake Publisher: Tor (Macmillan) Release Date: September...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Title: Antigoddess Author: Kendare Blake Publisher: Tor (Macmillan) Release Date: September 10, 2013 Rating: 3/5
Cover Impressions: I really like this cover, though it doesn't quite have the impact of Blake's last two books. The feather got me curious and I was glad to see how prominently it featured in the book - I wonder if this theme will continue with the next book.
The Gist: The old gods are dying and that is something Athena simply cannot abide by. With the help of her brother Hermes, she sets out on a mission to discover the meaning behind their affliction and a way to cheat death. This path leads her to Cassandra, a young girl with visions of the future, and no idea that she is the famous prophetess of mythology - nor that she is not the only reincarnated soul in her small town. But Athena is not the only Goddess searching for Cassandra. There are other Gods, darker Gods who would like to use her for their own purposes - the question is, can she trust any of them?
Review: I really enjoyed Blake's first two books and even chose Anna Dressed in Blood as one of my student bookclub books this year. This one, however is missing the gore of her other books. It is pretty tame by comparison. Although, I will admit several moments of cringing whenever Athena had to remove a feather.
It was also missing the unstoppable power that Anna held as a character. In Antigoddess, I didn't quite love any of the characters. I liked them, but they were a little bland and missed some of the quirks that make for really interesting and compelling characters. I also felt like I spent most of my time, early on in the book, trying to figure out if the peripheral characters (like Cassandra's brother and friend) would turn out to be important characters from mythology. That being said, I did really like the worldbuilding and the unique take on a fairly common theme (the death of the gods).
While the premise was interesting, the pacing suffered from moments of lag. There was a little too much talking for my liking. It seemed like whenever a group of characters got together we were treated to lengthy discussions in which they hashed out issues from a millennial ago. When we did get to the action scenes, these were quite well done. The villains were true villains in their terrifying and damaged glory and we did have a few very effective death scenes.
I was a little disappointed that none of the big questions were answered. I never found out why the Gods were dying or why they were dying in the manner in which they were. Nor was it revealed why some Gods were spared or why the big baddies thought that they could save themselves by killing their kin. I realize that this is the first book in a series, but I normally appreciate a little more information to be revealed.
I did like this one enough to give the series another shot. I am hoping that the second book will be a bit more compelling now that the initial getting to know the characters bit is behind us.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Hand to hand combat, explosions (buildings being blown up), near drowning Inappropriate Language: Bitch, Whore, Asshole, Bastard, Shit, Fuck, Prick Substance Use/Abuse: Underage drinking (less)