One of the first books I read in English class that I remember really enjoying--especially the first part (The Sword in the Stone) about young Arthur...moreOne of the first books I read in English class that I remember really enjoying--especially the first part (The Sword in the Stone) about young Arthur as a boy (it probably helped that I'd already seen and loved the Disney movie based on it, several times, as a kid). I'm not sure I'd have the patience to read it again at this point, and I'm not sure that I would still like it as much now as I did then, but I definitely still think of it fondly! (less)
A great ending to a great series! Interestingly, there seem to be hints about a possible NEW Camp Half-Blood related series. I hope that's not just wi...moreA great ending to a great series! Interestingly, there seem to be hints about a possible NEW Camp Half-Blood related series. I hope that's not just wishful thinking on my part!(less)
Meh. I wanted to like this. But then once I started reading it, I found the characters uninteresting and the plot even more uninteresting. Nobody real...moreMeh. I wanted to like this. But then once I started reading it, I found the characters uninteresting and the plot even more uninteresting. Nobody really had any personality and I felt like the writer was thinking a little too often, "usually in this sort of situation in these sorts of books, this thing happens next" and just went with that--there really wasn't anything surprising or funny or endearing. It's not TERRIBLE, it's just...not that great either. (less)
Within the first few pages of this book I was smitten. Why? Well, it just so happens to take place in my much beloved Constantinople! Oh, okay, it's a...moreWithin the first few pages of this book I was smitten. Why? Well, it just so happens to take place in my much beloved Constantinople! Oh, okay, it's already called Istanbul at this point, but who's quibbling? This felt much more like an adventure story to me than Wildwood Dancing--there's murder and intrigue, pursuit, a hidden treasure, a mysterious quest, AND a dashing Portuguese pirate and a hot Bulgarian bodyguard vying for our heroine's affection! Said heroine is Paula, the middle sister from Wildwood Dancing, who is now 17 and in Istanbul with her father acting as his assistant while he does some trading and bids for the long lost relic of an ancient goddess. I thought Marillier did a fantastic job of portraying the magic of Istanbul and the feel of being a foreign woman in this city at the time. And the story kept me completely hooked--I really couldn't put this one down. Well done!
* On second read: I think I loved this even more than I did the first time through. Definitely destined to become a bit of a comfort book for me. I really hope Marillier writes a third book in this series about Stela at some point!(less)
Very disappointing. I've really loved Gail Carson Levine's previous books, but this one is vastly inferior. The whole thing seems more like an outline...moreVery disappointing. I've really loved Gail Carson Levine's previous books, but this one is vastly inferior. The whole thing seems more like an outline for a book than it does an actual finished story--there's no depth to any of the characters or the descriptions of what's happening, the language is irritatingly simplistic, and the plot moves along so quickly (which was actually a mercy for me, considering how unattached I was to any of the characters) that the "trials" the two main characters go through, as well as the final outcome of the story, seem like minor events. The whole thing just felt very surfacy and underdone. I really hope her next book is a great improvement on this one.(less)
This one took me a little more time to get through than the first two in this series, but possibly in a good way? Highway to Hell has a very different...moreThis one took me a little more time to get through than the first two in this series, but possibly in a good way? Highway to Hell has a very different setting than its predecessors--Maggie and Lisa are on Spring Break and end up stranded in the small ranch-town of Dulcina, Texas when they hit a dead cow in the road (doing some major damage to Maggie's Jeep) on their way to South Padre. Naturally, Maggie senses something fishy going on and aims to find out what it is. There are some interesting characters in Dulcina, and we also get to meet Justin's best friend (and priest-in-training) Henry and hear a little more about Justin's mysterious past (although it turns out not to be all THAT exciting, in my opinion). This one felt a little less fluffy than the first two (in large part because of the setting, I think), which I actually really enjoyed, and I found this the most interesting of the demons Maggie's faced. All in all, another great book in the series! I very much hope there will be more.(less)
Well...I did not like this nearly as much as I did the Percy Jackson series. Not even close. Much as I hate to rate this a two, I can't say I actually...moreWell...I did not like this nearly as much as I did the Percy Jackson series. Not even close. Much as I hate to rate this a two, I can't say I actually liked it at all. I just had a LOT of issues with it, unfortunately.
I did not love the back and forth between Carson and Sadie. They don't sound significantly different enough for me not to have CONSTANTLY gotten confused about who was currently telling the story. Sadie throws in an unconvincing British word or two now and then, and definitely more sarcasm, but other than that, it's pretty easy to get mixed up. And they were together practically the whole time, so I'm not sure why we needed two characters going back and forth to tell the same story, other than Riordan thought girls needed a female character to identify with or something? It didn't work for me at all. I didn't find either of them terribly interesting or likable until close to the end of the book.
Also, my gosh, this is long! And at times frustratingly so. There's just so much traveling and then fighting and then dreaming and then traveling and then fighting and then dreaming and then traveling and then fighting and then dreaming and then...you get the picture. It got old real fast. And there are just too many similarities between this book and the Percy Jackson series, which bothered me. I was hoping it wouldn't be pretty much the same story, only with Egyptian gods and goddesses instead of Greek, but nope, that's almost exactly what it is. Only much less enjoyable.
I wanted to like this, I really did. But I think I'm going to hold out hope for the new Camp Half Blood series he's putting out instead and go ahead and ignore the rest of this one. It just really didn't do it for me.(less)
I was worried about this when I first picked it up--the Red Pyramid disaster (I know, I know, most of you do not agree, but that's what that book was...moreI was worried about this when I first picked it up--the Red Pyramid disaster (I know, I know, most of you do not agree, but that's what that book was in my mind) was just too recent, and the size of The Lost Hero and the way the narration switches among the three main characters just seemed like it might be too disturbingly similar. So yeah, I was suspicious. But pretty quickly, Riordan sucked me in, and I realized I shouldn't have worried. The characters are great, the mystery of Jason's missing memories and hidden past is compelling, and what the heck happened to Percy Jackson??? I did feel the book went on a little longer than necessary--I felt pretty bogged down by the time I got to the last 150 pages or so--and I do feel like Riordan's stories are in some ways a little too repetitive and formulaic. And I did not like the way he ended this one because it's the type of cop-out cliffhanger ending that always feels cheap and manipulative to me. But even so, for the most part I really enjoyed this one and am very much looking forward to the next. Yay!(less)
It took me quite awhile to get interested in this one; the wittiness got in the way a bit for me, especially in the beginning. It seemed like everythi...moreIt took me quite awhile to get interested in this one; the wittiness got in the way a bit for me, especially in the beginning. It seemed like everything was described not in just ONE witty way, but in SEVERAL witty ways, and it ended up just feeling too tedious and like...well, just too much. However, once Zee finally made it into the picture things got a little more compelling. Comparisons to Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series are probably inevitable, as they both deal with modern day Greek mythology, but I found little similarity between them other than that (although, interestingly, quite a few similarities between this and Riordan's The Red Pryamid). I found Charlotte fairly irritating at first, but she gradually grew on me a bit through her relationship with her cousin. I found Zachary and his back story much more intriguing than I did Charlotte. The story as a whole was pretty simple, but quite inventive, and I enjoyed it somewhat it once it finally got going. But I didn't ever feel really involved or invested, and it seems like the pacing was a little off--flowing along nicely for a bit and then suddenly stilted and stiff. I probably won't bother with the next book in the series; there just wasn't enough character development or plot intricacy to keep me connected. I can see middle-graders having fun with it though... (less)
This is one of those books that has a really cute premise, but the execution of that cute premise kind of ruined it for me. My main problem with it wa...moreThis is one of those books that has a really cute premise, but the execution of that cute premise kind of ruined it for me. My main problem with it was that the things that the characters did and said almost always seemed...ridiculous. There were so many times that I found myself either rolling my eyes or thinking, "What? Who does that? How does that even make sense?"
For example (and this doesn't really ruin anything in the story), Phoebe's two best friends randomly show up in Greece at a big track meet of Phoebe's to "show support." For ONE DAY. Who on earth sends their 17-year-old girls to Greece by themselves in the middle of the school year to support their friend at a track meet? For one day? Especially since one of the girls and her parents are constantly described as hippie enviromentalists (that's an awful lot of fuel burned for such a short trip, Granola)?
See? It makes no sense. And that sort of thing sadly seemed the norm in this book. In addition, everything felt choppy and I found the vast majority of the characters (including Phoebe and her big love interest) pretty unlikable and/or unbelievable. And all the dumb tee shirt slogans and band names mentioned really got on my nerves.
Two stars because I was at least able to finish it, but this thing needed a LOT more work. And a decent editor. I won't be reading the sequel.(less)
I liked the idea of this--that certain people are born with the ability to bond with a certain group of creatures, and that certain very rare people a...moreI liked the idea of this--that certain people are born with the ability to bond with a certain group of creatures, and that certain very rare people are born with the ability to bond with all creatures. And I liked Col. But I felt like pretty much all the characters were underdeveloped, the plot was sort of...eco-cheesy, and the pacing was really awkwardly slow for the vast majority of the book. I love Golding's Cat Royal series, but this first Companions book felt completely lifeless. I don't think I'll bother continuing on with book two.(less)
First of all, wow, that cover is bad! That's the first thing I noticed when I saw this up on First Reads as an available book to win. I managed to put...moreFirst of all, wow, that cover is bad! That's the first thing I noticed when I saw this up on First Reads as an available book to win. I managed to put that aside and not judge it by that alone, since the premise sounded somewhat intriguing. But man, it was hard. And honestly I wasn't expecting much from this book because of it.
This actually turned out to be somewhat enjoyable, though it definitely has some problems. In tone and subjuct matter it reminded me a little of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series, although much less humorous and with much less character development and in a world that's much less concretely defined. It's also less an adventure story than it is a sort of coming of age tale.
I feel like Coleman and Perrin have some interesting ideas going here, but as yet they're still so ambiguous that it's hard to figure out where exactly they're going with this series. I have a feeling that this first book in the trilogy will only really make sense within the story as a whole, which is a little disappointing; I think it may be another case of spreading out into three stories something that could have been told much better in one. As it is, there's not quite enough depth in Juggler in the Wind to make me really interested in reading the second.
I did like the way the relationship between Randy and his mother develops in this, and I am interested in knowing more about what's going on with all these thousands-of-years-old, forgetful circus performers. I just think this first book could really have used some more time and editing.
2.5 stars, but I'm rounding up to three for this one, since the main problem for me is the lack of depth rather than poor writing. I just would have liked to see at least a few more questions answered by the end of the book; there's a fine line between leaving your readers in suspense and leaving your readers unsatisfied. (less)
I wish I could rate this higher than three stars, because this is a really interesting and oddly delightful (for all the brutality) retelling of the A...moreI wish I could rate this higher than three stars, because this is a really interesting and oddly delightful (for all the brutality) retelling of the Arthurian legends--sort of a "here's where all those crazy stories came from and here's what really happened." I found it clever and I liked how Reeve isn't always blatant about which stories he's revising, but if you know your Arthurian legends fairly well, you'll spot them. So full marks for that. The problem I had was that I never really felt fully-invested in the story--there was really nobody I got very attached to, including Gwyn/Gwyna, the main character. There really wasn't much emotion here, and maybe that's sort of the point, that the honor and beauty and hope of the Arthurian legends are a far cry from what reality might lie behind them. I get that, but it made for a somewhat dull read at times. For me, anyway. It might be one that's better on second read though--I'll definitely give it another try at some point!(less)
2.5 stars, really--Meg, Meg, what happened here? While I was interested enough in this story to read the entire thing in one sitting, in the end I fou...more2.5 stars, really--Meg, Meg, what happened here? While I was interested enough in this story to read the entire thing in one sitting, in the end I found it pretty lacking. First of all, there was very little of the humor Cabot is known for and which might have made its deficiencies a little more bearable. As it is though, it's kind of a big long mope-fest. But there are other issues. Pierce has had a lot of interesting things happen to her, but she's not a very interesting character, and for someone who is repeatedly described as such a caring person, she's surprisingly selfish at times. I didn't understand why John even liked Pierce--the only thing we're told is that she has eyes like warm honey or something or other, and because she's the only person who ever asked if he was okay. That just wasn't enough for me to believe it. And Pierce keeps indicating that she's terrified of John; if only he weren't so hot and broody! And then several plot points are introduced involving Pierce's cousin Alex and a bunch of stereotypical high-school jerks that get no resolution whatsoever. I know she must be saving that stuff for the next book, but it's a huge pet peeve of mine when people write books in a series that cannot stand alone. And this one absolutely cannot. The only thing that saved it at all for me was that Cabot still somehow manages to tell what little there is of the story in a somewhat compelling way. Mostly though, it's just...not great.