Now that the immediate danger to Camp Jupiter has been averted, Percy, Jason, and friends must set out to fulfill the Prophecy of Seven. UnfortunatelyNow that the immediate danger to Camp Jupiter has been averted, Percy, Jason, and friends must set out to fulfill the Prophecy of Seven. Unfortunately, there was a...misunderstanding... in the camp and the friends must also dodge the Roman soldiers who are hunting for them. Gaea is coming more fully awake and her sons are posing an even bigger threat. The gods are losing their minds as they morph between their Greek and Roman counterparts. Athena charges Annabeth with following the Mark of Athena and returning something the original Romans stole thousands of years ago. In other words, this is just another adventure for a group of demigods.
I just love this series. It's got a lot of humor, a lot of heart, great characters, a little romance now that they're all older, and nonstop action--anything a reader could ask for. I listen with a huge grin on my face. Joshua Swanson's narration is absolutely perfect. I can't imagine anyone else reading these now. (Although I seem to remember that someone else did narrate The House of Hades.)
My one complaint is that seven demigods is almost too many to follow in one book. Don't get me wrong--I love them all and want to know what's going on with everyone. But as far as quality time? There wasn't much of it with anyone, especially the Romans. This one is told pretty much exclusively from the Greeks' point of view. Maybe it will even out with the Romans in the next one?
I can't wait to see what the next installment brings, especially since this one ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. If you enjoy Rick Riordan's books, you won't be disappointed with this one....more
If you've read Cinder, you know where it leaves off. If not, I won't spoil it for you. So let's just say that Cinder's story arc continues. Meanwhile,If you've read Cinder, you know where it leaves off. If not, I won't spoil it for you. So let's just say that Cinder's story arc continues. Meanwhile, in France...
Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing and has been for about two weeks. Scarlet is worried sick but doesn't know where to start looking for her. None of the villagers are willing to help because they think eccentric Grandma has just finally gone off the deep end and wandered away. A new street fighter shows up in town and he seems to know something about Grandma's disappearance. But can Scarlet trust him?
I didn't like this quite as much as Cinder but I definitely still enjoyed it. By introducing Scarlet, Marissa Meyer managed to avoid my common complaint that the second book in a series is just filler. Had she stayed exclusively with Cinder's story, I'd probably be complaining. By shifting the focus, she fills in a lot of back story without a big info dump and we learn everything in a way that feels very natural. Hats off for that one! It's apparently a hard thing to do.
My problem was with Scarlet herself. She was angry and yelling for at least 85% of the book. At least it felt that way. If she wasn't yelling, she was thinking about yelling, and very occasionally she was crying. The girl goes through a lot of stress, so to a point it felt authentic. But after that point, I wanted Scarlet to grow emotionally and feel something other than anger or sadness. That's a little unfair but not completely so. I'm not sure if that's how the author wrote her or if that was just the narrator's interpretation. And while I'm picking on that end of things, it irritated me that Scarlet was the only character in the book with an accent. There are other French people who don't have accents. I guess it was a way to remind me that this was Scarlet and not Cinder speaking? I don't know but it bothered me.
I really liked the other new characters though. I liked Wolf, the street fighter, a lot. I thought I had him figured out but I was never entirely sure of where he stood or what was going on with him. Even narcissistic Thorne won me over. He is what he is. I appreciate that kind of self-honesty. There are hints that there are bigger things to be seen from him, but right now, we're good.
As for poor Emperor Kai--I just want to tell him that everything's going to be okay, even though I have no idea at this point if it will be or not. He has no idea what's going on with Cinder. He has no idea if his emotions for her are real or if he's been manipulated. But while he's dealing with his own personal pain and confusion, he's doing his best for his people, even at great personal cost to himself. I really, really like this guy.
Other than Scarlet's...anger issues...I still like Rebecca Soler's narration. Her voice is age-appropriate and she gives the characters life and emotion. I'll keep listening to the series on audio, at least for one more book. I may have to switch to print if Scarlet stays this shrill though.
I highly recommend this one for anyone looking for a very different take on some classic fairy tales. This series gets huge points for originality....more
Elisa is a Bearer of the Godstone. Born to the royal family, a bright light engulfed her on her Name Day and left her with a Godstone in her navel. BeElisa is a Bearer of the Godstone. Born to the royal family, a bright light engulfed her on her Name Day and left her with a Godstone in her navel. Bearers are marked to carry out a special act of service and they're only born about every hundred years. Unfortunately, they don't tend to live long enough to complete their service.
Elisa doesn't really fit into her own home. Her sister is the one being groomed to rule. Elisa just likes to study her books and, honestly, eat her sorrows. When she finds herself suddenly married off to a neighboring king, she has no idea what to expect. She sets off to be Queen of a country she's never seen. A mutual enemy is threatening their borders, her new husband doesn't seem to know what to do, and since he's decided to keep their marriage a secret, she has no idea what she's supposed to do here either.
I really liked this. Elisa was by no means a perfect heroine. She struggles with her weight and with her own emotional insecurities. But she's an intelligent woman and she's always willing to try her best. She might not be the most charismatic princess but she has an honesty about her that tends to resonate with people once they stop judging her by her weight. I knew there would have to be more to her than what she appeared to be at first glance but the amount of her growth was astonishing. I was incredibly proud of her as she came into her own.
Her story took many twists and turns that kept surprising me. Just when I thought she would settle into one place/story, everything would suddenly change and I would read along anxiously to see how she would handle this new challenge. Through insecurity, heartbreak, physical trials, and mental challenges, Elisa consistently rose to the occasion and kept me interested in her story.
This book wrapped up pretty nicely but there's plenty of room for sequels. I'm starting to really hate gaping cliffhangers, so that was a huge plus for me! I'll keep reading Elisa's story....more
Seraphina is working at the royal court when a prince is murdered. Even though her country has been at peace with the dragons for decades, many peopleSeraphina is working at the royal court when a prince is murdered. Even though her country has been at peace with the dragons for decades, many people believe a dragon killed the prince. Tensions start rising in the city just as the dragon ruler is due for a state visit to celebrate the signing of the peace treaty. Seraphina starts investigating what happened to the prince and following up on rumors of a rogue dragon in the countryside. But can she hide her own secrets while ferreting out someone else's?
I honestly hadn't heard of this until my husband decided to buy it for me for my birthday last year. He's a brave man; choosing books that I haven't asked for can go terribly wrong but he picked a winner!
I really liked Seraphina. She's trying so hard to do the right thing for everyone and the secrets that she's keeping are some big ones. She feels bad for lying all the time but she doesn't see any way around it. In her shoes, I wouldn't either. She's a smart girl though and she's much braver than she gives herself credit for. She might not decide to be brave on her own behalf but she's a lion when it comes to looking out for the underdog. I love that about her.
Of course there's a love interest. I'll keep his name to myself. But I loved him too. He's also brave and curious and trying to do the right thing. He has some major twists and turns to deal with and I found his reactions to be pitch perfect. Not immediately accepting but not close-minded either. I like him a lot.
I did not see the ending coming at all! I'm so happy nowadays when I can say that! There's enough closure at the end to satisfy most readers but there's definitely room for a sequel. I've gotten sick of cliffhangers recently (mostly thanks to movies) so that was a relief as well. I'll be eagerly awaiting the next in the series.
Jacky Faber finds herself working for the Royal Navy again after being mistakenly pressed into service. The ship she finds herself on is in bad shape,Jacky Faber finds herself working for the Royal Navy again after being mistakenly pressed into service. The ship she finds herself on is in bad shape, with a sick, evil captain who reigns with an iron fist and who has let his boat and his crew get into bad shape. Nothing can keep Jacky down for long though and she's soon making friends and plans in equal measure.
I cannot express how much I love listening to Katherine Kellgren narrate this series. She doesn't hold anything back and narrates in a larger-than-life tone that is completely in keeping with Jacky's character. Kellgren sounds like she is having the time of her life reading these books and that makes me love them all the more.
I would love them anyway because Jacky is such a great character. Why do we tend to love girls who dress up as boys and live the life they want? I probably just answered my own question. She's loyal and fierce and sly and intelligent and greedy and too big for her britches. She's a big mess of contradictions and that makes her feel so darn real.
My one complaint about this book is that we have to travel down the road of an older man trying to prey on attractive young Jacky again. It's a different man, but, really. Teenage girls of any era do have things to worry about other than lecherous old men trying to have their way with them. It didn't take up as much of the book as I was afraid it would but as soon as it came up I rolled my eyes and thought, "Here we go again."
Jaimy is starting to get on my nerves too. He's as fussy and as much of a stickler for the rules as a prissy old maid. I forget what Jacky see in him. He only sees the woman that Jacky could have been if her early years had been different, not the impetuous, ambitious ragamuffin that she actually is.
Other than that, this book was full of adventure, drama, suspense, and laughs. It is everything that a good story should be.
This series is a blast and girls who can see the appeal of living life on your own terms will love it. I highly, highly recommend trying it out on audio....more
Editor Leah Wilson has collected a series of thirteen essays from various young adult authors, each addressing a different aspect of The Hunger GamesEditor Leah Wilson has collected a series of thirteen essays from various young adult authors, each addressing a different aspect of The Hunger Games trilogy.
How do I put this? I'm not really a huge analyzer of books. Sure, I write plenty of reviews, but in those I just write what I liked (or not) and why. That's really about as far as I go. Back in my English class days, I could produce solid essays but since graduating, I've gotten to be a lazy reader. I'll occasionally think about the more obvious themes in a book, but then I pick up the next one and move on. This collection impressed me because of the amount of thought that went into each and every essay. I had mused briefly about some of the topics, I think my sister and I even discussed a few of them, but these authors all went above and beyond in their analyses.
My favorite was "Team Katniss" by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. This was one essay that overlapped with a conversation my sister and I had. Why "Team Peeta" or "Team Gale"? Why not "Team Katniss"? Katniss is pretty freaking awesome on her own. Barnes presents her argument better than Rachel or I ever did. I just loved it.
I also really enjoyed "Community in the Face of Tyranny" by Bree Despain. I don't recall thinking much about the (lack of) community in the world of Panem. Despain argues that part of Katniss's magic comes from her ability to foster a sense of community wherever she goes. It's true, and I liked it.
At first, I thought entries by Cara Lockwood and Terri Clark were a little more light-hearted but even these surprised me with their depth. Lockwood writes about the "Not So Weird Science" of Panem and how these far-fetched "muttations" could become realities sooner than we think. She also addressed the need for science to look at the consequences of genetic engineering and not just "Can we do it?" Clark writes about a "Crime of Fashion" and the role that Katniss's looks, and Cinna's hand in them, played in the series. How far would Katniss have gotten without Cinna? Sure, we the readers love her, but she would probably have been largely overlooked if she'd first appeared in a humdrum coal mining outfit.
I feel the need to mention "The Politics of Mockingjay" by Sarah Darer Littman. It draws blatant parallels between the politics of the War on Terror and the politics of Panem. I enjoyed reading it, but I know it will completely turn off some readers with different political beliefs. I was surprised to read this in a book aimed at young adults, but we all need to be aware of what's going on in the world around us.
There's a sequence of essays that leads from reality vs unreality to reality tv to the power of the media and those all kind of blended together for me. I can't say that any were badly written, but I had, surprisingly enough, considered most of this while I was reading the trilogy. They started to overlap and get repetitive.
Fans who just can't get enough of The Hunger Games trilogy should enjoy reading this. It's thought-provoking and informative, and will probably leave you ready to re-read the books. ...more
Cinder is a cyborg living in New Beijing with her evil guardian (read: adoptive mother) and two adoptive sisters. She single-handedly supports the famCinder is a cyborg living in New Beijing with her evil guardian (read: adoptive mother) and two adoptive sisters. She single-handedly supports the family by working as a mechanic in the local market. One day, she looks up and finds young, handsome Prince Kai in her booth. He asks her to fix a broken android for him and engages in some pretty harmless flirting.
That night, Cinder's life takes a turn for the worse. Her beloved younger sister, Peony, is diagnosed with an incurable plague. Her guardian blames Cinder and starts making life much, much harder.
Prince Kai is having a hard time himself. The Lunar Queen has decided that she is going to marry him or start a war. Kai genuinely cares about his people and would do almost anything to protect them, but he just can't bring himself to agree to marry the evil queen. She invites herself to his palace, where he gets to see what a ruthless ruler she really is.
I had my reservations about this. I love me a retold fairy tale, don't get me wrong. But it's all science-fictiony. Cyborgs? Androids? Not my thing. And then it's set in a future that sounds a little post-apocalyptic? Definitely not my thing. And yet, searching around for something mildly dystopian to read for a reading challenge, this is what I chose. That cover. The rave reviews. It's worth a shot, right?
Absolutely. Yay! I pretty much loved it!
Cinder had me from the beginning. She's so self-reliant but she doesn't hate people. Give me an evil stepmother and make me do all the work to support her lazy ass? I would hate everybody. Cinder loves her younger sister and even the family android, who was very spunky and cute, I must admit. She tries so hard to forget about Prince Kai and not be all fan-girly like the rest of the country, but she just can't get him out of her head. She faces everything that is thrown at her without a whole lot of resentment; she just tries to do what she can to get through it. She could easily have been a whiny teen and I wouldn't have blamed her, but I wouldn't have liked the book either. She rocked.
Prince Kai. We came so, so close to a lasting character crush. It's there, don't get me wrong, but he isn't way up in my top tier. He had the perfect opportunity but he just didn't do what I wanted him to do. He took the high road and did what was best for his country. I should love him for that, shouldn't I? No. I wanted the gigantic gesture for the girl that he is on his way to loving. Screw the millions of other people in the country. I'm only being slightly sarcastic. He was great though. Funny, smart, approachable, and accessible. He seems to be wise beyond his years, but he could be a snarky teen too. I kept picturing him as Disney's Aladdin for some reason. Maybe because he first shows up in a market? That didn't help the crush-o-meter any.
There's enough of the original fairy tale here to be recognizable, but it is very much it's own story. My poor husband had no idea what I was reading.
"Hey. You know that Cinderella-cyborg book I'm listening to? You won't believe what just happened in it."
"The Cinderella-cyborg book." Duh.
"Oh, come on. I've told you all about it. You know, the prince's android is broken and she's a cyborg and she's fixing it and there's this plague--"
"Suresuresure. What about it?"
"We-ell," and off I would go. Poor thing. He heard all about it and he never did understand what I was talking about. He's so good about humoring me.
Reading it, it all makes sense. Cinderella as a cyborg? Abso-freaking-lutely. She kicks ass.
There were a few times when I wondered if it was supposed to be quite so obvious where things were headed, but then a big twist that I didn't see coming would throw me off. I was right about the big things but a lot of the details were surprising. I'm very happy about that.
I was not happy with the ending. It just sort of stops! I hate that! Good thing the next book comes out this week.
The narrator, Rebecca Soler, did a great job. She sounds young enough to match the part and she didn't hesitate to reflect Cinder's emotions.
If I haven't confused you past the point of no return, read this. It's a good story that transcends whatever genres we might try to fit it into. ...more