Cora Alexander's life is forever changed when she falls into a sinkhole during her father's funeral and lands in the Underworld still alive. This, of...moreCora Alexander's life is forever changed when she falls into a sinkhole during her father's funeral and lands in the Underworld still alive. This, of course, upsets the balance of the Underworld and the rule of Minos and the judges, who control the realm with an iron fist and have turned it into a computer-generated world full of shades. With the help of her untrustworthy guide, Minotaur, Cora must journey through the realm to find a way to return to the world above.
That is the book in a nutshell, although I left a lot of stuff out (read the summary here on Goodreads if you want the full version). This book was strangely incomplete; there is no wrap-up of the story line and the book ends on what could be called a cliffhanger if I cared enough to be interested in the next installment. I felt like Cora is a very flat character; she does things, and occasionally provides a teeny bit of insight into why she's doing them, but we don't really get to know her very well at all. I also felt like the book suffered from too many points of view: there are at least three that I can remember off the top of my head, and switching between the points of view (one of which is strangely in third person while everything else is in first) caused the story to lose momentum and made it kind of tedious to read. After a fast-paced start which grabbed my attention, the rest of the story just failed in comparison and I found myself really uninterested in how things would end. For me personally, this just wasn't a very well-constructed story. And that hurts me a bit to say that, because the summary was really promising. But there just wasn't any resolution to the plot, and I can't enjoy something that didn't have a point.
Also, a note on the e-galley version of this, there were some weird sentence breaks that made the reading experience even more annoying because I had to keep deciphering what the sentences were supposed to say. Here's an example: His arrival was merely the realization of destiny was entirely different through our gates. a prophecy. Cora's before she slipped. This makes absolutely NO sense, and what's supposed to be written was this: His arrival was merely the realization of a prophecy. Cora's destiny was entirely different before she slipped through our gates. Now this was a fairly easy one to figure out, but there were others where it literally took me a good minute to put the words back into their proper order in order to read them, which just further pulled me out of the story. Hopefully all of those issues have been found and fixed in the final version.
All in all this was a disappointing read for me. The characters were flat, there were too many points of view, and absolutely no resolution to the plot. I won't be reading the sequel.
The White Oak is now available in e-book format via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.(less)
When I first saw the blurb for The Lost Code, I immediately thought of the Percy Jackson books, and knew I had to give it a read. While it is another...moreWhen I first saw the blurb for The Lost Code, I immediately thought of the Percy Jackson books, and knew I had to give it a read. While it is another of those post-apocalyptic/distopian titles populating the YA shelves, it had a fresh feeling to it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There's adventure, mysteries, and even a bit of romance, plus a pretty fabulous main character in Owen. His journey from someone who didn't fit in and just wanted to be like everyone else to the strong, capable person he becomes at the end of the book was really wonderful to read. I loved that he finally decided to take action, to not rely on others' opinions, and to do what he felt was right. I think Owen and I are really going to get along well.
I loved the set-up of this story. This book is really all about Owen finding himself and taking charge, but there was so much more to the story. See, Owen is at a summer camp in EdenWest, which is enclosed in a dome that's supposed to protect everyone from the harmful rays of the sun. You either live in these domes, or you live underground, because the sun's rays are so strong that they cause radiation poisoning if you're out in them for too long. There's a lot of questions about what's going on at the camp, and what's going on with the campers, and it keeps twisting and turning around on itself so much that I was constantly guessing. And then there are the little bits of the mythology that are revealed throughout, particularly what happened to Atlantis and what it means for Owen's world. I found the mythology particularly interesting, again, because this is a pretty big reading kink for me personally, and it was nice to see something new in that respect.
And then you have the romance, which I felt was really true to teenagers, and Owen in particular, who is so afraid of doing something wrong and not fitting in. There are all those awkward moments where he's afraid he's said the wrong thing, or doesn't know what to do, and I kind of adored the entire thing. Lilly was a really well-developed character, with an interesting back story. I found her to be a really strong character, but with her own weaknesses, and am eager to see how her story will turn out.
This book definitely sets up the rest of the series; very little, aside from Owen's ancestry and their overall goal, really happens. There's a lot of time spent on daily camp life, from crafts to various activities, and then you have the growing romance between Owen and Lilly. The action doesn't really kick in until about 60% into the book, but once it does, be prepared to be unable to put the book down; I literally read and read until it was done, it was so engrossing. But as the first book in a new series, this sets up the world, introduces the characters and problems, and gets the reader interested in the story quite well. It's a really great start to a new series, and I enjoyed every word of it.
The Lost Code will be available in North America on May 22, 2012. I'd definitely recommend you pick up a copy.
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.(less)
I was drawn to Vessel by the promise of a well-crafted world and unique mythology, and I'm happy to report that the book really delivered in those asp...moreI was drawn to Vessel by the promise of a well-crafted world and unique mythology, and I'm happy to report that the book really delivered in those aspects. I also found within its pages an absolutely captivating and realistic main character, despite the fact that she resides in a purely fantastical world. Throw in a struggle for survival in a seemingly inhospitable land, and this was an interesting cross between something dystopian-like (it's not the end of the world, here, nor is this a post-apocalyptic tale) and high fantasy that had me immediately intrigued. While I do have to admit that the book took me far longer to read than it should have - like, five library renewals too long - I ultimately came away from this book extremely satisfied and glad that I stuck with it.
Liyana is probably one of my favorite female protagonists ever, and I don't make that claim lightly. She is resourceful, stubborn, and so incredibly caring and loving that you pretty much start rooting for her right from the first page. When Bayla, her goddess, fails to come inhabit her body, she's thrust in a whirlwind of events that forever changes her, and ultimately she comes out all the stronger for it. Some people shrink away from danger and difficult times, but Liyana really embraced them and did all she could so that she and those she cared about would survive. I loved her quick wit, her intelligence, and - most of all - her ability to always have a story handy when it was most needed. As a librarian, I couldn't help but love that she's a storyteller!
I also want to give mad props for the mythology used in this book. From the background on the gods, to their shared memories and stories, to their unique personalities, every single thing about them was so wonderfully and carefully crafted that it wasn't hard at all to imagine the world in which they exist. I loved how Korbyn - while still being a god - was very much humanized during his journey with Liyana, and I loved their shared interactions and the way their relationship developed. I'd wax on even more about this, but don't want to give too much away! Just, trust me, if mythology is your thing, you will LOVE this portion of the story!
So, considering I've had nothing but praise for this book, you're probably wondering at my final rating. The truth is that I did have a bit of a slow time getting through the book, and even set it aside for nearly two weeks in order to read something else. While I ultimately enjoyed the story a lot, there were moments where I wasn't really compelled to pick it up, despite how much I enjoyed all the things I just mentioned above. This, for me, warrants a bit of a ratings drop, even if that slowness is my one and only fault with the story.
Despite the time it took me to read this, Vessel is still a really wonderful book. Whether mythology is your thing, or you just enjoy reading about strong, stubborn, steadfast main characters, this book is sure to have something that almost everyone will enjoy. If you find it moving more slowly than you'd wish, my advice is to just stick with it; the last half really picks up and makes the whole thing extremely worthwhile.
After the events of The Goddess Test, Kate is on her six-month sabbatical from the Underworld, and has decided to vacation in Greece with her best fri...moreAfter the events of The Goddess Test, Kate is on her six-month sabbatical from the Underworld, and has decided to vacation in Greece with her best friend James (aka Hermes). However, James drops her smack dab in the middle of a millennia-old feud between Castor and Pollux, the Gemini twins, and the gods of the council, which occurred when Pollux broke Castor out of the Underworld. Kate is a lot more sympathetic to the twins, and decides that she must help them remain together, even though it goes against the ruling of the gods (particularly Hades and Zeus).
Let me first say that I didn't think The Goddess Test was that great of a book. Being a huge fan of the myth of Hades and Persephone - I used the tale as my first telling in my Storytelling class - I had major issues with the way the mythology was used, and the "tasks" (for lack of a better word) that Kate had to accomplish in order to become Henry's wife. Some of these same issues are alive and well in The Goddess Hunt, and will most likely be present for the remainder of the series. However, I liked this novella well enough, especially the chapters from Henry's point of view, that I'm going to rate it exactly as I did The Goddess Test. There were some definite things I didn't like - again, with the inconsistency of her mythology - but I will say that Kate was pretty awesome in standing up to Walter. She's got a definite backbone, even if I can't always stand her decision-making.
(view spoiler)[One complaint is Kate's blindness to the faults of the gods and goddesses. She states that she thought they were "good guys" and champions for human kind; and here I was thinking she'd learned anything from the readings and test that Irene put her through in the first book. The gods and goddesses are known for their human failings, and their very real faults - stories of said faults are littered throughout Greek Mythology, aren't they? So where does this inability to see that they're not always "good" or "right" come from? That, to me, didn't make a bit of sense.
And also? I really don't like James. It's true that he's Hermes, the god of tricksters and thieves, etc., so his behavior is a bit more in line with what we know about Hermes, but he seems to take great joy in causing problems for Henry, and I hate the way he plays on Kate's emotions. And I also can't stand Kate's inability to see that that's exactly what he's doing. Drives me truly crazy. (hide spoiler)]
Also, just a note: this isn't a stand alone story. If you haven't read The Goddess Test this won't make much sense. Just an fyi!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Fury by Shirley Marr is not your typical Greek Mythology retelling. In fact, it doesn't become apparent until close to the end how exactly the Furies...moreFury by Shirley Marr is not your typical Greek Mythology retelling. In fact, it doesn't become apparent until close to the end how exactly the Furies - which are vaguely mentioned early on in the story - even play a role in this book at all. What you get for most of the story instead, is a very angry main character by the name of Eliza, and her circle of friends: extraordinarily smart Marianne, beautiful and sweet Lexi, and new-girl Ella. The book is told in a mix of past and present, with Eliza recounting how she came to be arrested and charged with murder - of whom, you don't find out until close to the end. In fact, all of the flashbacks she's sharing with Dr. Fadden are sort of piecemeal, and don't make a cohesive unit until probably midway through the book, which the trigger for the girls' actions is finally explained.
When we think of mythology retellings, we assume we'll see some sort of godly interference, or perhaps a cameo by a character from the myths. That's not at all what you get in Fury. Instead, the story details the way Eliza and her friends went from your average rich girls to a sort of avenging angel - or Fury - wanting retribution for a crime that was committed against one of them. Once everything comes together, the story you get is poignant and thought-provoking, and while I initially was interested because of the tie-in to the Greek mythos, what struck me most while reading was Eliza's journey from someone who was unapologetic, spoiled, and mean, to someone I really felt bad for.
When I think hard about it, I find that I ... actually don't like many people. I must be such an angry person. (pg. 178)
Reading Fury was strange for me, because for much of the book I really didn't like Eliza at all. Even though she called Marianne and Lexi her friends, she didn't really treat them as I would treat someone I professed to care about, Marianne in particular. There was a definite "mean girl" vibe to this book, and it wasn't limited to the three main girls. Likewise, there are a number of issues that the characters are dealing with, from divorced and absent parents, to unresolved crushes, to wanting to fit in, and that's not even mentioning the incident that really kicks this book off (apologies for being vague, but I don't want to spoil!). I also really wish we'd gotten to see more of Neil, as I found him rather fascinating and really wish I could have had more to read about him, as I came away with a few unresolved questions. The ending, too, was likewise ambiguous; you don't really know how things are going to turn out for Eliza or her friends, but I'm thinking that may have been the point. Considering what they're facing, a nicely tied-up ending wouldn't have been remotely realistic.
While not being your typical mythology retelling, Fury managed to grab me nonetheless, and didn't let go until I'd finished the book, almost in one sitting. I found myself thoroughly engrossed in Eliza's story, even if she herself took a while to grow on me. The book is told in the form of a mystery, with the reader not entirely knowing what's happening until everything is finally revealed by Eliza herself. While Fury is unfortunately not available in the US, I'd definitely recommend making use of Fishpond to get yourself a copy; I don't think you'll be disappointed!
When Sasha Bowlder jumps off a bridge in Ascension, Maine, it's the catalyst for several other horrible things. Em decides to get together with her be...moreWhen Sasha Bowlder jumps off a bridge in Ascension, Maine, it's the catalyst for several other horrible things. Em decides to get together with her best friend's boyfriend while her friend is out of town. Chase is dealing with the repercussions of his own actions. And both are about to realize that sometimes sorry isn't enough: for the Furies are watching both Chase and Em, and are about to dish out their own brand of punishment.
So, this book. First off, I have a massive love affair with anything that uses Greek Mythology and sets it in the modern world, so I figured that this book would be right up my alley. And for the most part, I did enjoy it (hence the three stars). But there were some things that really bothered me, which I'm going to attempt to talk about in as nonspoilery a way as possible.
First off, the book flips between Em and Chase's points of view. And I have to say that, for much of this book, Em drove me absolutely crazy. See, she decides to hook up with Zach, who is her best friend's boyfriend, and then proceeds to make excuses as to why this is okay. She justifies it to herself by saying things like Gabby (the best friend) is shallow and Zach deserves someone more grounded (like herself, of course). And she uses the "there's something serious between us!" thing, too, which there totally isn't. For much of the book, she sort of ignores the fact that she's being a really horrible friend. Em also has a best friend named JD who is clearly in love with her. But when he says things Em doesn't like (mostly about Zach), she throws tantrums and treats him like crap. Truthfully JD is a bit of a doormat, because he just takes it and ends up being the one to apologize for upsetting her. Em just isn't a very good person, and as such, it was hard to sympathize with her or relate to her in any way.
And then there's Chase, who has clearly done SOMETHING because it is absolutely tearing him apart. Chase - for me - was the more sympathetic of the two, because he's basically just trying to fit in. He comes from a poor family, living with his mother in a trailer park outside town, but doesn't want the others to know his financial situation. He's the star quarterback of his football team, and has "friends". But he's also a pretty awful person himself, because he hooks up with random girls and generally treats them horribly. That being said, the fact that whatever he's done - and we don't find out what it is until almost the end of the book - is totally tearing him apart and making his life spiral out of control (and frankly he has to withstand the far more serious punishment) makes me feel bad for him. His story arc just made me really sad.
Also, this book starts fairly slowly, and it takes a long time for the plot to come together. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be a surprise for the reader to realize who the Furies are; if so, I'm sorry to say it's dead obvious from the start. There are also a lot of really terrible things going on in this book, from characters throwing around terms like "slut" and "faggot" (I HATE this word), from characters trying to hook up with slightly-drunk girls whose inhibitions have been lowered (they actually say this in the book), from drunk driving/texting while driving, etc. I'm not sure if this is really how teens act nowadays or not, but it definitely seemed over the top.
Still, I'm interested enough to see what's going to happen next that I'm definitely going to read the second book. In particular, I want to see what Em's going to do next, and I'd like to see if the story line about Zach is going to materialize into something worthwhile (because while Em is punished for hooking up with Zach, absolutely NOTHING happens to Zach himself, even though he's been cheating on Gabby from the start with a variety of girls). If not, I will be extremely disappointed, because he is by far the character who is the crappiest human being, at least in my opinion.
Anyway, this book could have been loads better, but the plot itself is interesting enough to keep me reading. I just wish I knew why on earth the Furies would choose to punish people in this small town in Maine. Surely there are others more deserving of their wrath.(less)
Hi. My name is Merin, and I am a Percy Jackson addict.
I love Percy the way a mother loves her child. I am blind to his faults, and adore him even when...moreHi. My name is Merin, and I am a Percy Jackson addict.
I love Percy the way a mother loves her child. I am blind to his faults, and adore him even when he's being a sarcastic pain in the ass. My feelings for him are such that I am physically incapable of giving this book anything less than five stars. Even though Percy isn't the main point of view character he was in his title series, these books are what they are because of him, and his involvement makes it nearly impossible for me to be objective.
That being said? This book is absolutely fabulous.
The elements that made the previous installments so great are ever-present in The Mark of Athena. You still have the humor, the action, and the emotional journeys of the characters. And most of all, you still have Percy being Percy. Except this is a more mature, more tested, more grown up Percy. He's still hilarious, still the character who says things he shouldn't. But he's also the guy who is totally in love with Annabeth, and their relationship is what's really at the heart of this book. Yes, they're trying to figure out how to keep Gaea from waking, and they're going to have to reunite the Greek and Roman camps. But what the previous two books have taught us is that their feelings for each other - their inability to live without the other - have created what is probably the best "One True Pair" of all time. NO ONE will ever be able to compare to Percy and Annabeth, and that's saying something when you consider that they're not even seventeen yet.
"Yeah," Percy said. "I learned a long time ago: Never bet against Annabeth." - 53%
Of course, I can wax poetically about how awesome Percy and Annabeth are together until the end of days, and it still will only encompass part of what made this book so fantastic. The truth is, Annabeth ROCKS this book. She is tough, headstrong, and stubborn, and while she is confronted with some very serious weaknesses, she never gives up, even when things are going against her. Honestly, if you have ANYTHING bad to say about Annabeth after reading this book, please do it elsewhere, because I will be like Octavian in that dock scene; I will be unable to hear you over the wax in my ears. I don't know what the next book is going to bring for Annabeth and Percy, but I have faith that they will be able to overcome whatever it is just because they are together, and as Annabeth said in this book, being with Percy always makes her feel braver. And she's definitely going to need a whole lot of that.
Now, just so this doesn't dissolve into a Annabeth and Percy lovefest, here were some other things I loved about this book. The return of the "dam" joke. The Jason/Percy bromance; I really think these two can be best buds forever. Leo being absolutely kick-ass, and the way he felt like an outsider and became such an integral part of the quest. Piper's brief moments of being awesome (I wish there was more of this and less of her waxing on about Jason). The Hazel and Leo backstory. Jason and Percy working together. The glimpses of the gods and goddesses. Aphrodite's tea party. The ever-present humor interspersed with all the action and adventure. The way that all seven demigods have realized that they can't do this alone and are going to have to work together. The way Riordan combined the Greek and Roman stories together. Reyna. The scene where Annabeth drops her dagger and Percy is awesome. Annabeth's ability to face her worst fear. The Percy/Annabeth reunion scene. All of the Annabeth backstory, which answered nearly every single question I had about her. All of the absolutely hilarious lines.
To sum up: this book was everything I wanted it to be, and more. I love that we got an Annabeth point of view, and I absolutely adored her voice. There were lots of achy-breaky moments in this book, but it just made everything seem more realistic, and it hurt in the good way. Be forewarned, though, that if you read this book, you're going to want the next one immediately. My only complaint is that we're going to have to wait another year to learn what happens next! I'm definitely starting the countdown for The House of Hades. How about you?