Saturday, May 22, 2010
I have the ability to quick view emails without opening them (helpful when on a emailicidal rampage) and what I saw there made me stop in my tracks. My finger hovered over the delete button. I can barely type her words, so I shall copy and paste:
hey there, not to rain on your blog i'm sending this to you at this address--it's "strait" jacket (usually "straitjacket,") not "straight." common mistake. wouldn't have mentioned it but this is a blog about reading, and it didn't seem to be a joke, so thought you might actually appreciate knowing. if it's a joke, and i didn't get it, sorry for being dense.
I flew to Google and clicked through to Wikipedia.
Sure enough, my spelling of straight jacket in our blog header** had been deemed erroneous.
That header, and more specifically, that phrase has been on the blog since it's inception. Not only that, but it is on pretty much every blog directory from here to eternity.
I am mortification personified.
I am this big.
You know how sometimes you're out to dinner with friends, or on a date, or giving a public speech and having a jolly old time and then it all comes to an end when, after said dinner, date, or speech, you look in the mirror only to find a giant piece of broccoli in your teeth?
"Wait. What? Huh? How long has THAT been there? HOW MANY PEOPLE SAW ME WITH FOOD IN MY TEETH?!!?"
So, my question is this:
How many of you knew and didn't tell me!?!?!?
Don't be afraid to come forward. I'm not going to hurt you, per se...
On an entirely different topic:
("Busy" is a funny word if you really look at it)
We need a mini-break.
Don't cry, we'll be back to posting by Tuesday, JUNE 1st.
Until then, have a great Memorial Day!
And for heavens sake, if you see someone with broccoli in their teeth - TELL THEM!
*In case it wasn't clear. I'm being sarcastic.
**It's no use looking up there. I already fixed it.
Friday, May 21, 2010
My Review: This is a prime example of turning lemons into lemonade. Imagine being caught in a lie that destroys your career at the exact same moment that your identity is stolen by a murder...not a good day. Unless you can get the only interviews with said murderer and write a book about it.
The bizarre fact that both stories parallel each other makes for a well organized story and an interesting study of the similarity and differences between the two "main characters." (It is a non-fiction, are there still main characters?) Essentially it presents a spectrum of narcissism and lets you wonder where you fall. Not surprisingly the author tries hard to present himself as a penitent man hoping to return to good graces, with the understanding that having been branded, professionally, as a liar we have no reason to believe him. This is a book you want to discuss with a psychologist (we had one in our book club at the time) for real insight into various pathologies, including your own. (Yikes.)
The subject matter, the gruesome murder of a woman and her children, is presented in a factual reporter-like way. It was neither sensationalized nor sanitized. I was nervous about reading it, and it is horrifying to think that anyone could do that to their family, but it didn't give me nightmares or cause me to distrust mankind.
**Sidenote: If you like this book you'd probably like "Devil in a White City" by Erik Larson and maybe "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote.
My Rating: 4 stars
In one sentence: If you tell a big lie, write a parallel story about a murderer and you'll come out smelling like roses.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
HOWEVER, if you are a fan of Lost and about to be in severe withdrawl once the season ends, I came across a few lists of books that are guaranteed to "fuel your imagination" once Lost ends. Yes, the first is from TV Guide. Weird, but still a nice list. Enjoy them both!
The Lost Reading List : 13 Books that Helped Mold the Series
and from Online Universities (and one Miss Kaitlyn Cole)
25 Books Every Lost Fan Should Read
*Please note how I did not make the overused "I am completely Lost" joke. I hope you appreciate my restraint.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
So much for getting anything done in first semester.
Guided by the wisdom of a retired particle physicist and a paranormal expert named Harker Jefferies, Eric and Kevin embark on a frightening journey overseas to try and defeat the powerful entity. They learn that a forgotten tomb in the middle of an English swamp holds the key to saving both of them, but it will arrive at an unimaginable price. Now the boys must find deep courage, and untangle a terrifying secret that will change their lives forever. (Summary from book - Image from amazon.com )
My Review: This book sat on the top of my piano FOREVER, as some books are consigned to do. I have a really large Need to Read stack and this one got lost in it until the other day when I decided to get my behind in gear and tackle the books given to me for review.
I could get in to all the reasons that I didn’t like this book, but in an effort to be kind, I’ll be brief. It started out well with all manner of delicious creepiness, and then I abruptly lost interest. I can point to the exact moment when I stopped caring. It was when Eric, Kevin, and their father, Matthew, visit an eccentric bookshop owner who seems to have all the answers to all their problems. Unfortunately, his answers just didn’t interest me. After that any adventures or hardship seemed quickly contrived and all too convenient. Things that happened quickly should have happened slowly and vice versa. By the end I was just skimming so that I could be finished. This book doesn't even really end so much as it hangs, waiting for an obvious sequel to be picked up. I sincerely doubt that it will be.
On the upside (depending on your perspective), this book was scary from the get-go –the kind of freaky weirdness that makes you double check the locks and hide under the covers. I’ll probably be kept up at night thinking about certain parts and every time I go to a hotel I’m going to get visual images of that thing in the stairwell. Thanks a lot.
My Rating: 2 Stars. For the sensitive reader: I haven't read a lot of YA horror, but this seemed pretty scary in parts.
Sum it up: It started out creepy and mysterious, but when things became clearer, I didn't like what I read.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Bible/Scriptures - various
6 Readers picked:
The Hunger Games (and here) - Suzanne Collins
(One of the) Harry Potter books (also here, here, here and here) - J.K. Rowling
(One of the) Lord of the Rings Books - J.R.R. Tolkien
4 Readers picked:
Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
3 Readers picked:
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Pride and Prejudice (we've only reviewed the Zombie one) - Jane Austen
The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale
The Help (and here) - Kathryn Stockett
To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Where the Sidewalk Ends - Shel Silverstein
Monday, May 17, 2010
My Review: These three stories are part of a series of five, each centered on a different sense, that was left unfinished by the author’s death. Before reading them, I hadn’t realized what a loss two unwritten stories could be. Each of the three existing stories, though very different in tone and style, is a small, multifaceted masterpiece.
One of the startling aspects of these stories for me is the effect they have in the hours, days, and weeks after I’ve read them. The first story—in addition to making me crave spicy foods—has forced me to re-evaluate the way I handle myself in my close relationships. Who would have thought that cannibalism could be inspiring as well as entertaining?
The second story is a sort of existential nightmare, a shifting minefield of meaning and identity. If modern philosophy—from Hegel’s dialectic to Foucault’s critique of power relationships—were a tragic love story, this would be it. Or perhaps it’s the story of an ego divorced from its id. Either way, you don’t need to know, or care, about philosophy or psychoanalysis to get caught in this story’s mad web of words.
For me, the third story was the weakest, but that might be because I have a nonfunctional sense of smell, so it’s hard for me to relate to characters who live through their noses. Like the sense that it centers on, this story seemed a bit muddled, lacking the crispness of the other stories. But perhaps that was the point. Regardless, Calvino’s off days would be another writer’s strokes of genius, so perhaps I’m just jealous.
Star Rating: 5 stars. Contains mature themes maturely handled.
Sum it up: Three of the most entrancing short stories I’ve read; whoever let Calvino die before he finished the other two should be shot.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
This is a book about me.
It tells the story of what happens when after almost fifteen pathetic years of loserdome,
the girl of my dreams finally falls for me.
That seems like it would be a good thing, right?
Only it turns out to be a lot more complicated than that.
Don't get me wrong--my girlfriend's amazing.
But the way things have been going lately,
I'm starting to believe that the only thing worse
than not getting what you want,
is getting it.
(Image from sonyasones.com - Summary from back of the book.)
My Review: This is a fast read. And not just because of the way the book is organized--almost every page is set up like a new poem, free verse in style. Initially it looked like a book I would bypass: I'm not (for the most part) into sappy love stories or chick-flick type reads with petty romance and betrayal. I decided to get the book for my classroom collection when my students kept asking for it for silent reading. Although this still didn't convince me to crack the cover. It wasn't until I gave my students the option of picking a book, any book they wanted as long as it was paperback, and I'd see if I could finagle a way to buy one for them and get it in their hot little hands before summer break, for their own, to keep forever. A majority of my students wanted the second in the series of The Hunger Games, (Catching Fire) but this came in second. Finally, I opened to page one.
It was such a refreshingly fast read. And it was hilarious. I laughed many times out loud causing my students to think I'd fallen off my rocker. Now, don't get me wrong on the content. It's definitely high school level in content. But the way the pages are separated into poems with titles that flow into the story and the breaks in the lines adding emphasis to the story, it was a fun break from the usual set up. There's something satisfying about flying through a book so fast you surprise yourself with how fast it's finish. This is definitely a book you could read in one sitting.
Robin is a pathetic boy who's never fit in. It's not because he isn't an interesting guy. It's because he made one simple mistake in elementary school that followed him, plagued him, until high school. In fact, he's a very cool kid. This is his story of growing up, breaking barriers he thought would never be torn down, and coming of age.
As is typical for me, I didn't read the back of the book, but this time I didn't check who the author was either. I was 45 pages in before I even thought to look. Surprise: it's written by a woman! She has middle school/high school hormonal-boy down, pat. I honestly thought it was a male author. Her depictions of males were accurate in that it shows how easily they are sexually stimulated at that age, but also that some are truly caring, thoughtful young men fighting against natural instincts.
Themes in this book I'd bring up for discussion with my students are social acceptance, changing your perception of yourself and the world, fidelity, trust, honesty, how to deal with anger, teen angst, self-acceptance, how we treat others, getting outside yourself, developing your talents, and many more.
I'm not sure this book is for every high school kid. It is one I would use for students who struggle with reading, find books boring and difficult to read because of all the words on the page, and students who are more interested in the social aspect of school life than the academic. While I think the academically minded kids could enjoy this and would find the read quick and funny, I think the audience it best suits is lower level, or non-readers. It builds confidence, is humorous, and manages to hit on the issues that many of those kids are facing on a daily basis while surviving the high school grind.
***NOTE: There's a lot of sexual reference. Basically first and second base are covered. Nothing more. If you're uncomfortable with your teen reading that much, steer clear. If you don't mind the realities of what kids are doing in relationships these days (and far more, I assure you), and can find humor in how a hormonal boy views the world, you'll get a kick out of this book.
Rating: 4.5 Stars--I dropped it down a bit for content just because at times it's a bit shallow. But, it's so spot on and hilarious, it almost deserves a 5, although as a YA read only, not adult reading.
Sum it up: Engaging and entertaining to the point of hilarity--a true high school saga.
Friday, May 14, 2010
The story follows Luciano, a street urchin adopted as an apprentice by the doge’s head chef. While performing menial labor and hoping for promotion, Luciano witnesses some strange activity that leads to an exciting mystery. Throughout this book, Luciano is manipulated by various characters and plagued with mistrust. I was a little irritated when his loyalties changed with nearly every chapter but, irritation aside, I feel his fickleness was in character for someone who spent a majority of his young life on the streets. Chef Ferrero was the picture of kindness and honor, yet it was his tendency to spout heretical theory and his passion for cooking (and interfering) that made him one of my favorite characters.
Even though I reveled in the culinary bits, was pleased by the characters that Newmark created, and really enjoyed reading this book, when I closed it I wasn't satisfied –mostly, but not completely. I wanted a little more mystery and a little more revelation – conflicting desires, to be sure. Some parts of this book (especially in regards to who had the book) were completely obvious, and other parts (like what the book held and how it was coded) were never fully explained at all.
My Rating: 4 Stars, but just barely. For the sensitive reader: The story has one or two briefly crude moments and arrives at some fairly heretical conclusions that might offend the kind of person who was offended by Da Vinci Code (sorry I can’t be more specific). It didn't bother me.
Sum it up: A promising novel that almost lived up to my expectations.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Haunted by a dark and dangerous past, Colonel Link McGraw is the officer chosen to train and lead these special “soldiers.” In the course of battles to renew his tattered reputation, he, above all, knows what constitutes the perfect soldier. It’s simple: Follow orders, command decisively, make no excuses, and have no regrets.
When Egyptian beauty Fala al-Shohada and Israeli Joshua Krantz, romantically paired archaeologists, stumble across the top secret project, they are determined to uncover its true nature and pursue their quest to the island of Diego Garcia. Science and politics clash, as do Krantz and McGraw, who vie for Fala’s affection. When they discover they aren’t the only ones on the island competing for her attention, shocking truths are revealed.
The future of the entire human race comes to a crossroads on Lemuria. Will humanity find there its loftier spirit or become a lesser species in earth’s evolution? (Summary from book - Image from thrillerwriters.org - Review copy courtesy of publisher)
My Review: I should have heeded the warning on the gimmicky paper seal that held this book when it arrived in the mail: “Warning: Detailed information about the Lemuria Project is contained within this novel.” If I knew then what I know now, I would have set the book aside and saved myself the trouble of learning about what is surely among the least thrilling secret military projects ever devised by aspiring fictioneers.
It’s not that the plot was predictable and the characters wooden; one comes to expect these things from genre fiction, and see past them. In fact, using a stock plot, near-stock characters (aside from the military mens’ unexpected new-aginess, about which more later), and background research that had all the depth of a Wikipedia article should free an author up to focus on grand visions, penetrating insights, or thought-provoking speculation. No such luck here, though; Forty Eight X-The Lemuria Project fills its pages with plodding exposition, dialogue that reads like late-night infomercial transcripts, and platitudinous hand-wringing about the ethics of war and genetic manipulation. Finally, it drags itself to a series of heavily-telegraphed plot “twists” that serve in place of any true climax.
But on the bright side, the novel’s very clumsiness opens the door for moments of true entertainment. The image of a battle-hardened, square-jawed general getting touchy-feely with his flaky “spiritual guide” above the cosmic vortices of Sedona will stay with me for—at least a bit. Such moments abound, thanks to the book’s attempts to shoehorn all of its poorly-fitting themes into a coherent plot. In other words, this one’s for you, B-movie fans and connoisseurs of the unintentionally ironic. All others, consider yourselves warned.
Star Rating: 2 stars. Warning for delicate sensibilities: It’s not the graphic carnage that has the potential to offend so much as the distressingly awkward sex scenes and the cavalier chauvinism with which they’re handled.
Sum it up: Jurassic Park with apes and reincarnation, but with less dramatic tension.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
My Review: I know what you are thinking. As if the gentle criticism on the similarities wasn't enough, she had to go and give it a title that conjured up all the New Moon hype we have been seeing. To top it all off, they are both the second in their series.
After surviving her seventeen year old boyfriend's 600 year old ex-wife (yes, you read that right), Ever is beginning to get used to her new abilities and her new relationship with Damen. She makes peace with her demons and finds her place in her school and in Damen's arms. When Damen starts acting....well...normal, Ever has to figure out what has happened to her invincible soul-mate and more importantly who is responsible. As their relationship unravels, Ever will explore new dimensions of our world , and new dimensions of her heart as she faces the knowledge that to save him she may have to have him forever.
I read the this novel, the second in Noel's Immortals series, in less than 24 hours. It was so hard to watch these character fall apart after I had come to love their little teenage love affair so much in the first book. I liked the direction she took this book, casting doubts on everything she had revealed in Evermore and leaving you wondering if Damen and Ever will ever find happiness after 400 years of tragedy and heartbreak.
My Rating: 4 Stars. Again, these books would be appropriate for 14 plus years of age.
Sum it up: Looking forward to the third book in the series -- Shadowland.
Read Kim's review or Mindy's review of Evermore, the first book in Noel's The Immortals Series.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Damen is gorgeous, exotic, and wealthy. He's the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head--wielding a magic so intense, it's as though he can peer straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she's left with more questions than answers. And she has no idea just who he really is--or what he is. The only thing she knows to be true is that she's falling deeply and helplessly in love with him. (Photo from www.alysonnoel.com - Summary from back cover)
My Review: Before I begin my review I would like to apologize for my extended absence. I had what can only be described as severe reviewers block. It's the truth, seriously. I truly harrowing experience.
Back to Evermore..
Ever Bloom is cursed, or so she thinks. When a tragic accident claims the lives of not only her parents, but her younger sister and golden retriever, Ever wakes up to discover she can hear peoples thoughts. In a high school full of preppy cheerleaders and jocks who have branded her a "freak", she chooses to bed down with a hoodie and a blaring ipod to survive her days. On her return to her Aunt's house, with whom she was placed after the accident, she spends afternoons talking to her dead sister and immersing herself in blame for her family's death.
Isolating herself with her only two friends (a Gothic wanna be and a homosexual thespian), Ever's world is turned upside down when Damen walks into her art class and for the first time the thoughts swirling around in her head are quieted.
The story is typical, especially in the wake of the Twilight rage, but Evermore stands on it's own. Noel dares to take us where Meyer did not. Exploring the world of teenage sexuality and the pressure that these "freaks" are put under each day at the hands of fellow classmates. Not to mention a bout of severe alcohol abuse, and teenage tattooing.
As Ever and Damen continue on their journey they encounter obstacles that are (quite literally) not of this world. I found myself slightly enchanted by the world the the author created. I sympathized with Ever and her situation at school. But mostly (I am only slightly embarrassed to say), Evermore gave me that zing. That first kiss, butterflies in your stomach feeling that you get when your are indulging yourself in a teenage romance novel. Come on, you and I both know there was a time before kids and husbands where just a look from a cute boy set our hearts to pounding. It is a fun feeling and I believe that is why these books are such a popular genre.
Sidenote: Although these novels received some criticism for there similarities to the Twilight series, I am going to go ahead and say what I have been thinking which is that yes the similar plot line is there, but in my opinion Noel showcases more writing talent with her first two novels in her Immortal series. It is strictly my OPINION, please don't bombard me with hate mail......)
My Rating: 4 Stars. I would say this novel is appropriate for 14 plus years of age.
Sum it up: A good guilty pleasure.
Also reviewed by Mindy.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
You may have tangible wealth untold;
When I found out I was having a little girl of my own, some of the first books I purchased were the Anne of Green Gables boxed set. At a very young age, I remember my mom reading this series to my sister and I while we were snuggled in our bunk beds, hanging on her every word.
~ Kari ~
My favorite book though, amidst the thousands we read, is Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch. My mother would sing the little lullaby in the story. Then and now I could feel the truthfulness of those words and the conviction in her voice. Mom, you are a major reason I learned to read and love to read. I love you! Love, Kari
I don't remember when I first learned to read, but I do have a first memory of reading. I remember nestling deep in the blankets of my parent's water bed and trying to follow the tiny black print as my mom read me The Hobbit, one chapter a night, as a bedtime story. I was four, maybe, or five, and hearing my mother’s voice soon made Tolkein’s imaginary world as real to me as the world I inhabited the rest of the day.
By the time she had gotten to Return of the King a few months later, I was sneaking into her bedroom during the day to take the book off the shelf and try to read ahead. I wasn't able to puzzle out more than a page or two, but that didn’t matter—I was reading, and I’ve never looked back, except to thank my mom for taking the time to show me the wonders that lie beyond the gate of an open book.
Dear Mom, Thank you for everything you have given me. Your time, your praise, your compassion, and mostly your love. Thank you for being a reader, and supporting me with all my reading endeavors, even when you were unsure a 12-year-old should be reading Patricia Cornwell. I love you.
The one story I remember my mother reading frequently to my sister and I is Where the Wild Things Are. It was with this book that I realized the power of reading. Just by opening the cover you can escape to another world -- wherever you want to go surrounded with whoever you choose. And thus my love of books began. Thanks Mom, for helping to write this chapter of my life.
It often happened that everyone in my family would be sitting around reading on a Sunday afternoon. This family of fast readers can only give credit to our mother. But what I want to talk about is a little lesson that my mom may have innocently and inadvertently taught me. At some point in the late 90s I realized a trend. My mom would get a book or two for Christmas and then in early January she'd be struck down with a energy sapping illness. Coincidence? Probably, after all, she did look pretty miserable when I'd peak in the bedroom...but...
Nowadays, when I really need/want to read a book, or do any other "me" type of activity, I remember that our lives went on while my poor mom recuperated in her room with a good book. And you know what? While my young kids do need a bit more daily assistance than I did as an older teenager, the other stuff, the house...and um, house, can wait just a few more chapters while I recoup from whatever ails me. My mom taught me to love reading, and she also taught me to "do what is best for you." And she also taught me that when the book is over, get up and finish the dishes.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
The Blog Monster Award
Fighting for FA - A beautiful blog for a beautiful cause.
I'm giving this award out to blogs that brighten my day (or Kari's) when we see a new post.
Friday, May 7, 2010
My Review: Molly Lou Melon is adorable. She's is everything that the summary entails and - because her grandmother is such a wise woman - proud of it. When the vertically-challenged Molly Lou moves to a new school and starts getting picked on, she holds her head high, stays true to herself, and doesn't give up. I absolutely love this book! From the exaggerated illustrations of the wonderful David Catrow to it's sweet and powerful moral message, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon is a book that I will read to my children until the cover falls off...and then I'll go buy another one.
My Rating: 5 Stars
Sum it up: A wonderful example of how be proud of who you are and to love what makes you unique.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man's guilt. For on San Piedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries--memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo's wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched. Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense--but one that leaves us shaken and changed. (Summary from back of the book and image from http://bengalspurr.com/wordpress/)
My Review: Atmospheric is spot on. You can tell Guterson knows the Puget Sound and knows island life. He gets island (or what I am guessing you could equate to small town) people down to their core. This was one of those books that was so well written, you have to admire the prose by itself even if you didn't like the rest of the story. It was also one of those books that seemed to have more description than necessary or than you'd ever really need. After a time I began skimming sections because I already 'got' the atmosphere, the intricate details, the mood and tone the author was trying to portray. Truthfully by the end, I was just wanting to know the final outcome. Flashbacks are great, tell a lot of how the story came to be, but when it all comes down to it I really just wanted to know the verdict!
I have to mention that it seemed this author had a strong inclination towards anything sexual. Almost every character had some sort of description regarding his or her sex life. Some of the relationships seemed so shallow because they existed solely because of sex. How depressing. While I realize that this is based post-WWII and that many men came back altered to the point of having little to no communication skills, it still seemed over the top. But, then again, I've been informed that many people's relationships are solely about the sexual relationship. This could be quite accurate--sad if you ask me, but accurate.
Guterson did an amazing job depicting each character, showing the flaws and the strengths, helping you find value despite the weaknesses each one had. He also did an amazing job portraying prejudice, how war corrodes even the most gentle people, and how it trains the way you look at the world forever after.
While I can't say I'll read this again, I find myself thinking about the island, the people, their trials, and wondering if, as they moved on with their lives, they were able to mend some wounds that seemed unable to heal. This is a mark of a good book in my eyes: one in which you wonder about the characters long after you've finished it.
Rating: 4 Stars. It was too depressing to be 5 and also, for my taste, contained too much sex.
Sum it up: A complex story of history, war, prejudice, and convoluted facts leading to what could be a disastrous ending for Miyamoto.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Soon, Bianca and Lucas are on the run again, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they travel, Bianca can't escape her destiny.
Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything...but can it survive what's to come? (Summary from book - Image from harpercollins.com )
My Review: In my reviews of Evernight and Stargazer I expressed concern that the YA series would introduce more adult themes. In Hourglass, Lucas and Bianca do eventually make their way into the bedroom (and for more than just a good cuddle). While Gray still manages to keep the interaction fairly vague, with descriptions of foreplay but none of the actual act, I am still disappointed that she had to take that step. I’m not surprised, but I am frustrated, that authors think they need to push characters to have sex in order to maintain a reader’s interest. How about spending more time on plot development? Hourglass could have used it.
It’s been a while since I read the books preceeding Hourglass, but I seem to remember them being a lot more thrilling. Lucas and Bianca are stuck feigning loyalty to Black Cross while they attempt to save up enough money to break free from the group. That portion of the story felt drawn out even though it really was only the first 88 pages. There were plenty of opportunities to escape that the characters didn’t take. It seemed like Gray was intentionally making something hard that should have been easy within the story.
One of the things that I loved about Evernight, and liked about Stargazer, was that I didn’t always know what was going to happen. Evernight gave me something new. Stargazer kept me interested. Hourglass didn’t do any of those things until almost the very end of the book. Someone dies (I won’t say who) and something interesting happens* (I won't say what) and then THE BOOK ENDS. BAM.
It’s a testament to how NOT into this book I was that I didn’t fling it across the room. I just put it down and walked away. I don’t know if I’ll be picking up the next one or not. Where are they going to go next? A pregnant vampire? Oh please, NO! I’ve had enough of pregnant vampires to last the next three lifetimes.
My Rating: 3 Stars. This book was just okay for me. Parents - there is teenage sex (albeit mild) in this book. Know that if you pass it along to your kids.
Sum it up: Eh. It was okay.
*I will say that some things came a little too easily to Bianca. This won't mean anything unless you've read the book.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it's up to Percy Jackson and his army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.
In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling series, the long awaited prophecy surrounding Percy's sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate. (Summary from the inside cover flap and image from http://fcpltab.wordpress.com/)
My Review: What a fantastic ending! I love how the prophecies have you guessing all the way up until the end. You keep thinking you know what's coming and then Riordan throws a twist. All those tangled girl relationships in book #4 are resolved in this one. Percy really does seem to have matured and grown up since the first book. The ending shows growth and selflessness, which as a theme for the Greek myths and their gods is a welcomed change.
Riordan has a way of telling the battle scenes that can keep my attention--and this is tricky considering I prefer character driven plots. The imagery is strong. He keeps the suspense building so that hours can go by while reading and you're not aware of how many pages you've burned through. It really gives a feeling of 'I have to know how this ends!"
By adult standards maybe it was too 'tie everything up with a nice bow' to be 5 stars. As a YA book, it was great. I'm so glad I read this series. It kept you on your toes, gave lots of Greek mythology, and added a fun, modern twist. And, I think it will lure in my male students to enjoy reading.
Rating: 5 Stars
Sum it up: A climactic end to a great series.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
In this fourth installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos's army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth--a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn. (Summary from book - Image from amazon.com)
My Review: Battle of the Labyrinth continued along similar lines as the previous novels – action, adventure, almost certain death followed by miraculous escape. While previous novels have been set primarily in human world, with occasional jaunts into the mythological realm, this book was the opposite. Most of the action took place in an underground labyrinth riddled with monsters, ghosts, and deadly traps. I found that I wasn’t nearly as taken with this book as I have been with the previous three. I much preferred the heroes above ground adventures to the Labyrinth and the time they spent in it.
I’ve heard people criticize this series as being too “cinematic” and they are right. Riordan’s books are very cinematic, but that is what I like about them. He always keeps the story moving (a surefire way to keep a young, reluctant reader or this tired mom’s attention) and I can always see the action quite clearly in my head. What can I say? Sometimes my imagination needs a little encouragement.
I definitely sensed a change in the characters and storyline in this book. Battle of the Labyrinth shows a darker aspect than any of the previous novels with themes of revenge and betrayal, while still staying relatively kid-friendly. As with most series (ahemHarryPotterahem) Percy is growing up and so is his story.
My difficulties with this book did nothing to temper my eagerness for the final novel, The Last Olympian, which is currently out in hardcover. The only thing that is keeping me from buying it and completing my series is that I’m one of those weird people that needs my series to all be the same format (mass market, trade paper, or hardcover). I can’t mix and match. It bugs me. So, I’m 10 out of 13 in the library reserve line and it is not-quite-but-almost killing me.
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Sum it up: My least favorite of the series, but still worth reading.
Also reviewed by Kari.
Come back tomorrow for Kari's review of the final book in the series, "The Last Olympian".