Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
Publisher : Disney Hyperion
Pages : 447
Series : The Kane Chronicles Book Two
Rating: 5/5

     Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister, Sadie, have been in trouble.  As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command; but the devious gods haven't given them time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, a training ground for young magicians.  And now their most threatening enemy yet - the Chaos snake, Apophis - is rising.  If they don't prevent him from breaking free in a few days time, the world will end.  In other words, it's a typical week for the Kane family.
     To have any chance of battling the forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god, Ra.  But that would be a feat more difficult than any magician has ever accomplished.  First they have to search the world for the Cook of Ra, then they have to learn how to chant it's spells.  Oh - and did we mention that no one knows where Ra is, exactly?
     Narrated by two different wisecracking voices, featuring a large cast of new and unforgettable characters, and with adventures spanning the globe, this second installment of the Kane Chronicles is nothing short of a thrill ride.

If you haven’t read The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! It is amazing and hilarious and the book that precedes this one so if you haven’t read that, don’t read this and go by The Red Pyramid.

The Throne of Fire starts a couple months after The Red Pyramid ended and the calling card for new recruits worked.  The Brooklyn House is now full of kids training just in time for the impending threat of Chaos.  Carter is informed by Horus, the Egyptian god who possessed Carter’s body in The Red Pyramid, that in order to keep Chaos from breaking out of prison they needed Ra and to get Ra they must find the Book of Ra and travel through the Duat. So accompanied by their new friends Jaz, Walt and Bes along with some older friends, Anubis, Bast, Amos and Khufu, the set out on a new adventure.

I laughed out loud to my empty room more times than I can count during this book.  It was hilarious! I don’t know if Sadie and I have the same sense of humor but I was always looking forward to her narration.  Sadie always has the perfect comeback and is a great smart ass.  The fact that Bes was a dwarf god who killed things but looking ugly didn’t hurt the hilarity.

I know that the main attraction I find for Rick Riordan’s books is the mythological facts imbedded in the story.  History and mythology in particular is my favorite thing so finding it in a book is amazing.  The Egyptian mythology is perfect in both The Throne of Fire and The Red Pyramid. Although they do change the myths to become more age-appropriate because I’ve read many Egyptian myths and some are extremely weird and hardcore.  However, in The Throne of Fire, I especially loved how the story of Isis stealing Ra’s secret name was interwoven with The Throne of Fire and the importance secret names was given.  Also who doesn’t want a hot Anubis, god of death and funerals, showing up randomly?

The new characters in The Throne of Fire were great additions to the family.  Jaz, Walt and expecially Bes had great chemistry and fit into the story so well I can’t imagine them not in The Red Pyramid.  Although I didn’t really appreciate the little love triangle going on, but I won’t say who the people in the triangle are…it’s a bit of a spoiler.

All in all, I loved this book.  I can’t wait for the next book to come out. It’s also left me with an urge to go put kohl eyeliner on my eyes and practice my hieroglyphs.

Sleepless by Thomas Fahy

Sleepless by Thomas Fahy
Publisher : Simon and Schuster
Pages : 209
Series : N/A
Rating :
Beginning : 2/5
Ending : 5/5

     Someone else will die soon, she tells herself.  Someone else will die, and I'll be responsible.  A few days after the first time you walk in your sleep, you kill someone.
     Emma Montgomery is having trouble sleeping.  Every time she falls asleep, she sees horrible, gruesome things in her dreams - and when she wakes up, she isn't where she was when she fell asleep.  And she's not alone.   Her friends are starting to have the nightmares too.
     And that's when the murders start.
     First one kid dies in a car crash, his breaks mysteriously cut.  Then another girl washed up dead on the beach.  The deaths match the nightmares, and Emma and her friends must confront the awful truth - something is making them kill in their sleep.  Now they're in a race against time to keep themselves awake and figure out what's going on - before someone else turns up dead.

Isn’t the cover amazing! It caught my eye right away and I couldn’t wait to dive into the story.  But, in the end, I was disappointed with many aspects of the book but in love with other parts.

I’ve found that most horror novels I read start off horribly.  They’re incredibly boring and I have to force myself to read the book.  Sleepless was no exception.  Even right now trying to write this review, I can’t remember what the first half of the book was about.  I just read it.  I did soak up the main details and the important plot points but nothing else really mattered I just wanted something scary to happen.  Also, I was not a fan of the way the novel switched between telling the present and telling the past and the dreams.  I found it to be choppy and confusing.

That being said, the last half of the book was amazing.  It was scary with great twists, everything that should be in a good horror novel.  Best of all it was very fast paced nothing that was unneeded happened.  Also Fahy’s descriptive writing which I had found long and annoying in the beginning was greatly appreciated during the ending because it brought the story to life.

Even though, it took me a day to read the first 100 pages and an hour to read the last 100, I did enjoy the novel.  The ending was enough to redeem the book in my opinion. What do you guys think did you like the book?

Monday, June 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by the glorious Story Siren, if you don't know who this is, check her out! This meme is a way to share what books you bought, borrowed, traded, won, or in some random way received the previous week.  This week I traded books at a local used bookstore.  How is it that whenever I go to trade books I get more books coming home with me then I left with?

Archaelogy: The Definitive Guide by Barnes and Noble Books
Beautiful by Amy Reed

Sweep Book 8: Changeling by Cate Tiernan
Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
Luna by Julie Anne Peters

Thats it for me! I hope you guys had a great week and got some awesome books to read in your mailbox!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Of Shadows by Cate Tiernan

Book Of Shadows by Cate Tiernan
Publisher: Speak
Pages: 176
Series: Sweep Book One
Rating: 4/5

"Something is happening to me that I don't understand. I see things, feel things in a new way. I can do things normal people can't do.  Powerful things.  Magickal things. It scares me.  I never chose to learn witchcraft.  But I'm starting to wonder if witchcraft is choosing me."

I must admit, this series is one of my guilty pleasures.  I’m firmly against Twilight and books of that nature but yet I still love Sweep even though it contains the some of the same, for lack of a better word, problems. Although there is not stalking! At least not that I remember…

Book of Shadows starts on the first day of school.  Morgan and her best friend Bree are entering junior year of high school and everyone is gaga over a new senior named Cal.  Cal has this ability to get along with everyone and within a week he has invited most of the upperclassmen to a party in a field.  At this party Morgan participates in her first Wiccan ritual and suddenly she finds herself obsessed with learning more about this culture.

This is my second time reading Book of Shadows and I loved it just as much the second time.  Granted, the first time I read this book was approximately four years ago so I wasn’t remembering the plot while I was reading.  I find Morgan incredibly relatable with her non-existent boobs and beautiful best friend who gets all the guys.  I was replacing myself with Morgan throughout the book. In her place I would have made the same choices and said the same things.

Cal…how can you not love the sexy, perfect, mysterious, new kid? That is exactly who Cal is. Even after finishing the book I have no idea who he is but I still want to follow him into the Wiccan religion.  However, I thought Cal was flat.  He always did what he should, never spoke up and never really showed any personality.  I hope that we’ll get to know him more in the later books, because right now he is just kind and hot.

While you will enjoy this book if you’re a big fan of mysterious, secretive, sexy, no-personality men I would definitely suggest this book, it would also be very informative if you wanted to learn more about the Wiccan beliefs, rituals and cultures.  In my opinion Sweep would be much more informative then The House of Night series. Merry met, merry part and merry meet again.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Mediator: Shadowland by Meg Cabot

The Mediator: Shadowland by Meg Cabot
Published: 2005
Publisher: Avon Books (Harper Collins)
Pages: 287
Series: Book 1 in The Mediator

"There's a hot guy in Suzannah Simon's bedroom. Too bad he's a ghost.
Suze is a mediator - a liaison between the living and the dead.  In other words, she sees dead people.  And they won't leave her alone until she helps them resolve their unfinished business with the living.  But Jesse, the hot ghost haunting her bedroom, doesn't seem to need her help.  Which is a relief, because Suze has just moved to sunny California and plans to start fresh, with trips to the mall instead of spectral visitations.
But the very first day at her new school, Suze realizes it's not that easy.  There's a ghost with revenge on her mind...and Suze happens to be in the way."

 I can now completely understand why so many people love this book and the series The Mediator.  Meg Cabot does a great job telling the story with truly compelling characters that I would love to meet.  Just take away the whole seeing ghosts thing. I couldn’t put this book down. I read it outside in the sun and didn’t even realize I’d gotten badly sun burnt. Ah well.

I, for one, can appreciate the setting of this book. It is set in a Northern California town called Carmel and the main character Suze, goes to school in a mission.  I live in Northern California and have been to Carmel more than once so I could really connect with the setting.  Also the mission was described true to what missions in California actually look like. Also the fog in the morning which burns off by noon is exactly how everyday is in north California.  Details like that showed me that Meg Cabot really knew what she was writing about.

I also loved the characters.  Suze was just perfectly feisty and independent but she still loved the fact that she fit in and was being invited places. Plus I loved that if a ghost doesn’t cooperate the first thing she does is punch them.  Jesse was perfect!  Okay, he did stalk her a little which is creepy but besides that, he is adorable.  And he’s really really sexy. And the banter between Suze and Jesse is just so cute and you know they want to jump each other.  Heather, the ghost who wants revenge, was also great. At times I really felt for her.  I could understand why she wanted revenge and how she had got to be so crazy. Plus all the other characters, Father Dom, CeeCee, Adam and Doc, were great and normal.  Plus the cuteness that radiates from Doc is amazing. I wish he was my little brother.

If you’re looking for a cute summer read with some ghosts thrown in read Shadowland.  Even though they do go to school, the beach is present and school work is put in the background.  I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Especially to learn what will happen between Jesse and Suze.

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston
Published: September 30th 2010
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 304
Series: N/A

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? His son, that's who. Ever since his fathers arrest for the murder of Little Red Riding Hood, teen wolf Henry Whelp has kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves . . . until a murder at the Home leads Henry to believe his father may have been framed. Now, with the help of his kleptomaniac roommate, Jack, and a daring she-wolf named Fiona, Henry will have to venture deep into the heart of Dust City: a rundown, gritty metropolis where fairy dust is craved by everyone and controlled by a dangerous mob of Water Nixies and their crime boss leader, Skinner. Can Henry solve the mystery of his family's sinister past? Or, like his father before him, is he destined for life as a big bad wolf?

Dust City was not my favorite fairy tale retelling, not by a long shot. I’d much rather had reread any of Alex Flinn’s books.  But, the book wasn’t horrible. It was simply okay.  There were a few scenes and chapters that I really enjoyed but they weren’t enough for me to really like this book.

In the world of Dust City, fairydust is a drug.  It can do anything, from a concussion to raising the dead.  Everyone uses it and it’s very addicting.  But the fairies aren’t the ones with the dust.  The fairies disappeared when Henry was a pup and now a corporation called Nimbus is distributing the dust.  Henry breaks out of his wayward house to try to find out why the fairies left, if his dad is innocent and where Nimbus gets their dust.  He meets a whole cast of characters, many of them with their own traditional fairy tale background. For example, Jack;  Jack and the Bean stock; Detective White, Snow White; Skinner, Midas; Cindy Bella, Cinderella; among others.

One of the major problems for me was picturing the animalia.  In Dust City, many species of animals have evolved to stand up right, were clothes and talk.  Also, these animals are the size of humans. That means there are wolves, frogs, ravens, and foxes walking around as big as you and me.  This was incredibly hard to picture.  I pictured Henry and Fiona as humans all of the time.

On the character side of things, I thought the main characters could have been better.  They were a little flat.  I like the side characters much more, even the ones who are supposed to be Henry’s nemesis.  My favorite characters where Detective White and Tom.

What I can say positively is that I never guessed the twists.  They always surprised me. Also I LOVED the setting.  A city hooked on dust, it’s like a city hooked on drugs and what can be more interesting? I especially liked the gritty scenes when Henry was delivering dust to addicts.  I thought that seeing how hooked the city was on dust brought the story to a deeper level. However, I felt these parts should have been part of a different book.  One that delved deeper into the city’s connection to dust, because while Dust City did have these scenes they were never mentioned again and they would have been and should have been dramatizing to Henry.

If you have nothing better to read, and you find Dust City on your library shelf, I would say give it a try.  While very cheesy throughout most of the book, there are scenes that will make you think and wonder if our society is following the same path.  Also Dust City is full of non-stop action with a little wolfy romance slipped it.

This book is part of my Off-The-Shelf book challenge.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Introduction by Carl F. Hovde
Published: 1851
Publisher: Barnes and Noble
Pages: 628
Series: N/A

"On a previous voyage, a mysterious white whale had ripped off the leg of a sea captain named Ahab.  Now the crew of the Pequod, on a pursuit that features constant adventure and horrendous mishaps, must follow the mad Ahab into the abyss to satisfy his unslakable thirst for vengeance.  Narrated by the cunningly observant crew member Ishmael, Moby-Dick is the tale of the hunt for the elusive, omnipotent, and ultimately mystifying white whale - Moby Dick."

Now, I know this isn’t a book that you are going to run out and buy, and I don’t expect you too.  I had to read Moby-Dick for school and liked it a lot more than I thought I would.  I rated this book on a different scale then all other books that I read because I want to, not because I had too. If I didn’t have to read Moby-Dick, I never would have, but because I was required to read it, I actually enjoyed it.

One of my favorite things in this book was Herman Melville’s writing style.  Melville creates great metaphors that help to explain the complicated world of a shipping boat to my fifteen year-old mind.  I also liked how he was able to present complex human issues of mortality and madness without taking a side. But by far my favorite thing was the sarcasm I found every now and then. The sarcasm really helped me to finish this book.

Now, onto the actual story told in the book.  Overall, I really did like the story. It was interesting and shared great insights to humankind.  What I didn’t like was how Melville would go off on long talks about various equipment and rules of a ship.  While these talks did help me understand how a whaling ship works, they were tedious, boring, and at times, unneeded. 

Overall, if you’re looking for a classic with great writing technique and you wouldn’t mind long lectures on shipping, Moby-Dick is the book for you.