Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Publication Date: October 4, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 513
Synopsis: Percy is confused. When he awoke from his long sleep, he didn't know much more than his name. His brain fuzz is lingering, even after the wolf Lupa told him he is a demigod and trained him to fight with the pen/sword in his pocket. Somehow Percy manages to make it to a camp for half-bloods, despite the fact that he has to keep killing monsters along the way. But the camp doesn't ring any bells with him. The only thing he can recall from his past is another name: Annabeth 

Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she didn't do a very good job of it. Sure, she was an obedient daughter, even when her mother was possessed by greed. But that was the problem — when the Voice took over her mother and commanded Hazel to use her "gift" for an evil purpose, Hazel couldn't say no. Now because of her mistake, the future of the world is at risk. Hazel wished she could ride away from it all on the stallion that appears in her dreams. 

Frank is a klutz. His grandmother says he is descended from heroes and can be anything he wants to be, but he doesn't see it. He doesn't even know who his father is. He keeps hoping Apollo will claim him, because the only thing he is good at is archery — although not good enough to win camp war games. His bulky physique makes him feel like an ox, especially in front of Hazel, his closest friend at camp. He trusts her completely — enough to share the secret he holds close to his heart. 
Beginning at the "other" camp for half-bloods and extending as far as the land beyond the gods, this breathtaking second installment of the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives fearsome monsters, and features other remarkable creatures, all destined to play a part in the Prophesy of Seven.
Review: I am loving this Heroes of Olympus series! I didn't like this second installment quite as much as I liked The Lost Hero, but nonetheless, this book was fantastic.

   Finally, Percy's back! He isn't exactly the same Percy from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series because unlike the first series, this one isn't completely focused on him. Instead, this series focuses on seven individual heroes, Percy being only one of the seven. Because of this, Percy isn't quite as heroic as I remembered him to be nor does he seem as much of a leader, but nonetheless, I liked him. He's just as loyal to his friends as before and thankfully, his adorable sense of humor hasn't faded!

   Frank and Hazel are the two new protagonists we meet in this book. I must admit, I didn't exactly warm up to them as quickly as I did to Leo, Piper, and Jason in the first book. Frank seemed to throw himself pity parties and Hazel's chapters started out pretty slow with many flashbacks. However, as the book started to wind down, and as each character shined in their own powerful way, I grew fond of the new protagonists.

   This book's pace is a bit slower, I think, compared to the first book. There's a lot more detail and description behind the two new characters' back stories, which was equally interesting and dull, if that makes sense. I liked some of the past stories, but I also thought some were too slow. However, Frank and Hazel's histories are extremely important to the story and to the plot, so I definitely understand why Rick Riordan included them!

   The cliffhanger is just dreadful. Thank goodness I already have a copy of the third book, or else I'd be dead.

   All in all, I'm so happy I picked up this series. Rick Riordan is an expert at crafting an engaging story with lovable characters, intricate mythology, and lots of adventure (as well as some lovely romance).

   4 keys.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Publication Date: October 12, 2010
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 557
Synopsis: Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god.
Review: I read my first Rick Riordan book in the fourth grade. It was The Lightning Thief and it ignited my love for Greek mythology. The way Rick Riordan can intertwine classic Greek myths so flawlessly into new adventures and modern times is incredible. I quickly fell in love with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. When the first book in the Kane Chronicles came out, I was super excited. It was Egyptian mythology, which I'm unfamiliar with, but I had hope in Rick Riordan's writing. However, The Red Pyramid left me very underwhelmed and disappointed. That's why it's taken me so long to pick up The Lost Hero. I wanted to revisit Percy Jackson so badly, I finally just had to read this series.

   Unfortunately, The Lost Hero contains very little of Percy Jackson himself. However, I completely fell in love with this book and the new characters Riordan introduced. Our new protagonists are Jason, Piper, and Leo. Jason is a serious guy. He doesn't joke around a lot and he seems to carry around a certain sadness. But I loved him. He's responsible and a fighter and a really great person. I can say the same for Piper. She's the daughter of Aphrodite, which upsets her, because she finds Aphrodite's children conceited and shallow. But Piper proves herself. She's vulnerable, but strong and smart. Leo is a fireball (ha! that's actually punny!) of humor and loyalty. He is really funny and silly, but he's so helpful. Each protagonist brings their own specialties to create a tight-knit, heroic group of teenagers.

   The plot and Rick Riordan's writing are just as captivating as I remember them to be from elementary. I am obsessed with the way Riordan can tie old myths with his own original stories seamlessly. The fact that you can identify mythical characters in a new kind of story and setting is part of the fantastic experience of reading Rick Riordan's books. The plot is so fascinating, and the way the characters interact with each other makes it even better. The themes of friendship and teamwork make The Lost Hero such a fun read.

   I really loved The Lost Hero, and am so excited that my love for Rick Riordan's writing has rekindled itself. I just purchased the sequel, The Son of Neptune, today and can't wait to read it. The Lost Hero is an exciting, adventurous novel with fabulous characters and pitch-perfect storytelling.

   5 keys.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Divergent Book 3: ALLEGIANT

I'm sure that many of you already know by now, but I feel the undeniable need to make this obligatory post.

Veronica Roth has released INCREDIBLE NEWS--the name of the final book in the Divergent trilogy.

You can watch the video and read the post HERE.

This is so exciting, you guys, I can barely breathe.

Someone hold me.


(tell me what you think of the title! i love it! it definitely was NOT what i was expecting, which makes me admire veronica even more than i already did!)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Format: eBook
Page Count: 242
Synopsis: Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?
Review: Parker Shelton is a character I immediately disliked. With her boy obsession and bad reputation, my first impression of her was definitely not a great one. It was even enough to make me put down this book for a while. However, I renewed my faith in Miranda Kenneally's writing when I remembered how much I loved Catching Jordan, and I decided to finish this one. And (probably) unsurprisingly to most of you, Miranda delivered!

   Parker is definitely a girl I had trouble connecting with. She spends quite a bit of time on her appearance in hopes of impressing boys, and doesn't think much of hooking up. Her mother caused a large scandal in her church after coming out as a lesbian, so Parker feels the need to prove to everyone that she's not like her mother. That was one of my problems with her. Another was that she was quite selfish. One character has a drug problem, and even overdoses at one point, and Parker honestly does nothing to help the character. On top of this, said character is one of her relatives. Of course, Parker does grow throughout the novel, but I was never really won over by her. I sympathized with her, especially later on when it seems like it was her against the world, but that was about the extent of it. My lack of connection with Parker was probably my main problem while reading this book.

   However, there were quite a few things I did like about this book. After all, it is Miranda Kenneally! She has a way of weaving together some heavy issues with cute boys and humor. I really liked Corndog (AKA Will)--at least, most of the time. He was really sweet and friendly! I also liked Tate. He was such a surprisingly amazing friend to Parker. I didn't like Brian Hoffman, though--never did, to be honest. I'm not sure if I'm alone in that!

   All in all, Stealing Parker is an entertaining and dramatic book about boys, family, and finding oneself. The book goes by very quickly, a bit too quickly in my opinion, and I didn't find Parker very likable nor relatable, but there are several great things in this book. I don't think it's on par with Catching Jordan, but there are many readers who beg to differ!

   3.5 keys.

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