Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: The Mark Of Athena

The Mark Of Athena (Heroes Of Olympus #3)
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: October 2, 2012
586 pages
5 Gold Stars

NOTE: I highly suggest you read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series first, as it sets everything about this series in motion. Then, follow that with The Lost Hero, and I promise you won't regret it.

(summary from Goodreads)

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she's about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo's fantastical creation doesn't appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that's only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close—the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth's biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he's now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Percy Jackson is, without a doubt, my favourite. I just want him to be real so we can hang out in bubbles under the sea together (Annabeth is definitely invited too!) I fell in love with him when he was just a 12 year kid with ADHD and didn't know what he was capable of. Turns out, he's capable of quite a lot. Being the son of Poseidon and all, he has a real knack for getting into trouble and finding just the right way to get out of it. His friends certainly help him a lot, especially Annabeth, the wise daughter of Athena, who steals his heart and promises to never let go. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series ends with our friends, now teenagers, destroying the Titans and saving Olympus. Percy also gets the perfect underwater kiss from Annabeth and things seem like they're looking up for our young heroes.

Which is why, of course, the Heroes Of Olympus series starts with a whole new problem and all new quests. We meet a new group of demigods and discover a whole new enemy that must be defeated. In the first instalment we meet Jason, Piper, and Leo. Jason doesn't remember who he is and it turns out that he is from a Roman camp that has been hidden from the Greek demigods. Hera has swiped him and Percy, hoping that they each can gain the trust of the opposite camps so that they can work together to defeat Mother Earth from awakening and destroying Olympus once and for all. Percy has been at the Roman camp becoming friends with Hazel and Frank. Together, the seven of them make up a big prophecy, one that may end some of their lives.

The Mark Of Athena starts with what we've all been hoping for - a Percabeth reunion. Having to go through two books knowing they weren't together was torture, and when they finally meet each other after those long months apart, it is perfection. Riordan knows how to make us want more. And just as Percy and Annabeth are getting to remember each other, the crew is sent through the Mediterranean to Rome to find Nico, Hades's son who has been captured by giants. Annabeth has her own quest she must complete though. She must follow the mark of Athena and find the missing Athena statue and return it to Olympus. The only problem is she must do it alone and it's all Percy can do not to stop her. Just as our power couple is brought back together, they are torn apart and we are left wondering if they will ever see each other again. 

This book has a lot more character development than most of the others. Told from four different viewpoints, we see some couples grow closer together while others fall apart. Piper and Jason seem to have a superficial relationship, but I know they both love each other deeply. Leo reminds Hazel of her old boyfriend and is therefore thinking about him as well as her boyfriend, Frank. But what's important is that Greeks and Romans work together to fulfill the prophecy and rescue Nico. While the other Romans plan an attack on Camp Half-Blood, our heroes work together to try and close the Doors of Death and bring peace and order back to the world. 

The adventures in this book trump all the others. As soon as they land in Rome, you know things are going to get tough. With plans of going to Greece in the next book, The House Of Hades, I know this quest will just get more epic by the minute. Will our heroes survive? Can they close the Doors of Death? I don't want to spoil the ending of this book, as it is a turning point in the story, but all I'll say is that if you weren't attached to the characters when you started H.O.O., you'll certainly be eager to read the rest of their story come November next year. This series is turning out to be tougher, wittier, and scarier than the last, keeping you turning the pages until the very end and then saying "Wait? It's over?" when you get there.

“It's okay,” he said. “We're together.” He didn't say you're okay, or we're alive. After all they'd been through over the last year, he knew that the most important thing was that they were together. She loved him for saying that.” 

“We're staying together," he promised. "You're not getting away from me. Never again.” 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Pining for 2013

So it's the end of November and soon 2012 will be over. The good part about this? 2013 promises some fantastic book releases and much anticipated sequels to our favourite series. This week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is all about those books we're anticipating for 2013. These are the ones I can't wait to get my hands on!

1. Requiem by Lauren Oliver: The final instalment in the Delirium trilogy is sure to come to a breathtaking conclusion. I can't wait to see how Lena survives in a cured world.

2. Fever by Lauren DeStefano: Another one of my favourite dystopian series, I know the conclusion to The Chemical Garden trilogy will leave me gasping.

3. With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent: By far, the series that I never want ending. Soul Screamers is one my top series and through the six books so far, Kaylee has been through hell and back and kicked so much butt there and back. I know this final book will have it all, but I'm sad to see the series end.

4. My Name Is Rapunzel by K.C. Hilton: There isn't much information about this book, but it's about Rapunzel and that's good enough for me. I can't wait to see where the author will take this fairy tale.

5. Dance Of Shadows by Yelena Black: Deadly ballet? Yes please. This book sounds hauntingly beautiful and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

6. All The Rage by Courtney Summers: Summers is one of my top authors and I'm so excited for her new book. Her characters pop off the pages and her plots leave you on the edge of your seat. This one sounds like it will be the best of both worlds.

7. Pivot Point by Kasie West: I love tales about people with special abilties. This one is about a girl who can see both outcomes for the future. Sounds intriguing.

8. The Program by Suzanne Young: A new dystopian series about a program that takes away suicidal thoughts, but leaves an empty cell behind sounds like it could be up there with Delirium and Divergent.

9. Towering by Alex Flinn: Flinn has a way with fairy tales. She takes well known stories and turns them into something completely original and new. So I know that her Rapunzel will give Tangled a run for its money.

10. The House Of Hades by Rick Riordan: So I just finished The Mark Of Athena and it left me broken hearted and eager for more. So November 2013 can't come soon enough because I need to know what happens next!!

And, as a honourable mention, simply because it doesn't have a title yet, Divergent #3 is definitely one of my top books I'm pining for. This is one of my favourite series and I know the conclusion will be epic!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review: Paranormalcy

Author: Kiersten White
Published: August 31, 2010
335 Pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.

But Evie's about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

Evie Green is a breath of fresh air in a sea of boring, frigid heroines. She's funny, sarcastic and has a mean sense of fashion. Plus, she kicks serious paranormal butt. The opening lines to this book says it all - 

“Wait- did you-- You just yawned!” The vampire’s arms , raised over his head in the classic Dracula pose, dropped to his sides. He pulled his exaggerated white fangs back behind his lips. “What, imminent death isn’t exciting enough for you?”

“Oh, stope pouting. But, really, the widow’s peak? The pale skin? The black cape? Where did you even get that thing, a costume store?” 

This was hilarious! And it certainly set the pace for the rest of the novel. Evie deals with some serious stuff and deadly beings but she hardly shows any fear. In fact, the only thing that scares here is Reth, her ex-faerie-boyfriend-thing. And you can't blame her because he has some serious mojo over her and I'd be scared to sleep too. But even with that fear lurking around her, she doesn't let it stop her from working and making friends, especially with the new kid that broke into the centre (the IPCA, which helps keep paranormal beings stabilized). Lend, a shape shifter, catches Evie's attention immediately. He is a supernatural being that she's never met before and he feels the same way about her. 

See Evie isn't entirely human. She can see through glamours, the mist that paranormal beings use to make themselves look normal to humans. She has always been able to see whats underneath, but she thought it was just a gift. Soon, with the help of Lend, she realizes she's much more than that. And with someone out attacking paranormals, Evie isn't sure what's safe and what's not anymore. The centre has forever been her only home and she's desperately wants to be a normal teenager. but by the looks of it, that's not going to be happening anytime soon. 

As Evie tries to live a normal life, hell breaks loose around her. Reth is still trying to take her heart and this rampaging paranormal showing itself to her. Add in Lend, vampires and werewolves and Evie's life is far from normal. This book was super easy to read and it threw me into a world that I didn't want to leave. I can't wait to pick up the next instalment, Supernaturally, to see what will happen next in Evie's crazy life. 

“Tasers are a one-size-fits-all paranormal butt-kicking option. Mine’s pink with rhinestones.” 

“I hate the vamp jobs. They think they're so suave. It's not enough for them to slaughter and eat you like a zombie would. No, they want to be all sexy, too. And trust me: vampires? Not. Sexy.” 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: The Rise Of Nine

The Rise Of Nine
Author: Pittacus Lore
Published: August 21, 2012
360 Pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Until the day I met John Smith, Number Four, I'd been on the run alone, hiding and fighting to stay alive.

Together, we are much more powerful. But it could only last so long before we had to separate to find the others. . . .

I went to Spain to find Seven, and I found even more, including a tenth member of the Garde who escaped from Lorien alive. Ella is younger than the rest of us, but just as brave. Now we're looking for the others--including John.

But so are they.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They caught me in New York--but I escaped.
I am Number Six. 
They want to finish what they started.
But they'll have to fight us first.

So I thought this was the final book, thus I expecting a lot of fighting and Mog killing and the Legacies finally getting their revenge and being able to get home to Lorien. Either way, the adventure throughout this book did not disappoint, I suppose I should have made sure it was the last one or not before I started it. That may have changed my judgement.

All the Legacies have been found but one. Though separated, Six and Four have a plan to reunite as soon as they can find others. Six is in India with Seven, Ten and a Cepan, looking for Number Eight. Four is still in the U.S. with Nine looking for Sam, hoping he's okay. He's been having strange dreams and thinks there's more to him than he thinks. None of them know how they'll ind each other again or where Setrakus-Ra is or how to defeat him. As their legacies develop and they continue to find each other, they come closer to finally going home. 

This novel is told from three vantage points: Four, Six and Seven. It's easy to know who's talking as Lore indicates it quickly in the writing. This way we get to see what's happening on both sides of the world, and as the Legacies get closer together, I felt I was on the edge of my seat waiting for them to find each other. Its similar to The Power Of Six in that way, now that the Legacies know about each other, it's all about getting together to fight. There are many twists and turns along the way and there are still many unanswered questions. 

Lore's writing is fluent and solid and easy to read. He draws you in and doesn't let you go until the last page, and even then he keeps you wanting more. The characters are all different and unique even though most of them have the same sort of powers. I like that they all have more than one ability and get away with it because they are aliens. The concept has intrigued me from the start and now I really want to read the last book (hopefully it's the last?) so that I can see how this series ends. It seemed like the type of series that could have been done in three, so I'm hoping the next one is the last because I don't want it to drag on. I can't wait to meet the last legacy and for them to finally defeat the Mogs and make their way home. 

Who will have the powers of Pittacus Lore? Who  will be the one to defeat Setrakus-Ra? Will they all make it out alive? Wish I didn't have to wait a year to find out!

“I know what I'm capable of; I am a soldier now, a warrior. I am someone to fear, not hunt.” 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Safe Haven

Safe Haven
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Published: September 14, 2010
340 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.

But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo’s empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

I quickly became a Sparks fan after reading The Notebook. I then decided his books would be all that I'd read for months. I got pretty far, finished all but five of them, before my heart couldn't take it anymore. So I stopped, for quite some time, so that I could repair the damage he had done. Now with a movie coming out for Safe Haven in February, I knew it was time to get back into the game. My heart was ready. I dove in preparing for the worse and came out with some tear shed but not the kind I expected.

Safe Haven takes a new turn that I have yet to see in any of Sparks' novels. Katie escapes to a small North Carolina town to hide from her abusive husband. Her plan is to stay low key, save up some money, and leave whenever she feels she's been there too long. But after meeting her neighbour, Jo, and the friendly and cute store owner, Alex, she quickly decides that this is where she should be. Soon she is falling in love with a wonderful man who treats her right and letting her guard down for once in her life. Things seem perfect and it's up to her to decide if this is the life she wants to live now. But her husband, Kevin, is a good detective and it's only a matter of time before he finds her. 

This book kept me on the edge of my seat. Life in Southport seemed too perfect and I knew something bad was going to happen. I craved each page to see if Katie would get her happy ending. I cried when Katie told Alex the story of how she escaped, why she had to leave. The things that Kevin did to her are all too common in some marriages and I'm glad Katie was brave enough to leave him. I know it's hard to believe that someone you love would do horrible things to you, but some women live in fear every day. Katie finds a life where she is safe and loved and she deserves it more than anything. I prayed that nothing would happen to Alex's child, the only reminders of her deceased wife. The suspense kept it from being too mushy and romantic but don't get me wrong, there was a lot of that. This is a Sparks novel after all.

And it did not disappoint. The romance was slow and timid, both lovers having been through terrible things. They find hope with each other in the most believable way. I'm amazed that Sparks can take two ordinary people, in all situations of life, and create a fulfilling story that leaves you thinking about it long after you're done. He knows exactly what to say to pull those heartstrings and make the waterfalls flow. I'm excited to get back into his novels, I just need to take it slow. I can't overwhelm my heart like I did the last time. 

“She wasnt exactly sure when it happened. Or even when it started. All she knew for sure was that right here and now, she was falling hard and she could only pray that he was feeling the same way.” 

“I've come to believe that in everyone's life, there's one undeniable moment of change, a set of circumstances that suddenly alters everything.” 

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