Review: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Title: The Red Pyramid
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: The Kane Chronicles
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: hardback
Rating: 4/5
Read for: Amazon Best of 2010 Challenge

Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe – a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs. (goodreads.com)

My Thoughts

I cheered. A new series by Mr. Riordan. I loved the first book in the Percy Jackson series, and I was excited to read about a new mythology.

Egyptian mythology is so much different from Greek mythology, and it was a nice change of pace, especially since I read them back-to-back.

The journey the children go on is quite a wild one. It was really fascinating to watch Carter and Sadie become close, since they’ve been separated for so long and are such different people. Carter is the knowledgeable one, in terms of mythology, since he’s spent so much time traveling with his father. Sadie, on the other hand, is a bit of a smart-aleck, and a bit cynical to boot.

In time, they come to learn the truth about their mother’s death, which is something that has plagued them for a long time.

I look forward to reading the next installment of the series, if only to see what happens to the Kane siblings next.

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Review: Babyville by Jane Green

Title: Babyville
Author: Jane Green
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Broadway
Format: paperback
Rating: 3/5
Read for: 2011 Chick-Lit Challenge

Meet Julia, a wildly successful television producer who appears to have the picture-perfect life. But beneath the surface, things are not as perfect as they seem. Stuck in a loveless relationship with her boyfriend, Mark, Julia thinks a baby is the answer . . . but she may want a baby more than she wants her boyfriend. Will a trip to New York City with a jet-setting friend—and all the glittering energy and eligible men the city brings—help her discover what she really needs?
Maeve, on the other hand, is allergic to commitment. A feisty, red-haired, high-power career girl, she cherishes her ability to do just as she pleases and breaks out in a rash every time she passes a stroller. But when her no-strings-attached nightlife leads to an unexpected pregnancy, her reaction may be just as unexpected.And then there’s Samantha—happily married and eager to be the perfect June Cleaveresque mother. But baby George brings only exhaustion, extra pounds, and marital strife to her once tidy life. Is having an affair with a friend’s incredibly sexy husband the answer? (goodreads.com)

My Thoughts

The book is broken into three parts: Julia’s story, Maeve’s story, and Sam’s story.

I’ll admit that I got a little frustrated with Julia, whose only focus is having a baby in order to save her relationship. I kept wishing that she would just take a step back and realize that a baby would have probably caused more problems between herself and Mark, but instead she just becomes more and more obsessed until her friend suggests she go to New York for vacation. I was so glad that she went to New York, if only because it was a little rough reading about how jealous Julia was getting when she happened to run into someone at a coffee shop or on the street that had a baby when she couldn’t have one. It was such a relief to see her having fun and not thinking about having a baby.

Maeve’s story overlaps with Julia’s, because when Julia leaves her company to go on an extended vacation in New York, Maeve takes Julia’s place at the company. The summary is a little harsh towards Maeve, who is not necessarily so drastically opposed to having a baby but is just not interested. She is career-driven and a refreshing change from Julia’s baby-obsessed ramblings.

Of course, Maeve doesn’t just take Julia’s place at the office, but seemingly in her old house (in which it is repeatedly said that Julia was not comfortable in such a large house and much preferred a tiny flat) with her old boyfriend. Oh, Maeve. Maeve’s section ends with her in labor, and then it switches.

Sam is the classic over-stressed, bored, stay-at-home mom who wants to go back to work but at the same time doesn’t want to leave her little one with anyone else. She is bored with play dates with other moms with children the same age as little George, and she is frustrated because her husband doesn’t seem to want to help her with their son.

Sam sees an opening when she and her husband agree to have dinner with his co-worker and her husband. He flirts openly with her, and Sam finds herself attracted. I wondered sometimes if it was simply her attraction to the attention, and less to the man himself, that had her worked up into a tizzy. It’s a little heartbreaking to see Sam realize that he is just leading her on, but I was also glad to see that she returns her sights to her husband when she realizes that a fling isn’t what she needs after all.

I sometimes enjoyed the book, and sometimes I didn’t. Maeve’s section is the only one written in first person, and it went by really quickly. I got bogged down in both Julia’s and Sam’s sections, but Sam’s was at least a little more interesting because she learns that she can have a job and be a stay-at-home mom all at once, and she has the extra dilemma of being one of Julia’s best friends and befriending Maeve, whom she initially sees as the enemy but is later glad to have as a friend.

Overall, I’m a little torn about it, but it’s a fun read none-the-less.

Review: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Title: The Lost Hero
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: The Heroes of Olympus
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: hardback
Rating: 4/5
Read for: Amazon Best of 2010 Challenge

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.

My Thoughts

Oh, I think I made a mistake reading this book before finishing the Percy Jackson series.

I didn’t realize, going into this book, that this is a sequel, of sorts, to the Percy series. It blends the Gods and Goddesses of Roman and Greek mythology, showing both their sides, and now we have, essentially, two Camp Half-bloods.

I found myself a little bit at a loss when events from the initial series was discussed, but most of it is mentioned in passing and wasn’t essential to the plot, so I was able to move past it and continue on without much difficulty.

The blending of Roman and Greek mythology was interesting, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I look forward to meeting a more grown-up Percy Jackson, but hopefully I’ll have finished his series before the next book comes out.

Review: Snowflake Obsidian by The Hippie

Title: Snowflake Obsidian

Author: The Hippie with Anger Issues

Reviewed for:  Pump Up Your Book Tour

This review will be a little different, because the book itself is a little different.

Snowflake Obsidian is the Memoir of a Cutter. But it doesn’t really focus on the cutting. Instead, it focuses on relationships, including the author’s relationship with herself. It’s about losing friends, gaining friends, and all the life that happens in the mean time.

For a while I was torn about this book. It took a long time for me to read it, even though it’s only 250 pages. It’s hard to read the thoughts of someone who’s depressed, because mostly my reaction is “Oh, get over it already,” even though I know it’s not that easy.

I enjoyed so much reading about the journey the author went through. It’s not easy, learning to not hate yourself, and it’s just so interesting reading about the different therapies (like Willow’s visits to Millie). She even, to an extent, uses art. It was interesting, watching her learn to laugh again, to not feel hollow.

I don’t want to say too much about the contents of the book, because it’s all inter-connected and characters that you think will disappear for the rest of the book either turn up or are mentioned, but I will say that I loved the part about hiding the remote. I giggled a lot.

Also, I learned that Snowflake Obsidian is actually a stone.

Aren't they pretty?

This book was reviewed as part of the Pump Up Your Book tour. I would like to extend my thanks to the author for providing a copy of the book.

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Title: Revolution
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: hardback
Rating: 3.5/5
Read for: Amazon Best of 2010 Challenge

Brooklyn: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.
Paris: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fatal encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want–and couldn’t escape.
Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages–until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

My Thoughts

It took me almost a week to get through this book. Not because it’s a particularly difficult read in terms of language, but because I was just not interested. It took almost half the book before I was interested, and by that point I was ready to put it down and put a DNF (did not finish) on the rating.
Andi comes across as a self-centered, rich, spoiled brat, and that’s mostly because she is. She speaks to her headmistress at her private school however she pleases, and in Andi’s case, she’s rather rude. She back-talks her father. She smokes pot, because she’s bored and it’s the “thing” to do.
It wasn’t until Andi comes across Alexandrine’s diary that I began to get interested, and I was more interested in Alex’s story than I was Andi’s. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about Andi’s self-pity party, but Alex’s story about the king and queen of France, and the Dauphin, was a lot more interesting and I found myself looking forward to the diary entries.
Overall, I thought the book was okay. It was an interesting read, but I found it hard to identify with the main character.

Review: Is My Kid Stupid? by Nzingha West

Title: Is My Kid Stupid?? Avoiding an Educational Disaster
Author: Nzingha West
Read for: Pump Up Your Book tour

The blurb from the back:

Is My Kid Stupid reveals the unmitigated truth about special education, and parental involvement. Is My Kid Stupid is a must read for any parent, or friend of a parent, or relative of a parent. Is My Kid Stupid teaches parents how to:

  • Choose the best practitioner for their child
  • Approach the school when you want something done
  • Receive a free private school education for your child courtesy of the state
  • Choose extracurricular activities for your child
  • Choose an advocate for your child, or be your own child’s advocate
  • Choose the therapies that will benefit your child the most

My Thoughts

Okay, so I have to open this with a couple of facts:

FACT: My boyfriend has dyslexia.

FACT: We do not say the word “stupid” in our house, because he was called “stupid” so often growing up.

That said, I was incredibly grateful to read something that not only says these children with learning disorders aren’t stupid, and that they may need a little more help than other children in learning. I was also glad to see that Ms. West differentiated between being lazy and having an actual disorder. I was also really glad that she mentions that it is important to have your child early if you are concerned about a learning disorder. The longer you wait, the harder it is for a child to catch up to his or her peers.

The book is filled with little tidbits on how to make sure your child is receiving the best possible education he or she can have. Not only in grade school, but also in college, should your child choose to go to college. It’s filled with little scenarios, and each chapter ends with a short Q&A session, along with blank areas for your answers, as well as a page or so for you to write any notes that you may want later.

I think this is a book that all parents of special needs kids should read. It offers a lot of insight into the educational system in general, as well as what to do if the school system isn’t working well for your child. There are even some tips that I didn’t know about (particularly about testing out of courses in college). Wish I had known that 7 years ago!

A copy of this book was received from the author as part of the Pump Up Your Book tour. For more information or to participate in a tour, go to Pump Up Your Book.

Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Title: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, book 1
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: hardback
Rating: 4.5/5
Read for: 2011 Urban Fantasy challenge

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to stay out of trouble. But can he really be expected to stand by and watch while a bully picks on his scrawny best friend? Or not defend himself against his pre-algebra teacher when she turns into a monster and tries to kill him? Of course, no one believes Percy about the monster incident; he’s not even sure he believes himself.
Until the Minotaur chases him to summer camp.
Suddenly, mythical creatures seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. The gods of Mount Olympus, he’s coming to realize, are very much alive in the twenty-first century. And worse, he’s angered a few of them: Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy has just ten days to find and return Zeus’s stolen property, and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. On a daring road trip from their summer camp in New York to the gates of the Underworld in Los Angeles, Percy and his friends–one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena–will face a host of enemies determined to stop them. To succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of failure and betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

My Thoughts

I was SO excited to read this. So excited. I love Greek mythology (seriously–I have Cerberus tattooed on my right shoulder).
The book starts a little slow, but it picks up pretty quickly and by chapter three I was hooked.
The book is a little predictable at times, especially if you know Greek mythology pretty well, so I was able to guess the characters before Percy did, but I was still pretty impressed with it. The whole novel takes Greek mythology and runs with it, and even the encounters with the Big Three (Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades) are awesome.
I don’t want to say too much about the book, because there are spoilers around every corner and the beginning of the book is tied with the end, thanks to the Oracle’s prophecy, but suffice to say I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to picking up book two as soon as I can.