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: 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: 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.

Review: The Cellar by A.J. Whitten

Title: The Cellar
Author: A.J. Whitten (Shirley & Amanda Jump)
Obtained: ARC obtained from publisher via netgalley (cover image obtained from publisher’s website)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: digital
Rating: 3.5/5
Release date: May 2011

Blurb (from the publisher’s website)

Meredith Willis is suspicious of Adrien, the new guy next door. When she dares to sneak a look into the windows of his house, she sees something in the cellar that makes her believe that Adrien might be more than just a creep—he may be an actual monster.
 But her sister, Heather, doesn’t share Meredith’s repulsion. Heather believes Adrien is the only guy who really understands her. In fact, she may be falling in love with him. When Adrien and Heather are cast as the leads in the school production of Romeo and Juliet, to Heather, it feels like fate. To Meredith, it feels like a bad omen. But if she tries to tear the couple apart, she could end up in the last place she’d ever want to be: the cellar. Can Meredith convince her sister that she’s dating the living dead before it’s too late for both of them?

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Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Format: hardback
Rating: 3/5
Read for: 2011 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. (from dust jacket)

 

My Thoughts

The book started slowly for me, but it picked up pace quickly and by the time I was 3/4 of the way through, I couldn’t put it down.
I had a hard time starting it because, despite the interesting premise, the book itself just couldn’t hold my attention. I felt like I was reading a recap of last week’s episode: “Last week, on Hex Hall.” Really, it didn’t start picking up momentum until almost halfway through the book. The first half was like a trip back to high school for me.
Although I did find this quote on page 277 hilarious: “‘my gaping chest wound, let me show you it.'” Really, I almost died laughing. I wanted to go create a LOLcat image for it. It was just so wildly out of place from the rest of the book, but it was also appropriate for the scene.
Overall, I thought the book was okay. I’m interested enough to want to read the sequel, Demonglass.

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Title: Found
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Obtained: Borrowed from library
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: hardback
Rating: 3.5/5
Read for: 2011 Wish I’d Read That Challenge

Thirteen-year-old Jonah has always known that he was adopted, and he’s never thought it was any big deal. Then he and a new friend, Chip, who’s also adopted, begin receiving mysterious letters. The first one says, “You are one of the missing.” The second one says, “Beware! They’re coming back to get you.”
Jonah, Chip, and Jonah’s sister, Katherine, are plunged into a mystery that involves the FBI, a vast smuggling operation, an airplane that appeared out of nowhere–and people who seem to appear and disappear at will. The kids discover they are caught in a battle between two opposing forces that want very different things for Jonah and Chip’s lives.
Do Jonah and Chip have any choice in the matter? And what should they choose when both alternatives are horrifying? (from dust jacket)

My thoughts are under a cut because there is some spoiler-ish talk. You’ve been warned.

Continue reading

Review: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Title: Lock & Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Viking
Format: hardback
Rating: 4/5
Read for: 2011 Wish I’d Read That Challenge

“Ruby, where is your mother?”
With that question from the social worker, Ruby knows the game is up.
She’s been living alone in the old yellow house, waiting out the months until she turns eighteen and can finally be on her own legally. It certainly wasn’t in her plan to be reunited with Cora, the sister who left ten years before, and brought to live with Cora and her wealthy entrepreneur husband.
Suddenly life is transformed: a luxurious house, private school, new clothes, and even the chance of a future Ruby couldn’t have dreamed of. So why is she wary, unable to be grateful, incapable of letting anyone close. Her old life has been left behind, but where does she fit in this new life? Only Nate, the genial, popular boy next door, seems to understand, perhaps because he’s hiding some secrets of his own. (from dust jacket)

My Thoughts

I’ve never read a Sarah Dessen book before. I see them everywhere I look at books, but I’ve never picked one up, not even to read the back cover. Fortunately, I read the summary for this one and thought it sounded interesting without even seeing the cover. I’m glad I picked this book up. It was touching, and it didn’t come across as cheesy, although it definitely had the potential to do just that.
There was something about Ruby that rubbed me the wrong way, and I’m not sure if I can put my finger on it. Ruby wants to stay in her little yellow house with mildew on her clothes, where half the appliances are broken and where she has to work to pay rent on top of going to school, all because her mother abandons her. Sometimes, I could understand Ruby and her need to stay in her own world–change, especially such a dramatic change, is difficult, and it is compounded by Ruby’s opinion of her sister, Cora. But sometimes, I really didn’t understand why she would rather get black-out drunk above everything else. While she talks a lot about her life with her mom, her life outside her mom, if she had much of one, is a bit more blurry.
Ruby, of course, likes Cora’s husband almost immediately, and I did, too. He’s open and friendly, and I was really glad to see that he had a serious side that went beyond being happy, or serious about business. I was really glad to see that he wasn’t completely one-dimentional.
I had a harder time relating with Nate, probably because I’ve never known anyone in Nate’s situation. It’s a crappy situation, and I love that Ruby wants to help him. I really liked their interactions and that he really seems to like her, despite her need to return to what she knows. I was glad to see that he really wanted to stick by her, and that he was there when she needed him. It really drove home the point that, later in the novel, she wanted him to need her and it hurt her that he didn’t (or, at least, he didn’t want to admit it).
I really liked this book, and I’ll probably be picking up some more books by Sarah Dessen in the future.