Weekend BookBlogger Hop: 26

The BookBlogger Hop is hosted by Crazy-for-Books every week, but this week it is hosted by Tea Time with Marce. Basically, if you blog about books, answer a question provided and if you link to their post in your blog, you can add your blog to their list of participants. This week’s question (that I just found and should have posted this past weekend) is:

Best of 2012

I’d have to say that my favorite books this year were all released this year – City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare, Onyx by Jennifer Armentrout, and Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter. Check out the reviews here, here, and here.

Holidays

I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season so far, and that it continues to the new year! To all the obsessive readers like me, I hope you got those books you asked for, like I did, and I can’t  wait to review the ones I haven’t read yet and to hear from you about yours! In the meantime, Merry Christmas!!

The Mark of Athena

Title: The Mark of Athena (Book 3 in The Heroes of Olympus)
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: October 2, 2012

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.
Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare…

This third installment of the Heroes of Olympus is the best part yet, and I have no doubt that the fourth book will be even better. Riordan has brought together the best of the first two books – the characters. Leo and Percy’s humor never fails to make me laugh; Jason and Percy together are freaking amazing; Piper and Jason make a fantastic couple; Annabeth and Frank have an intriguing relationship; the Hazel-Leo-Frank triangle and all the surprises contained in that box of fun were entertaining; and having Annabeth reunited with Percy was soooo cute!! The two of them together are usually the best scenes, and the fact that it’s really dawned on both the reader and characters as they reminisce about how they’ve really grown up since The Lightening Thief.

What I really liked in this book was how the quest and the characters’ development was really entwined. Of course, they were pretty well-mixed in the rest of his books, but I think that this has been the most effective book when it comes to the growth of the kids and the action for the readers. Plus, for any Percy/Annabeth (Percabeth – which I don’t really like this couple’s nickname) fans, it is both touching and heart-rending, especially when they are forced to split up again for Annabeth to follow the Mark, and then again at the end – which I’m not going to reveal – where readers (like myself) will scream in frustration because they want the fourth book, like, NOW, Mr. Riordan, and NOT next fall!

I liked that there was a lot more focus on Leo in this book, with the Hazel/Frank thing they all had going on. With those secrets of the past revealed, it got pretty awkward there for a while. I can’t wait to see how their love? lives turn out, especially with Leo’s foretelling from Nemesis. Besides that, though, Frank has his firewood problem, and I want to know how that’s gonna work out with him and Annabeth. I also liked how Piper and Jason got along; they took some time, but the end showed their growth as a couple, too. And adding Percy into the mix created some humor and tension between the two powerful demigods, so seeing Piper’s unimpressed view of Percy was interesting. It was nice to know that there was one less girl vying for his attention *ahem, me!, cough*. But seriously, I enjoyed the way the Greeks and Romans on the ship had to learn to work with each other; even though they didn’t have as hard a time as Camp Jupiter and Camp Half-Blood have with getting along, it was a good lesson, and having Coach Hedge there actually helped because if there was one thing that they all agreed on 100% of the time, it was that he should never be in charge of the weapons except in case of an emergency.

Basically, I loved this book, just as I have loved every single Rick Riordan book that I have read so far. I can’t wait for The House of Hades coming out next fall – so far away! In the meantime, though, I’ll be thinking about that ending – and writing him letters so that they push the release date up!!

~Yours Truly

Weekend BookBlogger Hop: 25

The BookBlogger Hop is hosted by Crazy-for-Books every week, but this week it is hosted by Tea Time with Marce. Basically, if you blog about books, answer a question provided and if you link to their post in your blog, you can add your blog to their list of participants. This week’s question (that I just found and should have posted this past weekend) is:

What book were you determined to read this year and you still didn’t pick up? Is it at least on your bookshelf or e-reader?

Unfortunately, there were alot that I wanted to read this year and didn’t. What makes it slightly better is that even though I don’t have the books, if I had had them, I probably would have picked them up. The one I most wanted to read was Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver. I had read Delirium the year it was published, and have been waiting for it ever since. The stars, though, have not yet aligned. I’m thinking that they will soon, though – Christmas and all, you know!

The Selection

Title: The Selection (Book 1 in Illea)
Author: Keira Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen – HarperCollins
Release Date: April 24, 2012

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

I have one major complaint about this book. And that is the fact that when my friend asked me to describe it for her, commenting that she had heard it was very reality-tvish, I had to say that she was partly right, and when describing it in my own words I replied that it was very Hunger Games-ish, except instead of fighting to the death, they fight for the hand of a prince. And the reason I’m complaining about this – because believe me, I loved the first two in the series – is because it was a little unoriginal.

However, I really liked America. I felt so bad for her in the beginning, and Aspen, in my opinion, got what he deserved. I’m on America’s side, and I really admire her decisions throughout. Those were two things that I think the author did really effectively: I got to love Aspen really quickly in the first few chapters, which only hurt when the whole Selection thing happened; and America’s strength of character didn’t diminish at all – if anything, she learned more about who she really was, her true personality and inner strength. I also loved how she wasn’t snotty and could see her own flaws, but I thought she might have been able to see a little more in herself, especially since everyone else, including the reader, could.

The cover is very pretty. The blue and white is gorgeous, and the model with the gown really does look like a princess. I liked the mirror effect and the white sparkles, though, the best. And with her red hair, she really does embody America as the main character, rather than how many other books simply choose a pretty model rather than a specific character to put on the front.

What I really want to know, though, is how to pronounce Maxon. Is it “Max-on” or is it like “Mason” just spelled differently? I really liked him. I liked his sense of duty and I think America was right when she said that he would be a good king. I also think that even though he is essentially a good person, his eyes needed to be opened on several counts, and that he needs to adjust to that fact, as shown by his anger towards America in that one scene. I also think that having the rebellion going on not only helped the plot, but also gave a deeper understanding of the characters to the reader and to themselves. Oh! And I almost forgot. I absolutely adored the three maids that took care of America! They were so caring and I loved their devotion to her, as well as their love for the prince and the other royals.

I’m also going to say that the whole Selection idea is completely barbaric and ludicrous! The idea that the prince was not only allowed but encouraged to … sample, for lack of a better word, all the girls – in more ways  than one – and that to refuse the prince was considered treason??? It was insane. I just couldn’t believe it, especially when America and her mom were signing all those waivers in the beginning. It completely sucked, and would have ticked me off to no end. In fact, I probably would have been executed right then and there. The last thing I’m going to say is that despite the feelings that I have on the Selection itself, it was an amazing book, and a creative idea, if not completely original. I would highly recommend this book, and I can not wait to read the sequel, The Elite to see how everything turns out, both with the rebellion and the love triangle.

~Yours Truly

**Note: I recommend this book for ages 13 & up to do sensitive/sexual topics and sometimes crude/frank language.

Book Covers

Something has been brought to my attention recently about the books that I read. Apparently, they look like trashy romance novels, according to one of my teachers. And, on second glance, some of them really do. I mean, half-dressed girls, usually either looking like a love-sick puppy or gazing after some guy in the distance, or even kissing him on the cover. Now, I’m not saying that these covers can’t be perfectly innocent. It’s just a little weird to have your teacher point this out to you. Especially when she then says, “Well, you should see what’s on my Nook.” Okay,  a little TMI, right?

Anyway, here are just some examples:

I mean, they’re a little provacative. But that’s the thing – most of them don’t contain explicit content; in fact, they usually don’t get even close to what some of the covers suggest. Do you think it’s a publishing mechansim, since the books are aimed at hormonal teenagers? That’s my theory. What’s yours? I’d love to hear what you think!

Tempest Unleashed

Title: Tempest Unleashed (Book 2 in Tempest)
Author: Tracy Deebs
Publisher: Walker Publishing – Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.
Release Date: June 5, 2012

Tempest Maguire is happy with her decision to embrace her mermaid nature and live among her mother’s clan within the ocean’s depths. Even though training to one day ascend the throne for the aging mermaid queen is rigorous, she finds refuge in the arms of Kona, the selkie who first opened her up to her mermaid side. But when word comes that one of her brothers has been gravely injured on land, Tempest immediately rushes to his side—which also brings her back to her old flame, Mark. And in her absence, a deadly battle begins raging at the hands of Tempest’s old nemesis, the sea witch Tiamat. As the dangerous war erupts, Tempest’s two loves—Kona and Mark, sea and land—will collide for the first time, both to protect her and to force her to choose.

Okay, I’m going to be blunt. This sequel was NOT as good as the first book. Despite the fact that I still like Tempest, as a character if not as a person, due to her strong personality and refusal to be bossed around, and I like how she wants to make her own mistakes and not follow directly in her mother’s footsteps, she also needs to learn how to take direction. And, I’m going to be perfectly honest, I like SO much better than I like Mark, and not only because it would be easier with Kona, them both living in the ocean and all.

That being said, I loved how Tempest grew into some of her powers in this book. Even though the final showdown (which isn’t so final) is kind of depressing and sort of anti-climatic in that afterwards the book kind of just ends, she really shows her strength and the extent of her magic, and it hasn’t even fully developed yet. I think one of my favorite scenes is when she finds out that Tiamat had been the one to hurt Moku, and she goes all whacked out with her storminess. That was a good a scene, except that her abrupt leaving led to a bunch of stuff that was also kind of sudden. I don’t think the build-up of apprehension was enough – it was like two mentions of having a bad feeling, and then she finally returns to the sea and chaos (and Tiamat) is everywhere.

But back to her home life. When she returns, it was as I expected. Rio’s reaction was a little extreme, but I guess it was semi-realistic. I mean, any 14-year-old, angst filled brother would be pissed; trust me, I have one. But still, he didn’t strike me in the first book as someone who would go punk-goth; I kind of pictured moody sulleness instead. However, her father’s reaction is admirable. I love him, sooo much. And I wish that Tempest would at least let him help her sort her thoughts out, since she doesn’t get to see him all that often anyway. I get that she was trying to be strong, but at the same time, she’s saying that she doesn’t want to be like her mom, who left them all to pine after her. If she got a little closer to her dad, maybe then they would understand more from where she’s coming from.

All in all, I liked the book, it just didn’t live up to my expectations for it. That being said, I will read the third book, because the way it ended, there is definitely going to be one. Hopefully the second book lowered my standards a little so that the last installment will wow me!

~Yours Truly

**Note: This book is recommended to ages 13 & up due to profane language, some violence, and sexual innuendos.