6/29/11

The Throne of Fire

Author: Rick Riordan
Pages: 454
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister Sadie have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven't given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, which has become a training ground for young magicians. 

And now their most threatening enemy yet - the chaos snake Apophis - is rising. If they don't prevent him from breaking free in a few days' time, the world will come to an end. In other words, it's a typical week for the Kane family. 

To have any chance of battling the Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra. But that would be a feat more powerful than any magician has ever accomplished. 

First they have to search the world for the three sections of the Book of Ra, then they have to learn how to chant its spells. Oh, and did we mention that no one knows where Ra is exactly? 

Narrated in two different wisecracking voices, featuring a large cast of new and unforgettable characters, and with adventures spanning the globe, this second installment in the Kane Chronicles is nothing short of a thrill ride.
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My Summary: A few months after their battle with Set, Sadie and Carter are doing really well - they've begun training 20 new trainees at their house in Brooklyn, and they've been continuing their own magical training at the same time. The only thing nagging at them is their lack of power - after hosting Isis and Horus and using the power of the gods, their own magic seems weak and ineffective. But the Kanes know the dangers of hosting the gods for too long - lesser magicians literally burn up when they try. 

One night when Sadie and Carter are sent to steal a scroll from a museum, things go horribly wrong. Sadie and Carter escape, only to realize that their troubles are just beginning....

My Thoughts: You know that old myth that sequels are always worse than the first book in a series? Rick Riordan's books are the exception, no matter what series you're reading. 

I loved this book (probably a little more than the first!), and I loved the way the characters have grown since the first book. In a few short months their worlds have been turned upside-down, but Sadie and Carter still managed to pull through stronger than ever. I also liked that there were relationships in this one - it had enough romance to appease any stray romantics who happened to be reading it.

I think what makes Rick Riordan's books so appealing is the way he writes his characters: they are nowhere near perfect, and they make these huge, ginormous mistakes, but in the end they know what they have to do, and they sacrifice their own happiness to do it.

And of course the writing and structure of the book was awesome -being his eighth book, I'd be surprised if it wasn't!

Final Thoughts: Yet another awesome read from the king of mythology! I recommend this series (and his other series too!) to everyone who has ever been interested in Greek, Roman, or Egyptian mythology (or if you're bored of the usual paranormal romances).


Frostbitten

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Pages: 339
Publisher: Bantam
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)Smart, sexy, supernatural—the men and women of the Otherworld live and love, fight and die, among us. Unseen and unsuspected, this realm of witches, ghosts, and werewolves is now threatened with exposure by a brutal series of bizarre murders that has left even the supernatural world baffled—and cold with terror….


Being the world’s only female werewolf has its advantages, such as having her pick of the Otherworld’s most desirable males. And Elena Michaels couldn’t have picked a more dangerously sexy and undyingly loyal mate than Clayton Danvers. Now their bond will be put to the ultimate test as they follow a bloody trail of gruesome slayings deep into Alaska’s frozen wilderness.

There’s nothing the werewolf community dislikes more than calling attention to itself. So when a pair of rogue man-eaters begins hunting humans, it’s up to Elena and Clayton to track down the predators. But any illusions their task would be simple are quickly dispelled. For even in werewolf terms, there’s something very disturbing taking place in the dark Alaskan forests. A werewolf more wolf than human and more unnatural than supernatural is on the hunt—a creature whose origins seem to spring from ancient legends of the shape-shifting Wendigo.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Clayton and Elena find themselves confronting painful ghosts from their pasts—and an issue neither of them is eager to discuss. For one of them has been chosen to become the new Pack leader, and as every wolf knows, there can be only one Alpha. They’ve always been equals in everything. Now, when their survival depends more than ever on perfect teamwork, will instinct allow one of them to lead…and the other to follow?
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My Summary: Elena and Clay just beginning to adapt to their new lives as parents when they're called to find a rogue Mutt and warn him of the dangers he faces by hanging around with known man-eating werewolves Liam and Ramon (I know my Darkest Powers people just gasped). Instead of a calm, peaceful encounter however, Clay and Elena are forced to chase the guy all the way to Alaska.

Once they arrive, the couple realize they're dealing with a lot more than a rogue werewolf. There are reports of locals being killed in the woods by large wolf-like creatures, and when Elena is attacked by something in the forest, they decide they need to prolong their stay. On top of all that, problems from Elena's past have been re-surfacing, and she finds herself feeling weak just when survival depends on being strong.

My Thoughts: Yet another awesome read from Kelley Armstrong! I swear, I don't think she's ever written a book that I wouldn't read and adore every minute of. Frostbitten was actually one of the first Women of the Otherworld books I bought, because I has just read Stolen and Bitten and knew I was eventually going to buy it anyway because I was already obsessed with the series (plus it was on sale - you can't top that!).

In Frostbitten, you really see a lot of growth in both Elena and Clay. They're dealing with quite a lot in this book - emotionally and situation-wise - and the way they handle it makes them seem real and easy to relate to. I also love the fact that the characters acknowledge that they are getting older - it gets a bit tiring reading about characters who are eternally perfect (you know who I mean...).

Also, I loved the windigo reference! I recently read a novel that centered very heavily on that myth, and I loved that Kelley was able to include it into the book!

Final Thoughts: Another wonderful novel from Kelley Armstrong. I definitely recommend her series to fans of paranormal YA who are looking for something in the adult section (there's definitely some hot scenes in there :P). 

6/20/11

The Red Pyramid

Author: Rick Riordan
Pages: 516
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars



Summary (from Goodreads)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.
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My Summary: Sadie and Carter are siblings who hardly know one another. After the death of their mom six years ago, Sadie and Carter went their separate ways: Sadie was raised by her grandparents in London, while Carter traveled the world with his dad, world-renowned Egyptologist Julius Kane. Neither one us particularly happy with the arrangement - Sadie wishes she could travel the world and have a relationship with her dad, and Carter has always wished he was allowed to be a normal kid. 

All that changes on the night their father takes them to the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone. Within seconds of entering the museum, Sadie and Carter watch in horror as their father is sucked deep into the Earth and the stone explodes, releasing five Egyptian gods who have been trapped there for centuries.

Before they can process what's going on, their long0lost uncle Amos appears, telling them some pretty crazy stories about Egyptian pharaohs and gods. Turns out it's up to Sadie and Carter to save their dad (and the world), before the evil god Set can take over the world. 

My Thoughts: Mr. Riordan, I don't know how you do it! Ever single book I've read by you is funny, witty, and interesting, and I'm already starting the second book, The Throne of Fire - I have no doubt it'll be amazing as well.

First off, Sadie and Carter were great characters. I adore Sadie and her sarcastic attitude (she's hilarious!), and Carter's politeness was a great contrast. I also loved that the characters were like day and night, but still made a great team (while still managing to be a perfect example of a brother-sister rivalry). 

I also loved the whole premise of the book; who doesn't love talking about ancient Egypt? Reading The Red Pyramid took me back to the fifth grade when I first read The Egypt Game and decided to learn how to read hieroglyphics. And as usual, Mr. Riordan managed to tie 'gods' into the structure of normal society, not trying to make things seem too unbelievable. And the writing, as usual, was flawless!

Final Thoughts: If you haven't read any of Rick Riordan's books, The Red Pyramid would be a great place to start! I highly recommend all of his books to both children (ages 8 and up) and teenagers alike. If you've ever been interested in mythology (Egyptian, Greek, or Roman) you should definitely check out one of his amazing series.

6/18/11

The Dark Province: Son of Duprin

Author: William H. Johnson
Pages: 392
Publisher: iUniverse
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)Sitting in the honored stalls of the Crystal Sanctuary, Calvin Gooding should be rejoicing in the message he receives from the Holy King of Duprin. But his heart is heavy. He awaits the carriage in which he must ride to deliver the fated news to his family. Time has run out. In the midst of this sorrow, exhaustion, and uncertainty, a sorceress from the Dark Province appears to Calvin. She promises to make his terminally ill twin sister, Marilyn, well again. As twins, Calvin and Mari share a special bond, and Calvin will do almost anything to save his sister's life. But in order to free Mari from death's grip, the sorceress claims that Calvin must travel to the Dark Province-a land where souls and flesh are devoured by the lawless and the spirit of man is bound in shackles. It's a reckless land dominated by morally corrupt warlords and open sexuality. Wrapped tightly in his religion, Calvin must make a life-altering decision. He can choose to follow the sorceress into the sinful abyss to save his sister, or he can accept a life of guilt and certain torment over Mari's death.
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Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: The novel starts off with Calvin addressing a crowd of people and telling them that he isn't sorry for the things he's done. Calvin is being accused of treason against the Holy Nation of Duprin, and he knows that his executioner is somewhere in the crowd...

Calvin's twin sister Marilyn (Mari) has been his best friend since the moment they were born.  They spent their childhoods together, being raised by their two faithful Duprinite parents. Even after they go their separate ways, Calvin and Mari keep in touch, writing countless letters back and forth, discussing every topic under the moon.

Then Mari falls ill. She sends Calvin a vague letter, telling him she is ill and requests his presence. Calvin heeds these instructions and sets off to visit his sister, finding her bed-ridden and sickly. After meeting with the doctor responsible for Mari's care, Calvin's worst fears are confirmed - his sister is fatally ill, and there is nothing anyone can do to save her. 

But then Mari has a dream, and Calvin is convinced that it contains a prophecy of sorts - if he fulfills it, Mari will be healed. With only his faith and a promise to his sister to keep him going, Calvin sets off, hoping he will be able to succeed before he loses Mari forever.

My ThoughtsThe Dark Province: Son of Duprin was an amazing novel. The ability of the author to create such a rich setting was amazing - I felt like I was right there with Calvin, struggling to maintain my faith amid all the corruption. The author is extremely talented; you would never guess that this is his debut novel!

Calvin was a great character - I love the idea that he starts off with a solid, unnerving faith, and by the end he is questioning everything he thought he knew, because I think everyone can relate to this is one way or another - who can honestly say they haven't struggled with their faith, especially in times of hardship? Watching his struggles makes Calvin seems so much more real to the reader, and I'm glad the author didn't try to make Calvin seem like some unchanged, perfect saint throughout the novel. And unlike some authors, Johnson's other characters didn't pale in comparison to the main character - they were well-developed and added extra depth to the novel.

Final ThoughtsThe Dark Province: Son of Duprin is definitely one of my favourite adult novels. I recommend it to anyone looking for a deep read that really makes you think. I'm eagerly waiting the sequel!

6/10/11

13 Little Blue Envelopes

Author: Maureen Johnson
Pages: 336
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.

Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.


In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.



My Summary: Ginny has always been a quiet, well-behaved girl - the polar opposite of her aunt Margaret, who's always been the 'black sheep' of the family. Ginny loves her aunt, despite what her family thinks - she thinks she's more interesting when Aunt Peg is around, and life seems a lot more fun.

Until Aunt Peg disappears, leaving Ginny and her New York apartment behind. No one hears from Aunt Peg after that, until 3 years later, when they get the call: Aunt Peg passed away after a long, difficult battle with cancer.

Ginny can't believe her vivacious, lively Aunt is dead - she refuses to, preferring to live in a state of denial. Then, a few months after the funeral, Ginny receives a letter giving her instructions to pick up a package at her Aunt's favourite restaurant. Inside the package are 13 letters written by Aunt Peg, the first of which is instructing Ginny to buy a plane ticket to London.

Soon Ginny is off on a whirl-wind adventure, doing things she would never have done without the letters: she donates hundreds of dollars to charity, asks a total stranger out for coffee, and   spends the night on a park bench in Paris. Thanks to the letters, Ginny breaks out of her shell... but what will she do when there are no more letters, and her final connection to Aunt Peg is gone forever?

My Thoughts: I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about this book, but I absolutely LOVED it. The moment I read the synopsis, I knew it was the book for me - who wouldn't want to read about travelling across Europe, mysterious letters, and hot European boys? Add to that the awesome, flawless writing of Maureen Johnson, and you've got yourself a great summer read.

Ginny was a great character - you really see her grow up over the course of the novel, and she does become more confident and adventurous - just like her aunt hoped she would be. I also loved Keith - he was a bit of a jerk at times, but you knew that underneath, he really cared about Ginny.

Final Thoughts: There's not much more I can say about this book without giving away too much, so all I'll say is this: if you're looking for a great light read perfect for enjoying by the pool, you should defiinitely check out 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and the sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope (which I've already ordered and am waiting anxiously by the mailbox for, just so you know).

If you've already read it, let me know what you thought of it! :P

6/2/11

A Great Tool for Book Bloggers!

A few days ago I came across a website called BookMooch ( www.bookmooch.com ), and I wanted to spread the word because I think it's a great tool for book bloggers, and also for people who love to read and find their budget isn't being very accommodating. The basis of BookMooch is this: you make a profile and list books you are willing to send to people - by doing this, you get 'points'. You can then perform a search and find books that you want and request them. The owners of these books then send the books to you (free of charge!) and you get to keep them, while also sending out your books when people request them. It's that simple! 


I think it's great, and if you think about it, the cost of shipping a book is way less than buying the book you want brand new anyway. Add to that the fact that there's no money involved (I always get nervous when shopping online - there are so many stories of identity theft out there!) and that you don't have to pay to use the website, and you have a recipe for happy reading.


Check it out, and let me know if you've used the site before! 


 ----> www.bookmooch.com <----