Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Being the Odd Man Out

Title: The Wizard Heir
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 464
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Series #: 2 of 3
Date Started: July 15, 2009
Date Finished: July 15, 2009

Rating: A

Description (from the publisher): Sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley has spent the past three years getting kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And it's not his attitude that's the problem. It's the trail of magical accidents-lately, disasters-that follow in his wake. Seph is a wizard, orphaned and untrained--and his powers are escalating out of control.

After causing a tragic fire at an after-hours party, Seph is sent to the Havens, a secluded boys' school on the coast of Maine. At first, it seems like the answer to his prayers. Gregory Leicester, the headmaster, promises to train Seph in magic and initiate him into his mysterious order of wizards. But Seph's enthusiasm dampens when he learns that training comes at a steep cost, and that Leicester plans to use his students' powers to serve his own dangerous agenda.

In this companion novel to the exciting fantasy The Warrior Heir, everyone's got a secret to keep: Jason Haley, a fellow student who's been warned to keep away from Seph; the enchanter Linda Downey, who knew his parents; the rogue wizard Leander Hastings, and the warriors Jack Swift and Ellen Stephenson. This wizard war is one that Seph may not have the strength to survive.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So I waited so long between reading this book (July 15), starting the review (July 28), and actually finishing said review (August 13), that I've forgotten a great deal of the things I wanted to say. Therefore this entry will be short and to the point:

This book rocked! The end. A

Monday, July 13, 2009

Epic Win!

Title: The Last Olympian
Author: Rick Riordan
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 400
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Series #: 5 of 5
Date Started: July 6, 2009
Date Finished: July 6, 2009

Rating: A+

Description (Synopsis): All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of a victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows. While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time. In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What an amazing finish to an amazing series! (Although the author does hint at a possible 6th book, I won't get my hopes up.... no point being disappointed.) Definitely deserving of its A-plus rating!

Not only does this book tie up the loose ends from the previous four books (which means flashbacks, but not too many thankfully), but it also allows for some amazing character development that I wasn't expecting. Usually a series' final book is through with development of the characters, and sometimes most of the story, and entirely focused on the climax and resolution. The Last Olympian included all three.

Riordan gave a greater depth to some of his minor characters, and his new characters weren't just thrown in as a means to an end. Percy's new stepfather is one of the characters I hadn't expected to see again, yet there he was, fighting at Percy's side, showing a side of himself I don't think anyone foresaw.

Riordan also developed his story even further. He didn't just tie up the loose ends and then begin the conclusion. Percy and Nico have their own adventure in the Underworld, before the final battle begins. One that created a whole new aspect to the story, and I was hoping it would be further developed at the end of the book--another reason I think there might be another book or even a new series. (I love Nico, and I think a series about the child of Hades would be so cool and would lead to new adventures.)

The climax and conclusion were also entirely satisfying. **Spoiler Alert** I am so happy that Percy and Rachel Dare didn't end up together. I really didn't like Rachel, and Riordan put Rachel in the perfect role at the end of the book, so that there'd be no one in the way of the Percy & Annabeth relationship. Yay!**** With new monsters and new twists, Riordan kept your attention throughout the book, especially during the battle. And that final battle in Manhattan.... wow! Detailed, gripping, and intense, the battle was by far the best part of the book.

The only bad thing about this book is that it ended, and it's the finish (supposedly) of a great fantasy series. A+

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Title: Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married
Author: Marian Keyes
Format: Paperback
Pages: 640
Genre: Chick lit
Date Started: July 5, 2009
Date Finished: July 6, 2009

Rating: C

Description (book annotation): What happens when a psychic tells Lucy that she'll be getting married within the year? Her roommates panic! What is going to happen to their blissful existence of eating take-out, drinking too much wine, bringing men home, and never vacuuming?

Lucy reassures her friends that she's far too busy arguing with her mother and taking care of her irresponsible father to get married. And then there's the small matter of not even having a boyfriend.

But then Lucy meets gorgeous, unreliable Gus. Could he be the future Mr. Lucy Sullivan? Or could it be handsome Chuck? Or Daniel, the world's biggest flirt? Or even cute Jed, the new guy at work?

Maybe her friends have something to worry about after all...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One critic said of this book, "Thoroughly enchanting...Keyes crafts virtually every sentence of this very charming novel into an art form of high hilarity."

That critic... lied. I like Marian Keyes' books; Sushi For Beginners is my favorite (although that could simply be due to the fact that one of the main characters has my name, and my name is pretty rare outside of Ireland). But this book wasn't one of her best.

  • Her characters were all cliched. The fat friend was eccentric and weird and obsessed with her weight. The Australian was outdoorsy and adventurous. The blonde roomie was a dumb bimbo. The Scottish roomie was money-hungry and controlling with a nasty temper. The Irishmen were all alcoholics. And her gay friend... well, just take every stereotype you've ever heard concerning homosexual men, throw them all together, and there's her token gay character. The main love interest, Daniel, was also cliched... Bad boy sowing his wild oats finally realizes he doesn't want to party anymore because he's actually in love with the girl he's been friends with but never sexually attracted to all these years (it's funny, but I could have sworn I saw a movie about that recently.... something with Patrick Dempsey...hmmm...). Luckily, Daniel was kept from being too stereotyped, because instead of going to his friend and confessing his passionate love for her, he goes out with her roommate. I also was slightly more forgiving of Keyes' unoriginal male lead because the only good dialogue in the book happened between Lucy and Daniel.
  • I just could not sympathize with Lucy. She whined and complained... a lot. Non-stop. Beginning, middle, and end. Her character was selfish, shallow, and stupid. Very stupid. I felt no pity for her when her boyfriend broke up with her a second time. She was stupid to take him back after he abandoned her (literally) the first time. And perhaps.... perhaps... I could have liked her better if she had resolved her issues sooner. Instead, she wallowed in self-pity and guilt. Why are Marian Keyes female leads always chronically depressed?
  • A huge chunk of the dialogue throughout the book irritated me. Many of the conversations took place when the characters were drunk or high (which was most of the time- also irritating), and I'm guessing that Keyes thought she'd made their dialogue interesting and funny. It was just annoying, and I kept mentally picturing myself throwing a bucket of ice water on top of all of them to make them shut up and sober up. Pages and pages of nonsense and slurring speech gets old... fast.
  • You could have seen the ending coming from a hundred miles away. I pretty much figured out exactly what was going to happen by the first couple of chapters. The rest of the book was just filler between points A and B.
Considering all of this, the book probably deserves a lower grade than a C. But the dialogue between Daniel and Lucy held my interest, to the point that I just wanted to flip to the scenes of them talking to each other and read nothing else. Their interactions were great to read, and I just loved Daniel, despite his stereotypical persona. Thanks to him, the book gets a boost up the grading scale. C

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Another Library Run

After finishing The Warrior Heir, I ran to the library (not my town's, but the next town over's) and borrowed the next two books.
  • The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
  • The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
I can't wait to start reading them, but I have to because my sister has to read them first. She leaves for camp next Monday, so it won't be too long before I get to read them. Excited!

Just For Fun