Where reading is a way of life

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Torment by Lauren Kate

Editorial Reviews:
This sequel to Fallen (Delacorte, 2009) continues they complex tale as Luce tries to uncover the truth and break the cycle of falling in love, dying young, and being reincarnated. Daniel, her lover through the ages and a fallen angel, institutes a truce with Demons to protect her from the Outcasts, who would do her harm. For her safety, Daniel hides her at a boarding school for the Nephilim, children of human and fallen angels, and cautions her to remain on campus and learn all she can. Unfortunately a little knowledge can be dangerous and Luce's naive attempts to manipulate her powers constantly put her and others in danger. Some of the rescues employ a deus ex machina as is the case when Arriane inexplicably arrives in Vegas and saves the day. At times the story plods along, with a full chapter devoted to a fencing lesson. Daniel regularly returns to check on Luce and there's lots of swooning, passionate kissing, and playing at being in love, though it often ends with bickering. Interest is piqued with the hint of a love triangle, and the suspense is ratcheted up in the heart-pounding final battle scene. In the end, readers won't be much closer to unraveling Luce's mystery and will need to stay tuned for the next installment. It's unlikely this title will garner new fans for the series, but those already hooked on the epic romance won't want to miss it.Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA

My 2 cents:  A great sequel!  This book seems to bring even more questions than answers, as Luce tries to decide if Daniel really is her soul mate.  The ending is completely unexpected.  If you loved Fallen, you'll love Torment!  5 stars from me!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 official trailer


The Immortal Series by Alyson Noel

Editorial Reviews:
This opening book in a new series, The Immortals, will thrill many teen fantasy-suspense readers, especially fans of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. Seventeen-year-old Ever survived the car crash that killed her parents, younger sister, and their dog. Now she lives with an aunt in Southern California, plagued not only by survivor guilt but also by a new ability to hear the thoughts of all around her. She tries to tune out all these distractions by keeping her hoodie up and her iPod cranked loud, until Damen, the cute new boy at school, convinces her to come out of her shell. Damen, however, is frighteningly clever—and has the strange ability to produce tulips from nowhere and disappear himself at critical moments. Noël (Saving Zoë, 2007) creates a cast of recognizably diverse teens in a realistic high-school setting, along with just the right tension to make Ever’s discovery of her own immortality—should she choose it—exciting and credible.

My 2 cents:  Everyone had been telling me that if I loved Twilight, that I would love these books!  To be honest, it took me awhile to get into Evermore.  The writing was a little amateurish, and the plot wasn't the best.  But the ending of the book was amazing!  And the series does get better.  But for the first book in the series, I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Alyson’s Noël’s bestselling Immortals series has been hailed as “addictive” “beautiful” “haunting” and “mesmerizing.”  In the second installment, Ever can bring her family back from the dead—but only if she’s willing to sacrifice the guy she loves more than life itself.

     Just as Ever is learning everything she can about her new abilities as an immortal, initiated into the dark, seductive world by her beloved Damen, something terrible is happening to him.  As Ever’s powers are increasing, Damen’s are fading—stricken by a mysterious illness that threatens his memory, his identity, his life.

     Desperate to save him, Ever travels to the mystical dimension of Summerland, uncovering not only the secrets of Damen’s past—the brutal, tortured history he hoped to keep hidden—but also an ancient text revealing the workings of time. With the approaching blue moon heralding her only window for travel, Ever is forced to decide between turning back the clock and saving her family from the accident that claimed them—or staying in the present and saving Damen, who grows weaker each day...

Editorial Reviews:
“Alyson Noel surpassed all my expectations.  Not only is Blue Moon an amazing sequel; it sets the bar for the rest of this series very, very high!  When I reached the last page of this one, all I could say was ‘wow!’”—Teens Read Too
“It is the mark of a daring writer to defy expectations and Alyson Noel does that to the power of ten in Blue Moon.” I guarantee you will have no idea what’s coming in the second book of the series while Alyson Noel surprises you with a big, fat twist and leaves you wanting more, more, more.” --The Book Chick
“A mesmerizing tale of teenage angst, love and sacrifice with plenty of crossover appeal…The startling but satisfying ending shows that Noël knows how to keep her audience hooked. Ever's supernatural struggles are a captivating metaphor for teenage fears about love, relationships and growing up.” –Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Blue Moon was incredible. If you thought Evermore was full of suspense and unknowns, just wait until you read Blue Moon. Noel surpassed all expectations…The plot was insane, and I mean that in a good way. Noel took this novel in a direction I was never expecting, resulting in an emotional roller coaster ride that I never wanted to end. It was so cleverly pieced, so intricately meshed, I never saw it coming. Fabulous.” –The Story Siren

My 2 cents:  Good news:  Blue Moon actually has a great plot!  And a little more character development this time.  I was glad I held on and kept reading the series, Blue Moon did not disappoint!  This book is full of teen angst, dark secrets, and supernatural events.  4 out of 5 stars!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Editorial Review:
Riordan takes the elements that made the "Percy Jackson" books (Hyperion) so popular and ratchets them up a notch. Carter, 14, and Sadie, 12, have grown up apart. He has traveled all over the world with his Egyptologist father, Dr. Julius Kane, while Sadie has lived in London with her grandparents. Their mother passed away under mysterious circumstances, so when their father arrives in London and wants to take them both on a private tour of the British Museum, all is not necessarily what it seems. The evening ends with the apparent destruction of the Rosetta Stone, the disappearance of Dr. Kane, and the kidnapping of Carter and Sadie. More insidiously, it leads to the release of five Egyptian gods, including Set, who is their mortal enemy. Carter and Sadie discover the secrets of their family heritage and their ability to work magic as they realize that their task will be to save humanity from Set, who is building a destructive red pyramid inside Camelback Mountain in Phoenix. The text is presented as the transcript of an audio recording done by both children. Riordan creates two distinct and realistic voices for the siblings. He has a winning formula, but this book goes beyond the formulaic to present a truly original take on Egyptian mythology. His trademark humor is here in abundance, and there are numerous passages that will cause readers to double over with laughter. The humor never takes away from the story or from the overall tone. A must-have book, and in multiple copies.—Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO

My 2 cents:  First of all:  a new series from Rick Riordan!  WOOT WOOT!  Seriously, though, I liked this book better than the Percy Jackson series.  It's a little more complex and things seem much more serious in the plot.  I personally loved the switch to Egyptian mythology.  Almost everyone studies Greek mythology in school, but not much is covered on Egyptian mythology.  Another great book for kids and adults alike! 

The Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flamel--The Sorceress by Michael Scott

Editorial Reviews:
The third book in Michael Scott's "Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" series, The Sorceress, kicks the action up to a whole new level. Adding to the series' menagerie of immortal humans ("humani") and mythological beasts, the book picks up where The Magician left off: the immortal Nicholas Flamel (of The Alchemyst) and the twins, Sophie and Josh, have just arrived at St. Pancras international train station in London. Almost immediately, they're confronted with a demonic bounty hunter that immortal magician John Dee has sent their way. At the same time, Dee's occasional cohort, Niccolo Machiavelli, decides to focus his energy on Perenelle Flamel, the Alchemyst's wife, who has been imprisoned at Alcatraz since the beginning of the series. In this book, Perenelle gets a chance to show off her sorcery and resourcefulness, fighting and forging alliances with ghosts, beasts, and the occasional Elder to try and find a way out of her predicament and back to Flamel. Scott is as playful as ever, introducing new immortals--famous figures from history who (surprise!) are still alive. He also adds to the roster of fantastical beasts, which already includes such intriguing foes as Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess, and the Morrigan, or Crow Goddess. Raising the stakes with each installment, Scott deftly manages multiple story lines and keeps everything moving pretty quickly, making this third book a real page-turner. More than just another piece in the puzzle of the whole series, The Sorceress is an adventure in its own right, and will certainly leave series fans wanting more. --Heidi Broadhead

 My 2 Cents:  This series seems to get better and better with every book!  The third installment was another action packed, mythological smorgasbord adventure!  This book really focuses on Perenelle.  In my opinion, she is a way more interesting character than Nicholas Flamel!  Her adventures get really crazy!  Back in London, Nicholas, Josh, and Sophie are looking for Gilgamesh to instruct the twins next,  while continually being chased by Dee.  Another hit!  5 stars for me!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Percy Jackson Books

Book 1 The Lightning Thief
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school...again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. 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 and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But 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 betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

Editorial Reviews:
At the outset of this fast-paced tale by Rick Riordan (Hyperion/Miramax, 2005), it would seem that Percy Jackson is just another New York kid diagnosed with ADHD, who has good intentions, a nasty stepfather, and a long line of schools that have rejected him. The revelation of his status as half-blood offspring of one of the Greek gods is nicely packaged, and it's easy to believe that Mount Olympus, in modern times, has migrated to the 600th floor of the Empire State Building (the center of Western civilization) while the door to Hades can be found at DOA Recording Studio, somewhere in LA. With his new friends, a disguised satyr, and the half-blood daughter of Athena, Percy sets out across the country to rectify a feud between Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. Along the way they must cope with the Furies, Medusa, motorcycle thug Aires, and various other immortals. Although some of Jesse Bernstein's accents fail (the monster from Georgia, for instance, has no Southern trace in her voice), he does a fine job of keeping the main characters' tones and accents distinguishable. He convincingly portrays Percy, voicing just the right amount of prepubescent confusion, ironic wit, and the ebbing and waning of concern for himself and those around him. Mythology fans will love this take and kids who haven't been inculcated with the Classical canon will learn aspects of it here while having no trouble following a rollicking good–and modern–adventure.–Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

My 2 cents:  The start of a great series!  These books are quick reads and hard to put down!  They reminded me a lot of the first 3 books of the Harry Potter series, before things got really heavy in that series.  The Lightning Thief is nonstop action, which is great for kids, and all the fun mythology references are great fun for all ages!  

Book 2 The Sea of Monsters
Editorial Reviews:
In this sequel (Miramax Books, 2006) to Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief (Hyperion, 2005; Listening Library, 2005) 13-year-old Percy is just finishing up his school year and is looking forward to another great summer at Camp Half-Blood with all the other demigods. But even before school ends, things start happening, and soon Percy is at camp along with Tyson, a homeless kid adopted by Percy's school. At camp, Percy not only discovers that Tyson is a Cyclops and a son of Poseidon, which makes him Percy's half-brother, but also that the camp is in trouble. There's a quest to rescue Percy's friend, Grover the satyr, and to retrieve the Golden Fleece. The plot zips along with plenty of action; lots of mythological monsters, titans, and gods; and a leavening of humor. Jesse Bernstein does a good job of giving Percy a youthful voice in this first-person narrative, while at the same time creating appropriate voices for the other characters. Listeners who have not read or listened to the first book in the projected trilogy will want to do so before the next installment is published.–Sarah Flowers, Santa Clara County Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
My 2 cents:  Remember reading Odysseus in school?  If not, you will as soon as you start reading this installment of the Percy Jackson series!  Because I LOVED Odysseus, I loved this book as well!  It was a great follow up to the first book.

Book 3 The Titan's Curse
Editorial Reviews:
In this installment, Riordan continues to enliven ancient mythology with wit, contemporary staging, and teenage heroics. Percy Jackson is now 14, a bit older and wiser, yet still entangled with the Fates. Friends, monsters, dysfunctional gods, and the romantic stirrings of all things natural and mythological are encountered. His good friend, if oft-time rival, Annabeth (daughter of Athena) is missing, as is Artemis, goddess of the hunt. Joined by best buddy Grover-the-goat-boy and an argumentative array of accomplices, Percy sets off to fulfill, and hopefully foil, the foreboding prophecy of the Oracle. Plagued by ominous dreams, thwarted by hideous monsters, and challenged by conflicting partnerships, the search party's success hinges on unlikely unity. The droll pitch is teen-perfect, as when Apollo heats up the scene by arriving in his fire-red Maserati, wearing jeans, a sleeveless T-shirt, and loafers. 'Wow,' Thalia muttered, 'Apollo is hot.' 'He's the sun god,' I said. 'That's not what I meant.' Intricate prophecies and relationships are neatly braided into the adventurous plot. Teachers will cheer for Percy Jackson and the Olympians as they inspire students to embrace Greek mythology and score the ultimate Herculean challenge: getting kids to read. All in all, a winner of Olympic proportions and a surefire read-aloud.–Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved My 2 cents:  This is where the series really takes off.  I had so wished Hollywood would have kept the movies going, even after The Lightning Thief, just for this book!  This is where the drama starts to unfold, and by the end we are left to wonder what just does that stinking prophecy mean?  Or, I should say, WHO?  

Book 4 The Battle of the Labyrinth
Editorial Review:
The battle starts, literally, with an explosion and doesn't let up. After Percy destroys the high school band room battling monsters called empousai who have taken on the form of cheerleaders, he has to hide out at Camp Half-Blood. There, Grover's searcher's license is going to be revoked unless he can find the god Pan in seven days. An entrance to the Labyrinth has been discovered, which means that Luke, the half-blood turned bad, can bypass the magical protections and invade the camp. Annabeth insists that she must follow a quest to locate Daedalus's workshop before Luke does. Percy is disturbed by visions of Nico, the son of Hades, who is summoning forth the spirits of the dead with McDonalds Happy Meals. Percy, Grover, and Percy's Cyclops half-brother follow Annabeth into the maze not knowing if they will ever find their way out. Riordan cleverly personifies the Labyrinth as a sort of living organism that changes at will, and that traverses the whole of the United States. Kids will devour Riordan's subtle satire of their world, such as a Sphinx in the Labyrinth whose questions hilariously parody standardized testing. The secret of Pan is revealed with a bittersweet outcome that also sends an eco-friendly message. Like many series, the "Percy Jackson" books are beginning to show the strain of familiarity and repetition. However, the overarching story line remains compelling, and the cliff-hanger ending will leave readers breathless in anticipation of the fifth and final volume.—Tim Wadham, Maricopa County Library District, Phoenix, AZ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
My 2 cents:  WOW!  That was all I could think by the time I got to the end of this book!  I think "Labyrinth" is my fave book in the series!  Of course the mythological story of Daedalus and his labyrinth is intriguing in its own right.   I loved this book and read it all in one sitting! 

Book 5 The Last Olympian
All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of 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.

Editorial Reviews:
“The clash of modern and classical worlds is both exciting and entertaining.” —The New York Times Book Review
”Riordan masterfully orchestrates the huge cast of characters and manages a coherent, powerful tale at once exciting, philosophical and tear-jerking. The best-selling series’ legions of fans will cheer their heroes on and rejoice in such a compelling conclusion to the saga.”— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

My 2 cents:   The series finale does not disappoint!  Again, the story is non stop action (great for kids) with most of the book being a big battle in the middle of Manhattan.  The ending is superb, and finally the prophecy and all the characters and their actions make sense!  Its a nice, neat ending but there is a lot of room left for more adventures and sequels!

 All in all, I give the whole series 5 stars!  If you have children that really aren't big readers (like mine where a couple of years ago!) I wholeheartedly recommend this series!  It will keep them engaged, plus they get to learn a little mythology along the way!  A great action packed adventure series! 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

Editorial Review:  In a story that is at once evocative of Lois Lowry's The Giver (Houghton, 1993), George Orwell's 1984, and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Condie introduces readers to the “perfect” Society. Cassia Reyes is a model student, daughter, and citizen. How could she not be when the Society has everything planned and functioning perfectly? All of her needs are met: food, shelter, education, career training, and even her future husband are selected by officials who know what is best for each individual by studying statistical data and probable odds. She even knows when she will die, on her 80th birthday, just as the Society dictates. At her Match Banquet she is paired with Xander, her best friend and certainly her soul mate. But when a computer error shows her the face of Ky, an Aberration, instead of Xander, cracks begin to appear in the Society's facade of perfection. A series of events also shakes her dedication to Xander and puts her future in jeopardy. Cassia exhibits some characteristics of Winston Smith and Lenina Crowne in her silent rebellion against societal control and in her illicit friendship with Ky but ultimately, and more satisfyingly, she is more like Lowry's Jonas. Her awakening and development are realistically portrayed, and supporting characters like Cassia's parents and her grandfather add depth to the story. The biggest flaw is that the story is not finished. Fans of the Giver will devour this book and impatiently demand the next installment.–Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CA. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.

My thoughts:  This book was AMAZING!  The new trend for teen fiction seems to be a dystopian society (ie The Hunger Games) which is a nice switch from vampire and werewolves!  Not that I mind vampire fiction, but its nice to read something new!
 Cassia is one of my favorite characters to date.  She is very intelligent but also very realistic.  At the beginning of the book, everyone (including Cassia) is happy and seems perfectly content to let the Society rule their lives.  Gives new meaning to the phrase, "Ignorance is bliss".  As the story moves on, it starts to become clear that not everything is as perfect and happy as the Society would have its citizens believe.  By the end, its almost mind blowing!  Its not really clear what even real and who is really in charge!  The story is told in a fantastic way.  Great new author, and she is planning a sequel, "Crossed" which will release in November.  I can't wait!  5 out of 5 stars for me!