Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I'm back! And some summer mini-reviews for you.

Hiatus over! I'm back from backpacking around Europe this summer. While I was gone, my Kindle kept me company, so I did not go completely without books. (It sure was hard though, and I missed my paper books at home very much.) I did read about 35 books, but here are a few I bothered to write mini-reviews for. These are also posted on Goodreads along with the rest of what I read on the trip.

The Girl Who Was on Fire: Hunger Games Trilogy essays anthology
Summary: In The Girl Who Was on Fire, thirteen YA authors take you back to Panem with moving, dark, and funny pieces on Katniss, the Games, Gale and Peeta, reality TV, survival, and more. From the trilogy's darker themes of violence and social control to fashion and weaponry, the collection's exploration of the Hunger Games reveals exactly how rich, and how perilous, protagonist Katniss' world really is.

• How does the way the Games affect the brain explain Haymitch's drinking, Annie's distraction, and Wiress' speech problems?
• What does the rebellion have in common with the War on Terror?
• Why isn't the answer to "Peeta or Gale?" as interesting as the question itself?
• What should Panem have learned from the fates of other hedonistic societies throughout history and what can we?

My rating: 5 stars
Review: These essays were great! None in particular, because they all kind of blended together, but there were some good point of views about different themes in The Hunger Games trilogy, and now I have more appreciation to Mockingjay. I don't hate it anymore, and I'm interested to read it again with a new mindset. I definitely recommend this book if you're at all a fan of the series.

Possible series SPOILER ALERT
Summary: Kaylee has one addiction: her very hot, very popular boyfriend, Nash. A banshee like Kaylee, Nash understands her like no one else. Nothing can come between them.Until something does.

Demon breath. No, not the toothpaste-challenged kind. The Netherworld kind. The kind that really can kill you. Somehow the super-addictive substance has made its way to the human world. But how? Kaylee and Nash have to cut off the source and protect their friends—one of whom is already hooked.
And so is someone else…

My rating: barely 2 stars
Review: When I hit the "I'm finished" button for this book I truly meant it. I'm finished with this book, and series all together, I can't stand it anymore and it's not worth my reading time. I can see why these books are popular but they're just not for me. I don't want to rant unreasonably but..

The idea of banshees is wonderful and unique, but when you stick it in a high school and have underlying everyday high school problems with a paranormal twist...it just loses the charm. Anyone know of other book series on banshees?

The adults here are badly written. First, the right thing is done because the adults are actually clued into the banshee business and everything; in fact they ARE banshees too. It's a genetic thing. The problem falls when at every turn of events the main character (wait what's her name again?) is in some dire circumstance (as happens in most climaxes) and she repeatedly refuses to call her dad, or clue in her uncle. Anything. Anybody. Why? Because she is afraid of getting grounded. You know, I really don't have to keep going on that subject. It's ridiculous.

And one last small thing. The protag's cousin Sophie, aka Ice Bitch Queen Character....yeah she's freakin 15 years old. Think of that. I can't even imagine being mollified by a fifteen year old. And I hope I'm using that word right, because I don't want to be sounding like a fifteen year old.
But REALLY, I get that the protag is only barely 17 or something, but that just makes me roll my eyes.

Okay rant over. I'm disappointed. I really wanted to like this series, and I figured three books were enough to judge a seven book series.

Oh. Don't get me wrong, there were aspects I liked about these books. Tod the reaper. Netherworld-building. 
Yeah that's it.

The first two books were bearable. This pushed me over the edge.

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Althea is the sole support of her entire family, and she must marry well. But there are few wealthy suitors--or suitors of any kind--in their small Yorkshire town of Lesser Hoo. Then, the young and attractive (and very rich) Lord Boring arrives, and Althea sets her plans in motion. There's only one problem; his friend and business manager Mr. Fredericks keeps getting in the way. And, as it turns out, Fredericks has his own set of plans . . . This witty take on the classic Regency--Patrice Kindl's first novel in a decade--is like literary champagne!

My rating: 5 stars
Review: Excellent book! I already wish I could read it for the first time again. There are many laugh out loud moments; the story doesn't take itself entirely seriously. Every time someone mentioned Lord Boring, or Mr. Fredericks did something stupid and tactless around Althea, my face broke out into a smile. If you've recently finished reading all of Jane Austen's books, or others of that kind and/or need something to get out of a book funk, you have to give Keeping the Castle a try. It's a short book but has depth and the writing style is sure to keep you entertained. Now, where can I find another book like it??

Summary: Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god. 

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning. 

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out. 

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

My rating: 5 stars
Review: Besides the slow (but steady) pace...totally awesome! I can't wait for the next one; Kendare is at her best, and I am still a little shocked at her brutality to her characters. Such dedication.
And yes, that is my entire review.

Summary: Riley, a teen orphan boy living in Victorian London, has had the misfortune of being apprenticed to Albert Garrick, an illusionist who has fallen on difficult times and now uses his unique conjuring skills to gain access to victims' dwellings. On one such escapade, Garrick brings his reluctant apprentice along and urges him to commit his first killing. Riley is saved from having to commit the grisly act when the intended victim turns out to be a scientist from the future, part of the FBI's Witness Anonymous Relocation Program (WARP) Riley is unwittingly transported via wormhole to modern day London, followed closely by Garrick. 

In modern London, Riley is helped by Chevron Savano, a seventeen-year-old FBI agent sent to London as punishment after a disastrous undercover, anti-terrorist operation in Los Angeles. Together Riley and Chevie must evade Garrick, who has been fundamentally altered by his trip through the wormhole. Garrick is now not only evil, but he also possesses all of the scientist's knowledge. He is determined to track Riley down and use the timekey in Chevie's possession to make his way back to Victorian London where he can literally change the world.

My rating: 5 stars
Review: Now another series from Eoin Colfer I can look forward to! It's full of action, witty dialogue, and nasty bad guys. I have a soft spot for time traveling, and this is now one of my favorites in that genre. It's for a tab bit older audience than the Artemis Fowl books, I think, because it's not as lighthearted. Great capture of the 19th century London streets though, I felt completely immersed.

Summary: Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, wants to be known as a doctor, not a necromancer. But Tsar Alexander III forbids women to attend medical school; his interest in Katerina extends only to her ability to raise the dead. Twice now, Katerina has helped him by using her power to thwart the forces of darkness—vampires bent on resurrecting the lich tsar Konstantin Pavlovich so that he can take what he sees as his rightful place on the throne. Katerina thought she had bound Konstantin to the Greylands, the realm of the dead, but he has found a way out. Now he is searching for the Morning Star, a sword that will allow him to command a legion of supernatural warriors.

Katerina must find the sword before Konstantin does—and she must travel to Egypt to do so. Along the way, she puts up with unwanted attention from her former fiancĂ©, the nefarious Prince Danilo, and struggles with her feelings for her true love, George Alexandrovich. But with the looming threat from Konstantin, Katerina's focus remains on the sword. Russia's fate will be determined by whoever wields the Morning Star—and delivers the final blow.

My rating: 3 stars
Review: I guess I never really was a huge fan of this series to begin with. I liked it enough to keep going, but the way it was written really made it hard to follow at all, so I just picked it up here and there and that's how I got through. Not saying it's a bad series by any means, you just have to pay attention to all the Russian names and relations etc. 

So it's a nice ending to the series, but the last chapters felt rushed and completely unexpected, a tad out of character? Also, through the last two books and most of this one, Katerina was striving to be a doctor, when women weren't doctors, and how it actually played out...well I'm still not sure I like it. She seemed to compromise a few of her beliefs to be with...the one who wins the love triangle. (spoiler avoided.)

Very neutral three stars.


Well there you go! I know that doesn't nearly make up for a three-month absense, but I have some pretty good books coming up in the next couple months, so keep an eye out! Have you read anything either outstanding or awful this summer?



  1. I read the novella in the Soul Screamers series, but it's a series I never got into. I don't like the idea of male banshees. "Banshee" in Irish is "bean-sidhe," or fairy woman, so male banshee is a contradiction in terms.

    I did love the Hunger Games series, though. You hated 'Mockingjay?' It was my favorite. I'll have to read the essay anthology; it sounds really good.

  2. I just got Antigoddess from the library so I hope I like it. It seems like a pretty short book. I have all of the Rachel Vincent books but I am hesitant to read them for some reason. They get a lot of mixed reviews.