Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I had this on my stack once this year and barely started it when I decided to read something else. I looked at reviews that said this was a really dark book (which it is a bit dark), had an attempted rape scene (which it does, but it was not a long scene thankfully) and that the characters were emotionless (which was not the case). Based on a few reviews I stopped reading it at that time. Then I decided to do the Spooktacular challenge and thought it would be a good time to pick up this book again. I am glad I did!

Meghan Chase is your ordinary teenage girl. Her family is not wealthy, but she at least has her IPod. She lives with her mother, stepfather, and half-brother Ethan. Despite not having the best clothes or a car, Meghan makes the most of her life and she loves her family. So when her brother is taken to the Faery world and replaced with a changeling, Meghan knows she must save him. She is helped by her friend Rob, who turns out to be Robin Goodfellow aka Puck. Puck agrees to take her to the Summer court of Oberon and Titania to see if Ethan is there. The two are separate and Meghan makes a deal with Grimalkin, basically a fey cat, to help her find Puck and when they do she will owe Grim a favor. Grimalkin leads her to the Summer Fey, but they do not find Ethan. However, Meghan finds out Oberon is her father and that she is half-faery. She also learns about the feud between the Summer and Winter courts and meets Ash, the youngest son of Queen Mab of the Winter faeries. Meghan also notices little iron bugs, one of which causes a monster to attack the two courts at their peace meeting. This could mean war, unless Ash, Puck, and Meghan can prove the existence of the Iron King, leader of the Iron Fey. Meghan must join forces with her enemy Ash to save her brother and the two courts, but can Ash be trusted?

This is a dark fey story, but I enjoyed it. Julie Kagawa created a lush, deliciously dark world where no one is safe and everything comes with a price. Her descriptions of her world show a deadly, but beautiful place and it seems real enough to exist. Her characters are very rough around the edges, but you cannot help being drawn to them. It did take me a bit to get into the story, but as soon as I started Part II, I hated to put the book down.

Favorite Character: Definitely Meghan. Her responses to being a part-fey were very realistic. She did not just suddenly turn into a kick-butt heroine, but she did not pretend to be a damsel in distress either. She cries at times, she gets mad, but she keeps going. She knows her flaw is her loyalty to others, but she claims it with pride. She is one of the best heroines I have read about this year.

Favorite Quote: "The Nevernever is dying, human. It grows smaller and smaller every decade. Too much progress, too much technology. Mortals are losing their faith in anything but science. Even the children of man are consumed by progress. They sneer at the old stories and are drawn to the newest gadgets, computers, or video games. They no longer believe in monsters or magic. As cities grow and technology takes over the world, belief and imagination fade, and so do we." I know this is a long quote, but I think it is so true!

I really want to start the next book in the series, but I HAVE to finish a few other books first. I loved this dark story and it gets 5 cups of dark cocoa!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Reading Stack #23

I have finished The Selection and Mark of Athena. I have around 100 pages left of Iron King, but I hope to finish it before the weekend is over. It is a dark read so far, but pretty good. I have started Girl with the Clockwork Collar, but there is no way I will finish it before October ends. So far it is as attention grabbing as the first, but I have had little time to read since Monday. I started the Awakening, because I wanted to know what happens next, so I did go off list as usual. I still have For Darkness Shows the Stars in my stack too, but it has been neglected again. My goal is to try to finish these four books before starting anything else. We'll see if I can do this! Hope you are enjoying your reads for this week!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Selection by Kiera Cass

I wanted to be able to read this book for a very long time, so when I finally received the hold notification, it had to go to the top of my list. I ended up buying it anyway, so I could have saved all that waiting time if I just bought it. So, you can tell this is going to be a high rating book, if I had to buy it even though I had it on loan. :)

America Singer is in love with Aspen, but she is a Five and he is a Six. In America's society of
Illéa, you are ranked according to your station in life. The royal family are Ones and Twos and Threes are the wealthy. Fours have a little more than Fives, Sixes, and Sevens. Eights are the homeless and desitute. A girl should not marry below her rank and so America and Aspen keep their love a secret. Then the Selection occurs. Prince Maxon is of marrying age and so 35 girls will be chosen from Illéa and one will be his wife. Aspen and America's family convince her to enter and her mother promises to let her earn her own money. America enters just so she can save money to marry Aspen, but when she surprises him with an expensive dinner, he decides to end their relationship over his pride. America is chosen as one of thirty-five. There she competes at first half-heartedly, but then she wants to be Maxon's friend. Soon she wonders if friendship is enough and if she can truly leave Aspen behind. Can she make it to the end and which love should she choose?

The cliffhanger ending will have readers begging for book 2, which I won't mention the title of, because it is spoilerly. I loved Kiera Cass's writing and the world she has created. I couldn't believe it ended without a choice, but I can't wait to read Book 2, which sadly will not be out until April. I loved getting to know the other girls through America's eyes and the book reminds you of what it must be like for girls who do pageants. Cass shows the competitiveness and the fragile friendships formed with the girls in their desire to win, but be liked. The love triangle between America, Aspen, and Maxon is interesting and it is hard to decide who should be together. At times I did want to yell at them all, especially America, but I am satisfied with the choice she made at the end of this book.

Favorite Character: I liked Marlee, one of the Selected girls who seems the most honest and real. She is friendly and America's one friend other than Maxon. She is hiding a secret though, so she may turn out to be not so nice in the next story.

Favorite Quote: "'In my experience, true love is usually the most inconvenient kind.'"

The idea of a selection is an interesting concept and I love that she did not downplay the ugly side of the contest. I enjoyed her world of Illéa and the characters particularly the Selected girls. I have not made up my mind about the love triangle just yet. 4.5 cups of cocoa!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

This is book 3 in the Heroes of Olympus series, which follows the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. You should read the Percy Jackson series first and this post will have spoilers for that series and the other two books in the Heroes of Olympus.

Annabeth, Jason, Piper, and Leo are nervous about entering the Roman camp, but they manage to keep safe from Terminus and things seem to be going great. However Leo fires on the camp and the 4 plus Percy, Hazel and Frank manage to escape with their lives. The Argo II is damaged, which forces them to stop for repairs in Kansas. While in Kansas, Piper, Jason, and Percy learn that they will be fighting two giants to save Nico, Hazel's brother and son of Hades. They also learn they will need the help of Bacchus/Dionysus to defeat the pair. It is there that Jason and Percy try to kill each other and Piper manages to diffuse the situation. She learns the pair and Leo have eidilons or ghosts controlling them, but she is able to banish the spirits for a time. The group travels to Rome and it is in Rome that Annabeth will have her own quest. She must find the Mark of Athena and save the Athena Parthanos statue to prevent war between the Greeks and Romans and to help the gods not be divided by their duel natures. She must face down one of her biggest fears, but do it completely alone. THe others will be focused on defeating the giants and saving Leo. Can the group of seven succeed or will the cost be the lives of two demigods? The cliffhanger ending will have readers on edge for the 4th and peniultimate book in the series.

I love all of Riordan's books. They are filled with humor and suspense and while geared toward a young teen/tween audience, I think adults can appreciate the humor and his detailed attention to the myths of Greece. The end really surprised me and it will be hard to wait a year to find out what will happen next. I was worried that the 7 character perspective would be confusing, but Riordan manages to make each story flow into the next one and each character still has a unique personality and way of looking at things. I loved how he showed the growth of each character. All of them struggle with issues of trust and each learns that they must work as a team and sometimes give up the lead in order for the quest to succeed. Riordan manages to make each of the seven seem like the main character.

Favorite Character: It is hard to choose, but in this particular book, I liked Leo the best. He has some of the funniest lines and he most of all learns how to interact better with people.

Favorite Quote: "'I teach music and poetry!' Aphros said. 'Life skills! Homemaking! These are important for heroes.'"
"'Being a hero doesn't mean you're invincible. It just means that you're brave enough to stand up and do what's needed.' 'And what if I don't know what's needed.' 'That's what your friends are for.'"

This is my favorite book in this series so far and possibly my favorite series book read this year. Definitely 5 cups of cocoa!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Reading Stack #22

Right now I am almost finished with the Mark of Athena, less than 100 pages left! There are several books I should be reading, but I keep wanting to jump off my lists this month. I have just started The Selection by Kiera Cass, which was not on any of my TBR lists, but has caught my attention. I am also very slowly reading For Darkness Shows the Stars and I have made very little progress with this since my last reading stack update. It is a good story and very much like Persuasion, which I liked, but I just keep picking up other books. I have also started Iron King for my last book in the Spooktacular Challenge. I really enjoyed the other two books I read for that challenge, Blood and The Summoning and would love to start the sequels, but I just don't have time at the moment. I have also barely started my Random Read, The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, so the odds of finishing it before the month ends are not good.

Are you confused? Yeah me too. I have picked up too many books. To help with the confusing, I am going to focus on finishing Mark of Athena in the next day or two. I will stick with The Selection since it is an e-book borrow and I have less time with it than with my other books. I think my last book on the stack for the moment will be Iron King, so that I can maybe finish the Spooktacular challenge. However, I keep going off list, so you never know.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blood by K.J Wignall

William of Mercia, heir to the Earl of Mercia, died in 1256, however he didn't stay dead. Although preferring the term undead, Will is a vampire who needs blood to quench his hunger. Will spends long periods in hibernations, but when awake, he tries to feed as little as possible. When Will emerges in current time, it was his first time awake since 1989. He adapts quickly to his surroundings thanks to a mysterious chamber left him by an unknown benefactor. His first feeding is an unusual victim, Jex, a drug addict, who speaks even though he is hypnotized. Jex warns him that Lorcan Labraid, the evil of the world, wants him. Jex says Will must find the girl, because she needs him and he needs her. After killing Jex, Will takes a notebook with prophecies and a drawing of a pretty girl. Will quickly meets this girl, named Eloise, and he has feelings for her, that he has not felt in many centuries. Another prophecy warns Will that he may have to sacrifice Eloise. Will he sacrifice her or will she be worth more to him than the answers he craves? Who is Lorcan Labraid and what is Will's destiny?

The first in the Mercian series leaves many questions unanswered. The story is both a love story and a mystery. It is a quick read and you are left with the desire to know more. I wish the book was a little longer, because the story did feel a little rushed and a few more answers would have been helpful. However I do want to read the sequel, Alchemy.

Favorite Character: Eloise. Although at times I wanted to scream at her that she should not be so trustworthy of Will, I did find her an interesting character. She was someone who appeared strong and fearless. I wish her character was explored a little more and hopefully it will be in the second book.

Favorite Quote: "Death is the backdrop against which I act out my life." I thought this was an accurate description of what it would really be like to be a vampire, not as glamorous as some books make it to be.

I liked the way Will reacts to being undead. He doesn't make excuses and at times seems cold heart, which would fit being "alive" for hundreds of years and just watching people you care about die and knowing each time you sleep lives are going on and ending. I wish there had been more details in the story and more answers, but overall it was an interesting and quick read. 3.5 cups of cocoa.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Unwanteds: Island of Silence by Lisa McMann

I finally finished what I have been calling the Unwanteds 2 and only a week late for the Sequels challenge. However my lateness is not because the book was bad, but because of lack of free time.

Unwanteds: Island of Silence picks up after the first book, with Necessaries pouring into the magical Artime after the defeat of High Priest Justine of Quill. Mr. Today assigns last year's Unwanteds including Alex, Lani, Samheed, and Meghan to try to help the Necessaries adjust to life in Artime. In the meantime, the Wanteds of Quill are not adjusting to being without the Necessaries's labor and want to force the group back to Quill. Those formally in charge are upset, but few are willing to challenge High Priest Haluki, Lani's father. The main exception is Aaron Stowe, Alex's twin brother. Alex can not forgive his twin for trying to kill him, but he does not want to fight his brother. When Mr. Today asks Alex to be his successor, Alex rejects him, but continues to train with Mr. Today, so that he can take a vacation. As Alex learns more about the job, he begins to regret his decision, but the idea that he might have to face his brother if he takes charge, keeps him for telling Mr. Today he has changed his mind. Lani is becoming distant with Alex, because she wanted to be chosen, but doesn't share this with Alex, and Meghan feels rejected by her family. Samheed who likes Meghan feels jealous of her work with another Unwanted. With their friendship strained, Samheed, Meghan, and Lani decide to go on an adventure, but Alex cannot join them because of his training duties. The adventure is ill-timed and with a horrible tragedy, Alex may be left to pick up the pieces alone.

The second book in the Unwanteds series is darker than the first and the ending is very bittersweet. Even though things seem bleak, there is hope in the end. I love the world McMann has created and this is another story with very flawed characters, who are still likeable. She broke my heart at the end of the story, but I will not tell how, because it would be really spoilery.

Favorite Character: Alex. He really matured with this book and his hesitancy is what makes him such a great character. He is capable, but lacks confidence. I can't wait to see if he gains this confidence in the next book. He is also very caring and cannot even bring himself to hate his brother.

Favorite Quote: " 'Forgiveness is not a negative trait.' Mr. Today walked to the window and looked out. 'Not if one possesses common sense. Which you do.' 'And it's a priceless gift, too, for common sense is not something one can just acquire at will. You either have it or you don't, as they say.'"

This series does remind me slightly of Harry Potter, but only in the sense that McMann is able to create a believable magical world with likeable flawed characters, just like in HP. 5 cups of cocoa for sure and I really want to read the next book!

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Chloe Saunders wants to be the next great director and often views life as being filmed. Her mother died when she was younger and her father travels all the time, moving her from one apartment to the next, but other than that she is pretty normal. She has been able to attend the same school, an art school, to train to be a director and screenwriter, but all that normality changes when she starts to see ghosts. Suddenly she is labeled a schizophrenic and forced to live at Lyle House, a place for troubled teens. There she meets Liz who seems to throw pencils and other objects at people, Rae who loves fire and seems to control fire, Tori who just seems moody, Simon who seems normal, and Derek who is rude and a little too strong. Chloe tries to focus on being normal, but when she discovers she may truly see ghosts and that the others may have supernatural powers of their own, she puts her life and those of the other teens in danger. Something sinister is hidden at Lyle House and the truth could doom them all.

I loved this twist on the supernatural. I haven't read very many stories with necromancers or mediums, so this was a nice surprise. The story is suspenseful and the surprise cliffhanger ending has me really wanting to read The Awakening. The characters are flawed, but likeable and the story is very fast-paced. Obviously since I finished it in about a week's time, which is really surprising for my reading pace is usually terribly slow.

Favorite Character: Chloe. She seems very realistic and very innocent. She is not the perfect heroine, which I liked, but she is loyal to the other Lyle House teens. She is also not judgmental and she is very caring. Her reactions to her powers also seem real and she doesn't just automatically accept her abilities, but tries to look at the situation logically.

Favorite Quote: "You're a supernatural. You're always in danger." "Time to turn off my galloping imagination and focus. Direct the scene." I like when Chloe looks at things like being behind a camera. It is a unique perspective and fits her personality.

I was really surprised I enjoyed this story so much. The series has been recommended by several of the teens who come into the library and now I see why. I can't wait to add The Awakening to my reading list. 4.5 cups of cocoa!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October Random Read

Random Reads

This month's Random Read is The Girl with the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross, which I added to my list after finishing the first book for another Random Read. I am really excited to read this one and hope that I get time to finish the challenge this month!