Sunday, November 30, 2014

Making Up For Monday: Forget Me Not

It's time for Making Up For Monday!

This week's question:
If you could forget one book to experience it all over again, which one would it be?

Wouldn't this be an absolute dream?  I would love to go back in time and re-experience several books for the first time again.  You can always re-read books, but nothing compares to that first time when you read it with fresh eyes.  That was the time when you read with anticipation, unable to put it down because you couldn't wait to find out where it was going. Man, I would love to get that moment back with a few books.

I decided my top book though would be: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I read this for the first time when I was 14 years old and once I started it, I never put it down. 

As a kid, I always wanted a Boo Radley type neighbor. I know that might sound weird, but as a kid, it sounded so cool. And then I read this book that described the amazing experience that those two kids got. They had this mysterious neighbor, who was clearly horribly misunderstood, but who secretly watched out for them. He was connected to them without ever actually being connected. It was such an amazing story and I loved it!

What about you? What book would you like to read again, for the first time?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus #5): 3 Stars

The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus #5) by Rick Riordan

The final book in the Heroes of Olympus series is all about the seven heroes of the prophecy.  The prophecy reads:

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire, the world must fall,
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death

Considering the word "death" and phrase "final breath" were in the prophecy, there has been a lot of speculation that one of the seven would die.  Considering the seven consisted of three couples (Percy and Annabeth, Jason and Piper, and Frank and Hazel), and one single member, I was worried for Leo's safety. Leo is by far my favorite out of the seven and I was just not okay with his death.  And as I read on, my worries were only heightened. There were also many fan speculations that Leo would die and that is how he would end up with Calypso.  This ending would NOT have been okay with me!

With Gaea on the rise, giants to be fought, and Camp Jupiter and Camp HalfBlood at each others throats, the seven have a lot of work ahead of them and none of it will be easy. Luckily, they had the help of Nico, Reyna, and many others. 

Much like the rest of this series and the preceding series, Riordan does an excellent job of voicing teenagers in a "must save the world" predicament. Forced to grow up, but still feeling the feelings of teenagers (angst, fear, jealousy, etc.) Riordan captures their voices perfectly.

The main character I feel that Riordan nailed down was Nico. Knowing now that Nico has been in love with Percy, the same guy who was there when his sister, Bianca died, and having to watch him with Annabeth, Nico's chaotic attitude made so much more sense. I went from waiting for him to be revealed as a bad guy, to liking him and hoping he put down his guard long enough to figure out he had friends.

One thing I found curious about this book was that Riordan had no chapters from Percy or Annabeth's perspective.  Each chapter is titled after a character (not just the seven) and is from that character's perspective.  Yet none of the chapters focused on Percy or Annabeth.  Why? Anybody know? Was Riordan bored of their characters always taking the limelight?

The Heroes of Olympus series was very good and I found that I enjoyed it even more than the  Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Perhaps it was because the characters were a little older and more mature. Perhaps it was the addition of Leo. Whatever the reason, it was an enjoyable series.

Now, you may be wondering why I rated the entire series as 3 stars if I enjoyed it.  The answer is simple. I am not a YA fan. I struggle to relate to teenagers and often find myself rolling my eyes when they act immature. That being said, I believe if you like reading about teenagers, this series would be a 4 or 5 star rating for you!

Rating: PG

Recommended for those who enjoy: mythology, action, YA, and young love.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4): 3 Stars

The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan

The last book ended with Percy and Annabeth trapped in Tartarus and the rest of the seven flying on the Argo II. I assumed by the title that we would learn more about the mysterious Nico, who frankly, up until this book, I was convinced was going to be revealed as a bad guy. I was not let down. 

There are many battles in this book (in fact the heroes got very little rest). Riordan also brought back some old characters from the previous series like Rachel Dare, Grover, Bob, and even, the evil Kelli. It was great to know that the old heroes were not sitting on their thumbs but were also helping in the impeding war, just not "on screen". 

As I implied earlier, we learned a lot of Nico in this book. In fact, we learned a big secret about Nico that helped explain why he had been acting the way out. It was like a light went on and I just said, "Well, that makes sense." I stopped hating Nico so much and realized that he was just a kid who was dealing with a lot and had no one to lean on and no one to help. He trusted no one. But that might all change now that he had his sister, Hazel around. Perhaps they could bond.

Leo, once again, is by far my favorite character. He's funny, witty, and loyal. But in this book, Leo finally gets something he has been missing since he was introduced.  Leo gets a girl (kinda)! Being the seventh wheel on the Argo II hasn't been easy for Leo, especially as a teenage boy with hormones raging. But he finally found a girl who suits him perfectly.  Yippee!

While this book did not end on a cliffhanger, it did end with the heroes knowing that they have a big task ahead of them and that some of them may not survive.

Rating: PG

Recommended for those who enjoy: mythology, action, YA, and young love.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

Guess what time it is?  It's Top Ten Tuesday Time, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week's theme is:  Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

Since I never get through all the books on my TBR list, I only have  eight. 

1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk: Wasn't this on my last TBR list?  Ugh, I think so.

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: I have heard nothing but good things about this book.

3. Stardust by Neil Gaiman: Ok...this one was actually on my last TBR list.  I'm so behind!

4. Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett: This will be my first solo Terry Pratchett book and I have already ordered it from the library.

5. Christmas Train by David Baldacci: A winter TBR list needs a Christmas book, plus I have a really hard time getting into the holidays so this may help.

6.  The Most Dangerous Animal of All by Gary Stewart:  Yep, this too was on my last TBR list as well.  I am VERY far behind.

7. Gray Mountain by John Grisham:  Ok, so this one was also on my last list but in my defense, I'm still waiting on it from the library.  There was a long wait.

8. Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas:  This one doesn't come out until January and I can't wait!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Making Up for Monday: Gratitude

It's time for Making Up For Monday!

This week's question:
Which book are you most grateful you read this year and why?

I decided to choose four books that I am grateful I read this year, each for differing reasons.

1. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding: I have heard several people over the years talk about how horrible this books is, and I figured it was time I found out for myself. Turns out, I really liked it. It was well written, captivating, and the imagery was phenomenal. No, the story isn't exactly uplifting, but does it have to be to make a book good? 

 2. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman: This is the first book I have read by either man and now I am eager to read more by both. The book was witty and macabre. I haven't yet read a book like this and was pleasantly surprised.

3. Its Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini:  Having suffered from depression all my life, this book hit the nail on the head as far as describing it. It was very relate-able and the end was filled with such hope. Its sad the author ended up caving to his depression.

4. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon:  Having read and loved Shadow of the Wind, I found myself disenchanted with the author when the sequel did not live up to expectations. I put off reading this book for so long, that I thought I might skip it all together. While not as good as the first book, the book is still wonderfully written and am very glad I decided to read it.

 What about you?  What books are you grateful you read this year?

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus): 3 Stars

The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3) 

The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus #3) by Rick Riordan 

In Son of Neptune, we heard part of a prophecy.  We finally hear the whole thing in Mark of Athena:

Wisdom's daughter walks alone,
The Mark of Athena burns through Rome,
Twins snuff out the angel's breath,
Who holds the key to endless death.
The Giants' bane stands gold and pale,
Won through pain from a woven jail.

The team is all together for the first time in the third book of the series: Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel, and of course, my favorite, Leo.  Unfortunately, the two camps end up at each others throats and Reyna knows that Annabeth must find the Mark of Athena to end Hera/Jupiter's plans, and bring the camps together. This is not an easy task and could very well end with Annabeth dead. The book ends with a rather steep cliffhanger (I shake my fist at you Riordan!)

Riordan reminds us that these heroes are only teenagers through Piper. Piper, now dating Jason for real, shows crazy, irrational jealousy with Reyna. No matter how often Jason explains that Reyna is his friend and a great warrior that they need to trust for this impending war, Piper can't help but let her jealousy get the best of her. As an adult reading this, she drove me crazy, but then again, she is a teenager and that is fairly accurate teenager actions. 

I also found it very interesting that the seven have been paired off with each other (all expect the seventh-wheel, Leo). Each of them seems to have found their match with each other, which is very coincidental.

Rating: PG

Recommended for those who enjoy: mythology, action, YA, and young love.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus #2): 3 Stars

The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus, #2) 

The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan

He's back!  Missing from the first book of the the new series, Percy Jackson returns in the this book, minus his memories.  Much like Jason, Piper and Leo were taken to Camp Halfblood, the Greek demigod camp, Percy is taken to Camp Jupiter, the Roman demigod camp.  There he meets Reyna, Hazel, Frank...and Nico. Of course Percy doesn't remember Nico, but Nico definitely remembers Percy. 

Percy really enjoys Camp Jupiter and Camp Jupiter is amazed by Percy's talent.  But the fun and games end quickly when Mars, the god of war appears and tells them death has been chained. The team now must do what they can to correct the wrong and Percy must try to regain his memories and find out who is Annabeth, the girl who remains in his memory.

This was definitely not my favorite Percy Jackson book so far. After our introduction to Leo in the last book, I miss Leo.  I really wanted more Leo and, of course, he's not in this book. And while I like Reyna and her can-do attitude, I found Frank and Hazel to be big dull duds. Their characters were boring and did little to drive the plot forward. I found myself not caring about their pasts.  

Also, what is up with Nico?  I kept waiting for him to be revealed as the bad guy. He's very dark and broody, but then again, he is the son of Hades! 

Rating: PG

Recommended for those who enjoy: mythology, action, and young adult novels.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Top Five Sequels I Have Yet to Start and Top Five Series I Have Considered Reading

Guess what time it is?  It's Top Ten Tuesday Time, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week's theme is:  Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get

I struggled with this one. I mostly read stand alone books and have finished most of the series I have been working on.  So I had to dig through my Goodreads list to find some that I haven't read the sequel yet. Even then, I only came up with five. So, I am changing this a bit to two different list. I hope you enjoy!

Top Ten Five Sequels I Have Yet to Start:
1. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: Sequel to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: I read the first book years ago and LOVED it. I am not sure why I haven't read the second yet.  But I will someday!

2. Anne of Avonlea: Sequel to Anne of Green Gables: I read this first book recently and will continue the series soon.

3. Prince Caspian: Sequel to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe: I also read this one quite awhile ago and keep forgetting that I wanted to continue the series.

4. Mr. Kiss and Tell: Sequel to The Thousand Dollar Tan Line: Ok, this one isn't out yet and I am actually excited for this one.  I love Veronica Mars!

 5. Game: Sequel to I Hunt Killers: I did enjoy the first book, but my library isn't currently carrying the sequels and I just am not sure I liked it enough to own it.  I don't know, maybe someday I'll buy it.

Top Ten Five Series I Have Considered Starting But Haven't Yet:

1. The Lord of The Rings: I think I might read this someday, but since I am not a huge fantasy fan and Tolkien likes a lot more details than I do, I am reluctant.

2. His Dark Material: This was recently recommended to me by my brother-in-law.  We shall see.

3. The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo: I hear this is excellent, but I have a hard time reading anything with sexual violence.  I have heard there are some graphic scenes in this book that deal with sexual violence and I am not sure I could handle it.

4. The Hunger Games: Yep, I haven't read this series at all. I am not a huge fan of dystopian, but I have considered it. 

5. Hush, Hush:  I am not a fan of paranormal of romance, especially together, but that is a pretty cool cover.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Making Up For Monday: Book Buying

It's time for Making Up For Monday!

This week's question:
How do you choose a book to buy (recommendations, book covers, back summary, etc.)?

This is a tough one and depends on where I am shopping. I prefer used books. I like them because I feel like they have a history and I liked reading a book that once entertained someone else. It makes me feel like the book's usage isn't wasted on one person reading it once. Depending upon where I am used book shopping, I can get these books for fairly cheap (another huge perk of buying used).  When they are used and cheap, just about any book could be purchased. If it looks interesting, if I like the author, if I like the cover, if I read it before and liked it, if someone I know read it and liked it, etc., are many of the reasons I may buy a used book.

New books are totally different. New books are not cheap.  They are actually quite spendy. I rarely buy them for this reason. But, if the book's plot really calls to me, then I will buy it. If I really like the author and trust them, then I will buy it. If someone I trust tells me I will love it, I will likely buy it. Outside of that, I usually don't buy new books.  I am a cheapskate and go to the library instead!

What about you?  What makes you want to buy a book?

I am hosting a Mystery Book Giveaway!  
Hurry, event ends soon!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Top Ten Characters You Wish Would Get Their OWN Book

It's time for Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week's theme is: Top Ten Characters You Wish Would Get Their OWN Book (minor or just maybe a semi main character you wish a book was from their POV)

Here we go!

1. Charlie Weasley: Charlie is barely in the books, but let's face it, he has the COOLEST job EVER!  He's a dragon trainer!  I would LOVE to hear the story of Charlie and how he ended up in this particular career and his adventures.

2. Captain Hook: Who is Captain Hook?  He lives in Neverland, but unlike the Lost Boys, he wasn't brought there by Peter Pan AND he's an adult.  How did he get there?  Who was he before?  And what is his real name?

3. Ford Perfect: Ford Perfect is the coolest hitchhiker ever. He is the entire reason Arthur Dent ended up a hitchhiker.  What is his story?

4. Joe Gargery: Joe is my favorite character from Great Expectations and I would love to know more about him.
5. Boo Radley: Come on!  Who doesn't want to know the real story behind Boo Radley? There are plenty of legends and myths around town, but what is his real story?

6. Atticus Finch: Part of me believes that Atticus was a lot like Scout when he was younger.  I would love to hear about his childhood.

7. Abbé Faria: A priest who is in prison and has a ton of money hidden on an island....this guy definitely has a cool story!

8. Bobby: Bobby is an interesting guy. He's funny and insightful, but lacks the ability to handle his own life. I would love to know more about how he ended up in the psych ward with Craig.

9. Ricky Roberts: Ricky Roberts is Amber autistic friend who is being raised by a single mom. He is kind and generous and I think a story about Ricky would be amazing!

10. Isaac: By far my favorite character in the book was Isaac. He was funny and real. he had real, genuine reactions to things, but bounced back. I would love to hear more about him.

What about you?

I am hosting a Mystery Book Giveaway!  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Making Up For Monday: WAR! What is it good for?

It's time for Making Up For Monday!

This week's question:
Do you enjoy war or battle novels?  If so, which is your favorite?  If not, why?

I, personally, am not a fan of battle or war time novels. I don't know why, but I have a really hard time following them and how exactly the battle/war is going. I am much more visual and would benefit from maps. 

That being said, I have read quite a few of them and even enjoyed a few.  Two of my favorites are 1776 and Catch-22.

1776 by David McCullough is all about the Revolutionary War and George Washington.  It was extremely educational and I am glad I read it (despite the fact that I did get lost on occasion). Maybe Ken Burns can do a documentary based on the book, giving me the visuals I need to fully understand.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is all about pilots in WWII. This book had less to do with the battles and more to do with the the pilots and other soldiers during their down time and the politics of it all. It was hilarious and I loved it!

What about you?  Do you enjoy war time novels?

I am hosting a Mystery Book Giveaway!  

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Looking For Alaska: 3 Stars

Looking For Alaska by John Green

I don't know how many of you have ever seen an interview with John Green or have seen one of the many videos he has floating around the Internet, but let me tell you, that man is hilarious. He's the perfect combination of funny and nerdy with a good dose of wit. He never ceases to make me giggle. In fact, I knew about, and adored, John Green long before I ever read any of his books.

Now a question lingers in my mind: Do I like John Green's books because I like his books OR do I like John Green's book because I like John Green?

Looking for Alaska is a coming of age story about a young boy, Miles, who is ready go go out and find himself. He is a relative unknown at his high school and is now headed off to a boarding school, where he is ready to become someone.  With the quirk of loving to find out people's dying words, it doesn't take Miles long to bond with his roommate, Chip, the bad boy.

Within minutes of meeting, Chip and Miles have a connection. Chip, who goes by The Colonel, gives Miles the nickname of Pudge and introduces him to Alaska, a girl who instantly wins over Pudge. The trio soon become an unbreakable force, breaking the rules and rebelling. Pudge finally feels like he has a place in the world.

But all the changes one fateful night.

This story had many elements that I enjoyed: I loved Pudge's quirk of finding out last words, I loved the Colonel's unwillingness to mold to specific type of person, and I loved Alaska's wild and fearless attitude.

The story also had elements that annoyed me: I am not a fan of teenagers with the indestructible attitude because I find them annoying, I am not a fan of teenagers who miss the consequences of being irresponsible, and I am not a fan of self absorbed characters (which I felt was Pudge).

This being my third book by John Green, I am left with the same question I had before: Do I like John Green's books because they are great reads, or because I really like John Green? 

The answer is: I don't know.

What do you think?  Can an author's personality change how you look at a book?

Rating: PG-13

Recommended for those who enjoy: YA, teenage love, and coming of age stories.

Don't forget my Mystery Book Giveaway!  
Click for details and DON'T FORGET TO ENTER!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Top Ten Books I Want To Reread

Its time for Top Ten Tuesday-hosted by The Broke and The Bookish! 

This week's theme: Top Ten Books I Want To Reread

1. Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron:  His words are so beautiful and the story is unique and captivating.  I would love to read this again.

2. John Adams by David McCullough: This book is so big and full of interesting stories and facts about John Adams that I think when I reread it, I'll learn even more. 

3.  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee:  Ok, so I have reread this book quite a few times, but I always up for another read.

4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas:  This book was so incredibly good that I can hardly describe it.  Read it, love it, read it again! 

5. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis: This book makes me ponder life and think about my actions and motivations for my actions.  Its a wonderful book for self reflection.

6. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson: This is a well-written non-fiction book about the World's Fair in Chicago and serial killer on the loose.  It was fun, educational, and intriguing. 

7. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein:  My dad read this to me as a little girl and I fully intend to read it to my little one. 

8. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw: Much like the last book, my dad read this to me as a kid and I will read it to my kids. 

9. There's a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Suess: This is my favorite Suess book!

10. Silver Linings Playbook by Mathew Quick: This book spoke to me and I would definitely read it again.

I am hosting a Mystery Book Giveaway!