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

Title: The Mark of Athena
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Date Read: January 20-21, 2013

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy– after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera– it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. AS Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon figurehead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace. And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket, Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving command: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge Me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find– and close– the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?
Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader– but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.
Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare…

Characters: I will only be discussing the characters that I didn’t discuss in the first two reviews, which pretty much just leaves Annabeth, so here goes…

Annabeth- You really feel for the girl in this one! She hasn’t seen her boyfriend in forever, and now she has a ridiculous task that her schizo mother expects her to do by herself. Oh, and nobody has survived this particular “quest.” Poor, poor girl. But one of the things that I love about Annabeth is that she sucks it up. She is a strong, smart girl, and a great role model for any younger readers. She keeps her head up even though she is struggling inside, and even though she couldn’t ask for help even if she wanted to, she doesn’t want to endanger others by asking. She also keeps it in her to be sensitive when it’s required.

Conflict: Annabeth, Percy, Hazel, Frank, Leo, Piper and Jason have to go to Rome to close the Doors of Death. Unfortunately, there are a billion obstacles along the way. Also, Annabeth is going through a ton of stuff, and won’t be able to be with them in Rome. At least for a while. The conflict is pretty well described in the blurb and in my Annabeth character section.

Things I Liked: I really loved the first two books in this series, and this book is no different. It’s 574 pages, and I read it in less than 48 hours. So, yeah it was pretty awesome. The conflict flows really well, and I love that it is both resolved and extended so that the next book is something you can look forward to, but there is still progress in the novel. That is a tightrope that not all authors make it across, and Riordan slam-dunks again. I may just have to look into his other series. In addition to the overall conflict, I really like that the story is told from the viewpoints of all of the main characters so that you can really understand all of their problems. And, as my other reviews may have hinted, I really like all of the mythology… Greek and Roman!

Things I Didn’t Like: Uh, pass? I know it might make me a bad reviewer, but I really can’t think of anything off the top of my head. Riordan is a really great writer, and so if he is making any big mistakes, he does a good job of covering them up so I don’t remember them later…

Overall: I love the way Rick Riordan writes, and I love the way that the characters all have really good qualities, but that in the tradition of Greek/Roman mythology, there is still a fatal flaw for all of the. The conflicts are all intertwined and both mysterious and understandable. Fantastic.

Rating: 5 stars

My First Bad Review

So, if you guys have gotten a chance to look at my last post, you will see that it is a bad review for a book. I have to admit, I felt a little bit like a jerk writing it… like bloggers’ guilt or something. I feel like I was justified in giving it the review that I gave it (you can read it and be the judge), but I don’t know if you guys will see it that way. I suppose I feel especially bad about it because of the awesome reviews I have been giving some of the other books I have read recently. But, I think that is part of what made me give it such a bad review- the other books that I have been reading are so much better than that one. I wonder if I would have given it a better review if I had read it before the Hex Hall books or the Heroes of Olympus books. I may have put Need under a little less scrutiny. Who knows!?

Do any of my fellow book bloggers out there feel guilty after a bad review? Do you write more good reviews or bad reviews? Have you ever experienced this bloggers’ guilt?

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

Title: The Son of Neptune

Author: Rick Riordan

Publisher: Disney/Hyperion

Date Read: January 12-16, 2013

Percy is confused. When he awoke from his long sleep, he didn’t know much more than his name. His brain fuzz is lingering, even after the wolf Lupa told him he is a demigod and trained him to fight with the pen/sword in his pocket. Somehow Percy manages to make it to a camp for half-bloods, despite the fact that he has to keep killing monsters along the way. But the camp doesn’t ring any bells with him. The only thing he can recall from his past is another name: Annabeth.

Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she didn’t do a very good job of it. Sure, she was an obedient daughter, even when her mother was possessed by greed. But that was the problem- when the Voice took over her mother and commanded Hazel to use her “gift” for an evil purpose, Hazel couldn’t say no. Now, because of her mistake, the future of the world is at risk. Hazel wishes she could ride away from it all on the stallion that appears in her dreams.

Frank is a klutz. His grandmother says he is descended from the heroes and can be anything he wants to be, but he doesn’t see it. He doesn’t even know who his father is. He keeps hoping Apollo will claim him, because the only thing he is good at is archery- although not good enough to win camp war games. His bulky physique makes him feel like an ox, especially in front of Hazel, his closest friend at camp. He trusts her completely- enough to share the secret close to his heart.

Beginning at the “other” camp for half=bloods and extending as far as the land beyond the gods, this breathtaking second installment in the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives fearsome monsters, and features other remarkable creatures, all destined to play a part in the Prophecy of Seven.

Characters: The blurb above really describes the characters quite well. So I guess I will just tell you how I feel about them! I like Hazel a lot, I liked hearing about her past and how she really came into her power. It’s both a blessing and a curse and it is interesting to hear her recount what happened to her. It was also pretty interesting watching her friendship with Frank develop! Frank is very endearing. He has kind of a complicated past, and he doesn’t know a lot about it. I like reading a book and feeling like I am discovering just as much as the main character is, especially when it is about his own history. And that brings us to Percy. Who doesn’t love Percy?! We learned to love him in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians (which I just gave to my mom to read!) and he is the same character he was then. He may be a little older in this book, but the age looks good on him. He has learned a lot more, and I just love that even though he has that pesky amnesia problem, he remembers Annabeth and can’t bear to forget her.

Conflict: Thanatos, the god of death, has been captured by Alcyoneus. Alcyoneus is another son of Gaea, and just as determined to bring her back. Thanatos’ capture means that although the demigods kill tons of monsters, those monsters come back. That makes it harder to defeat Gaea and her many minions.

Things I Liked: I really like that all of the characters in this series face some pretty heavy problems. That doesn’t seem like a very nice thing to say, but I think it’s a compliment. The fact that this story functions when the characters have such intense internal conflicts means that Riordan has fully developed mature YA characters. Sometimes when I read YA novels, I find that some of the main characters are kind of one dimensional, and this book really does not fall into that category. It’s fantastic. And, just like in the first book, I obviously love continuing to learn about Greek and Roman mythology! Most of my knowledge on the subject comes from Mr. Riordan, in fact. I just hope he hasn’t been lying to me!

Things I Didn’t Like: You know, I don’t really know. I think that when I read a book I just get so immersed in the books that I forget that I might be writing a review and should pay some close attention. But hey, I think that’s a compliment.

Overall: I loved it! The characters are all really well developed, and there are a ton of story lines that are expertly weaved together. I love that things are mysterious but have moments of transparency. This story lasts over the whole series, and he is really good at keeping us entertained. It’s a really complicated story, and he does a fantastic job. Well done.

Rating: 5 stars

Review: The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1)

Title: The Lost Hero

Author: Rick Riordan

Publisher: Disney/Hyperion Books

Date Read: December 13-17, 2012

Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently, he has a girlfriend named Piper, and his best friend is a guy named Leo. They’re all students at the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids,” as Leo puts it. What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly? Jason doesn’t know anything- except that everything seems very wrong.

Piper has a secret. Her father, a famous actor, has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare about his being in trouble. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits during the school trip, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out, whether she wants to or not.

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too- like the curse everyone keeps talking about, and some camper who’s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them-including Leo- is related to a god. Does this have anything to do with Jason’t amnesia, or the fact that Leo keeps seeing ghosts?

Join new and old friends from Camp Half-Blood in this thrilling first book in the Heroes of Olympus series.”

Characters:

Piper– Piper McLean is the daughter of a famous actor and an even more famous goddess- and she hates it. She is a modest girl that gets more attention than she thinks she deserves. She has to face a personal conflict throughout the novel, and she struggles internally, unsure whether or not she will make the right choice and how that choice may effect the dynamic between her, Leo, and especially Jason.

Leo– Poor Leo is the third wheel. He is great with tools, but not as great with people. Leo and his friends face a lot of danger, but none of that matters to Leo- he is too afraid of what sort of danger he poses. He has a knack for fire that does not come in handy, and his only friend seems to be a mechanical dragon. As the reader, you really sympathize with Leo. He’s the class clown that doesn’t really get all of the attention he deserves, and this makes it hard for him to open up to his friends.

Jason– While reading this book, you feel really bad for Jason. He wakes up in the middle of a world he doesn’t know or remember, all he knows is that something is not right. His strange tattoos are the least of his concerns as he discovers his powers- in the most dangerous of situations. He has a girlfriend he doesn’t remember, and he feels horrible about it. He doesn’t know whether or not he has a girlfriends waiting for him from wherever he came from. He seems to be stepping on eggshells throughout most of the book, and it really stresses him out.

Conflict: One obvious conflict is that Jason has no idea who he is or where he came from. He only knows his name is Jason because that is what everyone has been calling him. Besides not knowing anything about himself, the conflict for Jason lies in the dynamic of the group around him and how he knows that something just does not feel right.

Piper is forced to choose between her father and her friends, and she is having a really hard time making the decision. Unfortunately for her, she keeps getting awful nightmares that seem more real than dream.

Leo has problems with fire, and a really bad history with it. In the novel, you learn how Leo’s past has changed him forever, and how a certain goddess had a whole lot to do with some of his worst memories.

The main conflict of the book is that the earth goddess and mother of the Titans, Gaea, is trying to make a comeback. With the help of her sons, the giants, she has managed to trap the goddess Hera. She has some pretty crazy plans for the future, and her version of the future is no good for the gods. She wants to eradicate the world as they know it and all of the gods, demigods, and humans that come with it.

Themes: There are several in this novel. I don’t know if I am going to be very good at picking them out for you, but I know they’re there! One that was pretty obvious was the presence of dreams. Dreams are more prophetic than surreal for the demigods. Another one is the tension between the gods of Olympus and their demigod children. If you read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, you are aware that there has always been some tension between them, but this books gets a little more in depth with the problems between individual demigods and their parents. It causes a lot of stress for some of the characters, and helps some of the others come to a sort of peace with what and who they are.

Things I Liked: I liked that the story is told from the viewpoints of all three of the main characters. They each have some pretty heavy problems to deal with, and the story would lack a lot of depth if it was told from only one view. One thing that I really liked from his previous heroes series is all of the interesting little things you learn about Greek mythology. In this series, you get a lot of that and a little more- you also hear about Roman history. Love it!

Things I Didn’t Like: Sometimes, this book got a little slow for me. If you look at the time it took me to read this book, you can’t really tell that I found parts of this slow, but I plowed through. I knew that there was a lot to look forward to, Riordan really sets it up, the slowness came from the intense character development that was required. This book is the first of series, and therefore sets the stage for the rest of the books. That is a tough task, especially when there are a lot of characters. I guess that leads me to something I liked about this book that I didn’t quite realize until I got to the second- this book does a fantastic job at building the foundations for the rest of the story and also being entertaining in its own right.

Overall View: All in all, I liked this book a lot. I love books that aren’t all fantasy, but weave fantasy with reality. I have always loved Greek mythology and I really love that these books make it come to life. There are awesome little personality quirks that the gods have that keep coming out in this series, I love it! This books was a great foundation for the rest of the series (I know, I know, I ‘m a broken record) and after just finishing the third installment, I still hold fast to that opinion. This book is not the highest reading level, but it definitely has the capability to keep readers of all ages captivated and entertained.

Rating: 4 stars

Other Works by Rick Riordan: Percy Jackson and the Olympians (series), Heroes of Olympus (series), The Kane Chroncles (series), The 39 Clues (series) , Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Ultimate Guide, The Demigod Diaries

What Next?

Alright, so I have finished reviewing the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld, and now I’m not sure what to do. I have a couple options, but I am hoping for some feedback from you guys. I have read the first three books in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, and I  can definitely review those. I am also about halfway through Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and I plan on reviewing that, but I don’t know if you guys would prefer I review that before or after the other series. Should I not review all three of the Heroes books one right after another? Or is that okay?

What do you think?

I’m back!

As some of you may have noticed, my blog experienced some down time yesterday and today. I was in the process of previewing my second post for you guys when I got a message on my dashboard that said that my blog was deactivated because I violated the terms of service for WordPress.com. Needless to say, I was a little upset! I wasn’t aware of having done anything at all to violate the terms of service… after all, my blog was only online for 5 hours at that point! So, after being the most impatient and frustrated WordPress user ever (I sent them four messages in less than 24 hours), I got a reply from WordPress! They said that the automatic spam filter flagged my blog for some reason, but upon review my blog was fine! I was at work when I got the email, but I rushed outside (I work in a hospital) to call my husband and share the awesome news!

I really need to publicly thank my husband too, without him my blog would not have nearly as much traffic as it does. He also helped me keep my followers posted about my situation through his blog (mentioned in my about section) and through his author page. He really is the best!

Which leads me to another point, the start-up success of my blog is phenomenal! You guys are awesome! The first day, even though my blog was down after 5 hours, my blog got 98 views!! That’s awesome! My blog also was down until around 5:30pm today, and I already have 70+ views! The support that you guys have given me has far exceeded my expectations!

In other news, we are still waiting on the arrival of the book Goliath by Scott Westerfield. The book was supposedly shipped on December 28th, but since it is coming through USPS (AKA snail mail), we have yet to receive it. Ugh. One of the things I hate about reading series is that I always read through them so quickly and am very eager to start the next installment. You may have noticed this in my rant in my last post. I am just itching to read this new book, and it still isn’t here!

I am also expecting two other books (one via UPS! woo!). They are Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan and The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. These two are nothing alike, but I like the other books the authors have published. Son of Neptune is the next installment in the Heroes of Olympus series, the first one being The Lost Hero. The first one was pretty good, it is a YA book and a very quick read, but I always enjoy reading anything having to do with Greek/Roman Gods and Goddesses. The House at Riverton is not part of a series, but I have read several other books by Kate Morton. Her books generally have female protagonists and stitch together past and present story lines. I’m excited to get my hands on these new books!

Also, you guys are probably wondering when I am going to start posting some book reviews. The problem is, I want to make my first review a sort of special review, so I am having some trouble picking the first book to review! I am thinking that I am going to wait until I get and finish Goliath and then post a super review of the whole Leviathan series. I will also do individual reviews of the three books in the trilogy. That’s the plan for now, but if Goliath doesn’t get here soon I may be forced to reconsider! I guess only time will tell!

Also, do you guys have any books that you might recommend? I’d love to start making a list of new books to add to my library!