Review: Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)

Title: Hex Hall

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Publisher: Hyperion

Date Read: January 24, 2013

“On her 12th birthday, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. Three bumpy years later, after a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, she’s exiled to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Then when a mysterious predator begins attacking students, and Sophie’s only friend is the number-one suspect, a horrifying plot begins to surface. Soon, Sophie is preparing for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.”

Characters:

Sophie: I like Sophie. She is a very strong girl with a very strong will, and I really like that about her. Too often you read YA books where the main character has low self-esteem and battles throughout the novel. In Hex Hall, you get quite the opposite, and I really liked that. She is an outsider in this outsider world, and that would be enough to cripple some of the main characters in other books I have read, but Sophie keeps on going when things really are falling apart around her. Her only source of insecurity seems to be her magic. Otherwise, she doesn’t let other people get to her no matter what happens, and that is admirable- especially for a 15 year old. She has one hell of a journey ahead of her in this series!

Jenna: Jenna is Sophie’s roommate at Hex Hall, and she is even more of an outsider than Sophie. She is the only one of her kind at the school, and her classmates are not very nice to her (to say the least). However, she is a sensitive friend that really looks out for Sophie and you have to lover her for thinking of Sophie when her own life seems to such so much. Everyone deserves a friend like Jenna.

Elodie: We hate Elodie. When you read the novel, you will know why. She sucks! Well, I might be being a little too harsh here, but she does not make life very pleasant. She is your typical villain, but with the number of YA novels out there similar to this one, authors have a hard time breaking out of the mold. Every story needs a villain! She is beautiful and powerful, and those things make her high in the rankings, but a mean girl nonetheless.

Archer: Ahhhhh, Archer. He is pretty awesome, but he has some…baggage. I don’t want to give away the story here, so I really can’t go into too much detail. However, Archer is mysterious and fascinating and a little stupid all rolled into one, so you really can’t help but love him.

Conflict: An organization called L’Occhio Di Dio (The Eye of God) is out to rid the world of all Prodigium. They are famous for their heartless murdering of magical people, and it is their mission to keep doing just that.  People are dying at Hex Hall, and there is no proof that it is L’Occhio, and there are other possibilities flying around the school. One particular type of magical species is getting the brunt of the blame, and Elodie and her band of dark witches are really making it difficult for anyone to sleep soundly at night. I guess you will understand what I mean when you read the book. Anyway, it is a roller coaster ride at Hex Hall.

Things I Liked: I loved the magic part. I don’t really care that it is getting overdone, but I really like the idea of witches and whatnot. I loved Harry Potter growing up, and I still have that soft spot for magical stories. I really liked that this story didn’t focus on just witches, or just faeries, etc. I love when the author actually puts the other species in there, I think that it makes the author work harder and be a little more creative. It’s nice. I also loved the characters in this book! I love the mystery that comes with some of the characters. Another thing I liked was that this school didn’t seem any different than a normal high school (aside from the species of the students and the strangeness of the school)- the students fought like they should have and there were enemies like there should have been. No high school is clique-free.

Things I Didn’t Like: I know I said this for The Son of Neptune, but I didn’t really find a whole lot that I didn’t like about this book. I flew through this book in a day. That’s right, one day. I really liked it. The characters seemed well developed, and any holes I might have seen were holes for a reason. What I mean by that is that the holes were either explained, unnecessary, or were there to be explained in the next book. I just finished Demonglass, and of course there are holes in that one, too. The holes make a sequel possible, and we can’t forget that. They are what make us curious enough to read the next book! And believe me, you will really want to read the next book.

Overall: I loved it, I really did! As I said before, the characters are all well developed, the story is interesting and keeps the reader entertained. Hawkins really makes it easy to emotionally invest in the characters- and that is very important. Most authors are successful in making you emotionally invest in the main character, but Hawkins branches out and makes you care about more than just the main character. I highly recommend the next book! It has been a few days since I read this, and I lost the piece of paper that I wrote my notes on, so I apologize for not fleshing this out enough… I will do better next time!

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

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!