Persephone (Daughters of Zeus, #1)

First Lines: “Persephone…”  I hunched over, doing my best to ignore the sound of my name being whispered on the wind.  It curled around me in a sensuous breeze.  Once I would have turned around, tried to find whoever said my name.  Now I knew better.  There was no one there.  There was never anyone there.

A BIG thank you to Kaitlin Bevis for hooking me up with a copy of this.  One of my Goodreads friends found this months ago and it was an immediate add to my to-read list.  Then Bevis contacted me about reading it and I jumped all over that like it was a rich piece of red velvet cake.

Persephone (or Kora, as she prefers) keeps feeling like she’s being watched.  When she never finds anyone there, she can’t help but feel like she’s going crazy.  It all gets worse when her mom reveals that she is the goddess Demeter, making Persephone a goddess as well.  But when the winter god Boreas attempts to kidnap Persephone, she realizes it’s all true.  She’s rescued by Hades, who marks her as his bride in order to get her to the Underworld alive.  But no matter how safe she is with Hades, Boreas will stop at nothing to get her.  And the closer she gets to Hades, the more she knows she has to return to the world of the living.  But where does she truly belong anymore?

As most of you know, I’m hugely into Greek mythology, especially that of Persephone and Hades.  It’s an interesting story in its own right.  And this is a very modern retelling of the myth.

Actually, it was more of a retelling of multiple myths, though I’ll leave you in suspense about who else’s story gets told.  I actually thought that aspect of the story was incredibly well-written.  Not that the other parts were bad either.  The myths are carefully woven into and around the modern setting in a clever way.  I very much enjoyed trying to spot the next subtle reference to a myth.

So while I enjoyed all of that, I did have a little problem with the story.  I had a really hard time feeling any sympathy for the characters.  I just didn’t feel what they were feeling.  I actually realized the level of apathy I reached when something bad happened to Persephone and I went, “Well, that sucks.”  Yeah.  That was a pretty clear hint that I wasn’t connecting with the characters.  It also made the love story lacking.

Really though, it’s a beautifully written story.  I just didn’t connect with the characters much.  I still managed to enjoy the story, however that happened.

Advertisements

Golden

First Lines: There’s no such thing as a secret in this town.  But I’m keeping this one, just for today.

I can’t say that I’ve ever read anything by Kirby before.  This was one of those books I thought sounded interesting on Goodreads and I grabbed it when I went to the library because it was different.

Parker Frost (yes, possibly related to Robert Frost, thanks for asking) is her school’s good girl and perfectionist.  She’s going to graduate without having done many of the things girls her age have.  Like kissing a boy.  Then Parker finds herself enmeshed in the local town mystery.  Ten years ago, Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz, the town’s young golden couple, died when Shane’s jeep fell into a river at the bottom of a ravine.  Only their bodies were never found.  Searches never turned up any bodies or evidence to contradict this conclusion.  But Parker has Julianna’s high school journal and it tells a different story from the Julianna in stories.  Reading the journal gives Parker an opportunity to break some rules–and discover what really happened ten years ago.

I thought this was a pretty magical book for not having a lick of magic in it.  What I mean by that is that I felt a deep connection to the story, one that I feel is going to stick with me for quite some time.

I really related to Parker because in high school, I was that good girl who never “lived”, per se.  I feel like I “lived” without having gone to parties and whatnot.  It was really easy to see why she would connect with Julianna’s story and want to discover the truth about the accident.  I wanted to know what had happened to her.

You really start to find yourself rooting for characters you never thought you’d root for.  And I think that’s really awesome.  It felt like I was just looking at life, rather than a story.  In life, you never quite know who’s going to make that lasting impression on you, or what adventures lie around the next corner.  It felt like that, which is one of the highest compliments I think I can pay a book.

I liked that this story was told from Parker’s perspective, but we very clearly got Julianna’s voice in it as well.  Parker and Julianna are not even close to being the same kind of girls.  It was nice to see high school through both of their eyes, especially since they lived very different lives that still happened to be slightly intertwined.

The plot and the supporting characters were also quite good.  While I found parts of it predictable, I still thought it was a really amazing read.  I kept trying to find time where I could learn more about Julianna and watch Parker try to find the truth.  It was a great, fun read with some very deep lessons to learn along the way.

Screenshot 2013-11-20 08.13.27

(When I posted on Twitter that this review was up, this was the response I got.  Kirby seal of approval.)

Fall of Night (Morganville Vampires, #14)

First Lines: The billboard at the border of Morganville hadn’t changed since Claire had first driven past it on the way into town at the tender age of sixteen.  It seemed a lifetime ago, but here was the same old sign, faded and creaking in the dry desert wind.

When I saw this in the library, I had to grab it.  I mean, when you’re 14 books into a series, you really have to keep going.  And besides, this was probably the first Morganville book I’ve actually been excited to read in a while.

*Definite Series Spoilers Ahead*

It seemed like Claire would never break free of Morganville, but now the opportunity is at her feet.  She’s not going to miss out on going to MIT, her dream school.  It’s hard to say goodbye to her friends, but she knows she can’t miss this opportunity.  At MIT, Claire gets to work with Professor Anderson, a former Morganville native who can help Claire work on her machine to cancel vampire mental abilities.  But when things start spiraling out of control and Claire realizes someone may be out to hurt her, she begins wondering if maybe leaving Morganville was the last mistake she’ll ever make…

What really fascinated me about this particular book more than some of the others was that we were leaving Morganville.  It was kind of cool to see Claire on a college campus outside of Texas.  I mean, hey, I’m on a college campus!  Of course, I’m older than Claire is at this point, but that’s beside the point.  It was really just awesome to get out and away from Morganville.  It’s the same scenery time and time again, and it gets old.  Even if it is Morganville.

I’m drawn back to this series every time by the characters.  I freaking adore Claire.  She’s adorkable and I love it.  It’s so fun to read about her in a pinch and how she quickly makes a plan that may or may not get them out of it.  But still, she’s got a plan.  I also love Shane, who was extra adorable in this book.  I give him brownie points for most of what he did.  Not all, but most.  Eve and Michael play a smaller role in this book, but they were amazing as usual.  I can always count on Eve to bring the sarcasm.

Even though I liked it, there were obviously some things that I didn’t think were executed as well as they could have been.  For example, some parts just felt a little fake.  Or like they didn’t have a good explanation as to why they happened.  I didn’t like that so much, but those parts were few and far between.

Overall, I thought this was a great installment in the Morganville series.  (And, perhaps, the 2nd to last book in the series?  This is what I hear…)

Keep Holding On

First Lines: Julian Porter is blocking me.  The blocking is probably unintentional.  He sits two rows behind me in Spanish.  We have to use the same aisle to get to our desks.  I know he’s already been to his desk because his notebook and pen are sitting on it.  Maybe he forgot something in his locker.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve read one of Colasanti’s books.  It’s an accidental streak, I swear.  I just don’t read realistic fiction very often and when I do, I can never remember which one of her books I’ve read before.  Ok, that sounds bad.  But it’s because I love looking at the covers and that’s really the main way I remember which books I’ve read before.

Noelle’s life has been hard.  Every day in school, she’s bullied.  Her mom neglects her at home.  Noelle’s best friend has no idea how bad things are because Noelle keeps it all a secret locked inside her.  She’s so used to keeping secrets that when her crush Julian Porter begins paying attention to her, she’s terrified.  She doesn’t think she can let anyone in.  But when the antagonism against a classmate reaches its crescendo, Noelle realizes she has to stand up for herself, and just keep holding on.

I was one of the lucky ones who was never really bullied in school, and I’ll admit that.  I was in that weird place socially where I was smart and respected for it, but I wasn’t popular or a social outcast.  I didn’t really have a place that I felt comfortable in.  But I knew that most people tended to forget about me or overlook me.  I wasn’t a good target for them.

And as someone wanting to be a teacher, this book has been truly enlightening for me.  Noelle’s life sucks.  It’s not just the bullying she has to worry about.  There’s also her no-good, deadbeat mom at home that forgets to take care of Noelle.  Every day is a struggle for Noelle.

I thought the subject matter was handled well and in a way that really connects with readers.  Even though I’d never been bullied like Noelle was, I could absolutely imagine how awful that was for her.  And, worse, how terrible it would be when no one steps in to stop it.

I really liked the characters in this story.  Noelle’s fantastic.  I loved watching her grow throughout the story.  Noelle’s physics teacher was another favorite of mine because she was so fun and spunky.  I just got the impression as I read that these were real people, with real stories that we didn’t always know was behind them.  Does that make sense?  Like in life, we meet people, but we never know everything going on in their life.

Anyway, I thought this book handled a really rough subject in a way that was inspiring and thought-provoking.  It’s not always about the people who are bullied, but also the people who witness the bullying and the bullies themselves.  We all need to take a stand against bullying when we see it.

I’ve read some reviews where people thought the ending was cheesy or whatever, but I really think that kids who are struggling with bullies really need to hear those words.  …Or read them, I guess I should say.  Yes, there are some parts that are cheesy or cute, but you really need those to bring some levity to the story.

Overall, I thought it was an emotional story that can really connect with its audience.

(Also, I got this from Susane Colasanti about my review.)

Screenshot 2013-11-11 08.07.44

 

Carry on.

Nameless (Tales of Beauty & Madness, #1)

First Lines: Of all the cars in New Haven to fall before, I chose Enrico Vultusino’s long black limousine.

I’ve never read anything by Lili St. Crow before this, but I was really excited because this is a fresh, kinda dystopian take on Snow White.  While I normally fall toward close retellings of fairy tales, I was definitely game for this.

Enrico Vultusino found six-year-old Camille in the snow on Christmas.  Since then, Camille has lived with Papa Vultusino and his son, Nico.  As part of the Seven, the ruling class Families of New Haven, Papa Vultusino can give the mute, scarred girl the care she needs.  Now sixteen, Cami is no longer mute, though she still has the physical scars of her childhood.  Cami knows she’s not truly part of the Families, that she’s a mortal with a dark past.  When Cami meets Tor, a poor boy with the same scars as her, Cami begins to unravel her memories and her childhood. She attempts to discover what really happened to her…and why she may still be a threat to them…

I really liked the clever way the story is woven.  All the time, I would find certain things that would suddenly click into place that related to the original fairy tale.  For example, I really don’t think I’m spoiling anything by pointing out that the ruling Families are called “the Seven”.  Figure out how that one fits yet?

But overall, I just didn’t think the story was all that good.  It was confusing.  It immediately drops you into the story with no explanations.  I still don’t have answers to some things, little things like why they’re called the Families with a capital F.  There are some bigger things I don’t understand either, but I can’t say them for fear of spoiling it.  Bigger plot points.  I just couldn’t relate what I was reading to my own life to make sense of the story.

I also had a hard time liking Cami.  I didn’t think she was a bad character, necessarily, but there was something about her I just didn’t really like.  I think I probably pitied her more than I cheered for her.  And that doesn’t make for a very good connection.  I never really found that one character that I wanted to root for.

It was a valiant attempt at retelling Snow White, but I think it could have been done in a way that makes it easier for the reader to follow along and understand.