Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Amazon Description: "In The Son of Neptune, Percy, Hazel, and Frank met in Camp Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Camp Halfblood, and traveled to the land beyond the gods to complete a dangerous quest. The third book in the Heroes of Olympus series will unite them with Jason, Piper, and Leo. But they number only six--who will complete the Prophecy of Seven?

The Greek and Roman demigods will have to cooperate in order to defeat the giants released by the Earth Mother, Gaea. Then they will have to sail together to the ancient land to find the Doors of Death. What exactly are the Doors of Death? Much of the prophecy remains a mystery. . . .
With old friends and new friends joining forces, a marvelous ship, fearsome foes, and an exotic setting, The Mark of Athena promises to be another unforgettable adventure by master storyteller Rick Riordan."

My Review: I'll admit: I was pretty disappointed with the first two books in the Heroes Of Olympus series. I'm a huge fan of the Percy Jackson series, and the Heroes of Olympus books 1 and 2 just seemed way too complicated, confusing, and contrived. It was like Rick Riordan was trying to be J.K. Rowling or something. I didn't get to know the characters well enough and the stories were so crazy that half the time, I was confused on all the mythology and magic and madness happening---and I'm REALLY well-versed in Greek mythology, so that's saying something. However...Rick Riordan definitely made a junior comeback with the 3rd book in his series! 
         Okay, I admit: part of the reason I liked it so much more was because Percy and Annabeth were reunited. It was like the old team together again (minus Grover, who I miss!). But even with Percy and Annabeth together again, the story was much better! The first two books were confusing in simply that Riordan was trying to introduce 5 characters' pasts and story lines (I'm not counting Percy, since we already know him) AND trying to form a new dastardly plot...and that got confusing. But in this book, we were already decently comfortable with all of the characters and their pasts, so we got to move ON---and move on we did! 
         The setting really contributed to this book. Them sailing to Rome felt like old times (remember sailing across the Sea of Monster? Yeah, so do I). The setting was so cool! FINALLY they got to go to Rome! I'd been waiting for this moment for a long time. Hopefully they'll get to go to Greece in a future book as well. The setting just made it so much more exotic and unique. 
        The return of some favorite Greek mythology characters also helped the book a lot. Some of the mythology in the previous Heroes Of Olympus books was kind of confusing and crazy because some of the myths weren't too well known---like the South Wind, North Wind, etc---but this time, we got to meet Arachne and Hercules. And that was pretty awesome, let me tell you that. 
        The plot was interesting and well-paced; it flowed well, with good action scenes and some good calm scenes. What made it really good was that the two teams were finally merged; their camaraderie and bantering was really fun, and it felt like we were back at Camp Half-Blood, with all of the familiar faces. Something about having a large group of characters makes it really fun; the previous books felt a little...lonely.
        All in all, a really good job on the third book! This makes me really excited for the next books in the series! ESPECIALLY after a cliff-hanger that left my eyes popping out of my head and me waggling my hands in a series of silent fangirl screaming. Trust me, the cliffhanger? Brilliant but PAINFUL. The waiting for the next book is going to be intense!

Cover: It's okay. I'm not a fan of the scene the artist chose. This scene wasn't THAT important; I'd have rather scene a nice illustration of their ship, or of some scene in Rome. But it's okay, not bad. 

Overall Grade: A-

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Audrey's Guide To Witchcraft by Jody Gehrman

Goodreads Description: "Falling in Love, baking a magical cake, fighting an evil necromancer—it’s all in a day’s work for Audrey Oliver, seventeen-year-old witch-in-training. 

When her mother goes missing and her twenty-one-year-old witchy cousin shows up out of the blue, Audrey knows something’s gone horribly, dangerously wrong. Now it’s up to her to get her own magical powers up to speed before everyone she loves is destroyed by the sorcerer intricately connected to her mother’s secret past." 

My Review: [I received a copy of this book from the author, Jody Gehrman.] This was a pretty good book! Looking at the cover and reading the back...I wasn't really sure what to expect. Was it supposed to be a funny book? A serious book? The cover looked very paranormal romance-y. I had no idea, so I just dove right in---and I liked it a lot. I wouldn't say this is the best book I've ever read---and it's certainly not the best book by Jody Gehrman I've ever read (that would be her Triple Shot Betty books!)---but it was a pretty amusing book to read, nonetheless! My favorite aspect of it was probably the main character, Audrey. She was so...REALISTIC. She was very sarcastic and a good mix of insecure-teenager with loudmouthed-brat. In fact...the reason I probably liked her so much was that I could RELATE to her so much. Not that I love baking as much as she does---but I could definitely connect to her issues with sibling rivalry, wanting to blend in the crowd AND wanting to stick out and do her own thing, and also wanting to help her quieter, shyer friend stand up for herself. 
         So, all in all, Audrey was a great character. She seemed a little whiny at times, but I could sort of see how that was understandable, given the chaos in her life! And I thought the way Jody Gehrman portrayed her missing her mom was pretty realistic. Sometimes, in books, when the parents are's like the main character forgets about them. Audrey never forgot her mom. 
        The other characters were pretty winning. I liked Audrey's little sister---she was very sassy and in-your-face and fun, and the way she and Audrey bantered were great. And I LOVED Audrey's cousin! She was just the coolest, most unique person! She wasn't too "mystical-magical-wise-Dumbledore-figure", and she also wasn't too normal. She was definitely one of my favorite characters. 
         As for the magic and the plot was a tad weak. I did like how the magic seemed very elemental and chemical and very traditional---in that witches actually made potions and spells in cauldrons---because that's a fresh take on magic, these days, honestly. However, the book moved VERY slowly, and in the end, not much actually happened. I did keep reading, because the characters were awesome, but I wish the book had gone a bit faster or there had been a bit more action. I wanted to see more magic. And for all of Audrey's creepy premonitions about the evil guy...her meeting with him with a little anti-climactic. He didn't seem as evil as he should have. So hopefully there will be more action and adventure in the next book!

Cover: The cover's a bit weird and eerie. I do like it---such as that red dress, that's just divine!---but I think they could have picked a better cover for this book. This cover seems very gothic and paranormal romance-ish, and that's not what this book is about. So it's nice, but not very fitting, in my opinion. 

Overall Grade: B+