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

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

Best Audio Book of 2011

The Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan ReviewGenre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Paranormal Element: Mythology, Gods
Series: The Heroes of Olympus, Book One
Order Online:  Amazon.com | BookDepository.com
Stalk the Author: WebBlog | Twitter
Purchased from audible.com. Review previously published on blogger blog, but lost in transition.

PJVs QUICKIE POV:
Even though I haven’t gotten very far in the Percy Jackson series (Book 1 is about it), for some reason I was really drawn to reading The Lost Hero. Probably because of the age. I have a hard time reading below the age of 15 or so, the characters are a bit too immature for me to relate to. I enjoyed PJ’s Lightening Thief but hadn’t gotten the will to move on to the next book. I’m a sucker for teen angst and smoochies and it doesn’t happen until they get a bit more into puberty. That being said, The Lost Hero is set in the Percy Jackson time line and the characters are nicely aged at the 16/17 range. They are mature and a bit war hardened. The time period is after the Titan War but we usher into a whole new set of heros. Riordan did an amazing job of making this completely believable without us all going WTH? If you like the Percy Jackson world, or if you want to try it out for the first time, this is a great companion and start. I was greatly entertained – and my only disappointment lay with the narrator of this audio book and not with the book itself.

REVIEW:
Jason comes to awareness on a bus of misbegotten teens heading to an unknown location. He is holding hands with a pretty but rough-around-the-edges girl and a five foot tall man stands at the front of the bus glaring at him as if he ate his dog. Jason can’t remember a thing, he barely knows his own name and he certainly doesn’t know the people around him. Thus, starts Jason’s adventure. Wiped of memories, Jason must come to grips with his half-godliness, the fact that everyone seems to want to kill him, a best friend and girlfriend that he didn’t even know he had and a mission to save the world. At the back of his mind lays a sneaking suspicion that this isn’t the first adventure he has been on and that he really shouldn’t be trusting the people around him. Funnier still is his ability to speak latin and the tattoos and brands on his arm.

New stories will unfold in the world of the heroes. Secrets unveiled and hidden agendas revealed. The story of Jason, Piper and Leo is epic and dangerous. The action is non-stop and the introduction to a new side of the Percy Jackson’s world is very interesting. A must read for Rick Riordan fans and Young Adult aficionados with a penchant for the fantastical.

My stink face comes into play with the narrator of this tale. While competent, I would not like him to narrate any other of these novels. His grasp of an accent was just not on key, Leo supposedly had a Chicano accent and when doing Leo’s narration it was hard for him to drop the accent. He also spoke a lot of parts very staccato, especially the female parts. Anna Beth sounded ridiculous when he spoke for her. THIS     IS    YOUR    MISSION. Not impressed with the narrator, highly impressed with the book. Can’t wait to read the next book which is slated for the fall of 2011.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
For young and old alike. Nothing to make parents wary, besides a bit of swordplay and ichor. Fans of myths and fantasy should enjoy. You can start at this book, even if you have not read the Percy Jackson series.

Review Magic Bites by Illona Andrews

Review Magic Bites by Illona Andrews

Best Audio Book of 2011

Magic Bites by Illona Andres ReviewGenre: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Paranormal Element: Magic, Vampires, Shifters
Series: Kate Daniels #1
Order Online:  Amazon.com | BookDepository.com
Stalk the Author: WebFacebook | Twitter
Purchased from audible.com

PJVs QUICKIE POV:

Being the series junkee that I am, I didn’t possibly know why I hadn’t started this series yet. I can only blame it on lack of time and too many good books. From the start this one struck me as different. It starts out very gritty with a head first jump into a very urban fantasy world. I knew I was going to love the main character, Kate Daniels – and her world was twisted enough that I knew I would feel right at home. Paired with some excellent word weaving by Andrews and I was in UF heaven.

REVIEW:

Kate Daniels’ world is a world where Magic has gone out of whack. Flares and disturbances plague the cities, rendering technology null and strange occurrences rampant. Shifters and mages are ‘out’ but distrusted and are usually pretty wary of one another. Vampires are creatures to be possessed and used, unridden by Necromancers they are feral and will murder anything that comes upon them.

Kate actually likes the world she lives in, she is a live by the sword, try not to die by the sword type of girl. She makes her living as a magical mercenary and has made her way pretty well. She was doing just fine until someone kills her guardian. Rips him to pieces is more like it.

Kate can’t sit idly by and let the murderer go unpunished. With permission from the Order she takes up the case and finds herself neck deep in two steps. Never one to roll over and take it, Kate pushes on, desperate to find out who killed her guardian – but she just might not survive the knowlege.

Fast-paced, gritty, full of sarcasm and wit, MAGIC BITES is the epitome of a great Urban Fantasy novel. The world building is complex and intense in its defining. The characters are robust and in-your-face. There was enough violence to keep it nasty, without the raunchy romance that drags some UF down. Yet, some good flirting to keep it alive. I wouldn’t say this is the most original of pieces, snarky and intense heroine, slick and over-bearing hero are used a lot, but the world Andrews created was definitely on the very creative side of the crayon box. I think I might have a new series to have and hold — because I’m dying to sink my teeth into MAGIC BURNS.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Recommended for adults and mature readers. The violence can be a bit overpowering and there was a fair bit of mature language and references. Series is reminiscent of the earlier Anita Blake books (not the later ones when all she does is have sex).

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Best of 2011 Young AdultWither by Lauren DeStefano

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Fantasy Element:
Dystopian, Post-Apocolytic
Series:
Chemical Garden #1
Order Online: 
Amazon.com | BookDepository.com
Stalk the Author:
WebBlog | Twitter
ARC copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review. Review first published on the Blogger PJV site, republished because post was lost in transition.

PJVs QUICKIE POV:

This is how I like my dystopian. WITHER was an intense discovery of a new world, it wasn’t a very nice world, but it was real. DeStefano painted such a rich picture that I could actually believe it was possible. I fell in love with the characters, mourned with Rhine, felt her happiness and experience her horror. I couldn’t get enough of this novel and I can’t wait to read the second in this series.

REVIEW:

Rhine Ellery lives in a world where she can only live to her twentieth year. Because of genetic manipulation and a nasty virus, women live to be twenty, men to twenty-five. Parents die when their children are barely out of their toddler years and are forced to wander the streets, work in factories and starve if they cannot find someone to care for them.

Rhine is one of the lucky ones. She is a twin and her and her brother, while orphans, were prepared for being alone. They made a home, they worked together to survive and they were making it work. That is until she walked right into a trap and was picked up by a Gatherer. Now she will become a bride. One of many to enter into a world of wealth and privilege, where she will marry a man that will barely let her leave the house. Linden, her weak, but sweet husband, tempts her with a pampered but sheltered life. A life where there is little to worry about as long as you are content in your gilded cage. Yet, there is only one thing on Rhine’s mind: escape to the twin she left behind.

She finds solace with a servant, named Gabriel and friendship with her sister wives. But, each time she feels the call of acquiescence and the draw of blissful ignorance, something happens that shocks her back into her reality, making her realize that something is not right. She must escape. She must be free, no matter what the cost.

I couldn’t get enough of Rhine. She is a beautifully constructed character. Just enough naiveté, but determination to make the story work. The dystopian landscape was so well implemented that the hopelessness of the world’s plight saturated every page of this novel. I couldn’t begin to imagine living in a world like this — but because of DeStefano’s writing I had a front row seat. Yet, between everything there was hope, which kept the story moving, instead of succumbing and leaving you with too heavy of a feeling to read on. Rhine’s character was determined to find a light within the darkness of her world and it all translated to a great read that I will have to revisit over and over again. You need to read this book if you are a fan of dystopian.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

While this book is a Young Adult novel there are mature themes. This is recommended for a mature teen audience that can understand what is going on. The heavier stuff is sexual in nature because of the fact that these children have to grow up so quickly. Use your judgement parents, I would give this to a 13/14 year-old, but you might want to read it before you do – which is great, because it is an enjoyable read from an adult perspective also.

 

Review: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Review: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Best of 2011 Young Adult

Darkness Becomes HerGenre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Fantasy Element: Mythology, Magic, Vampires
Series: Gods & Monsters #1
Order Online:  Amazon.com | BookDepository.com
Stalk the Author: WebFacebook | Twitter
Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.Review previously published on Parajunkee.com/Blogger

PJVs QUICKIE POV:
Wow. I haven’t read a young adult novel, with paranormal themes, this original and compelling in a long time. Step away from the usual vampire love stories and grab Darkness Becomes Her, you won’t be disappointed.

REVIEW:
Deep in the ruined South of Keaton’s imagined world, a young girl goes on a quest to find out about her parents. Abandoned at a young age, Ari has been a product of social services for a very long time. Just recently she has finally come to live with a family that has shown her kindness and love. It has not dispelled her curiosity though, she needs to find out why her mother abandoned her at four years old and her journey will take her to an area of the world, that like her has been abandoned.

Thirteen years prior, two massive hurricanes ripped through the Gulf and ruined the Gulf Coast. The US government abandoned the area, moved the people out and left the land to be reclaimed by nature. Nine of the oldest families of New Orleans would not relent and petitioned the US government to purchase the area. New Orleans became New 2, apart from the US – and New Orleans always having been different, now became another world.

Ari crossed The Rim into the unknown of New 2, where she was born, and begins to find that not everything is as it seems. The city hides secrets, and the rumors of paranormal creatures and magic that have been whispered about, might not be as far fetched as she thought. A ride from a stranger and an offer to stay the night in a large, run-down house in the Garden District, introduce her to the forgotten children of New 2 and probably the first friends that Ari has had the chance to make in a long time. But, friends can be used against you, especially if you are one of the most pursued persons in the area – because it would seem that Ari’s arrival in the city hasn’t gone unnoticed, both my the ruling body of the city, the Novem, and by much more scarier beings than she ever thought existed.

My frist praise for Ms. Keaton will be about her creation of New 2. Keaton embraced New Orleans, turned it on it’s side and created something really special in New 2. She really seemed to get the personality of New Orleans and did a wonderful job of conveying it in Darkness Becomes Her. I know you can hear over and over again how different this region is, probably get tired of hearing it, I mean really, it is still the US right, how different can it be? But, it is. Just everything about this city is unique and a bit off. Something, you get used to when you live here, but stun the people that visit. Keaton did a great job of showing the subtle odditiy of the city and then taking it further by creating New 2. I could see it happening – if there was any city in the world that it could happen it would be New Orleans. A quote that resonnated with me and showed that Keaton really got New Orleans:

“…I was born here, and I knew my mother had lived here, but somehow it was more than that. It was in the emotion of the place, the air of abandonment, the slight decay on everything, the wildness of the plants and trees, the haunted appearance that clung to the grand old houses, and the dark parts where light never reached–deep in the lost gardens, behind vacant lots, and beyond boarded-up windows. {skipped a part because of length}…It was the freedom of being in a place that didn’t give a shit what you were, because it was different too.”

On top of Keaton’s rich imagining of the city she created, her characters are deeply developed and touch you emotionally. You want to take Violet in your arms and protect her, just as Ari does and Sebastien makes your palms sweat. Then along with the characters and the setting the original idea behind what Ari deals with and the plot behind the setting is so original I was literally nodding during reading it, highly impressed with Keaton’s creativity. I can’t stop singing the praises of this novel. I couldn’t put it down. I started reading it the day before Mardi Gras (Lundi Gras) and it took all of my will-power to not bring it on the parade route to read, Mardi Gras day. Standing ovation, Ms. Keaton. I can’t wait to read book number two.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
While this book is a Young Adult novel there are mature themes. There is violence and mature language. This is recommended for a mature teen audience.  Use your judgement parents, it is only a few curse words though. I would give this to a 13/14 year-old, but you might want to read it before you do – but, you’ll enjoy it, so I don’t think it’ll be too hard.

 

Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

PJ’s QUICKIE POV:
An emotional reaction garnered from the pages of a book is like nothing else. The reason why I’m so infatuated with the genres of dystopian and apocalyptic is because of this emotional reaction. A great apocalypse book will turn me into an emotional wreck. I will see myself within the pages, fighting for survival…that is if the book is done right. ASHFALL is one of those apocalypse books that are done right. ASHFALL had a very real and scary apocalyptic event, compelling characters that you fall in love with and watch transition into phenomenal people and a plot that will have you biting your nails, crying, offended and scared silly all in a matter of moments. I couldn’t get enough of this novel. If you like a good apocalypse story you’ll love ASHFALL.

REVIEW:
Alex doesn’t want the last thing he did with his mom to be a fight, but it may turn out that way after he is left at home alone for the weekend and the unthinkable happens. The caldera under Yellowstone park has gone nuclear – a supervolcano has exploded and Alex’s home is destroyed. One minute he’s cherishing his ‘alone-time’ and the next he is fighting for his life. As his house burns and the neighbors instantly turn feral Alex sets out to travel over 100 miles to find his parents because he knows the only thing that matters anymore is being with his family.

The world isn’t what it was just a few days before though it has been transformed into an alien landscape, the temperatures plunging and the sun barely visible. The strong prey on the weak and kindness from a stranger is few and far between. But, Alex does find kindness and friendship in the wreckage of the world. As 100 miles of travel becomes not just a journey to find his parents, but a path that will turn a boy into a man.

Quite epic. Yes, indeed. Ashfall has everything I could want in a good End-o-da-world scenario. There is graphic violence, political corruption, scientific explanations, a real scenario feel and then a smudge of coming of age and romance all rolled into one. COULD NOT GET ENOUGH! This book was real, things happened that I could imagine. And let me tell you, I’m a little scared of what Blackwater would do in a similar situation also!! I mean the contractor from the book. It was just real and Alex and Darla were those larger-than-life characters that come around every now and again and not because I had the hots for Alex, they were just good, well-formed and four-dimensional characters that grew before your eyes. I highly recommend ASHFALL.

Critics have mentioned the ending, which I had no problem with. I thought there was a suitable conclusion and progression. Yes, it will be a series book (what book isn’t these days???), but I accept that and can’t wait to read more! Bring it on Mr. Mullin.

Recommended:
Recommended for mature teens, there are very violent events and sexual encounters along with rape. Nothing in blatant detail though and I think it can be digested by a mature teen audience, just something you want to keep in mind before passing it on to your teen or tween.

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Team Apocalypse

‘Ashfall’ ‘by Mike Mullin ARC was provided by the publisher {Tanglewood Press} in exchange for an honest review. This review was previously published but was eaten by the transfer from Blogger to WordPress.

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