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Ramblings by Year

Mini Reviews (2): The Evolution of Mara Dyer, Everneath & Etiquette & Espionage

Because I am so behind in writing up posts for the entire month of June, I am breaking down and writing another Mini Review post to get caught up. I have not read much this month, and I am hoping to at least break LAST June’s pathetic 5 book record. I am up to 4 this month. It’s not looking good to get much more read since I just can’t get into anything I start reading! But enough about my reading misery – on to the mini reviews!

The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #2)
by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer knows she isn’t crazy. She knows that she can kill with her mind, and that Noah can heal with his. Mara also knows that somehow, Jude is not a hallucination. He is alive. Unfortunately, convincing her family and doctors that she’s not unstable and doesn’t need to be hospitalised isn’t easy. The only person who actually believes her is Noah. But being with Noah is dangerous and Mara is in constant fear that she might hurt him. She needs to learn how to control her power, and fast! Together, Mara and Noah must try and figure out exactly how Jude survived when the asylum collapsed, and how he knows so much about her strange ability…before anyone else ends up dead! (goodreads.com)

Last year I was wowed by The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and eagerly awaited the sequel. Unfortunately the sequel came out while I was in the middle of NOT reading and doing a lot more studying and work stuff so it took me a while to pick this book up. I was not disappointed when I finally did buy and read it. This book was part of my awesome book groove that started in May, except I just didn’t have time to finish it before the end of the month. I could not put the book down and I was on the edge of my seat and holding my breath almost all the way through it. The fact that Mara was being stalked by a dead person was so creepy and made me suspicious of everyone in the story – except for Noah. I still hold fast to my swooning reaction to Noah from the first book. I am not one to get gooey over fictional characters but every once in a while there’s a male protagonist who floats my boat, or is my cup of tea or some other odd clich?d thing. Noah is one of them. Sigh. (Although I will admit to feeling a little creepy crushing on a teen character. Please do not send me to jail. I help myself feel better about this realizing that if this were a TV show, he’d probably be played by some guy in his mid-to-late 20s and then it’s not so bad. *cough*) I didn’t realize this was a trilogy (no idea why) so I was completely stunned by the ending. Bottom line? I WOULD LIKE BOOK THREE NOW, PLEASE!

Everneath (Everneath, #1)
by Brodi Ashton

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen. As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen. (goodreads.com)

Everneath is a sort of modern-day retelling of Persephone and Hades and I am not entirely sure what I thought of it. I read it pretty quickly and I didn’t dislike it, but I wasn’t WOWed by it either. I think I liked it enough to want to read the next books though. It took me a while to warm up to the characters and I really didn’t like Cole. The relationships in this story were walking the edge of the All Consuming Teen Infatuation line that insta-love falls into. Of course Nikki and Jack have a relationship before you meet her and it’s nothing at all like insta-love but I am just not fan of stories where the characters’ every waking and breathing moments are consumed with each other. On one hand, I get that Nikki’s anchor is Jake and this is what helps her live, but I’m just a cranky old lady and I don’t LIKE romance novels. 😉 It became way more interesting once we learned about the Daughters of Persephone and that’s when I decided I wanted to read the other books in the series. Eventually.

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)
by Gail Carriger

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education. (goodreads.com)

I am a huge fan of the Parasol Protectorate series, so of course I was excited about this debut YA series set in the same world. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book at all. It was difficult for me to get through but I did because I was hoping at some point it would start to appeal to me. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. One of the things I loved about the adult series were the little bits of ridiculousness scattered throughout the normal (or what went for normal in that world). The main problem I had with this YA series was that EVERYTHING was ridiculous. Almost as if it was in there because that’s what people loved about the original series. You take the one thing that people loved and just over-saturate the next thing with it, making it not enjoyable and not funny at all. Comedy movies do the same thing all the time and I think that’s where they go wrong. You need the balance of normal and silly to make the silly work properly. Every single character name in this book was strange and silly. I just gave up on trying to pronounce the names because it was getting on my nerves. Everything had a silly name for it and with the exception of Bumbersnoot the mechanimal (I liked THAT!) I felt it was just way too over the top. It was almost like every little aspect of this book had to be some sort of gag. It made me cranky more than amused me and I didn’t laugh out loud once, I just sighed in exasperation many times. I really, truly wanted to love this book but I didn’t and I don’t think I will be continuing with the series at all. This makes me very sad. 🙁

Crimson Frost

Crimson Frost (Mythos Academy, #4)
by Jennifer Estep

For a moment, a face flashed before my eyes—the most hideous face I’d ever seen. No matter how hard I tried to forget what had happened, I saw him everywhere I went. It was Loki—the evil god that I’d helped set free against my will.

I should have known that my first official date with Logan Quinn was destined to end in disaster. If we’d gotten into a swordfight, or been ambushed by Reapers, I’d have been more prepared. But getting arrested mid-sip at the local coffee hangout? I didn’t see that one coming.

I’ve been accused of purposely helping the Reapers free Loki from his prison—and the person leading the charge against me is Linus Quinn, Logan’s dad. The worst part is that pretty much everyone at Mythos Academy thinks I’m guilty. If I’m going to get out of this mess alive, I’ll have to do it myself… (goodreads.com)

There is just something about this series that is so fun.  I look forward to each release with such anticipation. I wasn’t sure what to expect for this instalment though. At first I didn’t think I was going to like it as much as the previous three books, but in the end, I remained content and amused by the adventures of Gwen and everyone else at Mythos Academy.

What I am worried about is this series turning into a House of Night type series, where each book becomes more recap of the previous ones than it is new story. So far this hasn’t happened, though I was noticing the recaps a lot more in the first few chapters than I had in the third book. I don’t know how many books are pending for the Mythos Academy series and I hope very strongly that this series stays, well, STRONG until it’s done. As much as I love revisiting the location and the characters, I don’t want this series to become stale and repetitive.

Probable spoilers ahead. You have been warned.

Things I liked about Crimson Frost – the addition of Alexi as a character. I liked him a lot, as silent as he was. I am looking forward to him becoming part of the group. I don’t know why I liked him so much, but I did. He amused me. He seems like a good egg. I also liked the arrest, as contrived as it seemed. I found it very strange that all these Powers That Be people were so quick to condemn Gwen and take the word of the bad guys, but it worked out how I thought it would.

I also liked that I guessed the bad guy correctly. Muahahahah. I always feel so smart when I do that. *pats self on back* I mean, when it’s not totally obvious and stuff.

Things I didn’t like – This episode (heh) of Mythos Academy was a little too lovey dovey for me. It was also a little too “Gwen on her own” for most of it. One of the things I truly like about the series is Gwen’s interaction with her friends. I especially like Daphne. There was less group action in this book and I missed it. There was a lot of Gwen thinking only of Logan and herself and that’s just not my thing. That’s actually how I feel about most contemporary novels, all “girl thinks of boy all the time”. I don’t care about that part of the story. That’s not what I like about books, I like the mystery and snappy dialogue with friends.

This is just my personal opinion though! It just didn’t have the elements that I love about story telling as strongly featured as some of the other instalments.

I know there’s at least one more book to come and I am eager to read it. I hope this series can stay strong and fresh and fun because it’s one I really like to escape from the real world with. Some people read romance, I like to read books about boarding schools and mythological mysteries. 😉

Oh, and can we just talk about this cover for a second? I have to say I don’t have a clue as to how this ties into the story. Why is there a smokey, red dragon in the background? Anyone? Because I totally do not recall a dragon being in this book at all. Did I miss something? Is it supposed to be a gargoyle from outside the library? They weren’t red and smokey though. I am totally confused about this AND the whole “Crimson” thing. What was crimson? How did I miss something so crucial to the title and cover art? I feel lost when I look at that cover. Also, I don’t think the same model has been used for the covers. Especially not for the next book. This bugs me somewhat. I’m persnickety about these sorts of things.

That is all.

 
Mythos Academy

  1. Touch of Frost
  2. Kiss of Frost
  3. Dark Frost
  4. Crimson Frost
  5. Midnight Frost – August 2013

Dark Frost

Dark Frost (Mythos Academy, #3)
by Jennifer Estep

I’ve seen so many freaky things since I started attending Mythos Academy last fall. I know I’m supposed to be a fearless warrior, but most of the time, I feel like I’m just waiting for the next Bad, Bad Thing to happen. Like someone trying to kill me—again.

Everyone at Mythos Academy knows me as Gwen Frost, the Gypsy girl who uses her psychometry magic to find lost objects—and who just may be dating Logan Quinn, the hottest guy in school. But I’m also the girl the Reapers of Chaos want dead in the worst way. The Reapers are the baddest of the bad, the people who murdered my mom. So why do they have it in for me?

It turns out my mom hid a powerful artifact called the Helheim Dagger before she died. Now, the Reapers will do anything to get it back. They think I know where the dagger is hidden, but this is one thing I can’t use my magic to find. All I do know is that the Reapers are coming for me—and I’m in for the fight of my life. (goodreads.com)

Goodness! I completely forgot I hadn’t finished this post from a week ago!  You know how I figured that out? I commented on someone’s blog and when the CommentLuv widget pulled up my NYC/BEA post, I was confused as to why that was my last post. Oops. My poor brain is in desperate need of a holiday. Two more weeks and it’ll get its wish.

ANYHOO…

I do enjoy the Mythos Academy series so. Gwen Frost is a witty, fun, strong female protagonist and the story itself is interesting and a nice mix of all sorts of mythology. This is one YA Urban Fantasy series that I would strongly recommend if you’re looking for a paranormally read that doesn’t have love triangles, insta-love or the regular cast of creatures that you normally get these days.

Dark Frost wasn’t my favourite book of the three, but it was still very fun to read. In a year where I can’t seem to care about most of the books I pick up (in fact, I haven’t TOUCHED a book since I finished this one on July 7!) the fact that Dark Frost kept me page turning from start to finish in one day, says a lot about it. It’s up there as one of those types of books I can get into no matter my mood. I like that about a book. 🙂

There’s not much I can talk about in this post that won’t spoil things, being a third book in a series and all, but trust me, there’s a decent mystery in each book with action and suspense and death, or near-deathness. There’s fighting and snark, lots of cookies decent friendship relationships and the adults aren’t all incompetent fools (yay).

I do have one question/issue though. Mythos Academy is surrounded by walls that have these large Sphinx statues guarding the gates. They are supposed to protect the students (and teachers) from the evil Reapers by coming alive (supposedly) if they try to enter the grounds. My issue is this: How the hell is it that there are Reapers and bad guys on the inside without the Sphinxes knowing? I mean, there have been instances in each of the books where the bad guys are hiding amongst the students and school grounds and yet it’s like, a surprise? I think those guard statues are broken. Or it’s all just a legend that isn’t actually real because not once have these Sphinxes ever actually done what they are supposed to, yet it’s mentioned over and over and over again in the books like it’s a Big Deal when I have yet to see it be Any Deal at all. Hmmph.

Oh, one other issue… Nickamedes, the grumpy Professor/Librarian guy reminds me way too much of Snape from Harry Potter. The way he’s described, his out of nowhere dislike of Gwen. Way too Snape-ish for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Severus Snape to pieces, but I don’t like when he’s cloned and renamed in other peoples’ books. Does any one else who reads this series see the similarities? Is it just me?

Ok then, I have now written something for this blog post and I shall try and not spend my entire sunny weekend on the couch on the computer. The internet sucks up way too much of my time and yet I can’t seem to kick the habit. Maybe I need an intervention? I do know I need some sort of help to get me back into reading again. Since October I have not really felt like reading at all. I have too many other things going on in my brain and life. Alas. I was almost at 100 books read by this time last year and I’m only at 55 so far. Way behind what I normally read. My TBR pile has exploded to scary numbers yet again, when I had managed to get it down to a much more reasonable number. I do realize that the addition of 20 new books from BEA is partially to blame for that, but I’m still buying books, too, and it’s getting CRAZY. Sigh.

Mythos Academy

  1. Touch of Frost
  2. Kiss of Frost
  3. Dark Frost
  4. Crimson Frost
  5. Midnight Frost – August 2013

The Serpent’s Shadow

The Serpent’s Shadow (Kane Chronicles, #3)
by Rick Riordan

Carter And Sadie Kane, descendants of the magical House of Life, are in pretty big trouble. Despite their bravest efforts, Apophis, the giant snake of Chaos, is still threatening to plunge the world into eternal darkness. Now the Kanes must do something no magician has ever managed – defeat Apophis himself. No pressure there then. Battling against the forces of Chaos, their only hope is an ancient spell – but the magic has been lost for a millennia. Will they find the serpent’s shadow, or will they be led to their deaths in the depths of the Underworld? (goodreads.com)

Somehow the release of the third book in the Kane Chronicles slipped past me. I only realized about a month later when I was walking the floor of BEA and was all, “Oh! I can’t wait for this to come out!” *grabs bookmarks* Monkey & Disney rep, “It came out a month ago.” Me, “Um…”

True story.

Anyhow, I quickly rectified my oversight and bought the book when I was placing a Book Depo order for a friend. Heh. What was one (or three) extra books, right?

I have said it before on this blog, and I’ll say it again – I love this series. Even moreso than the Percy Jackson series and I really enjoyed that one. (I have yet to read the Lost Hero ones though.) Even though I tend to like Greek mythology more than any other myths, it was really interesting to learn more about Egyptian myths through the Kane Chronicles. What I love most about this series though are the characters. The Kane Chronicles are the only books that I find really do dual-point of view well. I admit I was very nervous about the dual narration when I started with The Red Pyramid, but it was very quickly apparent that both Carter and Sadie Kane were going to be energetic and entertaining narrators. I am sure I have run across dual-PoV stories in the past that didn’t irritate me, but I was trying to call them to mind and nothing, absolutely nothing pops up.

** some possible spoilers, but I try not to be too spoily. Also, this is a third book in a series, so if you haven’t read the first two, pretty much anything that’s said in this post, including the official book summary, is like, spoilerific!**

Anyhoo… so I think this is the last book in the series, but I could be wrong. I can see potential for more, but to be honest, I want this to be the last. Although it sounds like maybe a cross-over with the Heroes of Olympus? Hmm. As far as story conclusions go, The Serpent’s Shadow was pretty good. I did think that the final battle with Apophis might have gone down a little too easily after all the build-up and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the Walt situation (creeped out? ok? confused? So, like, is Sadie in a threesome now? HOW RISQUÉ, MIDDLE GRADE BOOK!) But I liked the pace of the story and the action & adventure. I do wish Sadie and Carter could do more stuff together, though I see how that would sort of make the whole dual PoV aspect rather moot.

And even though I am on a fantasy kick right now, this book felt just right. It’s not fantasy-fantasy but it’s magical enough that it filled that need I have right now to get lost in a magical place. Somewhere far, far away from work and house chores and work and.. well, you get the idea. Humour and magic. It’s all I need, baby.

My question to you, happy blog readers, is this: Have you read any of Rick Riordan’s MG books? Do you like the Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus or the Kane Chronicles the best? I think I’ll tackle the Heros of Olympus (is that the title of the series? I should look that up, but I’m too lazy at the moment) books next. I’ll start those when there are more in paperback. It’s a testament to how much I love this series that I buy them in hard cover. (Ok, not completely true – I buy them in hard cover because I was lucky enough to score a signed copy of The Red Pyramid at BEA in 2010. I was then obliged to get the rest in hard cover so all books matched! However, had I not loved TRP I would not have continued to buy them in HC. Ex-cetera, ex-cetera.)

Kane Chronicles

  1. The Red Pyramid
  2. The Throne of Fire
  3. The Serpent’s Shadow

Kiss of Frost

Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy, #2)
by Jennifer Estep

I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Acad­emy, and I have no idea how I’m going to sur­vive the rest of the semes­ter. One day, I’m get­ting schooled in sword­play by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gor­geous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invis­i­ble archer in the Library of Antiq­ui­ties decides to use me for tar­get prac­tice. And now, I find out that some­one at the acad­emy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help—I just might die by the sword… (goodreads.com)

Back in November I was delighted to discover that this YA series was full of humour and action – just the way I like my books. It helped immensely that Mythos Academy is also a boarding school. If there are witches or boarding schools in a book I have to read it. I think that’s part of my DNA make up.

I took advantage of Christmas gift cards to get the second book in the series. I was wary about it though, I mean, second books in series often don’t live up to their precursor. Luckily, Kiss of Frost did not disappoint. Gwen remains a fun character though I felt she wasn’t really all that bright this time around. I found myself internally yelling at her to WISE UP and BE SMARTER! Because she was smarter in Touch of Frost when she didn’t even know what was going on. I found a couple of her leaps of logic to be mind-boggling dumb at times. I suppose when your life has suddenly flipped completely upside down and there are people in the world who are hellbent on killing you, when this wasn’t a normal, every day, occurrence before, you might suddenly start finding even radishes suspicious. I tried not to fault the character too much for these boggling logic leaps because well, hey, I might have done the exact same thing if it were me. I can’t see myself trusting anyone if all of this magic, mythology and attempted murdering was happening all the time.

I was a little sad about the lack of Logan time. Not in the romantic or sexual tension way, but more in the, witty dialogue way. I truly like the interaction between Gwen and Logan. I also love the interaction between Gwen and Daphne, which was also watered down this time around. Alas. I look forward to those friendships being built up in future books. (Dear Author, just so you know. In case you were wondering what to write. I am trying to be helpful here.)

My one problem with the book was that I found the first few chapters slightly awkward in their recapping of the previous story.Some books are really great at catching the readers up on the series, and some aren’t. This one fell somewhere in the middle for me. I was very, very aware of all the exposition and “hey, reader, just in case you didn’t read book one, here is ALL OF THE INFORMATION that was written in 300 pages, but we’ve condensed it into 3 for you now”. I also felt that the recaping happened way too much throughout the book. In NO way was this as bad as the House of Night Books by the Casts, but it was obvious enough to me that it sort of made me cringe at times. I would have liked a little less obviousness in telling the reader what was happening and what had happened. I don’t know if it was because I’d recently read the first book or not, but I felt like I’d even read some repeated explanations throughout the book.

Really that was only a minor irritation and it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story. I like that we keep learning a little more about Gwen’s powers and that secrets were revealed in this book. I am HOPING (very strongly) that the brief stupidity of deciding to NOT TELL the adults or her friends about things because she didn’t want to bother them, was knocked out of Gwen by that avalanche.  Please, please, let the character have learned her lesson on that one because I HATE that plot device. It’s up there with the trusted guardian ending up being the bad guy and taking advantage of all the information they find out. I just want Gwen to be able to trust and rely on Daphne, Logan and Prof. Metis, even her own grandmother. I hate when main characters keep secrets and then end up getting saved only by a stroke of luck. You have friends and resources, Gwen – USE THEM! No man is an island! Other cliche statements here!

Yeah. So. Dark Frost comes out in June and I cannot wait! This is a fun series that really clicks with me even if it has plots that I can see through from a mile away (I’d pretty much figured out what was going on from the start and was rather delighted with myself when my guesses were right. heh). As long as Mythos Academy books are written, I shall read them!

Mythos Academy

  1. Touch of Frost
  2. Kiss of Frost
  3. Dark Frost
  4. Crimson Frost
  5. Midnight Frost – August 2013