Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Last Olympian

by Rick Riordan

Summary from
All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos's army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan's power only grows. While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it's up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time. In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy's sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

This book is the conclusion to the Percy Jackson series. From start to finish, the entire series is strong and so fun to read. Definitely recommended for those looking for an adventure and anyone who enjoys a bit of Greek mythology.

That was the nice, spoiler free version of my review. Short and to the point. There will be major SPOILERS in the rest of this post.

I've been looking forward to the final Percy since I read the fourth book last June. The Last Olympian was a great conclusion, but I admit I was a bit disappointed.

While reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows did you ever just wish they would get to the action? One certainly never has that wish with this book. The action starts in the first chapter and continues throughout. On the one hand, it was great, on the other hand it was battle after battle and I did find myself longing for them to get to the battle so we could wrap it all up! And, I actually found the final battle to be a bit of a let down.

I also didn't really like how everyone kept warning Percy about the risks involved with his dip in the Styx, yet we never saw any real consequence of the action. I wish whatever demon Achilles was warning Percy about had made a stronger appearance and had a bigger affect on the outcome. It seemed like Percy took the dip and became invincible, but that was it. No consequences whatsoever.

And the deal with Rachel Elizabeth Dare was simply bizarre.

On the whole these really are minor complaints. I think The Last Olympian just didn't quite live up to the expectations I had built up in my mind. The story wraps up nicely and it is a continually thrilling ride. I loved the tidbits that we learned about Luke and Nico (though it felt very Harry Potter 6-ish - it's strange to me how often I thought of Harry Potter while reading this one. I don't remember thinking about that series at all while reading the first 4 Percy books).

Have you read Percy? What were some of your thoughts on the conclusion?

Monday, May 25, 2009


by Laurie Halse Anderson

I've been sitting on this review for a few weeks now, trying to put into words what I think about this book. It appealed to me in a very real way - I think because it is kind of the story of every teen. Trying to discover who you are with all the conflicting people around you telling you who you should be. To me, it wasn't a story about a girl with anorexia (though that is a major part of the story), Wintergirls is a story of someone trying to find herself.

I found Lia likeable, and while the sub-plot of Cassie's ghost was a bit strange, I felt like it worked for the story.

I also liked how Anderson used text size, etc to convey emotion. I've read a couple of reviews that felt this was gimmacky and it is, but I felt like it worked.

In some ways (mostly the heavy topics) this is not an easy read, but I found myself flying through it. Highly recommended.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


by Wendelin Van Draanen

Told in alternating view points, Flipped is the story of Bryce and Juli. Bryce is just a normal boy who wants his crazy across-the-street neighbor, Juli, to leave him alone. Juli has known since day one that Bryce would be her first kiss and has sought diligently for it ever since. Not that Juli doesn't have other interests as well - trees, chickens, family. Bryce just kind of takes the cake.

I thought this book was very sweet. I wasn't sure how I would like the same story told twice (from two different perspectives), but it worked well. Bryce and Juli's voices were very distinct and it didn't really feel like the same story.

I picked Flipped up because of a glowing review (but I can't remember by who!). Otherwise, I never would have picked it up. The cover just did nothing for me. It's a bit ironic because one of the overriding themes of the story seemed to be not judging based on the outside appearance.

I loved Juli to death, and while Bryce didn't do much for me in the beginning, he grew on me.

I read most of flipped sitting at the beach, and it made a perfect beach read: light and fluffy, though it certainly had enough oomph to keep me turning the pages.

Definitely recommended for those looking for a not quite conventional YA romance.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy

by David Somar and Jackie Davis

It's not often that I review picture books because I don't really know how to review them. But, I won a copy of Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, so I felt like I should try to write something up.

Ladybug Girl (also known as Lulu) is excited to finally go to her favorite playground. When she arrives, she sees her friend Sam and asks him to play. Unfortunately, Lulu and Sam can't seem to find anything they want to play together. Eventually Lulu invites Sam to play
Ladybug Girl with her. Because Sam is wearing a yellow and black striped shirt, they decide Sam can be Bumblebee Boy. Together Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy fight a scary monster, a mean robot, and a giant snake in an effort to rid the playground of bad guys.

I thought the story itself was fun. Simple, but believable enough. Who doesn't want to be a superhero? I didn't love the illustrations, but I suspect most people will like them more than me. I tend to prefer bright bold illustrations, and while Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy are bright and bold the backgrounds are not.

4 out of 5 stars

This book is the companion to Ladybug Girl that came out a few years ago. While I didn't like that one quite as much, if you have a little girl it would probably be worth checking out too.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Language of Bees

by Laurie R. King

This is the ninth book in King's Mary Russell series.

Outside of the Russell series, I have only read one of King's books and I didn't like it nearly as well. There was lots of swearing and sex, and the story didn't do a lot for me. So, I was a bit afraid going in that King's style had changed so much in the past three years that I wouldn't like this newest Russell. It only took a couple of chapters to realize this was the same Russell I had love. In fact, at some point in the story Russell comments to Holmes that she is a 24 year old prude. Quite frankly, I thought this book was fabulous.

The initial mystery of "where is Yolanda Adler?" is solved rather quickly, but Russell and Holmes are quickly drawn in to a deeper mystery including dealing with a mad religious man and trying to find a young child.

There are many things to love about Russell and her world: King's writing, the detail, but my favorite is simply the characters. Russell's whit and her interactions with brilliant men (Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes) are so enjoyable that I wish we could be friends.

I highly recommend this series (you definitely need to start at the beginning with The Beekeepers Apprentice and work your way through) to mystery lovers. Though, I think it would make a great read for most people.

Oh, and one more thing that may or may not be taken as a SPOILER. This book doesn't really end. There is enough of a conclusion that I can't call it a cliffhanger, but there is still plenty of action ahead. Fortunately, the next book is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2010, so at least we shouldn't have to wait another 3 years for the conclusion.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ethan Frome

by Edith Wharton

I've been trying to read/review a classic a month since the start of the year. I've had some success with my choices and one total failure (Wuthering Heights anyone?). Ethan Frome falls somewhere in the middle. I don't really feel anything towards it.

I spent most of the book feeling sorry for Ethan. Marrying young and (at least it sounded like) impulsively then almost instantly regretting it. But, the more I've thought about it, the more I felt sorry for Zeena too. We never hear her side of the story - just Ethan's she holds me back and is so awful side of the story. I think the fact that Zeena stuck around after the accident suggests that maybe she wasn't quite as evil as we are lead to believe.

On the whole, I thought this was ok, though I am pretty sure I'm missing whatever makes this book a classic.

PS Circumstances have changed, so I don't have nearly unlimited computer time like I used too. I'll try to keep up with posting, but it may slow down for a while too. Please be patient.

Friday, May 1, 2009

April Books

Picture Books
I'd Really like to Eat a Child, by
Sylviane Donnio and Dorothee De Monfreid
Dinosaur v. Bedtime, by Bob Shea
Mister Seahorse, by Eric Carle
Leonardo the Terrible Monster, by Mo Willems *
Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type, by
Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
Edwina the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She was Extinct, by Mo Willems
Free Fall, by
David Wiesner
Curios George, by H.A. Rey
Punk Farm, by
Jarrett J. Krosoczka *
The Book that Jack Wrote, by
by Jon Scieszka
Baloney (Henry P.), by by Jon Scieszka
Max for President, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Punk Farm on Tour, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Juvenile Books

Moxy Maxwell does not Love Writing Thank You Notes, by Peggy Gifford
not nearly as cute as the first

My One Hundred Adventures, by Polly Horvath

Miracles at Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorensen (audio book)
nice enough story, but Marley was a bit much for me

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things, by Lenore Look

Sammy Keyes and the Sisters of Mercy, by Wendelin Van Draanen * (audio book)
I love Sammy!

Young Adult Books
Long May She Reign, by Ellen Emerson White

The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot

The Gypsy Crown
, by Kate Forsyth
felt a bit long, but enjoyable

A Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly *

The Adoration of Jenna Fox, by Mary E. Pearson * (re-read)
was pleasantly surprised by how readable it was the second time

Princess of the Midnight Ball, by Jessica Day George *

Adult Books
Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn
didn't like

Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton
I'm not really sure what to think with this one

Graphic Novels
Rapunzel's Revenge, by Shannon and Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale
cute, but I'm not sure I'm meant to read graphic novels

* = a favorite
I tried something new this month. Since I don't review every book I read, I thought I would copy Janssen over at Every Day Reading and write a brief summary of my feelings towards books I didn't review (this doesn't include picture books).