Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking 3) by Patrick Ness
Brief Summary: The war is on. Three armies, two species, one couple trying to keep everyone from tearing the new world apart. Todd and Viola are the only ones keeping the humans armies from killing each other, with the treat of the spackle army ready to wipe them all out. But who will keep Todd and Viola from turning on each other?
Spoilers for the Entire Series Under the Cut
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
There is a plot for every book, plus the overarching plot of Kronos trying to rise from the pit of Tartarus and take over the world. Some of the plots were better than others, some better and more interesting than others. But each book tried things together and so that things well into place for the final battle.
World Building/ Setting
I really, really liked how Riordan modernized the Greek gods and their mythologies into the modern world. A lot of the times it was really witty, clever, and interesting. I do wish more gods got screen time, and sometimes it was easier to recognize certain characters than others. But overall, I think Riordan did an awesome job. Especially since he didn’t sensitize them and they’re still their nasty, selfish, conniving selves.
I liked Percy. He’s a down to earth kid who fights for his friends and always sees the best in people. He’s kind and funny and extremely loyal. Most importantly his heart is in the right place. I’m not sure if Grover and Annabel fall into the main character category since sometimes they were there for the entire book, and others they were mostly absent. But either way, they were great friends and companions. I love that Annabel is smart, but her ambitions sometimes hampered her. I love how much Grover’s confidence grows through the series. I think they’re the best friends anyone could ask for.
There were a ton of side characters. Most of them would appear for about one or two books and then largely stay in the background, mentioned once in awhile. I loved of most of the characters, but especially Tyson, Zoe, and Thalia, Luke, and Hermes.
Diversity of Characters
There were a few character of color, but mostly in the minor-side character roles. Also, seeing as how there are monsters and Greek gods and stuff, it wouldn’t have hurt to have more diversity. Though props for including disability in terms of dyslexia, ADHD, and troubled youths. Also awesome feminist boy characters!
Seeing as how the books are aimed at younger teenagers, I think Riordan did a great job of writing simply, but without dumbing it down. There was a certain complexity to the plot and characters that while simplified, didn’t feel like you were being spoonfed. There was a bit too much telling sometimes, but I think Riordan improved with each novel.
This is a great series. It’s not too serious and certainly not literary, but I’d still say that Riordan wrote an enjoyable story to read if you’re looking for something that can be both fun and lighthearted most of the time, but serious and poignant when it needs to be. I would recommend it for a more younger audience, but if you’re an older teen or an adult looking for a light read, this is definitely something to check out.
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians 1)
A great introduction into the world where the ancient Greek gods still exist and so do the other monsters from their mythologies. The writing is hiccupy, but clear and easy to read. The story is engaging, original, action full. The characters are fairly underdeveloped at this point, but they’re all varied, interesting, and adorable. The best thing about this is how Riordan adapts the ancient mythologies into the modern world. It’s often very crafty and witty. The dash of humour and lighthearted tone make it all the better. The only thing I thought were weak was that Percy didn’t seem to miss his mom that much, but that could have been denial. And the fact that Percy takes a lot of the things that come at him very lightly, like “oh, yeah, monsters attacking me, a ten year old boy, what else is new?”
The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians 2)
A great continuation and development of the characters. Certain times things seemed a bit rushed and over simplified. I did like the fact that these Greek gods are just as nasty and twisted as they are in the original tales. That they don’t make life easier or try to interfere, just because these kids are really young and in constant danger.
The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians 3)
Once again, I really enjoy Riordan’s writing style, very tight plotline, everything has it’s place. Great character development. Percy and the others have grown so much. I love the random appearance of different gods. Especially their random “modern” disguises. I wish Annabeth was in more of this, because she’s one of my favorite characters even if she comes off a bit… hardheaded through Percy’s eyes. I’m not sure how I like Bianca and Nico. I didn’t like either of them to be honest. I really liked that in the end Thalia and Zoe were able to see past their differences, and that Zoe could see that not all men are scum. Riordan is really great at developing his characters and gets them to work out their issues on their own.
The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians 4)
Ah, the kids are growing up, puberty hits, and the relationship dramas begin. At least it doesn’t take away from the main plot. It did feel like some things were a bit rushed, but I’m quite enjoyed the characters, the plots, and everything else. One thing that annoyed me was how they don’t always take care not to insult the gods. Like, they of all people, should know better. For goodness sake just answer the Sphinxes questions and move on. And don’t freaken insult Hera when she’s known to be one of the most vengeful goddesses. You idiots. At least the stuff with Nico is straightened out.
The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians 5)
This is a great finish to the series and a nice wrap. The characters have come a long way, they’ve grown up, they’ve forgotten their differences or really they’ve outgrown them. Especially when the fate of the world hangs in the balance and depends on them working together. Here is when friendship matters most; here’s when Percy’s flaw becomes a strength. I really liked that the battle takes up most of the book, so it’s nice and well structured, and isn’t rushed the way these always are. The book ends with a bang and nice wrap, and a nice, smooth step up for the next series.
Overall review for the series to come.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Brief Summary: Two cancer ridden kids fall in love. But you can’t have a happy ever after with just one person, and that’s the fault in their stars.
Possible Spoilers Ahead
It’s very hard to review a book nearly everyone loves and it’s even harder to downgrade a book about sick kids. Yap, I took away one star after re-reading.
My biggest problem with this book is the dialogue. It’s very John Green. I mean, if you watch any of his videos, it’s exactly how he talks. Except this is a bunch of teenagers. And to hear them spew philosophical, existential prose about oblivion and life and death, you just couldn’t help but roll your eyes. I’m not saying that teenagers are incapable of talking that way or there aren’t any teens like it. But I found that it was somewhat… inconsistent. Because Hazel is sometimes downright childish and immature. And Augustus seems like a typical jock boy, except instead of telling fart jokes, he talks about metaphorical resonances of different objects. What the fuck does that even mean?
I also found it strange how fast things moved. I understand it might be cause these kids live in a numbered amount of days. And that it’s the whole infinity in the numbered amount of days kind of thing… but really? they know each other for maybe a couple of weeks before Augusts asks her to go to Amsterdam with him. They spend three days there. And then maybe they have a month during which things are bad. I also think it’s creepy that Hazel looked like his old girlfriend in sickness.
I did enjoy the dark humor in the midst of tragedy. I enjoyed that it was Hazel’s Dad who cries. I liked that Monica broke up with Isaac (yes it was mean, but realistic). I liked that Hazel’s best friend calls her and checks up on her, even though Hazel gave up on that friendship. I like how her Mom is firm with her and won’t let Hazel walk all over her.
Overall, it’s a good read. But it could have been better.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Brief Summary: A Beauty and the Beast retelling with Greek Mythology mixed in to create a new tale. Except beauty isn’t a kind girl and Beast isn’t an ugly monster. Nyx has been trained sense birth to kill Beast, who’s been tormenting her town since before she was born, to avenge her mother’s death, to fix her father’s mistakes, and keep her sister safe.
I didn’t like it. But I didn’t hate it. I just wanted it to be better.
The writing was beautiful and lyrical. Hodge has created a wonderful, scary, magical world. Both of the main characters are unlikable-but-yet-likable characters. Neither of them is good. Nyx reminded me of Scarlett O’Hara, in that she’s kind of bitchy, bitter, and out to get what she wants no matter the cost to others, but she’s an amazing character. In fact I kind of loved how imperfect the main characters were. The fact that both of the main characters were kind of nasty to each other, yet they loved each other. Again reminds me of Scarlett and Rhett. Or maybe they remind me of Koschei and Maria from Deathless, they certainly had the same kind of sexy dynamic. Honestly, I felt like their charged, hostile, and sexy relationship was the only thing I really liked in the book.
I wasn’t too keen on the way the Greek mythology was mixed in with the fairytales. I don’t know, it just… it was really interesting and very original, but it just… it felt weird.
Kind of Mildly Spoilery
I didn’t like the “love triangle”. It took me like two seconds to figure that out. The fact that Nyx was making out/in love with both Shadow and Ignifex, like a day after she gets there was really annoying. Besides the whole premise “she was trained since birth to kill him” is false. First of all it said in the book that the training didn’t happen until she was nine, and two she wasn’t trained to kill him in a physical sense per say but some magical spells that would take too long to explain. Basically she was taught to be complacent enough to go and die. In fact it does take the Beast about two seconds to disarm her and for her to plead for her life.
I hated the melodrama. “I love him. I must kill him. I love you, but I must kill you. Let’s make out for ten minutes. Oh, I hope you don’t mind the knife in your back.”
The end sequences of forgetting and remembering, history changing, blah. blah. I hate when they do this in books, because your brain has to adjust to the change of scene/setting/character, but it’s hard to do right away, so you’re always confused first. I feel like this works only in movies.
I wanted this book to be so much better.
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles 3) by Marissa Meyer
Brief Summary: Cinder and her ragtag crew are the only ones who can save the world and the moon, from crazy Queen Levana. Especially now that Prince Kai is engaged to be married to her. But when they try to save Cress, a Lunar hacker who saved their butts, things go terribly wrong and they get separated. Now not only must they figure out how to stop the wedding and save the world, they must find and save each other, too.
Possible, but minimal, spoilers for all three books.
Another amazing book in a great series. Each book has been getting better and better.
I love the team dynamic. Cinder is an awesome heroine and I love that she’s the one who gets to rescue her Prince, who’s stuck in his palace unable to do anything.
Cress is adorable and innocent and lovely, but I love that she’s a kick-ass hacker/cracker and can pretty much destroy an empire’s security system while looking cute as a button.
I didn’t like the whole hero worship with Thorne though. I know she’s had the crush on him forever and barely sees his flaws, but I think she deserves better. I actually think that maybe Thorne either doesn’t think he’s good enough for her or thinks of her as a little sister or something.
Iko is the cutest and I love her dynamic with Cinder and Thorne.
Poor Wolf and Scarlet. I wish they were more present in the novel. But I guess sacrifices must be made when you have like ten main characters. But they were my favorite :( I hope the next book brings them back.
Can’t wait for the next book.
Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick
Brief Summary: St. Petersburg on the eve of the Russian Revolution. Natalya loves her life in the Russian court, but what’s not to like when you have the love of the future Czar of Russia? Tsarevich Alexei reveals a secret to Natalya about about what’s keeping the Revolution at bay, a Faberge egg filled with power of Rasputin himself. But then the fighting breaks out, the Faberge goes missing, and Natalya is the only person who can get it back, save the royal family, and save Russia. If only the she can get away from the Red revolutionary boy who want the egg for himself and the enemy.
This is an alternate history novel.
Possible Spoilers Ahead
I think, that you don’t have to be Russian to know the tragic story of the Romanovs. And being Russian, I was not only drawn to this story, but also very defensive of the history that Patrick was going to try to put into her own words. Overall, I think the author did a good job of creating an alternate history in which the magic is real and Prince Alexei gets to grow up.
It was very apparent that Patrick did an amazing job researching the Russian history, court life, and the royal family. I was even surprised to discover that even the Faberge egg was based on a real one, though the real one was never finished.
It was hard for me, at first, to sympathize with Natalya who being a noble, was about to feel the anger of the Russian poor. After all, I have more in common with the angry mob knocking on the palace gates. However, it quickly becomes apparent that there is no right or wrong in this story. Everyone loses when it comes to war, and this is a very dark time in the Russian history.
I really liked Natalya, she was very driven, very loyal, very smart. What I really liked, is that Natalya doesn’t go on this journey alone. Often times, the heroine gets paired up with the enemy boy, and they’re all alone. No, Natalya has her friend, and they’re in it together. Leo while an enemy, is not a cruel one. He has his reasons to hate the nobility, but unlike many of his Red comrades, he’s doesn’t want to kill all of them.
I didn’t exactly buy into the romance between them, even though it was very slow to develop and was still very much kindling at the end. But Natalya was so completely in love with Alexei, so loyal to nobility, so ready to be the feature czarina, that I could hardly believe she’d ever feel anything, but maybe understanding towards Leo.
There is the presence of magic in this novel, though somewhat minimal. While I liked the mystics, because they were real and they were around, I think they’re still around. KIND OF SPOILERY I was somewhat offended that the blame for what happens gets of pushed on them. In this story it’s a plot device for the tragedy. But the thing is, it really happened, and there wasn’t a revenge hungry mystic to blame. They were simply a cruel casualty of war.
Either way, I do recommend that you check out this novel:
The Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Gier
When it comes to time-travel books, you must pay attention to the plot line very carefully, otherwise nothing makes sense and everything becomes convoluted. While sometimes hard to follow, I felt that everything was very well connected and interesting. Not to mention everything comes together very neatly in the end. Gwen’s story line and development were also very interesting, not to mention the history. It shows that Gier did her research and planned her novels well.
I wish we got to see a little more history than just a couple of balls, and for the focus to be something other than fashion. We got a lot of interesting history and description of clothes, but I wish we got to explore the past a little more. I understand the Gier had limited time within these books, but come on, time-travel! So much potential!
Gwen is a great main character. She’s spunky, funny, kind, and doesn’t give up even though no one believes in her. She’s also very emotional and not afraid to let her feelings be known. So many times we fault the girl characters for being emotional. Though I do wish she did a little less crying and didn’t fall in in love with the guy in .2 seconds cause he’s hot.
Gidion was a bit of a jerk to be honest. In the first book he didn’t have much trust or faith in Gwen, but whatever, Gwen wasn’t about to let him get her down. He also learns to like her. In the second book, he kind of flips from being nice to total ass constantly. Somehow Gwen manages to do a 180 and fall in love with him. In third, he’s much better, and at least attempts to fix his mistakes. He could have used a lot more development and a bit more screen time, cause he felt like a side-character sometimes.
There were a ton of supporting characters and I loved most of them. A lot of them contributed to the plot line of the book and few sat around doing nothing. Leslie the best friend, who basically solved all the mysteries for Gwen, and Xemerius the comic relief, were my favorites. Gwen’s close family was very supportive as well.
Diversity of Characters
The book is written by a German, but set in London, where I’m told whites are the minority. Granted, Gier didn’t go to far into describing characters ethnicity. I’m fairly certain all the main and supporting characters were white. And one obvious French character had a really thick accent, but at least she had great grammar. The movie did a better job of showing diversity of characters.
I can’t say much about writing since this is a translation from German by Anthea Bell. It could be much better in German. Though I liked the English version and don’t have any complaints. It was easy to read and to follow.
I think that overall, this was a good, entertaining series. Some things could have been improved, but it’s great for what it is. Especially because we don’t get many many translated works here in the U.S. and I’m glad we got this one. I would definitely recommend it to people who like romance, time-travel, and mystery.
Emerald Green (The Ruby Red Trilogy 3) by Kerstin Gier
Brief Summary: Time is running out for Gwen to figure out the mystery and deceit that runs through the secret society that she’s become part of. Even though she is the last of her kind, no one will tell her anything or trust her with any information. And now the only person she trusted, Gidion, has turned on her, too.
The Ruby Red Trilogy was written in German by Kerstin Gier and translated to English by Anthea Bell.
Emerald Green is the last book of The Ruby Red Trilogy and I think it’s a great finish to the series. There was lots of action, lots of mysteries solved, and great growth of character for out heroine. Definitely recommend the series if you like spunky heroines, time travel, and mysteries.
Beware Spoilers for Entire Series beyond this point.
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games 2) by Suzanne Collins
Brief Summary: The Presidents comes to visit Katniss and he’s not happy with her. Her little stunt with the berries may have sparked a rebellion in the districts and if she doesn’t put out the fire she started, he’ll make sure to wipe it out for her—along with her family. But no matter what she does, the fire only grows stronger, and soon Katniss will run out of time to save her own life and everyone she loves.
Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games series.
Read my review the first book, here: x
Spoilers for Book 1 and Spoilers for Book 2