Thursday, September 29, 2011

Last Minute/Impromptu Readathon

I do love a Readathon. 

Not so much for all the challenges & all that time-consuming stuff... 
but because I usually have a million things I need to read 
 and I lack the time and/or the motivation to get it all done

Friends, there is not much in this world better than
reading and knowing that your pals are reading right along with you
at the same time. 

When I saw that April @ Good Books and Good Wine 
decided to pull together a little Impromptu Readathon
I almost did a little dancey-dance. 
Because I have so many great things I want to read 
and barely enough time to read them all. 

BUT...knowing that some of my blogger pals are 
reading along with me is the best motivation out there
So, I'm totally playing along. 

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Here's the deal: 

The Readathon is running from 9/28 until 10/3. 
No contests, challenges, or any of that stuff. 
Just reading. Read hard. Read a lot.
Twitter hashtag (I think): #LMReadathon

I don't do well with lists. 
So it wouldn't do me well to list out what I plan to read. 
However, I'd like to get through these ARC's and books... 
and about 100 of the galleys and books on my Kindle. 

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
(lots more on my Kindle, not pictured)
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Why don't we just do it like this: 

I'll let y'all know later which ones I actually make it through. 
I do know it'll be a combination of some pictured here and 
some that aren't pictured here. 


HAPPY READING, Y'ALL!!! 

Thanks April!! 
I'm so excited you decided to throw this together 
at the LAST MINUTE!!! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Thoughts On: The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
Published by HarperCollins
Publish Date:  August 23, 2011

406 Pages
My Source:  Borrowed from
Ashley @ Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing
The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he's a mystery. But to me . . . he's one of us. 
Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us—if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we'll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I've been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together? 
They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio—and failed. 
I am Number Seven. One of six still alive. 
And I'm ready to fight.  -(summary from Goodreads.com)
My Thoughts:  I absolutely loved I Am Number Four, so I was thrilled to pieces when Ashley graciously let me borrow this book. The anticipation I had for this book was ridiculous, and friends, it did not disappoint.

Here are some things I loved about the book:


  1. John, Six, & Sam. The old cast is back, and they're better than they were before. They work well together. There are a few awkward scenes this time because of a love triangle that pops up between these three, but the triangle is well-handled and I did not find it particularly annoying. I specifically want to mention that I love the way John and Six teach Sam to fight like they fight and defend himself against the Mogadorians, as this comes in handy in a few places in the book. I love this trio and think they make great leading characters. 
  2. Marina. Number Seven. Marina lives in hiding in Spain with her cepan and is pretty much clueless about her heritage and how she is supposed to go about living on Earth. This is completely the fault of her cepan, as she spent more time trying to blend in than trying to teach Marina the ways of the Garde. This causes trouble when they are found by the Mogadorians. 
  3. Bernie Kosar. Come on...we all know the shape-shifting dog is awesome. 
  4. Action scenes. There are plenty of fight scenes and action scenes. I love them all. In particular, Six has awesome legacies and abilities, and her strength is so much fun. She is such a butt-kicking female character, and she gives girls a good name. 
  5. Surprises. There were plenty of plot twists in this story. Every time my heart rate would come back down from a huge action scene, there would be a huge plot twist that would send it right back up, and then the story would go straight into another thrilling action scene...and this was the way of the entire book. There was never a dull moment. 
  6. New characters. There are some new characters that are introduced in this book that will be carried over into the next book of this series. I'm not going to say anything about them or I will surely give something away, so I must keep everything a secret! But I will say that I am super excited to see where the author takes the story where these characters are concerned. I love their addition to the story. Love it!
There were a couple of things in the story that made me roll my eyes and grimace a little bit. For example, in the beginning Marina was unsure of herself and soft-spoken. The further I read, though, I chalked this up to her being stuck over in Spain in an orphanage with a cepan that was pretty much unwilling to help her like she was supposed to. Marina knew she was different and that she didn't belong there, but she couldn't do anything about it without revealing who she was, and this caused a lack of confidence. As the book progressed and as her legacies developed, Marina became more sure of herself and more confident and I began to like her more and more. In addition, I chuckled out loud in a couple of instances where it seemed like John made some mistakes. Once again, though, as I read I realized that John was just a goofy teenage boy--another teenager without the guidance of a cepan--and I chalked this up to another case of inexperience, just as with Marina. These cases were not negatives against the book at all, just things I observed. I suppose they were little flaws in the characters that made them feel more human to me even though they weren't human at all. If anything, they certainly made them more likable to me. 

I understand that aliens and sci-fi books aren't everyone's favorite genre. But I gotta tell you all--I am over the moon about this series. I really liked the first book and I really loved this most recent book, The Power of Six. It had excellent pacing and a thrilling plot. I found myself turning pages quickly, just having a royal fit to find out what was about to happen to these characters that I was so attached to. I love the new characters and I love the way that the story was not too cheesy (which can easily happen in this genre). 

I recommend this book to anyone who has read I Am Number Four. It is much more exciting than the first book in the series. It will be a very long wait, for me, until the next one comes out. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Four Books I'm Reading Right Now...Yep, Four.

I'm a poly-reader. I read more than one book at a time. I know all the arguments for and against; I know some people do it and some do not. But my life is better when it is lived in the pages of more than one book at one time. 

Yesterday I realized that I'm reading some really great stuff and today I realized (in the spirit of Sheila at Book Journey's It's Monday, What are you Reading?) that I want to share it all with you. 

Eve by Anna Carey
Published by HarperTeen
Publish Date:  October 4, 2011

Eve is YA dystopian novel that is great so far. This time the world has fallen victim to a big, bad virus. Eve has grown up in a boarding school and has just found out that the world outside the school isn't what she has always been taught--it's horrifying and her fate is one that she cannot even imagine for herself. Now she is on a journey to find a somewhere safe. (And there's a boy.)


The Goodreads summary promises "forbidden love and extraordinary adventure." And Lisa the Nerd encouraged me kindly to move this book up on my TBR pile. At about one-quarter of the way in, I'm LOVING it. This is my kind of book. Lisa has never steered me wrong with a recommendation, so I think I'll end up raving about this one in another day or two. 
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The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen
Published by Mulholland Books
Publish Date:  September 28, 2011
Wow, this book is really interesting. In the future, the world is finally at peace. There's no hunger, no war, no problems. A group of Protectors travel back in time to make sure history doesn't change. In order to keep the peace, all of the chaos and disaster and war from the past must happen. The problem is that people from the future have figured out how to travel back in time to prevent catastrophic events like the Holocaust and 9/11--and they're working against the Protectors. If these cataclysms do not occur, perfect peace may never be achieved. It's all just a job for the Protectors, until they get a little too connected and start feeling things about all the people that die as a result of what they do. 

Very, very interesting book with incredible characters. I'm not very far into it but I LOVE it so far and I can see myself reading more of Thomas Mullen because of it. (I realize this may sound jumbled and confused, but just trust me--this book is very, very good so far.)

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Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
Published by Avon
Publish Date:  November 1, 2007
This is the first book in Frost's Night Huntress series and was recommended to me by a real-life friend. I picked it up from the library after seeing her be all squealy-happy on Facebook after the new book came out a few weeks ago. It's been on the shelf until last night when I grabbed it, planning to read a chapter or two. An hour later, I was SUCKED into it and am now a fan. Why have I not heard of these books until a few weeks ago when I had to see it on Facebook?? (Facebook isn't that great, you guys!! But it's the reason I found this series, and that makes me feel a little odd. I'm supposed to find all of my wonderful bookish recommendations on blogs, twitter, and Goodreads!)

Anyway, I digress. I like a little easy reading every now and then. Something fun and light. And fun. And light. This is it. 


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Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Illustrated by Garth Williams
Published by HarperTrophy
Publish Date:  January 1, 1953
I'm reading this book out loud to my children in the mornings before school. I can't say enough great things about it, so I won't even try. I'm sure most of us have read it, but if you haven't...even as an adult, please do. And if you have kids:  either read it to them, read it with them, or encourage them to read this series. The illustrations are wonderful and the story is tops. But seeing as I am the reader, this counts as one that I am currently reading. 

I will add this:  My children have a really tough time identifying with all of what they call the "hard things" about being Mary and Laura. For example, this morning we read about Laura's corncob doll, Susan. My Layla was horrified that Laura played with a corncob wrapped in a handkerchief and called it a doll. She couldn't believe Laura didn't have a "real toy" of her own. This is different for my children. They understand that there are people living now that do not have the same things we have, and that we are very lucky and blessed. But they, I guess, didn't realize the differences of the frontier days vs. today (no electricity, no grocery store, etc). We stop every couple of paragraphs and have to talk about what Laura Ingalls Wilder is describing. And it is quite hilarious. I love it. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Reading Out Loud {2}




At our house, I read out loud to my children before I take them to school in the morning. In my opinion, sitting together for a few minutes before rushing off to start the day gives them a chance to chill out after the hustle and bustle of getting up, getting dressed, and having breakfast. I realize that this does not work for everyone, but at our house...it just does. It is my favorite part of the day and I think my kiddos like it too. My children love talking about the books we read together, and so began our little collaborative effort:  Reading Out Loud. 

The second book of our Reading Out Loud series is The Twits by the amazing Roald Dahl. This seemed like the perfect choice for early morning reading together because it is hilarious and I figured it would start out our days on a positive, happy note. Another reason I chose this book is because we would be starting it at around the time of Roald Dahl's birthday and I wanted to make sure we celebrated it in some small way (since we are a house full of such big, big fans).


The Twits
by Roald Dahl
Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Started September 16, 2011
Finished September 22, 2011

I recently finished reading The Twits out loud to the family (including Mike the Hubby). Here's the interview, exactly: 


What are some of your favorite Roald Dahl books? 

  • Layla:  Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Twits 
  • Greta:  The BFG, The Twits, and Fantastic Mr. Fox  
  • Jack:  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and James and the Giant Peach (Jack is giving me his favorite Dahl movie adaptations, but I give him much credit for knowing which movies are from Dahl books at the age of five.) 

In a couple of sentences, give me a summary of The Twits.

  • Layla:  Mr. & Mrs. Twit get tricked by their pets and a great big Roly-Poly Bird. They're very mean and I hope they learned their lesson! 
  • Greta:  The Twits are two ugly, mean people who get tricked by the Muggle-Wumps because they have to stand on their heads all day.  
  • Jack:  Mr. & Mrs. Twit are mean. They don't like to have windows. They like to play jokes on each other. In the end, their monkeys play jokes on them cause they get the shrinks. 


The Twits are tricksters. Which of their tricks did you think was the funniest? 

  • Layla:  I liked it when Mrs. Twit put her glass eye in Mr. Twit's beer! 
  • Greta:  The spaghetti worms. (Layla) You just like it because it has to do with spaghetti! 
    Squiggly Spaghetti
    illustration by Quentin Blake
  • Jack:  All of them. (me) You don't have a favorite? (Jack) No, not really.  



The Twits used to work in the circus as monkey trainers. 
Which animal would you train if you were an animal trainer?  


  • Layla:  I'd train dogs to play 80's songs on the piano. 
  • Greta:  I'd train a fennec fox to walk on a trapeze. 
  • Jack:   I gotta go with bunnies. They'll eat anything!!! 


Jack, tell me about the Muggle-Wumps. 

  • Jack:  They are monkeys. Mr. & Mrs. Twit made them stand on their heads. Those mean, mean people! They lived in a cage outside the house. They made the Twits get the shrinks because they were treating them and the birds so poorly! They probably didn't have a food bowl in the cage. Rude, rude people! 

Layla, tell me about Bird Pie.

  • Layla:  It's cruel and horrible. It's inhumane! But it fits in with the book. Bird Pie is birds baked in a pie. (me) Do you want to tell anything else about it? (Layla) No, they can read the story themselves. 
Greta, tell me about the Roly-Poly Bird.

  • Greta:  The Roly-Poly Bird is a giant colorful bird that travels all over the world. He says "holidays" when he means vacations. He helps the Muggle-Wumps by warning the other birds not to land in the tree that was covered with sticky glue so they won't be baked in Bird Pie. 
[Roly+Poly+Bird+line+drawing+by+Quentin+Blake.jpg]
Roly-Poly Bird
illustration by Quentin Blake
Jack, you thought The Twits was going to be a scary book when we 
started reading it. Are you still scared of it? 


  • Jack:  Nope! Because the Twits aren't real. That was silly!

What would you tell other parents to convince them 
to read The Twits to their kids?  


  • Layla:   It's a good book and it's funny. Great illustrations, by the way. (me) You love illustrations, don't you? (Layla) Mmm-hmm!  
  • Greta:  It is a book and it is relaxing and it'll relax the kids if you read it to them. 
  • Jack:   I'd tell kids don't be scared of this story. It's only a book. It's not real...unless it's a non-fiction book. And it's funny! The pictures are funny too.

Do you have any other comments about The Twits

  • Layla:  The Roly-Poly Bird is my favorite character. He is so colorful. He might be a peacock...well, maybe. 
  • Greta:  Roald Dahl is my favorite author and he should be yours too. I hope you read this book. It is really good.  
  • Jack:  No, thank you. 

Layla & Greta, age 8
Jack, age 5
Excellent, guys! Thank you for another great interview! 

This book was so much fun to read to everyone, you all. First of all, my husband joined the kids and I in the mornings for this--which was a real treat, as he is usually in a hurry to get to work. Second of all, the illustrations in this book are laugh-out-loud hilarious. My children laughed so hard sometimes I'd have to give them a few minutes to compose themselves before I'd start back reading. THAT was one of the best parts of this book. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

TGIF {10}

   





Ginger at GReads! created this fun weekly event called TGIF at GReads! to re-cap the week and ask us fun questions. This week she asked us this:

 Reading Challenges: Did you sign up for any this year? 
How has your progression been? 

Yes I did, Ginger! I actually signed up for two challenges:  the Award Winning Reads Challenge and the Dystopia Challenge. 


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  Award Winning Reads Challenge, 2011
The Award Winning Reads Challenge was hosted by Jacinda from The Reading Wives of Indiana and Ashley from Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing. It was a challenge to read Newbery Award Winners/Newbery Honors books and Printz Award Winners/Printz Honors books. This challenge ran from May 30th until September 5th, 2011. 

I *adored* this challenge so, so, so much! I read Newbery, Printz, and Alex Award winners and honors books anyway, so this was just plain fun for me. I was all geared up to finish as I planned when Hurricane Irene came through. I had two Newbery Winners set aside to read, along with my booklight, because I anticipated that I would lose power...what I didn't anticipate was that the storm would be so intense and we'd have damage that would keep us active throughout the length of the storm and for the next three or four days, nonstop. So while I had time to finish before the storm, the resulting damage from the storm sort of trumped the challenge in terms of priorities (which BUMMED me out) and I missed my goal and the cut-off by ONE BOOK.   

I'm not a person who signs up for things and doesn't complete them, so this, to me, is like an itch that I can't scratch. If--and hopefully when--there is another challenge like this next year, I'm coming back with a blessed vengeance. I've said it before and I'll say it again:  this is one of my favorite bookish things ever. The award winning books are award winners for a reason, and even the older ones still need to be read!!

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Dystopia Challenge
Dystopia Challenge, 2011
The Dystopia Challenge is hosted by Bonnie from Bookish Ardour and runs from the beginning until the end of 2011. Because I started on May 18th, I aimed low and entered the challenge at the lowest level. I guess I underestimated my love for the genre, because I'm beyond my goal already and still have lots of time left in this year. In fact, I'm reading a dystopian book right now. Booya. 

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In the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to read 50 books through Goodreads. I blew through that challenge rather quickly and upped it to 100. I have currently read 85 books, although the doggone Goodreads widget on my blog holds fast at 1 book below my total, 84. (It doesn't count If I Stay by Gayle Forman, which I totally read and loved. Why? I don't know. Because it is in my Read folder. Anybody have any ideas?) I'm chugging through and plan to finish and probably go a little bit over. 


I LOVE a challenge and really wish I was doing more of them. But truthfully, I moved my blog to Blogger in April of this year and lots of good ones were already started. I have my eyes on some for 2012 and I know of some possibly in the works for 2012 that make me giddy with excitement

I can't wait to look around TGIF and see
what challenges everyone else is doing
that I may not have heard of before.
I'm gonna be peepin' today, for sure. 

Thanks, Ginger! Excellent question, as always. 
                                                                   

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Thoughts On: I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson

I Don't Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother
I Don't Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother
by Allison Pearson
Published by Random House
Publish Date:  August 26, 2003

My Source:  Library
                               
I Don't Know How She Does It 
by Allison Pearson 

Delightfully smart and heartbreakingly poignant, Allison Pearson’s smash debut novel has exploded onto bestseller lists as “The national anthem for working mothers.” Hedge-fund manager, wife, and mother of two, Kate Reddy manages to juggle nine currencies in five time zones and keep in step with the Teletubbies. But when she finds herself awake at 1:37 a.m. in a panic over the need to produce a homemade pie for her daughter’s school, she has to admit her life has become unrecognizable. With panache, wisdom, and uproarious wit, I Don’t Know How She Does It brilliantly dramatizes the dilemma of every working mom.  -(summary from RandomHouse.com)
My Thoughts:  I started reading this book before I know anything about a movie. I only saw the teaser for the movie a couple of days ago and I have not seen the trailer. I am not, at this point, terribly interested in the movie. So this review is completely about the book. It's purely coincidental that I finished the book at the same time the movie is released...(Always read the book first when you can!)

This book caught my eye because of the title. "I don't know how she does it!" is a line I hear often in relation to women/gals/moms/career women juggling all of the jobs/tasks/hobbies/demands of day-to-day life. I was a bit intrigued, as this is something on my mind daily. Admittedly, I struggle with this like no one else.  I am a reader and I enjoy a good book, so I thought I'd see what Allison Pearson had to say about the topic of juggling a career with being a mother.

Kate Reddy. Bless her heart. She is wildly successful in ways that I could only dream about...in terms of her career. She is a hedge fund manager in a large corporation that employs mostly men. Kate also is married with two young children. She has a nanny to take care of them while she works very long hours and travels the world (almost constantly) and she feels absolutely miserable--it seems--almost all of the time.

Kate is miserable when she is at work because she feels guilt over not being at home with her children. She tries to compensate where school parties and programs are concerned, but she always ends up falling short. She is jealous of the time Paula (her nanny) spends with her children and the obvious affection they feel towards her. Kate has allowed her relationship with her husband to take a back burner to her career and motherhood, and she feels so far from Rich that she does not even know where to start to work on their relationship. So she doesn't.

Kate is also miserable when she is home because she feels guilt over not working harder and longer hours. She wants to prove that women are just as good as men in the corporate world, even though women are never recognized as such. She wants to rise all the way to the top. She wants to be the best. She knows that the time that she has to take away from her work to spend with her family sets her behind the other men and childless women at her office, and she can barely stand this.

I found myself almost hating Kate in the first half of the book. There have not been many times in literature when I have found myself reading about characters as miserable as Kate Reddy. The more she tries to overcome her misery, the more miserable it makes her. I literally had to stop this book for a long time while I thought long and hard about Kate. I didn't want to give up on her all together because I truly did not feel like I had given her a fair shot. I promised myself that I would push through, but I would take my time. I honestly wanted to give Kate the benefit of the doubt.

You guys, as I read I watched Kate make some really dumb decisions that blew up in her face. I would shake my head and say "No, no, no Kate..." to myself and silently hope that she would change her mind before I would get to the next page. Kate frustrated me quite a bit, but I began to realize that this was really important to set up the second half of the book. I needed to understand exactly how Kate got herself and her life in the mess it was in. Once I realized how she allowed herself to fall so far, watching Kate redeem herself was absolutely glorious. It really was. As cheesy as it sounds, I was her biggest cheerleader.

I'm so glad that I stuck with Kate because she showed so much character development over the length of this book. Over the course of the second half, I grew to hate her less and less, and by the end of the book--Kate was a completely different person. Ultimately, several big things happened in Kate's life--to people that were important to her--that got her attention, that made her wake up and stop being so miserable all the time. Kate needed to make some decisions:  does she want to be a career woman or does she want to be a family woman?

Not only that, but Kate's family suffered so much because of her over the course of the book. She spent the latter part of the book resolving several huge issues that BURNED me for a long time.

My final thoughts are this:  this book was so wonderful. I will read it again, and very soon. I will buy my own copy first, though. There are SO MANY quotes in there that I started writing down that I became overwhelmed and realized I was practically copying down the entire book. I admit that I didn't give Kate Reddy a fair chance in the beginning. She made me mad, and it clouded everything she did for the first half of the book. So I will rectify this and read about her again. In the end, though, she has totally made my week.

I think this is an enjoyable book on so many different levels, depending on where you are in your life. I you love adult fiction, give it a chance. If you are a young adult fiction fan that loves witty humor, you might enjoy this as well. If you are a mother, you'll almost certainly like it. Please, please, please READ IT FIRST.

I took the pledge to read this book first and I did!
You can too.
Also, DFTBA. ~Asheley

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Thoughts On: The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen

The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen
Published by EgmontUSA
Publish Date:  September 27, 2011

439 Pages
My Source:  Borrowed/NetGalley
The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen
Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—Sasha is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat. 
A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha. 
With the threat of Eryx looming, Jax has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?  -(summary from Goodreads.com)
My Thoughts:  I started reading this book cautiously, unsure what to expect. All I really knew is that it had a beautiful cover and I had read a little buzz here and there about a mythological undertone to the story, so I hoped for the best. I guess you could say I was pleasantly surprised because I practically ate this book! 


In a nutshell, Jax and his brothers are the sons of Mephistopheles. They are on a mission to stop their brother Eryx from taking over Hell. Jax and his brothers are dangerously beautiful, lethal, and dark. Because of their association, they are without hope of Heaven and God does not hear nor help them. Their only hope for redemption is through an Anabo.

Sasha is Anabo--one of the descendants of Eve. Sasha's spirit is all light, without darkness. She is never tempted, does not hate, and never feels rage or jealousy. She is basically the opposite of Jax. Jax and Sasha cross paths, they fall in love, and the resulting story is wonderful.


The Mephisto Covenant is basically the story of Sasha coming to terms with her existence as an Anabo, Jax's existence as Mephisto, and deciding if she can live with that in order to be with him forever. There are also some action scenes with the bad guys and some big-time family issues. All of the plot lines are wound together well and there is great resolution in the end, but while everything was unfolding I was turning the pages faster and faster to see what would happen next.

Here are some of my thoughts about this book (which I loved!):


  1. Good vs. Evil. Anytime you have agents of God and agents of the Devil, there will be battles of good vs. evil. This book was full of it, and I love that. But to take it a step further, there was a big bunch of talk about free will, which is something I really, really love. Free will pretty much means that everyone chooses for themselves--basically we get to choose whether we are good or whether we are bad, for example. Jax and his brothers were trying to protect this concept. If Eryx took over Hell, he planned to do away with free will. To me, it made for a very interesting plot line of the story, but this is because I find the concept of free will so awesome to begin with. 
  2. Good Guys/Bad Guys. I love the good guys winning, especially when the good guys are technically bad boys. (I'm looking at you, Jax.) I mean, they work for Mephistopheles, who has ties to the Devil. So technically they should be on the bad guy team, right?  But when I read this book, I got very emotionally attached to the brothers. They were supposed to be bad guys, but they were GOOD. They desperately wanted to be redeemed in God's eyes so they would be real good guys. Sasha struggled with this, too. She desperately loved Jax, but she didn't want to be tied down to a life with a guy that had no chance of Heaven. The way the author blended the Mephisto/Anabo as they fell in love and their relationship changed was really cool and made for really great reading
  3. Bible stuff. The author took Eve (from the Book of Genesis) named one of her daughters, and made the descendants of these women Anabo. The concept of the Anabo is a pretty huge thing in this book, but the religion/Heaven/Hell-thing is not pushed on anyone and it is not a religious book. I never felt like this was a story that was trying to rewrite the Bible or trying to prove a big religious point. To me it is just story in which some Biblical themes were used as part of the plot. (Similar to the way it is done in the His Dark Materials books, although I am not comparing this book to those.) 
  4. Romance. Okay, you know what? The romance between Jax and Sasha is a little bit cliche and a little bit predictable at certain parts of the book. But I DON'T CARE. It worked for this book and it worked for me. It was written well, you guys. I am certainly a fan of Jax and his brothers. And that's about all I have to say about that.  


This book was a bit unexpected for me. I mean, I was expecting to like it, for sure, but I did not expect to devour it and be SO SAD that it will take so long for the next book to come out. I have read some mixed reviews out there, and honestly I just don't understand it. To each his own. I am definitely a fan of this author and this series, and I will wait with anticipation until the next book comes out...

I recommend The Mephisto Covenant for everyone. I would say that this book is intended for the older YA and adult YA-loving audiences, however. There are a few scenes that I would consider a little too graphic for the younger YA readers. The pacing is fantastic, the story is engaging, and the mythology is fascinating. It is just an all-around great book.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review. Thank you Egmont! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Thoughts On: Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett

Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett
Published by Harcourt Children's Books
Publish Date:  September 19, 2011

320 Pages
My Source:  Borrowed
Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett

Ariadne is destined to become a goddess of the moon. She leads a lonely life, filled with hours of rigorous training by stern priestesses. Her former friends no longer dare to look at her, much less speak to her. All that she has left are her mother and her beloved, misshapen brother Asterion, who must be held captive below the palace for his own safety.
So when a ship arrives one spring day, bearing a tribute of slaves from Athens, Ariadne sneaks out to meet it. These newcomers don’t know the ways of Krete; perhaps they won’t be afraid of a girl who will someday be a powerful goddess. And indeed she meets Theseus, the son of the king of Athens. Ariadne finds herself drawn to the newcomer, and soon they form a friendship—one that could perhaps become something more.
Yet Theseus is doomed to die as an offering to the Minotaur, that monster beneath the palace—unless he can kill the beast first. And that "monster" is Ariadne’s brother . . .  -(summary from Goodreads.com)
My Thoughts:  One of the trends in YA literature that I really have begun to warm up to is the trend of fairy-tale or classic story retellings in which an older, more mature story becomes young and fresh again. I find that this always makes for great discussion among friends and readers. When I happened upon this Greek myth retelling, I jumped on it right away because I am a huge fan of mythology in pretty much any form. And I'm a sucker for a pretty cover (and I'm loving the cover of this book!).

Classic mythology taught us that the minotaur was to be feared. He was a half-man/half-bull who lived in the labyrinth and ate Athenian children/tributes that were unlucky enough to be gifted from the King of Athens to the King of Krete...until Theseus the Athenian came to town. Theseus was supposed to be sacrified to the minotaur but instead he teamed up with the beautiful Ariadne and used a string (aka Ariadne's thread) to mark his path through the labyrinth, kill the beast, and find his way back out. (This is an EXTREMELY abbreviated version of the myth. If I tried to tell you the actual myth, the path of this blogpost would go off in the wrong direction, as I am a huge mythology NUT. So let's just leave it at this, shall we?)

I love what the author has done in her retelling. The minotaur is Asterion, Ariadne's brother, who is feared and lives in a basement labyrinth underneath the palace. Although he has the mind of a child, he is still feared by the citizens of Krete because he tends to become (violently) heavy-handed when playing with other children. As a result of the fear, no one wants their children to play with him and he is lonely and isolated.

Ariadne is a priestess, in training to become the future leader of the island. She lives in the palace, sheltered and lonely. She has her mother and brother--and she loves them--but she really longs for a different life. When Theseus comes to the island along with the other Athenian tributes (to be offered as sacrificial playmates to Asterion), she is intrigued by him and spends time getting to know him. Thesus, on the other hand, comes to the island with one goal--to kill Asterion. The more he learns about Asterion, however--and the more he gets to know him--he realizes that Asterion is not a vicious monster and does not deserve to die.

There are further differences in the classic myth and this new one:  the gods/goddesses of Athens and Krete are much different, so when Theseus comes to Krete, he is completely thrown off by their customs and traditions. I enjoyed the author elaborating on these differences. In addition, Ms. Barrett spends much of the story on Ariadne's priestess-hood and impending ascension into future goddess-hood as well as the preparation necessary for these roles. This does not exist in the classic myth and while this could potentially be very boring, it is important to the story to set up exactly how disenchanted Ariadne is with her current life on Krete and exactly how much she is longing for something different--and eventually how far she is willing to go to change the predestined course for her life.

The thing I love most about this retelling is that the author chose to make Asterion, Ariadne, and Theseus young. In the classic myth, they were adults (or at least that is how I remember them). Actually, I think it almost makes the story of the minotaur seem a little more 'realistic.' She also chose to make the relationship between Ariadne and Theseus not as much a romantic relationship (as in the classic myth) as a friendly one, and the ending of the story is a little different than the classic myth. (Not sad!)

The author takes great liberties with this well-known story, and I think it is really awesome. The pacing is great and the story is interesting. It is told in alternating points-of-view, which I personally enjoy because I love to see two different characters' vantage points of the same events. (I am aware that not everyone enjoys this structuring, which is why I am mentioning it here.) 

If you are a fan of Greek mythology, or of mythology in general, I think you should give this retelling a try and see if you like it. If you are a fan of fairy-tale retellings, give this a try and see how you feel about myth retellings. I think this is something fresh and new (at least to me) and I know that I will seek out more books like this starting...now. 

*I borrowed this book as part of Around The World Book Tours in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. I received no compensation for my review. 
 
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