The Boy Who Reads (slowly)

Joy! Still working on ‘Potterwookiee’ he tends to read well in bursts then forget books exist then read for an entire day again.

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A (Brief) Review: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

‘The Mark of Athena’ is the third book in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, and the third book I have read by Mr. Riordan.

I first picked up ‘The Lost Hero’ because I saw ‘The Lightning Thief’ movie with my kids and thought it was kind of interesting to blend the ancient tales of Greek gods with modern day teens. All of my previous knowledge of Greek mythology was from the old monster movies 😀 (I think they did Medusa better.)

I loved that Percy’s dyslexia was useful in certain circumstances but still tripped him up, and that realizing he was a demigod and discovering his abilities did not suddenly fix all his issues – cool beans.

Having watched ‘The Lightning Thief’ already I decided not to read Riordan’s ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ series, I  moved on to the next set ‘The Heroes of Olympus’ and I got to know all the demigods and friends in both ‘The Lost Hero’ (book one) and ‘The Son of Neptune’ (book two) both fun adventures filled with quests and monsters and some very likeable characters. Reading these books reminded me of the adventure books I used to read when I was about 12 or 13,  books about two brothers who got into all sorts of trouble all over the world. Good memories 🙂

But I almost gave up on the HOO series when I encountered what I thought to be a fatal flaw in the story.

**SPOILER**
Throughout one of the HOO books various characters repeat the rule that in order to kill a giant, you need a God to help fight alongside the demigods. Demigods can’t kill giants by themselves. They need a God or Goddess. All through the book, this point is hammered home. And then two demigod kids team up and kill a giant with no God in sight. Uh… wait a minute… *shakes head and throws book at the floor*
This almost sealed the deal for me, not gonna read any more! But I LIKE the kids from Camp Half Blood and Camp Jupiter so eventually I had to go back and lo and behold, this happens.

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Hmmm.
Okay then.
Nicely done Mr. Riordan.
Moving on.

**END OF SPOILERINESS**

‘The Mark of Athena’ is a fun read. The Camp Half Blood and Camp Jupiter kids are up to all their usual tricks, there are quests and monsters, unhelpful gods, prophecies to decipher, choices to make, friends to save, and enemies to outwit.
All good clean fun. With some stabbing and beheading on the side.

A review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

‘Allegiant’ is book three of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and when it first came out in October 2013 faithful readers rushed to grab their copy and devour the juicy conclusion to the saga of Tris and Four.

Then they all jumped online and started tweeting and blogging and complaining.

I stayed away from all the reviews, I managed not to read a single word about The Ending because at that point I hadn’t read the second book and also I don’t like spoilers. I received both books for my birthday and finally had enough spare minutes strung together to read both books this month (thank heaven for school!) Oh happy January!

SPOILERS AHEAD

I don’t usually write any spoilers in my reviews, but in this case I’m not sure I can really say what I think about ‘Allegiant’ without giving some things away, so here goes.

‘Allegiant’ is different from the other two books in the trilogy in that it tells the story from both Tris and Four’s point of view – usually alternating chapters between the two. Getting to look inside Four’s head and get a better understanding of who he is and why he does the things he does, was pretty cool and I think it gives the reader the ability to look back at the whole story with a more insight. Four’s story makes more sense once you’ve been inside his head. BUT, I also found it annoying because every so often it would not register with me at the start of a new chapter WHO was narrating and then a couple of sentences would just make NO SENSE and I’d go back and look under the chapter heading and think ‘Oh, right!’

The way the story ends, being inside Four’s head is a necessity – which actually made me wonder if the ending was not determined until after the first two book were written, forcing this change in style and if the other two books could also have been from both Four and Tris’s points of view.

‘Allegiant’ follows on from ‘Insurgent’ opening with Tris pacing in her cell where she is being held prisoner for her part in the attack on the Erudite headquarters. With the help of Four, Tris achieved her goal of exposing the truth – which turned out to be a video clip revealing that there are people outside the city, past the fences where the factions had previously been prohibited to go. This was the secret the elders of Abnegation died trying to expose. They believed it was time for all of those in the city to be made aware of what lies beyond the fence. The video plays on a giant screen for all to see, and Tris hopes this will be an end to the fighting. The Erudite no longer have this secret to protect, and kill for. But with the fall of one dictator comes the rise of another and although no longer forced into factions, her people still find themselves divided and on the edge of war.

There’s a lot of fighting, a lot of conspiracy stuff, a lot of ‘who’s side are you on?’ and Tris and Four’s relationship takes a lot of damage as they both try to find their own truths and figure out what they should fight for, what they can live with, and what they should live for.

I find it tough to summarize ‘Allegiant’ because a lot of it felt like more-of-the-same which is a shame because overall, I did enjoy this series. I just grew a little weary of the conspiracies and the forming of another alliance to fight our common enemy stuff. I did enjoy the twists if you will, I liked what lay outside the city, I liked the reasoning behind the founding of the faction system, I liked that there were other projects in other places. I liked that the system out in the real world was just as flawed and that Tris had to keep fighting the good fight for justice and truth and life. I didn’t like David, I thought he was creepy!

Now, the ending drew a lot of criticism online – apparently a lot of people did not appreciate how Ms. Roth chose to finish her tale.

I loved it.

SPOILER

Life doesn’t neatly tie up all the loose ends into a sweet little bow. Stuff doesn’t always turn out how you envisioned in your rosy little dreams. ‘Allegaint’ does not finish with Tris and Four getting married and settling down to start a happy, factionless, genetically interesting family.

Tris dies. Four falls apart. Then he starts to put himself back together, and life goes on.

I loved it.

 

 

 

A review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

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I just this minute finished reading ‘Insurgent’ and I was very pleased to have an ending I was not expecting.
‘Insurgent’ begins right where ‘Divergent’ (the first book in the trilogy) left of.
‘Divergent spoilers only ahead*

Tris managed to shut down the simulation – the mind control that turned the Dauntless into an army sent to eradicate Abnegation – but her victory is not sweet. Winning the battle came at a very high price, her parents are dead, her old community torn apart, her new faction damaged and her own self tormented by grief and guilt. Guilt over the choices she had to make.
Driven by an inability to forgive herself, burdened with the consequences of her actions, Tris pushes herself harder than ever before, right to the edge.

‘Insurgent’ is action packed (although a couple times I felt like that was a little repetitive) and Tris is smack in the middle of every fight.

The tension between Tris and Four is etched on every page, as both make decisions that pull them farther apart.

Secrets are revealed, providing more pieces of the puzzle – why did the Erudite attack Abnegation? – but with every part of the answer comes another question, another lie, another level in the conspiracy.

‘Insurgent’ could so easily have been ‘filler’ to pad out the trilogy but there’s so much going on that it holds its own, earning it’s place as a key part of the story.

And the ending, just as the action winds down chaos erupts once more – if you saw that coming you must be Erudite elite.

Finally getting to read my birthday books!

With the kids back in school I now have a little more reading time, so this week I finally got to start reading ‘Insurgent’ by Veronica Roth!

It’s been sitting on the edge of my desk since November, waiting patiently while I was too busy with visiting family members, Formula One racing, road trips to the beach and the mountains, Thanksgiving, volunteering at school parties, everything that comes with Christmas when there are three kids in the house, play-dates, movies, candy comas (me not the children) and sleeping late (oh I love when I get to do that!!!)

And finally, FINALLY – I pick it up and think ‘oh yeah Tris and Four,  Dauntless, the simulation, oh her parents… so what’s going to happen now?’ and I read a couple pages and then I think ‘crap, I don’t remember these other people… who is Susan? who is Peter? what are the other factions called again? where are they going?’ so I had to go grab my copy of ‘Divergent’ and skim through, reacquainting myself with that world.

So now I’m all ‘Peter GRRR! and Marcus GRRR! and oh Will *sad face* and hmmm Amity? water supply? WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NOW????!!!!

I can’t wait for school pick up time because I go ten minutes early and I sit outside and read. *evil grin*

Polar Vortex

Seriously, who makes up the names for these weather phenomena? It’s cold weather, coming down from the north, freezing the butts off Americans in all but one state!

How’s it going over there Hawaii? Yeah, you’re laughing now but just wait ’til… uh… okay you’re Hawaii you’re awesome, never mind.

Today was the kids first day back at school after their winter break and it was also the coldest darn day in Austin since 1970 something. I had to get out of MY bed and crank the heating before the kids would get up, yeah who cranks the heating for me huh?

As punishment for having to be the first one awake and cold, I made the kids listen to me tell them how cold it was when I was a kid. We didn’t have any of that fancy double-glazing – we had one sheet of glass on our windows and in winter the ice on the inside was extra insulation, and we liked it that way! And central heating? We didn’t have that in my house ’til I was six years old! We had to freeze our butts off getting dressed in chilly rooms before huddling around a coal fire!*

You need me to heat the car up before I drive you to school? Back in my day I walked to school, with ice pellets blasting the backs of my bare legs because the school uniform was a knee length skirt and my tights were still wet from the day before!

Seriously though, my Texas born kids are not used to this wintery stuff and I don’t know how the northern states are coping with their crazy low temperatures this week – I hope everyone stays warm as best they can and safe.

 

*Dear Mum, I’m sorry I never appreciated the fact that you had to wake up earlier than us kids in a much colder house to get that coal fire going. Thank you for not letting me freeze.