Archive for March, 2013


Bunnybean’s #CBR5 Review 3: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Unknown-2I just read The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Book One) by Rick Riordan. Its a book about a boy named Percy Jackson, who lives in New York, and one day finds out that he is actually the son of Poseidon, and that the Greek Gods are real. And that Mount Olympus is on the top of the Empire State Building.

Someone has stolen Zeus’s big lightning Bolt, and if he doesn’t get it back, the Gods will go to war. Percy has to go on a quest with his friends to go and return Zeus’s master Bolt. He meets up with lots of monsters, including the minotaur that killed Percy’s mother. At least, that’s what Percy thinks he did. Percy really wants to get his mother back.

The three friends cross the country and make their way to the underworld (in Los Angeles), because they think that Hades has the Bolt, and Percy sees his mother there. Hades’s helm of darkness is stolen (it turns him into a shadow), so the only way to get back his mother is to find Hades’s helm too.

Ares, the God of war, actually stole the helm and tricked Percy by giving him a backpack with the Bolt in it. When Percy sees the Bolt, he runs from the underworld, leaving his mother behind for now.

Percy has a fight with Ares, gets the helm back, and sends it back to Hades, who returns his mother to the living. Then he goes to Mount Olympus and gives Zeus his Bolt.

Percy and his friends go back to their special summer camp for half-bloods and enjoy the rest of the season. Until one of Percy’s friends admits he was the one who stole the Bolt and then tries to kill Percy. The friends all go their separate ways in the fall, but will get back together for the next adventure.

I just studied Greek and Roman history and myths in school, so this was really interesting to me, and a little bit familiar. I knew about Medusa, the minotaur, and the 12 Gods on Olympus. And this week, we saw the movie made out of this book, but it wasn’t very good at all. I’ll definitely keep reading the rest of these books, but no more movies for me.



Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 12: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

UnknownThere are a lot of YA dystopian trilogies out there, and its really hard to know what you’ll end up with when you make the decision to start reading one. I had more faith in the Delirium series than I should have — Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall is one of the lovelier YA books I’ve read over the past few years. Before I Fall was filled with realistic characters and beautiful writing, and I cried at the end.

And maybe that’s why I am way more disappointed in Requiem than I really have any right to be. We all know Oliver can — and has — done better.

For the uninitiated, the Delirium trilogy takes place in a future where love has been classified as a contagious disease and is eradicated at age 18 with a mandatory procedure (I’m thinking its kind of like a partial lobotomy). Each citizen is matched up to marry with someone deemed their equal by the local government. Love — or any other emotion — is simply not a factor.

In book 1, our heroine, Lena, fled from Portland Maine, into “the wilds”, in order to escape the future that had been planned for her. And because this is a YA trilogy, Lena wouldn’t have done it if she hadn’t met super-cute Alex, a boy from the wilds who teaches Lena how life could be outside the city. Lena and Alex’s escape attempt is botched, and she fears he is dead when she crosses over into the woods.

In book 2, Lena makes her way into the wilds, and finds herself a part of a new community. She toughens up and learns how to survive on her own. She also becomes a spy for the resistance against the government, and ends up kidnapped along with the super-cute son of the enemy. She and Julian escape back to the wilds, only to find that Alex is still alive.

Which brings us to book 3.

Told in alternating narratives between Lena and her former best friend from Portland, Hana, we get a glimpse at what is going on both outside and inside Portland.

Lena and her group are constantly on the move, constantly fighting for survival, and always waiting for the day when they can try and bring down the government and live life any way they choose.

Meanwhile, Hana is about to marry Fred, the mayor of Portland, but she isn’t happy or excited about it. She wonders if her delirium “cure” has worked at all, and spends a lot of time regretting decisions she made before Lena and Alex tried to escape. She’s also curious about Fred’s ex-wife, and why she can’t find out any information about their marriage. Its as if she never existed in the first place.

Shockingly, by the end of the story, the two narratives come together. Will Hana help Lena or turn her in to the authorities? Will Lena be able to apologize to her family for leaving so suddenly? And who will Lena choose — ALEX OR JULIAN? ZOMG!

The plot of this one was so slow for the first two-thirds of the book. Walking, hiding, running, thinking about Alex and Julian. The walking went on and on and on. And then, suddenly, things got interesting. Lena and Hana were together, and it seemed like something interesting could potentially happen.

Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last long. Nothing interesting happened.* The end.

I’ll continue to follow Lauren Oliver’s career, because I know she can do better. But I don’t intend to watch the Delirium show on Fox next year, and I think its going to be a while before I pick up another YA trilogy.

*OK, one interesting thing. Hana’s decision regarding Fred at the end was kind of awesome. But that’s one tiny thing in a sea of boring.


Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 9 – 11: Some Utterly Forgettable Quick Reads

Its only March, and already I’m a stack of reviews behind. Some of the books (The Twelve, Wool, Game of Thrones) deserve a well thought-out review, complete with analysis and opinions. But these three? Not so much. A few sentences are really all I can offer.

First off is Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich. Wicked Business is part of the “Diesel” series of books — they once involved bounty hunter extraordinaire Stephanie Plum, but really, Stephanie deserved better. Now the central character is Lizzy, a baker in Salem, MA, who has some sort of supernatural power. She and Diesel team up (along with his horrible monkey from some old Plum novel) to race around New England and prevent something HUGE from happening that could CHANGE THE WORLD. Lizzy and Diesel run around and collect artifacts from historic locations, while trying not to fall into bed with each other.

I’ve admitted again and again that I have a soft spot for Stephanie and her ridiculous adventures in Trenton. But these Diesel books? I have no excuse and I won’t be reading another.

One positive aspect to the book: I read the Kindle version, which included some fun and interesting footnotes of the locations in the book. Evanovich included her personal photos and wrote about why each location was special — both in history and to her personally.

One star.

Next, I read Sweethearts by Sara Zarr. This was a Kindle freebie one day as the deal of the day. Do I need to say anything more?

OK, well. This tells the tale of teenage Jenna, who used to be poor and fat and went by the name of Jennifer. Her only friend in the world was Cameron, but he disappeared (and maybe died?) when she was in elementary school. Jenna shared a traumatic experience with Cameron when they were young, and she never got over his absence. Now she’s in high school, beautiful and popular, with a wealthy step father.

And OF COURSE Cameron comes back out of nowhere to shake things up for Jenna and her new life. Can Jenna and Cameron finally get closure over the bond that they shared for so many absent years?

This wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t anything new and interesting, either. I will give it an extra star for having the “traumatic event” not be of a sexual nature, which I was expecting it to be.

Two stars.

Lastly, we have Gone with A Handsomer Man by Michael Lee West. Another Kindle deal with similar results.

I bought this immediately after reading Sharp Objects, and I needed some fluff to get the dark stuff out of my mind.

Teeny Templeton (who, you guessed it, is really small) loves to cook and bake. She’s from Georgia and loves peaches and all things stereotypically Southern. She lives in Charleston and has just broken up her engagement, when suddenly her fiance turns up dead and she’s the number one suspect. OH, and the best defense lawyer in town just so happens to be the-boy-that-broke-her-heart-and-she-never-got-over-him-from-back-home. And he’s super cute, too.

Of course Teeny didn’t do it, but who did? And who wants her framed for it? And who cares? Not me. What I did enjoy was the detailed description of Charleston, a city I’ve not been lucky enough to visit, but would like to see very much. This book certainly painted a lovely picture of the town.

Maybe Ms. West should write travel books instead of fiction.

Very fluffy nothingness, that apparently was popular enough to spawn a few sequels. Which I will not be reading.

Two stars.


Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 8: Reached by Ally Condie

UnknownA long, long time ago, during CBR3, I read a book called Matched by Ally Condie. I thought it was pretty good for a dystopian YA book. Not as good as Hunger Games or Divergent, or even Delirium, but not bad. Better than many.

And then I read the sequel, Crossed. Not quite so good, in my opinion.

Which brings me to the final book of the series, Reached, which falls somewhere between the two in terms of quality.

In Reached, our three main characters (Cassia, Ky, and Xander) are all working separately for THE RISING. Not too far into the story, a massive plague epidemic breaks out in SOCIETY, and only THE RISING has the cure. Xander is working as a medical officer and secretly knows that the cure is on its way, so he doesn’t worry too much about what he sees around him. UNTIL…the plague mutates and can no longer be cured by the medicine provided by THE RISING. And uh-oh, that really cute girl that Xander’s been hanging out with has the plague, too. But he still loves Cassia, so whatever.

Meanwhile, Ky and Indie are working as pilots, delivering medicine to all of the hard-hit cities of SOCIETY. Indie loves Ky. But Ky still loves Cassia, so this can never be.

Cassia is still sorting and trading and blah blah blah about poetry in the capital city. She creates a makeshift art gallery, for all citizens who want to CREATE something. Bring a poem or story or weird sculpture, sing a song, do a dance, whatever. Everyone is grateful to her for creating such an amazing space.

Begin rant: Really, I can’t with this plot. Something about it really drove me crazy. I think my main issue with it is that Cassia is simply not that likable a character. Everyone is in love with her. Everyone thinks that she holds the key to some solution. And she’s so confident about every little thing. Ugh. End rant.

Anyway, THE PILOT (remember, he/she is the chosen one who will lead THE RISING), singles out these three kids (out of 20 million. please.) to save society from the plague. He brings them to the mountains to work with the best doctor ever in the world to find a cure. Cassia sorts facts about all of the immune citizens into lists to help the scientists make new cures. Xander works hard to create a new cure. And Ky? Ooops, he gets the plague. Will Xander and Cassia figure it out in time? And hey, what about that cute girl that Xander used to work with? Will she be ok, too?

Unless you’ve never read a book before, I’m sure you’ll never, ever guess what happens in the end.

Reached isn’t bad, but it didn’t impress me too much. Xander is really the only character in the book who had any redeeming quality (he really wants to help people), and I’m glad he got over his obsession with Cassia before it broke his heart. After three books, I still know nothing about Ky, other than he was an orphan, and he really, really loves Cassia. And Cassia? She must be awesome to be so adored. I just don’t see it.

Also, it really bugged me every time Xander was described as having golden hair. Because:






Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 7: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

UnknownBy now, everyone has heard about Gillian Flynn and Gone Girl. Most of us have read it, and for the most part, the reviews have been positive. I saw Sharp Objects, one of her earlier books, at the library last week, and picked it up knowing nothing about it — other than it was written by Gillian Flynn.

Sharp Objects is about Camille, a reporter at a third-rate Chicago newspaper. Her boss hears about a series of murders in a tiny Missouri town — the very town where Camille grew up — and sends her home to ask questions, do some research,write, and report back. Why is someone killing little girls? Is it someone from town, or an outsider? Are the police doing all that they can to find the murderer? And could Camille get a Pulitzer out of it?

Camille dreads going home, and its easy to see why. Her mother never loved her (and has told her as much), especially since the death of Camille’s younger sister years ago. Her younger half-sister Amma is out of control — sex, drugs, and drinking, all at 13. Her stepfather is more or less a non-entity in her life. And Camille has no idea who her real father is. Going home forces Camille to deal with a lot of things from her past that she would rather forget, including her teenage promiscuity and her past as a cutter. Camille’s body is covered in scars as proof of her self-medicating cutting. When she felt pain, at least she was feeling something.

I don’t really want to get to much into the story of the murders and the stories of the dead girls, as I fear I can’t get into it too much without giving the ending away. Unlike Gone Girl, I had figured out the ending about half-way through the story (with Gone Girl, no way I could have figured that thing out). But guessing who the murderer was didn’t make the story any less shocking.

Good God. What happened to Gillian Flynn that made her this dark and twisted and creepy? That’s all I could wonder while I read this book last weekend (home, sick in bed…this DID NOT make me feel better). In both Gone Girl and Sharp Objects, we’ve seen some truly horrible people do unspeakable things, all while appearing normal to those around them. While I think Flynn is an extremely talented writer, I’m just not in a rush to read her other novel, Dark Places. There’s only so much I can take.



Bunnybean’s #CBR5 Review 2: The Long Journey by Barbara Corcoran

My mom told me about this book called The Long Journey, and even gave me her copy from when she was a kid. I got pretty into it and picked it for my book for my reading log at school. It was really exciting.

It is about a girl named Laurie who lives in a tiny mining town in Montana with her grandfather (nobody else lives in the town). Her parents died when she was 3, which was 10 years ago. She and her grandfather are all alone in a cabin with no electricity or phone, and her closest relative is her uncle in Butte, which is all the way on the other side of Montana. Her grandfather is going blind, and he sends Laurie to go and ask Uncle Arthur for help.

Laurie has to go on her horse, not even on a bus or anything! Laurie doesn’t really go to school (she takes classes by correspondence), and her grandfather doesn’t want her to be noticed by any authorities.

My favorite part was when Laurie meets a nice lady named Miss Emily. She stays with Miss Emily for a few days when she gets caught in a storm. She has a cute cottage, and even has peacocks!

I also liked the end, because the story is wrapped up nicely. Laurie meets her new aunt, stays at her uncle’s beautiful house, makes sure her grandfather gets the care that he needs to get better, and she gets to take him home again, and still visit in Butte for vacations and holidays.

Laurie was brave and adventurous (she even got shot, and one time she saved a little girl!) and never complained so that she could help out her grandfather who she loved very much. You should read it sometime!


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