I’m Disappointed…That it Took Me So Long to Read This Book! | The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

There were two reasons why I didn’t read Percy Jackson the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan when it was released:

  1. In January 2005, I was a junior in high school, and I considered myself too old for middle grade novels.
  2. Yet, I wasn’t too old for Harry Potter, which is the other reason I didn’t read this book. Someone said it was “perfect for fans of Harry Potter“, which is an instant turn-off. Nothing can compare to Harry Potter!

So, I’m not sure why, at the age of 27, I felt compelled to buy this middle grade novel (other than, it was on sale, and I’m notoriously impulsive when it comes to buying and borrowing books). Once I brought the book home with me, it spent a few months sitting on the floor beside my bed before I even considered actually reading it. It was because of mentions on two blogs, Reviews and Cake and J.Bookish, that I took as a sign and decided to finally give the book a read. Right from chapter one, I was totally engrossed in The Lightning Thief. Normally I can’t read in bed because I get drowsy really quickly, but this book had me thinking just one more chapter before lights out, and before I knew it, the clock read midnight. I even read this book with the teevee on, and I wasn’t distracted at all.

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Keeper of the lost cities

Admitting Defeat with Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger (Keeper of the Lost Cities #1)

Released: October 2012
Publisher: Aladdin
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Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has a secret. She’s a Telepath—someone who hears the thoughts of everyone around her. It’s a talent she’s never known how to explain.Everything changes the day she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who appears out of nowhere and also reads minds. She discovers there’s a place she does belong, and that staying with her family will place her in grave danger. In the blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to leave behind everything and start a new life in a place that is vastly different from anything she has ever known.Sophie has new rules to learn and new skills to master, and not everyone is thrilled that she has come “home.”
There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory—secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans—that other people desperately want. Would even kill for.


My Thoughts

Ever since I gave up on Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, I’ve become more open to the idea of not finishing books I’m just not that in to. Last week, I read three pages of Rain, Reign by Ann M. Martin before calling it quits (the style of narration was really overwhelming to me), and today, after reading about a third of the book and the final chapter, I gave up on Keeper of the Lost Cities. I’m kind of devastated too, because I really, really wanted to love this book.

I felt disconnected from the characters, which is automatically a bad start, because if I don’t care about the characters, how can I care about their plight? Too many were introduced in this first novel, so it was hard to keep everyone straight, and I felt like the characters lacked development; even the main character seemed a little bland. Perhaps most disappointing of all though, this story lacked true friendships. This is a middle grade, fantasy novel, so I went in to it expecting Sophie to discover her BFF4Es (her Ron and Hermione) but all Sophie seemed to gain was allies, not true friends.

I felt similarly about the world building. Everything in the fantasy world has the potential to be new and exciting for the reader, but there were too many ideas and products and foods and activities that were introduced. Their existence often seemed arbitrary, and there seemed to be a lot of “hand waving” just to keep the story moving. That was so un-fulfilling because there were so many fun ideas, like strawberry-flavored air, which I think is some kind of snack, or the fact that wooly mammoths still exist in the lost cities, or catching rides on light beams, but they just became lost in the background.

And…is it just me, or does this book seem oddly similar to Harry Potter? Both characters spend childhood feeling out-of-place in the mundane world only to find out as pre-teens that they have magical abilities and really belong at a school that teaches them how to control their abilities. Sophie doesn’t end up at a boarding school like Harry does, but the reader does get to accompany her during all of her exciting magical classes like Multispecies Studes (ie. Muggle Studies), Metaphysics, the Universe, Elementalism, and Alchemy (ie. potions complete with an instructor that is extra harsh on her).  I actually think this has to potential to be exciting for some young readers, but…you have to understand, Harry Potter is “my jam” so I’m unfortunately extra critical when I notice such similarities. Harry Potter trumps all.

There is no star rating for Keeper of the Lost Cities (not to be confused with a zero-star rating). I didn’t finish it, so I don’t think I can rate it fairly.

Book Report: Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes by P.H.C. Marchesi

Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes

Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes
March 2011
Publisher: Createspace
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Shelby Kitt never gets lost. Shauna, his sister, never gets sick. As far as most people are concerned, the inseparable Kitt twins are odd 13-year-olds. No one, however – not even Shelby and Shauna – can guess how extraordinary they are until the Vice Consul of Miriax, a planet from another dimension, asks them to take part in a dangerous mission. From that moment on, Shelby and Shauna Kitt discover that the universe is full of Klodians, cities in jungles, giant bats, and tea with mushrooms. Most of all, they discover that it will take more than special powers for them to face – and survive – the evil that threatens the galaxy.

My Thoughts

P.H.C. Marchesi’s Shelby and Shauna Kitt and the Dimensional Holes took me on an adventure I did not expect. Shelby and Shauna are hand-picked by the Vice Consul of Miriax, named Lendox, to help save Earth and Miriax from total destruction at the hands of  the Klodians. Along the way, the twins receive training in a military fort, learn they have “super powers”, and explore the world of Miriax.

The greatest aspect of this book is P.H.C. Marchesi’s excellent world building, and Miriax really can only be described as epic! It’s a planet where stick bug creatures patrol the jungles and bat-like creatures are able to communicate telepathically. The walls can grow to increase the holding capacity of buildings, and the walls have a tendency to eat left over food. Instead of choosing books to read, the books choose the reader. But, I’ll stop there because learning about the alien world is half the fun of the book!

The book was also filled with an array of interesting characters. The young heroes all have unique gifts and “super powers”, but they also have weaknesses, which young readers can relate to. For example, Shelby has to learn how to control his quick temper, and Shauna has to learn how to overcome her shyness. Adults, who seem to be largely absent in most books meant for the younger generation, actually play an integral role in the story too. Vice Consul, Lendox, and tech-savvy Earthling, Marina, offer guidance and support for Shelby and Shauna as they tackle the Klodians and their own insecurities. The most intriguing character though, is the ever mysterious Dale. He was the most complex character in the book, and he kept me guessing all the way through. Good? Bad? Sociopath?

I thought the only weakness of Shelby and Shauna Kitt was the pacing. It takes about half of the book for the children to make it to Miriax. And, the battle against the Klodians, which the twins spent half the book learning about and training for, occurs in only one chapter. It left me thinking That was it?

Overall, I did enjoy this book. Despite the awkward pacing, the world building, the characters, and the twist at the end make this book a worthwhile read.Read if you’re looking for a good sci-fi read without all the overwhelming jargon or if you’re looking for adventure and epic world building!

Won from LibraryThing’s First Reads
The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley

Book Report: The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley

The Fairytale Detectives by Michael Buckley (Sisters Grimm #1)

Released: August 2007
Publisher: Amulet Books
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Synopsis: For Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, life has not been a fairy tale. After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, the sisters are sent to live with their grandmother–a woman they believed was dead! Granny Relda reveals that the girls have two famous ancestors, the Brothers Grimm, whose classic book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files of magical mischief. Now the girls must take on the family responsibility of being fairy tale detectives.

My Thoughts

I almost missed work because of this book.

I started reading The Fairy-Tale Detectives on a particularly rainy day while sipping on a hot mug of Earl Grey tea.  By the first few pages and the first crack of thunder from outside, I was sucked into the book.  I only wish I could mean that literally.

Ferryport Landing may seem like just a quaint New York town to the unobserving eye, but really it is home to the Everafters (fairytale characters).  Michael Buckley recreated a big cast of memorable fairytale characters; each one had their own unique quirks and personality.   Sabrina and her younger sister, Daphne, learn their Granny Relda and her faithful companion, Mr. Canis, are responsible for keeping magical shenanigans from getting too far out of hand.  And, since the young girls have been reunited with family, that responsibility is now theirs too.

The youngest of the girls, Daphne, is downright adorable.  She has such a bright and positive outlook on life despite all the negative experiences she’s had.  I wish I could say the same for Sabrina who seems a little too cynical for such a young girl.  At times, her cynicism tried my patience.  But, as the story progressed, she slowly came to terms with her new life.  I actually look forward to reading about Sabrina in the rest of the series because I don’t think she’ll be as negative.  She did a lot of growing in book one.

Aside from being filled to the brim with magical characters, The Fairy-Tale Detectives is also action-packed!  As soon as Granny Relda and company discover evidence of a dangerous giant poking around in town, the book does not slow down.  There are wild police chases, jail breaks, mortal peril, and covert operations (just to name a few)!

My only concern with The Sisters Grimm series is the idea of a Grimm Fairytale is rather broad.  Based on the title, readers will expect nothing but characters collected by the Grimm brothers to be in the book, but that is not the case.  Buckley also includes magical characters from Rudyard Kipling, William Shakespeare, Lewis Carrol, and Hans Christian Anderson.  Initially, this did bother me because Puck and Alice are not from Grimm fairy tales.  It’s misleading!  And, I wondered how many youngsters were going to be familiar with Puck from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I did find, by the end of the book I didn’t really mind.  Grimm fairy tales or not, they were integrated well into the story, and many of them were likeable.

Overall, I adored this book!  Setting the book down with only 80 pages to go just so I wasn’t late for work was difficult to do.  I cannot wait to get back to the library to check out the rest from this series.  Especially since The Fairy-Tale Detectives ended on a cliffhanger!  While the girls are busy solving mysteries in Ferrypoint Landing with Granny Relda, their mysterious past is slowly revealed.  Now, I’m dying to know about the significance of the red hand print!

Any Witch Way Header

Book Report: Any Witch Way by Annastaysia Savage

If I cannot live in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world pre- or post- Vol-Vol…he-who-must-not-be-named, can I live in the world Annastaysia Savage created in Any Witch Way?  I thought Annastaysia’s world building was superb.  The story starts out in our reality, but as Sadie learns or her true identity, our reality blends and eventually fades into the realm of the magik and fantasy.  Annastaysia incorporates all of the magical creatures and myths we grew up reading about in fairy tale books from imps and nymphs and centaurs to creatures that may be a little obscure.  She also creates her own vivid and terrifying, evil creatures for Sadie to battle.  She introduces these creatures without bombarding the reader with too much back story.

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So You Want to be a Wizard Header

Book Report: So You Want to be a Wizard

I just finished re-reading the Harry Potter series, and my thirst for fantasy, wizardry, and magic had not been quenched, so I picked up So You Want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane without knowing much about it. I have to admit, I did have trouble getting into the book. I don’t know if the book was just slow to start up or what, but I almost put this book down. Once Fred, the white hole, came into the picture though I became intrigued.

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