Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Weekend Before Finals Week

Hey guys! So this weekend is the weekend before finals for me. For this post, I thought I'd suggest five books (one for each day of the school week) that are great reads to help you destress. Yes, you probably can't read all of these in the week, but you could probably get through one or two. They're just fun books for when you need a study break and to get away from the work for a little while!

ONCE UPON A MARIGOLD by Jean Farris. Yes, this is a juvenile fiction book. But what better way to get your mind off your schoolwork than a fun little story about true love that has princesses and trolls and castles and all that good stuff? I read this book when I was fairly young, and, since then, I've reread it as a teenager and an adult, and it just doesn't get old or lose its charm.

THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer E. Smith. This book just makes me smile. I read it last summer, and I absolutely fell in love with it. The characters are ok individually, but they are amazing together! Plus, it takes place in London. What better way to escape your schoolwork for a little while than traveling to London?!

I'D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter. Ok, so this one isn't as lighthearted as the others, but I've read this book at least three times. It's such a fun book about a school for girl spies. There's action and romance and awesome characters. Oh, and it totally makes you want to finish the series (which I highly recommend).

CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare. Yep, no better way to get far away from your schoolwork than taking a stroll into Shadowhunter territory. This is one of my favorite worlds, and I definitely have used it to get away from the real world for a while. I've reread this book a few times, and it never gets old. And the rest of the series gets better and better!

THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS by Ann Brashares. What better way to prepare for summer break than following four "sisters" on their summer break adventures? This is another book I've read more than once, and it's just a good story about friendship. It has romance and great characters and feel-good vibes. There is some heartbreak in there too, so watch out! But, overall, you get that happy summery feeling that's just what you need during finals!

Ok, so there you have it! Five of my suggestions to help you destress during finals week! Good luck to all of you taking finals this week! Summer is just around the corner!

Have you read any of these? What are some of your suggestions for books to help you destress during finals week? What book(s) do you read to escape for a while?

XOXO,

Janine :)


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Recommendations 1

Hi guys! Today, I am going to be giving you 5 book recommendations! These are books that I have read either recently or that have been on my mind to reread lately. I tried to provide a variety of genres, so I hope you enjoy!

HORNS by Joe Hill.

Joe Hill is seriously one of my favorite authors. He is a master storyteller, with the ability to weave intricate stories together flawlessly. This was the first book I read by him, and it seriously made me fall in love with his writing. It follows the story of Ig, who's girlfriend recently died, after he wakes up one morning with horns. These horns give him the power to make people feel compelled to talk to him. With this, he sets out to find out the truth about his girlfriend's death. I can't get over how good this book was. The characters were so well-developed. The plot was interesting, and I was on the edge of my seat through the whole book. I just wanted to keep reading and find out the truth. And the ending was just weird enough to work perfectly. Rating: 5/5

THE LUNAR CHRONICLES by Marissa Meyer.

I know I've suggested this series before, but, to me, it is seriously that good. I loved how each story played into the last one and grew into this amazing series! In my opinion, each book got better than the previous. In case you don't know, this is a sci-fi fairytale retelling series. Cinder is Cinderella, but she's a cyborg. Scarlet is Little Red Riding Hood, but she's French and oh so sassy. Cress is Rapunzel, a hacker who is trapped in a satellite orbiting Earth. And Winter is Snow White, a Lunar who is losing her mind. All of the characters are so great, and their hunky love interests are super swoon-worthy! Rating: 4.5/5 (including Fairest and Stars Above)

A SEPARATE PEACE by John Knowles.

This was a required reading for me in high school, and it is literally my favorite required read of all time! It is set at a boys' boarding school in the Northeast during World War II, and it follows the story of Gene and his friend Phineas who are total opposites. One night, something happens to Phineas that will forever change all of the boys involved, especially Gene. It follows this night and the consequences it leads to. It's such a harrowing story that will not leave you. I find myself thinking about this book a lot, and I really need to give it a reread. Rating: 5/5

FAR FAR AWAY by Tom McNeal.

Honestly, I picked this book up just because it was in the bargain bins and it kind of sounded interesting. I really didn't have any expectations. I had never heard of it before, and...yeah. I didn't know what to think. But I was in for a treat! This book follows the story of Jeremy, who has a friend that's a ghost. And not just any ghost. He's Jacob Grimm, one of the Grimm brothers. This is like a modern-day fairytale. It's really fun and scary (but not too scary), and the characters are great. I really loved the plot and the ending. Everything about this book was really awesome! I can't believe it doesn't get more attention. Like I said, I'd never heard of it before, but I definitely think it's a great read, and I highly recommend it! Rating: 4.5/5

CIRQUE DU FREAK SERIES by Darren Shan.

Ok, I read this series quite a long time ago, but it still holds such a special place in my heart (which is maybe kind of weird considering this is a sort of creepy series). I read it while I was in the period of really getting back to reading, and it is still one of my favorite series of all time! It follows the story of Darren as he becomes a vampire to save his best friend's life. He has to go through so many trials, and it leads up to the prophecy...Uhhh! It's so hard to summarize this series because I feel like I'd give too much away. NO SPOILERS!!! Ok, so anyway, if you like vampires and freak shows and creepy things, this series is definitely for you! And, if you've seen the movie, don't let that change your mind. The movie was terrible, but the books are fantastic! They're really short and you won't want to put them down. Rating: 5/5

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan Part 5

Tonight is the last night of these individual reviews. :( I know. But I have read three other books since finishing the Percy Jackson series, so I will be working on those reviews and hopefully have them up soon. Sorry I did not post yesterday, as I said I would. I had a presentation today at a symposium to present my research, so I had to spend yesterday practicing. It was a good experience, but I'm glad it's over.

Ok, so without further ado, my review of the last installment of the Percy Jackson series...

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The Last Olympian: 5/5

Summary: Half-bloods have been preparing all year for this final battle against the Titans. Kronos's army is strong, and he has not only monsters on his side but other demigods as well. Kronos starts his march on New York City as the gods fight Typhon. In order to save Olympus, Percy Jackson and company must fight him. The prophecy finally unfolds, and Percy begins to wonder if he's fighting against his own fate.

As I've mentioned before, this is tied with "The Titan's Curse" as my favorite. To start, this book had so much action and was so fast-paced. I flew through it and found it so hard to put down. I kept saying, "Just one more chapter" for like every chapter. It got a little ridiculous. But it was seriously that good.

There was so much going on but not in a confusing way. The story building is absolutely fantastic. There are some side stories going on, such as Nico and Percy's plan that they don't tell anyone and, less detailed, the gods fighting Typhon.

And it brings back all the characters you've grown to know and love. Thalia, Rachel Elizabeth Dare, Tyson, Grover. They're all here and fighting for Western civilization. And, of course, Percy and Annabeth (Percabeth...uhhhhh <3). This book seriously gave me all the feels. I can't get over how wonderful it truly is.

All the buildup to this story was not wasted. I feel like sometimes a series has all this buildup to the last book, and when the conflict finally resolves it seems like kind of a letdown. But this series did not disappoint. There was buildup and it worked out perfectly.

I found myself smiling at the end. I was just so happy with how everything played out. Outstanding ending to an outstanding series. Percy Jackson forever!!!

Ok, so that wraps up my review of Percy Jackson. If I did not reiterate enough, I have so much love for this series. The characters are so lovable and fun, the plot lines are fast-paced and action-filled, the stories are interesting, and the books are so hard to put down. They're quick reads that are just so much fun!

Have you read The Last Olympian? What did you think? What was your favorite part? Did you like how the series wrapped up? How do you feel about Percabeth? Do you wish it would've ended differently?

XOXO,

Janine :)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan Part 4

Hello, everyone! Happy Thursday! Yesterday I gave my thoughts on "The Titan's Curse," which I mentioned was tied for my favorite. Today I will give my review for "The Battle of the Labyrinth," which is tied with "The Lightning Thief" as my second favorite. So, here were go!

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The Battle of the Labyrinth: 5/5

Summary: Percy Jackson doesn't think his freshman year is going to go all that well. After all, he's gotten kicked out of every school he's attended so far. To make matters worse, demon cheerleaders show up and attack the school during orientation. That leads Percy back to Camp Half-Blood, where he and his friends must defeat the Labyrinth to save the camp from being invaded by Kronos and his army.

I want to start off by saying I love the concept of this book. The labyrinth is so complex, and the building of it is just fantastic! I love that it basically is underground and takes up the space of the entire continental United States. I just love the intricacy of this novel. And Riordan weaves it perfectly throughout. Plus, sometimes authors tend to make it too complicated, where it can be hard to follow at times. I wasn't confused at any point. And it made me want to be walking around in the maze with Percy and company. (well, kind of...like, as long as Rachel Elizabeth Dare is there to lead so we don't get lost of course!)

Ok, so that brings us to the characters. Let me start off with a new character: Rachel Elizabeth Dare. Yes, you need to say her whole name! It's just necessary. She is so cool! She's a mortal who can see through the Mist. She is just kick butt, and I absolutely loved getting to know her character. She was brought in briefly in "The Titan's Curse," where she saved Percy's life. You could tell she was going to be important later, and she definitely was! Yeah, I love her! Of course, the rest of the awesome crew is back. I could go on and on about Percy and Annabeth, but I'll refrain, since I've said already how much I absolutely adore them both as individuals and as a couple...Yeah. They're amazing!

Like all of the books in this series, the book was well-paced. Actually, this one was more fast-paced than the first two. It was more like the third one in the series. I couldn't put it down. I was so intrigued with the labyrinth and the plot. I found myself in class just wanting to pick it up because I had to know what was going to happen next.

All in all, I loved this book! It was so fun and exciting. I love the characters and the world and the labyrinth and all its complexities. This penultimate installment made me hungry to delve into the last book, which is tied with "The Titan's Curse" as my favorite in the series. Can't wait to tell y'all about "The Last Olympian" tomorrow.

Have you read "The Battle of the Labyrinth?" What are your thoughts? What was/were your favorite part(s)? What part(s) of the maze was/were your favorite(s)?

XOXO,

Janine :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan Part 3

Yesterday, I gave my thoughts on "The Sea of Monsters," which leads to today's post on "The Titan's Curse!" I'm just going to say this right now! This one is tied as my favorite of the series with "The Last Olympian." (I really liked how this series ended).

So, without further ado...

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The Titan's Curse: 5/5

Summary: Percy, Annabeth, and Thalia receive a call from Grover to help him get two new demigods to Camp Half-Blood. They are attacked. Artemis and her Hunters show up, but Annabeth is captured. Afterwards, Percy Jackson and four other heroes must team up to defeat the rising Titans. This leads them across the country to California, where they find out Annabeth has been tricked into freeing Atlas and is now holding the weight of the world on her shoulders. Oh, and the Oracle has proclaimed that not all of the heroes will survive the quest.

All right, so first off I'm going to talk about the characters. A couple of new characters were introduced, whom I really liked. I really enjoyed the di Angelo siblings. I thought they were intriguing characters, and their story was really interesting. I liked getting to know Thalia better. She is such a strong but sometimes reckless character. But she has a lot of heart, and she's a really good hero. I also enjoyed that Artemis and her Hunters were brought in. That added an interesting side story that I found very intriguing. (I wanted to know more...I kind of wish there was a side mini-series where we learned more about their tales). Oh, and Zoe...Yeah, I really liked her character, and her story is amazing!

The book was fast-paced. I didn't want to put it down. I stayed up later than I intended a couple of nights (and really felt it the next morning) to finish a chapter...and then another two or three. Honestly, if you don't have much else to do, you could probably finish this book in a day. I just had schoolwork also, so it took me a little longer.

But, yeah, I can't get over how much I loved this book. And Percabeth makes its first real appearance, though it's pretty subtle. I just love them so much, and they're just adorable. I ship them like FedEx...first class priority shipping!

Ok, so that's about it. I don't want to say too much and ruin it. There's more I could say, but I think you should read it for yourself. Yeah, I'm just going to reiterate that this book is one of the best in the series by far! There's so much action, it's fast-paced, the characters are awesome, and Percabeth! Need I say more?

Tomorrow I will post my thoughts on "The Battle of the Labyrinth," which is tied for second favorite with "The Lightning Thief." I can't decide which I like better.

Have you read "The Titan's Curse?" What did you think? Who was/were your favorite new character(s)? Do you ship Percabeth? 

XOXO,

Janine :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan Part 2

Ok, so yesterday, I gave my thoughts on "The Lightning Thief." I adored it, and it made me want to continue reading this wonderful series. That brings us to...


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The Sea of Monsters: 4.5/5

Summary: Percy Jackson and his friends must set out to find the Golden Fleece after Camp Half-Blood's magical border starts to fail. This leads them to the Sea of Monsters - which is the known as the Bermuda Triangle in the mortal world - where they have to battle well-known monsters. This story is a modern-day retelling of "The Odyssey," with some twists.

Ok, so I'm going to start off by saying that the half star off on my rating had nothing to do with the characters, the plot, or the pacing. In fact, it technically had nothing to do with the writing style. It was actually a technical problem I had with the book. Hear me out. I found numerous grammatical errors and typos in the copy I read. Don't get me wrong. Usually, I don't take away stars for this. I know a lot of books probably have errors and typos (some I may not even catch), but this seemed excessive to me. Maybe in newer editions this has been corrected, but I couldn't overlook it in my copy. So, really that's not a knock against Rick Riordan. It's a knock against the editor. Sorry.

Now, for the really good parts of the book. I LOVED the characters! Yes, many of the characters are the same, but there was the introduction of Tyson, and I absolutely adore his character. I'm not going to spoil anything, but I am going to say he's the most lovable cyclops ever, and I wish I could meet him and give him a hug. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover are as awesome as ever! I really want to just go to Camp Half-Blood and hang out with them, sipping ambrosia and climbing the lava rock wall during the day and singing campfire songs at night. That would be the life.

The pacing was good. Since I'd read "The Odyssey," I pretty much already knew about the monsters they faced, but I liked the retelling of it. I especially liked Circe's Island! I wasn't bored at any point during this book, and it was a really quick read.

The plot was good (how could it not be, as a retelling of "The Odyssey?"). Yes, because it's a retelling, it's not overly new, but it was still enjoyable. That brings me to the part about the writing and Percy's voice. I LOVE Percy's voice. He is funny and I love his thoughts. Again, the writing is easy to understand and very enjoyable.

Ok, that about wraps it up for Part 2. Tomorrow I will discuss my thoughts on "The Titan's Curse," which is tied for my favorite!

Have you read "The Sea of Monsters?" What were your thoughts? Who was your favorite monster they fought? Who is/are your favorite character(s)?

XOXO,

Janine :)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan Part 1

This will be a review of the entire "Percy Jackson & the Olympians" series by Rick Riordan. However, I feel like it's going to be really long, so I'm going to publish one review per day. Let me start by saying I absolutely adored this series. And, yes, for some it may seem like a children's book. But, coming from a 20+ year old, I would disagree. Yes, the writing is a little below my standard level, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable. To me, it was so much more than just another kid's book. It was full of lovable characters, a great storyline, a tiny bit of romance (Percabeth forever!), and subtle lessons about bravery, friendship, and believing in yourself. Oh, and it revolves around Greek mythology and demigods, set in the modern day world, so that's pretty awesome by itself.

Overall, I gave this series 4.9/5 stars (I know...weird number, but for averaging purposes, that's how it turned out). The only reason it's not a full 5/5 was that I found a lot of typos in my copy of "The Sea of Monsters." The other books may have had some minor typos, but this one stood out as the worst. I loved the story (which I'll get to), but there were just too many typos. I understand a couple here and there, but this seemed a bit excessive to me. I didn't notice it as badly in the other books, so I went ahead and gave them 5/5, but only 4.5/5 to "The Sea of Monsters."

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)
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The Lightning Thief: 5/5

Summary: Percy Jackson is a kid that has focusing issues and keeps getting kicked out of all of his schools. When he gets attacked by monsters, his mom sends him to Camp Half-Blood, where he discovers he is a demigod. He learns that his father is Poseidon. After receiving a prophecy from the oracle, he, Annabeth, and his protector Grover (a satyr) set out to reach the Underworld and prevent a war between the gods.

Ok, first off, Percy Jackson is definitely one of my favorite protagonists of all time. He's up there with Harry Potter for sure. He is just a really great guy that I felt like I would love hanging out at Camp Half-Blood with and fighting monsters next to (because I'm a demigod too, of course!) Anyway, I loved his voice in this book (as well as the entire series). He's funny and honest, and he's just a great hero! Also, he's the son of Poseidon, so that gets him bonus points.

I was also impressed with a couple of the other characters. Grover was adorable and so likable. And, then there's Annabeth. I absolutely love her! Yes, she can be demanding and pushy, but she's a good person who wants the best for everyone. She smart and sassy, and I just loved her so much. Oh, and daughter of Athena, so super cool!

The story was well-paced, and I never found myself bored. I loved the different places their quest took them, including St. Louis, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and New York City. Camp Half-Blood also seems like such an awesome place to be. Like, I want to pack my bags and call it home. (Can I, please?)

Like I mentioned before, the writing was perhaps below my level, but I didn't find it really took away from the story. It was actually a breath of fresh air, in a way, because it was a fast, simple, and fun read. I've had a lot of schoolwork, and it was nice to sit down and enjoy a fun book that was easy to understand. Don't get me wrong, I like books that are challenging. But, with school and all, it was nice to have something easy to read that made me smile.

Oh, and let's talk about that ending! Yes! I won't spoil anything for those who haven't read it yet. But...oh. my. gods! Yeah.

Ok, that's the end of this review Part 1. I will be back tomorrow with my review for "The Sea of Monsters."

Have you read "The Lightning Thief?" What did you think? Who is/are your favorite character(s)? Who is/are your favorite god(s) and/or goddess(es)? 

XOXO,

Janine :)