Thursday, July 4, 2013

Review: Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis

There are worse things than death, worse people too

The “talk” was bad enough, but how many teens get told that they’re a goddess? When her mom tells her, Persephone is sure her mother has lost her mind. It isn’t until Boreas, the god of winter, tries to abduct her that she realizes her mother was telling the truth. Hades rescues her, and in order to safely bring Persephone to the Underworld he marks her as his bride. But Boreas will stop at nothing to get Persephone. Despite her growing feelings for Hades, Persephone wants to return to the living realm. Persephone must find a way to defeat Boreas and reclaim her life.

Review: Greek mythology has survived despite the years and people are as fascinated by it now as they were then. (Minus the worship part)

One of the stories that intrigues people the most is the one of Hades and Persephone, which Kaitlin Bevis rewrites in her thrilling novel Persephone.

The book starts out strong, with strange happenings around Persephone's everyday life and her conviction that she was going insane. Frost appeared out of nowhere, people acted weirdly around her, and it felt like someone was watching her. I was hooked from then.

One aspect of the novel that I didn't like very much was Persephone herself. She was a little too naive for someone her age, although it makes sense in context. She's very sheltered, as the book demonstrates in the first few pages. Another part of Persephone's personality I didn't like was her shallowness. What I do like about the main character is her stubbornness. She refuses to be cowed by little things like the god of the Underworld, or dead people, or silly little reapers. That kind of tenacity is admirable in a person, fictional or not.

Hades was a difficult character to tackle simply because of all the history that comes with his name. Persephone is a Greek goddess as well, but by making her a reincarnation with no memories, Bevis had to opportunity to create her own character. Hades the god? She had to follow a few rules.

I like and dislike how she didn't portray Hades as the bad guy. He was very kind and considerate of his subjects. Sure he had darker parts of his personality, but overall he was a reasonable guy. And I'm glad he wasn't the "bad boy" Persephone reforms as they fall in love. I like the Hades from this book a lot. But Hades the Greek god was ruthless and had the kindest heart. I was excited to see the contradiction in his character and not finding that prevented me from loving the Hades from this book.

Hades was still amazing, though. Great character.

This tends to happen a lot to me, but I just adored the setting. It would've been so easy for Bevis to create a cliche dark and gloomy underworld but she really rocked her world building. The afterlife was like life, but the jobs people had were about making themselves happy, not rich. Even Persephone opened up a little garden shop because she likes flowers. It's a very thoughtful afterlife, and remains true to mythology with Tartarus, the rivers, and the Elysian Fields. 

The plot seems flimsy in retrospect, but while reading, I couldn't put this book down. There's a sense of suspense on every single page and so many things keep happening that I refused to do anything except read this delightful book. It's a great book for summer vacation and Persephone will keep you hanging until the very last word.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The End of an Era

Hey guys, Google Reader is dead tomorrow so please follow me via Bloglovin'. It's a simple sign up process and you have the option of importing the blogs you follow from Google Reader. Sounds perfect, yes?

Follow me here! I hope to see you there.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Fan Art Friday (1)

I see a lot of fan art on the internet, most commonly on tumblr and deviantart. Frankly, I love them! These artists are brilliant. If you guys would enjoy seeing posts like this, I could start posting a piece of fan art every Friday.

This week's is a digital drawing of Alina and Mal from the Grisha trilogy. I have a copy of Siege and Storm waiting for me at the end if this vacation and I can't wait to read it!

Art by Vindictev

What are your thoughts on fan art? Is this something you'd like to see?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

A weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that showcases future releases we're looking forward to.
The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead
Expected Publication Date: November 19, 2013

The blurb contains minor spoilers for the Bloodlines series so I haven't included it in this post.

What can I say about this book? It's from Adrian's point of view, which is super exciting because he's a character I've adored since the Vampire Academy series. We finally get to see inside his head! Plus, I really want to see how the romance between Sydney and Adrian pans out. It'll also be great to see Jill and Eddie again! I'm pretty much just excited for all of it. ALL OF IT. Gimme gimme.

Monday, June 17, 2013

YA in Europe

So right now, I'm on vacation. Guess what? I'm in Europe! A lot of YA novels have influenced which countries I chose to travel to so here's a list of YA books I've read that occur in Europe or where the characters travel to Europe. Even if you're stuck at home, you can travel in your mind with one of these lovely books.

Anna and the French Kiss 
by Stephanie Perkins
Just One Day
by Gayle Forman
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
by Jennifer E. Smith
The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor
Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys
The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
Valkyrie Rising
by Ingrid Paulson
Vampire Academy
by Richelle Mead
Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein

I know there are more titles that have Europe as a setting, but I can't remember the other ones I've read. I also haven't read all of them, surprise surprise. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity is an extremely raved about book in the publishing world. It's adored for good reason as well. Code Name Verity is amazing. It's a little unconventional, with a strong focus on friendship and a lack of romance, but I loved it. The book is split into two parts. Both are first person narration from the POV's of Julie and Kitty. If you start it and it seems iffy, the book does start off a bit slow. It's worth the read, though.

The story is set in Paris, France, World War II era. I can't say much about Julie because everything about her is laced with spoilers, but I can say that I love her to death. She speaks in a loose, stream of conscious way, which shows us insight on her prison. Honestly, at times she seems completely unhinged, but that only caused me to pity her more because of her circumstances. It's rare that I form such a strong connection with a character because the characters are usually the first I forget when it comes to novels. But here she is! It's been months and I still can't forget this woman.

So, Julie. Love her to death. She's eccentric and it's kind of fascinating and horrifying at the same time to watch imprisonment change her. Yet, at the same time some of her best qualities manage to stick with her through her struggle. Love. Her.

The second half of the book is from Kitty's point of view. She's less crazy and seems more cautious. Her personality differs from Julie's social magnetism, yet her strength in her desires and beliefs are admirable. Through Kitty, we learn more about her past with Julie and how Julie comes off to the rest of the world. It also shows Kitty's tenacity to cope with her worry for Julie and her adjustment to a completely different country. Kitty's such a hardworking character and so sweet at the same time. I liked her, but definitely not as much as Julie.

The second half of the book is shocking. I can't say anymore without spoiling the entire thing, but let's just say we get some new insight on the events told through Julie's point of view.

The side characters are very interesting, but take a back seat to our leading ladies. They serve their purpose in the story, but instead of seeing them as villains or heroes, the author crafts such realism and life into them that they seem like real people with faults.

The ending is tragic. So many tears have been shed over Code Name Verity. If you're looking for a happily ever after story, this isn't it. It's heartbreaking, mentally scarring, but so beautifully crafted.

Code Name Verity is a great book. Great, great, great, GREAT book. Despite the slow start, it's a must read. If you want a book with history, friendship, and slightly different, Code Name Verity is the book for you! 

Rating: 5/5 stars

(I apologize for the formatting errors. I wrote this review from my iPhone on vacation.)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: Unspoken

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

Review: Sarah Rees Brennan is one of the most comedic authors I know. Yet, at the same time she also makes my heart hurt so much I want to rip it out while I read her books. Interesting combination, right?

I had a hard time relating to Kami because I'm neither brave nor funny, but I loved having her as the main character. She's a sassy, short, Asian, journalist who goes on crazy adventures to get the scoop. It's difficult to get bored when you're with her, because she dreams up these plans. Kami is a far cry from perfect and her flaws are a little annoying, but charming and keep her grounded as a real person. When things get difficult, I love how Kami manages to stay positive and continue pursuing the truth. Her thirst for knowledge is a refreshing change from the passive characters in other stories. Did I mention that she's short? A girl after my own heart.

How do I even begin to explain the cast of characters? If there's any complaint about them, it's that they're too charming and too witty. Every character has a funny little quibble to add to the conversation, which may be unrealistic, but has the same kind of feel as the amazing characters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The love interest is more of a friend throughout the entire book, which works, because Jared's the closest friend Kami's ever had. Because, you know, he's in her head. It's also the first book in a trilogy, so there's plenty of time to get into the romance stuff. 

Did I mention how funny everyone is?

Despite how I make Unspoken sound, it's not all wit and giggles. The characters suffer and suffer bad because Sarah Rees Brennan is evil. There's more depth behind this story than word battles, I swear. Sarah Rees Brennan tackles a lot of difficult topics in a natural way that doesn't take away from the plot or become so focused that the book transforms into a life lesson.

Another aspect about the story that stuck with me was the setting. Unspoken is essentially a Gothic novel, so it includes its fair share of shady townies and old architecture. Sorry-in-the-Vale is almost a character itself, with the rich town history and creepy but unclear secrets the town holds. The author does such a great job of creating the town naturally, without spending paragraphs describing the town. She crafts it together so subtly, you don't notice until suddenly you can draw a map of the town at the end of the novel.

There's no lull in the story so make sure to read this when you have a sizable amount of time. You will not want to put this down once you've started. I promise you that you won't be able to put this book down once you've started.

Rating: 5/5 stars