Radiant Darkness

Radiant Darknessby Emily Whitman

“Persephone.  Daughter of Demeter, the harvest goddess.  Kidnapped and forced to –”

Wrong! In every book of myths, the same; in every book, wrong!

Just once I’d like to set the record straight.

Persephone is trapped in paradise, closed off from the world by her overprotective mother Demeter.  When a mysterious, dark, handsome man finds his way into her paradise, Persephone is both scared and intrigued.  The mystery man continues to visit her and Persephone continues to meet him, never telling her mother of his invasion of her glade.  He finally reveals himself; he is Hades and he wants Persephone to come live with him in the underworld.  She agrees, leaving without word to her mother or her friends, with no thought of the consequences of her actions.  Persephone begins to carve out a new and happy life for herself in the Underworld, but on Earth things are not as happy.  Demeter is convinced that Hades stole Persephone against her will and is causing death and destruction on Earth in order to force Zeus to make Hades return Persephone to her.  When Persephone finds out what is happening on Earth, will she finally have the guts to stand up to her mother and do what is right?

Reaction: Much like the author, I always wondered if Persephone was really stolen, if she really hated her time in the Underworld or if there was maybe a bit more to it.  The romantic, positive person in me always hoped that Persephone actually enjoyed her time in the Underworld.  I think Whitman did a great job re-imagining this myth.  While I enjoyed the scenes between Persephone and Hades, the main focus of the book is on Persephone’s coming-of-age (as cliche as that may be).  When the story begins, Persephone feels stifled by her mother and unable to express herself.  Her mother tries to keep Persephone from growing up and still insists on treating Persephone as a child.  Hades is Persephone’s way out.  As Persephone gains her freedom, assumes more and more responsibility in her role as queen, and makes a friend with a new resident of the Underworld, a young woman who left her young child behind on Earth, she begins to understand how her sudden departure may have affected her mother.  She always assumed she meant nothing to Demeter, who always critical of Persephone and never allowed Persephone to go with her while she performed her rituals, but Persephone looked through her mother’s eyes and saw that many of her mother’s actions were driven by love.  While there certainly is romance in this story, it is mostly about a shaky mother-daughter relationship and growing from a child to a young adult.

Library Loot: May 27-June 2

Library LootLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Another busy week but I received some fun things in on hold.

Here’s what I checked out:Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I currently have 65 items checked out and 10 things on hold.

The Awakening

AwakeningThe Darkest Powers
by Kelley Armstrong

The Awakening is the second book in a trilogy.  If you haven’t read the first, The Summoning, then you definitely should.  Oh, and I wouldn’t read this review.  Spoilers galore for those who haven’t read the first.

After mistakenly trusting her Aunt Lauren, Chloe and Rae are taken to the Edison Group’s compound and locked away “for their own safety.”  Chloe is determined to breakout before the Edison Group and their leader, Dr. Davidoff, can do anything to her or Rae, but she is also determined to gather information while she is on the inside.  After a bit of sneaking around and with the help of a ghostly demi-demon, Chloe is able to find out the truth behind the importance of the teens sent to the Lyle House.  The truth is shocking, it leaves Chloe with a huge uncertainty about her and her friends’ futures, and confirms her worst fears, the Edison Group is not above killing teenagers, just like they did Liz and Brady before her.  More determined than ever, Chloe is desperate to escape and meet up with Simon and Derek.  But even if she gets out, where will she and the boys go?  Who will help?  How can they stop the Edison group?

Reaction: I have no idea how this is going to be wrapped up in only one more book (which, according to Kelley’s site, will be called The Reckoning).  It took me awhile to get my bearings since I read the first book a year ago.  Armstrong just throws you right back into the mix, pretty much as if the first book never ended.  Despite the fact that it took me a few chapters to re-orient myself, I really like this method.  No chapters of rehashing, just the story, and you’re back in the action.  Like with the first book, I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to give anything away.  I will say, there is a lot more Chloe and Derek time, which I loved.  They have a lot in common when it comes to their powers — both of them are developing more quickly than they should with pretty much no guidance as to how to control the powers.  I think this commonality will become important in the next book.  Plus, I just like Chloe and Derek together as a team.  I think they mesh very well.  I do see a problem in the future with a possible Derek-Chloe-Simon thing becoming an issue.  I guess we’ll see!  Overall, The Awakening was action-packed.  It is a fight for survival, not only against the Edison Group and the supernatural world but against the real world as well.  The group is constantly moving and constantly facing one kind of adversary or another.  I have no doubt that The Awakening will keep you turning the pages to see what is going to happen next because that is exactly what happened to me!

Other reviews: Check out what Kristi over at The Story Siren has to say about it.  I think she wrote a great review and she touched on things I didn’t think of.

For anyone who has read it already (and if not, SPOILERS AHEAD!):

What do you think of Andrew?  I don’t trust him.  Did you catch that “It’s so great to see you [Tori] and Simon together” thing he said?  What about Chloe and Derek?  I think he’s going to pose a threat to them.  I bet Simon and Derek’s dad didn’t join Andrew because Andrew wants to get rid of Derek, not because it was “too political” for him.  I feel bad because I want the group to have somewhere safe to hideout and have some adults on their side but I don’t believe that Andrew and his group is all he’s divulging them to be.  It’s driving me crazy.  I want to know now what’s going to happen.  I want to know what you think is going to happen!  Leave me a comment with what you think, just remember to mark it as a spoiler.

The Secret Life of Prince Charming

Secret Life of Prince Charmingby Deb Caletti

Quinn loves her dad.  She knows he’s not perfect but he’s charismatic, outgoing, fun; it’s hard not to love him.  One thing she can’t deny, he’s a womanizer.  Quinn doesn’t even know all of the women he’s ever been with.  She knows he broke her mother’s heart and left her family — mom, Quinn, and baby sister Sprout — to live with another woman when Quinn was very young.  She knows he now lives with Brie, a woman half his age, and her young son.  Quinn, though, sees only the good.  That is until she begins to notice that some of his treasured possessions have the names of the women he’s left behind attached to them.  A large painting, a sculpture, a music box, and more.  Quinn can’t deny the wrongness of her father having these items or his cold reaction when she asks about them.  Quinn takes a daring step and calls the older half-sister she’s only met once, Frances Lee, and asks her what she thinks Quinn should do.  The call is the beginning of a quest for Quinn, Sprout, and Frances Lee to return the possession their father stole to their rightful owners, all of his past wives and girlfriends.

Reaction: I like this one MUCH better than I did The Nature of Jade.  I liked Quinn.  She wanted, needed her father’s love so much she unknowingly overlooked some of his most horrible traits.  Despite the fact that she put her dad on a pedestal, when it came to her own love life she very much sought someone who was decidedly not like her father.  She looked for someone solid, reliable, dependable, pretty much boring.  As much as she loved her father she did not want to date anyone like her father, but despite all of her best efforts to have the “perfect” boyfriend, it didn’t work out.  I liked Sprout.  She was feisty and, in some ways, much smarter than her older sister.  She was protective of Quinn and saw her father for exactly what he was.  Frances Lee was a hoot.  So different from Quinn and Sprout, moody and harder, but she nicely completed the trio of sisters.

There were still some things I didn’t like.  Well, this first one is something I liked but didn’t like.  Interspersed throughout the story were tales from women on past (bad) relationships, what went wrong, and why.  I liked these but they got to be too much.  There were too many of them and I felt they interrupted the flow of the story.  I was so tempted to skip them by the end.  Also, most of them were by minor characters and sometimes I couldn’t remember who it was telling the story.  Again, I liked them I just wish there had been fewer.  While I loved Jake, I thought his relationship with Quinn kind of defeated all of the love lessons the girls were learning on their trip.  Jake and Quinn were instant attraction with little time to build substance to their relationship.  After just a couple of days they were a solid thing.  I wish this would have been a bit slower to build so it could show that Quinn had maybe learned something from all of the women she’d been talking to.  Finally, I was pretty depressed that (I think) only two of the six or seven past girlfriends found stable relationships.  There were so few examples of good, healthy relationships between men and women.  Is this really what the world as come to today?

Overall, I thought The Secret Life of Prince Charming was very well done.  I was hooked.  Despite my enjoyment of Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott, which has a similar plot, I think I enjoyed The Secret Life a bit better.  I thought it dove a bit deeper into the absent parent issue, but as hot as Jake was I think I’m still all about Finn. :)

Dead and Gone

Dead and GoneA Sookie Stackhouse Novel
by Charlaine Harris

If you’ve never read a Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire book, I warn you not to read any further but to pick up the first book in the series, Dead Until Dark, and begin there.

Sookie’s in for another wild ride.  The Weres are going public, her soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law is found crucified behind Sookie’s place of work, and there is a war brewing in the fairy world that has spilled over into the human world.  Of course Sookie also has the confusing task of sorting through her feelings for the men in her life.  At the moment, she’s trying to decide whether what she’s feeling for Eric is real or because of their blood bond.  Sookie certainly has a full plate.

Reaction: I once again finished with the need to find out what’s next, and I honestly have no clues.  As in From Dead to Worse, there is a sense of closure for some of the story-lines.  One of the main things that remains open is with whom Sookie will chose to actually have a steady relationship.  I am cheering for Team Eric but I am still skeptical as to how this would logistically work.  Quinn made an appearance.  Bill is ever-present and possibly still in the running if the ending is of any indication, though Sookie would be dumb not to give Eric a chance to explain — you will have to read to see what I mean.  And Sam’s name always gets thrown into the mix.  The end also finds Sookie recovering from, in my opinion, the worst thing that has ever happened to her, and we all know she’s already been through a lot.  I will be interested to see how the experience changes her, if at all.  Like I said, I have absolutely no idea what is next in store for Sookie but I can’t wait to find out!

Library Loot: May 20-26

Library LootLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Small week.  Lots going on, lots left to read, and lots of reviews still to post.  I hope June is less crazy.

Here’s what I checked out this week:Princess Plot

  • How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (I’ve got to get over my fear of this book — got a bit squeed out by the possibility of incest — because I’ve heard such great things about it)
  • The Princess Plot by Kirsten Boie (I’m excited about this one because it’s a translation from a popular German children’s/teen author.  The last teen book-in-translation I read I loved — War of the Witches — though I may have been the only one)

I currently have 69 items checked out and 12 items on hold.

Amaranth Enchantment

Amaranth Enchantmentby Julie Berry

Lucinda’s parents died in a carriage accident and left her orphaned.  Now she lives with her kind uncle and evil aunt, working like a slave in their jewelry shop.  One day a witch, a prince, and a thief enter the store and change her life forever.

Reaction: Cute but not great.  Basically, The  Amaranth Enchantment is a retelling of Cinderella with a few different twists.  This is fine, I like Cinderella, but not what I was expecting.  I found Lucinda a bit immature and because of that it was really hard for me to get into the romantic elements.  She just seemed way too young for anything more than a crush and her “love” for the prince seemed very superficial.  I’m also not sure I really liked all of the characters.  I suppose I could go on but I’ll stop.  Like I said, it was cute and I think it will have appeal to younger readers (I’m thinking of taking it when I booktalk to 6th graders) but I was a bit disappointed.

Library Loot: May 13-19

Library LootLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Ok, now here’s what I checked out this week:

I currently have 66 items checked out and 14 holds.  Not so bad. :)

Fancy White Trash

Fancy White Trashby Marjetta Geerling

Abby Savage’s life seems like a soap opera.  See if you can keep up with this: Abby’s mother is married to a man, dubbed Guitar Guy, half her age who is also the ex-boyfriend of both of Abby’s older sisters, Shelby and Kait.  Not only has Guitar Guy dated both of Abby’s sisters, he is the father of Kait’s unborn child.  And it gets worse, but you’ll have to read to find out about that.  For obvious reasons, Abby has decided to live by a set of relationship rules, rule #1 being find someone new.  The problem, the boy she loves, Jackson, doesn’t fit the rules.  Abby doesn’t trust her herself and refuses to think with her heart for fear of ending up like the rest of the women in her family, but what will Abby’s rules truly make her happy?

Reaction: Loved It!  My favorite part of the book is not something to turns up in the summary.  It is Abby’s relationship with her closeted best friend Cody. When readers first meet Cody, Abby warns us:

Before you get your hopes up, let me tell you this is not one of those situations where the girl goes out with the empty-headed jock only to realize that her soul mate was living next door to her all along.  Cody is gay.  He hasn’t told me–or anyone–yet, but I know.  When you’ve been friends with a guy your whole life, it’s pretty easy to figure out. (pg 3)

First, this is a great example of Abby’s voice.  Second, this is a huge part of the book, Cody’s sexuality and his coming to terms with it.  Cody is teased at school despite the fact that he isn’t out.  His denial, at least publicly, that he is gay causes horrible tension between him and Abby.  Even after he decides to come out, Cody faces some horrible choices.  I found Cody’s story sad and compelling and very well done.

I also thought that characterization of Abby’s family, her sisters, her mother, and her father, was wonderful.  These were some very flawed people but they weren’t all good and they weren’t all bad.  I think Geerling showed wonderful talent in her handling of these characters.  While they are different from anyone I know, I do believe that there are certainly people who will be able to relate with Abby and her family.

My only gripe is with the main romantic relationship.  I think Jackson’s character is as well-drawn as the rest.  He’s a jock and a bit of an a** when he wants to be but he is also sweet and caring.  Definitely not perfect.  Abby and Jackson’s relationship blossomed before readers enter the story, so the fact that they don’t spend a lot of time together to develop their feelings doesn’t bother me too much.  The two things that bothered me were: 1. Jackson seemed ill concerned with the fact that he could possibly be he father of Kait’s baby.  While it is unlikely, it is not 100% ruled out.  I would want some sort of DNA test just to be sure.  2. Abby’s end decision was a 180 turn around that seemed to come from nowhere.  While I was happy with the end, it just didn’t fit her character.  That was disappointing after what I thought was so much stellar characterization.  Abby and Jackson took a backseat to some of the other storylines–Cody and Abby’s family drama–so I wish I could have had more time for Abby to come to her eventual decision.

Despite that, like I said at the beginning, I loved Fancy White Trash.  It is definitly for older readers–drinking, sex (though not explicit), and even a butt plug (a first for me) showed up in the story.  Still, an awesome depicition of an imperfect family and a wonderfully handled story of a young man struggling with his sexuality.

Library Loot: May 6-12

Library LootLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

**First, May has been crazy.  I’ve been reading but I haven’t had much energy to blog about it.  I have a backlog of finished books that I hope to get to soon**

Here is what I checked out last week: