Blog Tour: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith Review and Giveaway

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Welcome to the special edition of the Book of the Week today, order as part of the Grasshopper Jungle Blog Tour! Below you’ll get a synopsis, cost a trailer, visit this site a review, and a giveaway! So keep on reading and enjoy!

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith 

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This title will be released on February 11th 2013. This review is based on an advanced reader’s copy provided to me for an honest review. This in no way, shape or form had any influence on my review or opinion. 

GoodReads / Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository

Genre:

Young Adult, Contemporary, Science Fiction

Part of a Series?:

No

You May Like if You Liked:

I can’t even do this. This book stands on its own. Do you like to read? Then read this book.

Age Recommendation:

16+

Plot Summary:

From GoodReads:

Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the storyof how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin’s hormones are totally oblivious; they don’t care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He’s stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. Ultimately, it’s up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.

You can also view the trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cMBWd_6FwyI

My Review: 

I can’t even begin to describe what this book is. Its hard to even know where to begin because this book is unlike anything that I have ever read before. This book is absolutely incredible and if you don’t pick it up on February 11th, you’re going to miss out on it.

I was gifted an advanced reader’s copy of this book, thanks to Amy Del Rosso, who is the host of this blog tour, and I am so incredibly appreciative for that. I’ve been trying to get my hands on that book ever since I first heard of, after I become so obsessed with Andrew Smith. I was determined to get one and I did. When I read the publisher’s letter in the beginning, my excitement increased. She said her immediately response was “holy shit.” She also says if her language bothers you, you definitely should not continue with reading the book. And she was right.

This book is NOT for the faint of heart. There is foul language, and a lot of mention of sex and masturbation and all of that sort of thing. But every bit of this novel, this random smorgasbord of contemporary and science fiction and coming-of-age story, is so real and genuine. There is so much going on in this book, that sometimes it seems hard to keep track.

You are following the narrative of the main character, Austin. Now Austin seems to be a normal teenage boy, dealing with the issues of girls, sex, school, friends and all of that. He has sex on the brain all the time but that sounds about right for a teenage boy. But in between his struggles with sex, and his feelings for his girlfriend and his best friend, he also tells you the history of his Polish roots, and the history of his family. It seems to be sort of nonsensical, kind of random, but the slow build up of his family history plays such a large part later.

There is also the creeping story of science fiction laid down in it as well. Its so subtle, so slow, but perfect. I spent so much of the novel feeling so confused but in such a great way. I couldn’t fathom how all of the different elements would fit together but it did. Every scene of the novel felt like a red herring. Everything felt like a distraction from something else to keep you confused and guessing until the very end. When all the different stories like Austin’s sexual confusion and his family history and the large bugs all start coming together…I just couldn’t put it down. The story was breathtaking and exciting and so mind blowing.

This book is not for the faint of heart. There is foul language, no holding back on talk of sex and masturbation, and the boys are constantly getting in trouble. This is definitely for those mature enough to handle this. If you aren’t looking for that type of book, I am sorry, but please pass on it. If you’re looking for something so utterly unique and brilliantly written, then please pick up a copy of this book and dive in. You won’t regret it. Where else can you read a book that has a family history, a twisted and turbulent romance, a coming-of-age story, and a bunch of abnormally large, murderous praying mantis on the loose? You won’t find it anywhere else. It sounds absolutely nuts, I know, but trust me! This book is brilliant. Its one of a kind. I have a hard time describing it to others because its just so utterly unique. Sometimes all I can manage to get out of my mouth is “But…but…but its just so amazing!”

There’s nothing like this book. Read it.

Rating:

5 out of 5 Stars

Recommended or Not?:

READ THIS. That’s all I’m going to say!

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Now for the fun stuff!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the reviews and fun all over the blog tour, at all of these seriously amazing blogs!

February 3rd – The Midnight Garden | The Story Siren
February 4th – Good Choice Reading | Bookish
February 7th – Scott Reads It | Live to Read
February 10th – Alice Marvels | The Society
February 11th – Lexi Swoons | A Reader of Fictions
February 12th – Roof Beam Reader | Forever Young Adult
February 13th – The Compulsive Reader | Books and Bling
February 14th – Book Chic Club | The QQQE
February 17th – JeanBookNerd | Ticket to Anywhere
February 19th – Anna Reads | Word Spelunking
February 20th – Books With Bite | What A Nerd Girl Says
February 21st – Wastepaper Prose | LRB – Guest
February 24th – We Are Word Nerds | Cabin Goddess
February 25th – Ex Libris | Cari’s Book Blog | A Good Addiction
February 26th – YA Reads | The Young Folks
February 27th – Novel Thoughts | Fangirlish

And a giveaway too. Don’t miss out on this. If you can get your hands on a copy of this book, you are a lucky gal or guy. It is absolutely fantastic and you’d be a fool not to read it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Much thanks to the host of this blog tour!

amy Tour Banner

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My Life Next Door Book Review

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick   

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You Can Find the Books At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary:

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, order messy, buy more about affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.
As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

My Review:

Continuing my desire to read contemporary novels to keep from dystopian, sci-fi, fantasy, etc, themes from seeping into my own sci-fi novel, I decided to read this book. I saw it sandwiched next to Morgan Matson (which makes no sense. F? M? Huh?) at Barnes and Noble, and it caught my eye so I  bought it. Because I’m an impulse book buyer. I read this yesterday, with the goal of reading half, and instead, I read the entire novel. The entire one. I finished at about 2 am and then was so ready for bed haha.

First off, the characters. I loved the characters that Huntley creates for her novel. Both are incredibly real to me. I loved Samantha, and the sort of opening up she gets in getting to know Jase. Its weird to me, because that is not the life I had but you can see her transformation as time goes on, and her struggle with doing the “right” thing all the time, and meeting the impossible expectations of her mother. No matter what family you grew up in, every teen knows what its like to have expectations on them that they just can’t seem to meet. Samantha is under a lot of expectations and it makes you feel for her, and you want to wrap her up in a hug and give her the affection that she so obviously craves. I definitely loved Jase, mostly because I understood Jase a lot. I’m one of six kids, while Jase is one of eight and his outlooks on life and the way he loves his siblings, but also gets overwhelmed too, felt familiar to me. I also really liked Tim, and his struggle with his own demons and addictions and I can’t wait to see more of him in the sequel. The rest of the characters were all so genuine as well, from the parents (the Garretts, Sam’s mom, Nan’s parents), and the siblings, like Jase’s whole brood, and Sam’s sister, Tracy. No one felt cliche or unfamiliar and that is a huge issue with contemporary YA. All of the characters felt REAL and thats so important.

I also liked the story a lot too, of course. What I really liked the most about this story is that it started off seemingly predictable and then completely switched gears, and went in a direction that I didn’t see coming. I love a good summer romance novel (I mean, come on, Sarah Dessen, anyone?) and I was happy to enjoy a novel with that plot line going on, and the coming-of-age-ness (I’m going to keep using that ‘word’) of Samantha. When the novel’s plot takes a turn, and we end up going through this completely devastating and surprising scene…and the choice Sam has to make because of it…I was definitely surprised. I knew something was going to happen with her and her mom, of course, but what ultimately happens, never did I dream that would be it. I know that’s vague but I don’t want to spoil you guys. This book gives more than you would think. That twist adds for more drama, and gives a new depth to a summer romance novel.

I do wish that part would have slowed down a bit though. It felt like a ton of build up and then the book ended super quickly. Like I said, I thought it was going to be a traditional summer romance story and then that twist happened, but it seemed like an incredibly big twist, too close to the actual end of the novel and things seemed to wrap up really quickly. I think I wanted it to slow down a bit and it didn’t. I wanted maybe to see Sam and her mother struggle more, and maybe more action with Clay (her mother’s sleazy boyfriend), and the struggle of Sam and her choice between her mom and Jase. But I loved the story enough that this didn’t have me hung up.

I think my favorite part of the novel was Jase and his family. His family felt so familiar to me. I am one of six kids. I know the chaos that can occur, and the messes that are made, and the disasters that can happen, but I also understand that there’s a lot of love there. I also understand the kind of questions Mrs. Garrett gets from people about if she’s Catholic, or knows what birth control is and things like that. It fired me up a lot in the novel, because those kinds of things make me angry, especially when they are said to good parents. Mrs. Garrett is obviously an amazing mom, and loves each one of her children and she wants to keep spreading the love. But I also understand Jase…so much. He’s not the eldest child but he has a lot of responsibilities like one and I felt so connected to him. I understood how much responsibility was on his shoulders, and the pressure, as well. He feels the financial burden of his parents more than his siblings do, and even though he’s too young to worry about it, he does anyway (story of my life). He loves his siblings, and couldn’t imagine life without any of them, but he understands how much easier things might have been if his parents had decided to have less kids. It just felt SO familiar to me. Stepping into the Garretts’ house and into Jase’s life felt like walking into my own life.

Bottom line, this is a great novel. Its a perfect summer romance novel, and both Samantha and Jase are characters that you’ll love and that will stick with you. The ending happened a little too fast for me, but the twist at the end, so unexpected in a typical summer romance, that it will also stay with you. The emotions of each characters, their feelings and the ways they grow up, and the way they fall in love are the golden parts of My Life Next Door. Definitely read it.

My Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

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Reborn Book Review

Reborn by S.L. Stacy

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This review is special to me. This book is the debut novel for my friend Shaina, search who I met through her amazing blog, cheap The Urge to Write. She self-published it on Amazon Kindle, clinic and you can get it today, November 7th, for free, until it goes to normal price, 2.99. 

This is an honest review. In no way, shape or form did my previous friendship with Shaina effect my review. 

You Can Find the Book At: 

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble (Some day!)

Author Website

 

GoodReads Summary:

Back in high school, Siobhan Elliot’s life was simple: Cheerleading, friends, and parties. But that all changed the night she and her friends investigated a mysterious light in the woods. There they found an injured man–an irresistible man with hypnotic blue eyes and magnificent black wings. A man Siobhan recognized. He was the handsome dark angel from her dreams. And with one touch of his hand, he left her with a special gift: a set of mythical wings that would change her life forever. Then he disappeared without a trace. Siobhan thought she would never see him again.

Now, six years later, her dark angel reappears –this time as a teaching assistant at her college. He calls himself Jasper. He challenges everything Siobhan thought she knew about herself and her world. And he’s come back for only one thing: her.

Or so he says. Siobhan is about to find out that nothing is what it seems in this strange, new world.

My Review:

This is such an incredible debut novel, and I have so much hope for Shaina and her first novel. She left me in a cliffhanger in this novel, so I’m hoping that she will gain the recognition she deserves and we’ll see this second novel in 2014.

Weaving Greek mythology into contemporary lives is nothing new to the young adult genre. In fact, this is something that I’ve been exposing myself more and more to lately, and each series I read impresses me that much more. The beauty of Greek mythology is that there is so much of it. What Stacy does in this novel is bring forth characters that we don’t often see in these YA novels, except maybe as secondary characters. I think she does a great job with it, and in bringing forth characters that we aren’t as familiar with, she creates a story that is full of surprises, twists, and turns. I didn’t know what to expect at all, and that is such a big part of the reason I kept reading.

Its a fast paced novel, which is always a good sign. Things are interesting from the beginning. Siobhan meets Jasper within the first few pages, and the reaction she has when she meets him is so visceral and so memorable that you need to know what is going to happen next. The relationships, the mystery and the tension that builds throughout the stories keeps you turning the pages, eager to reach the end, to figure out what is the story behind Jasper, and his need for Siobhan.

I also love the relationships in this novel. Its sexy as hell, and even though I have mixed feelings toward Jasper, there are some seriously steamy scenes that left me feeling a little flushed and breathless. That doesn’t happen very often, so when it does, I’m pretty excited. I’m not big on overly steamy novels, and this definitely is NOT it. They are hot and perfectly smutty, and I found myself disappointed when there weren’t more of them, another thing that never happens with me. There is so many sexy, dark, bad boys in this novel, with Jimmy and Jasper and I loved all the scenes that got hot and heavy.

Plus, Siobhan is such a great main character, because she’s so real and fleshed out. She has a backstory, she has a daily life, she has hobbies and concerns and worries and goals, and humor and all of that. I love that, even while her world is upside down, with Jasper and what he brings into her life, she is still going to class, and doing homework and working hard and having fun with her sorority. It makes her VERY real. Her entire world is not wrapped around this mysterious boy. Instead he disrupts this world that she has built for herself. She’s clever, and strong, and I can’t wait to see how she grows as the series goes along.

I do have an issue with the main characters’ name but I am kind of snobby when it comes to names. A huge reason why I couldn’t get through Fifty Shades was because the names. I’m a snob and I recognize that. It is a problem but I kind of just deal with it haha. I wasn’t a fan of the name of Jasper but I could get past that. The name Siobhan was difficult. Its not one that I was used to, and I had no idea how to even pronounce it until she does it for someone later in the novel. Its hard to relate to a character when their name is something you can’t pronounce. I understand it in a fantasy novel or a full blown science fiction, but it did bother me. This is SO trivial, but it is something that I thought of while reading. So much about the book makes up for this tiny little thing that will probably only bug name snobs like me.

All in all, this is fun and quite impressive debut for S.L. Stacy. I won’t sit here and say that I thought it was going to be awful, because I know Shaina and I know that she is most definitely NOT a bad writer. God, no way. But you always feel a little hesitant when reading indie writers, that self-published. I know, because I am one. My worries were for naught though. Its an incredibly beautiful novel, and I am very impressed, and I think that she has immense talent and creates a stunning and compelling story.

Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

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October Book Wrap Up!

Books Pledged to Read in 2013: 200 Books

Read so Far: 173

On Track?: Yes! I’m actually 7 books ahead!

Total Books For October: 20

As always, more about if you click the title or cover, you’ll get the review!

The Extra by Kathryn Lasky

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Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

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The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

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Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

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Just One Year By Gayle Forman

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Goddess by Josephine Angelini

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City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (Re-Read)

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Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Panic by Lauren Oliver (Review Will Come Closer to Book Release in March)

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Teardrop by Lauren Kate

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Allegiant by Veronica Roth

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Reality Boy by A.S. King

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Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes (Review Next Week!)

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Legend by Marie Lu (Re-Read)

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Crewel by Gennifer Albin

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The Fall of the Hotel Dumort by Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson

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52 Reasons to Hate my Father by Jessica Brody

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Prodigy by Marie Lu (Re-Read)

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Ten by Gretchen McNeil

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What were some of your favorite books that you read in the month of November? Share them in the comments!

 

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Reality Boy Book Review

Reality Boy by A.S. King

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This review is based on an advanced reader’s e-copy, physician acquired through NetGalley. This in no way, doctor shape or form had any effect on my honest review. Thank you Little, Brown for granting me access to this novel. 


You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Author Website

GoodReads Summary:

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.

My Review:

This book was brought to my attention by Andrew Smith, the author of Winger. He kept talking about A.S. King, who I admit I had not heard of before this, and her brand new book, Reality Boy, which was just released yesterday. As soon as I saw it on NetGalley, I immediately bid for it and was excited when I got it. I already read Lauren Kate’s new book, Teardrop, and I went tearing through Allegiant yesterday. After taking some time to recover from Allegiant (which I still haven’t QUITE recovered yet), I was bored and needed to keep moving through my ever-growing list of book. I remembered that this released yesterday, and I sped through this book yesterday too. I was on a ROLL.

I had read the synopsis for this book but I don’t think I was quite prepared for the sort of story that King was going to tell. I was still reeling from Allegiant and my emotions were still going haywire and I went face first into this book, unaware of how this book was going to effect me.

This book was such an eye opener in two different ways. One, it really makes you think about the effect a camera can have on a child, whether its reality TV or just as a child actor. For Gerald, its reality TV, and it scars him big time. Every single thing he did as a child, all that bad, has been broadcast all over TV, and then with the spread of the internet, all over YouTube and all that. That is scarring, and its incredibly thought provoking to think of the effect of having a child’s life broadcast on television before they can even understand what is going on, before they even get to school. Can you imagine going into school and kids already know who you are, and have seen all your bad and embarrassing moments? They can judge you before you’ve even met them, and that’s exactly what happens with Gerald and its absolutely horrifying to watch.

But for me, its even more horrifying because of the way Gerald is treated by his mother and his sister. At first you think, its just a normal teenager, who has anger issues and has a passive mother and a cruel sister, but the story goes so much farther than that. As the story goes on, you learn of the mental, physical and emotional abuse that Gerald goes through at the hands of his seriously crazy and incredibly cruel sister, and the ways in which his mother ignores it. It sickens me. Every single time that something happens (or doesn’t happen) with Tasha or his mother, I just feel so sick to my stomach, and you keep turning the pages, hoping so badly that it gets better for Gerald, that someone does something, that people stop being so incredibly passive.

And I think when Heather, the girl who works with him, comes into his life, with her own set of familial problems, she is able to make him feel worthwhile and full of love, and she makes him feel happy, when he hardly ever feels happy. I think they both kind of embrace that idea that we can’t always excuse the things our families do to us simply because they are family. The whole idea of blood is thicker than water is not always true. I love that it shows we can’t always just deal with what our family dishes out because they are our blood and we are stuck with them for life, and they are the only family you have. Sometimes you have to speak up against the harm being done, and sometimes you have to fight that. I like that the two of them come together, and go on an adventure of friendship and love and self-discovery and escape and freedom.

This book is beautiful and I was so happy to be able to experience and I really have to give thanks to Andrew Smith for that, for promoting this book and this author so much. Its a heartbreaking but eye opening story of the effects that a camera and a neglecting family can have on a child, especially as that child grows up. Its a story of self-discovery and a story of escape from the childhood traumas that can hold us back. Watching Gerald, both as a child and as a burgeoning adult, grow into himself and gain some confidence, set goals and become determined for his freedom and his escape. Such a beautiful novel, and I definitely recommend it. Its a fairly quick read, I read it in about a couple of hours, and I was so glad that I did.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Sweet Venom Book Review

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

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You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Author Website

GoodReads Summary:

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, more about but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they’re triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

My Review:

You may have noticed that I’ve had a *slight* Greek mythology thing lately. I’m not really sure, but I think maybe it has to do with the fact that The House of Hades just released yesterday (expect a review tomorrow, as long as I finish it as quickly as I think I’m going to), and I just have always loved Greek myths.

But moving on, the fact that I’ve been reading a lot of YA that is focusing on Greek mythology means I’m more aware of it, and more likely to be critical of it. That being said, I was thoroughly impressed with the first book in Tera Lynn Child’s trilogy.

Like I said, the stories been retold and rewritten a million times. When the myths written as long ago as they were, of course this is going to happen. So its incredibly hard for you to rewrite something that has already most likely been rewritten. I’ve read Josephine Angelini’s trilogy, Jennifer L. Armentrout’s series, and both Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus series. I’ve seen my fair share of YA Greek myths. So that’s why I really think that Tera did a great job with this.

We don’t see much of Medusa used in these books, as anything other than a villain, like in The Lightning Thief. Tera herself said at an event a few weeks ago in Vegas that it was hard research for her, because there isn’t much on her. By taking the myth of Medusa, twisting it so she was actually framed, and that her descendants have a destiny. I like the idea of twisting a myth and surprising the reader. That is definitely what was accomplished in this novel. The gods AREN’T good, they neglect and they run rampant on the world, and are so arrogant and emotional, and everything they do effects the human race. I love the idea that Athena was jealous of Medusa, and that things sort of boiled down from there because it seems VERY likely that this would happen. Goddess pride.

I’m not going to lie, I like the idea of the triplets thing, long lost, coming together to work together, to fight together and to protect each other. I had this…obsession when I was younger with twins, born from the height of Mary-Kate and Ashley’s careers, and the reboot of The Parent Trap. I was convinced that I had a twin somewhere, and that my parents had hid her away, and I was constantly begging them to tell me where she was. I was a weird child. But the idea of twins, and triplets, in a book seriously make me interested right off the bat. And sure the fact that Gretchen, Greer and Grace are so obviously different and come from vastly different backgrounds doesn’t bother me, even though its so obvious. I think its going to work well, as the story continues and they have to work together to fight the mythical creatures that keep seeping in our world.

Plus, San Francisco as the setting? Such a win. San Francisco is a bursting place anyway, so full of culture and people and places and its just 100% awesome. Its a perfect setting for all of this to be taking place. I can’t wait to pick up the next book.

It was awesome being able to meet Tera at her signing in Vegas a couple weeks ago! I’m so glad I picked up her book and read it! 

Rating:

4 out of 5 stars