Percy and Annabeth

So, this is a somewhat random post, but I I recently reread House of Hades and felt the need to express my feelings when it comes to Percy and Annabeth..tumblr_mnzk5hGqkv1qem0fvo1_1280 hair_twirling_by_burdge_bug-d3299gf

While reading HOH, I realized how perfect these two were for each other. I mean, they are the most perfect couple in YA that I have come across in quite sometime. If you’re wondering why, then all you have to do is read their bits in HOH or even the previous Heroes of Olympus books for that matter.

Percy and Annabeth are one of the only couples who are truly encouraging of each other (yes, even when it comes to drinking liquid fire) and I love how in-tune they are with each other. I honestly believe that if either had fallen into Tartarus alone, they would not have survived. They only lived to tell the tale because they were together and that served as strong motivation for both of them. In so many other books, either the guy or the girl would’ve stayed back in Tartarus to press the button, and Percy was all set to, except Annabeth refused to let him do that. That was EPIC!!

The other great thing is that there are no silly love triangles or potential love interests who only serve to make the other person jealous. Sure, there was Rachel in the Percy Jackson series but I’d be lying if I said that I ever took that seriously, Percy and Annabeth were always gonna be endgame.  And I love that Annabeth continues to be the brains of the operation and Percy never feels threatened, he even encourages her and looks to her to get them out of a tight jam. Of course, this is also thanks to Rick Riordan. So often, the series starts with strong female protagonist or even a strong female secondary character or love interest, but more often than not, as the series progresses, the character is dumbed down for the benefit of the male characters.

Also the absence of needless angst, you know where authors feel that their characters are happy together and they throw in some useless catalyst to make them miserable or one character thinks that he/she is putting the other one in danger and therefore must break up with him/her. So glad that that never happened here. Also when Percy gets all gloom and doom, Annabeth pulls him right back. And I love that. In Tartarus, they were both miserable and yet both tried to make the other person feel better and put on a brave face. That was adorable. As for Percy, he can make Annabeth laugh, irrespective of how dire the circumstances are (or perhaps because of them)  Besides, the guy fell into Tartarus with her, it doesn’t get more epic than that!!

Honestly, Percy and Annabeth are one of my all-time favourite couples in fiction across the board (barring classics) with Raphael and Elena (Guild Hunter series) coming in a very close second. But that’s for another post.

I really want these two to have their happily ever after. They already went through hell in the Percy Jackson series and this time literally fell into it. They’ve earned it and if either of them die, it would be really annoying and sad.

Well, that’s it for my random and complete fangirl post, now I am just waiting for the Blood of Olympus so I can finally finish it and then relax.

P.S. – the beautiful artwork is done is Burdge, you can find her and more of her amazing work on tumblr here: http://burdge.tumblr.com/

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The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson Review

Mirk and Midnight HourCould not finish!!!

I tried to finish this book, I really did, but it was so painfully slow that I simply could not hold on anymore. I get that it is important to develop your characters and to let your readers get a sense of them, care for them but when the plot fails to take shape after more than quarter of the book, there is something seriously wrong. The narrative was trudging along and thank you, but no thank you. I simply did not care about the characters enough to stick around to see this through. I might eventually, someday, decide to finish this, but not anytime soon.. For now, I am absolutely fed up..

The Golden Apple by Michelle Diener Review

cover

Received an ARC from the author for an honest review.

I am huge fan of Michelle Diener and love all her books and I wish I could say that I loved this too, but sadly, I did not. I did not hate it but there is something about her other books that was missing here.

The Golden Apple is about Princess Kayla who is put inside a glass tower by her father with an apple placed in her lap and a challenge is issued: any man who can take that apple from her, will win her hand in marriage. Kayla is bewildered by her father’s actions and cannot understand why he would do this to her. Some knights try to make their way to the glass tower but fall long before they reach it. Until, another knight, Rane, manages to get closer to the tower than any before him. But the princess is keeping a secret, the night before, she gave away, of her own free will, what would have been taken from her by whoever won her hand. She took that small measure of control of her own life and was relatively content until she realised that the knight closing in on the tower is none other than the man she slept with the previous night. She feels like he is there to save her and so she throws the apple to him, knowing full well that he will never get it on his own. It is only later that she realises that everything was a lie and she was just a means to an end. By a tiwst of fate, both she and Rane (the knight) have to undertake a quest for a wizard: to steal a gem from a hag in the Great Forest.

Part of the reason why I did not like this as much as her other works, could be because I am not familiar with the fairy tale at all. I had not even heard of it before this book, so there are none of the associations that most of us have with stories we are familiar with. But a large part of it was that the story just did not draw me in, as her other works have. It is a fairly short book at just 171 pages and though it did not drag, I found myself tempted to skip past a few paragraphs here and there (I didn’t but it was a close call) There is also very little world building, The Golden Apple gave me a very vague sense of the world the characters inhabited, quite superficial. It also told me very little about the people in it beyond a select few. The origins were not explained. It is quite possible that Diener wanted to leave some of the world building to the sequel but still. Also, I needed a map, I could make no sense of the geography. Maps should be essential for any fantasy, a visual representation of the world really helps the reader make sense of the world they are reading about.

Even the characters here were not nearly as interesting as, say Parker and Susannah or Charlotte. Kayla was still way better then Rane. At least, she was discovering her powers and not shy about using them. But Rane was a misfire. I did not care for him in the least. He was uninteresting and dull. As for his brother Soren, he was infuriating. An idiot with a death wish. Eric the Bold, the villain, was also not villainous enough, he seemed too tame and too easily overpowered. I know we haven’t seen the last of him but he still went down too easily. Diener’s characters are usually layered and complicated but that was missing here. I felt like Kayla and Rane did not have enough time to grow into their roles, like they were rushed. This also made their relationship feel a little stilted.

The other thing was that there was absolutely no indication from the blurb that this might part of a series, but there is a sequel. So when I started reading this book, I thought this was a standalone and unfortunately by the time I realised that the story would not conclude here, I had begun to lose interest.

Don’t get me wrong, The Golden Apple was not a bad book, but I just did not enjoy it as much as say the Parker and Susannah series or The Emperor’s Conspiracy (or pretty much any of the other books). Maybe I will revisit it later and find differently, but for now, I am a little disappointed.

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy, #1) by Marie Rutkoski Review

winnerscurseMild Spoilers below…

Wow, I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve written anything. There has been a lull what with between a lot of work, feeling generally blah and re-reading books, there was little time, opportunity or even desire to write anything, but now that ennui has passed and I am back. And The Winner’s Curse was a good book to break the routine. It was some time before I could decide what I wanted to read and I am glad with my choice.

The Winner’s Curse is about Kestrel and Arin, one is conqueror while the other is conquered. Kestrel sees Arin at a slave auction and for reasons that are not even clear to her, she buys him. There is no instant love here, they begin as two people extremely wary of each other, who slowly drift towards each other. But they are doomed from the very beginning because of who they are. One is the daughter of a highly respected general while the other is plotting an uprising that would lead to his peoples’ freedom. Even as Kestrel begins to trust Arin, as the reader you know there is no way this could end well. One night, when Kestrel’s father is commanded by the Emperor to quell a rebellion elsewnere, there is a rebellion in his own territory and Kestrel is caught right in the middle.

I really enjoyed The Winner’s Curse and the end had me wondering if there will be a sequel to it (turns out there is and a sequel to that sequel). It could function as a standalone but the end is open enough that there could be a sequel. Once I started reading this, I could not put it down. I read it in a few hours and liked it enough that I had to immediately start writing about it. The Winner’s Curse is a fast-paced book with a narrative that flows effortlessly. There is world building and character development without either of these hampering the narrative. This is difficult to achieve, too often a perfectly enjoyable story is mired with too much detail. Rutkoski created a delicate balance where her characters and her world continued to grow along with the story that she had weaved around them. In a way, the end was fitting, especially considering everything that had happened, I’ll even go so far as to say that I even liked it. It was too soon to have the beginnings of a happily ever after.

My only complaint with this book (and another fantasy book that I read recently) is that it did not have a map. This is a fantasy based either in our own universe or in some alternate universe, but the point is that the geography is almost impossible for me to visualise without the aid of a map. Believe me, maps really help.

I really liked the characters and Kestrel was no exception. She was, by no means perfect, but then so few characters are. Kestrel is impulsive and someone who has a very strong intuition. This enables her to see through other people’s deceptions so one can only imagine, her self-loathing when she failed to see deception so close to home. But she is also not pig-headed.  Before the coup, she does have sympathy for Arin and goes through quite a lot in order to protect him. After the rebellion, though there is loss of trust, eventually she does see why he did what he did. And she realises that, despite everything, she might just love him. Love him enough to be seriously tempted to forget what he did and staying with him.

Arin is harder to truly like because unlike Kestrel, he always knew he would betray her and yet he continued to give her mixed signals: being her friend, hating that she could under her skin and taking it out on her and falling for her but not enough to warn her. It would be so easy to hate him and yet you don’t. Not just because of what he went through and that he lost his entire family but also because, despite everything, he genuinely seems to care for Kestrel.

Then there are the secondary characters, Jess and Ronan. Both could have been vain, vapid social butterflies and initially seem to be just that. But you slowly realise that are both incredibly loyal to Kestrel willing to stand by her no matter what. And while Ronan did have feelings for Kestrel, there was never even a hint of a love-triangle (I dread that thing the way sailors of old, dreaded the Bermuda Triangle) Even Kestrel’s father, his relationship with his daughter is a slightly strange one. He is not a soft man and without his wife to soften those hard edges, he can come across as more than a little harsh, but there are small moments that show that, in his own way, he does care for and love his daughter, respects and prizes her intellect.

The Winner’s Curse is a quick read and gripping enough that you will not regret picking it up, seriously, I was reading it till 4 in the morning. Now, I have to wait till 2015 for the sequel, why oh why, must we wait so long!!

Cast In Flame (Chronicles of Elantra #10) by Michelle Sagara West Cover!!

Cast-in-Flame-1024x727So, this is not an official cover reveal since the cover is already online but I couldn’t help myself. It’s a beautiful cover and the most beautiful in the series so far. Love the rich reds and the details. sigh….

I’ve read all the books in the series and love all of them but they take some getting used to. Sagara’s writing is a little unusual (some sentences end abruptly while others are not immediately clear) but the world and characters that she has created are absolutely stunning in their details. And she adds more layers with every new book, more about a certain people’s culture, their politics, their society and so on. Her characters are complicated, multifaceted and often their intentions aren’t always apparent. I love this about them, that you can’t put them in a convenient box. And Kaylin (with Teela coming in at a close second) is a treasure to read about. I love her and I am so glad that she’s only gotten better with every book. So if you haven’t already read this series, you should start. Just one warning: be patient, the payoff is worth the wait. 😀