And the winner of the “The House of Hades” giveaway is…?

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Congratulations to Andrea M.Β for winning a paperback copy of “The House of Hades” from Fully Booked! Please DM me your shipping address so that I can send you the book ASAP. Congratulations again!

Thanks so much to everyone who joined the giveaway. I hope you had as much fun joining as I had hosting it. A big THANK YOU also to Fully Booked for being awesome and sponsoring this special prize! Guys, show them some love over on Facebook and TwitterΒ πŸ˜€

Β house-of-hades-us-cover

“The House of Hades” by Rick Riordan book review and giveaway

THE REVIEW

house-of-hades-us-coverIt’s finally here! After a year of waiting after The Mark of Athena, Rick Riordan treats his avid readers to another round of Greek and Roman mythological madness with Percy Jackson and his cohorts in the form of The House of Hades.

The official book description:
The demigod crew of the Argo II is standing at a crossroads. They could return home with the Athena Parthenos statue and try to stop Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter from going to war. Or they could continue on their quest to find the House of Hades, where they might be able to open the Doors of Death, rescue their friends Percy and Annabeth from Tartarus (if they have survived), and prevent monsters from being reincarnated in the moral world. Whichever road they decide to take, they have to hurry, because time is running out. Gaea, the bloodthirsty Earth Mother, has set the date of August 1 for her rise to power.

Overall verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

The good:

  • It’s a MUCH better book compared to The Mark of Athena. Better writing, better plot, and better characterization all around. More action too.
  • Riordan has a better handle on his ensemble cast. Yes the POVs are still divided among the main seven (Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Leo, Frank, and Hazel) but he manages to give each character their time to shine.
  • Each POV feels like a complete mini story. The transitions also aren’t as clunky as before.
  • Even more Greek history and mythology. Riordan’s delving into the less well-known stories and that’s always good. More Greek mythology for everyone!
  • Β I loved Percy’s character development in Tartarus. It was great to see him be more introspective.
  • Β More Nico di Angelo!

The not-so-good:

  • While it’s true that each ensemble character gets their special moment, the special moments are repetitive in structure. Character A starts doubting himself/herself and their purpose on this mission, Bad Guy A shows up and starts threatening everybody, all the other characters are somehow absent/trapped/incapacitated so that Character A has to do all the saving, Character A overcomes their self-doubt and saves everybody. Rinse and repeat for Hazel, Leo, Frank, and Piper. Jason as a different issue but his share of the story has the same structure.
  • As always, the romance. Personally, I feel that there was too much focus on the pairings. It would have been great to see everyone develop as individuals and not just as part of a pair.
  • And last but certainly not least: Nico’s big reveal. What the heck was that?! There’s not much I can say that wouldn’t be spoilerific but my issues boil down to 1) this reveal coming out of left field, and 2) my fangirl hopes and dreams being sunk into oblivion. It felt like a cop-out of sorts, considering that Nico has had minimal character development prior to this. If you want to discuss this further, DM me!

As the penultimate book in the Heroes of Olympus series, The House of Hades does a good job of setting up the last book in the series (due October next year). Part of me is eagerly waiting for the last book, but another part isn’t quite ready for Heroes of Olympus to end just yet.

THE GIVEAWAY

fullybooked bannerAnd now, what you’ve been waiting for: Fully BookedΒ (my favorite, totally kick-ass bookstore!), in cooperation with theislandergirl.com, is giving away a copy of The House of Hades to a lucky reader!

How to enter:
1. It’s simple! Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to earn entries for the electronic raffle. Ways to earn entries include:

  • Like the Fully Booked Facebook page (2 points)
  • Follow @_FullyBooked on Twitter (2 points)
  • Subscribe to my blog via email (5 points)
  • Tweet about the giveaway with the hashtag #hadesgiveaway, mentioning @_FullyBooked and @theislandergirl, and linking to this blog post (1 point per tweet, can be done once a day for the duration of the giveaway
  • Leave a comment answering the question “If you fell into Tartarus, what would you see there?” (2 points)
  • Follow @theislandergirl on Twitter (2 points)

TOTAL – 20 points

2. The giveaway will run from October 10, 2013 12am to October 17, 2013 12am. All entries must be in by October 17 at 12 am.

3. The Rafflecopter widget will choose a winner randomly. The chosen winner will be announced on this blog and will be contacted via email, Facebook, and/or Twitter.Β The winner will be contacted via email and/or Twitter and must respond to the notification within 3 days. If the winner doesn’t reply within 3 days, a new winner will be chosen.

The Fine Print:

  • The House of Hades giveaway is open to Philippine residents only.
  • The House of Hades will be shipped to the winner via courier. The shipping fee will be covered by me. If the winner is in Metro Manila, maybe we can meet up too.
  • I reserve the right to disqualify raffle entries from Twitter accounts that have no content and were only opened specifically for joining contests.
  • If you’re the lucky winner, Fully Booked and I would greatly appreciate it if you tweeted or posted a photo on Facebook of yourself with the book and tagged us. You’re NOT required to do so but it would be awesome if you did πŸ™‚

Good luck!

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Book review: “The Mark of Athena” by Rick Riordan (might contain spoilers!)

The Mark of Athena, the third book in Rick Riordan’s bestselling Heroes of Olympus series, came out a few days ago – a year after The Son of Neptune .

The official book summary:
Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy – after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera – it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t help the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon figurehead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket, Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving command: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to fins – and close – the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? as the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader – but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare…

I finished the book yesterday and I wanted to write this while my thoughts are still fresh. As such, please pardon the potential jumble of thoughts.

My overall verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The good:

  • We finally learn more about Annabeth as a person. All of her characterization so far has come from Percy’s point of view and he’s crazy in love with her so he’s biased. It was nice to see why she’s kickass instead of just accepting it as is.
  • More Leo. YAY! I can never get enough of him. He’s my favorite of the seven (except for Percy of course). He finally becomes an important part of the team instead of just being the add-on to the Jason-Piper saga. No, I don’t care about what Nemesis said.
  • Less Frank and Hazel. Hurrah!
  • The Sammy-Leo connection is finally revealed and it’s the less painful of the two theories floating around (see my review of The Son of Neptune to refresh your memory).
  • MOA is fast-paced with lots of action. As with all of Riordan’s books, the entire story takes place over a very limited amount of time. There’s always something happening.
  • It was nice to see Percy and Jason developing a bromance.

The bad:

  • We learn more about Annabeth, right? As it turns out, Annabeth is too perfect. Really. She comes off as the female Jason – strong, smart, and a good leader with no discernible flaws. There’s a part where she complains about not being taken seriously as a warrior and strategist because she’s blonde. I would be more sympathetic if this claim were valid. Aren’t ALL children of Athena blonde-haired and gray-eyed? It’s also already established that Athena is the top cabin in Capture the Flag and that Annabeth is practically Percy’s second-in-command.
  • Piper annoyed me to no end. Her character gets lost because of all the Jason-Jason-Jason thoughts. I don’t need to hear about how built he is, or how his golden hair shines in the sunlight, or how he’s practically perfect in every way. There’s no mention of Piper ever examining her feelings for Jason after finding out that all their lovey dovey memories together were planted by Hera. How long have the two of them really known each other? Did they truly love each other or was that something fake? Riordan missed out on a great opportunity by not explaining.
  • Frank and Hazel annoyed me too, but to a lesser degree than Piper. Does Frank think about anything else besides Hazel and how Leo is moving in on his woman? *rolls eyes* Hazel’s also stuck in her Sammy obsession.
  • Dear Leo, there are better girls out there for you than Hazel Levesque. Consider Piper McLean, when she’s not being an idiot.
  • I don’t need constant reminders on who’s dating who. I already got that from the first chapter. On that note, why does everyone in the series have to pair up? I can handle a maximum of two pairings within the group of seven.
  • Why oh why does everyone keep on saying Nico di Angelo is creepy and untrustworthy? Out of all of them, I was most disappointed in Percy for saying that. After the end of the Titan War, I’d have thought that he’d know Nico better than that. But no! Sure Nico didn’t tell them about Camp Jupiter and didn’t tell Percy who he was when he lost his memory, but he should have at least given Nico the benefit of the doubt and waited for him to explain instead of making snap judgments. The only reason Percy didn’t ream Nico out when they rescued him was because Nico was too exhausted and fragile.
  • It looks like Rick Riordan doesn’t do ensemble casts well. All of the previous PJO and HOO books had a maximum of three main characters so each one got their due attention. MOA is the first time he’s had to deal with seven lead characters and unfortunately, some characters are inevitably lost in the shuffle. Sure I don’t like Hazel and Frank all that much but if I did, then I would be disappointed by their absence.

Overall, it was an okay book on the same level as The Son of Neptune. It definitely wasn’t as good as the original PJO series or even The Lost Hero. My wishes for The House of Hades are:

  • Give me more Nico di Angelo! And stop calling him creepy.
  • Less focus on the couples. My dears, saving the world is more important than obsessing over whether your boyfriend is finally going back home or whether this new funny guy is muscling in on your girl.
  • More Rachel Elizabeth Dare. All I’m asking for are a few IMs to the Oracle. I want to know how she’s doing.

Book review: “The Son of Neptune” by Rick Riordan (spoiler alert!)

The Son of Neptune is the second book in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, released here in the Philippines with relatively little fanfare last October 4, 2011.

Camp Jupiter finds itself reluctantly welcoming in Percy Jackson, a 16-year-old amnesiac demigod under Juno’s protection. He’s trained though, in a style that no one’s ever seen before. He meets Hazel and Frank and joins them in the Fifth Cohort AKA the “loser cohort”. They’re sent on a quest to release Thanatos, or Death. Freeing him is a must, as with him chained, no one stays dead, including the monsters that keep on coming back instead of staying dead. And guess who now controls the Doors of Death? Yep, Gaea. The three of them travel to Alaska, the land beyond the gods, to free Thanatos, retrieve the Roman eagle standard, and maybe save the world along the way.

The book is okay overall though I’m not certain I’m going to buy a physical copy anytime soon (I read the Kindle version).

RANKING: 3.5/5 (serviceable but not as good as TLH)

The good:

I liked how he described Camp Jupiter. I’m not that familiar with Roman mythology and history compared to Greek so I appreciated the background information.

The action in SON comes hard and fast, with the book taking place over only a week. Percy is the veteran this time around and it shows. Even with his memory gone, he’s every inch a leader and a warrior. Hazel and Frank are decent characters and get to do some cool things too.

I love Iris and her R.O.F.L.! It was good to see minor gods getting more attention.

The not-so-good (SPOILER WARNING!): Continue reading “Book review: “The Son of Neptune” by Rick Riordan (spoiler alert!)”