Monday, December 19, 2011


by Heather Burch

Nikki's lives a relatively normal life.  She likes school, martial arts, motorcycles, and art; but she doesn't really seem into boys.  Of course, that all changes when three of the most gorgeous boys suddenly enroll at her school and two of them develop an almost unhealthy interest in her.

This comes after she's attacked by hell hounds, but before she finds out exactly what the boys are: halflings.  They are half angel, half man and all Adonis-like in appearance.  One attracts her with his sensitivity and genuine affection, while the second appeals to her danger-loving and butt-kicking side.

As the halflings and their angel mentor try to find out what Nikki is and why she's being attacked by hell hounds and demons, Nikki struggles to find out what her parents are doing hanging around with a man she's never met, but who claims to have known her for years.

Mix that in with a burned out research facility full of the dead bodies of scientists working on genetic manipulation, and there's some real trouble heading Nikki's way.

Final thoughts: Maybe I've just overloaded on supernatural young adult books, but this was just awful.  The writing was poor and kept skipping around like someone with a thumb jammed on the remote control.  One scene would finish up and transfer to the next, only to start up mid-conversation with no real transition.  Nikki is revealed early on to be a Seer, using her artwork to draw the future, but this is only used once and seems to exist only to further the plot as it is NEVER done again.  It's only even mentioned once or twice from that point.  By the end, there's no resolution or explanation to anything.  And let's have yet another Twilight comparison, shall we?  Mace is gorgeous, strong, constantly watching over Nikki (almost like a stalker), enters her house without permission, follows her, saves her life more than once, won't teach her to fight for herself, almost leaves because it would be better for her if he left (but then he changes his mind because she needs him), etc...  Raven is also gorgeous, strong, doesn't feel the need to constantly watch Nikki, but is there when she needs him, he is more "dangerous" and willing to let her do dumb things, and is having problems getting along with Mace because she seems to love him more.  There's a whole list of other problems, especially with the story line, plot structure, and missing information.  I'm soooo not reading the next one.

Rating: 1/5

Friday, December 9, 2011

Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen

Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen
by Donna Gephart

Olivia has always been the master of trivia.  Terrible things await those who interrupt her Jeopardy! time on any given night.  She's as good, or even better, than the adults on the show.  Her only weakness is the dreaded Geography.

Each year, Jeopardy! devotes one week to kids and it's Olivia's last chance to enter before she ages out of the competition.  With the help of her mother, brother, maybe-not-so-evil-almost-stepfather-Neil, and her maybe-not-so-evil-cute-boy-next-door-Tucker, Olivia hopes to train up and get on that show before it's too late.

Of course the one person she desperately wants to help her is the dad who left her family to marry her former best friend's mother and move them across the country to California.  Maybe, just maybe, if she can get on to Jeopardy!, which is filmed in Culver City, CA, maybe she can finally see her dad again and get him to remember his original family.

But, even if she gets there, can she win, get oodles of cash to help her family, and maybe get her dad to remember she exists?

Final thoughts:  Upper-elementary book and it shows.  Officially, Olivia is 12, but seems to have the emotions of an 8-year-old and the extreme trivia knowledge of a 20-year-old who studies trivia 24/7.  Her obliviousness to her dad's treatment of her and her brother is sometimes annoying, like you want to reach through the book and shake her a little while you shout, "He's a gambling addict!  He cares more about the high of winning than he does about YOU!  Neil is the dad you SHOULD have!  Pay attention!!!!"  The book ends a little suddenly and there are a few unresolved issues left hanging, which is frustrating.  Children of divorced parents, especially those struggling through these tough financial times, will appreciate many of Olivia's problems and be able to relate to those.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hades: Lord of the Dead

Hades: Lord of the Dead
by George O'Connor

According to Greek mythology, when you die, you are escorted by Hermes to the River Styx where Charon will then take you on his boat, past Cerebus, and to the other side of the river.  There, you join the masses of dead and wander the Underworld forever under the watchful gaze of Hades.

Above, in the world of the living, Demeter and her daughter are struggling to get along.  Kore just wants to have a little freedom from her mother's control. However, she never thought that the way should would finally escape would be when Hades himself comes to take her down to his world to be his bride.

Now Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, is neglecting her duties as she tries to find her daughter.  But, having renamed herself Persephone and having found a new identity, it's possible that the girl formerly known as Kore doesn't want to be found.

Final thoughts:  O'Connor admits to taking a few liberties with the story on this one, but it's worth it.  Except for a few panels where Kore/Persephone and her mother seem to be speaking in modern teen/mom talk instead of something a little older, and the switching of viewpoints from 2nd to 3rd and back again, I just don't have much to complain about.  This is yet another great tale from O'Connor that makes the Greek myths accessible and extremely visual.  It's one thing to read the words, but it's another to see O'Connor's amazing illustrations.

Rating: 5/5


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