Thursday, March 20, 2008

To Hell and Back by Lilith Saintcrow (3/5 stars)

This is the 5th (and last) book in the Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow. It was okay; not as good as some of the previous ones, but okay.

The book starts with Dante (Danny) being expelled from Hell in an alley; she has taken quite a beating from Lucifer and can't remember much of it. Lucas comes to her rescue and Danny is soon reunited with Japh. Danny finds that in her absence Japh has been tearing apart the world looking for her, and he has declared rebellion against Lucifer. In order to kill the devil Japh is determined to get a special knife that was made for hedaira to wield against demons. He has determined that Danny will use it to kill the Lucifer. Of course Japh, is also out to kill Eve and Danny is hell-bent on protecting Eve. Danny exerts her independence against Japh and makes a "hell" of a mess out of everything...again.

There were a lot of things about this book that bothered me. I don't understand why Danny is so blindly faithful to Eve; Eve jerks her around just as much (if not more than) Japh. Danny is not blindly faithful to anyone; why should she be faithful to Eve? On the flip side Danny is horribly unfaithful to Japh. I don't understand why. Both characters lied to her a ton; yet only one of them was supportive of her.

By the end of this book I really, really disliked Danny as a character. She was a physical and emotional mess the whole book. She rarely took any action on her own. When she did take action, the action she took seemed to be thoughtless and to just be an excuse to use power. Danny basically screwed up through this whole book.

While Japh is not a perfect character; he seemed to act at least consistently throughout the book. It would have been nice to know a bit more about Japh and his past. It would have been nice to know more about why Japh fell for Danny. The only explanation he gave was that "She treated him like a human"; you can't tell me that that has never happened before to him in all of the thousands of years he has existed.

For some reason a lot of this book kind of got under my skin and irritated me. Maybe it was too drawn out or just too inconsistent. It left you with more questions than answers. While it was a decent ending to this series; I think it could have been better. Maybe Saintcrow will write a series about Japh or Lucas; I think they were much more interesting than Danny. I guess we will see.

We still did not find out anything about hedaira and fallen. I guess we know a little bit more but the extent of the relationship is not understood.

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (4/5 stars)

This is the second book in the "Percy and the Olympians" series by Rick Riordan. This was a good book and followed much in the vein of the second book. I listened to this book on audio and the quality of the audio book was wonderful!

Percy is having strange dreams about Grover, his satyr friend who recently left on his quest to search for Pan, being in trouble. Percy and his new friend, Tyson, are attacked by some questionable students during gym class and when Annabeth turns up to help them out Percy is in for a lot of surprises. Percy finds out someone has poisoned the protective pine tree at half blood camp and tons of monsters have been attacking while Percy's been away for the school year. Percy and crew find out that Grover has found the Golden Fleece and he is being held captive by the Cyclopes Polyphemus. When a quest is granted to go after the Golden Fleece it is not given to Percy and crew. Now they are stuck with trying to decide if they should leave school anyway and go after the Fleece.

This was a great book. It was action packed, fun to read, and full of a lot of good humor and great Greek mythology. This book follows in the footsteps of the first book. There is the addition of a lot of good evil characters, as well as some good helpful characters. The plot that ties these books together, the release of the Titan lord, is not resolved in this book but promises to continue full speed in the next book. Other than that this book wraps up nicely with one big surprise at the end.

I liked this book and am looking forward to the third one!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Saint City Sinners by Lilith Saintcrow (5/5 stars)

This is the fourth book in the Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow. I think it was back on par with the first book of the series, I really enjoyed it.

Japh and Dante (Danny) are in Egypt when Dante gets a message from Gabe. Gabe needs her Japh is not happy about giving up the demon hunt to help Gabe but agrees to do so. Dante begs Japh not to hunt down Eve while she is working on Gabe's case. As usual all hell (literally) breaks loose.

This book gave us back our tough, decisive, independent Danny from the first book. She spends much of her time independent of Japh and finally begins to learn something about her demon nature. I thought it was awesome that she gained power because of Japh gaining power. I really like Lucas as a character. Japh's underlings are all very interesting too. A lot happens in this book and it was fun to read.

Although, once again, this book leaves you right in the middle of things. It must have been torture for everyone to wait for the last book to be released. Luckily I already have it on hand and have started reading it.

This book seems to be even darker than the previous ones; but still a fast and fun read. I am looking forward to seeing how all of this gets wrapped up!

The Devil's Right Hand by Lilith Saintcrow (4/5 stars)

This is the third book in the Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow. Thankfully it was much, much better than the second book.

The books starts with Danny living peacefully in Toscano with Japh by her side. Danny is finally getting to do some research into her half-demon nature and Japh remains silent about any information he could give her. The peaceful existence falls to pieces when a summons from Lucifer comes and Danny and Japh can no longer ignore it. Lucifer forces Danny to be his Right-Hand for seven years. Lucifer has 4 demons that he wants Danny to hunt down and kill. When Japh throws getting his demonic power returned to him into the bargain and leaves Danny alone with no explanation, she ends up in quite the fix.

There was a lot of action in this book and the return of the more self-sufficient Danny that we were introduced to in book one. I really liked the inclusions of other demons and the ending took a twist that I wasn't expecting. Really it was the ending that made this book for me and tied Danny into a mess so complicated that it was intensely interesting. I really liked this book it was fast paced and easy to read. Danny got a new sword and it is awesome to have her fighting how she likes to fight.

I still have a number of complaints. I *still* think Danny acts strange about Japh. She needs to stop being so obsessed over him. I was also disappointed at the pace of the storyline; the storyline didn't progress as far as I had expected. In fact the third and fourth book (which I am in the middle of) would have probably been more appropriate as one book. I was also frustrated with how Danny's half-demon nature is made a big deal of but we still don't know anything about it. Most of these things could be done intentionally by Saintcrow to take us by surprise later and I guess I will have to wait and see about that. At the end of this book I was glad I had the next one because there really isn't anything resolved in this book, just more questions.

This was a good book. I enjoyed it, much better than the second book. Hopefully in the fourth book some of the plot-lines will find some resolution.

Dead Man Rising by Lilith Saintcrow (3/5 stars)

I really, really liked the first book in the Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow. Dead Man Rising (the second book in this series) was a disappointment.

You meet up with Dante (Danny) a short time after her hunt in the last book and the "death" of Japh. Dante has been recklessly taking bounty after bounty to distract herself from her grief over Japh. Jace shows up to help her out on her bounties and has forsaken all of his connections with the mob for her. Gabe ends up calling Danny in on a grisly murder and Danny finds that these murders may be linked to something that happened at Rigger Hall (the horrible school where Danny was first educated as a psion and tortured, etc, etc).

This book had a lot of action but it wasn't nearly as interesting and crisp as the first book. This book makes no progress in Danny understanding her new half-demon nature. Danny spends most of the time grieving over Japh's death and, when she is not whining about how much she misses Japh, she is sitting around talking about how horrible Rigger Hall was and how she can't bear to even enter the place or think about it. I thought it was all a bit over the top and dramatic, even for Danny. I mean the Rigger Hall incidents were years ago. We all have bad memories from childhood, and hers were much worse than most, but in the first book she seemed to be a reasonably well-adjusted person despite her tough beginning. She spends this whole book whining, grieving, and falling to pieces. I understand Danny is going through rough times but, come on, that doesn't need to be the content of the *whole* book.

I found myself rolling my eyes at Danny's dramatic and strange behavior a number of times. I was hoping all of this was going to lead somewhere profound but even the climax of her facing her fears at Rigger Hall fell dead for me. I really, really hope the third book is better. I liked the first book a lot so I will read the third, if the third follows the second I am done with this series. So in summary this book was passable but not nearly as good as I was expecting.

The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan (4/5 stars)

This is the first book in the series by Rick Riordan about Percy and the Olympians. I've been wanting to read this series for quite a while and finally got around to it. I listened to this on audio book and the audio book production was very good; I have no complaints about that at all! The content of the book itself was also very enjoyable.

This book follows Percy who has been labeled as a juvenile delinquent because of his ability to always get into trouble and his learning disabilities (dyslexia and ADD). Percy quickly finds out that there is a reason for his problems. Percy is actually a half-blood; his father is a god. More shockingly his father is one of the three main Greek gods that promised never to sire another child. Percy is framed for stealing Zeus's lightening bolt and must find the bolt to prove that he is innocent. Percy gets assistance from a couple of unlikley sources; his best friend Grover (whom he finds out is a satyr) and another half-blood named Annabeth who is a daughter of Athena. The would be heroes encounter many familar foes along their travels; among them Medusa, Cerberus and Ares.

I surprisingly really liked this book. I liked the incorporation of Greek mythology (which I've always really enjoyed) into a young adult fantasy novel. The book had a little of a Harry Potter tone to it with Percy being sent off to camp half-blood. This book is more tongue-in-cheek and uses a lot of slang and modern language and this makes it much different from Harry Potter. I also found myself drawing comparisons between this book and Abarat. Percy lives in a similar home situation to what Candy Quakenbush did. I always felt bad for Candy's mom being married to such a horrible man and kind of angry at Candy's mom for not changing her situation. I liked Percy's mom a million times better because she had a reason for living with her idiot husband and once his usefulness was done she...took care of him.

It was a quick, fun listen. I didn't necessarily like Percy as a character a whole lot but his character worked well for the book and the situation he was in. It is a creative book and an interesting book. My only complaints would be the quality of the writing. It's definitely written in a very off-hand style, most likely to appeal to the young reader age group. Sometimes the slang and frequent fits of self-pity Percy went through got kind of distracting and annoying. These are minor quips though; all-in-all it was a very good book and I am already listening to the next one.