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Review: Dreamwalker by Andrea Heltsley

Dreamwalker Button

Title: Dreamwalker
Author: Andrea Heltsley
Series: Persephone’s League of Immortals
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: E-book
Source:  Innovative Online Book Tours
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Amz/ B & N
I received this book free of charge from Innovative Online Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

*I’m having a slight computer problems so links to purchasing the book are not currently available from me and neither is the book cover. When I resolve the issues, I will add the book cover and the purchase links.

Blurb from the book:
Noel Kennedy lost her boyfriend, her job and her dignity all in one week.  Then something happened and she began to dream of this stranger she had never met.  She couldn’t resist the man of her dreams named Jared especially when she met him in real life.  Entranced, she slowly unraveled a world she was meant to stay out of.  Her life was not what she thought it was once a sexy Boone stepped into the mix and shook things up.  Can she escape a life of servitude or immortality for a chance at love?

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I have a love and hate relationship with this novel because of my status as Persephone. I have spent a few days just trying to review this book without Persephone’s perspective and it is not working. I’m going to start in reverse by providing the book rating first.

This novel is getting 3.5 black butterflies. It was a pretty decent novel. It had well-mannered characters with interesting back stories and the plot was intriguing. It is losing butterflies for its portrayal of Persephone, the lack of world-building, and for telling, not showing what is going on (each costs half a butterfly).

Noel is the main character and she is the one who needs to protected from Persephone. What I liked about her was that she was not whiny with what was happening around her; she took it in stride. What I didn’t like about her was that she was a little too trusting. She travels with Boone to the hotel room that he shares with Jared and the reason she does not make sense.

The plot of novel is to find the traitor that is providing information about Noel’s protection team to Persephone’s League of Immortals (who are the villains of the story) and keeping Noel safe. Of course, there is also the love triangle between Noel, Jared and Boone. As my readers know, I loathe most love triangles but I’m fine with this love triangle. I don’t hate it but I don’t love it either. Jared and Boone bring different elements into the relationship and Noel does have a difficult time choosing between them. She does make a final decision between them and I think she chose wrong in the end.

There are lot of characters in the group and not everyone’s background is explained which is not a problem. It is the first book in a series but the problem is that there is no background for the rogue sector of Persephone’s League of Immortals. How Noel’s protection group came to exist or how they escaped from Persephone is not explained. There is also the question of what the League is actually doing. Jared and Boone claim the Leagues is using people with special talents as slave but what does that mean? Are they building castles or are they hunting other people? The League is a very vague organization and it should not be considered some of Noel’s protection team are ex-members of the League. They should know what is going on.

How Persephone is portrayed is a problem for me and that may be because I am Persephone. Do I find her to be a credible villain? No. Persephone is implied to be the villain of the series yet there is no concrete evidence to back that up. Yes, Noel’s protection group  claim Persephone is a slave master but they do not  provide factual evidence or even horror stories to prove it. It is why I have difficulty picturing Persephone as the mastermind villain. I believe Persephone could be a credible villain (I do have a dark side) so there is room for improvement. I can’t wait to see how Persephone is transform.

In the end, it was a decent read. There is a bubble of excitement around it and I can’t wait to read the second book in the series. I’m dying to know how the League  got started and how Noel and her group intend to defeat Persephone.

3.5 butterflies

3.5 BB- Pretty to look at, Maybe capture

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46th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, First In A Series, YA Mythology, Witches and Witchcraft, Where Are You Reading?- Missouri

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Review: Vala: Agenda by J.F Jenkins

Title: Vala: Agenda
Author: J.F. Jenkins
Series: Vala: Agenda # 1
Genre: YA Paranormal
Format: E-book
Source:  Author
Pub. Year: 2011
Purchase: Amz/ B&N
I received this novel free of charge from the author.

Cheyenne Loveless was just a boring sixteen-year-old girl. Then Denver Collins bit her and everything changed. Her plants start talking to her, she finds out she’s a Nymph, and a witch and the angel of death show up at her doorstep to take her away to the prestigious Vala School and Seminary. Oh, and she has no choice in the matter.

All she wants to do is blend in and return to being invisible, but the more time that passes, the harder that becomes. Plus she’s a daughter of the Divine, an exclusive secret society which rules the world of myth, and discovers she is a key ingredient to an ancient covenant created before she was born. A covenant that will reshape the order of the world.

Adjusting to a new school is difficult enough, but adding on everyone else’s hidden agendas is the icing on the cake. Cheyenne must learn to see through the lies in order to find her place — and possibly even love — in this new world.

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What I will remember: The retelling of the myth of Persephone

I have a feeling that this novel will elicit mixed responses from readers.  On the one hand, there are great secondary characters, especially on the dark side and on the other hand, there might disenchantment with the main character, Cheyenne. The plot wasn’t really interesting to me because it’s” a girl goes to a special school where she is supposed to evolve into herself but nothing really happens until the end.” The characters are what makes the novel worth reading and the ending of the novel.

Let’s talk about what is great about this novel, the secondary characters. The secondary characters are so much interesting than Cheyenne because they appear to be more complex than Cheyenne gives them credit for. Mr. Thantos is an amazing character. He is Cheyenne’s teacher and he is a fallen angel with beautiful broken wings. He is very blunt with his words and is a strong character with a special affection for cats. How awesome is that. There is Denver who is not a vampire but has blood sucking tendencies. He is fascinating in that Cheyenne would like to portrayed him as a villain yet he is sweet in a weird and dark way. Not quite sure what to make of him. The character I love is Lucian, he might be the reincarnation of Hades so I’m rooting for him (how typical of me). He is a dark and suave character who has a tale that needs to be heard.

Cheyenne’s friends are twins guys Anj and Zes, Halyn (her roommate), and her frenemy Jewl. I might be seriously misinterpreting their characters but it is hard to like them. I don’t trust the twins because there is something off with them. Too many secrets with them and Anj has already proven that he is capable of using people for his own benefit. I love nerds, I really do but Zes puts me on edge because of the weird relationship he has with Anj.  Halyn is all right. Jewl is the ex-girlfriend of Anj. She might be the only I liked because she is assertive of herself and is not afraid to fight dirty.

Cheyenne herself is what hinders the novel from being truly great. She is going to a special school for gifted children yet she never uses her powers or knows what her powers are besides talking to plants. She doesn’t use her abilities and constantly relies on others to save her. She is a very weak protagonist. She is a Divine child, meaning the child of a goddess but we never know what that entitles and that could possibly be save for the second book. Her attitude towards her adoptive mother is also troubling. Cheyenne hates her adoptive mother for not revealing she was adopted but how does a person forgot the connection they have to the person they considered “mother”? Cheyenne embraces her true parents and doesn’t really get mad at them for leaving her in the hands of a stranger. She is strangely calm in understanding and accepting what they said without fully understanding what they were trying to protect her from. There should be anger for both parties on behalf of Cheyenne yet it is one-sided. It safe to say that I strongly dislike her parents even if her mother carries my name, Persephone.

What truly saves the novel for me is the ending. That’s where the plot actually picks up and we have intrigue for the second novel. Lucian as the antagonist repeats history by kidnaping Cheyenne (since she is the reincarnation of Persephone). Cheyenne’s parents are truly mad about this which I don’t understand because Persephone and Hades are meant to be together. Why does the current Persephone resists what should be natural? What could be wrong in their unity? There is a power structure that is not reveal in this novel that could be thrown into chaos by the unity of  the reincarnated Persephone and Hades. I’m looking forward to seeing it come apart because Persephone and Hades should be together.

The myth of Persephone is important to the storyline because Cheyenne is a descendant of Persephone. Initially, I wanted to stop reading once Jenkins stated that Persephone betrayed Hades and apparently did not married him. That was a huge “No” moment. It’s not that Persephone wouldn’t have run away from Hades if she had a chance at the beginning of their courtship. It just this new addition displaces the myth itself. However, the ending of the novel reveals that the original Persephone truly loved Hades and is now trying to reunite with him. (It please me to no end to know that they are seeking each other out). It still leaves a bitter taste though. (Obviously, I’m dissatisfied with this version because of who I am).

In the end, the plot is weak and Cheyenne is not my favorite protagonist. However, the secondary characters are fantastic and the underlying politics such as the unity of Persephone and Hades causing mayhem is interesting. I will read the second book because Hades (or Lucian) need to make a stronger appearance . The storyline has great potential but it just might come in the second book. Plus, I need to see Persephone and Hades happy together so I’ll be reading the second book.

3.5-Pretty to look at, maybe capture

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35th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: YA Mythology, First in a Series, E-book,

Review: Destined by Jessie Harrell

Title: Destined
Author: Jessie Harrell
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: E-book
Source: Personal purchase
Pub. Year: 2011
Purchase: Amazon/ B&N/Smashwords

Blurb from Smashwords:
When Psyche receives a prophecy gone horribly wrong, she learns that even the most beautiful girl in Greece can have a hideous future. Her fate? Fall in love with the one creature even the gods fear.

As she feels herself slipping closer into the arms of the prophecy, Psyche must choose between the terrifyingly tender touch she feels almost powerless to resist and the one constant she’s come to expect out of life: you cannot escape what is destined.

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What I will remember: Stockholm syndrome is apparently really popular in Ancient Greece

I think Greek mythology is fantastic and the story of Eros and Psyche is actually really nice if you like Stockholm Syndrome novels. I do like those type of novels since  the myth of Persephone and Hades is exactly that. Stockholm Syndrome is where the kidnapped fall in love with the kidnapper.  Kidnapping is the way to happily ever after. Just ask Beauty and Beast from Disney (Seriously, do not kidnap anyone).

Like I said, Stockholm Syndrome is probably the dominant theme of the novel. Psyche is taken by a lovesick Eros to live in a castle where she is the only human around. He expects her to fall in love with him really fast because he in deeply in love with her and hopes she can see it. It’s unrealistic on his part because Psyche has just abandoned civilization and she needs time to adjust and question everything. I truly like that she still question his motives even though he truly did love her. It’s not enough to just constantly hear the words “I love you”; they need to be proven. Love wouldn’t have been proven if they just stay in the castle forever.

Psyche does have to prove his love for Eros by doing the two tasks that Aphrodite asks of her. Eros also has to prove his love for Psyche as well. He had to convince himself that he loves Psyche without the help of his arrow. This is a spoiler but Eros nicked himself with his own arrow. More importantly, he didn’t take off the spell that he place on himself while he was with Psyche in the isolated castle. He didn’t really know if he truly love or didn’t. I’m glad that his feelings for Psyche were real and he didn’t need the arrow’s spell to love Psyche.

I like the inclusion of multiple gods and I personally find that their personalities were captured really well. Actually, there are a few on I’m on the fence about. Aphrodite was lovely as she want into seeking retribution for a slight against her family. I thought Persephone was enchanting (of course, I would). Hermes and Charon were quirky characters. Eros was quite developed. He felt more than just love for Psyche but also anger towards her eventually. He did try to move on by hanging out with Iris. I don’t know Iris very well in Greek mythology so she could have been after Eros.  Zeus and Hera as a loving couple? Totally on the fence about this. On the one hand,  Zeus has hide his mistresses in the past and on the hand, he could have been under the influence of Eros. Would Hera still love him enough to look at him with tender eyes? I’m not sure but I’ll go along for now.

Let’s talk about Hades. It’s not the most inviting place with Cerberus at the helm but he is an excellent guard dog (Not that anyone would willingly want to come to Hades). I really like the river filled with souls or shades of individuals. Talk about adding a dark atmosphere. Charon is a charismatic god and I’m glad that it was shown.

One of the things that did irked is the fact that Harell used Ceres instead of Demeter to describe the goddess of agriculture. The entire novel uses the Greek names of the gods and goddesses but Ceres is the Roman name of Demeter (Greek name).  It didn’t really jive with me and I don’t understand why it is the Roman name. All I can think of is the fact that Persephone said her mother allowed her to extend her time in Hades for a little while. I call bull on that since Demeter would never allow that. Maybe it was a way to trick the readers into thinking that Ceres and Demeter are two different goddesses when they are not. I do not like this.

Overall, the end result is 4.5 butterflies. It’s a fantastic read. Great use of mythology figures.

4.5 BB-Ready for capture, Total keeper

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16th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: Self-Published, E-book, YA Mythology, Where are you reading?-Ancient Greece

Review: Fury by Elizabeth Miles

Title: Fury
Author: Elizabeth Miles
Series: The Fury # 1
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Pub. Year: August 30, 2011
Purchase: Amazon / B & N

Blurb from Amazon:
It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems…

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better–the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel…something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.

Em and Chase have been chosen.

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Cover Love: Gorgeous, Flaming, Red Hair. Do not fall into the trap.

I know it’s label as a paranormal fantasy novel but it feels like a contemporary novel with a quick dash of paranormal elements thrown in for good measure. Fury works so much better as a contemporary novel than a paranormal one because the paranormal elements are missing. If I didn’t know Greek mythology, it would have taken forever for the concept of the Furies to sink in.

The novel focuses of Emily’s naivety when it comes to relationships and her lust for her best friend’s boyfriend, Zach. The majority of the drama comes from Emily’s emotions about betraying her best friend, Gabby, and hoping she will understand that Zach is better off with Emily than with Gabby. Talk about naïve. It’s very improbable that two best friends will say “He is better off with you. It doesn’t matter that both of you were dating behind my back and while I was still with him.”  This contemporary element of the novel  which is the realization of a girl understanding the consequences for lusting after a forbidden man and finally understanding what true love is even if the liaison was bittersweet could have carried the book alone. The Furies going after her because she is naïve in her thinking is a little bit harsh. Surely, they are worse people than Emily that deserve bad karma.

Chase was the one character that I did liked. He wasn’t a good guy but at first, he didn’t seem like a bad guy. It’s only after a certain incident that we learned that he pulled a terrible prank. It was bad and he probably deserved what he got in the end…maybe. (I have never been “an eye for eye” person). I initially did like him because he was the only one who appeared to be truly sympathetic about what happened to Sasha whereas everyone else was being fake in their concerned about Sasha. Plus, he was being tormented by his own friends, so yeah, I sided with him. Both, Emily and Chase, are painfully blind when it comes to their love interests.

The Furies element didn’t feel explained to me. Why Emily? She fell into the trap. Why not Zach who purposely knew what he was doing and had done it before to other girls? The target of the Furies felt misplaced and we didn’t get to know the three furies as individual characters. They were just as beautiful as they were creepy. I guess the problem was that Miles did not create her world properly or didn’t bother to explain the mythology behind the furies. Not everyone knows they are seekers of vengeance or that Furies come in three. From the way the Furies were being portrayed in the novel, they could have been seeking justice on behalf of the people that Emily and Chase hurt. Miles also chose Fury names similar to the ones Virgil named such as Ty is Tisiphone, Meg is Megaera, and Ali is Alecto. I had to memorize their names for the Greek mythology class I took. The point is the names are a nod to Virgil but it’s not obvious because Virgil is never mention. He is the one who said Furies comes in three because he named three of them. Other Greek authors have five or one or twenty but most people agree that there is three since three is a powerful number. I’m one of them and Miles is another since she has three Furies.

The only point where the mythology felt strong was in the end. The Furies were using their power to torment Emily and her geeky neighbor. I felt bad for the geek most of the time. It’s the only time in the book where it was quite obvious that the Furies were something paranormal. Half of the time, the reader could have thought of them as figment of either character’s imagination or stalkers.

To me, the biggest question that remain unresolved was why did Sasha break off her online friendship with Chase. Sasha and Chase were connecting emotionally and she just went cold turkey on him for no apparent reason or reason that I can see easily. I’m really curious as to what set her off.

In the end, Fury is a complete miss to me. The mythology felt weak to me because there wasn’t enough emphasis on the Furies and what they are. It’s not great writing when the main character doesn’t know what she did wrong or who the hell the Furies are. Think of it this way, it’s like a vampire book where “what a vampire is” is a foreign topic to the main character. “What a vampire is/ What a Fury is” is vital to understanding the book yet it is not there.  Perhaps there is no background history on the Furies because it’s going to be explained in the second book but I don’t think I’m going to pick up the second book because I was reading this book for the mythological elements which are severely missing. Emily is not what I was interested in. She is secondary to me. Maybe I will pick it up if the cover manages to deceive me again.

2.5 BB- Look for in the library

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9th book in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: First in a series, YA Mythology, Where are you reading?-Ascension, Maine

Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Title: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson & The Olympians # 1
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Pub. Year: 2005
Purchase: Amazon / B & N

Blurb from Amazon:
After getting expelled from yet another school for yet another clash with mythological monsters only he can see, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about his unique abilities: He is a demigod, half human, half immortal. Even more stunning: His father is the Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea, making Percy one of the most powerful demigods alive. There’s little time to process this news. All too soon, a cryptic prophecy from the Oracle sends Percy on his first quest, a mission to the Underworld to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus.

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What I will remember: Complex conspiracy in book vs. Better quest in film

I love mythology, especially Greek, so I don’t understand why it took me such a long time to pick up this book especially after enjoying the film.  It was quite an enjoyable read. I’m not sure if I like the film more or the book though.

Riordan had a great variety of Greek mythological creatures infused into the storyline such as Medusa, the Minotaur, furies, satyrs, demi-gods, and so on.  Medusa going after Annabeth because she is the daughter of Athena. Hephaestus trying to catch Ares and Aphrodite in the act again. Multiples myths that explain the relationship between the gods and the monsters were laid out through the book. I believe the foundations of the myths were correct so when you a spider, think of Ariadne.

Let’s talk characters. Percy is the protagonist of the book. He was all right and like most protagonist, everything comes easy to him but he didn’t really let that go to his head. He was still insecure of his abilities and try his best to do the right thing. Annabeth, the daughter of Athena, was bookworm smart and she tries very hard to not let the rivalry between her mother and Percy’s father Poseidon, get in the way of her friendship with Percy. Grover, the satyr, was a good friend, a bit awkward and funny. The Greek gods appear to be true to their nature such as Ares looking for fights when he can.

I love the descriptions of the Underworld and Hades. Sure, Hades was made to look like the villain throughout the book but when Percy sees Hades for the first time, he is the only Greek god that struck him as “godlike.” He has this personality that demands respect and Percy felt that. I didn’t like that he was compare to a terrorist leader but to each his own. I’m really glad that he wasn’t portrayed as such an evil being considering he is not evil. It showed through his concern over how over packed his domain is becoming and the problems that he is facing. He was very human. I like that. Cerberus is such a lovely puppy as well.

I’m really glad that Persephone was not mentioned in the book, other than her Garden. I hated how Persephone and Hades were portrayed in the film. Seriously, the rocker look did not fit them. I pictured them more as having Gothic elements in their life, it’s much more classic for the Underworld couple.

There are certain parts where the movie was much better. The fighting sequences of the film were more intense than in the book. I prefer the quest of gathering the stones instead of the stones just being given to Percy (once again, illustrating how things come easy to him) and the ending of the film was something I enjoyed more than the ending of the book. Everything was unraveled in New York and we knew who stole the master bolt. The conspiracy in the film wasn’t as in-depth as the conspiracy in the book; the conspiracy is much more complex and there are darker forces at work that were never mentioned in the film. I like the complexity of the book ending but I like the intense fighting at the end of the film as well. This probably wouldn’t have been a problem if I had not see the movie first.

The Lightning Thief is getting 5 Black Butterflies because it is using the Greek mythology properly, it was a very entertaining read, portrayed Hades and his domain in a realistic way. More importantly, I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series.

5 BB- Total Keeper

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8th book in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: YA Mythology, 1st in a Series, Cupcake War, Where are you reading?-New York