Adam’s Review of The Crone’s Jewels (Pantheons #3) by E.J. Dabel

tcjejdThe Godfather 3, Mockingjay, and Scream 3 are all third installments that failed to live up to their predecessors. What is it about the third book or movie that just leads to such disappointment? Was it laziness on the author’s part or was it, as an audience, that we just didn’t care about the series anymore? Whatever the cause, I was hoping that Pantheons: The Crone’s Jewels by E.J. Dabel would break my third installment curse and equal the quality of the first two. Would my 27-year streak continue or would it be broken?

As referenced at the end of the previous book in the series Isaiah made six clones of himself, each of which had to complete a mission. The first clone’s mission is to travel to see Odin, accompanied by Amanda Golden, to get access to the Sleipnir so they can gain access to Taraturs. They do this so they can discover the fate of Cronos after his battle with the Balor of evil. Along the way we are introduced to new gods, hailing from Norse, Aztec, and even Japanese mythology. Through it all, we see the clone constantly tortured by Amanda, who calls him clone and often talks down to him. Will the mission be a success or will they fail to do what Isaiah had set out for them?

I will admit, this installment of the series didn’t grab my attention as quickly as the previous two. Perhaps it’s because I started reading it at the wrong time (in the middle of a very chaotic move, both personally and job-wise), but it took me a few attempts to really get in to this book. However, once I got over the bump of starting over and over, I really did enjoy the story. Once again, Dabel makes you care for the characters. He allows you the emotion of rooting for the underdog and you find yourself happy when something goes in their favor and upset when they are knocked down. I really enjoy that about his writing, because so often you read about characters that seem so distant and clearly fictitious that you can’t root for them. However, in this particular story, you find yourself rooting for Clone 1 to finish his mission and you want to see where the story goes next.

Another thing that I found really interesting about this book was the incorporation of the characters of Thor and Loki. As we’ve seen them in other forms of entertainment as two of the main characters in The Avengers, it was fun to see them in a story containing mythology. I feel that with the comics and the movies, both characters are so watered down with regard to their mythological side.  That being said, I really enjoyed seeing this new side to them. It was almost like watching a movie you love but from a different perspective. Different aspects were highlighted and as the reader I got a better understanding of the characters and more of their history. As a side note, if a movie is ever made of this novel, please do not cast Chris Hemsworth as Thor. He is about as dull as watching paint dry. Tom Hiddleston as Loki can be allowed, because he was pretty awesome in the role.

All in all I am really glad that I saw this book through to the end, as I was really nervous based on my initial reaction to the work. I really enjoyed the other two other books in this series, and I was looking forward to reading this work. I think that it is a little bit slower initially than the first two, but it picks up quickly. I still like the second installment the best so far, but I am glad I continued with this journey and finished up part three. I eagerly await reading part four, which as I saw on Goodreads, will be out in the fall.  Keep your eyes open!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Crone’s Jewels by E.J. Dabel
Sea Lion Books (2013)
eBook: 190 pages
ASIN: B00DZF439G

Special thanks to Sea Lion Books for my review copy!

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Adam’s Review of Game of the Gods (Pantheons #2) by E.J. Dabel

gotgRevenge is one of the most powerful feelings in the world. Mix that with feeling like you have to prove yourself for past mistakes, past failures, and what you have yet to accomplish, and this combination will drive you like no other. That mixture can have characters that are calm in nature driven to extreme actions. Pantheons: The Game of the Gods by E.J. Dabel, the second book in the Pantheon series, discuss all of this, along with the incorporation of characters we grew to love from the first book in the series, Pantheons.

Taking place a year after Isaiah’s battle with his father Zeus and the events of last novel, Isaiah is training in order to be better prepared for the next battle with his father. He is training with the mysterious man who rescued him in the last battle, and is trying to grow in certain areas, such as working with his lightning bolts. While this is happening, the powers that be decided that the teenage Gods must compete in the Fourth Great War (the legend was explained at the beginning of the first novel). However because the Gods are now in the bodies of strong teenagers, a game of tasselball (the game of the Gods) instead of a Great War will be played. Throughout the story, we see new characters introduced, old ones re-introduced, and find Isaiah learning about his true abilities.

I was hoping that I would enjoy this novel as much as the first one and boy did I. I regret not reading these back-to-back, because I did have to keep referring to the first novel to remind myself of characters.  I really enjoyed reading about the new developments of  my favorite characters. Isaiah is a great protagonist and great lead character because you root for him and want him to succeed. You see that he is human, despite his abilities that most humans don’t have, and you can’t help but cheer for someone who seems like the constant underdog. I enjoyed when the Red-Rovers were introduced and enjoyed their characters.

I didn’t mention this in my review of the first novel, but I was constantly double-checking the facts about the gods. I knew they would all be proven true, but I was amazed by the research that went into the novels. Dabel incorporated a ton of different gods, not only Greek, but Celtic, Babylonian, Norse, and Maori Gods and Goddesses. This made me really enjoy the historical background of the novel and opened me up to a brand new array of history. I had never researched any of the other Gods, but I definitely thought it was interesting to read about them to see their similarities and purposes among the different cultures. Even though this may be meant for a younger reader, I think it will not only prove to be entertaining, but also informational to all ages.

Like The Godfather Part II and Catching Fire, I think this second installment in the series was stronger than the first. It caught my attention from the first second and was able to keep me riveted until the end. This is my third time reading a novel by E.J. Dabel, and this was by far my favorite endeavor. Dabel really understands the characters and material he is writing about and this really shows in the context of the novel. He is able to give the reader what they want while always leaving them wanting more. I look forward to reading my next Dabel novel and hope they will continue to keep me engaged.

5 out of 5 Stars

Game of the Gods by E.J. Dabel
Sea Lion Books (2012)
eBook: 267 pages
ASIN: B008FEP09O

Special thanks to Sea Lion Books for my review copy!

The March Roundup!

Well folks, the first quarter of the year is over.  Wasn’t it just January 1st?  With the first quarter over I feel the need to evaluate where I am on my reading goal.  I need to read 10 books a month to stay on pace for the overall goal of 120 books read.  At the end of March my year-to-date total was 43 books, 13 books ahead of schedule!!  (The 24 books I finished reading in March went a long way in pushing me over the mark).  You can see a full listing of everything I’ve read so far with links to their reviews here.

Completed favors

Now that March is over I can tell you what really kept me so busy in February!  My mother turned sixty on March 20th and as such my family threw a surprise party for her at the beginning of March! (She’s too smart to have done it any closer to her actual birthday).  Anyway, her birthday falls on the first day of spring so we decided on a “spring” theme for the party.  I’m still shocked that my sister, aunts, and father were able to pull it off without her finding out.  Anyway, back to the planning!  As the crafty sister, I was placed in charge of the centerpieces, favors, and cake!  Working off the spring theme I bought different colored ceramic birds, Spanish moss, and cellophane bags to make birds in nests for each guest to take home.  I really need to pat myself on the back. They came out great and everyone loved them!  Also, sticking with the spring idea I got these awesome colored flower pots to put fresh flowers in for each of the tables.  Unfortunately, that wound up turning into a disaster because the pots were wider than I thought and the flowers were all over the place and ::sigh:: it was a mess.  I wound up having to stuff wet paper towels into the pots with the flowers to prop them up and keep them hydrated.  It was all worth it though just to see the shocked look on my mom’s face.

Surprised mom!

Surprised mom!

I don’t think anything can beat that face. Seriously.  Anyway, we kept busy the rest of the month with visits to my cousin’s house in upstate New York as well as a trip to the vet for Belle and Sebastian.  Our bowling league also finished up the last Thursday of the month and I can happily say I killed it this year!  I finished as the highest scoring female bowler in our league with a high score of 181 (WOO-HOO)!

On the reading front I read a wide variety of genres last month.  Time-traveling, historical fiction, mysteries, romances, graphic novels, and even a few paranormal ones! I definitely covered the entire spectrum this month, and I’m proud to say that I enjoyed every minute!  It’s not every month that I get to be this productive, and I’m happy that I was able to accomplish so many goals in such a short amount of time.   It’s difficult to come up with a top read of the month having read so many different genres, but if I was being forced to pick one I’d have to pick Voyager by Diana Gabaldon.  I quite simply cannot put her Outlander series down.  I have so many reviews forthcoming for all the great books I read in March. I have to say there are not many losers in the bunch.  It was hands down a month full of reading surprises!

Looking forward to April, I can tell you I’m part of a few blog tours for new releases from Michelle Diener (author of In A Treacherous Courtand M.J. Rose (author of  The Book of Lost Fragrances). Todd’s currently reading Resurrection Express by Stephen Romano and How To Plant A Body by Terri Ann Armstrong. Adam’s working on his review of Game of the Gods by E.J Dabel, the second book in Dabel’s Pantheons series. Sam’s review for Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason is going to be posted on the blog in the next few days.  Once that’s posted she’s moving on to Firebrand by Gillian Philip and The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison.  Jess is reading a biography about Sylvia Plath entitled Mad Girl’s Love Song.  Charlie’s working on an interview with Paul Cornell, author of London Falling and writer for Doctor Who!  And Christine is reading Under the Same Stars by Tim Lott and Over the Rainbow by Paul Pickering.  The staff is doing a fantastic job at keeping this blog well-rounded and full of book selections for all genres and all readers.  My thanks and praise goes out to them!

Well folks, that’s March in a nutshell.

Until next time, happy reading!

The February Roundup!

February proved to be a month for catching up.  When January ended I was two books behind the pace I needed to meet my goal of 120 books for the year.  As of the end of February, I’m completely back on pace! Woo-hoo!! (I read 12 books in February, bringing my total to 19 for the year.)  Two things directly contributed to my ability to get back on pace:  1.) An INTENSE blizzard that wound up dumping 40″ of snow onto my town, making it the hardest hit in the tri-state area. 2.) The weeks I spent sick with a sinus infection and possible case of bronchitis.  Together, these two things equated out to a ton of time spent in the house and reading.

20130210_133339The blizzard was one of the most insane things I’ve ever witnessed.  Todd’s car (a VW Passat) was completely covered in snow, so much so that we couldn’t even see it! It was super difficult to dig out.  Regular plow trucks were no match for the record-breaking amount of snow we had and kept blowing transmissions due to the weight and amount of snow they had to push.  Commercial construction trucks and the National Guard had to come in and help plow streets enough for emergency vehicles to pass through.  Plows couldn’t get to the apartment building that Todd and I live in for almost three days.  Thankfully we didn’t lose power and had enough heat, books, and snacks to keep us occupied.  It’s been almost three weeks since the storm hit and we still have MOUNDS of snow everywhere. We’ll be lucky if it’s melted by April.

On the book front, February was a month filled with releases I was eagerly awaiting.  I was able to read the final book in Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, Sever, as well as Sarah MacLean’s newest addition to her Scoundrel’s series, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover.  Add to these Marie Force’s newest Gansett Island book, Waiting For Love, Rachel Van Dyken’s The Wolf’s Pursuit,  Nancy Kelley’s Loving Miss Darcyand Maya Banks’ Rush, and you can tell I did a lot of “new” reading.

Speaking of “new” reading… if you remember, last month I did a joint review of Beth Revis’ final book in the Across the Universe trilogy, Shades of Earth, with Sam.  Well, I found out that Beth was coming to Connecticut (WAHOO) with something called the “Breathless Reads” tour.  Penguin (her publisher) organized the tour for her and several other YA authors to come out to indie bookstores all across the US and speak about their books.  Luckily the bookstore that they came to in CT was R.J. Julia (my favorite)!  Todd and I jumped at the chance to attend and man are we happy we did.  Not only were we able to see Beth (and get our books signed), but we were able to listen to four other YA authors (Fiona Paul, Morgan Rhodes, Elizabeth Richards, and Jessica Spotswood) and get introduced to some new books we’re excited to tell you about.  Todd wrote more about the event here, as it was the first one he’d attended where he knew one of the authors.

Looking forward to March, I have lots of books to read (I’m asking myself why I’m even writing that sentence as it’s the story of my life each month.)  I’m hoping to get caught up on reviews over the next two weeks.  I have some GREAT reads to tell you about that you’ll hopefully find as interesting as I did!  Todd’s reading Targets of Revenge by Jeffrey S. Stephens, Adam’s reading Game of the Gods by E.J. Dabel, Sam’s reading Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason, and Christine’s reading A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan.  So, lots of new and unique stuff coming at you from across the genre spectrum.

Until next time….happy reading!

The Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2012

heart-bookHi everyone!  I thought that since you all have heard so much about my own personal goals and favorite reads of 2012, it was about time that you heard from the rest of the staff.  I’ve asked them to send me their top reads of 2012, and I’ve posted them below.  I think it’s interesting to see what different readers choose as their favorites, and it’s always a great springboard for opening a discussion too!  So, without further adieu, here’s the Reflections of a Book Addict staff favorites of 2012!

Todd:

  1. Timeline by Michael Crichton
  2. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  3. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  4. A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis
  5. H10N1 by M.R. Cornelius
  6. Flesh and Fire (Vineart War #1) by Laura Anne Gilman
  7. The Sounding by Carrie Salo

Adam:

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
  3. Pantheons by E.J. Dabel
  4. Albino by E.J. Dabel
  5. Deal With the Devil by J. Gunnar Grey

Christine:

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  2. Issues 1-6 of Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt
  3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  4. The Across the Universe series by Beth Revis
  5. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
  6. Essex County by Jeff Lemire

Jess:

  1. The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg
  2. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
  3. Paris: A Love Story by Kati Marton

What do you think?  Leave us a comment below!

Adam’s Review of Pantheons by E. J. Dabel

Zeus. When that name was said in my house growing up, I always thought of the picture of the Parthenon my mother had in the living room. I also thought of the most powerful God in the world and all the myths my YiaYia (Grandma in Greek) use to tell me.  Growing up in a Greek household, often times my bedtime stories were replaced by those of my ancestors and the myths of why certain things occurred in the world. With that being said, I was really excited to read Pantheons by E.J Dabel for two reasons. One, I really enjoyed reading his last piece of work, Albino (review here), and two, I’ve always enjoyed hearing/reading mythological stories (they are much better than fairy tales if you ask me).

The novel starts off with an introduction of the Gods and how they are still in existence, yet in a different form than you’d expect. In ancient times, all of the head Gods refused to fight in the Fourth Great War because of what Odin, the chief God of Norse, prophesied  He foretold that a great darkness would arise after the conflict. So, when the Gods refused to fight, the powers to be took away their immortal powers and replaced them with strong, but mortal, teenagers.

The story then picks up in the present day with an orphan named Isaiah Marshall and his group of friends Jeremy, Pip, and Monty, also known as the Red Rovers.  Isaiah doesn’t know anything about his past or where he came from, but constantly has a vision of a lady who he believes to be his mother. After a chance encounter with Principal Webb, the principal of Kaliber Academy, Isaiah and his friends are offered the chance to enroll in the academy and Isaiah learns the truth about his identity. He learns that he is a minor God, meaning his parents were both Gods. His father was Zeus and his mother was Metis, one of the wisdom Goddesses from ancient Greek mythology. Principal Webb, the mystery stranger who was so nice Isaiah, is actually Prometheus, one of the last two titans of Greece. He promised to look after Isaiah when his mother was killed. From this discovery comes a story of self discovery, mixed with information about various Gods and Goddesses from different ancient civilizations.

E.J Dabel is an excellent character writer. He is able to write characters that people will relate to and root for. The way he wrote the main protagonist Isaiah was really outstanding. He really makes him seem like any other teenager, with flaws and all. I was really looking forward to reading this, especially after reading Albino and seeing how he made those characters jump off the page. I think being a big movie fan makes me want to have characters to root for. These characters, both good and evil, jumped off the page and made the story come to life in my head. I thought all the minor details were really important and really made for a fuller story.

One thing that immediately came to my mind while reading this novel is how great of a read it would be in a middle school language arts class. Maybe it’s the teacher in me that has me in a constant mode of cross curriculum, but I think this could be used while learning mythology, or about Ancient Greece  in Social Studies. With some of the material, especially having to do with the Gods and Goddess, I found myself checking up the facts because it had been so long since I had studied this. Not only was the book entertaining, but also it was really interesting and I think it could definitely be used to introduce kids to the ideas behind the Gods and Goddesses of the ancient world.

With everything said and done, I really enjoyed reading Pantheons. I thought Mr. Dabel was able to once again create a protagonist that the reader can truly root for and see a little of themselves in. I think teenagers in particular will truly enjoy the novel, as it is fun and adventure mixed into one. If you want to learn more about ancient Gods and Goddesses and don’t want to read a history textbook, I think this would be a great introduction.

4 out of 5 Stars

Pantheons by E. J. Dabel
Sea Lion Books (2012)
eBook: 257 pages
ASIN: B006V7NPJE

Special thanks to Sea Lion Books for my review copy!

Adam’s Review of Albino by E.J. Dabel

Have you ever wanted to visit another world and live a different life than the one you had been living? What if in this new land, you were crowned Emperor and were meant to lead the people against an evil emperor who only wanted to destruct the world and cause harm to the people who live in it. All of these questions are explored in the novel Albino written by E.J Dabel.

In the beginning of Dabel’s story, we meet Albino.  Albino is a peculiar mouse. He is all white with red eyes. He lives with Farmer Springer, whom he is able to communicate with. One night during a particularly bad storm, Farmer Springer begins to reminisce with Albino about the night he found him almost 50 years ago. Also living with Albino and Farmer Springer is a boy from the street named Darl. Albino believes that only Farmer Springer can communicate with him, until Darl makes it known that he can understand Albino as well. The morning after the violent storm Darl takes Albino and throws him in the river, hoping to get rid of him forever. Albino awakens in a far-off land called Nothengarrd where he is introduced to Morgenbrisa, another mouse who happens to be a princess. Later, he is introduced to more friends including Lita (another princess), a raccoon, a wise crow, and a flying squirrel. Initially when Albino gets to Nothengarrd he is referred to as an abomination because he is half mouse, half rat. Later through some discovery it is revealed that Hoge Koning (the Emperor of Nothengarrd) has to defeat the Loucura (Emperor of the East) and his creations of Ma’ladees. Will Albino step up and become the emperor he is destined to be?

For a book that is supposed to be for younger readers, this book had a lot of heart. From the first few chapters, I thought the story was going to be about Albino and his life on a farm and then trying to get back to the farm, á la The Wizard of Oz. But as I read more, I realized it was more like The Chronicles of Narnia than Wizard of Oz. From the first page of the book, the character of Albino intrigued me because he seemed like a truly unique form of the lead character role. He was really well written and really was the heart of this story (hence naming the title after him). Albino went had major growths and transformations in the novel that you can chronicle through Dabel’s excellent writing in each chapter.  Many times we see main characters portrayed as weak at first, but then they’re suddenly leading armies in no time. Dabel made Albino progress at a realistic pace, adding extra struggles to the story which were really powerful.

Dabel wrote this story in a very interesting way, one which made it much more powerful and realistic. Whether it was having the animals use items that they found in the forest as clothing, or in the way in which he described the conflict in the work, Dabel was able to emphasize the important parts and create a story that I wanted to continue reading. The inclusion of pictures of the characters really helped me put faces to the characters and give them more personality. Maybe it’s because I somehow make movies out of everything I read, but I think Albino and the books that will follow it would make an excellent movie.

All and all, I enjoyed Albino more than anticipated. At first glance the story seemed a little far out there and I don’t really like mice or rats in real life, so I had to get the thought of subway rats out of my head.  However once I did that, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. I think anyone from 9 to 109 will enjoy this book because of its classic story plot mixed with new school ideas. I am very interested to see how the rest of the series plays out!

4 out of 5 Stars

Albino by E.J. Dabel
Sea Lion Books (2012)
eBook: 217 pages
ASIN: B007ZFRGG4

Special thanks to Sea Lion Books for my review copy!