The Hidden Oracle and The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan | Mini Reviews

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. The Trials of Apollo, #1.

My copy: Disney Hyperion, May 2016. Hardcover, 361 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.

But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go… an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.


Thoughts on The Hidden Oracle:

  • We get an Apollo haiku every chapter. I can die happy, because Apollo haikus are so atrocious they’re brilliant.
  • Apollo is hilarious. He’s a mighty god stuck in the form of a flabby, pimply teenage boy. The stuff he spews out of his mouth is gold sometimes. He’s so gloriously full of himself, but not in a “want to smack you upside the head” kind of way.
  • I wish that Meg was a little bit older, 12 seemed kind of young, but she was a trip.
  • I loved all the references to characters and past events from Rick’s other two Greek and Roman series. Also there was a sweet reference to the Magnus Chase series.
  • I couldn’t keep up with all the Camp Half-Blood campers. Everyone had a name but I never really felt that attached to the minor characters when something happened, because there were just too many. (Also, how is everyone not dead?)
  • I appreciate the diversity in Rick’s books. People of all backgrounds are represented, and even Apollo is bisexual!
  • The story is still formulaic as ever, but it works, and I love seeing how Rick incorporates myths and gods he hasn’t written about yet.
  • But really, Camp Half-Blood seems to be located in the worst possible place EVER.
  • The return of Percy! I like how Percy is in The Trials of Apollo and Annabeth is in Magnus Chase.
  • Will + Nico = ❤
  • PEACHES! ♦


The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2.

My copy: Disney Hyperion, October 2016. Hardcover, 459 pages.

Source: Library.

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Read my review of The Sword of Summer, book #1, here.

Synopsis:

Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.


Thoughts on The Hammer of Thor:

  • Ah, I love how convoluted Norse mythology is. (I mean, all mythology is pretty convoluted, but Norse mythology can be pretty complicated.) It felt good to be back.
  • Jack the sword killed me. Talking weapons are my new favorite thing.
  • Hooray for more diversity! Not only do we have persons of color, but also an elf who is deaf, and Alex the gender-fluid child of Loki. The crew is pretty awesome.
  • Book 2 was kind of a chore at times. There was so just much side-tracking. I know this is Rick’s formula for quests and stuff (“we have to go to A to pick up this thing B needs in order to tell us how to get to C but our ultimate goal is like G”), but at times it did get pretty ridiculous.
  • The pop culture references are very funny, but in the future this book will be very dated.
  • Sam is one strong gal. Total bad-ass, but also very vulnerable. Respect. ♦


Have you read The Hidden Oracle?
How about The Hammer of Thor?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a world mythology you’d love to read a new series about?
Comment below letting me know!

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Splintered by A.G. Howard | Book Review

Splintered by A.G. Howard. Splintered, #1.

My copy: Amulet Books (ABRAMS), January 2013. Hardcover, 371 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence.

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.


Thoughts on Splintered:

Pros:

How deliciously fantastical and twisted Wonderland is. It’s everything we all love about Lewis Carroll’s colorful world plus more. Lots more. It’s mad and overwhelming and always exciting.

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Frayed by Kara Terzis | Book Review

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Frayed by Kara Terzis.

My copy: Sourcebooks Fire (Sourcebooks), June 2016. Egalley (review copy), 304 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Sourcebooks!

Disclaimer: While I do know the author through the world of blogging, my online relationship with Kara does not in any way affect my review. This is my honest and completely unbiased opinion.

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Synopsis:

Dear Kesley,
My therapist tells me I should write you a letter. Like flushing all my thoughts and feelings out of my system and onto paper. I tell her it’s a stupid idea.
But here I am, writing a letter to a dead girl. Where do I start? Where did our story begin? From the moment you were born…or died?
I’ll start with the moment I found out the truth about you. Your lies and my pain. Because it always begins and ends with you.
And that end began when Rafe Lawrence came back to town…

Ava Hale will do anything to find her sister’s killer…although she’ll wish she hadn’t. Because the harder Ava looks, the more secrets she uncovers about Kesley, and the more she begins to think that the girl she called sister was a liar. A sneak. A stranger.

And Kesley’s murderer could be much closer than she thought…

A debut novel from Wattpad award-winner Kara Terzis, Frayed is a psychological whodunit that will keep you guessing!


SPOILER FREE PART OF THE REVIEW:

If you want to be completely surprised by this book, don’t read any reviews because so many people give away a giant twist without actually spoiling anything. (I’m looking at you Cait @ Paper Fury, and your Goodreads review!) That being said, it’s a great small-town murder mystery that I couldn’t put down. The ending is also insane. Frayed does have its flaws, however: the characters especially come off as cliche sometimes and it’s not the most original plot, but I really liked it and do recommend checking it out if you want a suspenseful thriller with a very light romance. The focus is 98% on the mystery of “who dunnit?” and for that I was so grateful.

So like, stop reading this right now and go read Frayed, because I’m going to go into mild spoilers below. Goodbyeeee!

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Dreamology by Lucy Keating | Book Review

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Dreamology by Lucy Keating.

My copy: HarperTeen (Harper Collins Publishers), April 2016. Hardcover, 322 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

Vibrantly offbeat and utterly original, Lucy Keating’s debut novel combines the unconventional romance of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the sweetness and heart of Jenny Han.

For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together, they have traveled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist.

But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. Real Max is nothing like Dream Max. He’s stubborn and complicated. And he has a whole life Alice isn’t a part of. Getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped.

Alarmingly, when their dreams start to bleed into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?


Thoughts on Dreamology:

  • First–THAT COVER. Is beautiful. So simple, but so striking and whimsical.
  • Dreamology was not the story I thought it would be, but I was still pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think Alice and Max would work together so soon; I actually wanted more angst and mystery, to be completely honest. Ha!
  • I was in a bit of a reading rut, so the first half of the book didn’t really stick with me. Then I read the last half in about two days and was considerably more impressed and actually enjoyed it. I did skim a bit, but I was feeling more invested in the story finally.
  • This was so fluffy. I wasn’t expecting so much fluffy, but I was okay with that in the end. Sometimes I need a break from all the dark high fantasy I read, right?
  • Dreams are hella fascinating, especially the science regarding them. Sadly, the book doesn’t really dive deep into the science and psychology of dreaming; it went the light and fluffy and dreamy route.
  • This book is all about dreams, and how dreams and reality became one and the same for Alice and Max. The chapters that were strictly Alice’s dreams I will admit I skimmed and skipped sometimes. If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you know very well that I just don’t like reading dreams and flashbacks in novels. So the fact that this book, which is entirely about dreaming, didn’t snag me with the actual dream sequences says a lot.
  • Um, the resolution to the dreaming was a bit too easy. And not very well explained, either. It felt very rushed and tacked-on–and mimicked the endings of so many other books. Too many.
  • In fiction, hilarious and hyper supporting characters like Oliver are absolutely wonderful; they often steal the spotlight. In real life, Oliver would be the biggest idiot around and I honestly wouldn’t want to hang out with him all the time because he would be exhausting.
  • Everyone got their happily ever after or the closure they needed in the end, EVERYONE. A bit too perfect, but cute nonetheless.

In the end, Dreamology was a light, easy read. There’s nothing particularly standout-ish about it, but I do recommend it and will remember it fondly if it ever comes up again. ♦


Have you read Dreamology?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a book about dreams you’ve read?
Comment below letting me know!

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Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes | Book Review

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Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes. Queen of Hearts, #1.

My copy: HarperTeen (Harper Collins Publishers), May 3rd, 2016. ARC (review copy), 306 pages.

Source: Courtesy of the freebie ARC shelf at my local bookstore.

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Synopsis:

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath.

Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


Thoughts on Queen of Hearts:

  • Well. This was disappointing.
  • The writing felt very juvenile, and there were scenes that were obviously not juvenile in the slightest. (Um, pretending to “do it” in a coat closet? Probably not something for middle grade readers.)
  • Where was the plot. Where was it. Hellooooo, plot? Where aaaaaaare yoooooou? O_O Nothing happened until the middle-ish, then a great one thing happened (gasp! Torture! Graphic things! Aiiee!), and then it went back to nothing happening. I really expected a thicker plot — this effing Wonderland! You can literally do ANYTHING — but there wasn’t much here.
  • Speaking of it being Wonderland, I was expecting some of its famous characters to pop up. I expected lots of magic and bizarre things, but, sadly, none of that appeared. No Cheshire Cat, no White Rabbit, no Caterpillar, at least not in the colorful way you might expect. Just bratty Dinah, who I shall rant about in the next paragraph.
  • I really didn’t care for/like any of the characters. Everyone felt so bland. Dinah, though, Princess of Hearts, oh boy. She was kind of a b*tch. And not a sympathetic b*tch. There are some characters that act badly but you understand where they’re coming from, or at least their motivations somewhat justify their actions. I like these morally gray characters; they’re layered and feel real. I may or may not like them, but at least they’re not two-dimensional. Well, this does not describe Dinah. She was mean, rude, whiny, pushy, hypocritical, and rash. (She literally goes and does something insanely dangerous because of a “bad feeling.” Agh.) And then she was ALL OVER her best friend and (of course) love interest, when he was clear he wasn’t into her the same way. (Couldn’t remember his name for the life of me, so I had to go look: Wardley.) Gah. I couldn’t stand Dinah.
  • While reading Queen of Hearts, I didn’t hate it. But now that I’ve had some time to think about it and actually get my thoughts in order, I strongly disliked it. As my first Wonderland retelling (though it feels more like a prequel), this was disappointing. ♦


Have you read Queen of Hearts?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a Wonderland retelling you recommend?
(I know of Splintered, so gimme something else!)
Comment below letting me know!

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The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge | Book Review

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The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge.

My copy: Amulet Books, April 2016. Egalley (review copy), 384 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Amulet Books!

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Synopsis:

To earn a secret so profound, I would need to tell momentous lies, and make as many people as possible believe them…

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well mannered—a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiosity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing—like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father’s death was no accident.

In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit, in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. Or, it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies—like fires, wild and crackling—quickly take on a life of their own.


The Lie Tree has a great premise and a great protagonist, but it just wasn’t the right book for me when I was reading it; I was still in a big reading rut. Absolutely nothing of the book’s fault — my head just wasn’t in it. I’ve seen so many other people love this book that I know I just missed a lot due to reading it because I felt like I had to. Oh, the woes of being a book blogger.

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Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker | Book Review

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Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker.

My copy: Simon & Schuster, June 14th, 2016. Egalley (review copy), 309 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Simon & Schuster!

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Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab . . .

ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.

Jaxon’s first date. Ever.

In rehab, he can’t blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can’t slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he’ll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date.

If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother’s absence, and maybe admit that it’s more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.

Prepare to be cured.


Cure for the Common Universe is a really unique story about a boy who gets sent to video game rehab — only the rehab itself is set up like a video game, with points, leveling up, tournaments, and side quests. The cast of characters is extremely quirky and diverse, and all the characters do really get on your nerves — but their personal stories also make you care about them.

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Arena by Holly Jennings | Book Review

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Arena by Holly Jennings.

My copy: Ace. April 5th, 2015. Egalley (review copy), 336 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Ace and Berkley Publishing Group!

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Synopsis:

A fast-paced and gripping near-future science fiction debut about the gritty world of competitive gaming…

Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV.
She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier…

The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.

And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.

Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.

The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside…


So what is Arena about? It’s about the hard world of virtual gaming in the future, to put it simply. The protagonist is Kali Ling, an elite-level gamer who is competing with her team in the RAGE tournament. The book, surprisingly, is more about addiction and depression, and coming out of that dangerous spiral downward in one piece. I was not expecting that at all; I thought the book would have more political themes and a more complex plot. Not so. It’s 90% training for the championship and 10% the actual virtual reality battling. With the overarching plot of dealing with and overcoming addiction.

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Warriors: The Darkest Hour by Erin Hunter | Reread Review

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The Darkest Hour by Erin Hunter. Warriors, #6.

My copy: Avon Books (Harper Collins Publishers), 2006. Paperback, 315 pages.

Source: Own.

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Read my reviews of Into the Wild, book #1, Fire and Ice, book #2, Forest of Secrets, book #3, Rising Storm, book #4, and A Dangerous Path, book #5.

Synopsis:

ThunderClan’s darkest hour is upon them, as Tigerstar’s quest for power plunges all the Clans into the most terrible danger any cat has ever faced. In order to save his Clan and his friends, Fireheart must uncover the meaning of an ominous proclamation from StarClan:

“Four will become two. Lion and tiger will meet in battle, and blood will rule the forest.”

The time has come for prophecies to unfold, and for heroes to rise …


Some random thoughts on The Darkest Hour:

+ Epic conclusion to the original Warriors series!

+ What’s it about? Taking on Tigerstar head on and fulfilling that damn prophecy from book 1.

+ While Tigerstar is the series‘ main villain, wait until you meet Sourge, this book’s main villain. Yup, the Erins throw everything they have into this finale, which might be the darkest book of the series!

+ The Darkest Hour is basically all preparation for and then a giant battle, and it pulls off this whirlwind setup well.

+ Almost every cat in ThunderClan gets mentioned, and quite a lot of cats from the other clans pop up, too. It’s great to see such a big ensemble cast. Firestar’s awesome, so is Cinderpelt, and Sandstorm, and Graystripe, and Cloudtail, and Whitestorm, and all my favorite characters!

+ It’s just non-stop action! Which is pretty great considering the major lull that was book 4 and a little bit of 5, although book 5, A Dangerous Path, did pick up greatly, but was mostly plotting rather than non-stop action.

+ I didn’t review this book right after finishing it, so I don’t have much to say besides these random, overall thoughts. But it’s a thrilling conclusion to the beloved Warriors series! I know that not everyone is or will be a fan, seeing as these books are middle grade and about cats — but I will forever love them. Because I want to be forever a child and will never stop loving cats. ♦

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Have you read The Darkest Hour?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s an epic series finale you’ve read?
Comment below letting me know!
And, as always, happy reading!

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