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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Teddy & Co. by Cynthia Voigt | Book Review

Teddy & Co. by Cynthia Voigt, illustrations by Paola Zakimi.

My copy: Knopf Books for Young Readers, November 2016. ARC (review copy), 179 pages.

Source: Courtesy of my local bookstore.

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Synopsis:

Teddy is a thinking kind of bear. Of all his friends, he does the most wondering. He lives with a ragtag group of lost toys—a very hungry snake, an elephant who likes to bake, two charmingly silly pigs, and a reclusive penguin—and they all bump along happily together. But their peaceful world gets shaken up when new toys arrive—first a rabbit, who is not as soft and floppy as he looks, and then a beautiful doll with royal ambitions. Will the newcomers learn to fit into the community? Or will the community be forever changed by them? As Teddy the philosopher would answer: Yes.


Teddy is a stuffed bear without legs whose mode of transportation is a red wagon his elephant friend pulls around. Hooray for the representation of disabled characters in books for young people.

This book is a cute little tale about a bunch of toys and their day to day adventures when two new toys show up unexpectedly: a douche-y rabbit and a bratty doll who decides she’s going to be Queen of everything.

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Zodiac by Sam Wilson | Book Review

Zodiac by Sam Wilson.

My copy: Pegasus Crime, February 7th, 2017. ARC (review copy), 446 pages.

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

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Synopsis:

A starting new thriller with one of the most original concepts in years, where the line between a life of luxury and an existence of poverty can be determined by the stroke of midnight.

In San Celeste, a series of uniquely brutal murders targets victims from totally different walks of life. In a society divided according to Zodiac signs, those differences are cast at birth and binding for life. All eyes are on detective Jerome Burton and astrological profiler Lindi Childs—divided in their beliefs over whether the answer is written in the stars, but united in their conviction that there is an ingenious serial killer executing a grand plan.

Together, they will unravel a dark tale of betrayal, lost love, broken promises and a devastating truth with the power to tear their world apart…


I haven’t read a good thriller in a while. I forgot how much I enjoy the tension, action, and fast pace. Zodiac sometimes meanders, but everything is there for a reason. The chapters are short and snappy, and the information given is all fascinating. It’s a mind game to find a murderer, and while the victims seem pretty random at first — they couldn’t be more darkly connected.

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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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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley | Mini-Review

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

My copy: Daily Lit email installments.

Source: Daily Lit.

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Synopsis:

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.


Thoughts on Frankenstein:

I’ll admit, it took me a bit to start liking this story, but once the monster was animated, I started to enjoy it. The monster’s experiences and questions about life and living were fascinating to read about, and the themes about responsibility, dangerous knowledge, and power of creation were prevalent throughout.

I’ll admit, I skimmed from time to time, especially toward the last third of the book. (I was just trying to finish it because I’d been reading it without much forward momentum for so long.) But it was not hard to read at all, like some classics can be. The structure was a little all-over-the-place with prose and letters mixed together, and I was hardly scared by this “gothic horror” novel.

I never really felt for any of the characters, although I was very moved by the monster’s beautiful and eloquent speech. His story about observing a family and interacting with them was heartbreaking. Often when I read classics, there is a single scene or a few scenes that really grip me and make me appreciate the writing that has stood the test of time. That was the part of Frankenstein I really liked and will remember. ♦


Have you read Frankenstein?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s the last classic you read?
Comment below letting me know!

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Let the Wind Rise by Shannon Messenger | Book Review

Let the Wind Rise by Shannon Messenger. Let the Sky Fall, #3.

My copy: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division), April 2016. Hardcover, 407 pages.

Source: Library.

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Read my review of Let the Sky Fall, book #1, here.
Read my review of Let the Storm Break, book #2, here.

Synopsis:

The breathtaking action and whirlwind adventure build to a climax in this thrilling conclusion to the “remarkably unpredictable” (BCCB) Sky Fall trilogy from the bestselling author of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series.

Vane Weston is ready for battle. Against Raiden’s army. Against the slowly corrupting Gale Force. Even against his own peaceful nature as a Westerly. He’ll do whatever it takes, including storming Raiden’s icy fortress with the three people he trusts the least. Anything to bring Audra home safely.

But Audra won’t wait for someone to rescue her. She has Gus—the guardian she was captured with. And she has a strange “guide” left behind by the one prisoner who managed to escape Raiden. The wind is also rising to her side, rallying against their common enemy. When the forces align, Audra makes her play—but Raiden is ready.

Freedom has never held such an impossible price, and both groups know the sacrifices will be great. But Vane and Audra started this fight together. They’ll end it the same way.


Let the Wind Rise is the fight to free Audra and Gus. It is the final showdown between our (mostly) good guys and the evil (slightly cardboard-y) villain Raiden. It’s a whirlwind (har har) of activity, so the pace is breakneck. I wasn’t blown away (har har har) by the conclusion to this underrated fantasy trilogy, but it was still very good and easy to jump right into despite not having read the previous books in a while.

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The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book Review

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

My copy: Harlequin Teen, May 2016. Hardcover, 474 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.


At first glance, Mallory Dodge is literally me: her name is Mallory, she was adopted, she home schooled, and she completely overthinks what to say and how people will perceive her words. So the beginning of this book, whilst getting to know “Mouse”, was kind of strange, but after the story kicked in, it shaped up to be a great book about personal strength, moving on, and finding love and support from all sorts of people.

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Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs | Book Review

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs.

My copy: Quirk Books, October 4th, 2016. ARC (review copy), 240 pages.

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

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About the book:

Ever heard of Allied spy Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman whom the Nazis considered “highly dangerous”? Or German painter and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who planned and embarked on the world’s first scientific expedition? How about Huang Daopo, the inventor who fled an abusive child marriage only to revolutionize textile production in China?

Women have always been able to change the world, even when they didn’t get the credit. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs introduces you to pioneering female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors—each profile a study in passion, smarts, and stickto-itiveness, complete with portraits by Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to present-day women-centric STEM organizations.


Women in history had it hard. Women today still do, but it is thanks to these pioneers of their gender and generation that we can freely attend college, study STEM, travel the globe, fly planes, wear pants, and climb mountains, among other things that were unheard of for women even just a century ago.

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Graphic Novels & Manga Mini-Reviews! (aka, a bunch of 3 and 4-star books)

Mini-Reviews!

There are a bunch of books, mostly graphic novels and manga, that I haven’t reviewed. So I thought I’d share some (very) brief thoughts on them! Some I read a while ago, some I read recently, but here ya go. Kind of a random post, I know, but a little something I thought I’d throw up. I am determined to get back to blogging more than once a month, ha!

All of the books below I borrowed from the library.


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Crafting with Feminism: 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy by Bonnie Burton | Book Review

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Crafting with Feminism: 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy by Bonnie Burton.

My copy: Quirk Books, October 18th, 2016. Paperback (review copy), 112 pages.

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

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About the book:

This is what a feminist crafter looks like! Wear your ideology on your sleeve by creating feminist merit badges (like “started an all-girl band” or “rocked roller derby”). Prove that the political is personal with DIY power panties (“No means no”). Craft great feminist hero finger puppets (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Frida Kahlo) or googly-eyed tampon buddies. Fun sidebars provide background on (s)heroes of the feminist movement.


Crafting with Feminism is, superficially, cute and clever, but a few of the projects are a bit cringe-worthy, and the message about feminism and what it actually constitutes is very weak.

This crafting book has girl-power ideas you can create with your gal-pals at a party, or maybe if you’re in need of a pick-me-up if you’re just done with men and their crap (heh). Some of them are cute: finger puppets, reusable lunch bags, flower crowns, rings, hoop art, candles, and — my favorite — “High Heels Are a Pain Planters”. Other projects are a little questionable: “Tampon Buddies”, a “Uterus Body Pillow”, “Power Panties”, a “Burning Bra”, and… “Vagina Tree Ornaments”. Now, I am all for being comfortable with sexuality and one’s body, but who is really going to make a bunch of vagina ornaments to hang on their Christmas Tree? (Think: the equivalent would be having a dude hang penis ornaments up, as his form of empowerment and, er, equality. Um, no?) The idea is kind of funny at first, but it’s definitely absurd.

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