Book Reviews

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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Book Reviews

Review — Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis

Book title: Spinning Starlight
Author: R.C. Lewis
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release date: October 6th, 2015
Format: Egalley, 336 pages
Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Disney Hyperion!

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Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.


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What I liked:

  • I really like sci-fi fairy tale retellings, I’ve found (as well as those dark and grand high fantasy retellings). Spinning Starlight is a retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson tale The Wild Swans. R.C. Lewis did a great job retelling the fairy tale, and the parallels to the original story are very nice and creative, I must say.
  • I liked Liddi, the main character. Because she can’t speak aloud or else her brothers will die, it was fascinating seeing how she managed to communicate with others. I really felt her frustration, fear, and anger. And her narrative (“inner monologue” you could call it?) was a very strong voice. I admired her determination and really appreciated her unwavering love for her brothers. I love strong family bonds in books.
  • The romance was really cute! It progressed at a nice pace and evolved from a nice friendship. Tiav was an absolute sweetheart and I thought he and Liddi had great chemistry and worked well together. It was definitely difficult for them at times, especially for Tiav, because relationships are built on trust, and Liddi couldn’t tell him everything she wanted to or what he wanted to know. But I really liked the romance, which wasn’t the book’s focus at all.

Continue reading “Review — Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis”

Book Reviews

Review — Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Book title: The Sword of Summer
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release date: October 6th, 2015
Format: Hardcover, 491 pages
Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .


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Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard is Rick Riordan’s newest mythology series. This time the focus is Norse mythology! You know, Thor, Loki, Freya, Odin…? Valkyries? Fenris the wolf? Ragnarok, aka doomsday, aka the end of the world? All that good stuff. Anyway, Magnus Chase happens to be Annabeth Chase’s cousin — and the few cameos Annabeth makes in this first book, The Sword of Summer, are pretty great, if very minor.

Continue reading “Review — Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan”

Book Reviews

Review — A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

Book title: A Thousand Nights
Author: E.K. Johnston
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release date: October 6th, 2015
Format: Egalley, 336 pages
Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Disney-Hyperion!

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Synopsis:

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.


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A Thousand Nights is a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights, aka The Arabian Nights. It will undoubtedly be continually compared to its older sibling, The Wrath and the Dawn, which is also a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights. Both books are completely different from each other although they retain the same basic plot: A king takes a wife, only to have her killed, and then he takes another wife, only to have her killed, too, and the cycle repeats and repeats. The Wrath and the Dawn had some insufferable characters (*cough* Tariq) and its heroine never acted upon her decisions, but the romance was amazing. Still, I think I prefer A Thousand Nights a little more (eep, don’t hate me, Kara!). It isn’t as showy and isn’t as complicated as Wrath & Dawn, but it’s a quietly beautiful book about a girl who loves and doesn’t fear.

Continue reading “Review — A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston”

Book Reviews

DNF Review — Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Book title: Hunter
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Hunter, #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release date: September 1st, 2015
Format: Egalley, 384 pages
Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Disney-Hyperion!

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Synopsis:

Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.


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This is a DNF review. I gave up at 44%.

Hunter‘s concept is cool: a dystopia where monsters from the Other side are wreaking havoc on civilization, and its up to Hunters with magical abilities to kill them and protect the towns and cities. Sadly, what might have been a pretty awesome story was, for me, incredibly tedious, frustrating, and disappointing. I pushed myself to read almost half the book before I gave up. This “review” is basically an explanation on why I DNF-ed this book I was so eagerly anticipating.

Continue reading “DNF Review — Hunter by Mercedes Lackey”

Book Reviews

Review — Tangled Webs by Lee Bross

Book title: Tangled Webs
Author: Lee Bross
Series: Tangled Webs, #1
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release date: June 2015
Format: Egalley, 304 pages
Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Disney Hyperion!

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Synopsis:

London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours—for a price. This sumptuous, scandalous YA novel is wickedly addictive.

Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets.

But leading a double life isn’t easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London’s slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, an infamous thief who moves seamlessly between the city’s criminal underworld and its most elite circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London.

Everything changes when she meets Grae Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?


The review:

Tangled Webs started off with so much potential! Historical fiction and blackmail? I was totally sold. Sadly, I was very disappointed. The book started off strongly but totally fizzled, for me, at least, early on. I’ll get to the two main reasons why, but first let me give you a summary of what the book is about:

Tangled Webs follows a girl named Arista who is a notorious middleman (middlewoman?) when it comes to dealing in secrets. She’s known in London high society as Lady A, a blackmailer — a spider — who works for a wretched man called Bones. Arista’s life is not her own, but when crap hits the fan and she switches her alliance to a man called Wild, she starts scheming to buy herself a new life somewhere far away from the London scene. Sounds fabulous, right?

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Book Reviews

Review — Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

Book title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release date: July 2015
Format: egalley, 304 pages
Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Disney Hyperion!

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Synopsis:

A spooky mystery-thriller about an unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate.

“Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there and they will ensnare your soul.”

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in the shadowed corridors of her vast home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.


The review:

Serafina and the Black Cloak is a lovely middle grade novel about a girl who is determined to find out who the man in the mysterious black cloak is. It’s a mystery/thriller with some fantasy thrown in (and even a few sprinkles of horror), and it was an absolute joy to read. This was a book that made me remember why I love reading. It was wonderful and magical and made me happy. I haven’t read a book in ages that made me warm and fuzzy inside because of its simple yet complex story. It’s just a story, not a story with a gazillion ideas and emotions that come with it, you know what I mean? Basically, it’s good to get out of the YA bubble sometimes.

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Book Reviews

Review — Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Book title: Title Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release date: June 16th, 2015
Format: egalley, 368 pages
Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. This in no way affects my review; all opinions are my own. Thank you, Disney Hyperion!

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Synopsis:

If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.


The review:

Every Last Word is another one of those “diverse” contemporary YA book. It features a character, Samantha, who has OCD. Sam’s particular form of OCD is called Purely-Obsessional OCD, where her mind latches onto a particular thought until she obsesses over it. She worries, she overthinks; her mind is sometimes a very dark place, and she deeply struggles to appear “normal” in her day-to-day life. She’s somehow (sort of unbelievably) hidden her mental illness from everyone in her life since she was diagnosed at the age of eleven. She takes medication to calm her mind and fall asleep, and sees a therapist: “Shrink Sue.” One thing I loved about this book was Sam’s strong, trusting relationships with two adult women in her life: her mother and her therapist. It was amazing how much Sam valued and respected them, how she took their advice and always knew they were going to help her.

Continue reading “Review — Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone”