Review: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

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Genre: Middle-Grade, Young-Adult, Fantasy, Humour, Mythology (Greek)
Pages: 432
Series: The Trials of Apollo #2
Release Date: May 2, 2017

5 Stars

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This book is 432 pages long? I read an e-book so I didn’t know the page count, but I do know that it sure didn’t feel that long. It actually ended really quickly.

But I guess that’s what happens when a book is so much fun that you’re surprised the book also had a plot. Because plots are supposed to be the boring, or interesting, parts of a novel with some fun squeezed between them. The whole thing can’t be fun! That’s just not possible. But uncle Rick proves one again that he is awesomeness personified. Because this book… is wonderful.

For one, we have Apollo’s narrative, which is filled with his all his numerous whinings that usually start with “when I was a god” or “if I was a god” or “when I become a god again”. Seriously, that dude is so not adjusting and it’s hilarious to read. Apollo is narcissistic, self-absorbed and would use you as a shield against monsters, but he’s still so likable. And he’s also learning, much to his disgust, to be selfless. I love the guy and I love his narrative.

Then there’s the fact that this series is almost like an epilogue for the Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus series, giving us moments of closure with all the old characters one by one, while also introducing new characters, and mythical figures and creatures.

There is honestly so much going on and I don’t know how Rick Riordan is balancing all of it. The writing is very clever too, so there’s something in there for people of all ages. I feel like Rick Riordan is highly underappreciated because everyone just considers him the “fun” writer, as if it’s not masterful the way he balances multiple characters, storylines, humour, emotion, characters development, adventure, action and backstory so brilliantly. People seem to equate good writing to serious writing with as little entertainment as possible. And that makes me very sad.

Thankfully, whenever I’m sad, I can just reread a book by uncle Rick and comfort myself with the knowledge that I appreciate him very much.

Anyway, I got off topic there. Lets get back to the book. I love it. Maybe even a little more than The Hidden Oracle because we got even more into the character of Apollo and there was an emotional arc with Meg (thanks to Nero, the turd) that made me finally like the character, where I was a bit iffy about her before.

Overall, this book was everything I wanted from the sequel and I can’t wait for the next part to come out. I’m going to leave you with the first haiku from the novel, because I love it:

Lester (Apollo)
Still human; thanks for asking
Gods, I hate my life

P. S. Just now noticed that I didn’t mention the plot. Though you probably know, still, it’s follows Apollo, Leo and Calypso as they head off on Festus to search for Meg, the second Roman emperor, and another old oracle that the Triumvirate has control of.

Review: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

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Genre: Childrens/Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 192
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events #2 (series of 12)
Release Date: August 30, 1999

3 Stars

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The Reptile Room, like the first book, The Bad Beginning, starts off with a letter in which the narrator warns the reader that this is a book which is not-at-all cheerful, and in which bad things happens to the three main characters, the Baudelaire children.

The format of the novel is very similar to that of the first book. The kids find themselves in some unfortunate situation, the stupid adults don’t pay any heed to their concerns, so the kids try to use their cleverness to work things out, with mixed results. The narrative is, same as before, a blend of humour and the way one would talk to a kid while telling him a bedtime story.

Where the book differs from The Bad Beginning is it’s darker theme. I know the narrator warned us, but that was in a I’m-using-reverse-psychology-to-make-you-want-to-read-te-book-even-more way.

Where the first book usually deals with insinuations of evil deeds, this one’s got straight-up murder. But, you know, children can be quite resilient; so I went and asked my mom if she would give a seven or eight-year-old a book in which someone is murdered. Her answer was along the lines of “No way in hell”. And so we find ourselves in a bit of a conundrum.

One one hand, the darker theme would be great for middle-graders. But on the other hand, they would probably find the narrative to be condescending. And this is a childrens book. So while I personally liked the book fine, I’m not sure who I would recommend it to. Probably teenagers and adults who also enjoy reading younger narratives.

If you’ve read this book, I would really like to know what you think.

Review: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

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Genre: Children/Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 176
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events #1 (Series of 12)
Release Date: September 30, 1999

4 Stars

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The Bad Beginning starts with a letter that acts as both the synopsis and introduction. The letter warns the reader that this book is not a happy one. Here’s the letter:

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

The moment I read the letter, I knew that I was going to love the book, if not for the story, than for the style in which it’s told.

The narrative used by the author, which reminds me of Narnia, is very good. It’s like someone telling a story to a kid. Older than Narnia but younger than Percy Jackson. It’s full of explanations for various saying and words, things to learn, and has simple but interesting characters that kids would want to be like.

It’s a short and simple tale in which the clever protagonists try to use their wit to foil the evil the evil villain’s evil plan. It’s a classic formula, and I don’t know what else to say. I really liked the book and I’m going to be reading the rest of the series as well as giving the Netflix show a try. I think you should check it out as well.

Review: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

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Genre: Fantasy, Middle-Grade, Mythology (Greek)
Pages: 279
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2
Release Date: April 1, 2006

Disclaimer: This review will container spoilers for the first book of the series, The Lightning Thief.

4 Stars

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Before I start, I wanted to say, like I did before the review of book 1, that I’m sticking to my original rating because this is a reread and I might, therefore, be a tad biased.

That out of the way… I loved this book.

This is another one from Percy’s perspective but here, he’s not a newbie anymore. He knows where he stands and he’s familiar with Camp Half Blood and it’s workings. He can’t wait to get back. Until… everything that he knows is challenged.

Luke (the traitor) is back to his evil shenanigans, guided by the one and only, Kronos. Thanks to the two of them, the the camp is in jeopardy. And if that’s not bad enough, Chiron is being accused of working with Kronos and has been fired, the camp is being run by some crazy dude from the Underworld, Grover may be in trouble, and Percy suddenly has a half-brother, from the godly side.

So much is going on and Percy and Annabeth are looking for a solution. When they find one, it launches them on a quest to the Sea of Monsters. So yeah, two demigods in a sea full of monsters, what could possibly go wrong?

Answer: Everything. But in a way that is so much fun to read. Percy’s narrative is, as usual, hilarious, the book is full of action and never stops for a second, we get to meet even more mythological figures and go on a hell of a ride.

This book is also kind of the real beginning for Percabeth (that’s Percy and Annabeth’s ship name, if you didn’t know) and they’re both so completely awkward about it; it’s adorable. Then there’s the fact that this is Uncle Rick’s first go at an evil cliffhanger. For those of us who are familiar with the Heroes of Olympus series, we know Uncle Rick is an evil (and also a genius). But the ones reading this series for the first time, they’ll know it by the end of the book too.

Overall, this book is interesting, fast-paced, and a lot of fun with great characters and a great storyline.

One thing I want to add, quite a few people, while read this installment, get stuck about halfway through. If that happens to you as well, just push through. I did (the first time ’round, that is), and it was so worth it.

My Favourite Books: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

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Genre: Middle-grade, Fantasy, Mythology (Greek)
Pages: 375
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1
Release Date: June 28, 2005

This was a reread, and while I’d happily give the book 5 stars, I feel like my opinion may be biased so I’m not changing the rating that I’d given before.

4 Stars

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The Lightning Thief, for me, feels like the start of an era. Rick Riordan has now written many books set in this universe, featuring different mythologies, and it all started with this one book. And what a start it is.

Percy Jackson, my absolute favourite characters, is just a 12-year-old kid in this book. He has dyslexia and ADHD, and has been labelled a troublemaker. He gets kicked out of a different school every year. And in his vacations, he has to live with his horrible stepfather who treats both Percy and his mom very poorly. Things aren’t going the best for him.

What Percy doesn’t know is that he is a half-blood, meaning he’s half human and half god. He finds this out after gets to Camp Half-blood, the only place on earth where half-blood can be safe. On getting there, he finds out that he’s being blamed for something he didn’t do. And he has to go on a quest to clear his name, and to stop a war.

It’s a lot to handle for one kid. But Percy, while not entirely enthusiastic about this turn of events, takes whatever he has to face in stride. It’s one of his best qualities.

Percy has many great qualities and he is one of the biggest reasons this book is so amazing. He’s a really good person who is also exploding with sarcasm, a brilliant combination we get to see via the hilarious narrative. Seriously, this book has one of the most engaging and entertaining narratives I’ve ever read. Add that to the fact that Greek mythology is very interesting and this book is very well-written, and you already have a great read.

Then there’s the concept. It’s so cool. A modern-day demigod, all the Greek deities in the current time. It’s so cool to read how the gods have changed with time, everything from the way they dress to their beverage choices. I love the world that Rick Riordan has created. It’s fascinating.

Overall, I love everything about this book, this series and this world. Uncle Rick has written something unique and wonderful that I truly feel is for people of all ages. Doesn’t matter if you’re eight or eighty, you should definitely read this novel. You’ll be glad for it.

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

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Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 784
Series: Harry Potter #7

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5 Stars

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The epic saga ends at last… and it’s really sad.

On one hand, you’re excited to find out how it all ends, but on the other hand, you really don’t want it to end. Ever. Though I’m sure Harry was ecstatic to know that his suffering was finally about to cease.

Anyway, as you’re all probably aware, series’ endings are difficult. It’s so rare to get one which doesn’t cause at least a little disappointment. This series’ ending is absolutely perfect. And that includes the epilogue, which so many people whine about. I found nothing wrong with it at all.

The way the book starts never fails to blow me away. The subtlety with which Rowling reacquaints us with the world and the characters… amazing.

And that amazing-ness continues throughout the novel. All those plots and sub-plots wrapping up and all those connections to the events in the previous books, everything that happens has such a huge significance and the way the story concludes is, honestly, perfect. I can’t imagine it any other way. Even the sheer amount planning involved is unimaginable.

J.K. Rowling has written such a beautiful series and this book is the most beautiful of all. Her writing is magical and so many times, I sat there reading a sentence over and over because of how great it was. Like this sentence, for example:

Harry wondered whether, as he could feel, he would be able to see. In opening them, he discovered that he had eyes.

Isn’t it flawless?

I just… I love you, J.K. Rowling. Thank you so much for writing this series, for giving us such a magical world and so many endearing characters. You story will be with me, and many others, forever.

Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

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Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Pages: 366
Series: Middle-Earth Universe #1

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4 Stars

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I’ve finally finished it! Only took me… Oh, twenty-six days…

Man, that has to be a personal record. It has never taken me this long to finish a book I was actively reading the entire time. You can blame my brain for that. Because after about 10 pages of reading, it seemed to think it was time to sleep.

At first, I was afraid the book was boring (even though it wasn’t). But as it turns out, the reason it put me to sleep is because it has a bedtime story vibe to it. Like Narnia. Anyway, onto the novel.

The Hobbit is the story of a hobbit, a mythical creature, who is approached by Gandalf, a great wizard, to go an adventure with a company of dwarves. Their mission being to take back a treasure that was long ago stolen. By a dragon.

It’s like THE fantasy. We have mythical creatures, we have a quest and we even have a freaking dragon. Could this get any better. Oh wait, it can. With a map. Because I swear to God, I was obsessed with the map. Not the one in the beginning, the one in the end. This one:

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I loved it. I think the amount of time I spend staring at it could be amounted to an hour. I was always tracing where they were, where they’d gone through, where they were going. It was so cool. Honestly, the entire book was very cool.

Our protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit, was initially not into the quest at all, neither was he very productive. Most of the work was done by Gandalf. But later on, he definitely proved his worth. He was a great character to read about and was smarter than you’d expect.

Gandalf was awesome, and I can’t wait to read more about him in The Lord of the Rings. Many of the characters introduced along the way were also interesting. Though I could never really get behind the dwarves. They were, to me, completely useless, always bitching and whining and blaming someone else. I felt bad for Bilbo for having to put up with them throughout the story.

About the story, it was everything you’d want from a classic fantasy. I really wish someone had read it to me as a kid. I would have adored it them.

I really like it now as well. But the fact that it literally made me fall asleep multiple time is a bummer. I still highly recommend reading it, though. It’s very well written and I understand why it’s a classic.