Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4) by Rick Riordan

Image result for the battle of the labyrinthAge Range: Middle Grade
Pages: 384
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Publication Date: 06 May 2008
Genre:  Fantasy/ Middle Grade

Rating: 4.5

As an incoming freshman, Percy isn't expecting his high school orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse. 

In this fourth installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos's army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop them, Percy and his demigod friends will set out on a quest through the Labyrinth-a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn. Full of humor and heart-pounding action, this fourth book promises to be their most thrilling adventure yet.

My Thoughts:

Rick Riordan wrote the Percy Jackson series with a middle-grade audience in mind, and yet I feel the books can and are enjoyed by all ages.  This is no easy feat, most middle-grade books are just that, middle grade, they are written for a specific audience, and are really only good for the specific age range it was written for or possibly as nostalgia for those who read it when they were young themselves.  This series breaks free of that. It is so unbelievably well paced and well written, and the Battle of the Labyrinth is no exception.

I know I have said this about Rick Riordan's works before, but he writes some of the best mythology-based fiction.  Riordan is able to make even the weirdest mythology work in his stories.  There is something about the way that he weaves the story around the myths and without changing or altering the myth itself.  He doesn't sugar coat the weird or creepy myths but instead uses the outlandishness to his advantage in telling the story.  He never has to create mythology for the story, in fact, he seems to do the opposite, to me, it often seems like he tailors the story to fit the ancient Greek mythology, which as a history and mythology buff, that is something I really enjoy about his work.

It seemed to me that The Battle of the Labyrinth has a more heavy tone to it.  While I still found this book to be funny and enjoyable, this book for me, was far more intense in its plot and pacing.  It was easy to tell that the war had really kicked off and that danger was looming in Percy's future.  I found it to be really plot-driven and since it is the fourth book in the series, it relied less on world-building and was a lot more action and character development, which  I personally enjoyed.

The characters in this book are some of my all time favorites. They so unique, so quirky, and so well done.  Percy is one of the funniest narrators that I have read hands down.  He is strong, he is loyal, and most of all he is hilarious.  The comparisons and descriptions he makes throughout the book never fail to make me laugh.  Riordan writes his character in such a way that I can almost hear his sarcasm and voice inflections as I read the book. There are times when I forget just how young Percy is... until he makes a quick remark or describes something in such a comical way I remember, yup he's a 15-year-old boy.  The level of sass that  Percy has is unprecedented and I cannot get enough of it.

 Riordan's supporting cast is just as well written as his main character. All of the characters are great, Annabeth, Tyson, Chiron, Grover, and Rachel Elizabeth Dare. That being said,  Grover is and always will be my favorite character in the series. I love the more mature Grover that the reader gets to see as the series has progressed.  Of course, there is still bits of the old scardy-cat Grover splashed in throughout the book for comic relief, but Grover really comes into his own throughout the series and that is really well displayed in this book.  The one character I am really intrigued with is Rachel.  I loved her character. I really enjoyed her character, but I am worried that she might become a throwaway character.  She has such potential and could become such a great addition to novels.

My Thoughts on the Audiobook:

I went on a recent binge read of the all the audiobooks for the Percy Jackson series.  I can't honestly say that I am really a fan of the narrator for this series. He does a good job with inflection and narrating Percy's thoughts, but  I also had quite a few issues the narration.  For me, many of the accents and voices are way overdone and the accents sounded forced and fake.  More minor, but still a little annoying was that throughout the series the pronunciation of words changed from book to book, such as the way that Thalia's name is pronounced changes from book one to book two. This probably would not be an issue if you do not listen to the books back to back as I did.  If given the choice, I would recommend reading the book rather than listening to the audiobook.  I have done both, and I personally enjoyed my experience reading myself more than the audiobook. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's prompt Cozy/Wintry reads.  When I think of wintry reads I tend to think of books tend to think of books that have a lot of nostalgia for me. My cozy reads tend to the books that I have read a million times and will read a million more. 

Image result for a christmas carol book cover1)A Christmas Carol - This book has always been one of my favorite holiday stories. There is nothing I love more than picking up my Charles Dickens anthology and reading A Christmas Carol on a snowy day.

Image result for cricket on the hearth book cover2)  A Cricket on the Hearth - my first introduction to this story was in the from the cartoon that was created in 1967.  I watched the cartoon every year, it was one of my favorite stories.  One year my mother gave me a collection of Charles Dickens' works.  Ever since I have read this story every year during the Christmas season

Image result for how the grinch stole christmas book
3) How the Grinch Stole Christmas - This was another cartoon that I loved as a child.  I loved both the book and the cartoon as a child, I still read the book to this day for the nostalgia factor.

Image result for shiver by maggie stiefvater4) Shiver by Maggie  Stiefvater - While I would not call this one of my favorites stories, it is a fun and easy read.  It's winter setting and simple writing style make it a perfect winter read.

Image result for little women book cover5)Little Women by Louisa May Alcott -  Little Women is my favorite book.  I will find any excuse to read it, and there is no better excuse than a cold winters day.

Image result for ethan frome book cover6) Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton - I read this book for an assignment in High School, it was one of the few books that I really enjoyed from High School Required reading.  Edith Wharton has such an eloquent writing style. I wouldn't recommend this book to the plot-driven reader, as it is very character driven. Anyone who likes a slow burn will enjoy this story.  For me, I find it to be a perfect winter read, as the book is primarily set in a Snow Storm.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Call (The Gray Land #1)

Image result for the call by peadar o'guilinAge Range: YA 
Pages: 320 
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.  
Publication Date: 30 August 2016
Genre: Fantasy/ Horror/ YA 

Rating:  5

What if you only had three minutes to save your life and the clock is already counting down? Three minutes: you wake up alone in a horrible land. A horn sounds. You realise you've been Called. Two minutes: they're getting closer and despite all your training you're exhausted, you can't see anywhere to hide. One minute: you're glad you can run. Nessa can't, her polio-twisted legs mean she'll never survive her Call, will she? Suddenly, a hand grabs your wrist and it's more painful than anything you have ever experienced before in your life...Time's up. Could you survive The Call? 

My Thoughts: 

Brutal, Gory, and Amazing! I absolutely loved this story! It is a perfect read for those looking for a deliciously twisted and chilling book. I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone looking for a unique take on Fae or who are fans of Irish Folklore or Folklore in general.  

I knew very little going into this story.  I had been on the search for a good Halloween read, and decided to rent the audiobook with little more than a recommendation.  I honestly wasn't really sure what to expect, but MAN was this story one in a million.  Everything about this story was so unique and so well crafted, I was completely blown away.  All of the Fae stories have read and been romanticized, that is not the case for this story.  The Sidhe (Fae of Irish Folklore) are vicious, brutal, and beyond twisted.  They kill and maim for fun, and create the most grotesque of creatures. They were such a unique form of villain; I loved every minute of it.  

This story was mostly told from the point of view of the protagonist Nessa, but has random chapters told from those who have been called.  For me, it was these chapters, that really set the book apart from anything else I have read.  I became attached to many of the characters and loathed others, having the Calls dispersed through the book, and reading from the called individual's perspective being able to read their thoughts, emotions, and experiences, made this story go from a good one to an amazing one. There is just something about knowing that each of the characters could be called at any point in the book and that they may not survive kept me on the edge of my seat and completely enticed in the story.

Then there was the Call itself.  The Grayland is so gruesome and terrifying, I was amazed by the author's ability to describe the twisted world and actions of the Sidhe.  O'Guilin was so vivid in his description of the landscape, creatures, and Sidhe living in the Grayland that, for me as a reader, it often felt more like a movie than a book.  I found it so easy to visualize the gloom and horror of the Grayland.

As, for characters, I have never wanted a particular character to die more than I did in this book.  I absolutely hated Connor.  I didn't just want him to die; I NEEDED him to die, preferably in a method that was slow and painful.  It was clear from the first time he is introduced that he is arrogant, cruel, and worst of all, Self-Righteous.  I  hated when I had to listen to a chapter from his point of view because he made me so angry.  In his mind, he is valid in his actions, which only served to anger me more.

While, I, passionately hated some of the characters I did really enjoy others. Namely Nessa and Megan.  These two were such a pair.  Megan was the perfect amount of sass and comic relief.  She was so crass and a little rude, but she was also such a loyal and true friend.  Her gruff demeanor and sharp tongue made for some of the most interesting dialogs.  The book would have been incomplete without her.  Then there was Nessa, I couldn't get enough of her character.   Everyone dismissed her and just assumed that she would die, and yet she didn't let it get her down.  She wanted to live and didn't stop fighting to survive.  She was so fierce and so strong, and she was so resourceful.  She never let her disability slow her down.  She, as most people with disabilities do, always found ways to adapt.  She was probably one of my favorite protagonist's perspectives to read from.

My Thoughts on the Audiobook:

If you have the ability to pick a format to read this book, my recommendation goes to the audiobook.  The Call is narrated by Amy Shiels, and she did such an amazing job narrating the story.  Her accent gives the characters so much life.  She was honestly one of the best narrators I have listened to so far, she was so consistent in the voice and accent of the character, and she had such great inflection, it almost felt more like a movie than an audiobook.

The other nice thing about reading this book via audiobook is that you as a reader do not have to worry about pronunciations.  This book is chock full of hard to pronounce words like Sidhe and the character named Aiofe.  By listening to the audiobook, I didn't have to worry about trying to figure out the correct way to pronounce these items.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
This weeks topic Back List Books, This is a topic I am quite adept in.  I have a huge list on my TBR that there for far too long, but for the sake of this post, I will list the ten Back List books that I am most hoping to read. 

Image result for clockwork princess1) Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare - I loved the first two books, but for some reason, I have not read the last book in the trilogy yet.  It has been in my TBR for over a year, I really want to read but never seem to get around to it.  I might try the audiobook and see if that helps me read it sooner.

Image result for the last olympian2) The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan - This is another book that I really want to read, but just haven't seemed to have gotten around to reading.  It had been so long that I had forgotten a lot of what happened in the series leading up to the last book.  I have been listening to the audiobooks with my Fiance.  We are currently on the Battle of the Labyrinth and hopefully, we will soon be getting to the Last Olympian.  

Image result for origin by jessica khoury3) Origin by Jessica Khoury - This is one of those books that I picked up with every intention of reading, but never really got around to it.  I am hoping to start this book once I have finished a couple of series.

Image result for the diviners4) The Diviners by Libba Bray - I got this book years ago, and have heard nothing but good reviews.  Unfortunately, I have yet to read the book.  The reason comes down to its size.  The Diviners is a huge book, and it is very intimidating, I think this might be a book that I read via Audiobook so that I am not as intimidated by the size. 

Image result for roanoke by lee miller5) Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony by Lee Miller - I am a huge history buff and find the Mystery of the Roanoke Colony fascinating, and thought that this would be an interesting read.  I have wanted to read this for a while but just haven't seemed to have gotten around to reading it.

Image result for the unbecoming of mara dyer6) The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - I bought this book based on a recommendation, and it sounds like the kind of book I would love, but I am always trying to finish up one series or another before I start another.  Due to this I just haven't gotten around to starting this series. 

Image result for graveminder7) Graveminder by Marissa Marr - I am ashamed to say how long this book has been sitting on my bookshelf. I am interested in it and want to read it but I just haven't seemed to have gotten around to reading it. 

Image result for ascendant by diana peterfreund8)  Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund - I read the first book in this series, Rampant, quite a few books years ago.  The concept is so bizarre, but I still found myself enjoying the book, but not enough to make me want to jump right in the next book. In fact, this series is so bizarre I really have to be in the mood to be able to read and enjoy it, and I just haven't been in that kind of mood for quite a while. 

Image result for interview with a vampire book cover9) Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice - I don't even know how I ended up with this book. It seems to have just appeared on my shelf one day.  I am really hoping to get to this book sometime in the new year. 

Image result for phantom of the opera book cover10) Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux - I absolutely love the musical Phantom of the Opera, and due to my deep love for the play I decided to pick up the book the musical was based on.  Unfortunately, it has been sitting on my shelf for the better part of a year, my goal is to complete this book by the end of the year, whether or not I meet this goal is up in the air.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Red by Alison Cherry

Image result for red by alison cherryAge Range: YA
Pages: 336
Publisher: Ember
Publication Date: 9 December 2014
Genre: YA

Rating: 2 Stars

Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:

I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say "strawberry blond." Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?

My Thoughts:

I don't know what I expected from this book, but I was definitely not impressed.  I bought this book only because it was on sale, and now I know why it was so cheap.  I was very unimpressed by this book, and I went in with very low expectations. The book just came off as too juvenile, even for a Young Adult book. I think that this book may have been better suited if written for a younger audience like middle-grade. 

The plot was so cliche, there really wasn't anything new to the plot.  It was the kind of plot that the reader feels like they have read time and time again.  There was just nothing new or innovative to the plot. I was able to guess every plot twist that happened.  It was just far too predictable.

For me, the main downfall of this book was the characters.  Felicity's mother was awful.  I have read my fair share of oblivious or crappy parents in Young Adult Literature, but she really takes the cake.  She was so self-absorbed, and only cared about what she wanted for her daughter.  She was so unsupportive and more than that she was an awful person.   Then there was her friend, Haylie, she was possibly one of the worst characters I have ever read.  She was so entitled, she was prejudice against non-red heads, and most of all she was an awful friend.

Felicity as a character was not awful, but not great.  She was a little better than her self-absorbed people she surrounded herself with.  However, I constantly found myself annoyed by her because she had such skewed priorities, and was portrayed as so naive to the outside world.  Despite her drawbacks, I did have high hopes for her.  I really wanted her to have a great character arc, but the book, unfortunately, did not give this to me.  She did have a character arc, but it felt subpar and forced.

Would I recommend this book: maybe, it depends on the age of the reader.  A younger reader, say 10-12, may really enjoy this book and learn some lessons from the book as well, but for an older reader, I would say don't waste your time, it is a quick read but not really worth it, in my opinion. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Blood of my Blood (Jasper Dent #3) by Barry Lyga

Image result for I hunt KillersAge Range: YA
Pages: 480
Publication Date:
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Genre: YA/Thriller/Murder Mystery


The final book in this thrilling, terrifying series by New York Times bestselling author Barry Lyga is perfect for fans of Dexter.

Jazz Dent has been shot and left to die in New York City. His girlfriend Connie is in the clutches of Jazz's serial killer father, Billy. And his best friend Howie is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz's own home in tiny Lobo's Nod. Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors their lives have become and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy. But then Jazz crosses a line he's never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: "Like father, like son?" Who is the true monster?

The chase is on, and beyond Billy there lurks something much, much worse. Prepare to meet...the Crow King.

My Thoughts:

After the cliffhanger at the end of Game, the second book in the Jasper Dent series, I had to get my hands on the final book, Blood of my Blood.  In fact, no sooner had I finished Game then I rented the audiobook from my local library. I had to know what happened to Jazz, but I was also really nervous.  I really enjoyed the first two books and was worried that I wouldn't like the ending.  My expectations were insanely high; thank goodness the book met and even surpassed my expectations.

This book had a different feel from the first two.  It was dark and gory but in a different way.  It wasn't Jazz going after some random killer, instead, he is facing his father and his past.  This book sees a more brutal and darker Jazz.  In many ways, he loses his grip on his emotions and the reader gets to see the possibilities of what Jazz's future could be: a murderer.   Connie and Howie, remain amazing characters.  They are both so loyal to Jazz even when they have every reason to turn their backs on him, they remain steadfast.  This series honestly has some of the best characters I have ever seen in a YA novel.

As with this entire series, this book's pacing was perfect.  It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and that is not an easy feat with an almost 500-page book.  I can't say too much without giving away the plot, but man was it a RIDE.  It was a never-ending series of twists and turns that I never saw coming, and the epilogue was everything.  It really gave me as a reader a solid and resolved to end to the story.  That being said, as a reader,  I feel it is important to give future readers a trigger warning for sexual abuse.  This book takes a really dark turn concerning sexual abuse of a minor that may not be suitable for some readers.

My Thoughts on the Audiobook:

I was thrilled to find out that the entire series was narrated by the same author.  It gives the series a uniform feel when listening to the audiobooks. The voices of the characters remain constant, and for me as a reader, hearing the same voices for Jazz, Connie, Howie, etc . helped me immerse myself into the third book quickly and efficiently.

And as with the previous books, the narrator did an amazing job.  He has such great emotion and inflection in his narration and it sells the story.  It never felt over-the-top or forced, the emotions of the characters felt genuine, which is no easy feat.  I cannot recommend listening to this series on audiobook enough, it is so worth the time spent listening!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This weeks prompt is Halloween/Creepy Freebie. As this one was is a freebie, I have decided to split it up and do some of my Creepy Halloween Recommendations. 

Image result for the house by dawn kurtagich1) The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich.  I LOVED this story.  It is told in through Mixed media.  Some of the entries is told through Diary entries others through video transcripts.  It is such a creepy story told in a unique way, if you read one book for Halloween it should be this one. 

Image result for the call/ the invasion by peadar o'guilin
2) The Call/The Invasion by Peadar OGuilin.  This story is beyond creepy and gory and is so vividly narrated that it is perfect for a Halloween read.  I recommend both, but even you could even just read the first book, and be pleased with the ending. 

Image result for picture the dead
3) Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown.  This book is perfect for someone looking for a quick and creepy read.  This book has illustrations throughout, and they really amp up the storyline and make the pages fly.

Image result for slasher girls and monster boys4) Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by Various Authors.  I am not completely finished with this anthology but so far, I am loving it.  I would totally recommend this for the reader who isn't looking to commit to a series or an entire book. This book is filled with creepy stories that take no more than fifteen minutes to read. 

Image result for I hunt Killers series

5) I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga.  I know I have talked about this book a lot, but I really enjoyed them and think they are the perfect murder mystery for Halloween.  However, this is a trilogy so it does take more commitment. 

Image result for the masque of the red death by bethany griffin6) Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin.  This steampunk-esque dystopian is a perfect read for Halloween.

Image result for crimson bound 7) Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge.  This story is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.  A VERY demented retelling.  It has fighting,  magic, and death.  Thus making it a perfect read for the Halloween Season. 

Image result for how to hang a witch
8) How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather.  This book has it all: Magic, Witches, and Ghosts.  This is the perfect read for a young adult reader looking for a little romance in their Halloween read. 

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9) Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George.  This book is perfect for a History Buff.  This book is set in 1890's Romania.  I can't say too much as I do not want to give away the plot, but it would be a great Halloween read. 

Image result for caraval10) Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  This story was such a ride.  It had such a beautiful and intricate plot that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.  I chose this book to be in my Halloween recommendations due to the magic elements to the story.