Author: Rick Riordan

Reading roundup – September 2nd 2016

Good morning!  I’ve a lot to cover in this post vacation/hospitalisation reading roundup, so let’s get on with it, shall we?

Reading roundup – September 2nd 2016Cold Fire by Kate Elliott
Series: The Spiritwalker Trilogy #2
Format: eBook
Narrator: Luke Daniels, Tavia Gilbert, William DeMeritt
Pages: 672 pages
Genres: Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-stars

The first book I read was Kate Elliott’s Cold Fire, the second in her Spiritwalker trilogy, a young adult fantasy series.  I admit I really struggled with this book.  It is the middle book in the trilogy and I really felt that.  I liked the characters and the world and the dilemmas our protagonist had to navigate were interesting.  The whole answer a question with a question scenario was wonderfully done.  However, with no resolutions I still really had to force myself to complete this book, and I think it will be a while before I attempt book three.  I gave Cold Fire three stars out of five.

Reading roundup – September 2nd 2016Hotel Valhalla Guide to the Norse Worlds by Rick Riordan
Format: eBook
Pages: 176 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Hotel Valhalla Guide to the Norse Worlds by Rick Riordan pretty much does what it says on the tin.  It is a slim companion volume to Riordan’s Magnus Chase series based on Norse mythology and provides a succinct and witty guide to the Norse pantheon.  If you’re familiar with Riordan’s style, this is more of the same.  Personally I’m not as familiar with Norse mythology as say Greco-Roman so this was a very useful, very quick read.  Hotel Valhalla would be a great addition to your Riordon collection.  I gave it four stars out of five.

Reading roundup – September 2nd 2016Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird #2
Also in this series: 1000 Pieces of You
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 10 hours and 51 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray is probably the favourite of my holiday reads. It’s the second in Gray’s Firebird young adult fantasy series involving alternate dimensions.  Book two involves our protagonist, Marguerite, on a hunt across the dimensions to rescue fragments of her boyfriend’s soul, all while avoiding the traps of the evil Triad corporation. I’ve read quite a few books by Ms Gray now, and this one really confirms for me Gray as a very strong, solid storyteller.  The concept, worldbuilding, characters and pacing were all first class.  I listened to Ten Thousand Skies Above You in audiobook format, which was perfectly narrated by Tavia Gilbert.  I am very much looking forward to the conclusion of this series in November, especially given the cliffhanger.  I gave Ten Thousand Skies Above You five stars out of five. 

Reading roundup – September 2nd 2016Hunted by Kevin Hearne
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Length: 9 hours and 52 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Currently, I’m listening to Hunted, the sixth book in Kevin Hearn’s Iron Druid series, following druid Atticus O’Sullivan and his hound Oberon as they navigate the modern age and the mixed pantheons of our world.  These books are a heck of a lot of fun, and I always choose to listen to them in audiobook format thanks to Luke Daniels’ excellent narration.  You know a book is good when the author describes a meal – or in this case Oberon’s unfiltered enthusiasm for ribs – and you just have to go out and order some.  I’ve not yet finished the book, so not yet rated it but I am anticipating a high rating.

Reading roundup – September 2nd 2016Underground Airlines by Ben Winters
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: William DeMeritt
Length: 9 hours and 28 minutes
Genres: Alternate History
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The final book I read on vacation – I’ve not quite finished it yet – is Ben Winters’ Underground Airlines, an alternative history novel in which slavery still exists In some states in the modern US.  It follows a black bounty hunter searching for an escaped slave.  So far I’m really enjoying this.  I grew up a white woman in small town Scotland, so racial tensions are not something that were really familiar to me.  I’m listening to the book in audiobook format, narrated by William DeMeritt and the audio format works really well for the story.  I look forward to continuing it.  

Upcoming releases in September

As usual, September is a pretty hectic month in terms of book releases.  Here are the ones about which I’m most excited.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas.  This is the fifth novel in the Throne of Glass series and it my most anticipated release of September.  Throne of Glass is a young adult fantasy series and it is so, so good.  It’s interesting; I’ve really not seen a great deal of publicity/spoilers/reviews for this so far.  I guess at this point the series stands up on its own.  I’m certainly looking forward to getting my hands on it.  Empire of Storms is released on September 6th.

Next up, we have The Swan Riders by Erin Bow.  This is the sequel to The Scorpion Rules, which I very much enjoyed.  The ending to book one was a real game changer, so I am excited to see how things develop in book two.  The Swan Riders is available for purchase from September 20th.

Scott Lynch’s continuation in his Gentlemen Bastards series, the Thorn of Emberlain, was scheduled for release on September 21st, but I read that it has been postponed to a 2017 release date.  I’ll admit I’m not too surprised. There had been no marketing or any other news in the last few weeks and the date has been postponed several times already.  I am disappointed – these are very very good stories – but I’m OK to wait if that’s what Mr Lynch needs to prepare the release properly.  I look forward to reading it next year.

On September 27th we have the release of Like a River Glorious, the second book in Rae Carson’s Gold Seer trilogy.  This is a young adult historical novel (with a dash of fantasy) set in the gold rush era.  The first book was excellent and I am very excited to read book two.  

Also on September 27th we can pick up Leigh Bardugo’s The Crooked Kingdom, her sequel to Six of Crows.  I really love the world Bardugo has created and the characters who inhabit it, so I’m highly anticipating this release.  I got a small sampler at BEA this year, but I’m waiting until I can read the whole thing.

That’s about all I have for this week.  Let me know in the comments which of these releases you’re most excited for.

three-stars

The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan – Review

The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan – ReviewThe Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
Series: The Trials of Apollo #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 384 pages
Genres: Children's, Contemporary Fantasy, Humorous
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

The Trials of Apollo Book One The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan is the start of a new Greek mythology series from middle grade staple Rick Riordan.  This new series centres around the god Apollo, who has been stripped of his godly powers by his father, Zeus.  Naturally, adventures and shenanigans ensue.

For me this read a little younger than the Heroes of Olympus series, more in line with Percy Jackson.  Apollo’s human persona is aged 16, but he spends a lot of time hanging around with 13 year old Meg which naturally makes the feel of the book somewhat younger.  Also, there is no emphasis at all on romantic relationships.

What I liked

Riordan’s writing style.  After many series including Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Heroes of Olympus, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Riordan’s light, witty style should be familiar to most readers.  If you enjoyed the earlier books, you will certainly enjoy this one.  They are very funny.  I breezed through The Hidden Oracle in an afternoon.  While it is not necessary to have read the earlier series, I would strongly recommend doing so before picking up this latest one.  There are many references to characters and events from previous entries that, while not necessary to enjoy the story, are enhanced by knowledge of both of the other Olympian series.

The protagonist. I was amused by Apollo – his attitude and the circumstances he kept finding himself in.  In theme it’s very similar to Marvel’s Thor movie in which a god becomes mortal but takes some time to adjust to his new situation.  I enjoyed Apollo’s character development and how he changes throughout the course of the adventure.  I do have some concerns if that level of character development can be sustained through the other four planned books in the series, but time will tell.

Catchups on our other favourite demigods.  In this book we touch base with our heroes from the previous series.  It was good to hear how Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Leo and the others are all getting on with their post Gaea lives.

What I didn’t like

Perhaps because this was aimed at a younger audience, at times it was a little formulaic, especially if you know the previous book.  Still, it’s more than made up for by Riordan’s wit and humour.

In summary, if you’ve enjoyed the previous books, you will certainly enjoy The Trials of Apollo.  I gave it four stars out of five.

four-stars

Reading catchup part 1 – November 18th 2015

First of all, my apologies for not having posted much in the last few weeks – I’ve been too busy reading to write about reading.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, in the months of October and November there were a shedload of new releases about which I was very excited.  I’ve only just now caught up with all of the new books in my life.  Some of the reviews will be quite brief as it’s been quite a while and several books ago that I read them It will take a couple of posts to go through them all so let’s get started.

Reading catchup part 1 – November 18th 2015The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Series: Prisoners of Peace #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Madeleine Maby
Length: 10 hrs and 21 mins
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

The Scorpion Rules is the first in Erin Bow’s Children of Peace YA series.  In Bow’s world, peace is maintained by an AI named Talis who forces each country’s leaders to provide a child or grandchild as a Child of Peace – if the country enters a war, the hostage is killed.  The book centres around a young princess named Greta, whose orderly world as a hostage is shaken by the arrival of a new Child of Peace, Elian.  Elian is new to the hostage system and struggles to adapt.  Things escalate when Greta’s and Elian’s countries declare war.

I really loved the concept and worldbuilding in this book.  I found the idea of the Children of Peace to be intriguing and well written.  Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same way about the human characters, especially Greta whom I found to be very bland and irritating.  It is kind of a problem when the artificial intelligence is more interesting than the humans.  Think Siri with the world’s nuclear codes.  It’s fair to say though that the events of the book have changed Greta and she promises to be more interesting in future books.

I gave The Scorpion Rules four stars out of five.

Reading catchup part 1 – November 18th 2015The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Christopher Guetig
Length: 15 hrs and 20 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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I really love Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and I was very excited for this  new one with Norse mythology.  His writing is always filled with such humour, and Sword of Summer was no exception.  I did realise, though, how unfamiliar I am with Norse mythology compared to Greek/Roman although Riordan did a great job of filling in the blanks.

Sword of Summer is pretty much what you would expect from a Rick Riordan book and I gave it four stars out of five.

Reading catchup part 1 – November 18th 2015The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
Series: The Cinder Spires #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Euan Morton
Length: 21 hrs and 46 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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My attention had been drawn to this book because of two things; Jim Butcher and talking cats.  I enjoy Butcher’s Dresden Files series, and I am a real cat person so picking up this book was a no brainer.

The Aeronaut’s Windless is Butcher’s first foray into a kind of steampunk genre and as such it feels very different from the stories of Chicago consulting wizard Harry Dresden.  Butcher has created a vast new world with politics, magic and aerial battles.  I liked the characters as well, especially Rawl the cat and Folly.  It made me wish for a whole book from the cats’ perspectives.

I gave the Aeronaut’s Windlass four stars out of five.

More mini reviews soon!

four-stars

Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan – Review

Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan – ReviewBlood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Series: Heroes of Olympus #5
Also in this series: House of Hades
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Nick Chamian
Length: 14 hrs and 26 mins
Genres: Children's, Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan is the fifth and final book in the Heroes of Olympus saga.  In this book the seven demigods of the prophesy finally have their confrontation with Gaea.  I listened to it in audiobook format – perfect for a sick day from work where you don’t feel like doing much.

If you enjoyed the previous books, it’s very likely you will like this one, too.  It’s more of the same, with resolution of lots of plotlines.  It seems this is the final book in Percy’s world, at least for some time – Riordan is moving onto a series on Norse mythology (sign me up for that asap) – so it is nice to get some closure on these characters with whom we have spent five and in many cases 10 books.

What I liked

The writing style.  A Rick Riordan novel can be characterised as a mixture of humour and adventure, and Blood of Olympus is no different.  I often found myself chuckling out loud at a particularly amusing turn of phrase.  Riordan’s books are definitely a quick, fun read.

The resolution.  Riordan resolved the main conflicts efficiently and pretty much as predicted, throwing in a few character resolutions in as well.  I particularly enjoyed Nico’s and Leo’s character arcs.  There is some suggestion of what the future might hold for our favourite demigods, although sadly there are no more books to see if they are able to follow through with their plans.  As the main character of the new Norse series has the same surname as one of the Percy Jackson series main characters, maybe there will be some crossover.

The narration. Nick Chamian did the narration for Blood of Olympus.  I enjoyed it, but would characterise it as proficient rather than awesome.

What I didn’t like

Lack of narrative tension.  Despite the fact that this is the last book in the series and the fact that at least one death was prophesied, there was no point at which I actually felt one of my much loved characters might not make it.  Admittedly, the series is aimed at younger readers which might explain this.

Efficiency rather than brilliance.  Throughout the Heroes of Olympus series, Riordan has been laying the foundations for this final conflict with Gaea, and it followed pretty closely the pattern he set.  There are no unexpected twists or turns at this stage in the game.  Most of the heavy lifting in terms of character development has also been done by this point.

So in summary, while I enjoyed Blood of Olympus, I didn’t love it.  I gave it three and a half stars out of five.

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three-half-stars

Reading Roundup – 29th August 2014

So, I’m back from my vacation at last!  I didn’t read a whole lot – I spent time with family – but I did get through a few things.  My review of Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Assassin was published yesterday – go check it out if you like slow burning character driven epic fantasy.

I also finished the Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet.  It had been on my TBR list for a while, but I found it slow going because I had been watching the YouTube video series in sync with the book.  I gave up on that and breezed through the book.  I thought it was an excellent companion to the web series, and enjoyed reading it very much.  The trouble is, it’s spoiled me now for The Austen Project series of modernisations of Austen’s works.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved are just so cleverly written and adapted, nothing else can come close.

Reading Roundup – 29th August 2014Percy Jackson's Greek Gods by Rick Riordan
Format: eBook
Pages: 336 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

One book I picked up this week and breezed though was Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods.  This is written from Percy Jackson’s point of view and in it he tells the stories of the Greek gods in his own inimitable style.  It was a lot of fun and I found it a great antidote to all the heavy epic fantasy I’ve been reading lately.  I would suggest reading this book in hard copy form or on a colour device – the book is packed full of illustrations by John Rocco which are gorgeous.  I started reading on my eInk Kindle but switched to my Fire to get the full effect.  I would say though that without a strong through narrative as in the rest of the Percy Jackson series, the humour did seem a little forced at times.  For that reason I gave it four stars out of five.

Added to my library this week

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks.  This is the third book in the Lightbringer series.  It’s been two years since we had a book in this series and I am very much looking forward to listening to it.  Simon Vance is a fantastic narrator, and suits Weeks’ witty style perfectly.  I’m relistening to the previous instalment, The Blinding Knife, before I move onto this.  Obviously, I picked it up in Audible format.

L’Eveil – Le Retour de l’Oiseau-Tonnerre Tome 1 by Anne Robillard.  I have mentioned the Quebecoise author Anne Robillard a few times on my blog now.  She writes incredibly real characters in a fantastical setting, and L’Eveil – The Awakening – is the first book in a  contemporary series.  I don’t know much about it other than that the main character regresses through past lives, but I’m happy to give it a try.  I actually bought this in hard copy – it’s not available electronically – so you must appreciate how much I admire Ms Robillard for me to read that format again!

Upcoming releases in September

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas will be released on September 2nd.  This is the third instalment in the Throne of Glass series which is an epic fantasy telling the story of Celaena Sardothian.  The fantasy element has been quite subtle so far. I loved Throne of Glass and have Crown of Midnight, the second book in the series in my library – just not got round to listening to it yet!  I have preordered Heir of Fire in Kindle format.

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black is published on September 9th.  I know very little about the book other than that it’s written by two excellent authors.  I love Clare’s Shadowhunter world and although I’ve only read a bit of Black’s Coldest Girl in Coldtown, I’ve read enough to like the style.  This collaboration has potential to be excellent.  I have preordered it in both Kindle and Audible formats.

That’s all for today, folks.  Have a good weekend!

four-stars

House of Hades by Rick Riordan – Review

House of Hades by Rick Riordan – ReviewHouse of Hades by Rick Riordan
Series: Heroes of Olympus #4
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Nick Chamian
Length: 17 hrs and 32 mins
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

House of Hades is the fourth, and presumably, the penultimate in Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series.  It continues the story of the seven demigods who are prophesied to work together to prevent the earth goddess Gaea from rising and populating the earth with her giants, presumably a VERY BAD THING.

The overall impression I had was that House of Hades was Mark of Athena part II.  It follows on directly from and continues the plot points from the previous book.  In it the demigods continue to work on the task assigned to them in MoA – to close the Doors of Death. Books one and two form a pair – Jason and Percy’s swap – and so books three and four as well.  Riordan has cleared the decks so to speak for the final push in book five, Blood of Olympus.

I also had the strong feeling that this is Riordan preparing to say goodbye to the world of Percy Jackson.  As far as I understand, his next project is a new series based on Norse mythology (Yeah!  Loki!  Odin!  Thor!  Sign me up for that!).  Annabeth and Percy’s trip through Tartarus is pretty much a Percy and Annabeth’s Greatest Hits medley as they re-encounter monsters they’ve met in previous books and reminisce.  (As an aside, if you’ve not read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians, it is worth reading it before House of Hades so that you can pick up the references more easily.)

What I liked

Each demigod gets the chance to shine.  House of Hades has point of view narration from each of the seven demigods mentioned in the Prophecy of Seven, Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel and Leo.  Each of them has at least one section where they alone really kick ass and take names.  They all get some kind of “level up” and emotional development in this book.  As an aside though, for me Jason’s real heroic moment comes in his unexpectedly sensitive handling of Nico’s crisis not when he’s fighting monsters.

The comedy. These books are laugh out loud funny.  I just adore Riordan’s humour (Percy and Annabeth jumping out of their skins at a sweet little kitten!)

Greek/Roman mythology.  I do love Greek/Roman mythology and Riordan has a real knack for giving it a wonderful twist.

Nico’s storyline.  Kudos to Riordan for handling this in a beautiful and sensitive way.

What I disliked

There was nothing I disliked about House of Hades.  It’s a great, fun read.

My predictions for book five, Blood of Olympus

Normally, I’m really lousy at predicting what’s going to happen in future books.  I’m far better in hindsight.  My guess is the secret to defeating Gaea is the resolution of the conflict between Greeks and Romans.  That was Hera’s endgame when she started off this whole scenario by swapping Percy and Jason.  I think this refers to both the conflict between Camps Jupiter and Half Blood as well as the conflict between the Greek and Roman aspects of the gods.  The Athena Parthenon is clearly the key to the former, and I suspect it will have a major influence on the latter.  Fire or storm is referenced in the HoH as the two aspects of one of the minor gods and I would be surprised if that’s not the key to the prophecy – “to fire or storm the world must fall”.  I also expect that the demigods will have misinterpreted at least part of the Prophecy of Seven.

I believe all seven of our demigods will survive.  Nico though, I expect to die in a blaze of glory, making some kind of sacrifice for the one he loves.

What do you think will happen in Blood of Olympus?

Let me know in the comments.

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four-stars
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