Genre: Humorous

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 roundup – August 8th 2015

Hello, yes I know it’s been a while since I blogged – work and life keep getting in the way!

This last couple of weeks has involved routine doctor’s visits for both me and my cat, Isis.  Now, most cats don’t enjoy going to the vet, but Isis takes it to the extreme psycho-cat-going-to-shred-your-hands-and-tear-your-face-off mode complete with screaming, hissing, yowling and hyperventilating (that last, all three of us, the cat the vet and me).  My normally quiet, reserved kitty became so upset the vet had to fit her with a Hannibal Lecter Silence of the Lambs mask, which she STILL managed to remove to sink her teeth into the vet. 

IMG 0009

Poor kitty.  She’s now on meds which fortunately are a little easier to give!

Anyway, onto reading-related matters.

This week I’ve been rather obsessed with the upcoming release of Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Quest, the second in her Fitz and the Fool trilogy.  I enjoyed book one, and more importantly, I’m heavily emotionally invested in the characters of Fitz and the Fool and their unconventional relationship.  Some of the early non-spoiler reviews I’ve read have said that it’s a fantastic return to form by Hobbs, and to my mind she was never off form.  I really can’t wait for release day.  I’m on nightshift on August 11th so I’ll anxiously await the audiobook to hit my Audible download queue at around 3am and start immediately.  From where we left book one, I’m anticipating Fitz going all Liam Neeson in Taken on the Servants of the Archive:

During my nightshift I made excellent progress on some of the series I need to complete, thanks to audiobooks.

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015Magician's End by Raymond E. Feist
Series: Chaoswar #3
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: John Meagher
Length: 17 hrs and 4 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Since my last post I’ve read/listened to books one and two and am half way through the third book in Raymond E. Feist’s Chaoswar saga.  I must admit I’ve been somewhat less than excited about this series.  Although we have Pug and Magnus, I don’t feel as connected to the newer characters as I have in previous Feist series.  I’m also not wild about the whole religious angels/devils Fall from Heaven storyline that seems to be creeping in.

Despite my love for some of the unexpectedly returning characters, I am not too impressed that Feist chose to bring them back.  Their previous plotlines, to my mind, gave good closure to their character arcs and wonderful character development for others.  To bring them back now seems to negate all of that.  Admittedly though, in Feist’s hands, it’s handled in a much better way than a lesser storyteller might have been able to achieve.

I’ve still not completed the entire series, so I will reserve full judgement for when I do.

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015Trapped by Kevin Hearne
Series: The Iron Druid #5
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

The next book I listened to on my nightshift was Trapped, book five in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles.  As I’ve said before on this blog, I adore this series.  The characters, (Oberon!) worldbuilding and plot are all wonderful.  This is a series best enjoyed in audiobook format thanks to Luke Daniels’ wonderful audio narration.  I can’t say enough good things about this series, so I’ll strongly urge you to go check it out for yourselves. I gave Trapped five stars out of five.

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Amy Poehler
Length: 7 hrs and 31 mins
Genres: Autobiographies/Biographies, Humorous
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

I was looking for something a bit different to listen to during a recent nightshift, something funny, so I decided to listen to Yes Please written and narrated by Amy Poehler (with guests.)  In terms of audiobook production Yes Please is pitch perfect.  The producers have chosen to go for a less “polished” version leaving in snorts and giggles so that it really does feel as if you’re hanging out with Amy and friends.  I believe the text has been adapted slightly to fit the audiobook version.  I also did get a chuckle out of her guest stars.  Hearing Sir Patrick Stewart deliver some of Poehler’s down-to-earth and earthy words in his cultured British accent did give me a few giggles.

That being said, I didn’t necessarily always appreciate some of the language and the jokes, but I can honour Poehler’s commitment to get her laughs from making fun of circumstances or herself not other people’s misfortune.  

I gave Yes Please four stars out of five.

That’s all for today folks.  Expect a review of Fool’s Quest as soon as I have finished it!

Have a  good week.

three-half-stars

Reading roundup – June 13th 2015

Reading roundup – June 13th 2015Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Kirby Heyborne, Eric Michael Summerer
Length: 9 hrs and 26 mins
Genres: Humorous, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

One of the books I started listening to this week is Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas.  This is the story of two young socially isolated boys who become penpals.  Their respective issues – one is highly allergic to electricity and the other requires an electrical pacemaker – precludes their ever meeting.  I’m about a third of the way through it and am very much enjoying it.  It is written in the style of letters the two boys send to each other – which means it’s about as perfect for the audiobook format as you can get.  Both narrators are doing an excellent job.

I may do a full review on this later, so I won’t say much more.

Reading roundup – June 13th 2015Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha and Omega
Format: eBook
Pages: 338 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Another book I started reading this week was Patricia Briggs’ Dead Heat, the fourth in her Alpha and Omega series.  I felt in the mood for some contemporary fantasy.  I’ve only just started, but so far, so good.  Briggs is usually a reliable go-to for this kind of good, and her characters are generally well-developed and interesting.  I’m beginning to feel though that she has just about come to the natural end of the stories she can tell about Mercy, Adam, Charles and Anna.  We’ll see.  I’ll keep you updated.

Not much more to add this week.   Have a good week and catch you soon!

four-half-stars

Reading roundup – April 27th 2015

Reading roundup – April 27th 2015Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
Series: Chronicles of St Mary's #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Zara Ramm
Length: 9 hrs and 30 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Humorous, Humourous
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

It’s always fun to come across a great new series by accident.  A couple of weeks ago, Audible sent me one of their new release by author X emails advising me that book five in Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary’s series had been released.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this series, it’s about time travelling historians, or as I like to think of it, Connie Willis with more tea.  

The premise sounded interesting, so I went to check out the rest of the series on Audible. I was surprised to find that book one was listed as In my library.  It appears Audible had included it as one of their Daily Deals some time ago, and I’d picked it up.  As an aside, it’s definitely worth signing up for those daily deal emails – you can find some excellent deals for $4.

What I liked

The humour.  The humour is very British and, being British born and bred, it really appealed to me.  I also appreciated the references to the copious amounts of tea drunk by the historians!  

The protagonists.  I really enjoyed hearing about Max and her disaster magnet coworkers.  I enjoyed the way she found humour in the most dire situations in which she ends up.  The way the romance was slowly built up was beautifully done and realistic.

The concept.  Time travelling historians.  That pretty much says it all.  I understand from Taylor’s bio that she is particularly interested in history and it shows in the descriptions of the times and places Max and her coworkers visited.  The business model the historians of St Mary’s come up with towards the end of the book is intriguing and should provide fodder for many more stories to come.  The concept of a vengeful “history” seems not quite yet fully fleshed out, but promises good things for future books, if that is the direction Taylor chooses to go.  Alternatively, I rather enjoyed the evil historian antagonist plotline.

Surprising twists. When I first started listening to it, my first thoughts was that this was a very amusing, if light story, but then there were a few twists that raised the stakes for our protagonists and drew me in even more to the story.

The narration.  The audiobook narration was brilliantly provided by Zara Ramm.  She really “got” Max’s voice and  the humour of the story.  I will certainly continue with this series in audiobook format rather than ebook because of the wonderful narration.

What I didn’t like

Unexplained/unlimited time travel.  This for me was one of the biggest weaknesses in the story.  Certainly, Taylor has chosen to focus more on the historical side of time travel rather than the science fiction, so makes no attempt to explain how it works.  That I can live with.  What was more problematic for me was that there appeared to be no limitations on Taylor’s time travel.  They can set the coordinates and go wherever and whenever they wish.  The historians appear to have no fear of disturbing the timeline – aka the grandfather paradox.  As with fantastical magic systems, often what you can’t do can be more interesting than what you can.

Leaving out limitations means there is a whole area of narrative tension left unexplored. This is also what led to my initial thought of light, amusing fluff.  I will say though that there are definite seeds in this first book in the series which indicates this may be addressed more fully in later books.

Despite these few concerns, I loved Just One Damned Thing After Another and gave it five stars out of five.  In fact, I enjoyed it so much I’ve just gone out and purchased the rest of the series.  Go check them out and enjoy.

As I mentioned in my last blog, my husband and I are setting off on a big train trip in a couple of weeks;  we’re doing the ViaRail trans Canada journey on The Canadian.  Being the avid reader that I am, I have been reading some books for advice. 

All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide 

One of the main books I read for my research was All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide by Jim Loomis.  This is a very detailed guide to train travel in North America and includes everything from tips on how to get the best fare to the facilities you’re likely to have onboard.  Although I have travelled by train many times before, this is my very first long haul train journey and I found this book invaluable.  

Equally importantly, Loomis’ passion for train travel comes across very well and that only served to enhance my excitement for our trip.  

Trans-Canada Rail GuideThe Trans-Canada Rail Guide is more of a traditional travel guide than a how-to of long distance rail travel.  It contains tourist information on the places we will visit on our trip and most interestingly a route map for the train journey indicating places of interest at each point.  My biggest gripe with this book is that it is not available in ebook format – I will have to take the hard copy with me rather than having it on my Kindle.

That’s all for this week.  Back soon. 

five-stars

Epistle by Max Thompson – Review

Epistle by Max Thompson – ReviewEpistle by Max Thompson
Format: eBook
Pages: 113 pages
Genres: Autobiographies/Biographies, Humorous
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Epistle by Max Thompson is the latest in a series of fun cat memoirs written by handsome feline Max, aided and abetted by his human caregiver Karen.  I follow Max’s blog and love reading his musings on life as a house cat.  I was excited this morning when he announced that the digital version of his latest book was now available from Amazon – hard copy to follow soon – and immediately picked it up and devoured it.  This particular instalment was written as a letter by Max (who is now a senior kitty) to his younger self giving his kitten self tips and tricks.

What I liked

The format.  I felt this works very well.  The letter to Young Max gives a cohesive structure and approach to the book.  It contains a mixture of amusing and practical tips for Young Max, often ways of “persuading” the humans in the household to give him more food, as well as more philosophical thoughts on human nature.  I am certain my cat has been talking to Max on the sly as she uses many of the same tricks.  He also attempts to educate Young Max in his new role as a house cat – he is responsible for looking after the physical and emotional wellbeing of the humans.  I’m not 100% convinced that this is truly altruistic – he does remind Young Max on more than one occasion that humans are needed to open the cans of stinky goodness.

The introduction from Buddah Pest.  Max’s feline partner in crime, Buddah Pest, is a major part of Max’s life, yet we’ve heard very little from his point of view.  It was really fun to hear from him in the foreword.

The humour.  Max is hilarious.  He has a unique way of looking at the world and I snorted several times reading his musings.

What I didn’t like

Repetition.  Many of the events to which Max makes reference were already familiar to me from his previous books.  Ah well.  I suppose there are only a certain number of major happenings that can happen to one well loved kitty.  Fortunately, the structure of explaining these to Young Max did add a bit of variety.

I would recommend Epistle – and Max’s other books to all cat lovers.

I gave Epistle four stars out of five

 buy from Amazon

four-stars
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