A Pop Culture Assignment for Kate!

Last year I assigned Kate a summer of horror. It was a last minute change. I originally planned on assigning her four first books in a series. It turns out that at least one of those titles, she read with her carpool partner (Mom), Red Queen by the Victoria Aveyard so I’m pretty sure she this is a challenge she will like. I do have a good taste in books if I do say so something. So here we go. Kate’s pop culture homework assignment.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer A new twist on the classic fairy tale Cinderella. This time Cinderella is a cyborg living in New Beijing and there’s a threat of Luna. A kingdom on the moon. Strong female character that looks at Cinderella in a different way and did I mention Moon people. I think you’ll like it. The first book in a four book series.

Firebug by Lish McbrideThis was one of my favorite books I’ve read in a long time. It is beyond hysterical and full of life and magic. Ava is a firebug. She can light things on fire and unfortunately, her special powers has got her caught up with the Coterie, a magical mafia organization. She has to go on the run when she refuses a job. I can’t wait to hear what you think. First book in a duology.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow. This is a definitely different from the others. It was truly gripping. The world has fallen apart and is now ruled by an AI named Talos. To keep the world from going to war, they have taken an Medieval approach and demanding that every country give a hostage. If they decide to go to war, the hostage is killed. Morality tale and coming of age story. It’s a little trippy. First book in a duology.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. This one you are going to have to read because an audio book is not going to fully illustrate Juliette’s mental state. When we meet Juliette, she is imprisoned for being a danger to herself and others. A little dystopian story mixed in with supernatural powers. First book in a series of six.

Reviews: Aru Shah and the End of Times by Roshani Chokshi and The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes

I’m going to do a double review for these two books because they are both published under Rick Riordan Presents publishing tent and I read them back to back. Like Rick Riordan’s work, they both are children’s books that are based in Mythology. So why didn’t Rick write them? Well, I think he learned from his Kane Chronicles that you can do all the research you can on culture and mythology you are not a part of or familiar with it’s going to come out a bit messy. Not to say that the Kane Chronicles was a bad series. I think for many of his readers, it was their first introduction into Egyptian mythology so they were not aware of any errors but I could tell that Rick was comfortable and the flow of his writing wasn’t as crisp. So Rick decided he was going to use his platform and start his own imprint and publish Authors of color tell their own stories and mythologies. This is how you ally. Use your resources to uplift marginalize voices and give them a platform to speak.

Both Aru Shah and the End of Times and The Storm Runner follow the same formula that Rick uses in his Greek stories. Introduces the Demigod, send them on a world saving quest that requires them to complete smaller quests along the way to help them be successful, while interacting with other mythological characters or using the myths they grew up hearing to help them get out of trouble. Here I was taken through various Indian and Mayan myths and it was enjoyable. I do admit I enjoyed Aru Shah a lot better then The Storm Runner. Aru lives in Atlanta with her Mom and goes to a elite prep school. Aru is a liar. Well, she has a huge imagination. She often tells her fell kids at schools lies about her life to make her life seem more exciting and things start to go south when a few them catch her in her lies. Technically, Aru isn’t a demigod but the reincarnation of one of Indian mythologies greatest heroes. With the help of Mini, who is also a reincarnation of Aru’s brother hero, are able to save the day. What I liked about this book is that Aru is not the perfect girl. She’s a liar and definitely a troublemaker. She doesn’t have a lot of friends because she feels like an outsider and bullied. Both girls have had trouble making friends and opening up to each other isn’t easy but they do and it’s what allows them to succeed. I love who it really plays up their friendship and the importance of female friendships. Not to mention, Aru is a hoot. I laughed all the way through this book.

Maybe one of the reasons I liked Aru better is that I have some familiarity with Indian Mythology. I know nothing about Mayan. So I was going into this book fresh and learned quite a lot. Did you know the Mayan’s have a Goddess for Chocolate? That is awesome. The Storm Runner follows Zane who lives in New Mexico with his Mother and Uncle, next to a volcano. Who knew there were volcanoes in New Mexico? One night, a plane crashes into his volcano and then Zane meets Brooks, who he calls the most beautiful girl he has ever meant and boom we are off and running. Zane releases Ah-Puch, the God of the Death among of other things and well now he’s in trouble. Only he can kill him and do it before the other Mayan Gods find him and well kill him too because Gods are not supposed to have children because they see this as an imbalance in the world. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy this book. I did but I found Zane to be frustrating. He really doesn’t listen to what people tell him. He is given good advice throughout the book and he either ignores it or doesn’t want to listen because “who are they to tell him what to do”. Things kinda go from bad to worst when he does this until the end when faced with his own death does he actually listen to what people are telling him and it turns out okay. There were moments in the book that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to finish. I’m glad I did because it turned out to be alright but it wasn’t easy to get through. Again this could be because I don’t know anything about Mayan mythology. With Rick’s Greek and Roman and even a little with Aru’s Indian, I knew enough Myths to figure out what was going ton and how they might be able escape. I didn’t have that here and maybe that made it harder. I also found Aru to be more likeable then Zane but I also identified more with Aru. I should mention that Zane has a disability. One of his legs is shorter then the other and he has to walk with a cane. It seems like his weakness but it turn out it s his strength. I think that is an important message for kids to read and allow them to be seen. I would recommend both books for anyone who loves Percy Jackson and are looking for stories outside Greek and Roman mythologies. They both are good in their own right and I look forward to reading the next books in both series..

Quick Review: The Reckoning of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin

So not a lot of happened in this book. Noah Shaw has already been a mess but he’s even more so after the events of the last book. If we are being truthful, he’s never really dealt with the events of Mara Dyer trilogy and now that everything has spiraled out of control, he’s really not dealing well. He broke things off with Mara after discovering what she has done and kept from him. He discovers that Mara’s Grandma, who should be dead is still alive has plans for him. If that wasn’t enough, he lost his power to heal and is a little lost M, Mara’s grandma, wants him to do what Mara did and access his memories and find the clues that can help her and Mara against the Professor but Noah isn’t so keen. The last thing that Noah wants to do remember and feel and after everything that has happened is a little bit paranoid. So yeah, he resists and avoids but also does what he is asked. We get a few answers to how everything began and why some are dying but we are mostly still left in the dark. I wouldn’t say this book was boring but it didn’t have the oompf of previous books. I can only hope that the pay off will come in the final book.

Quick Review: Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi

The second book in a trilogy is always a difficult one and this one is no different. I felt it was a little uneven. It first felt a little slow in the beginning and then lose it’s momentum in the end. This was also difficult because this book really lays out all the abuse and trauma that Juliette/Ella has been put through by the Reestablishment. So much of her young life had been taken from her and not just from her but Warner and the other children of the World commanders. It’s very heartbreaking everything that she has been through and everything that continued to be done to her, her sister and friends. I really enjoyed the chapters in Kenji’s POV and was sad when they stop halfway through. MORE KENJI. The ending was sweet but also kinda cruel because for a brief moment they all were in peace that we all know will not last long. So it wasn’t t he best book in the series but it was a good set up to what is to come and reminder of all that is at stack from them.

Review: Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

I fell in love with the premise of this book immediately. A crew of woman sailors out for revenge against the regime that killed or hurt their families. It just seemed like the book I needed to read right now. Caledonia Styx, the captain is a flawed heroine for sure but she is also a good leader. Wracked with guilt after hesitating to kill the Bullet, member of the so called Army that rules the oceans, that lead to the death of her own family. She builds her ship and crew along with her friend Pieces. Many of her decisions on her personal desire to kill this one Bullet and this at times clouds her judgment. The weight of being the Captain and responsible for the lives of her crew members weighs heavily on her as their mission becomes more and more dangerous. After taking on one enemies ship they take on a Bullet. She doesn’t trust him but he offers her information that she can’t deny and things start moving very fast.

From the very beginning this book was intense. I could feel the tension that the characters were feeling throughout their journey. The story is in Caledonia’s point of view and we get a glimpsed of a determined but also conflicted girl. She is a born leader and has the complete loyalty of her crew but has so many doubts and fears that she can’t see it. Almost the entire book , Pieces tells her how much she needs to let go and trust that her crew has her back and just when I thought the message got through, she does something stupid but I won’t go into that because that would spoil the end. That’s the beauty of this book. It really is about female friendship. Caledonia only succeeds because of the crew she assembled and that’s a powerful message. Often girls are taught to be in competition with each other but we can be so much stronger together. All of the characters are fully fleshed out. We don’t get as much of their back story but we get full character traits and that each girl is their own person. In the upcoming books, I hope we get more of her crew and where they came from and how they joined the crew. I really loved this book and happy and sad that it’s a trilogy because I don’t want to journey to end but I also want to read the next book like right now.