Quick Review: The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

the burning maze

**Minor Spoilers**

I have to say this is best of the Trials of Apollo series so far.  We’ve settle in nicely into Apollo/Lester’s to rescue the oracles from the Triumvirate and earn his place back on Olympus but the stacks are much higher than ever before.  If I had one issue with Rick’s works is the lack of consequences for the main characters.  The life of demigods are often faced with many deadly trials but somehow always managed to live.  After a while, the near death experiences lose their impact when the reader knows the character is going to live because they are after all the hero.  True as readers we want them to live and have their happy endings but you can’t keep stating how dangerous demigods lives are if they never truly see the consequences but I digress.  Apollo and Meg explore the Burning Maze with the help of Grover. This leads them to California where the west has been dealing with unprecedented wildfires.  Either Rick knew that California would dealing with wildfires in real life or just coincidence.  It would be nice if a few demigods could go in a maze, defeat an enchantress and stop the wildfires but alas it doesn’t work that way.  The maze brings them to Meg’s former home and the help of Piper and Jason.  Our heroes face the third Emperor who is by far the most dangerous.  More than anything, we are seeing the most growth in Apollo is this one.  He’s still Apollo so the ego is still big but it has had some bruising.  He’s starting to understand his own humanity as he’s understanding that he is no longer immortal and is truly vulnerable.  Apollo is slowly embracing his humanity and with that comes all the joys and the pain that comes with it.  More than anything, if he is going to complete his quest he is going to have to become more human and depend on his friends to do it.  The stacks are much higher than they have ever been in one of Rick’s series and making of powerful series.

Rick Riordan Presents is killing it with it’s Cover Game

Rick Riordan has made a career of making Greek, Roman, Norse and Egyptian mythology more accessible to kids and adults.  Now he is launching his own imprint to bring a more diverse set of mythology written by authors of that culture.  The covers for the first three books released under his imprints are amazing.  If I wasn’t excited about reading them before, I am now.  Take a look.

aru shah Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi.

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from their latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

storm runner The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes

A 13-year-old boy must save the world by unraveling an ancient Mayan prophecy

Zane must not only grapple with a family history that connects him to the Mayan gods, but with newly acquired knowledge that his ancestry may have something to do with a leg deformity that requires he use a cane — not the greatest reality for a middle schooler.

Feisty heroes, tricky gods, murderous demons, and spirited giants are just some of the pleasures that await in this fresh and funny take on Mayan mythology, as rich and delicious as a mug of authentic hot chocolate

dragon pearlDragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Space opera based on Korean mythology.

A standalone middle grade novel starring Min, a teenage fox spirit whose brother is missing and thought to have deserted the Thousand Worlds Space Forces in order to find the pearl of the title, an artifact that may have the power to save their struggling space colony.

Diverse Narrators, Diverse Stacks Results

diverse-narrators-diverse-stacks

So how did I do with this year’s challenge.  Pretty good, I think.  I read a few books that I normally wouldn’t have read and other books I would have because I love the authors.  I didn’t complete the challenge though and I’m sad about that.  Will have to do better in 2018.

  1. A Book with a Trans Narrator: Eddie Izzard in Believe Me by Eddie Izzard
  2. Queer Narrator: Apollo in The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
  3. African American Narrator: John Lewis in March Vols. 1-3 by John Lewis
  4. African Narrator: Did not complete
  5. Narrators from various socio-economic backgrounds: Rainey, Rio and Frangie from Silver Stars by Michael Grant
  6. Asian-American Narrator: Lara Jean in Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han and Daniel in The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  7. Disabled Narrator: Call from The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  8. Narrator that survived Abuse: Feyre, Rhysand, and pretty much every character in A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  9. Asian Narrator: Sunja in Pachinko by Mi Jin Lee
  10. Native American Narrator: Did not complete
  11. Mexican Narrator: Cristina in Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
  12. Indigenous Mexican Narrator: Did not complete
  13. Muslim Narrator: Kamala in Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson
  14. Jewish Narrator: Rainey in Silver Stars by Michael Grant
  15. Atheist Narrator: Magnus Chase in Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

So I competed 12 out of 15, which isn’t bad but I was really hoping to do all 15.  How well did you do this year?

 

My Top 10 Books of 2017

top 10 books

According to GoodReads.com I read 20,948 pages from 57 books. So you can imagine how hard it was to narrow down to only 10 for the best books I’ve read this year.  There were so many good ones!  I think I ultimately went with these 10 was because while I may have liked some of the other books more or given other’s better reviews or more stars, these 10 books stuck with me longer after finishing reading them.  I would like to think that our Diverse Lives, Diverse Stacks: Diverse Narrators reading challenge is working for me because half of the books were written by Women of Color and they contain protagonists from very diverse backgrounds.  That’s exciting to me but enough of this, let’s get on to the list.

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas– This book was as heartbreaking as it was realistic.  Starr is caught between two worlds but doesn’t really how different they are or how truly different she acts to accommodate both parts of her life until her friend is killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop and she is the only witness.  This really should be a must read in all schools for generations to come and I’m excited that it will also be a movie coming out next year.
  2. Pyromantic by Lish McBride– It’s funny, it’s sarcastic, it’s action packed but mostly it is just plain fun.  I really hope that Lish returns to these characters because there is just so much weirdness she can do with them.
  3. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor-This is such a lush story with great imagery and original concept.  There really isn’t another novel out there right now.  The ending was such a surprise that I have no idea what to expect in the sequel.
  4. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon-Just like The Hate U Give, this is another heartbreaking but all too realistic look at today’s youth.  To strangers, meet and share a life changing day as Natasha fights to stop her family from being deported and Daniel fights the expectations of being a child of immigrants.
  5. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin-How do you describe this book?  It  has so much going on and it’s not certain how they all interweave but you know they must somehow.  It’s truly a powerful book it’s no wonder it’s won so many awards.
  6. Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray-The third book in The Diviners series takes place in the 1920’s but with it’s themes of race, gender equality and science it’s more relevant than you would think.  Evie, Sam, Memphis, Jericho, Theta, Ling Henry and Isiah have to overcome the coming darkness but also the social limits society places on those in the minority.
  7. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater-People come from far and wide to seek miracles from the Saints of Bicho Raro but even saints themselves need miracles and sometimes those miracles can’t be achieved on their own, sometimes they need a little help from others. That’s the lesson from this one, it’s great to self sufficient but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  8. The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan-A great ending to a great trilogy and the power of how diversity makes us stronger.
  9. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake-It’s dark and mysterious but also cool to read of world where women rule and men play supportive roles.  That women are just as complicated and conflicted and are able to be both and still show strength and vulnerability.  Here we get three young women who all of those things and more.
  10. WarCross by Marie Lu-This was fun and exciting thrill of a book.  Full of mystery and kind of a spy novel in a way.  Emika a down on her luck, hacker/bounty hunter gets a chance to play in the biggest game ever in hopes of finding another hacker trying to sabotage the game.  It’s full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing.

So these are my favorite books of 2017.  What are yours?

Review: The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

silver mask So what do you do when you have the soul of the enemy of death even though you have no memory of his past life and now everyone else knows it and blames you for the death of your best friend but your innocent?  For Call it means you get thrown in jail, broken out and then kidnapped by the very people who’ve been trying to avoid the last three years.  Call’s luck is almost none existent.  Call is also full of self doubt and guilt.  He wasn’t the one to kill Aaron, that was Alex but he still feels responsible for it.  If Tamara had chosen to save Aaron instead of Call it would have been Call who died and not Aaron.  Does Tamara regret that choice?  Call had always assume that Tamara liked Aaron more than him and like most people tolerated him because Aaron did.  Now that Tamara, Jasper and Call are kidnapped by Master Joseph and his crew things get a little hazy.  Call is not Constantine despite having his soul but he’s been having trouble convincing others of this.  He may not be him but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t share some of his ambitions.  Without Aaron, Call feels a little lost and maybe all would be forgiven and go back to what they were if Aaron was alive again.  Master Joseph gives him the chance.  Raise Aaron back from the dead and you can decide whether you want to stay or not.  The Enemy of Death was called that because his obsession with defeating death.  I’m not sure I buy that if Call is able to bring Aaron back that all would be forgiven and that all of a sudden there would be so much support for his cause but we need to find the conflict.  Of course Call is able to bring back Aaron by doing the one thing that Constantine was never willing to do, give apart of himself to do so but you can never go back.  Aaron is not as he was because he was dead and should be dead.  Call’s plan to bring Aaron back and things go back the way they were goes sideways immediately and battle ensues.  If I didn’t know that there is one more book left in the series, I would almost think that this was finale because there was a lot of loose ends tied up.  I’m not sure where they go from here but there is still one bad guy still out there.

This is part of my Diverse Narrator challenge.  Call is disabled with a bad leg from when he was an infant.  While his lifelong injury played more of a roll in previous books it is still a big part of who the character is.  His bad leg has always made him think that he was less capable then those with two good legs and he’s felt this way because of most of his life that’s what people have told him.  Throughout the series, Call has persevered despite being slow to run or walk.  He’s been able to use his other skills and wit to get in and out of  trouble and prove he is just as capable.  May that be a lesson for us all.

Quick Review: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

ship of the dead Gods this is such a great series.  I’m sorry that it’s only a trilogy but Rick being Rick did leave it open that if he wants to he can always return to Vahalla, Magnus Chase and his friends.  I’ve gushed and praised Rick Riordan in so many other reviews and this is another one. His ability to mix mythology, humor and present day is truly a gift.  Yes, his these books a little formulaic.  His heroes must go on epic journeys, where they must face many dangers and trials before facing a near impossible task but never does it feel tired or old.  It maybe because of his cast of characters are all are real and diverse.  How many young reader novels has a Muslim and gender fluid characters in the same novel? and more important how many of them are both are shown to be brave, resourceful, loyal, smart, funny and happy.  The answer not many.  Both Samirah and Alex are all of those and more. Throughout the entirety of the book Sam is practicing Ramadan, which is probably the first time that many of readers have ever read about Ramadan.  As I have stated before about Rick’s, he’s not afraid to tackle tough subjects in his books and he does it by showing positive scenes and connecting them with the stories of our past.  That no matter what a child is going through, they are not the only ones.  Kids of all race, gender identity and faith can see themselves in one of his many books and that’s amazing.  So keep up the good work Rick!

Spoilers under the Cut. Continue reading

Books I’m excited to read this fall

It’s that time of the year when publishers release titles in bunches so they are out before the Holidays. It also means my to-read list just gets longer and longer.  Here are a few books I just can’t wait to read.

Just released

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake – the sequel to Three Dark Crowns.  Three sisters with three different powers but only one will survive to be crowned Queen.

October 3

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray – Book three of the excellent The Diviner’s series.  To quote Evie, it really is the Bees knees.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan – It really is a shame that this is the last book in the series because Magnus has been amazing.  I do hope he shows up in Rick’s other books the way Percy has.

October 10

All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater – Maggie is awesome and we love her and have no doubt this will be awesome too. Also Yeah! for standalones!

November 7

Renegades by Marissa Meyer – I believe this Marissa Meyer’s first book not based on fairy tales.

The Speaker by Traci Chee –The Follow up the The Reader that both Kate and I loved.

The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin– The first book in the Shaw Confessions series, the companion series to the Michelle Hodkin’s Mara Dyer series.