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.

Fun things to do during a Snow Storm

Here on the East Coast of US, we are currently dealing with Winter Storm Grayson, which news is calling a Bomb Cyclone because it’s the perfect storm between to different weather systems colliding or something like.  It’s a lot of snow and a lot of wind and well, it got on my way to work that I gave up and went home.  I have spending my time, reading of course, watching some movies on netflix and doing online quizzes.  Rick Riordan’s page, www.readriordan.com has some fun ones. Like Which Greek hero are you? (I’m Perseus)  What is your magical object? (Mine a swooning chair. not sure how I feel about that but hey at least I get to sit down) and Who is your Godly parent (Aphrodite. Hmm interesting.) Anyway, it’s a good way to spend a few minutes.  Comment below with your results.

What are your favorite things to do during a snow storm?

Diverse Narrators, Diverse Stacks Results

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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?

Series We Said Goodbye To in 2017

goodbye 2017

It was a great year for books and some of my favorite series ended this year.  I’m looking back at some of the series I loved that gave us their last chapters in 2017.

  1. Prisoner’s of Peace Duology by Erin Bow -This was an unexpected ending as I didn’t know it was even in the works before I bought it.  The Swan Riders, the follow up to the Scorpio Rules was quite a ride. Greta forged her own path to save her people but not everyone was ready to let her go.
  2. Firebug Duology by Lish McBrideLish McBride has left it open for a return to this series but for now Pyromantic is the last book of the Duology.  I do hope we get more adventures with Ava, Lock and Ezra because these books have been nothing but delightful
  3.  To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Series by Jenny Han – I thought this series was over before and while I enjoyed it I’m not sure if Forever and Always, Lara Jean was truly necessary because I felt Lara Jean ended up in the same place she was before.  I will make allowance that her decided to go to school out of state was a big growth for her.
  4. Reawakened Trilogy by Colleen Houck – This one I’m glad ended because I’m not sure I would kept up with it for another book.  I just never really connected with the characters I did with her last series, The Tiger’s Saga.  I am very happy that she will be going to back to her Tiger’s in 2018.
  5. Chronicles of Nick Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Technically, Nick Gautier’s story will continue in a new series but the narrative that is Chronicles of Nick is at an end.  I can’t tell you how much I love Nick and I’m not ready to let him go.
  6. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Trilogy by Rick Riordan – This was a groundbreaking series in a lot of ways.  Positive representation of Muslims, Queer, Trans and those with disabilities is so important and to have all of them represented in the main cast of characters is amazing.  Thank you Rick!

Top 10 Posts of 2017

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2017 is almost at an end.  It was quite a challenging year but at least it was filled with a lot of great books.  Here are the Top 10 posts that got the most views on Stacks this year.  Thank you for all of you stopped by and took a glance at our little corner of the internet.

  1. Quick Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han I’m pleasantly surprised this one came out on top.  It got over twice many views as #2 of this list so you all must have loved it.  I’ll admit, I had mixed feelings about this novel because as much as I loved Lara Jean and glad I got to spend more time with her, I’m not sure it was really needed another book.
  2. Sending Love to Sarah Rees Brennan This is another surprise since it was originally posted in 2016 but I hope the continue views have sent Sarah more healing vibes because I do love reading her books.
  3. Quick Review: Intensity by Sherrilyn Kenyon I just adore this series and even though I’m unsure if this is the last book in the series or just shift in the series focus.  Either way, I can’t wait to read more about Nick.
  4. Some of My Favorite Quotes from In Other Lands Another post about Sarah Rees Brennan.  This one got a boost from the author herself!
  5. Rick Riordan Presents I was excited to read about Rick’s new imprint featuring authors of color writing about myths and stories about their cultures.  It’s great seeing Rick use his power to feature new voices and help diversify our stories.
  6. Review: Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray One of my favorite books of the year from one of the best series I have read in a long time.  Here’s hoping she doesn’t take another two years to finish the series finale.
  7. Highs and Lows of Fandoms by Cassandra Clare and Maggie Stiefvater Another post from 2016 that was big in 2017 probably because many of the issues still exist.
  8. Review: Endure by Sara B. Larson Another surprise.  This review made the 2016 list of Top posts too.
  9. Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare Cassandra Clare knows how to bring the drama.  I’m happy that she’s decided to publish the finale of this trilogy before starting her next Shadowhunter trilogy.
  10. Review: Half Lost by Sally Green In 2016, this was the top post and in 2017 it’s still in the Top 10 and I’m still surprise.  I guess not though because the book still haunts with it’s powerful ending.

Crowd Sourcing: Need Suggestions to finish my Diverse Narrators Challenge

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As of yesterday, I had finished my Goodreads.com reading challenge by finishing my 50th book this year.   I decided to look at my own challenge to read more Diverse Narrators and see where I am in it and sadly, I’m not any further along then my last update.  I have books picked out for some categories but I still haven’t read them and I still don’t know about the others.  So dear friends of the internet, help me out with some book recommendations.  What should I read to for the following.

A Book with a Trans Narrator I thought about using Alex Fierro from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead but the story is only from Magnus point of view so that’s out.  I’ve read good reviews for If I was your Girl by Meredith Russo. So I’ll think I’ll try that one but do you know of any other good book with a Trans Narrator?

A Book with an African Narrator I’ve settled on Born a Crime by Trevor Noah because everyone I know who has read it has loved it and I do love him on the Daily Show.  Of course, Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor I’m also interested in too.

A Book with an Asian Narrator I thought about using Warcross by Marie Lu but Emika Chen is Asian American and I already have two books for that one and Hideo Tanaka who is British Japanese is not the narrator of the story, only Emika.  A friend recommended Pachinko by Mi Jin Lee but I’m not sure.

A  Book with a Native American Narrator Sadly, I’m not sure.  Sherman Alexie’s books? Has anyone read Alyson Noel’s Soul Seekers series?

A Book with an Indigenous Mexican Narrator I’m even more loss on this one.  I thought for a second about All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater but by the beginning of the story, the Soria’s have lived in Colorado for over a century and the story is more about the family now then their pasts.  So any suggestions?

I’m open to anything.  Fiction, Non-fiction, fantasy, contemporary, romance. Whatever you got I’m up for it.  Leave your suggestions in the comments below or hit me up on our Twitter @StacksXLiveX and Facebook

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