Crown of Ptolemy by Rick Riordan

The-Crown-of-Ptolemy-Rick-RiordanTitle: The Crown of Ptolemy

Author: Rick Riordan

Genre: Middle-grade Adventure/Fantasy

Edition: E-book

 “My Big Fat Greek/Egyptian Crossover.”

In this Percy Jackson/Kane Chronicles crossover, Percy finally meets Sadie and Annabeth finally meets Carter to battle against an Egyptian magician named Setne. By putting their heads and their unique weapons together, the four demigods employ tactics to bring Setne down and prevent him from becoming an all powerful Egyptian/Greek God and doing very bad things. Since Rick Riordan isn’t a fan of bad endings, it wouldn’t be considered a spoiler to tell you that they succeed. The fun, of course, is in the “how”.

I’m not sure if I’m getting tired-slash-growing out of Rick Riordan’s writing style, but this novella was not as appealing to me as most of his works usually are. The plot was mediocre at best and the dialogue was absolutely ridiculous–kind of like a really bad comedy movie. I didn’t feel an ounce of adventure throughout (although my heart did almost stop when I thought Riptide was gone forever). The first two novellas in this crossover series, Son of Sobek and the Staff of Serapis, were really enjoyable but this just didn’t do it for me. All in all, it was really superficial without any real substance to the story or the characters.

I used to say that I would never be done with Percy Jackson. I used to say that Rick Riordan could write a hundred more books about him and I’d read them all but I’m starting to wonder whether that remains true. If I don’t think Rick is doing Percy Jackson justice (ahem heroes of olympus) or if I don’t like the way the books are written, I’d much rather keep my memories of Percy Jackson pure and untainted.

With that said however, Crown of Ptolemy was just a small, irrelevant novella so I can’t make any rash judgments based on it. Therefore, I’m still excited to read Trials of Apollo because Camp Half Blood needs to re-enter my life. Hopefully the gloriousness of Percy Jackson and the Olympians re-enters with it.

Peace. εἰρήνη. xx

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Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: Invasion of the Tearling

invasion of the tearling

(I didn’t read this edition but I’m using this cover design because I mean look at it)

Author: Erika Johansen

Genre: Fantasy

Edition: E-book

After a brutal couple of weeks waiting for my hold at the library to be up, I finally got my hands on the second installment of Erika Johansen’s dazzling trilogy, The Queen of the Tearling. True to it’s title, this novel follows Queen Kelsea as she searches through every avenue for a way to prevent the Red Queen from invading her kingdom (queendom?). I had very high expectations for Invasion of the Tearling because the first installment blew me away. Thank goodness it was no less mind-wrappingly brilliant and feels-inducing.

Kelsea continues to awe me with her tactical intelligence and no-funny-business personality. When I say she gets stuff done, I mean, she gets stuff done. Although, she has every reason to cower in fear, she never admits defeat but instead just keeps plowing forward. Everyone always says they are a sucker for a strong female protagonist and Kelsea will definitely satisfy that search. And she doesn’t even need a sword to do so. As far as the plot goes, it was pretty much one of anticipation and revelation. Kelsea and her guards are aware of the looming possibility of a devastating Invasion that the Tearling might not be able to sustain. As they try to put together a strong army and gather any information about the Red Queen and her weaknesses, Kelsea’s magic starts to unfold. Magic that, for all intents and purposes, has a mind of its own. When it started changing her, I was not a fan. Yes, she was powerful, powerful enough to defeat Mort, but she basically morphed into a dark ruler whose methods were not admirable. Not to mention her extremely questionable choice for an ally. She said she had no choice but I really don’t think Finn’s involvement in her situation was so necessary to be worth the freedom of someone who was severely punished for doing who knows what. Furthermore, the uncontrollable desire she had for him every time she saw him freaked me out. To have no control over wanting someone that badly? I would be terrified. (And you wonder why I don’t trust attractive people…) This desire seems to mirror the oddly immediate feelings Kelsea had for the Fetch and there were hints at some relationship between him and Finn. I’m itching to figure out what that is.

Kelsea’s magic also provides a gateway for her to learn more about the history behind the Tearling. If I understand correctly, she travels through time, or at least her mind does, to the period before William Tear set sail to found a new world. That was a plotline I was not expecting but was greatly captivated by. [spoilers ahead] At first, I was confused because there was this random woman with an abusive husband who seemingly had no connection to the present current of events at all. But Erika, with her brilliant writerly self, connected all the pieces as we discovered Lily’s true role, which is a massive one, in this whole “revolution”. One that feels like it’s been barely touched upon and is going to be explored even more in the next book.

And finally–Pen. Ahh, Pen. What a wonderful human being he is.

Unless Kelsea met someone else, Pen was really the only logical love interest since he was the only one near her age. I never shipped Kelsea with anyone until Pen had that conversation with Lazarus. You know the one where he said, “It never mattered what she looked like,” and basically implied that he’s been in love with her ever since he met her. At that point I was just like I need it. I need it now. And I basically got it but not in the way that I wanted. Basically, she’s using him as a sex toy and he may be okay with that but I’m not. Sigh. Soon she will realize the error of her ways and recognize the beauty of the man in front of her. But until then, I wait. [spoilers end]

Golly, this novel was a journey. Adventure, magic, monarchies, character depth and sharp wit, otherwise known as everything I crave in a book, Invasion of the Tearling will probably be one of my favorite novels of this year. If you read this, let me know what you think in the comments.

With love, xx.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

the queen of the tealingTitle: The Queen of the Tearling

Author: Erika Johansen

Genre: Fantasy/Dystopian

Edition: Hardcover

“I want to be a different queen.”

That’s not an actual quote from the book. It was actually said by Mary Queen of Scots on the show Reign on CW and it was all I kept thinking of as I read. Kelsea Raleigh is the heir of the Tearling and the book begins with her having reached the age of nineteen when she is required to take the throne. With a branded scar and a precious jewel, she is a symbol of hope for the Tear people task with the burden of eradicating their sufferings and removing them from under the oppressive hand of the Queen of Mortmesne. Determined not to be the frivolous queen that her mother was, Kelsea begins implementing her plans to improve the state of her kingdom. To understand the Tearling, picture what would happen to the world as it is now if technology failed and everyone who knew anything about science died. First world advantages as we know it would end. Many of you are no doubt familiar with older generations complaining that digitization is ruining society and the lives of our youth. Well this guy, William Tear, decided to create a utopia on the basis of that mentality and well…let’s just say it didn’t turn out as planned. Naturally, the world reverted to the medieval age.

I was pulled into this story from the beginning. As soon as she left her cottage, Kelsea was thrown into conflict and the problems just kept piling on. It’s ridiculously amazing how she handled everything with finesse and didn’t break down hyperventilating like I certainly would have if I was in her position. Living in a cottage for her whole life, she was never engrossed in royalty life. Then she’s taken to the Keep and has everything under control. I actually adore her and how she can easily focus on what’s important. On the page she exudes confidence even though she’s “plain”–something, by the way, she would not let readers forget. Seriously, in every chapter, there was a sentence referring to her plain facial features. Like okay, I get it, she’s not very attractive, there’s really no need to keep reminding me. That was one of the few things that irritated me. That and her irrational affection for The Fetch. It wasn’t even 24 hours and she was talking like she was in love. He must be damn irresistible to make that happen. While we’re on the topic of characters, I have a strong appreciation for the Queen’s Guards, especially Lazarus and I don’t even know why. Something about their personalities appeal to me and during the various complications, I realized that I really don’t want any harm to come to any of them. I do wish, though, that I knew more about the others besides Lazarus but hopefully Kelsea will learn more about them individually throughout the next two books. Same with the Fetch, who definitely has a mysterious past worth exploring.

The Queen of the Tearling revolves mostly around the political aspects of the kingdom and its strained relationship with Mortmesne rather than the interwoven magic. I can’t wrap my head around it but the events in this book seem to set the foundation for many future revelations about magic in the kingdom. So I’m excited.

Last but not least, the wit in this book is amazing. Everyone’s sense of humor was so intellectually satisfying.

If any of you have read this, tell me in the comments so we can talk about it. If you have not read it…read it. If you just want to tell me how your day was, go right ahead.

Later xx

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six-of-Crows.jpg
Title: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: YA Fantasy

Edition: Hardcover

No Mourners. No Funerals.

That’s how inhabitants of the Barrel say ‘Good Luck’. It’s a fitting exchange of words that acknowledges the fact that the odds are probably against them but they’ll be damned if they don’t pull through.

Even if the odds are impeccably stacked on the unfavorable  side, Kaz Brekker, bastard of the Barrel and right-hand man of the Dregs, one of the gangs that rule over Ketterdam, will find a way out. Kaz, known as Dirtyhands because there isn’t anything he won’t do for the right price, is like an untouchable force of nature whom no one dare cross for fear of being killed in the most imaginative way possible. He kills without a second thought and shows no pity, empathy and or mercy. He is, in short, a monster (and only seventeen!).

Yet I love him. If a writer can make me love such a monster, he/she is extremely talented (or there’s something seriously wrong with me). Kaz is such a complex, convoluted, perplexing, and charming character. I can’t even begin to explain the depth within this one persona. There are just no words.

Right away, Kaz is enlisted by a mercher to complete an impossible heist that involves infiltrating a most guarded and secure prison, the Ice Court. Of course, Kaz agrees for a persuasive amount of money that would able him to finally achieve the one thing he’s been after all these years. To succeed this task, he assembles a crew of enticingly peculiar people, each with a different skill-set. There’s a sharpshooter, a nimble spy with acrobatic skills, a Grisha (someone with powers), a former-witchhunter, or drüskelle, and a rich-boy turned criminal who has “hidden depths”. Some of these characters are also POC–score for you Bardugo. I’m not going to tell you who they are exactly because it’s much more fun if you figure it out on your own. I will say, however, that all these characters are just as flushed out as Kaz and have compelling stories that led them to their current position as members of the Dregs. You gotta love them, even Matthias, who was hard to swallow at first. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about each of their pasts that were revealed piece by piece throughout the novel. It was like scavenger hunting, reading through and waiting to see if this was the chapter where you’d discover the secret behind so and so. For example, Kaz wears gloves all the time and no one knows why but at one point in the story, I put the puzzle pieces together and had such a rewarding epiphany. Same with Jesper, there were way too many revelations about Jesper in one chapter alone. I finished the chapter like “Who is this guy? Everything I thought about you was a lie!” 

Now maybe many of you have read Leigh’s debut novels, the Grisha trilogy and are familiar with this world that she has created but I haven’t so I went in with a significant lack of knowledge. In the booksphere, people have been saying that one need not read the Grisha trilogy to understand this novel but I still found myself very confused for the first few chapters. Not only were the terms confusing but it was also difficult for me to understand the politics of this world. To this point, I’m still not sure I truly understand the concepts or just became more familiar with them. *shrugs* Either way, Leigh has definitely created an extraordinary world. I commend her also for creating such an elaborate facility such as the Ice Court. I imagine it to be so beautiful.

Each character obviously has their own love interest. Some of them were expected, some were not. And none of the relationships–and relationships to be–are simple. They all have a significantly sized barrier that is both heartbreaking and slightly amusing. By no means does this story revolve around these romances but the inclusion of them certainly adds to the riveting plot.

I honestly could talk about this book all day but this review is becoming a bit lengthy so I’m gonna cut it off here. I believe I have given you sufficient reason to go out to your local bookstore and purchase this book. If you need any more convincing, take a IMG_20151213_111534.jpglook at this—>

BLACK PAGES! IT HAS BLACK PAGES! I mean, have you ever seen something more beautiful? When I got this book, I literally just sat there marveling at the exquisite exterior before I even embarked on the journey of reading it. It is seriously that gorgeous. Looks, an awesome plot, beautiful characters, what more could you need?

I can’t contain my excitement for the sequel. I’m bursting at the seams. If you’ve read this whole post until the end, I commend you for your determination and thank you for your loyalty. If any of you in the booksphere have read Six of Crows and loved it as much as I did, please comment so we can rave about it together. Even if you didn’t like this book so much, comment and tell me why so I can convince you of your inaccuracies.

Just kidding.

Maybe.

See you on the flip side xx

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

cinderTitle: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fairytale Retelling

Edition: Paperback

Our dear Cinderella trades in the glass slipper for a shiny new cyborg foot. 

Who doesn’t love fairytales? People without souls, that’s who. And if you love fairytales, you should be interested in Cinder, primarily because it is a fairytale retelling. It’s the first installment in a quartet of fairytale retellings called The Lunar Chronicles.

As you can probably tell from the cover, there is a sci-fi twist where Linh Cinder is a cyborg, meaning she is part-android and part-human. Following the sci-fi pattern, rather than dusting floors, Cinder is a mechanic and has to tend to all her step-mother’s technological needs. The backstory is more or less the same but with one outstanding difference because somewhere in her past, Cinder went from being completely human to having metal body parts. Her two step-sisters, Peony and Pearl, are both human but they are not both vicious to Cinder. Peony is actually pretty nice and they get along great. Whereas Cinderella has mice to keep her company, Cinder has an android named Iko who is a bundle of joy. There is way more personality in her than a lot people I know and she doesn’t even have a heart. The prince is Prince Kai, soon to be Emperor. He’s alright.

What I liked about this book was that it was based off of the first version (or the first to be written down) which originated in China. Cinder lives in the Eastern Commenwealth, which seems to be futuristic China. It’s authentic while also providing a new perspective because we’ve all come to know the Westernized story of Cinderella. A lot of the times when people envision or create a futuristic world, everyone is the same. It’s like they all made the final conformation to literally become one collective humankind. Marissa Meyer, however, created a futuristic world and maintained all the cultural aspects. Doing so made for a very diverse, quality world that was lovely to read. Also, in this time period, the black plague is prevalent with its first sign as a spot or rash on the person’s skin and in a few days, they are dead. That aspect generated a lot of fear and suspense.

On top of that, while all the people of earth are suffering from this plague, there are people up in space acting as yet another silent threat. Lunars, who, by their name you can probably infer, live on the moon, Luna. They’re great antagonists that contributed to the success of this book. Because of the consistent possibility that they will attack, throughout the novel readers are on the edge of their seats wondering, at each moment, whether the Lunars are about to do something big. If you’re not already convinced of their awesome-ness, note that they also have powers.

Cinderella is the foundation for the plot of Cinder but it certainly is not the whole plot. Cinder takes on a completely unique angle with a lot more dimension that the simple girl meets prince, girl marries prince, they live happily ever after. The relationship between Cinder and Kai is not the main focus. There are other rather intriguing characters and plot lines that sustain the story when Kai isn’t in the picture. The beginning was a little slow but when I finally got into the story, I had to read until the end. Cinder is also very sarcastic which made me like her more than I probably would have had she not been.

If you like sarcastic main characters, intriguing sci-fi worlds with a hint of mystery and questionable characters, then Cinder will be a great fit. Just read past the first couple of pages and then you will become compelled to finish it.

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

the heart of betrayal

Title: The Heart of Betrayal

Author: Mary E. Pearson

Genre: YA Fantasy

Edition: E-book

The title of this novel holds true because my heart was indeed betrayed.

This is the second installment of The Remnant Chronicles written by Mary E. Pearson so if you haven’t read the first one, The Kiss of Deception, you shouldn’t be here. Then again, if you couldn’t care less then read on. If you have read the first book in the trilogy then you may continue as well for I will try to keep this review void of spoilers. (Key word: try.)

I have no idea why it’s been so difficult for me to write this review but for some reason, I can’t seem to collect my thoughts on this book. I had such high hopes for the second installment of the remnant chronicles. Such high hopes. The way that The Kiss of Deception ended was so climactic, I was really excited to read about the infamous Venda and see what dragon business the Grendel was referring to. In addition to that, I was anticipating discovering more dimensions to Kaden’s character and with that, an actual love triangle that is worth seeing played out.

Alas, I was disappointed. There are basically only two factors that I can truly appreciate and those are Venda and The Komizar. Venda was rather inventive. They had a lot of strange customs and I liked how their “barbaric” ways were continuously twisted around to be not as cruel or disdainful as Lia (and readers) once thought. The Komizar was also a nice addition to the set of characters we already have. He was calculating, cold, and at times very very creepy which makes for a really good antagonist. There’s definitely a layer to him beyond the harsh exterior that was briefly brought to light and I was hoping it would have been further explained either in this book or the next but the ending left no room for that development.

As for the prophecy or what have you–referring to the one named Jezelia who will defeat the dragon–I was pretty sure the dragon was The Komizar. However, the altercation between him and Lia seemed too quick, too soon and a tad bit unresolved. It certainly didn’t improve the situation in Venda or the relations between kingdoms so I’m not too convinced about my former interpretation. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was hoping for an actual dragon. Especially when Lia was crawling through the catacombs and hearing questionable sounds. There’s still an entire book left though so like…anything can happen.

I was just expecting at least a little bit more clarity about it. Throughout the book, it was revealed here or there that some of the Vendans knew and remembered the Song of Venda hinting at a possible hushed rebellion brewing in the towns but for the most part this whole prophecy was on the sidelines only to present itself when Lia randomly saw Venda everywhere (what’s up with that?) or when she was telling the townspeople stories. By the way, I love how she gradually gained control over the Vendans to the point where literally hundreds of people would wait outside her window and yet The Komizar was completely oblivious. Like…the award for Most Perceptive definitely does not go to you.

The ending was incredibly confusing for me. I don’t know if that’s because I read it too quickly or what but to this day I’m still not sure where Rafe and Lia are or what happened to Rafe’s friends. Hopefully, The Beauty of Darkness clears up a lot of this confusion but until then, I’ll just sit here in my confusion and be confused.

I apologize for this horrible review. I blame it on the book. Just kidding. Mary E. Pearson please don’t see this.

Later, loves xx

Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes

gathering darknessTitle: Gathering Darkness

Author: Morgan Rhodes

Genre: YA Fantasy

Edition: Hardcover

This is possibly the most gorgeous book cover I’ve ever seen. The best part is that it matches the gorgeous content inside the book so it’s a win-win! As the third installment in the Falling Kingdoms series, Gathering Darkness continues to follow the journeys of Cleo, Jonas, Lucia and Magnus along with the many other characters we were introduced to along the way. From the prologue, I immediately knew that this book was going to be a more magnificent read than the two before it. It was mysterious and completely unprecedented the detail that Morgan spun into the tale of the Kindred and the path to uncovering their whereabouts. Lucia, as we knew, was the key to it all as she became more confident in her magic and sorcerer abilities. To be honest, I still don’t find her as compelling as the rest and her capricious character–turning evil one minute then remorseful and back again–makes her seem so juvenile to me. It’s hinted that her magic is overwhelming her to the point where it changes her character but she’s always like Is my magic good? Is it bad? No. Magic has no preference, it’s the wielder that decides so grow a backbone and pick one.

Jonas is such a comical character. He somehow manages to make everyone think he is a force to be reckoned with, the rebel of rebels when in reality he accomplishes absolutely nothing. Why is he even a main character to be honest? His companionship with Felix, a new favorite of mine, only increased this rather embellished persona. I don’t blame him for suddenly turning against Felix cause I would to if I heard the same news but I hope we see him again in Frozen Tides and maybe learn more about his story. If you ask me, Cleo was the real undertaker of this novel. She was the only one confident in her plans while carrying out such plans with tact. I love seeing her grow into such a strong character and one who can be met with unexpected circumstances and not cower, although she was always a little fiery.

That plot twist was amazing! It was a whole lot of betrayals that turned out not to be betrayals, secret plans going on behind everybody’s back this whole time while no one was the wiser and I did not see any of it coming. Prince Ashur was meant to be a suspicious character but with everything that went down I was left befuddled at who he really was. All the schemes (especially Cleo’s) and deceptions were orchestrated with such finesse, just–yes, Morgan, yes. It’s too bad Prince Ashur met his unfortunate end, though. Speaking of ends, I want to talk about Alexius’s and how his death was the only one, among all the rest, that I felt for. One reason being because he was my second favorite character but also because it was just so emotional. That scene really appealed to my pathos and I want him back–I just–I want him back.

Can we take a moment to acknowledge Magneo. I mean. . .

 “You are the only light I can see anymore. And, whatever the cost, I refuse to let that light be extinguished.” 

This ship is officially sailing. I didn’t even officially ship them until like the end of Rebel Spring when I started to like Cleo more and then I couldn’t wait until something happened between them. The tension just kept building, it’s still building, it’s probably going to build up even more in Frozen Tides because neither Magnus nor Cleo are willingly going to admit the truth out in the open. *smiles deviously and maybe a bit creepily* It’s gonna be great.

So. Gold star for Gathering Darkness. Let me know what your thoughts were. I’m in pure anticipation for Frozen Tides. That Fire Kindred is something special; I can’t wait to see what surprises the other stones have to offer. x