Book Review – Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Title: Battle of the Labyrinth

Author: Rick Riordan

Format: Hardback

Published: 2008

 

Today I bring you yet another Percy Jackson book, and to be honest I’m not quite sure what to say about it.  I know that my review of this book is hindered by the fact of how long it took me to read the book.  Of course the time it took me to read this book was not to the discredit to the book.  I just happened to burn myself out on reading.  As you know I post one of these reviews on a weekly basis but it is not easy to always find the time to read a book a week lets I only review comics and really though I do those often enough I like to present something of substance on occasion.  Thus while I remember the story my thoughts and feelings are rather neutral.

 

The story was a decent read as we follow Pert and Annabeth on Annabeth’s quest to find the Daedalus in the Labyrinth to stop Luke’s army from taking over the camp via the Labyrinth.  It is an interesting story in the sense of the adventure the characters go on as while on this mission Grover is on one of his own to find the dead god Pan for if he doesn’t he’s demoted and forbidden to continue to search. The character some across many creatures and foes and while it was packed with adventure and other side issues and quests my one complaint was my lack of knowledge of various mythological creatures.  While they were explained I felt at times that I should know what the creatures were but they were certainly obscure creatures in my mind which in some ways detracted from the story for me.

 

As you progress through the story you are also presented with the strong idea that someone dear to the readers is going to die per the prophecy of Annabeth’s quest.  Yet things are magically worked where none of the characters die and while it is nice not to mourn the loss of a beloved character I sometimes would prefer if the story delivered on a promise rather than go oh look the indicated death was more figurative than literal.  Which annoys me a little.

 

Over all, the book was decent the revelation of Daedalus was good a bit surprising though it was easily and clearly hinted at.  Then the book sets up for the final in the series and I am curious as to how it will turn out considering in a lot of ways everything has been leading up to this story.  As to when I will get to it, I don’t know.  In the end I think I would give this book a 3 out of 5 pages.

 

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Book Review – Titan’s Curse by Rick Rhiordan

Title: Titan’s Curse

Author: Rick Rhiordan

Format: Hardback

Published: 2007

 

After reading a whole slew of books from the Keys to the Kingdom series, my brain was set for one sort of adventure than the one that Titan’s Curse provided me. That isn’t to say that the story isn’t a good one, it just took me a while to get into it. Yet once I did get into the story I was pulled in. The action and adventure in the book was quite good and a decent story was crafted with some additional new and interesting characters.

 

Of the characters that we are introduced to I think oddly enough my favorite was Apollo. I loved how he was interpreted and he was a joy to read even though his part in the story was small. Still he was a lot of fun to me being kind of one of those cool uncle type characters that was all about having fun and having the cool car that drove the sun across the sky. Honestly and truly a lot of fun in my opinion.

 

Anyway this story is a bit different from the previous stories in which Percy goes on a quest with Annabeth to fight off the evil plots of Luke and Kronos. Instead within the first chapter (or by the second) Annabeth is pretty much taken out of the story and will not be the person Percy will travel with. He travels with a whole new cast of character that you get to know in this book the only familiar character in the man story aside from Percy if Grover.

 

Over all, I enjoyed the book but I do have one complaint it is an issue that I dismissed in other books thinking it was an idiosyncrasy on my part or a matter of fatigue and slight drifting attention (as the world outside of the book has a way of drawing our attention even from the best of books). Yet this book it was very clear that Rick has a way of jumping scenes without warning or preamble. There were points where I would be reading along and had to stop flip back a page and make sure that I didn’t miss something, the gears switched so fast and without warning that it put me off. I know that this book is designed for a middle grade reading level and so some descriptors and development moments will be skipped, glossed over or even summarized. This is fine for the level of reader that this book is but honestly I think Rick would not have been amiss with just a sentence or two of transition here and there instead of something along the lines of ‘the battle is won’ on this page and the next page everyone is chill and going ‘find your cots we are bunking for the night’ at a vastly different location than where the battle took place. It takes a few paragraphs to gather that the characters have continued their travels and nothing interesting happened till just then. This was frustrating and broke me out of the story a few times.

 

In the end, I think, despite the jumping scenes , that I would still give this book a 4 out of 5 pages as it was still an enjoyable read and I do have intents to read the next book in the series but not before I get through the pile of books that are sitting in my living room and riding in my bag.

Book Review – The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Title: The Sea of Monsters

Author: Rick Riordan

Format: Hardback

Published: 2006

 

Having read the first book of the Percy Jackson serried I decided I needed to continue the series and finally picked up the second book to re-read it as my first read may have been abridged. Finally having the time I was able to clip through the book and it was a decent read. I will admit that book was much more enjoyable the first read through and it engrossed me more the first time than it did now. I don’t like to repeat much so it was a bit of a struggle to get through the book.

 

That being said this is a story of Percy going on another quest to save Camp Half-Blood with the help of Annabeth and his new found half- brother and Cyclopes Tyson. In addition to his quest to save the camp he is also set with the difficult task of saving his best friend Grover the Sytar from the clutches of yet another Cyclopse. Not only is Grover’s life on the line in this quest but so is Percy’s as there is now a bond between him and Grover such that if Grover were to die so would Percy.

 

It is a bit of a whirlwind of a story as Percy faces off against a number of classic monsters in the sea of monsters. It was still a decent read and rather good the fist time through. I know what I particularly enjoyed was the end of the book as there is a nice little twist that makes you want to delve right in to the next book in the series as what happens at the end of the book is a major game changer for the rest of the series.

 

Over all, I think I would give this book a 4 out of 5 page review simply because it is a good young reader that can hold the attention of an adult fairly well without being too much for a young reader either. The story is well written and the way Riordan has updated the Olympians and the monsters or old is clever. I look forward to reading the next book as I have not read it before.

Book Review – Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Title: The Lightning Thief

Author: Rick Riordan

Format: Paperback

Published: 2005

 

I had heard things about the Percy Jackson series in the past and I admit I’d been curious for some time particularly when the whole bug-a-boo came down about Christopher Columbus directing the first film just like he did for Harry Potter films.  Why people were upset by this I don’t know but then again the internet is a weird place to be honest.  Anyway it wasn’t too long ago that I took the time to read the book, but failed to review it.  I admit the first time I read the book and I enjoyed it fairly well.

 

Having read the book I stumble upon the movie and decided why not?  Now I will be first to say that I do not ever expect the movie to be the living book I expect changes and tweaks along the road but when I saw the movie I cannot express how many times I was ready to throw my remote across the room, and how many times I stopped the DVD, because I was that frustrated I skipped parts just to see how much they mucked other things and if they could accomplish a few basic facts of the book and by basic facts I’m not meaning Annabeth’s hair is supposed to be blond but was rather brown (I can live with that.)  No I’m talking the actual quest they went on, how the flying shoes were used (which is a major plot point) and what actually happens in the underworld which is where the characters go on their quest.  I will start off with saying that the movie got it wrong to the point that they eliminated the major villain of the entire series in this movie; because of this I don’t know how they managed a second movie.

 

Anyway instead of ranting on the movie I’ll focus on the book which is about a middle school boy in 6th grade who is dyslexic, and has ADHD and is in a school for troubled students because of this and because every school he goes to he gets kicked out.  He is proud of the fact that he was almost to the end of the year and hadn’t been kicked out when he goes on a field trip that is always trouble to a museum with Greek artwork and statues.  From there he gets in trouble with a nasty piece of work teacher Mrs. Dodds who turns into a Fury and attacks him.

 

From there Percy gradually learns that he is in mortal danger and is a half-blood, a demi-god, a hero and he is being blamed for stealing Zues’ master bolt.  He discovered to which god sired him and he is then thrown into a rather dangerous quest to go the underworld where it is believed that the master bolt is being held.

 

I don’t want to give spoilers but the story has a lot of adventure and some rather good twists through out it and it just keeps with a nice even pace.  Over all I thoroughly enjoyed the book even with it being my second read through and I am sure I’ll enjoy re-reading the second in the series and then finishing out the series I find Rick Riordan’s writing to be easy to read and enjoyable and very age appropriate for a middle grade student to read.

 

Over all I would give the book a 4 out of 5 stars simply for the ease of getting lost in the writing style and story that is being presented.  I find the tale to be very well told and I advise to never touch the movie, particularly if you like Greek Mythology.  The story takes place during the summer and the characters go to the underworld, in the movie Persephone is present in the underworld.  If  you know any of your Greek Mythology then you know how wrong and problematic that is!  (Particularly when the book notates her lack of presence and why.)  Long story short, read the book don’t watch the movie.

Writer Wednesday – Pam Funke

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Pam Funke

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I am the grand-daughter of a Pastor and was brought up in the church. My love of reading led me to write for the enjoyment of others. I live in Hinesville, Georgia with my son and daughter.

.…and what you’re working on right now….
I am currently working on a book entitled Sodom: A Nation On Its Knees. 3,902 years ago, there was a city so evil, corrupt and filled with sin that God saw no other choice, but to completely destroy it. The city of Sodom was completely destroyed by a rain of fire in a single day.

The great nation of the United States of America, a nation founded and built on God, has since turned its back on God. The people have allowed the government to remove Him from our schools, our jobs and are trying to remove Him from our churches. Many have chosen to remove Him even from their homes. Why is this happening to us they ask as they helplessly watch the nation’s wickedness increase? How much longer will God allow us to continue in our sinful ways? Will He destroy us as He did Sodom?

God said that if His angels can find 5,000 righteous in our nation that He will spare us. When His angels walk our nation will they find even one righteous? Will there be enough righteous found to spare our great nation?

What are your earliest book-related memories?
My earliest book related memories is of my mom reading Dr. Seuss books to me.

What are your three favorite books?
That’s kind of hard as I have so many favorites. I guess it would be Gone with the Wind, Oliver Twist and anything by James Patterson.

How many books do you read at any given time?
I only read one book at a time.

What are you reading now?
I am currently reading a book called Pulse by Patrick Carman.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
am completely content.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
I have been noted to reread a good book over and over.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
If it draws my attention then most likely I will read that book.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
I always recommend a good book that I’ve read to other people.

What do you look for in a good book?
A great cover and a well written story within.

Why do you write?
For starters, I love to write. I also write to share all the wonderful stories that I have inside my head.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I can’t imagine not being a writer.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from God.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
They love the idea and my books. Though they hate that they have to wait to read my upcoming books as they are still being written.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
The biggest challenge is getting your name and your books out there to people outside of those who know you. You have to prove yourself as an author to gain an audience.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I love my fan base and I am grateful for them.

Book Review – My Orange Duffel Bag

Title: My Orange Duffle Bag: a journey to radical change

Author: Sam Bracken (With help from Echo Garrett)

Written/Published: 2008-2010

Format: Hardback

 

My Orange Duffle Bag is the story of a man named Sam, who was kicked out into the world by his mother at the age of 15 with nothing more than his orange duffle bag and a few clothes.  It deals mostly with his journey to not be another statistic, and to instead succeed at football and academics and later religion.

Here’s the thing.  I’ve been excited to actually sit down with a copy of this book since the original self published version of it appeared at a booth I was part of during a book festival.  The self-published version was orange canvas, complete with a white zipper and full color pages and it was as beautiful and incredible as it possibly could be.

The version I finally got to review is the copy my library had; professionally published by Crown Publishing and missing the awesome zipper, but still awesome looking.

 

So, I popped a movie in and sat down with this book (ever the multi-tasker) and eventually turned off the movie and just finished this.  The book is about 200 pages long, but there’s a lot of white space and a lot of pretty layout, but it’s short on content so I finished it in just under two hours.

The book is divided into three parts – the first is a short history of his life.  Just a paragraph or so about a year in his life, boiled down to the most generic of story lines.  “Age 10 – I win my first track meet and my step-brother uses me as a human dart board”  Onto the next age.  And key points of his life – Age 18, I am baptized – are glossed over so quickly that you almost miss them.

The second part of the book talks about his time through college.  How he succeeded at football but doubly succeeded at academics because he set huge goals.

The third is over half the book and includes his “7 rules for the road.”

 

I was hoping for a little more, actually.  I think that Sam was trying to hard to be positive and uplifting that he forgot to tell us about himself.  I didn’t need a full memoir, but I wanted some sort of connection.  What I didn’t get anywhere in this book was EMOTION.

And what I didn’t get was what drew me to this book in the first place.  You see, after Echo got the book to my booth, I kept in touch with her and her brother Kevin Montgomery, who does a 50 states in 50 days concert tour to raise money for Echo and Sam’s Orange Duffle Bag Foundation.  So through them in other venues I’ve heard the stats.  Only about half manage to get a HS diploma, 2% get a four-year degree.  Over a quarter end up homeless.

And while Sam wasn’t formally in the system (he stayed with friends for random periods of time and bounced from house to house), the fact that this WASN’T him is a story that I wanted to hear along with the tips and tricks for being awesome.  Especially since a lot of these are common sense.  (The gist is want it and do what it takes to get there.)

 

Granted, the book is beautiful in any form.  Several of the pages could be really awesome motivational posters, and I wish they were.  And I think it’s a book worth sharing.

It’s not a top rating, but I’m confident putting it solidly in as a four out of five.

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