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.

Book Review – Worlds Collide by Shannon McRoberts

Title: Worlds Collide: a crossover novella
Author: Shannon McRoberts
Written: 2010
Published: 2012
Format: Print* – please note, my review copy was an uncorrected print proof and the novella is currently only available for purchase as an eBook; print books are expected to be released soon

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Words Collide is a short novella.  It’s listed at 48 pages on Amazon (my proof is 40 pages), but as I look at the formatting, I’m actually questioning if this one isn’t more of a novelette [note: novelette 7500-15k, novella 15k-40k].

In this novella, novelette, story, a group called the N’Loron is about to break into Athene’s world, and she has to chose between this group of creatures and her own life.

So, I’ll admit that when I started reading, the book did exactly what I don’t want to see in fantasy – big words for no reason other than big words, somebody immediately doing what they’re not supposed to be doing, Gods used in funny ways, etc – and all in the first page.  But the book flows well enough, so I kept reading.

We follow a line of chaos pretty much the whole story, and there’s a lot of telling rather than showing, which I think weakens the whole story line.  For instance, the first paragraph says that the character, Nike, enters a place she shouldn’t have been after searching for a while.  Show us the searching.  Give us a paragraph of walking for a long time (or flying, Nike has wings after all), sweat, whatever.

Another issue I had was that there are a lot of “fantasy-ish” names – you know, stuff that looks made up.  A’tiasul, N’Loron, etc.  And a lot of names that are similar.  Nike/Nikeda.  I don’t know about you, but when I read names like that, I sort of stop comprehending who is who and have to slow down and pay more attention, meaning I don’t get as lost in the story as I would like to.  (Also, several are repetitively used – there’s a paragraph near the end, for instance, where every sentence uses N’Loren in it at least once.)

Also, the God(s) used… are sort of used in name only.  Athina, for example, is the daughter of Zeus, not the granddaughter of him.  Nike is not a dark anything.  But they are in this book.  So if you’re really into mythologies, be aware of that going in.

In the end, overlook the theft of names to make characters, and give yourself a few pages to get into the book.  It’s entertaining enough, and at the short length, it’s good for when you don’t want a novel.  Like I said, by my estimation, this is more a novelette than a novella, so you shouldn’t have to spend too much time to get through it.

The story’s there, so I’ll give this one a three.  Pick it up if you want something shorter, but if you’re really looking for a novel, don’t feel guilty skipping it.

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I don’t know why this is required, but here it is:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book in conjunction with  First Rule Publicity and the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review – Vine: An Urban Legend by Michael Williams

Title: Vine: An Urban Legend
Author: Michael Williams
Format: Paperback
Written & Published: 2012

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From the back of the book:  Amateur theatre director Stephen Thorne plots a sensational production of a Greek tragedy in order to ruffle feathers in the small city where he lives.  Accompanied by an eccentric and fly-by-night cast and crew, he prepares for opening night, unaware that as he unleashes the play, he has drawn the attention of an ancient and powerful forces.

So, I was actually really excited to get this book.  I’m a docent at the Parthenon in Nashville (only full sized replica in the world – look it up), so this stuff is seriously up my alley.

When I started reading, I was hooked from the first paragraph.  The chapters are really short – most are only a couple pages – and they flip between characters of all sorts.  And, it’s almost formatted like a script, which is unique but not weird since we’re talking about a story that takes place in the world of theatre, so you get somebody’s name and then the paragraph is their dialogue or thoughts.

This is both what I love about the book and what I have issue with.  While I love everything about this because of my background, I think that if you aren’t somewhat versed in Ancient Greece, theatre or the like that you’re not going to know who some of the characters are and/or you’re not going to like following along.  There are no transitions, there’s not a lot of development with people that the author assumes you know, etc.

And it’s because of this that I’m rating the book as I am.  While I think it’s awesome, I think that it’s going to appeal to a very specific demographic, and I think that if you don’t have the background for this that you might lose a little bit of the story.  I think you should check it out, but I think you’ll know in the first few pages if it’s going to be for you or not.  So I’m giving it a solid four out of five pages.

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I don’t know why this is required, but here it is:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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