The Sun Always Rises: Reviewing The Burning Maze (Book Three of The Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hi everyone! Let’s get caught up on this series. I’ve actually re-read these three books before I decided to post any sort of review. That is besides the point. Let’s talk about The Burning Maze.

Apollo, despite still being human, has successfully restored two of his famed Oracles with the help of Meg McCaffrey and Grover Underwood. With the identity of the third Emperor revealed, Apollo and his friends must face the infamous Labyrinth in order to free the third Oracle from the evil sorceress, Medea. With Apollo becoming more mortal by the day, he must call upon more demigods. This time they are joined by Piper McLean, daughter of Aphrodite, and Jason Grace, son of Jupiter.

I’m going to put a big old warning out for anyone who was a fan of the Heroes Of Olympus series: you will get all of the feels from this book. I already talked about how the second one was dark but this one gets even darker and a little more graphically violent. Granted, I don’t have a problem with this. In fact, I do tend to read a lot of violent novels. This third installment certainly gets more serious, but still finds its humor in order to alleviate some of the stress you get reading these books. I love how these novels are building up and I can’t wait to find out the answers to some of the questions that Riordan has presented us. Most series tend to falter a bit but this one has stayed relatively strong so far. Again, I’m going to highly recommend this series to all of you mythology nerds out there.

The Weirdest Books I’ve Read

Hi everyone! This post is inspired by a BookTuber I follow called mynameismarines and I recommend you check out her channel. Her video inspired me so now I want to talk about the weirdest books I have encountered. Now, I know “weird” is a subjective term. I’m defining a “weird” book as one that has a narrative structure or plot/plots that stray from the norm. I’m not exactly talking about just fantasy elements because that would take forever to talk about. I am talking about novels that stray from any sort of tropes or flip them around in some unique way. I’m not saying any of these novels are bad but they are simply strange. I hope this becomes more clear as I talk about these books. 

Anthem by Ayn Rand: I read this one way back in my freshman year of high school. Though Rand is known for her lengthy novels, this one is a novella but weirded than the rest. The novel takes place in a dystopian future where everyone’s future is pre-planned and individuality has effectively been eliminated. In fact, the strangest part of this novel is that first person pronouns don’t exist so the narrator uses “us,” “we,” and “them,” even when he is just talking about one other person. Also, the characters have names like Liberty 2569 or Unity 8764. It’s definitely one of the darker dystopians I have read. If you are really into dystopian novels, then you should give this one a try.

Dubliners by James Joyce: This one is not a novel but I am still including it as it has a strange narrative structure. Joyce’s short stories are unique as they don’t really have a beginning or an ending. They are referred to as “slice of life” stories. You have to speculate a lot in order to figure out the main point of the stories are. Along with the that, the titles are only semi-relevant. Joyce is not there to tell you what to think and I really like that aspect of this collection of short stories. I’d go ahead and recommend it if Joyce’s other novels are too lengthy for you.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: I have discovered that this novel is one of the most divisive as people either love it or hate it. In case you have never read it, Wuthering Heights is a confusing combination of characters who have the same names and a story that is told mostly in flashback through another character’s point of view. There are some possible supernatural elements. The characters are insane. I did, however, come to appreciate this insanity. Just know what you are getting into before you read this one.

Redshirts by John Scalzi: I did a review on this one a while ago and I absolutely love this novel. It begins out as a Star Trek parody but then it takes a turn for the weird as the narrative becomes very meta. Scalzi does an excellent job bending tropes and creating an odd but cohesive plot. The book also becomes surprisingly touching towards the end. I highly recommend this one to any sci-fi or Star Trek fan.

The Golden Ass by Apuleius: Yes, that is the actual name of the novel. It is the only Ancient Roman novel to have survived in its entirety. I am a Latin minor so I had to read this one for a class. To summarize the plot, a man named Lucius gets turned into a donkey (or ass) after being accused of killing three men and then must escape various thieves and murderers in order to become human again. It is just as confusing as it sounds. There are stories within stories. The novel itself is super raunchy and does not pull punches when it comes to describing any “adult” activities between the characters. I hope the Romans are proud that this is their legacy.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman: I couldn’t finish off this list without talking about my favorite (and weirdest) writer, Neil Gaiman. My favorite thing about Gaiman is he is so weird in a very matter-of-fact manner. Good Omens is the best example of that. The humor, the quirky side characters, and the intersecting plots all make this novel one weird and wild ride. There are also footnotes sprinkled throughout the novel that only add to the weirdness. I highly recommend checking this one out before the Amazon Prime adaptation comes out.

Walk Like You’re A God: Reviewing The Dark Prophecy (Book Two of The Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hey everybody! I’m trying to space out these book reviews somewhat. I don’t think any of you honestly care. I just get really excited about some of my books and I don’t want to stop reading. You know how it is. Anyways, here’s my review of The Dark Prophecy. Feel free to check out my review for the first book in this series.

Apollo is still a mortal teenage boy named Lester, in case you were wondering. After stopping an invasion of an evil Roman emperor at Camp Half – Blood, Apollo must venture to the Midwest to find the second Oracle in the Cave of Trophonius, which is known to drive people to insanity. With the help of Leo Valdez and the now-mortal Calypso, he faces certain death at the hands of the second member of the Triumvirate. It’s just another day in the life of an ex-god.

I can honestly say that I was not expecting to be as invested in these books as I currently am. This one does take a bit of a darker turn. As this book flashes back to Apollo as a god, some of the details become more gruesome than I anticipated but I loved that aspect of the novel. Riordan does a great job balancing drama with comedy and playing with anti-climax. I also particularly enjoy this book because you get a bit of an ancient Rome lesson. If you find Roman history interesting, then you will like what Riordan has in this novel. I’m still immensely enjoying this series so I still definitely recommend reading The Trials of Apollo series.

Yield to It or Fight It: Reviewing The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Hi everyone! In case you haven’t been able to tell, I am sucker for books that have been adapted to television and/or movies. I have watched some of the Netflix adaptation of this book, but I haven’t watched enough to properly compare the two. I just wanted to give you a heads up about that. Shirley Jackson has been on my radar for some time now. I did read her short story, “The Lottery,” in high school and I absolutely loved it. Since this novel has arisen in pop culture once again, I decided to give it a shot. Here is my review of The Haunting of Hill House.

Four strangers arrive to the infamous Hill House in order to find out the truth about the paranormal. First, Dr. Montague and his assistant, Theodora arrive to find the truth behind the mystery of Hill House. Eleanor, affectionately called Nellie, must use her knowledge of poltergeists to help them. Lastly, Luke, the heir to Hill House, is trying to clear the mystery behind his odd inheritance. Soon, the four realize that Hill House isn’t simply full of death. It is full of life that is growing stronger and stronger.

The Haunting of Hill House is the quintessential haunted house story. I have always loved classic haunted house tales and Jackson has an interesting take on this tale. The book is atmospheric in every way. The characters and setting are well-defined but also have an air of mystery that morphs throughout the novel. You feel unsettled throughout the novel as Jackson adds unsettling detail after unsettling detail. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this novel scary, I did certainly find it creepy. It is a relatively quick read also. I think all horror fans and non-horror fans can find enjoyment in this novel. I would definitely recommend The Haunting of Hill House. If you don’t feel like reading it, then at least read “The Lottery” as it is just as chilling.

Outlast the Truth: Reviewing In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Hi everybody! I’ve been on one hell of reading kick lately. I did a full KonMari on my bookshelves recently. While it was difficult to let go of my precious books, I was able to make room for some new ones, including this one. It is also perfect timing since today is International Women’s Day. Ruth Ware has been getting a lot of hype lately so here in my review of her novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood.

Nora Shaw is an up and coming crime writer living a quiet life in London. One day, she gets an odd email. It ends up being an invite to the bachelorette party of a former friend she hasn’t seen in years. Nora, to her own surprise, decides to go. She arrives upon a glass house in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by one friend and five strangers. Soon, the group find themselves in the middle of a shocking and violent tragedy. Nora must then piece together her fractured memories in order to save herself and solve the case.

Like I mentioned before, Ware has been getting a lot of hype recently and I can definitely see the reason why she is so liked. She definitely falls into the same writing style as Gillian Flynn. In a Dark, Dark Wood has a good amount of suspense. I did enjoy the main character, Nora, as she felt imperfect in a realistic way. I liked how the novel was paced as the chapters went back and forth between the weekend and what happened afterwards. There were some interesting plot points but others that felt a little shaky to me. I didn’t find this novel “scary” by any means. I mention that because a lot of the reviews talked about how it was so “scary” or “creepy.” It did kind of feel like a slightly less intense version of a Gillian Flynn novel. That, however, did not make it any less entertaining. I still wanted to find out what happened at the end, even if it was a tiny bit obvious. The writing is solid and the plot is well thought out. If you are a fan of mysteries and thrillers, I would go ahead and say to try out In a Dark, Dark Wood.

Where the World Ends is Where You Must Begin: Reviewing The Gunslinger (Book One of The Dark Tower Series) by Stephen King

Hi everyone! It’s time for me to stop padding this blog with random posts and start giving you some actual book reviews. I was grateful to receive the entire Dark Tower series from my aunt not too long ago. I have mentioned in the past that it has been awhile since I have read a series. I’m also a Stephen King fan so this was all very serendipitous. Now, here are my thoughts on The Gunslinger. 

The mysterious man called the Gunslinger is on the hunt for the equally enigmatic Man in Black. As he travels across the desert, the Gunslinger must survive many magical obstacles in his path as well as protect Jake, a kid from Earth in order to reach his arch nemesis. King’s mix of epic fantasy and classical Western tales provides a surreal backdrop for the thrilling and dark tale of the Gunslinger and his quest.

As you have probably seen, I have reviewed King’s horror novels in the past but I have not read one of his non-horror novels yet. The Gunslinger had a surreal and gritty atmosphere that brings together all of the classic elements of a Western story with the kind of fantasy I’ve read in Lord of the Rings. The story is certainly not structured in any traditional way. It took me a bit to realize that as the story simply flows together and isn’t broken up by so many chapters. The Gunslinger is actually a quick read but the story makes you pay attention to detail as King certainly follows the “show don’t tell” rule of story telling. I finished this book feeling intrigued. King does inject his usual gory form of story telling into this novel, so you have been warned if you are sensitive to violence. At times, the writing did carry a certain sexual overtone that made me a little uncomfortable. It wasn’t enough to deter me but, again, you may not enjoy this if you are sensitive to this kind of content. In the end, I found myself very intrigued by The Gunslinger. I love the mashup of two very different genres and will definitely be reading the rest of the series. I’ll go ahead and recommend this novel to fans of fantasy novels. The Gunslinger is an epic exercise in pushing the limits of action and fantasy.

Note: I know the movie adaptation came out a year ago or so. I haven’t seen it but let me know if you think it is worth watching. I would like to know.

Who Wants To Live Forever?: Reviewing The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Hi everyone! I know it has been way too long since I’ve posted last. I’m trying not to neglect this blog but life happens sometimes and, unfortunately, that prevents me from reading. Anyways, I wanted to talk about a novel that I went in knowing nothing about and only picked up because I heard good reviews. Sometimes, you never know what you’re going to find. I will now tell you about Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists. 

In the summer of 1969, Daniel Gold heard rumors of a woman in his apartment building who could predict the future. Eager to know his fate, he convinces his three siblings to come with him and they each learned what day they would die on. Over the next fifty years, the Gold siblings must deal with this information. The youngest, Simon, runs away to San Francisco with no direction. Klara studies to become a magician, dreaming that she may defy death. Daniel struggles to maintain his career as an Army doctor. The oldest, Varya, studies longevity. As the lives of the Gold siblings unfold, each must learn what it means to live forever and what to do when you know on what day your life will end.

Like I said, I picked up this book with no real expectations and I have to say that I was impressed by what I read. Benjamin’s writing has a surreal and almost magical feeling while the plot itself is very much steeped in reality. The characters are very well fleshed out and dynamic in their own ways. The story does span a large amount of time but Benjamin dedicates plenty of time and detail to each story without making it feel as though it’s dragging on. The novel is part love story, part family drama, part mystery, and part tragedy. Benjamin does an excellent job testing the idea of fate versus free will without getting overly philosophical. There’s still plenty of philosophy but it is woven into the story lines. The Immortalists certainly surprised me in all of the best ways and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.

Between Always and Never: Reviewing Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

Hello everyone! I am finally back with another book review. I mentioned in a previous post about how I really enjoyed the movie adaptation of Aciman’s novel. Of course, it was only natural I read the original novel. I’ll give some comparisons in this review for anyone who might be interested in seeing the movie after reading the novel or vice versa. But first, I will give you my review of Call Me By Your Name. 

Everything changed for Elio when a handsome stranger came to stay at his parents’ summer house. The two find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other as they spend more time together. Elio and Oliver must navigate their way through the passion, obsession, and desire as they hurdle towards a romance that neither was prepared for.

Before I begin this review, I wanted to address the one thing in this novel that everyone takes issue with: the age gap between Elio and Oliver. Elio is about sixteen in the beginning of the novel while Oliver is twenty-three. Nothing about their relationship, however, is predatory for either party. In fact, the age gap is actually an important topic in the novel for both characters. With this being said, Call Me By Your Name is a sentimental and thoughtful novel told through the eyes of Elio, an intelligent and self-conscious young man. The novel is written in a stream-of-consciousness style and keeps a romantic tone without glossing over Elio’s complicated emotions. The characters felt very nuanced and unique in their thoughts and actions. Aciman balances between intimacy and passion in a way that doesn’t detract from the serious underlying topics of this novel. I also want to add that the end of this novel is much more satisfying than the one in the movie. Call Me By Your Name is an exploration in love and sexuality that is unlike any other romance novel out there. I would definitely recommend this novel for any fans of romance or someone who may not be a fan of romance. Call Me By Your Name was thoughtful, touching, and it kept me invested until the very end.

No Good Men Left: Reviewing Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I was really hoping to post this review sooner but a storm took out the WiFi for a two days then I had to go out of town for a family reunion. The plus side of all of this was that I was finally able to finish this particular novel. I also got a whole new pile of novels plus Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. Be sure to expect more book reviews soon. For now, I will give you my review of Vicious by V.E. Schwab.

Elliot “Eli” Cardale was on the brink of discovery. With the help of his roommate, Victor Vale, they were able to test the boundaries of human nature and unlock something supernatural. Unfortunately, this discovery leads the two brilliant and calculating young men down a dangerous path that they can’t come back from. Years later, Victor and Eli must face off in a merciless battle for revenge.

Vicious is a fast-paced and violent novel that doesn’t hold back. The characters are incredibly interesting as none of them can really be classified as “good guys.” It’s almost up to the reader to decide who the real protagonist is. Like I said, novel is fast-paced and it actually jumps around in time but it doesn’t lead to any confusion. Schwab excellently handles this non-linear story telling. There is plenty of gore and violence but it doesn’t take away from character development. One of the reviewers describes novel as “comic book-like” and I would have to agree with that. In fact, I would love to see this novel in comic book form. In conclusion, I highly recommend Schwab’s Vicious to any one looking for something violent and addictive to read.

The Princess, the Damsel, the Queen, and You: Reviewing The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

Hello everyone! I know I had promised another book review to you earlier but (of course) I get sidetracked with other books because I have no self control. Back to the topic at hand, I am excited to talk to you about Amanda Lovelace’s first collection of poetry, the princess saves herself in this one. I may have mentioned that I’m really not a diehard poetry fan but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to explore the territory. You can read my reviews on Rupi Kaur’s poetry collections. Before that, please read this review of the princess saves herself in this one. 

In her debut collection of poetry, Lovelace does not hold back from exploring the difficulties that she has faced in her life. Her whole narrative is beautifully tied together with her fairytale metaphors, that help the reader to better understand the situations she is describing. Personally, I felt a deep connection to Lovelace through her poems. She often describes herself as “bookmad” and I think that is a wonderful term. Though the book does cover very heavy topics, such as abuse, self-harm, death, and bullying among others, there is still a message of hope. Modern poets, such as Lovelace, are unafraid to express their fears and hopes, which makes such an impact on the reader. If you are a fan of Rupi Kaur, I highly recommend Amanda Lovelace to you.

Note: Lovelace recently released her second collection of poetry, the witch doesn’t burn in this one. Stay tuned for that review.