Big Gods Don’t Cry: Reviewing The Tyrant’s Tomb (Book Four of the Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hey everybody! I haven’t completely fallen off the face of the Earth yet. Granted, I’m still super busy but I have my weekends back for some relaxation, which includes catching up on my books. In case you have forgotten, I am still a fan of Rick Riordan and all of his series. I actually saw The Lightning Thief: The Musical earlier this year and loved the hell out of it. Now, it’s time to talk about the latest book in The Trials of Apollo series, The Tyrant’s Tomb.

Yes, Apollo is still teenaged boy with unfortunate name of Lester. Yes, he is still miserable. Thanks for asking. To make things worst, it turns out his mortal birthday also happens to be the day that Caligula and Commodus are planning to attack Camp Jupiter, home of the Roman demigods. On top of all of that, an evil undead king is planning on attacking once the blood moon rises. And if you think it couldn’t get worse, Apollo also must figure out how to cure the poison inflicted on him by ghoul. With all of that being said, he must team up with Meg, Frank, Hazel, and Reyna (and a few other unlikely friends) to save Camp Jupiter or (hopefully not) die trying.

I’m still surprised by how much I am enjoying this series. I really didn’t think that I would be delving back into the world of YA novels. Riordan has proven to have staying power, though. I guess the connection I make with this novel is the fact the main character (Apollo/Lester) is technically an adult who then has to deal with the struggles of teen angst as well as deal with adult issues. He still makes for an enjoyable main character to follow. This novel had a slightly more emotional angle to it as we have Apollo facing his past actions and coping with that guilt, which is kind of a heavy topic for a YA novel. I did enjoy that aspect of it, though. Riordan still keeps a nice sarcastic tone throughout the novel that never feels like it is too much or inappropriate. There was plenty of action and adventure to be had that every Riordan novel gives you. Go ahead and read The Trials of Apollo. I’m looking forward to the next novel. Also, I might go see The Lightning Thief on Broadway in the near future.

To Err is to God: Reviewing The Hidden Oracle (Book One of The Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hi everybody! I know what you’re thinking. “Whoa, two posts in such a short period of time! How is this even possible?” Well, to answer your question, I’ve been feeling more motivated than ever. I also saw The Lightning Thief: The Musical today and it was awesome. I’d highly recommend it. This leads me to my next point, which is that I have been a fan of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series since I was in grade school. I was reading the Heroes of Olympus series into college. For Christmas, my mom had given me the third book in Rick Riordan’s latest series because it had his autograph. Obviously, I had to actually start the series. Now, here is my review of the first novel in The Trials of Apollo.

Apollo once had everything. He was the god of the sun, music, poetry, archery, and many other things until Zeus cast him down from Olympus as punishment. Now a mortal teenager named Lester, Apollo must restore his Oracles to power and prevent a new wave of monsters from destroying the world. With the help of some unlikely demigods, Apollo must complete his quests in order to restore his place on Mount Olympus or die trying.

After reading this first book in his latest series, I realized how much I genuinely missed Riordan’s writing. The things in the novel that made me laugh at thirteen-years-old make me laugh now at twenty-two. Riordan incorporates his usual charm and sarcasm into his writing. Apollo is simultaneously very unlikable and very charming as a main character. Though the plot is still relatively similar to the other novels, Riordan knows how to throw in new elements to make it feel just as new as before. The novel has a tongue-and-cheek feel that could appeal to adults. The characters are still relatable to teens and middle-grade kids. (Don’t quote me on that, though. I could be wrong). Reading this novel, I realized how much I missed Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter. While there are certainly novels that I can safely stow away in the memories of my childhood, this new Riordan series has brought me a fun and familiar nostalgia. If you are a current or former fan of the Percy Jackson series or a Greek mythology nerd, I am going to go ahead and highly recommend if you are looking for a fun adventure or looking to revisit your favorite YA/Middle-grade series.

We Fought. We Persevered. We Rose.: Reviewing Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Hello everyone! It’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything. I wanted to wait to completely finish this novel before talking about it but, I’m just going to go ahead and tell you my thoughts about it. I’ve had to put this book on hold more than once due to graduation and now work. Anyways, I am incredibly excited to tell you all about Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

Zelie Adebola was just a child when the king targeted the maji and wiped out all of the magic in Orisha. Zelie lost her mother and was forced to hide her powers from the world. Now, years later, Zelie has the chance to bring back magic with the help of the rebellious Princess Amari. With her brother and Amari at her side, Zelie must race against the bloodthirsty king and ruthless prince in order to bring back magic to Orisha.

There has been a lot of hype about this novel and it has even been promoted by Jimmy Fallon. I am pleased to say that Adeyemi’s debut book lives up to the hype. It has a wonderful balance of world building and character building. It has a very Game of Thrones vibe as the narrative is a similar style with the chapters alternating the characters’ points of view. It also carries the same adventurous spirit as Harry Potter. This book is a journey in every sense and it is a great YA novel as it deviates from so many of the tropes in YA fantasy/adventure novels. Fans of mythology will also enjoy this as it is based in African folklore and mythology. I haven’t read many (if any) fantasy novels that weren’t told from a Western perspective so this novel is particularly unique in that sense. I highly recommend Children of Blood and Bone to anyone looking to an exciting YA novel that you don’t want to put down.

Note: I know that Adeyemi had released that title for the next novel in this series and that she is in talks for a movie adaptation.

Counting Stars, Cars,and Prime Numbers: Reviewing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

Since Thanksgiving is approaching soon, I decided that I wanted to tell you all something I’m thankful for. I’m thankful that we live in a world where more and more people are getting the representation that they deserve in the media. Mark Haddon’s novel is one example. This is the last book I have to read for my YA Literature class and I was surprised by how much this novel sucked me in. I will now tell you my thoughts about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. 

Christopher John Francis Boone sees the world differently than everyone else. He can count all the prime numbers, he knows all the capitals of every country, and he wants to be an astronaut. He has a hard time connecting to people but loves dogs. When his neighbor’s dog is found dead, Christopher decides to take the case into his own hands like his favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes. Soon, Christopher finds more secrets than he bargained for as he explores the world in his own unique way.

What I really enjoyed in particular about this novel is the authentic voice. The narrator, Christopher, has Asperger’s and has a particular way of viewing the world that makes you, as the reader, think more about how other people see things. I can’t speak for everyone but, in my experience, I have known people on the autism spectrum who are a lot like Christopher. Haddon creates a moving and heart-wrenching story that has poignancy and warmth. I found that I couldn’t put this book down. The voice feels so authentic in this day where things like autism are easily misunderstood. I recommend this book for anyone looking for such a unique narration and I hope it gives you some understanding of what the world is like for those whose minds work differently.

Double Mini-Reviews: Go Ask Alice by Anonymous and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Hi everyone! While I wait patiently for Artemis by Andy Weir to be released on Amazon, I decided I’m going to review the two latest books I have read for my YA Lit class. They are both fairly short novels and are very popular as well so I wanted to share my thoughts about them with you. I hope you enjoy.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Allegedly taken from the real diary of a teen girl, Go Ask Alice follows the harrowing journey of an unnamed girl who falls into drug use after trying LSD at a house party. Soon, she spirals out of control and struggles to return to her normal life but she must fight her addictions first.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with this novel. Now, it’s been disputed who was really the author but, regardless, the writing didn’t sound like a teen girl, even if she did live in the 1970s. While I didn’t like the writing, I still have to admit that there are valuable things to be taken from this short novel. This was one of the first novels to talk about drug abuse among teens and it still holds up in that aspect. If you are interested in examining YA literature from the past, then I recommend Go Ask Alice. If you are looking for some “fun” YA literature, then I suggest you look elsewhere.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Melinda Sordino is off to an awful start in high school. She is abandoned by her former friends and outed by the rest of the school after she called the cops on a party. Melinda hides the truth for months and months until she decides to speak. She will change everything.

This novel is more recent and I definitely preferred the writing in this one, as it sounded more authentic. I found Melinda to be very relatable and I sympathized with her strongly. Speak definitely illustrates the viciousness of high school with accuracy. It is certainly a heart-wrenching novel that holds up more in this day and age. Again, if you are looking for a “fun” read, then go look elsewhere but if you are looking for a short but emotionally powerful novel then I recommend Speak. Anderson eloquently and painfully depicts the struggles of hiding your struggles from the world out of fear, even on a small scale.

Spiraling Out of Control: Reviewing Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

So I’ve pretty much recovered from my cold just in time to run through a gauntlet of midterms starting on Monday. I decided to finish the book so I wouldn’t have any distractions while studying. I mean, I’ll find distraction anyway but my urge to finish this book will not be one of them. Just a note for all of you have not finished the book, I promise to not spoil it. In fact, all of my reviews have been spoiler free but I can happily do some spoiler discussions on my blog if you are interested. For now, I will give you my review of Turtles All the Way Down, John Green’s latest literary venture.

Aza Holmes is trapped in her own mind with her recurring thoughts of bacterial microbes. When a local billionaire, Russell Pickett, goes missing, she finds herself thrust into a world outside of her worries. Along with her best friend and famous Star Wars fan-fiction author, Daisy Ramirez, Aza sets out to find out what happened to Pickett and bring his son, Davis, closure. Green’s latest novel is a journey of self-relization, over-thinking, and coming to terms with the world on a micro and macro scale.

I’m a bit biased because I’ve been a John Green fan since high school but I have to say that this book struck a cord with me that the other books have not. Aza is a chronic over thinker and so am I. Though she deals with OCD whereas I deal with anxiety, I still understood where she was coming from. Green uses his signature wit and philosophy to create a narrative about dealing with the uncontrollable. He isn’t afraid to tackle any kind of illness, mental or physical, and how it affects teens. The plot summary on the book makes it sound like a road trip kind of story but it’s more of an internal journey about finding how to cope with your problems, knowing that they may never leave you. That may sound depressing but I promise that the novel is way more hopeful than that. John Green fans will certainly not be disappointed by his latest endeavors and new readers will understand Green more through this novel. Turtles All the Way Down is a step forward in teen literature in its own honest and remarkable way.

Everything Affects Everything: Reviewing Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I was actually required to read this book for the Young Adult Literature class I’m currently taking. I was a bit skeptical about this book going in. I had heard mixed reviews about this novel so I was a bit hesitant to read it. It’s certainly a difficult book to read and review. Suicide is never a topic that comes up with ease. Most of the time, people have to pull the word out of themselves in order to talk about it. But it is something that needs to be talked about so now I will give you my review of Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher’s debut novel.

Clay Jensen’s life had just returned to normal when a package shows up that changes everything he knows. It contains tapes that were made by his deceased classmate, Hannah Baker, who tragically took her own life not too long ago. Clay decides to embark on a journey around his town with Hannah guiding him in order to learn why the reasons why she took her life. Asher’s unique and haunting narration provides an impactful look at teen suicide and how it affects others.

Like I said, I was skeptical about this novel going in but I now have a better understanding of it. Asher’s writing is breath-taking and suspenseful as he helps the reader (and Clay) understand how even small actions can have a huge impact on people’s lives. Hannah and Clay are unnervingly relatable as they both struggle with the consequences of their actions. Asher isn’t afraid to reveal the toxic environments that teenagers face as they struggle through high school. Thirteen Reasons Why is a hard pill to swallow but it’s worth it in order to understand the importance of being kind to others.

Note: I have not watched the Netflix series but I haven’t heard good reviews about it. If you have watched it, I would like to know what you think and how it compares to the book.

It’s an effed up world but it’s a two-player game!: Reviewing Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini

I’ve mentioned before that I haven’t read a lot of YA literature in recent years. I guess it’s because I’m in college now so I’m more than happy to forget about high school nonsense, even in fictional worlds. However, after listening to the musical of the same name that was based off of this novel, I knew I immediately had to tell everybody about this particular novel. I stole it from my sister for now so I can bring you a review of Be More Chill. 

Jeremy Heere is just another high school student struggling to get through the drama of it all with his best friend, Michael Mell, by his side. One day, Jeremy decides to change his life in order to ask out the beautiful Christine Caniglia on a date. That’s when he is introduced to the squip, a pill-sized supercomputer that can make him into the coolest guy in high school. Soon, Jeremy comes to face the disastrous consequences of giving complete control of his life to the malicious squip.

Vizinni perfectly mixes the realities of high school with a touch of science fiction absurdity. Be More Chill has a great balance of quirky humor and touching moments that emulates the struggles anyone who has been to high school can understand. It’s a fast-paced read with plenty of quirky characters who get you invested immediately. If you’re already a fan of the musical, you will love this novel. If you already love this novel, I highly recommend the musical of the same name. Be More Chill is the perfect read for YA lit lovers and/or high school students looking for a relatable novel.

Just a Little Strange: Reviewing Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

As the years have passed, I have found myself staying away from YA literature. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but it’s easy to get lost in the endless series. I’ve been reading more standalone books lately but I still have my exceptions. I will be reviewing one of my particularly favorite exceptions. Note: there is a movie adaptation that came out in 2016 but I knew from the trailer that it had been changed too much to my liking.

Jacob Portman was just your average sixteen-year-old boy who loved listening to his grandpa’s stories. When tragedy strikes, Jacob knows he must journey to Wales in order to find the truth behind his grandfather’s life. While he searches through the former sight of the mysterious school he learned about, Jacob realizes that these peculiar children were more than just that. Soon, he uncovers the deadly reality behind his childhood stories as he delves into the world of the peculiars.

Riggs’ book is particularly unique in the way he tells his stories. He collected strange vintage photographs and wrote the story around those. They appear every few pages, providing interesting visuals that help add to the story. This fantastical and dark world of the Peculiars can suck you in within the first few pages. Riggs finds a perfect balance between childlike innocence and morbid curiosity in a way that both teens and adults can enjoy. It is fairly reminiscent of the X-Men and has just as much action. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a mysterious and gripping journey that spans the ages.

Note: This series is currently a trilogy and I am not sure if there will be a fourth or not.