ARC Review: “The Valiant” by Lesley Livingston


The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha’s legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father’s royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon’s worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival.

Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant.

Publication date: February 14, 2017

Goodreads| Amazon | Barnes & Nobles

~o~My Review~o~

“Are you a weapon or a target?”

What’s cooler than female gladiators? Not many things, I can tell you that.

Don’t let the not-so-great (to say the least) cover fool you. The Valiant is fast paced with a thrilling plot and a multi-dimensional main character who is developed well. Fallon, though a little impulsive, is likeable. 

It’s clear a lot of research was done for this book. The descriptions of the early Roman Empire during Julius Caesar’s rule and the different Celtic tribes were educational. I don’t have much experience with their history so I’m not the best judge of the accuracy but as far as I can tell, the setting was created respectfully.

A lot happens by the first few chapters to where it can be overwhelming to take in. I like fast pace books but it seemed too fast-paced to me. It seemed like the author was so eager for the setting to change from the Cantii island to the Ancient Roman Empire that she neglected the island setting a little bit. The pacing slows down once she is taken by the brigands and it’s less bothersome.

Something else that annoyed me was the author’s tendency to tell and not show, especially towards the middle of the book. We know Fallon is a trained fighter, probably the most skilled female in her tribe after her late sister, but a lot of times in the book, her abilities don’t come to show. We are told she is good but we are not shown her skills until much later. I understand her vulnerability was necessary as a plot point but it didn’t seem to connect with what we were learning about her from her past and from other characters.

My rating though is based off of my enjoyment of the novel. The plot itself was good: there were many twists – some expected and some unexpected – that kept me reading. I enjoyed the overall story very much and I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast-paced adventure with a little romance thrown in there.

Review: “Replica” by Lauren Oliver

4 tp


From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.

But when a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven’s purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls.


Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April.

But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two human models, or replicas, 24 and 72—and a completely new set of questions. As Gemma tries to unravel the mysteries of Haven, she learnes terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.

Two girls, two stories, one novel.

While the stories of Gemma and Lyra mirror each other, each contains revelations critically important to the other story. Their narratives can be read separately or in alternating chapters.

 Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Nobles


I liked this book! I was worried because of the alternative format. But the format worked well for me. One side is from Lyra’s point of view and the other is Gemma’s, you can read their individual stories by itself or you can alternate between chapters which is what I did. I ended up really enjoying flipping the book after every chapter.

Replica was full of unexpected plot twists and turns that kept me surprised and engaged. Because I was reading the chapter alternatively, there were some repeats in dialogue but the two different perspectives brought unique insight into the story.

Even though the book itself is pretty big, since there are two different stories, it doesn’t feel like it’s 520 pages. There are only two perspectives but there are multiple main characters. It can sometimes feel like we aren’t able to be engrossed in the characters, especially the love interests, because Lauren Oliver was trying to give everyone a balanced screen time. Other than our two main girls, we didn’t have wholly developed personalities from the others. BUT the book takes place in the span of a few days and there are sequels so there is still high hope.

Gemma is relatable. A little chubby and awkward but stubborn and ready for an adventure. I loved watching her grow and become more comfortable with herself. Lyra is also relatable and complex. She goes through a lot of internal struggle of what it means to be human and whether or not her emotions and feelings are valid.

Character relationships were okay. The relationships that develop the most are the romantic ones which was fine with me but it left me craving more. I wanted Gemma and Lyra’s relationship explored more since they’re the main characters.

Overall, this was surprising and engaging. A good introduction to a new series.

Have you read Replica?

Review: “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven

4 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Nobles

~o~My Review~o~

“Sometimes, Ultraviolet, things feel true to us even if they’re not.”

This was a good book. I know, I know, very articulate. Why am I a book blogger again?

I loved this book and didn’t love this book at the same time. Two troubled teenagers fall in love and help each other heal. It’s a familiar trope that has been adamantly explored in YA for years. In that aspect, the book was predictable but that didn’t stop it from being an emotional tear-jerker/heart-breaker that made me unable to study for finals because I needed to know what would happen even though I kind of already had an idea. Whew, that was a long sentence. The writing is also fabulous, very similar to John Green, with its existential dialogues and quirky main characters.

Theodore Finch is obsessed with death, more specifically suicide. He is constantly thinking about suicide. He knows all the random facts about suicide, the most common methods, chances of success, types of people who try, etc. He sometimes gets into one of these moods where he feels like he’s almost fading and that he’s just trapped in his body without having any control over it. And when he snaps out of those periods, he calls it the Awake.

He struggles with his family dynamic. His father left his mom and his two sisters and now has another family with a wife and another son. His mother works two jobs to keep them financially stable; the divorce hit her hard so she’s always tired and a little aloof. His father was/is abusive and Finch thinks a big cause of his condition is because of his “chemical make-up” referring to the genes he got from his father.

Violet Markey has just lost her older sister Eleanor a few months ago in a car crash that she survived. She has survivor’s guilt and has lost all motivation to do things she had previously enjoyed. She was a cheerleader, writer and blogger (a blog she ran with her sister).

On his good days, Finch is energetic, quirky and a little impulsive. Finch pushes Violet to live again, to not let the car crash keep defining who she is. He encourages her, gives her a gentle tug (and the occasional hard shove) towards life and happiness.

I don’t have first hand experience with either depression or profound grief but it’s important to understand these feelings and this book does a good job on expressing them. On the Acknowledgements page, Jennifer Niven says All the Bright Places is loosely based on her own life story, which explains how she conveyed these emotions so well. Although I felt like I couldn’t related to either of the two main characters, I understood them both. I understood what drove them to do things that they did.

Violet and Finch are not characters but people, two imperfect human beings with pent up anger and love and loss. And it’s when a character becomes a person in your eyes that you know they are developed well.

Why this book didn’t get a five star has to do more with me and less with the book. I loved this book but it didn’t surprise me, it didn’t make me curl up in a ball and cry in a corner, it felt familiar but not new.

Have you read All the Bright Places?

Mini Reviews! (Cause I actually got some reading done)

I went from barely reading anything the past three weeks to three books in one week! It might not seem like a lot, but it is. I’m still too far back from my Goodreads reading goal to redeem myself but at least the race is close!

18692431“Everything Everything” by Nicola Yoon

4 tp

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Goodreads Link

SO CUTE! This was a cutesy romance! It was fairly predictable, a good story line, and witty main characters. It touches on more sensitive subjects like domestic abuse and loss of family members but overall, it’s about teenagers falling in love and overcoming obstacles.

I loved Maddy as a character. For someone so secluded from the world, she is smart and perceptive. Her mom and her nurse are the only ones she is allowed to see and the way she was portrayed, I felt her loneliness with her. Going outside meant potentially dying but staying inside was its own kind of torture and witnessing her struggle made it more real.


19542841“More Happy Than Not” by Adam Silvera

5 tp

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Goodreads Link

This book was HEARTBREAKING and WORLD SHATTERING and ABSOLUTELY MARVELOUS! More Happy Than Not is going up there with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. 

Aaron had recently tried to kill himself (after his father committed suicide) and had been hospitalized for it. But now, he is trying to be happy in his own life. As the story unravels and you realize everything Aaron has been through, you can’t help but love his character.


18692431“When the Moon Was Ours” by Anna Marie-McLemore

5 tp

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

Goodreads Link

When the Moon Was Ours is magical realism at its finest. This was also HEARTBREAKING AND BREATHTAKING AND ALL THINGS IN BETWEEN. The magical elements in this world are as real as the most mundane of things in our world. This had the same feel to it as The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender which I also loved but I think I enjoyed this more.

Miel is known as the girl who came from water because the townspeople found her inside a water tower when she was little. Sam is a transgender boy who is coming to terms with himself and who he wants to be known for. Their friendship is unique and strong and one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in literature.

Like I said before, the magical elements are so real, I had no trouble believing it all. Miel growing roses out of her wrist, Sam painting moons and hanging them on trees to bring light to the darkness, Aracely taking lovesickness away from bodies, the Bonner sisters being four separate bodies but one entity.

Both Miel and Sam were wonderful, well developed and well-rounded characters with strengths and flaws. This was also the first book I’ve read about a transgender character never mind the first about a South Asian transgender character. The struggle Sam goes through in this book opened my eyes to issues I had known about before but never really thought about on a deeper level.


Have you guys read any of these?

Review: “Kids of Appetite” by David Arnold


4 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

~o~My Review~o~

“And when the kids needed someone most, someone to love and trust, they found one another, and they called themselves the Kids of Appetite, and they lived and they laughed and they saw that it was good.”

I received an ARC of this fantastic book and I really wanted to post my review before the release date but alas, I am the opposite of punctual when it comes to blogging.

All these awesome new contemporaries are gradually bringing the genre to the top of my YA favorites ladder. It can’t beat Fantasy of course, but it’s getting there. That said, I loved this book!

I loved David Arnold’s writing style! To me, it was a mix of John Green’s existential questions to Jandy Nelson’s beautiful imagery of the world. The writing itself gives the story more depth than it would otherwise have.

Victor – Vic – is a teenager with Moebius Syndrome which is a rare neurological disorder that causes facial paralysis. Vic cannot blink or smile or laugh. So instead he smiles with his eyes and he feels with his heart. I thought Victor was a fantastic protagonist, at times reckless and self-centered but with good intention and a broken heart (over his father’s death).

The other characters were just as good. Baz, the group leader, who leads this ragtag team and takes care of them. Nzuzi, Baz’ little brother, who doesn’t talk but is a constant presence in their lives. Little Coco with an obsession with cuss words and ice-cream. And the awesome Mad who is always in inner turmoil for leaving her grandmother in a house with her abusive uncle while she stays with Baz.

This book explores some diverse topics like the mentioned Moebius syndrome, kids coming from abusive homes, death of a parent, racism and basically what it means to be different in a society that is terrified of the other. 

The character relationships were developed well. My only complaint with the characters is the insta-love that is present, mostly from Vic’s side. It develops into something much more meaningful as the novel goes on so I was completely okay with their relationship. I do wish the relationships between the other characters were played out a little more but what was there was pretty fantastic.

Review: “An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green


4 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Katherine V thought boys were gross
Katherine X just wanted to be friends
Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail
K-19 broke his heart
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

Click here for the Goodreads page.

~o~My Review~o~

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?”

This was my second time around reading this book. If I had written a review the first time, I would’ve given this book two stars, maybe two and a half at the most. I’m really glad I decided to revisit.

Now, let me start off by saying, I LOVE John Green. As a person. I love the Vlogbrothers, (I’ve been a Nerdfighter for about five years now), love CrashCourse and Mental Floss and Dear Hank and John. But he isn’t the best author. Mostly because all of his characters tend to sound the same and have similar existential crises (had to look up the plural). But you know one thing John is awesome at? Ideas and Dialogues. His dialogues make you want to curl up into a thought bubble and play his words over and over again in your head.

All of his books focus on a big theme. This one is about mattering and how you will be remembered (similar to TFioS but less depressing). I think part of the reason I loved Abundance of Katherines the second time around is because currently, I’m in the same boat as Colin and Hassan. It’s the summer before college and I’m also thinking a lot about how much I matter and how I want others to remember me.

What I liked:

Colin is whiny and dramatic and sentimental and a guy. How many whiny/sentimental male MCs exist in YA? Not many. If a girl can kick a** (excuse the non-cussing), why can’t a guy be overly emotional? Now I would admit, if Colin was a girl, I would tell him to get up and get his act together but it’s nice to see the guy whining about a break-up for once. And when I say whining, I don’t mean sulking and brooding but I mean full on annoying sob-fest.

Hassan was by far my favorite character. He is Colin’s pudgy (his words) Muslim best friend. He is absolutely hilarious and I love that John Green doesn’t shy away from writing about Islam.

The footnotes. I read a lot of mixed reviews about the footnotes. I love them! I think the footnotes give a better glimpse at what goes on in Colin’s mind. And some of those facts were honestly pretty interesting.

The math. Even though I didn’t understand most of it, I’m a math geek. I love math. I tell everyone math is my true love (right up there with books of course). So Colin spending most of this novel trying to write a theorem was more than okay with me.


Sometimes, the talk about all the Katherines gets a bit much. Guy or not, excessive whining is never a good thing.

Unfortunately, I still couldn’t give this book five stars because it just didn’t have a WOW factor. But I think AAoK just made my Favorite Contemporaries list.


ARC Review: “What Light” by Jay Asher

4 tp

Goodreads Synopsis: Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that’s moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

Click here for the Goodreads page.


I received the ARC of What Light for winning YA Trivia at b-fest in Barnes and Nobles. I was super excited when this came in the mail because I love Jay Asher!

If you read YA contemporary than most likely you’ve read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. What Light is not nearly as emotionally heavy. It’s pretty much a typical- girl meets boy, they fall in love, there are some obstacles- love story. I don’t know if it’s an unforgettable love story but this was definitely one of the cutest things I’ve read in a while.

Sierra lives two lives, her life at home in Oregon where they own a Christmas tree farm and her life in California during Christmas where her family sells their Christmas trees. They haven’t been making as much profit lately so her parents think this year may be their last Christmas in California.

What I liked: 

Female Friendships. Sierra has friends who are girls. THREE of them. How often do you see female MCs in YA having female best friends? Who talk and hang out and are basically nice to each other? Not often. (Granted I don’t read a lot of contemporary so I might have just missed a lot of books). Seeing Sierra spending time with her best friends was a nice change from the female drama that usually happens in YA.

No Insta-Love. More like insta-infatuation that led to love. Caleb has a bit of a reputation around town and most of the other kids tend to avoid him. It was nice to see how Sierra tried to get to know him first and didn’t just jump into the rumor train. Their relationship progressed gradually and realistically. And Caleb is honestly pretty awesome.

Parents! She has parents! Sierra has both parents who love and support her and she actually listens to them. Shocking, isn’t it!? Parents are probably one of the rarest things in YA. Sierra’s mother and father have a huge presence in her life which is always interesting to see.

What I didn’t like:

The plot felt a little generic. Like I said before, it’s a typical love story which is fine. It was still cute, there just wasn’t anything new.

Review: “Seraphina” by Rachel Hartman

4 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.


“Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily.”

Seraphina is quite possibly the best book about dragons I’ve ever read. Hartman is a good writer and her world building is very detailed and thorough. Although some parts of the book are a little slow, I think Hartman did a marvelous job creating her Fantasy world.

In the kingdom of Goredd, there is an uneasy alliance among the people and the dragons after years of war. Some dragons live among humans as scholars or teachers but mostly the dragons live in their region and the humans in theirs.But now, the fortieth anniversary of their peace treaty is coming and the queen of Goredd invited the dragon leader and ambassadors to Goredd to celebrate.

My favorite thing about this book is Seraphina  herself. She is intelligent, bold and resourceful. I think she is a well developed character who is flawed in her own way  (**Mild spoiler** she is half dragon. A weredragon? She has scales all around her body and has to wear a full-sleeved, full body dress at all times **End of spoiler**). Her relationship with all the characters were gradual and were developed in a realistic way.

Prince Lucian – Kiggs – was another fantastic character. He is the leader of the crown’s guard and is engaged to his cousin, Princess Glisselda.  He isn’t overly good-looking or a master at fighting but he is good match for Seraphina’s sharpness. They are both smart and logical and are willing to do what others aren’t.

Princess Glisselda was another high point of the book. I was expecting her to be a snooty princess, almost like the mean girl of the book. I’m so glad I was wrong because I would not have enjoyed this book as much if I had been right. Glisselda is also intelligent and she tries her best to keep an open mind about things other people won’t appreciate.

Overall, Seraphina is a great epic fantasy and should be read by all dragon lovers should read. Or you know, Fantasy lovers in general.

Review: “The Hidden Oracle” by Rick Riordan

4 tp

Warning: The following contains spoilers for its two prequel series Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus both by Rick Riordan. This is the first book to the Trials of Apollo series. 

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.

But Apollo has many enemies – gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.


Do you have to read the other two series to read this? No, not really. But it would help with your understanding of the book so it is highly recommended. And wouldn’t you rather know the full history behind these characters?

**Note: Again, spoilers for the first two series coming up. Not major ones but beware anyway.

I am SO glad I liked this book. Because, well, Blood of Olympus was horrible. I refused to consider that book a true conclusion so I was very excited for this chance to revisit my favorite characters. I kept my expectations at bay because after BoO and Magnus Chase (which was another disappointment), I didn’t have much hope left. I was not disappointed!

Back to first person point of view! Honestly, the third person of HoO wasn’t working out very well. Apollo’s pov is nothing like the usual sarcastic-jokester Riordan protagonist. Apollo is whiny, self-centered and egocentric and I LOVED it. His mortal name? Lester Papadopoulos. Any other character who acted so pathetic would bother the Hades out of me but this is Apollo. He gets a freebie.

Meg was a wonderful addition to this world. She is a fierce twelve year old demigod living in the streets. She rescues Apollo right after he, quite literally, falls from Heaven. Apollo and Meg have a pure friendship and it seems like this is the first time two main characters won’t be in a relationship in these series.

To those who are wondering if you see Percy and gang. Kind of. You definitely see Percy. And SOLANGELO IS CONFIRMED! It is no longer a thing of fanfiction!

Four stars because as much as I liked it, it didn’t have enough WOW factor to make me love it. And I wish it was longer. Only 361 pages? That’s not nearly enough.

~o~Spoilers Alert!~o~

Since I can’t help myself, here are some of my favorite scenes.

“Yep,” Percy agreed. “That pretty much describes my entire life: Because Poseidon.”

Percy is just so done with this world.

“But the truth is we gods are a little in awe of you mortals. You spend your whole lives knowing you will die. No matter how many friends and relatives you have, your puny existence will quickly be forgotten. How do you cope with it? Why are you not running around constantly screaming and pulling your hair out?”

Apollo gave me a serious existential crisis.

And I love all the jabs Riordan makes at, dare I stay it, stupid people.

At this point, you may be wondering how I felt seeing my son with Nico di Angelo. I’ll admit I did not understand Will’s attraction to a child of Hades, but if the dark foreboding type was what made Will happy…

Oh. Perhaps some of you are wondering how I felt seeing him with a boyfriend rather than a girlfriend. Is that’s the case, please. We gods are not hung up about such things. I myself have had… let’s see, thirty-three mortal girlfriends and eleven mortal boyfriends? I’ve lost count.

The casual he talks about homosexual relationships in a middle grade book is honestly one of the greatest things I’ve ever read. Hats off to Riordan!

“Nico,” I said at last, “shouldn’t you be sitting at the Hades table?”

He shrugged. “Technically, yes. But if I sit alone at my table, strange things happen. Cracks open in the floor. Zombies crawl out and start roaming around. It’s a mood disorder. I can’t control it. That’s what I told Chiron. “

“And is it true?” I asked.

Nico smiled thinly. “I have a note from my doctor.”

Will raised his hand. “I’m his doctor.”

“Chiron decided it wasn’t worth arguing about,” Nico said. “As long as I sit at a table with other people, like … oh, these guys for instance … zombies stay away. Everybody’s happier.”

Will nodded serenely. “It’s the strangest thing. Not that Nico would ever misuse his powers to get what he wants.”

“Of course not,” Nico agreed.  

Every Solangelo scene in was just too perfect! I’m glad I read this at home because I would just start squealing whenever they came up. A few more of these and I’ll put them above Percabeth! (Well… maybe a tie).

Nero waved dismissively. “But the Christians were terrorists, you see. Perhaps they didn’t start the fire, but they were causing all sorts of trouble.”

As a Muslim, I found this contrast absolutely hilarious.

“Eh,” Leo said. “We took Gaea in, like, forty seconds. This’ll be easy squeezy.”

I seemed to recall that the lead-up to the fight with Gaea had involved months of suffering and near misses with death. Leo, in fact, had died.

Who trolls their readers better than Riordan? I believe this was a jab to all those (including myself) who complained about the BoO end scene to be too short and anti-climactic. And that none of the heroes died, which was actually great.

Other random thoughts:

Percy studying for the SAT’s just so he could go to college with Annabeth. If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is. Especially since we know, Percy Jackson hates studying.

Austin and Kayla were pretty great and I’m glad we finally got to know them a little more.

Little Harley is so cute!

Leo and Calypso are going with Apollo! Not going to lie, I’d much rather have Will and Nico go but Leo is good too.

That Percy and Calypso reunion! I wish Annabeth was there.

I did not see the Meg thing coming! She’s Nero’s stepdaughter! This is one of the first times a Riordan book actually surprised me.


Review: “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli

4 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

~o~Mini Review~o~

“Sometimes it seems like everyone knows who I am except me.”

This book was super cute! The writing is simple without sounding childish. The scenario seemed very realistic. I’ve always liked the trope of pen-pals falling in love because then it really is two people falling in love with each other’s minds long before there is any physical attraction.

As a high school student in Georgia, it was uncanny how similar these characters were to some of my classmates (so much that I couldn’t help but assign each character to someone in my class. And now I’ll never see them the same way again :D).

I’m giving it 4 stars because even though I loved all the characters, I felt like there could have been some more individual interaction between Simon and the others. There were some great scenes between Simon and his best friends as a group but I wanted more of him just talking to his friends individually. But it is easy to see that he has a great relationship with all of them and they all care about him a lot.

This is a tiny review but I honestly can’t think of anything to say except “This was SO cute!”