Aru Shah and the City of Gold by Roshani Chokshi

Summary:
Aru Shah and her sisters–including one who also claims to be the Sleeper’s daughter–must find their mentors Hanuman and Urvashi in Lanka, the city of gold, before war breaks out between the devas and asuras.
Aru has just made a wish on the tree of wishes, but she can’t remember what it was. She’s pretty sure she didn’t wish for a new sister, one who looks strangely familiar and claims to be the Sleeper’s daughter, like her.
Aru also isn’t sure she still wants to fight on behalf of the devas in the war against the Sleeper and his demon army. The gods have been too devious up to now. Case in point: Kubera, ruler of the city of gold, promises to give the Pandavas two powerful weapons, but only if they win his trials. If they lose, they won’t stand a chance against the Sleeper’s troops, which will soon march on Lanka to take over the Otherworld.
Aru’s biggest question, though, is why every adult she has loved and trusted so far has failed her. Will she come to peace with what they’ve done before she has to wage the battle of her life?

Book Cover

Review:
Aru Shah and the City of Gold is the fourth book in the Pandava Quartet. So, I’m going to preface by saying, if you haven’t read the first three books, you shouldn’t read this review. But you can find my spoiler free review for the first book here. I won’t be summarizing this book because so many things happen and also because there is a convenient summary at the beginning of this post.
So, when this book starts, we’ve just met Aru’s sister, her biological sister. This huge twist was revealed in the end of the third book. We get to know her sister, Kara, as the book progresses. I think what I love most about this series is the Aru Shah is decidedly imperfect. She is flawed. She makes mistakes. She upsets her Pandava siblings. I loved this aspect of the story. Aru makes mistakes and she learns from them. We follow along as she makes amends for those mistakes and made sure to do better in the future. I also love the found family aspect of this story. We have the Pandava siblings, who all have the reincarnated souls of the original Pandava’s. They are some of my favorite siblings. I’m a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of the twins. I feel like because they’re so young, they’re held back from being a part of the quests that the siblings go on. I’m hopeful that we will see them participate more in the final book.
There are so many things I love about this series. The characters are the number one, but the mythology that we see in this story is fascinating for me. I didn’t know much about Hindu mythology, so I really enjoyed learning all about the well-known figures.
Overall, I loved this book just as much as I’ve loved all the previous books. I think the mythology and the world is so much fun. It’s exciting and full of adventure. The characters are incredibly easy to love and you can’t help but root for them. I also have to say that Chokshi’s writing always stands out and this book is no different. I highly recommend this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim

Summary:
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Graci Kim’s thrilling debut about an adopted Korean-American girl who discovers her heritage and her magic on a perilous journey to save her witch clan family.
Riley Oh can’t wait to see her sister get initiated into the Gom clan, a powerful lineage of Korean healing witches their family has belonged to for generations. Her sister, Hattie, will earn her Gi bracelet and finally be able to cast spells without adult supervision. Although Riley is desperate to follow in her sister’s footsteps when she herself turns thirteen, she’s a saram–a person without magic. Riley was adopted, and despite having memorized every healing spell she’s ever heard, she often feels like the odd one out in her family and the gifted community.
Then Hattie gets an idea: what if the two of them could cast a spell that would allow Riley to share Hattie’s magic? Their sleuthing reveals a promising incantation in the family’s old spell book, and the sisters decide to perform it at Hattie’s initiation ceremony. If it works, no one will ever treat Riley as an outsider again. It’s a perfect plan!
Until it isn’t. When the sisters attempt to violate the laws of the Godrealm, Hattie’s life ends up hanging in the balance, and to save her Riley has to fulfill an impossible task: find the last fallen star. But what even is the star, and how can she find it?
As Riley embarks on her search, she finds herself meeting fantastic creatures and collaborating with her worst enemies. And when she uncovers secrets that challenge everything she has been taught to believe, Riley must decide what it means to be a witch, what it means to be family, and what it really means to belong.

Summary:
Thank you to NetGalley for this advanced copy and in return here is my honest review. The Rick Riordan Presents imprint has not had a single miss. I’ve read all but three (I think?) of the books published by RRP and each one is more fun and fascinating than the last. I cannot recommend what this imprint publishes enough.
The Last Fallen Star follows Riley who is adopted. Her adoptive parents are part of their local magical community. They are Gom which are the healers of this community. There’s nothing that Riley wants more than to be able to be a Gom alongside her sister, Hattie, and her parents. But when Hattie and Riley try to make that happen using magic, one thing after another goes wrong until things get pretty serious and Riley must find a lost object and save her sisters life.
I absolutely loved this one. The Korean folklore and mythology was so compelling and interesting I just wanted to know more about all of the magical groups. We learn the most about the Gom because that’s what Riley grew up learning about. But we also learn quite a bit about the Horangi, which is an exiled clan that turned corrupt. They play an interesting role in the story and I really enjoyed learning more about them. The world and the magic was absolutely the best part about this book for me. I hope we get to learn more about the other clans in future books. We got a brief overview of what each clans function and focus is and then little bits and pieces here and there, but I thought it was all so interesting that I want one book for each character of the different clans. That would be so fun.
Anyway, Riley and Hattie really made this story. I’m a sucker for good sibling relationships and this definitely had that. We spend enough time getting to see them together and we’re shown how much they care for one another. But then Riley must go off on her own (well, with her best friend Emmett, but not with Hattie) and there were times when she had to make really hard decisions. Her choices showed again and again how much she loves her sister. I loved this relationship so much. Riley feels out of place because she isn’t a Gom. Hattie never makes her fe less than and I loved that. I also loved the messaged shared via Riley’s journey. By the time she finished her quest, she’s learned to love herself as she is. She’s realized that she doesn’t need to change to fit in. She only ever needed to accept herself and go from there.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a really fun and quick read that’s filled with adventure, sacrificing for those we love, challenges to overcome, and incredibly fascinating magic. My one complaint is some of the language used in the dialogue. There were some slang phrases used that just felt so out of place for these kids to be using in casual conversation. It happened a few times in the story when I was just completed pulled out of the story because of reading stuff like that while characters were talking to one another. But this is a small thing, and I really loved every other aspect of this story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Mythology/Folklore Recommendations

Hey, lovelies! I have another recommendations post for you all today. I was planning to just recommend my favorite mythological retellings, but it sort of just turned into a list of books published by Rick Riordan Presents, so I expanded a bit to include books that involve folklore and mythology. Doing that allowed me to include some of the really excellent diverse stories that I’ve read recently. So, I have fourteen books that are mythological or involve folklore that I think you should add to your TBR.

Middle Grade

Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet, #1)

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
“Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur? One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again. But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them. The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?”

The Girl and the Ghost

The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf
“Suraya is delighted when her witch grandmother gifts her a pelesit. She names her ghostly companion Pink, and the two quickly become inseparable. But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side—and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive . . . before they are both lost to the darkness.”

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia
“Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths. Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right. . . . Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.”

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
“THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD MIN comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds. When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name. Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.”

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1)

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
“Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s journal. Tristan chases after it — is that a doll? — and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American gods John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?”

Young Adult

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
“Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code. But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tail and penchant for peaches. Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance. “

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1)

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
“While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine. Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology. As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive. Welcome to the Sixth World. “

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
“Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire… But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.”

Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1)

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
“One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos. Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn. Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll. There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart. With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.”

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
“There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl. Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot. To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free. Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?”

Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
“There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story. As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison. Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.”

Adult

Circe by Madeline Miller
“In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child – not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power – the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.”

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
“Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break. Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who – it finds there…

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act

The Wicked + the Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson
“Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.”

There are quite a few books that will fit this list once I manage to read them and get them off my TBR. I didn’t realize how many mythology/folklore books I still had on my TBR, but after writing this post I’m excited to get to them. What books would you add to this list?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Tower of Nero by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
At last, the breathtaking, action-packed finale of the #1 bestselling Trials of Apollo series is here! Will the Greek god Apollo, cast down to earth in the pathetic moral form of a teenager named Lester Papadopoulos, finally regain his place on Mount Olympus? Lester’s demigod friends at Camp Jupiter just helped him survive attacks from bloodthirsty ghouls, an evil Roman king and his army of the undead, and the lethal emperors Caligula and Commodus. Now the former god and his demigod master Meg must follow a prophecy uncovered by Ella the harpy. Lester’s final challenge will be at the Tower of Nero, back in New York. Will Meg have a last showdown with her father? Will this helpless form of Apollo have to face his arch nemesis, Python? Who will be on hand at Camp Half-Blood to assist? These questions and more will be answered in this book that all demigods are eagerly awaiting.
The Tower of Nero (The Trials of Apollo, #5)Review:
The Tower of Nero is the finale of the Trials of Apollo series. I just have to say, wow, how far we have come with this series. In the first and second book, I really didn’t like Apollo. He was vain and completely annoying. It was my biggest problem with the first two books. I loved everything else, but I really didn’t like Apollo. I’m so glad to say that the Apollo in this final book is completely different from who he was in the previous books. His growth is so well done and I’m so happy about that.
In this book, Apollo has one final challenge to complete: defeat Nero. But that’s not as easy as it seems. I really cannot say enough good things about this world that Riordan has created. And this series really solidifies that because we get to see the characters we love from his previous books. Between the mythology that he has brought to life and the characters he’s gotten us invested in, there was no way I wasn’t going to love this book.
I’m going to keep this review short so I don’t just repeat everything from my previous reviews. I loved Apollo’s growth. I loved his friendship with Meg. I especially loved that Meg had her own challenges to face in this book. I think it was just such a well rounded story, filled with loveable characters that learn and grow from one another.
Overall, the audiobook was super good. I was very happy with the way this series ended but it made my heart ache because there’s no news about what books might be coming next. I also just have to say that the last few chapters (or maybe it was the epilogue) were exactly what I wanted. I was so happy to get to see Apollo visit with everyone after the dust settled. I loved this book. I loved this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan

fullsizeoutput_3401GoodReads Summary:
In his penultimate adventure, a devastated but determined Apollo travels to Camp Jupiter, where he must learn what it is to be a hero, or die trying.
It’s not easy being Apollo, especially when you’ve been turned into a human and banished from Olympus. On his path to restoring five ancient oracles and reclaiming his godly powers, Apollo (aka Lester Papadopoulos) has faced both triumphs and tragedies. Now his journey takes him to Camp Jupiter in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the Roman demigods are preparing for a desperate last stand against the evil Triumvirate of Roman emperors. Hazel, Reyna, Frank, Tyson, Ella, and many other old friends will need Apollo’s aid to survive the onslaught. Unfortunately, the answer to their salvation lies in the forgotten tomb of a Roman ruler . . . someone even worse than the emperors Apollo has already faced.
The Tyrant’s Tomb (The Trials of Apollo, #4)Review:
The Tyrant’s Tomb is the second to last book in the Trials of Apollo series. I actually had to take a break after the last book (The Burning Maze). I think that’s because I listened to the audiobooks for the first three books all in a row and I just needed a break from audiobooks. So, I took my break and then picked this one up.
I’m not going to lie. I cried several times while listening to this story. This is absolutely my favorite book in the series (unless the last one is even better). Apollo’s growth really shows in these pages. He’s doing things like helping his friends and putting himself in danger because he cares about those around him, rather than avoiding danger because of selfish reasons. I really liked his growth. Part of the reason I didn’t love the first three books was that Apollo was a jerk. He still has some negative qualities, but he’s really grown with his experiences of having to think like mortals do. He’s still incredibly vain and talks way too much about his weak, flabby body.
I really loved getting to see characters from the previous series, like Hazel and Frank. I loved being back at the Roman camp, a familiar place. It was so enjoyable to see new characters in a place I already love.
Overall, this book has it all. It has great character growth, action, and adventure, quests, and the audiobook narrator did an incredible job telling this story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

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GoodReads Summary:
The formerly glorious god Apollo, cast down to earth in punishment by Zeus, is now an awkward mortal teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. In order to regain his place on Mount Olympus, Lester must restore five Oracles that have gone dark. But he has to achieve this impossible task without having any godly powers and while being duty-bound to a confounding young daughter of Demeter named Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.
With the help of some demigod friends, Lester managed to survive his first two trials, one at Camp Half-Blood, and one in Indianapolis, where Meg received the Dark Prophecy. The words she uttered while seated on the Throne of Memory revealed that an evil triumvirate of Roman emperors plans to attack Camp Jupiter. While Leo flies ahead on Festus to warn the Roman camp, Lester and Meg must go through the Labyrinth to find the third emperor—and an Oracle who speaks in word puzzles—somewhere in the American Southwest. There is one glimmer of hope in the gloom-filled prophecy: The cloven guide alone the way does know. They will have a satyr companion, and Meg knows just who to call upon. . . .
The Burning Maze (The Trials of Apollo, #3)Review:
I think I’m going to keep this review short because I tend to say the same things when I review Riordan’s books. So, in The Burning Maze the characters find themselves in a literal burning maze. They face all sorts of trials and challenges as they are looking for the next oracle on the list and facing the third Roman emperor.
The things I liked about this book were all about the characters. I really loved seeing Grover again. I enjoyed learning about where he’s been since the end of Percy’s books. I always love seeing old characters in new stories. Grover is sort of the voice of reason in this story and it was great. Apollo was better in this book. He was less insufferable. He had actually sort of started to think about how he might change his behavior if/when he was to regain his godliness. I really enjoyed this aspect of his development because he’s been pretty terrible in his complaining about not being a god. I also loved how much he was really starting to care about those around him (read: Meg). He’s growing and I hope it continues. Meg is still a big mystery. We learn a bit about her childhood before her dad died and I loved that. I loved learning more about her, but I was still left wanting more. We still haven’t really found out what happened before she left Nero again and I want to know.
Overall, I enjoyed this story and I’m excited to continue. I always love seeing more mythological creatures brought to life by Riordan. I love that these characters are growing and that we’re getting to see old friends. But I also love all of the new friends we’ve made as well. Also, my heart is broken and I’ll never forgive you Rick Riordan (you know what you did.)

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

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GoodReads Summary:
Go west. Capture Apollo before he can find the next oracle.
If you cannot bring him to me alive, kill him.
Those were the orders my old enemy Nero had given to Meg McCaffrey. But why would an ancient Roman emperor zero in on Indianapolis? And now that I have made it here (still in the embarrassing form of Lester Papadopoulos), where is Meg?
Meg, my demigod master, is a cantankerous street urchin. She betrayed me to Nero back at Camp Half-Blood. And while I’m mortal, she can order me to do anything . . . even kill myself. Despite all this, if I have a chance of prying her away from her villainous stepfather, I have to try.
But I’m new at this heroic-quest business, and my father, Zeus, stripped me of all my godly powers. Oh, the indignities and pain I have already suffered! Untold humiliation, impossible time limits, life-threatening danger . . . Shouldn’t there be a reward at the end of each completed task? Not just more deadly quests?
I vow that if I ever regain my godhood, I will never again send a poor mortal on a quest. Unless it is really important. And unless I am sure the mortal can handle it. And unless I am pressed for time . . . or I really just don’t feel like doing it myself. I will be much kinder and more generous than everyone is being to me—especially that sorceress Calypso. What does Leo see in her, anyway?
The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo, #2)Review:
In this book, Apollo is on another task toward his ultimate mission of collecting all of the known oracles. He had two so far and is dreading this third. He travels with two characters we’ve met before (that I totally love!!) to Indianapolis. They run into new creatures I’ve not met before and people Apollo knows from his past.
I think what I most enjoyed about this book was all of the side characters. I really enjoyed getting to know them and how they knew Apollo. He can’t remember much because his mortal brain just can’t remember 4,000 years of memories. So, this allowed for some entertaining and occasionally dangerous antics. I liked learning about the things that he did remember. It was interesting to get to know him better, to see whim reflect on his past choices when he was different now. I still didn’t love Apollo. Despite all he’s been through as a mortal he’s still pretty conceited and I didn’t love that. He is growing, but now enough for my liking. It seems almost like he’s just going to write all this off as soon as he becomes a god again and that leaves a bad taste.
I really liked that Meg was back for this one. She disappeared at the end of the first book. We find her again in this one and I was glad for that. But we got little to no explanation and I wanted more. I wanted to know her thoughts and what happened while she was gone.
Overall, this is filled with all the best things we’ve come to know from Rick Riordan. I liked meeting new characters and spending time with ones we already know. I enjoyed meeting new creatures and battling new villains. I’ve already started the third book, so hopefully, Apollo gets better in that one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
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.
The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo, #1)Review:
Okay, I’m going to be honest here. I was pretty excited about the concept of Apollo being stuck in a mortal body but it actually was my least favorite thing about this book.
I loved getting to see all my old favorites like Percy and his mom. I also loved that this story actually mostly takes place at camp half-blood. It was so fun for me to get to explore more of the camp. I loved everything that happened in the woods.
But Apollo was pretty insufferable. He’s a God trapped in the body of a teenager named Lester. First of all, is this some sort of possession kind of thing? Because if so, poor Lester. If not, I’d like some more explanation. Apollo is coming to terms with the fact that he’s a sixteen-year-old mortal boy. One with acne, which is commented on at least ten times. I get that he’s supposed to be growing, but every time he made progress, he then took five steps back. That was frustrating because it felt like he’d have these huge revelations then just go back to complaining about how he wasn’t an all-powerful god anymore. He was so selfish and conceited it was hard to like him when he kept regressing. Though I’m hoping he will make more actual progress in the next books.
Overall, this was still a fun story. I loved how the plot is connected to things that happened in the previous series. I also love that we got to see characters from those series that I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to yet. But I also liked that there’s a whole new cast of characters for the reader to learn about and love (read: the characters in the Apollo cabin). I also enjoyed the twists. I definitely saw a few of them coming but they were still good and pulled at my emotions. Finally, I loved that Apollo was so casual about his bisexuality. He talks about flirting and loving both men and women and it was basically the only thing I liked about him. I’m definitely going to continue the series; I’m just really hoping Apollo gets less annoying.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
Magnus Chase has seen his share of trouble. Ever since that terrible night two years ago when his mother told him to run, he has lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, staying one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.
One day, Magnus learns that someone else is trying to track him down—his uncle Randolph, a man his mother had always warned him about. When Magnus tries to outmaneuver his uncle, he falls right into his clutches. Randolph starts rambling about Norse history and Magnus’s birthright: a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.
The more Randolph talks, the more puzzle pieces fall into place. Stories about the gods of Asgard, wolves, and Doomsday bubble up from Magnus’s memory. But he doesn’t have time to consider it all before a fire giant attacks the city, forcing him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents…
Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die.
The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1)Review:
I’ve been slowly working on reading all of Riordan’s books for the last year or so. Next up was the Magnus Chase series. I waited for the audiobooks to be available from my library. I almost wish I’d just decided to read it physically because I didn’t care for the narrator. But by the end of the story, I really enjoyed it. I think the narrator made it harder for me to get into the story, but Riordan’s storytelling abilities pushed through.
The book follows Magnus, a homeless teen living in Boston who is grieving his mother. I really liked that Magnus was homeless, this is something you almost never see in novels for a younger audience, but it’s something that happens all too often in the real world. I also liked the Boston setting as I grew up in Massachusetts and recognized a bunch of the places Magnus went to. Then Magnus turns sixteen and dies.
From there he’s thrown into the world of Norse mythology. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story. Most of what I know of Norse myths are from Neil Gaiman’s book and from movies and tv shows. I know this story was fiction, but I also know that Riordan tries to stick to the truth of the mythology. I liked learning more about this mythology and I liked that (like all his other books) it’s turned into adventures.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and I’m excited to continue the series. I loved that there was a diverse cast of characters. I like the friendships and found family that we learned to become a part of. Riordan did it again with a story I couldn’t get enough of.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
He’s b-a-a-ack! Despite their best efforts, Carter and Sadie Kane can’t seem to keep Apophis, the chaos snake, down. Now Apophis is threatening to plunge the world into eternal darkness, and the Kanes are faced with the impossible task of having to destroy him once and for all. Unfortunately, the magicians of the House of Life are on the brink of civil war, the gods are divided, and the young initiates of Brooklyn House stand almost alone against the forces of chaos. The Kanes’ only hope is an ancient spell that might turn the serpent’s own shadow into a weapon, but the magic has been lost for a millennia. To find the answer they need, the Kanes must rely on the murderous ghost of a powerful magician who might be able to lead them to the serpent’s shadow . . . or might lead them to their deaths in the depths of the underworld. Nothing less than the mortal world is at stake when the Kane family fulfills its destiny in this thrilling conclusion to the Kane Chronicles.
The Serpent's Shadow (The Kane Chronicles, #3)Review:
This series was so incredible. This final book is the final battle against the chaos that was released at the end of the first book. I loved this story so much. Carter and Sadie are once again narrating their experiences to us. They’ve both grown so much since the start of the series. But they still have their faults. Though they face much responsibility, they still have teenage problems. I really liked this because they weren’t teenagers acting like adults. They were realistic. I liked that they had regular problems along with attempting to stop the literal end of the world.
The mythology was definitely my favorite part of this series. The Egyptian gods and goddesses are so interesting. We get to meet so many of them, some good and some bad. I liked that they weren’t totally idolized, but shown to have good and bad sides. They have their own motivations and I thought that was really interesting and added complexity to the story.
Overall, I loved this conclusion. The ending was really satisfying, but also the way Riordan left us with the possibility that these characters will potentially meet up with the characters from his other series has me so freaking excited. I would die to see Carter and Sadie meet up with Percy and gang. That would be a literal dream. I don’t think Riordan could write anything I don’t love. If you haven’t read this series, I would recommend it a million times.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister Sadie have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven’t given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, which has become a training ground for young magicians.
And now their most threatening enemy yet – the chaos snake Apophis – is rising. If they don’t prevent him from breaking free in a few days’ time, the world will come to an end. In other words, it’s a typical week for the Kane family.
To have any chance of battling the Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra. But that would be a feat more powerful than any magician has ever accomplished.
First they have to search the world for the three sections of the Book of Ra, then they have to learn how to chant its spells. Oh, and did we mention that no one knows where Ra is exactly?
Narrated in two different wisecracking voices, featuring a large cast of new and unforgettable characters, and with adventures spanning the globe, this second installment in the Kane Chronicles is nothing short of a thrill ride.
The Throne of Fire (The Kane Chronicles, #2)Review:
I loved this book just as much as the first. At this point, I really don’t think there is anything that Rick Riordan writes and publishes that I won’t love. In The Throne of Fire, we’re thrown right back into the chaos that is the Kane sibling’s lives. They defeated Set in the previous book, but the chaos allowed a bigger problem to arise. This is that story.
Like the first book, this story is told via Carter and Sadie. The siblings are recording the events after the fact in an audio recording so that it can be sent to those that might need to hear it. I thought this was a really interesting way to tell the story. Both siblings get to tell parts of the story and they just make it so fun to read. I bet the audiobook is incredible.
Carter and Sadie have both grown in this book. They’ve given up their godly powers and have mostly learned how to use their own abilities. They have also started teaching others. This was the only thing I didn’t love about this book. We weren’t really introduced to all the new students at the Brooklyn House. They were just suddenly there. We did get a bit more information about them as the story goes along, but two of them were right at the beginning of the story and I had no idea who they were. But as I got to know them, I got over that. Carter and Sadie both have to make some hard choices in this book, but I really liked how they each handled the situations they were put in.
Overall, I loved this book and I cannot wait to read the final book. Things were left sort of up in the air at the end. There was a conclusion, but there was a definite ‘to be continued’ implied. I loved the mythology. I loved all the characters, old and new. I just loved this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
Since his mother’s death six years ago, Carter Kane has been living out of a suitcase, traveling the globe with his father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane. But while Carter’s been homeschooled, his younger sister, Sadie, has been living with their grandparents in London. Sadie has just what Carter wants—school friends and a chance at a “normal” life. But Carter has just what Sadie longs for—time with their father. After six years of living apart, the siblings have almost nothing in common. Until now.
On Christmas Eve, Sadie and Carter are reunited when their father brings them to the British Museum, with a promise that he’s going to “make things right.” But all does not go according to plan: Carter and Sadie watch as Julius summons a mysterious figure, who quickly banishes their father and causes a fiery explosion.
Soon Carter and Sadie discover that the gods of Ancient Egypt are waking, and the worst of them—Set—has a frightening scheme. To save their father, they must embark on a dangerous journey—a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and its links to the House of Life, a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, #1)Review:
Rick Riordan could write anything and I would absolutely love it. My only complaint is that I couldn’t find the audiobook available anywhere other than for purchase (at a price higher than what the hardcover costs, plus I already own the whole series and I couldn’t justify buying the audio as well.) But this isn’t the fault of the book or author.
The Red Pyramid follows Sadie and Carter, but the unique part of this story (aside from literally everything else about it) was that Carter and Sadie are telling us what happened after the fact, as a warning of sorts. I loved that the story was told this way. It made it so fun to read. Carter and Sadie each have their own chapters, but the definitely butt into one another’s. These two had a really unique sibling relationship. Carter spent most of his life following his father around the world helping in whatever way is needed. But Sadie spent those same years living with her grandparents. One of the most interesting conflicts of this story was that both siblings wished to have the life of the other. Both were jealous of the other. I love this because it showed how much the two really lack in their relationship, but it was also a great chance for them to communicate and become closer.
Now, the adventures within this story were so fun and interesting. Carter and Sadie find out they are actually magicians within the Egyptian culture that was thought to have died out many years ago. I loved the magic in this story. It was unique and interesting. I liked getting to see the siblings try to figure out their own abilities and each fail and succeed in different areas. I loved all the mythology and culture included.
Overall, this story was wonderful in every way. The characters were diverse and realistic. I loved the mystery that they were involved in. I literally loved everything about this book and I cannot wait to continue the series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Iron Will of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

GoodReads Summary:
Genie Lo thought she was busy last year, juggling her academic career with protecting the Bay Area from demons. But now, as the Heaven-appointed Guardian of California, she’s responsible for the well-being of all yaoguai and spirits on Earth. Even the ones who interrupt her long-weekend visit to a prestigious college, bearing terrible news about a cosmos-threatening force of destruction in a nearby alternate dimension.
The goddess Guanyin and Genie’s boyfriend, Quentin Sun Wukong, do their best to help, but it’s really the Jade Emperor who’s supposed to handle crises of this magnitude. Unfortunately for Genie and the rest of existence, he’s gone AWOL. Fed up with the Jade Emperor’s negligence, Genie spots an opportunity to change the system for the better by undertaking a quest that spans multiple planes of reality along with an adventuring party of quarrelsome Chinese gods. But when faced with true danger, Genie and her friends realize that what will save the universe this time isn’t strength, but sacrifice.
The Iron Will of Genie Lo (The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, #2)Review:
Wow, this book was an adventure. I adored this series so much. I chose to listen to this book via audiobook and I’m so glad I did. I waited for my library to order it. The narrator did such an incredible job with all the different voices for all the characters and she really made it such a fun story to listen to.
We’re following Genie after the events of the first book. She’s gained a position of power on Earth as the person in charge of the demons leftover from the last book. I thought these parts of her being the guardian were really interesting. I thought she made a good leader, if not a bit impulsive. I really loved her growth in this story. She’s grown so much from the driven and obsessively focused girl she was in the last book. She also continues to grow in this story.
My favorite parts of this book were definitely her relationship with Quentin. They have a big fight and say hurtful things to one another, but the parts where they work through that and get back to a good place were just so fantastic. My next favorite part of this book was Genie’s relationship with Guanyin. They went from a sort of awkward intimidating relationship in the first book to more equals (as much as a human and a god can be). I really enjoyed their almost sister-like relationship.
Overall, this story was action-packed and chock full of mythology. I loved the mythological parts of the story. They were so beyond interesting. I loved Genie and everything else about this series. I really don’t know why more people don’t read and talk about this series. It was diverse and so much fun.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

GoodReads Summary:
War between the devas and the demons is imminent, and the Otherworld is on high alert. When intelligence from the human world reveals that the Sleeper is holding a powerful clairvoyant and her sister captive, 14-year-old Aru and her friends launch a search-and-rescue mission. The captives, a pair of twins, turn out to be the newest Pandava sisters, though, according to a prophecy, one sister is not true.
During the celebration of Holi, the heavenly attendants stage a massage PR rebranding campaign to convince everyone that the Pandavas are to be trusted. As much as Aru relishes the attention, she fears that she is destined to bring destruction to her sisters, as the Sleeper has predicted. Aru believes that the only way to prove her reputation is to find the Kalpavriksha, the wish-granting tree that came out of the Ocean of Milk when it was churned. If she can reach it before the Sleeper, perhaps she can turn everything around with one wish.
Careful what you wish for, Aru…
Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes (Pandava Quartet #3)Review:
I have a fierce love for this series. I love Aru Shah with my whole heart. So, I’m not sure how I’m going to explain my feelings for this book. I might just keep this short and tell you to read it a hundred times and then end it. Just kidding.
We’re following Aru, Mini, and Brynn as their trying to save the world from the Sleeper. There’s also Aidan and Rudy that tag along with the girls. I love this found family so much. We find two new Pandava sisters at the start of this story. Twins named Sheela and Nikita, who have very interesting abilities. I loved how quickly the three pull Sheela and Nikita into their loving arms. I love that even though most of them have families to go back to that are loving and supportive, these sisters (and Aidan and Rudy) have made a family of their own. The found family aspect of this story was so wonderful.
The stakes have never been higher for this group. They’ve failed a few minor missions and are feeling lower than low. So, they take off on their own without permission from the higher-ups. I loved the nonstop action of the story, even while they were just traveling from one task to the next, they were met with challenges that they faced bravely and always together.
Overall, I adored this story just like all the previous books. I am already dying for the next installment to know what happens next. The friendships are wonderful, the writing is amazing. I adore the world and the mythology that this story centers around. I love everything about this book and the rest of the series. If you haven’t read it yet you’re really missing out.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

GoodReads Summary:
Nico had warned them. Going through the House of Hades would stir the demigods’ worst memories. Their ghosts would become restless. Nico may actually become a ghost if he has to shadow-travel with Reyna and Coach Hedge one more time. But that might be better than the alternative: allowing someone else to die, as Hades foretold.
Jason’s ghost is his mother, who abandoned him when he was little. He may not know how he is going to prove himself as a leader, but he does know that he will not break promises like she did. He will complete his line of the prophecy: To storm or fire the world must fall.
Reyna fears the ghosts of her ancestors, who radiate anger. But she can’t allow them to distract her from getting the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood before war breaks out between the Romans and Greeks. Will she have enough strength to succeed, especially with a deadly hunter on her trail?
Leo fears that his plan won’t work, that his friends might interfere. But there is no other way. All of them know that one of the Seven has to die in order to defeat Gaea, the Earth Mother.
Piper must learn to give herself over to fear. Only then will she be able to do her part at the end: utter a single word.
Heroes, gods, and monsters all have a role to play in the climactic fulfillment of the prophecy in The Blood of Olympus, the electrifying finale of the best-selling Heroes of Olympus series.
The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5)Review:
I cannot start this review any other way besides saying, WHAT THE F WAS THAT ENDING. I’m genuinely upset about the lack of reuniting with a certain friend group. To the point where I had to text Antonia and scream to her about it (with a context text to let me know I wasn’t talking about someone we knew in real life).
I really liked how everything was wrapped up with the big bad in this story. I thought the end result was full of action and drama. I loved the team that came together and ended up really loving one another, despite their many differences. I think Riordan is the king of lovable friend groups. I really liked how each of their stories ended (aside from the lack of the reuniting with on particular character that I mentioned above). They each made life-changing decisions and I really liked these choices.
I’m going to keep this review on the shorter side because I honestly feel like I’ve said everything and more in my previous four reviews. I love this series. I love these characters. I love Rick Riordan. I am very excited to keep reading his books. If you haven’t, start now.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.