Winter 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

Oh man, I haven’t done one of these in….forever. How do they even work again? lol

Well, even though I haven’t been reading a ton of books in the last two years or so, I’ve been keeping up with webcomics and other things, and so I wanted to talk about the various comics, manga, and books I’ve read this past winter!

So, here’s all the things I read between December-ish/January-March 2020!

Webtoons

A sexy supernatural story about being out on your own, finding your dream apartment and discovering that your new place is haunted by a handsome spectral stranger from another dimension. Sure, HE can’t see you and YOU can’t touch him, but who said every relationship starts out perfectly?

Let’s start off with this lovely gem: Freaking Romance by Snailords. Oh. Man. If you want hilarious content with beautiful artwork and a great story, check this series out! It’s supremely my sense of humor so I was DYING laughing at a lot of the things said, especially by the main female character, Zylith. Hil. Ar. I. Ous. But not only that, it’s a story involving time travel, different kinds of love, toxicity, life, college, and a whole bunch of stuff. Trust me, it’s worth the read. As of right now, it’s completed through season two, with season three on the way for later this year. Plenty of episodes to binge!

★★★★★

Edith is not your typical heroine. She struggles with her confidence, her morals, and life in general by not only holding herself to high standards, but her men as well. Enter two less-than-perfect men: one who may be the Prince Charming she’s been waiting for to deliver a fairy tale ending, the other a brash reality check who does NOT believe in happily-ever-after. What will Edith do? Will she sacrifice her standards? Or keep searching for that mythical white knight who may or may not exist in the first place? Funny, messy and sexy, Edith’s journey is relatable to anyone who’s ever left their heart on the battlefield of the dating world.

Edith by Swansgarden has a unique drawing style, which drew me into the story in the first place. Though I still need to continue it (as of writing this post I’m on episode 29), but what I’ve read so far has an interesting dynamic that I feel a lot of people can relate to. Not only does it explore a toxic and kind of manipulative relationship, but also depression, anxiety, bullying, and other strong topics. If you want an enticing read with sides you don’t know to choose from, check this webtoon out!

★★★☆☆

The Great Prophet Godo has a place for everyone in his perfect society… so long as you aren’t a failure. Itshou is living a diligent and sheltered life when she suddenly finds herself denounced and marked for exile. While her beliefs are shaken to their very core, a chance encounter with a childhood sweetheart derails Itshou’s banishment and puts her on the path to political uprising. Now facing down the same forces she once trusted to protect her, Itshou must untangle the web of lies at the heart of her city and unmask the Shadow Prophet.

As of writing this post, I’ve only read the first two chapters of The Shadow Prophet, BUT the art style and story? VERY gripping so far. It’s like a science fiction dystopia (which, by definition, dystopian stories are usually….science fiction… anyway) with hope sprinkled in it. Even though I’m only two chapters in, something happens at the end of chapter two that I saw coming, BUT I’M STILL MAD ABOUT IT. That’s how you know you have good characters and a good story building, haha! As of writing this post, there’s only 12 episodes out, but check it out!

No rating, as I haven’t read enough to gauge it yet.

What happens when your entire life is ruled by a prophecy – your future foretold by people you’ve never met, who died long before you were born. Such is the story of two young sea creatures. One believed to be a guiding light for his people, a Beacon who will lead them to a bright, prosperous future. The other is a teenage prince for who’s destiny is to KILL the Beacon so that HIS own people might thrive. When both reject the course set for them, it leads to a raucous adventure as big and unpredictable as the ocean itself – and a romance that nobody could have predicted.

LET ME JUST GUSH ABOUT CASTLE SWIMMER, YOU GUYS. This is a boys love series, and it’s just. So. CUTE. But it’s not the story I was expecting either, because though there were plenty of funny moments (some of the queens are literal memes), there was also an undercurrent of a more serious tone that involved the prophecy of the shark clan and just how the prophecy was supposed to go. It was actually really great, and had a few good messages in it to take away from it, so I highly recommend this. The second season just started recently, so go check it out!

★★★★★

Witness what the gods do…after dark. The friendships and the lies, the gossip and the wild parties, and of course, forbidden love. Because it turns out, the gods aren’t so different from us after all, especially when it comes to their problems. Stylish and immersive, this is one of mythology’s greatest stories — The Taking of Persephone — as it’s never been told before.

Lore Olympus is an ongoing series that I’ve been keeping up with since it left Canvas and got onto the big scene on Webtoon. I’ve done a review about it before, but let me just say that I still highly enjoy this series, and if you enjoy mythology and different takes on it, then definitely check this comic out! It’s got romance, humor, hardships, and more. The art and story are really good.

And just remember, the author does, in fact, state that she knows it’s not the exact retelling, but her retelling. So some of the characters might act differently than their actual god counterpart (such as Apollo). Tis just another story!

★★★★★

Getting crushed by your crush. Coming out to your parents. Learning that your sister is your biggest dating rival. High school sure does have its share of twists, turns and moments of high drama. To get through it all with your smile and sanity intact, you’re going to need some friends. Really good friends. Friends like Johnny, Mariel, Gaby and Martina who, one way or another, will find a way to get through their teenage years together.

I’ve talked about The Four of Them before, and it’s still one of my favorite long term series I’ve been keeping up with. It’s a great coming-of-age story about four (technically five) teens who are all going through various life things that many teens experience (love, sexual identity, school, etc). There’s supportive side characters and parents, and just a great story so far. Go check it out!

★★★★★

With a dead sister and 25 years to go on her soulmate timer, Anya decides to cryogenically sleep away her problems. Too bad she wakes up to an apocalypse full of them. Now stuck in a burnt out landscape full of killers, Anya must decide which she wants to keep: her heart or her head.

In the Bleak Midwinter is a newer series, and I’m so glad I found it because WOW is it good! Not only does each chapter have music that perfectly fits the scenario that the main character is going through (and just the overall tone of the chapter), but the artwork is also lovely, and the story’s plot seriously just drew me in. It’s science fiction, and like the synopsis saying, she wakes up 25 years later to…well, let’s just say: a difficult situation. Though there are only four chapters out as of the writing of this post, I highly recommend checking it out!

No rating as there’s not enough chapters for me to gauge, but it’s definitely a great read so far!

Ever since her parent’s funeral, Florette seems to only find solace in her flower shop and garden. Her love for nature is tested when she meets a tiny plant prince from a miniature plant world. With the “invaders” threatening his plant kingdom, Florette finds her calling to help save the world and its people. Could it be her botanist skills, or is there a bigger connection between Florette and the Kingdom of Soleil?

I’m not sure if I talked about Soleil before, but it’s SUCH a cute series stylistic-wise, but it also has a good plot that involves the world of plants, and how that world is dying due to the “invaders.” There’s magic in it, and I’m interested to see more of this because even though, at the point I’ve read to (chapter 18), I want to see more and how it not only affects the Kingdom of Soleil, but also how it’s going to affect the outside world. It’s a good series so far, so check it out if you’re interested! (And seriously, the cutest art style uwu)

★★★★☆

Dogged by pain and misfortune from the very beginning, Shin-Ae decides she wants nothing to do with people nor anything to do with romance. Although content with her unsocial, boring, loveless existence, her lifestyle is challenged after she ruins an unsuspecting strangers’ clothes.

I’ve definitely talked about I Love Yoo before, but I’m here to let you know that I’m still reading this series very faithfully. There’s plenty of drama in it (as it is…a drama…) and there’s even soft little moments of romance that have happened since I last talked about this series, as well as a whole slew of other things that have been happening. Oh man. But I’m still glad that the series is going because it was supposed to end at episode 100 originally, but clearly not so much as we’re up to 119 as of writing this post. If you want some drama, pretty boys, a love square(?), and some great funny moments, check out this webtoon!

★★★★★

After hearing the devastating news about her condition, Ayane Konno, 29 y/o who is at the height of her writing career, knew that she was fighting a losing battle for her life. Instead of being struck by sadness, she accepted her fate and decided to live out the remainder of her life doing the things that she loves and the experiences that she wishes to make memories of. She then met someone who would accompany her on her journey and paint the short story of her life with pastel-colored pages.

Pastel-Colored Pages is one I haven’t gotten too far into yet, but I wanted to mention it because the art style very much reads and looks like a manga would! I do think it goes in the comic style format of reading left to right, and not right to left, but the story so far is very good. A writer gets diagnosed with terminal cancer, and a young man who’s beaten up on the street ends up staying with her. I can’t give too much of my thoughts because I’ve only read the first two chapters so far, but check it out!

No rating as I haven’t read enough to gauge it yet.

In school, Tooru is known as “The Prince”. He’s smart, popular, and can have anyone he wants. So why is it that he can’t think of anyone but Yamamoto, the plainest, dullest guy in the entire school?

I’ve definitely talked about Plain Boy & Prince before, but it’s a boys love story with a lot of cheesy jokes and classic tropes that just make me chuckle a lot. I’m really enjoying it, though, as it brings me a lot of happiness. If you’re looking for some light-heartedness in these trying times, check it out!

★★★★☆

The King is back. With the defeat of his father, Wolfgang Goldenleonard has achieved all that he’s sought — the love of Shin Soohyuk, the power of the throne, and vengeance over the kingdom’s tyrannical ruler. But, Soohyuk, a “possession” of the former king, views their rocky relationship as one of war trophy and victor, despite Wolfgang showering him with affection. As uncertainty grows in the royal courts, forces beyond their control are preparing a second coup d’etat. Will these two be able to keep a grasp on the throne and on each other?

YA’LL. Do you KNOW how EXCITED I was when I discovered that my favorite comic series from a couple years ago is CONTINUING!? Pumped. Stoked. Hyped. King’s Maker: Triple Crown is the sequel to the first season of this comic in which we continue to follow Wolfgang and Shin, and now that Wolfgang is king, all of the troubles that come along with that.

This second season so far (which is on a different website than it used to be, by the way), has had a lot of dangers for the main protagonists, as well as some laughs with the side characters. I’m excited to continue and see what happens because there’s a lot of different sides to keep track of and try to figure out, and I love iiiiiit.

If you want to check out the first season of King’s Maker, here’s the link!

★★★★★

I THINK… those are all of the webcomics I want to talk about that I’ve been keeping up with. Whew. That was more than I thought, haha!

Manga

The meeting between Takane and Hana ends in an explosive manner, and Hana is convinced that she’ll never have to see that awful Takane again. But Takane actually seems interested in Hana! Exasperated by Takane’s immature attitude, yet amused and intrigued despite herself, Hana wonders if her hilarious rivalry with Takane just might lead to love!

Takane & Hana by Yuki Shiwasu is a story that involves an age-gap romance, so if you’re uncomfortable with that at all, then probably skip this one, but it’s a comedy romance that has a sassy main female protagonist, and a rough-cut rich male protagonist, and let me tell you, their dynamic? Perfectly hilarious. I read the first three volumes at the behest of my best friend, and I really enjoyed them. They’re very funny and I find myself wanting to continue the series eventually!

★★★★☆

“I’ve met you and my world changed in a heartbeat.” The pure love story of a hearing-impaired woman and a man who travels the world.

Yubisaki and Renren by Suu Morishita is a sweet comic with lovely artwork of a hearing-impaired woman who’s going to college, and of a stranger she meets one day on the train – who also goes to the same college. There’s a lot of sweet moments between them so far, as I’ve only read the first volume, but it’s very enjoyable. I can’t wait for more because I want to see where it goes. I’m not sure if I trust the male protagonist yet, and it looks like there will be a childhood romance aspect, as well as a side romance, but I’m interested to see what happens. AND the story include Japanese Sign Language, which is cool to see in manga form! I’m even learning a few signs for things like “eat” and “cute.” It’s very neat!

★★★★☆

That’s it for the manga! Not a lot, but that’s okay. More shall be read this year, I’m sure.

Books

I’ve done a full review of this book, but Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor was one I started many months ago, put it down, and picked back up and knew what was happening after not having read it for so long. It was such a great story with romance, fantasy elements, heartache and heartbreak, death, revenge and vengeance, hope, sorrow, and more. I love Laini Taylor’s writing so much, and I’m so glad I read this. I’m going to have to pick up the sequel sometime this year because that ending!

★★★★★

I’ve done a full review of this book, but once again, Elle Kennedy did a fantastic job with this steamy new adult book. It’s the third standalone in the Briar U arc, and we follow two new characters, Hunter and Demi, as they go through college, play hockey, deal with some relationship and rebound things, as well as a darker matter all together. An overall good story that I enjoyed.

★★★★☆

I’ve done a full review of this book, but Rick Riordan’s sequel in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series continued to exceed my expectations with the series, for sure! This is really the only middle grade series I’ve picked up (as of writing this post), and it’s my first read through of the series in general, so I’m absolutely loving it! It’s fun, action-packed, and I love seeing the characters grow older and the different struggles they have to face – not just by outside sources, but also within themselves. A great sequel and I can’t wait to continue!

★★★★☆


That’s it! That should be everything I’ve been reading and keeping up with these last few months. It’s crazy to think I’ve been reading as much as I have, and also how I’m picking up newer reads, too. I’ve missed this, truly. Webcomics are great (especially when you’re dealing with a lot of emotional and mental things and just need visual stimulation to help ease it), but I miss reading a book and allowing my imagination to take over.

I enjoy doing these quarterly wrap-ups, too, so expect more of these in the future!

Have you read any of these webcomics? Do any of the ones I listed interest you? What about the books, have you read any of them? What are your thoughts? What was your favorite story you read this winter? Let me know in the comments!

The Play | Book Review

Title: The Play
Series: Briar U #3
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy, Inc.
Publish Date: October 7. 2019
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Sports
Pages: 422
Format: Kindle eBook

What I learned after last year’s distractions cost my hockey team our entire season? No more screwing up. No more screwing, period. As the new team captain, I need a new philosophy: hockey and school now, women later. Which means that I, Hunter Davenport, am officially going celibate…no matter how hard that makes things.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that says I can’t be friends with a woman. And I won’t lie—my new classmate Demi Davis is one cool chick. Her smart mouth is hot as hell, and so is the rest of her, but the fact that she’s got a boyfriend eliminates the temptation to touch her.

Except three months into our friendship, Demi is single and looking for a rebound.

And she’s making a play for me.

Avoiding her is impossible. We’re paired up on a yearlong school project, but I’m confident I can resist her. We’d never work, anyway. Our backgrounds are too different, our goals aren’t aligned, and her parents hate my guts.

Hooking up is a very bad idea. Now I just have to convince my body—and my heart.

This is the third standalone novel within this series, and I really enjoyed it! I love readying about these characters from the same school and stuff, because you get to see their perspective and kind of grow and root for them when you see them in previous books. It’s great!

Anyway, this story follows two characters: Hunter and Demi. Demi is a character we’ve never met before, but I thought that she was a great addition to the ever-growing Briar Univers(ity) because she is a half-black, half-Latina young woman who wants to become a psychologist, even though her parents (particularly her father) want her to become a medical doctor like he is. But she has her own goals and fascinations, and she’s incredibly smart.

Hunter we first met in the first in the Briar University books and, well, he had quite a roller coaster of a time in that book, so it was nice to see him much more level-headed in this one. I felt that he was well-developed and matured for the time that this took place at, and that he was definitely much easier to take in that the first book. He just wanted to be the best team captain he could be – even going as far as to take a vow of celibacy from sex – and he does a great job at it… for a time (because you know these books have lots of steamy sex scenes in them, haha!).

Another interesting dynamic within this book was that Demi started off in an already existing long term relationship. She was the first character through all the books in the Briar Universe that was in a pre-existing relationship. As far as the relationship goes, it felt realistic in how it was portrayed. There was a sense of unease as the book went along, and I saw what was going to happen for a little while, but it still floored me! Demi handled the situation much better than I was expecting, so that was good.

The plot followed the two as they were both in the same psychology class, and through heartbreak and longing – and lots of shenanigans – and it felt like a very organic progression into the relationship that formed between them. It didn’t feel rushed, and though the situation was a bit stressful at first given what happened with Demi, they managed to face a lot of situations where they encouraged each other.

And of course there were steamy sex scenes. The two characters were extremely attracted to each other – which is great! – and they definitely showed it. If you like your naughty reads, I definitely recommend these books.

I do, however, feel like the ending was a bit… off? Like, I can totally see how it’s plausible, because it’s definitely happened in real life and such, but it just felt so sudden that I was blindsided by it. I didn’t really know how to feel, but I am glad of the end message that Elle put into the book about seeking help if you need it – and please, if you do need help, please seek it out. You’re not alone.

Overall, an enjoyable read in this series. I’m not sure if it’s the last book in the Briar U arc, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

★★★★☆

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Titan’s Curse | Book Review

Title: The Titan’s Curse
Series: Percy Jackson & the Olympians #3
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publish Date: May 5, 2007
Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy, Mythology
Pages: 312
Format: Kindle eBook

IT’S NOT EVERYDAY YOU FIND YOURSELF IN COMBAT WITH A HALF-LION, HALF-HUMAN.

But when you’re the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.

Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive…

As this is the third book in the series, there might be spoilers!

Oh man, this series is SO fun to read! Why didn’t I read these before? Haha, anyway, I found myself enjoying this third installment quite a bit. It was just as fast-paced and action-packed as the first two, but I found myself seeing Percy and his friends starting to mature as they get older with each book, starting to grow into their young teenage years. So not only do they have to face the monsters, gods, and other such things in their environment, but they also are starting to really come into their own and to discover more about themselves.

This particular book follows Percy, Thalia, and two Hunters who are usually hunting with the goddess Artemis: Bianca and Zöe, in their journey to not only save Artemis, but also Annabeth.

It felt like Percy was dealing with a lot more inner turmoil and emotions in this one than the last two. Being left alone or cast out, depending on where he was, he definitely seemed lonely a lot of the time. But through that, there was a determination to help his friend Annabeth, to save her from wherever fate might have taken her.

Thalia – who used to be a tree thanks to her father, Zeus, who changed her into one so as to save her life – is navigating her own feelings on her father, as well as her own situation and whether or not she fits into a prophecy told about a child of the three big gods betraying them. Though we see everything through Percy’s eyes, I still felt a sense of anger and frustration of Thalia at her decisions, and how she makes an ultimate decision so as to not be the one spoken of in the prophecy – which I thought was very mature for her to decide.

Bianca, and her younger brother, Nico, were such a mystery in the book, but when the reveal happened as to who they were, I had guessed it just before I read it. It was still shocking, but oh man, I wonder if and how they’ll return and how the situation could play out in the future. Although, I’m sad about Bianca, but also I found her to be very selfish in leaving her brother behind to join the Hunters, but… Ah, I don’t know what else I can say on that because of what happened to her in the desert.

And then Zöe. Oh man, I thought she was very mature for her “age,” though, to be fair, she was thousands of years old at that point. I didn’t quite understand the hostility between her and Thalia, though it was explained eventually later on, but I still thought that maybe they could have gotten along more. However, I did almost cry at the end with what happened to her because I really grew to really like her, and I wanted to know even more about her past, but I don’t think we’ll get any more than what we got.

And of course there were new villains to face in this story – a manticore, as well as a god who helped the Titans long, long ago – and it was interesting to see how it played out! I actually really liked the villains, in terms of villainry, and I’m interested to see if the betrayer god will make another appearance later on.

Overall, the plot was fast-paced, and it included a couple of twists I wasn’t expecting, as well as a few that I was. I found this particular installment to be really good, and probably my favorite of the series so far. There was a lot more at stake in this book, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for Percy and the crew because I’m sure, especially after that ending, that there’s going to be a lot more trouble for the young teens to go through.

★★★★☆

An Enchantment of Ravens | Book Review

Title: An Enchantment of Ravens
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publish Date: September 26, 2017
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: Kindle eBook

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

This standalone fantasy novel was one that instantly took me into its pages, with its faerie premise, forbidden romance, and dangers in unexpected places, this book was a fast, fun read.

I didn’t know what to expect going into this because I actually didn’t know what it was about. I had read the synopsis a long time ago and had forgotten it, and so going into it completely blind was a fun experience for me. I found that the faerie aspect – the fair folk aspect – was done very well in the sense that Rogerson really captured the essence of the fae and their ethereal beauty and lack of human emotion or compassion, while also showing that each had a flaw somewhere in their glamour. It really tied in with what I hope for in faerie stories: showcasing the fae in such a way that they are “other” or “apart” from humans. It felt believable and real for the world it was written for.

The romance was a “slow burn” in the sense that the time that elapsed in the story was over months of time. Though the plot and story of the book itself was fast, the romance didn’t feel rushed or didn’t feel like it was instant. There was mutual attraction from the beginning, or something of the like, and it felt organic in the way that it grew.

I felt as though the plot was very centered around the romance, but it was also centered around the ego and how passion can turn something beautiful and dangerous. I did, however, find myself slightly upset when the plot didn’t go the way I was hoping – which isn’t a bad thing! I had hoped to see one part of the world it was set it, but we got a different part of the world, which was interesting to see how some of the fair folk lived and acted. But I also felt that some threads of the plot were off or thrown by the change and didn’t necessarily make sense or were very convenient. But again, there’s nothing wrong with this because it worked for the story.

I found myself enjoying Isobel’s character, while also finding her a bit too… mature for her age? I’m not sure if that’s the right word I’m looking for, but I was kind of hoping she would be in her twenties and be a prodigy painter and falling in love, but reading about a seventeen year old prodigy falling in love was still sweet. I’ve seen some amazing works teens can produce, so it’s not out of the realm of reality by any means. She was smart, careful, caring, and felt real.

Rook, as well, felt real and I enjoyed seeing how Rogerson portrayed him as having some sort of human emotion in him locked away. He was definitely powerful as a fae prince, and I really liked the aspect of how faerie magic could work in this world by using blood, and how the amount could affect how strong the effect was. He was a kind of stoic and broody character at times, but there were moments of tenderness, ferocity, and bravery that were great to see.

There were other characters along with the main two that really captured what deals with faeries could be like, and how just being around them could make a person more cautious. Gadfly, a patron of Isobel’s who has strong magic and a desire for art; March and May, Isobel’s sisters who were actually goats before being turned into humans; Lark, an excitable young fair folk who had never met a human before, and others who brought the story more depth.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! There were a few things that I found myself questioning, but I also found myself just enjoying the story for what it was, the rich world that was created, the monsters, the fae, the characters. It was an overall fun read and I recommend it if you’re looking for a standalone fantasy romance.

★★★★☆

The Sea of Monsters | Book Review

Title: The Sea of Monsters
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publish Date: April 1, 2006
Genre: Young Reader – Fantasy/Adventure, Mythology
Pages: 288
Format: Kindle Books

After a year spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson finds his seventh-grade school year unnervingly quiet. His biggest problem is dealing with his new friend, Tyson–a six-foot-three, mentally challenged homeless kid who follows Percy everywhere, making it hard for Percy to have any “normal” friends.

But things don’t stay quiet for long. Percy soon discovers there is trouble at Camp Half-Blood: The magical borders which protect Half-Blood Hill have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and the only safe haven for demigods is on the verge of being overrun by mythological monsters. To save the camp, Percy needs the help of his best friend, Grover, who has been taken prisoner by the Cyclops Polyphemus on an island somewhere in the Sea of Monsters–the dangerous waters Greek heroes have sailed for millenia–only today, the Sea of Monsters goes by a new name…the Bermuda Triangle.

Now Percy and his friends–Grover, Annabeth, and Tyson–must retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Island of the Cyclopes by the end of the summer or Camp Half-Blood will be destroyed. But first, Percy will learn a stunning new secret about his family–one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon’s son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.

This book picks up a full school year after the first. In fact, it’s Percy’s last day at his new school when everything kind of goes to crap and hits the fan and he, you know, almost dies. It’s fine. And he and another kid at the school – a homeless boy named Tyson who the school took on as a community service project, of sorts – are whisked away and helped by Annabeth to go back to Camp Half-Blood.

But, of course, there’s something wrong at Camp Half-Blood. The tree that protects the camp is dying, and they don’t know who could have poisoned the tree, but Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson set off to save the tree and the camp. And Grover. Because Grover is currently being held by a cyclops to become his bride and… yeah, he’s a mess.

I thought this second installment was just as fun as the last, and we’re learning a lot more about Percy and the gods around him, as well as who is for him and against him. I love seeing how mythology comes into play in these novels and how the world just continues to expand. It plays on a lot of legends and myths that don’t just center around the Greek gods (such as the Bermuda Triangle), and I think that it ties in well with what’s happening to Percy and his friends.

I also found it interesting when the reveal of his family happened to also learn more about Poseidon and to see how Percy reacts and grows from it. He learns a lot in this adventure about family and how you can’t necessarily choose who is your family – at least not by blood, anyway. And I think that that lesson is a great one for a young teenage boy to learn.

The action and adventure that he and his friends take is a long one, and it was nice to see him working alongside someone who he (still) doesn’t get along with to get through some trials that he and the others might not have been able to win on their own. I liked seeing how different monsters came into play, how different islands in the Bermuda Triangle attacked or affected them, and how they were able to overcome those trials.

I thought that Percy and Annabeth did really well planning together on how to take down the cyclops – at least temporarily – so that they could escape. And there were several moments where I was cheering because of events that happened on the island with the cyclops. Like I was literally sitting there and going, “YAY!” Probably clapping my hands, too. It’s fine.

Overall, this next installment was a fun one, and I can definitely see some growth in Percy and Annabeth as they’re slowly getting older. The lessons that they’re learning are also expanding, too.

I’m definitely interested to see how Luke’s role plays out in this and how the possibility of releasing Kronos might happen. It’s all very exciting and I can’t wait to continue and see what happens next at Camp Half-Blood!

★★★★☆