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!

★★★★☆

The Lightning Thief Book Review

thelightningthiefTitle: The Lightning Thief
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publish Date: May 5, 2009
Genre: Young Reader – Fantasy/Adventure, Mythology
Pages: 396
Format: Kindle Books

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him.

Alright, this is my first time reading this book – ever. I’ve always heard good things about this series and I gotta say – I have to agree! This first book in this series was so fun and a super fast read for me. I immediately bought the second book on my kindle so I can keep reading the series.

So we have Percy, a troubled boy who has been bouncing around from school to school for years, and this time he thinks he may have a chance to stay – until one day on a field trip he’s attacked by his math teacher who’s actually a Fury from the Underworld. He’s unsure if what actually happens after that was real, but after several events that take place he does, in fact, learn that he is a demigod.

I found Percy to be a very typical kid, but also he’s willing to do whatever it takes to prove his innocence and gets his mom back. I found that he accepted a lot of the circumstances surrounding him pretty easily, which I think wasn’t entirely realistic, but at the same time how would I react if I were thrown into that situation? I did, however, enjoy the group dynamic between him, Annabeth, and Grover. I think that the three of them work really well together.

I wanted to know more about the other characters, to take a look into their past and really get to know them, but I also know that since it was from Percy’s point of view that he may not actually be interested in that sort of thing, but I also have the feeling more will be introduced in later books.

I also knew who the traitor was as soon as the gift was given and I’m like, “It’s going to be ____.” I was right, which is fine, but I think getting to that point was what really drew me into the story.

There were so many different gods and goddesses, creatures and mythical beings, and I loved how they were incorporated into the story. Sometimes I felt like it was kind of mushed together, like almost too many were introduced, but it also makes sense if they’re traveling across the country; of course they’d see as many as they did.

I felt like there was a decent amount of action and that as the story progressed Percy learned a lot about himself and some bits of his family’s history. I think that was really well done in terms of introducing that kind of thing to the reader.

Overall, I felt like it was a very fast-pace book, which sometimes felt like things were rushed, but also a kid wouldn’t always dwell on some of the things that I feel older teens or adults might dwell on, which was good. Sometimes the plot was pretty predictable, but I didn’t find myself annoyed by that like I would in other books I’ve read; rather, I found myself wanting to know how Percy was going to figure it out himself. I found the characters to really represent the traits of their god/dess parent in different ways, and I found that the plot was really driven forward constantly the whole time.

I seriously had a great time reading this book and I’m very excited to start the next one soon. I give this first book 4/5 stars.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Week 1 – Embark on an Adventure

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participant

This week started out really strong. Like really, really strong. You can see by my stats below that I was kicking some major butt the first day of NaNo. And then… it just kind of went down hill real fast, haha! The end of the week was a bit more difficult for me to concentrate on writing, so I wasn’t able to get much done at all. And that’s fine. I’m still writing and doing what I can and having a good time doing it. At least this time around my story is flowing a lot easier. I’ve got an outline I’m following and I find that it’s really helping me.

Goal

50,000 words total by the end of November 30th.

My average daily goal is to write 1,667 words.

Stats for Week 1

Day 1: 10,339 words
Day 2: 2,092 words
Day 3: 1,869 words
Day 4: 0 words
Day 5: 84 words

Total Words: 14,384 words

*I’m not including today, November 6th, as the day is not over yet. Today’s word count will be in next week’s recap.

This Week’s Advice: Embark On An Adventure

When you’re writing a story, you’re not just writing a bunch of words to get them down and out of your head; you’re embarking on a journey. It’s long and tedious and, quite frankly, exhausting, but it’s so much fun and so worth it when you see that end product on the horizon. Even if you don’t meet your goal, you still accomplished something just by starting because most people don’t even get that far.

Take the time to sit back and enjoy what you’re writing. The first week is probably the easiest week and it’s only going to get tougher from here. You’re going to want to quit, to change everything, to start a new story. I implore you to keep going! Don’t let that funk put you down and don’t let anything stand in your way. This is YOUR story. YOU are the only one who will be able to tell it.

I want you to try something this week: envision yourself as your character. I know you’re already going along for the ride with them as their creator, but just imagine yourself as them for a minute. Are they enjoying the journey? Can they see what’s coming next? Or is it a thrill to have a foot in the unknown? If you find that you are struggling, put yourself in your character’s shoes for a moment and make sure that what is going on is what THEY need out of the story. Not you.

Take this journey and embrace it. It’s a fun time, and though, yes, it will get rocky, that sight you see when you’ve reached your goal will be one of the best ever. So keep at it, and keep reaching toward that horizon.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

How has your first week gone so far? Have you achieved any personal milestones yet? Have you participated in any sprints? What is your main goal in the week to come? Tell me all the things!

Truthwitch Book Review

truthwitchTitle: Truthwitch
Series: Book #1 in the Witchlands series
Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 412
Format: Purchased Hardcover

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

This book was a fast-paced fantasy book with twists and turns, epic friendships, magic, a world on the brink of war, and so much more.

I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. I thought that the plot of it was enticing, one that was developed in a uniquely magical world. It may not be the most unique magic system ever, but the way Dennard wrote the witchery – and how vast the witchery is – was in itself amazing. The plot kicks off with Safiya and Iseult on a traveling road trying to catch a person who stinted them with their money they had just lost the night before. But when a different convoy goes on the road, they know they’re screwed.

And the witch with the convoy can follow them – especially Safi – no matter where she goes.

It’s an intense opening scene filled with action and even in that first scene it really shows just how strong of a bond the girls have with one another; and it’s another reason why they’re Threadsisters – a link or bond between that is so strong that it cannot be broken.

And that’s actually one of my absolute favorite parts of this whole book: is the friendship. Not only between Safi and Iseult, but also between Merik and his Threadbrother, Kullen. I think that the way these people go about willing to die and do anything for their Threadbrother/sister is amazing and inspiring. Each pair completes the other in both personality and witchery. Where Safi is hotheaded and quick to act, Iseult is calm and strategizing. Though they feel lost without the other when they’re not in the same vicinity, it doesn’t mean that they can’t function without the other; they just prefer not to.

So let’s delve into the main characters:

Safiya fon Hasstrel is a domna of Cartorran. Now you’re probably like, what the hell does that mean? It pretty much means that she’s the Duchess of her country, so she’s a pretty noble lady. But she isn’t about that life. She’s wants her freedom and she wants to spend her freedom alongside Iseult where there are no rules or regulations and she can do whatever she pleases. She’s also a Truthwitch – the only known one of her kind – and that means she’s able to tell when someone’s lying or telling the truth – most of the time. Sometimes people believe so highly in what they’re saying that her witchery might say that it’s truth, when in reality it’s false, and vice versa. She’s a pretty headstrong person who’s also quick to anger, and she’s unafraid to act on any threats she may make to people.

I found Safi to be a very likable character, not only because of her wild personality, but also because later in the book she does recognize her own faults and she does her best to make them right. She’s fiercely loyal and protective over Iseult and would die for her, even if others’ lives are at stake. She can be very one-minded when it comes to Iseult, which again, can be both a pro and a con for her, depending on the situation.

Iseult det Midenzi is a Nomatsi, and Nomatsi’s are the outcasts of this world and often shunned by many, many people. She’s a Threadwitch, meaning that she is able to see the bonds between people whether it be bonds like Threadbrothers, Heart-threads for loved ones, hate, anger, relief, grief, etc, she can see them. The only ones she can’t see are her own and any other Threadwitch’s. She’s a very calm, level headed person, but life Safi she is fiercely loyal and protective of her Threadsister and would do anything and everything for her. She doesn’t so much want to be free like Safi does, but she does want to live her own life away from eyes that judge her for her appearance and away from the tribe that she ran away from years prior.

I really like Iseult as well and found that she was a great compliment to Safi. She has a few flaws, such as a stutter that comes out in high stress situations, or how she can’t make Threadstones (a Threadwitch trait). Part of that she harbors like baggage and regrets a lot of it greatly, but I think that she has a lot of unhidden potential and power within her that will unfurl in later books.

Prince Merik Nihar of Nubrevna is a Windwitch, meaning he can control the wind. He’s not the strongest Windwitch by any means, but he’s still able to control it with ease. He’s got a short temper and he finds it really hard to keep it under lock and key given certain situations. I actually found that to be a charming quality of his. He’s also very loyal to his country and he always puts his countrymen first. No matter what, he wants to serve his people and I think that really shows the kind of character he has. He may have a hard exterior, but he has a heart of gold, which I appreciate.

Aeduan is a Bloodwitch, meaning he can control people’s bodies once he has the scent of their blood. It also means he heals like nobody’s business and can survive even the worst of wounds. It’s actually a pretty epic witchery, if I do say so myself. He hunts fiercely after Safi throughout this book, and through all of that he does it by scent. He’s the kind of dark, brooding male that has a dark past, but gosh, he’s awesome. He’s a fierce fighter, able to use his ability to push his own blood and gain bursts of speed if needed, and so much more. He is a Monk of Carawen, though, and so he does have some duties that he lightly upholds. I’m really interested to see his progression in the series because, let’s be honest, he’s my favorite and I don’t even know why.

I loved the fast-paced action of this story and how so many places and people were tied together. I think that the world building was gradual and it told just enough detail to really give you a feel for the land, the countries, and how they work. I’m sure this will be built upon in the upcoming books.

The romance was also slow building, and I do have a theory about why they were connected so fast: maybe the threads, the bonds in this world, have a sort of snapping effect that once people are near each other their threads react to one another. And I think this is made even stronger if both have witchery. Just a theory, nothing major, but I did enjoy the romance because it was angsty and hot and heavy. Oh my.

There weren’t really any parts that I didn’t enjoy. I noticed one typo in the whole book, which isn’t horrible. I do have lots of questions though but not because they weren’t explained well enough or anything like that, it’s just some natural progression for the story and different branches of the storyline with how it will/could continue.

All in all I thought this was a highly enjoyable first installment in the Witchland series. The characters were fun and likable, the world was beautiful and continues to be built upon, the magic is wide and vast, and the epic friendships are what really make this story come to life.

I rated this book 4.5/5 stars and highly recommend it.

Accompanying video: Truthwitch Book Review | Spoiler-Free

The Final Empire Book Review

thefinalempireTitle: The Final Empire
Series: Book #1 in the Mistborn trilogy
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: July 25, 2006
Genre: Adult – High Fantasy
Pages: 647
Format: Purchased Paperback – UK Edition

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with colour once more?
In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage – Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

This book was incredible and I can’t believe it took me about four months or so to finish reading it. Holy carp.

So this book intrigued me, initially, because so many people were talking about it in the Booktube community earlier this year. I had to know why it was so popular and gaining a lot of hype, and, frankly, I wasn’t disappointed.

The plot of the story seems kind of simple at the beginning: can the evil overlord be taken down? But there are so many facets and different levels to the plot that turn into subplots and break down ever further into smaller bits that it’s no wonder than this book gained so much praise. From the lore behind a lot of who and what the Lord Ruler is, to what Allomancy and how it works, to the political and cultural structures, to the subtle romance, to the amazing adventure that takes place, this plot has a little bit of everything that please my inner reader.

So let me briefly talk about the magical aspect of this fantasy novel: Allomancy. Allomancy is a type of magic in this world that not many people are able to use. It’s a type of magic that relies on metals and being able to use ten different known types of metals to one’s advantage. There are Mistings: people that can use one type of metal, like pewter to gain strength – they’re called Thugs or Pewterarms, or copper to prevent from other Allomancers discovering them – they’re called a Smoker; and then there are Mistborns: a rare few who are able to control and use all of the metals known: zinc, copper, pewter, gold, tin, iron,steel, bronze, brass, and the strongest metal, atium.

The fact that Allomancy is used throughout this book already makes it unique. Often when I think of magic in fantasy books I think of being able to manipulate objects or use elemental magic – not like this. And the way Sanderson describes how the characters use it is detailed and vivd, allowing you to picture what’s going on and how they’re using the metals that they’re using.

The main characters that we follow, Vin and Kelsier, are very different in some ways, but very similar in others, and I loved being able to get a dual perspective throughout most of the book; there were even a few times when other characters were introduced and we got some of the story from their perspectives.

Vin is a street thief skaa (skaa being a peasant in this society), working and fighting to just stay alive. She doesn’t trust anyone and she has a hard time opening up or believing what other people say. Once she is introduced and thrust into the life that Kelsier’s crew whips up, she slowly unfolds and learns more about herself than she ever thought possible: she is a Mistborn.

When she discovers this news, she becomes an extremely quick learner, even impressing Kelsier with how fast she learns. She slowly becomes a pawn to be used in the plans set forth against the Empire, becoming a noblewoman to go to parties and balls to gather information, but she soon realizes that not all of the noblemen, despite what Kelsier thinks, are bad people and she wants to help them – specifically one over any other.

I think that she also picked up some mannerisms from Kelsier, but those mannerisms were probably just hidden deep down somewhere within her, such as stubbornness. She acts foolishly a lot of times, but at the same time I think that she almost follows suit after Kelsier. He’s like a fatherly figure to her and I can understand why she wants to stick near him often.

Kelsier, on the other hand, is the lone Survivor of Hathsin, a hellish place where he had to work night and day to gather atium for the Lord Ruler after having been captured with his wife when they were on a mission. Despite what he’s gone through, and despite what he does at night in the mists, Kelsier tries to keep an upbeat and cheerful personality, making light of many situations. But he is full of a lot of passion and I think that passion is what helps to really drive the others to listen to him and respect him as a leader.

A lot of the choices he makes, though, are risky at best, but as the story progresses and we see it all come together, after a major plot point happens, we can see just how his planning and actions have helped all along – even if it’s in a very different way from what was expected.

I found him to be a very likable character. Though he sometimes seemed to let his ego get the best of him, it just showed that he was still just a man, even though he had Allomantic powers.

Also how the characters grew from one another and their surroundings I felt was a really important aspect of the book. Even though Kelsier was a grown man in his mid-thirties with a huge ego, he still managed to learn from Vin, who is a seventeen year old girl. And she, in turn, learned from Kelsier and everyone else around her.

The lore behind who the Lord Ruler is and was surfaces time and again throughout the book, and we get some logbook entries at the beginning of each chapter (which I didn’t realize that’s what they were until much later into the story). I thought that these little snippets were nice insights into the man who was to be the Hero of Ages. Though there are so many questions behind why the Lord Ruler does the things he does and how he became the way he is, we never really get answers to those questions. Well, kind of. A few questions were answered, in my opinion, but maybe more will be answered in the upcoming books.

Also, that plot twist at the end, though. And my heart. The feels. Just, so many feels.

This book was phenomenal. If you’re looking to get into an adult high fantasy series with a unique spin on magic and a detailed plot with lots of action, political intrigue, hints of romance, and more, I highly recommend this book for starters. I seriously can’t wait to read the second book.

I rated this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it.