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.

Radiance Book Review

radianceTitle: Radiance
Series: Wraith Kings #1
Author: Grace Draven
Publisher: Grace Draven
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 297
Format: Kindle eBook

THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined. 

THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE 

Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light. 

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

I initially didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book. I had seen the cover pop up on Amazon and I thought it was going to be another cheesy, trashy romance novel. I didn’t even bother reading the synopsis before jumping into reading a sample – and immediately being hooked to the story.

This story features two races: the Gauris, who are human, and the Kai, an ancient non-human race with gray skin, black claws, and lamplight yellow eyes. A Gauri girl – one raised in a noblewoman’s position but one of little importance – is married off to one of the Kai – the second born prince, one who is unimportant as his older brother has already secured his place for the throne and has several sons to rule after him. The two are repulsed that they have to marry the other as each race finds the other revolting in looks and customs alike, but when Ildiko and Brishen meet unsuspectingly that they were to later wed, the two have a connection of sorts that later comes into play in a great way.

Ildiko and Brishen have a very slow burn romance as they don’t expect anything from each other at first, and instead find good friends in each other at first, talking to one another, picking on each other as friends do, and I think that was so sweet to see at first. As time passed and the two faced different kinds of trials together (such as dinner with Brishen’s mother), their feelings for each other grew into more than just friends, and eventually those first opinions they had on one another’s appearance – of Ildiko think Brishen looked like an eel, and Brishen thinking Ildiko looked like a hag – changed and they saw the beauty in each other physically, yes, but mostly through their personalities and morals and I thought that was a breath of fresh air to read about. It felt natural and progressive and I highly appreciated it.

As for the rest of the story, there were politics, some action scenes, and little hints of what was to come in the next novel, and I felt that the story was fast-paced, but not so fast-paced that we missed out on anything. I do, however, wish there were more action scenes and that some scenes had been expanded, but then maybe it would have taken away from the magic of it all.

I felt that both Ildiko’s and Brishen’s characters were mature, but I kind of wished to see more of them develop and whatnot. Ildiko was proper, quick-witted, and kind. She always was above the expectations of the Kai, much to their surprise, and I liked that about her. She was stubborn enough to always try and not give up, but not so stubborn that she made poor decisions in the heat of the moment. Brishen was so unlike his parents, which was nice because his parents aren’t the greatest, and had a sense of humor, and a caring compassion for his fellow Kai and Ildiko. I found that they melded well together and that I craved to see more interactions between them.

Though this book was sort of a quick read, I found that I could really dive into the world and really feel for the characters. I’m already reading the second book and let me tell you: I’m getting the action I craved from the first.

If you haven’t picked up Radiance yet, I highly recommend you do if you’re looking for a slow-burn romance set in a fantasy world.

I rated this book 4.5/5 stars.

A Darker Shade of Magic Book Review

adsomTitle: A Darker Shade of Magic
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Pages: 401
Format: Kindle

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. 

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Now I understand what all the hype surrounding this book was about.

This book is full of magic and adventure, of power and control, of longing and desire, and of struggle and pain. There was so much happening in the book that I couldn’t helped be sucked into the story and really divulge myself into the characters’ stories. I found myself completely enraptured and wanted to know what was going to happen next.

I found Kell to be an awesome character. Though he didn’t show much emotion throughout the book (frowning, more frowning, a little bit of pain and annoyance, and a few tears, sure, but… okay, nevermind, he had emotion), I found his character to be one that was both curious and fun. I loved his magic as an Antari and how though he continued to say he had much stronger magic than those around him, he never really showed that off. Sure, he’d do little things here and there, but it wasn’t about showing off so much as knowing he had the ability, and also how his views on magic could potentially cause the outcome of how it’s used – or how it uses him. Throughout the book I found that his thirst for power from the stone later given to him was realistic enough that if someone had magic in their veins and touched it that they’d also crave it. I loved his character and how he continually fought for others – even though they would’ve been mad about it.

Lila, on the other hand, is quite the character and I freaking love her. If she were real, I’m pretty sure we’d be friends. I love her sense of humor and how stubborn she is and how she’s always fighting to get what she wants because in her world – in her London – she doesn’t exactly have anything. I loved how she on more than one occasion put Kell in his place when it came to his position versus hers or how he viewed his life versus how she’s lived. She was a spitfire, Lila Bard. The way she questions not only others, but herself, when they show even a bit of kindness or “charity” and how they don’t expect something of it (or if they do, they say to give it back over time) is something of an admirable quality about her given her circumstances.

Now what about Holland? He was the other Antari in this world and I felt like I just didn’t get enough about him. Like… I loved how he came in as an anti-hero leaning on villain, and I found myself wanting to just know more and have more of him in it, so I’m kind of sad that he wasn’t. I think it’s because there was a lot of mystery surrounding him, but I felt like his character could have been talked about more or something because he was just so interesting!

As far as other side characters go, such as the Dane Twins, Rhy, Barron, etc., I loved how each played such a big role in Kell’s and Lila’s lives without some of them really having to do much in them. I mean, the twins are the villains of this novel, so they kind of play a big part, but others have little pockets of significance with the two main characters and I loved how Schwab placed their chapters into the story and how the characters were written to add more depth to the others.

I thought that the plot itself was great, although sometimes I felt like it hopped a bit from one thing to another and it was kind of like, “Well why was this placed here?” And sometimes it would later catch up and it would make sense.

I thought that the chapters from other characters and other scenes added to the plot and showed just how alive the magic in this world(s) is and how it can really be clever in its own right. And the worlds themselves? How there are four Londons, all on top of another, and the concept of the doors and how you need a trinket from each to get to another? It’s so cool! I loved the concept and how it was dealt with and how each London has their own way of magic, how it’s like a trickle down effect and that it lessens the farther it goes (Black London being the strongest, then White, then Red, then Grey).

Towards the end, though, I felt like the climax to the end was really rushed. I felt myself wanting more from the chapters, whether it be descriptions or more magic or just something… I don’t really know how to describe it, but it just needed more. I mean, I guess it is the first book in the trilogy, so it kind of makes sense? But I felt that some parts were lacking and could have just used that little push to bring it to where it needed to be.

Overall, though, I highly enjoyed this book. It was fast-paced, charming, and it had me craving more. I can’t wait to continue on with the trilogy.

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

Water’s Wrath Book Review

waterswrathTitle: Water’s Wrath
Series: Air Awakens #4
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 350
Format: Purchased eBook

Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.

The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.

As this is a sequel, there will most likely be spoilers.

Okay, I’m not going to lie: I can’t remember the beginning of the book. In my defense, I started reading this back in April and I just finished now in December, so… Yeah. I mean, I remember bits and pieces, but not everything.

Anyway, from what I do remember, I was very impressed with Vhalla’s character without Aldrick always by her side. We got to see how strong she was without him and how far she’s come since she was the shy library apprentice a year ago. She definitely showed that she is strong in mind and magic without him, but despite that there was still that aching longing for Aldrik that never went away (for either of them for the other). She showed that she had a lot of knowledge and she didn’t have to rely on her magic all the time, or Aldrik all the time, to make decisions and get things done. I think that’s one of the things I enjoyed most about her in this book.

Aldrik was a very distant character in this book in the beginning, but as the book continued and more went down (so many feels, omg), he became much more open and more raw with Vhalla than we’ve seen him, which was unusual for him. I did, however, think that that vulnerability was healthy to see. Although I do think that his emotions often clouded his judgement in some instances, he was still the Fire Lord we’ve come to know.

We got more of Fritz and Jax in this novel and oh man, Jax just makes me smile. He’s so full of himself and so charming that it’s funny, and I love how Fritz reacts when they’re around his sisters and Jax keeps flirting with them. Too good. I liked that there was humor sprinkled in because there was a lot of sadness and hard times going on that it was nice to have that bit of humor. I also think that the friendship between Fritz and Vhalla really shone in this book and I was really thankful that Vhalla had such a close friend.

So there were several major plot points that happened in this book that CRUSHED ME. I won’t mention either because of major spoilers, but just know that I am 1) heartbroken that both happened, and 2) and I’m being hopeful that things will happen in the last book that will remedy at least one of them. P.S. One of said major plot points did actually have me shedding actual tears and Ican’tevenwhydidithappen.

Also, I knew that Victor couldn’t be trusted but DAMN. I wasn’t expecting him to go to such an extreme and to learn more about his past a little with Aldrik and just… wow. So much happened toward the end that I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.

This book hasn’t been my favorite of the series and I think it’s because of the feeling I get when Vhalla didn’t really… react to the major plot points. I mean, she did with one really well, but the other? Not so much. And then there were just a few things I found very convenient and just… I don’t know, I’m having a hard time placing my finger on it. But I did enjoy the book, don’t get me wrong. I just think the focus was kind of all over the place and not super centralized.

Overall, I did enjoy the book (what I remember of it, haha…ha…), and I’m anticipating the last book. I can’t wait to see how it’s all wrapped up and how the conclusion unfurls in this beautiful fantasy series.

I rated this book 4/5 stars.

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone Book Review

hpsorcererTitle: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Series: Harry Potter #1
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: June 26, 1997 (illustrated edition published October 6, 2015)
Genre: Children’s/Young Adult – Urban Fantasy
Pages: 256
Format: Purchased Hardcover

Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility.

All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley–a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry–and anyone who reads about him—will find unforgettable.

The beloved first book of the Harry Potter series, now lavishly illustrated by award-winning artist Jim Kay.

Yup, I’m doing reviews of these books. Why? I’ve never read the series all the way through before. GASP. I KNOW. It’s so weird, right? I was always the kind of person to never get into the hype of things and I just didn’t know about them, really, when I was younger. I’ve seen all the movies, though, and I love them to bits (they’re some of my most watched movies as I watch them any time they’re on TV), but as for the books I’ve only read the first three and part of the fourth. And I didn’t even start reading them until I turned 20! So I decided I’m going to challenge myself this month and read all seven books by the new year. That’s right! Rayna’s reading Harry Potter!

If you want to follow along with me as I read, you check out my Twitter where I’m using #RaynaReadsHP to talk about my thoughts, but I’m also doing an Instagram story with my reactions, too, so check out both! Now that I’ve said that, onto the review!


As I’ve read this book before, this is a reread, and I think I enjoyed it more than the first time! This world is so magical and the characters are so fun. This book is definitely light hearted compared to the later ones, I’m sure, but it still had its creepy moments (Filch is creepy AF) and it’s harrowing moments (like, why do people want to kill an 11 year old child?), but overall it was extremely enjoyable and I found myself smiling a lot as I read it.

The plot is centered around a boy who’s treated horribly by his Aunt, Uncle, and cousin when he’s left on their doorstep as a baby by some wizards and witches after his parents have died. He’s often left with nothing or hand me downs and left overs. I was shocked to really think about it and see how abusive this dynamic is, and it made me just mad at the Dursleys for how they treated Harry just because he was “different” and wasn’t their own child. As Harry grows up and strange things happen around him, and he gets his letter, he’s thrust into the wizarding world where life is much better for him – even though Lord Voldemort is still looking for him.

I thought that even though Harry’s life does get better and he’s thrust into this world, he was oddly calm about it when Hagrid had bust into that shack on the sea to tell him all about it. Like… I was in disbelief that Harry wasn’t in more disbelief or asking questions. I mean, I get he was eleven and everything, but I’d be a little confused if magic was never really introduced to me before. But I also guess that the weird things that happened around him were enough to convince him? I don’t know, I just thought that was funny. Harry as a character, though, was very brave and intuitive for his age. He was always ready and willing to do what was needed to save others or himself or just take on what was next. I liked him, for sure, and am interested to see what happened next with him.

I thought that the friendship that formed between Ron and Harry was in a manner in which a lot of friendships formed at that age: with food. It felt like it just sprang forth and was introduced to us and I think that it felt kind of genuine because do YOU remember how you formed friendships back then? I don’t but I know it was much easier and different than now. I thought that the two were fun together and that I really just enjoyed the Weasleys overall. They’re a fun family, really funny, and I need more of all of them. Ron, himself, was kind of sullen? I mean, I get he’s the youngest boy in the family, so he had a lot of pressure put on him. Maybe that’s why? But I found his character to be likable, for sure.

Hermione was treated poorly at the beginning, and I mean, I guess I understand why if she was acting like a know-it-all, but I thought Harry and Ron were just kind of mean to her until she stood up for them and lied to the professors after taking on the troll. And then that friendship formed and everything was fine (even if Ron and Hermione still fought), but I also found it to be believable. I loved that she was kind of like the conscience of the group and the voice of reason, even if she was ignored sometimes.

Neville is a precious cinnamon roll and I just want to squeeze him! He had so many unfortunate things happen and I didn’t remember how much of a role he played in this book! In the movies it was always the Golden Trio, but nope! Neville had a lot to do with the story, and I loved that.

I didn’t realize how awful Malfoy was in terms of his views of others. Like, wow, calm down there. I was glad to see Neville and Ron stick up for themselves as well as Harry during one of the Quidditch matches, though, and I thought that even though Malfoy was pompous, I found myself interested in how his character arc will form in later books.

Hagrid was so awesome! I thought that he made himself to be kind of like a father figure to Harry throughout the book, like he wanted to help him and protect and stuff. I don’t know, I just thought that the way Hagrid talked to Harry and was around to help was so great.

Dumbledore, McGonnagal, Snape, Filch, Quirrel, and others weren’t as present as I had hoped or remembered? Maybe I was projecting the movie onto the book, but I really want to see more of Dumbledore, McGonnagal, Snape… I want to learn so much more about them! I know it’s only the first book and they’re obviously going to be in the later books, too, but I just want more now!

I thought that some of the circumstances that happened in the book were kind of convenient in some ways, like things happened easily or some things weren’t fleshed out enough. That was probably my biggest gripe: I wished so much more had been fleshed out. Like, I seriously wanted to see more than what there was. I know that it’s only the first book (and therefore the smallest) and a lot more things will be revealed and stuff in the later books, but dammit, I want more!

ANYWAY, I really enjoyed this first book! There were just a few things that bugged me in very small ways, but it was overall enjoyable and I really liked the voice, the characters, the plot, and more.

As for the illustrated edition: omg the illustrations were beautiful! I loved how it added to the story and that we got to see the illustrator’s take on the characters and the world. They were all very beautiful and I think I enjoyed the book more because of it.

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