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!

★★★★☆

A Monster Calls | Book Review

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Candlewick
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Fiction, Horror
Pages: 224
Format: Kindle eBooks

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

This book follows a preteen named Conor during a time when his mother is fighting cancer, and his anger and grief takes the form of a monster that he sees outside of his window one night: an ancient tree that came to life. The tree tells him four stories – well, only three, as Conor has to tell him the fourth – and with each Conor learns something, or something happens in his environment as a result of each story.

I thought that this novel was a great exploration into grief and how it can manifest itself into something entirely different if it’s not dealt with properly. The book didn’t make it something that could easily be covered up, it didn’t make light of it, but rather the story focused on how, over time, grief can become a catalyst for events to happen and take place. It can be dangerous, destructive, wild, or it can be very lonely and heartbreaking. I personally felt a connection to this due to circumstances with my own family and my own grief and how my own grief manifested, but that’s another story for another day. Delving into grief as a topic is one that I don’t often see in the books I read, so it was refreshing to see.

I personally thought that the way the monster was represented by this ancient tree that Conor’s mother always pointed out was clever. The monster would come at the same time every night – 12:06AM – and after every encounter it would leave a mess behind to show that it had, in fact, been there and been real (such as leaves or branches).

I kind of expected Conor to act a bit more…surprised or scared at the fact that, you know, a giant walking tree was at his window, but he wasn’t as wary as I was expecting him to be. Of course, the more the monster came, the less he was afraid, which makes sense.

The relationship between Conor and his mother was super sweet, and I love to see how close a mother and son could be. Even though his parents are divorced (and the interaction between him and his father was awkward), it was nice to see parental units that actually loved and cared for their son. Though, Conor’s relationship with his grandmother was very much strained until the end, I thought that it was all very realistic as far as familial relationships go.

As far as relationships at Conor’s school went, I thought that it was all very interesting to see. If it’s a small school, I could understand why everyone was acting especially careful around Conor, and even the bullies were interesting. By this I mean I found the head bully to be… almost like a monster himself. I don’t know for sure if he was really real or what. But I also think he got what he deserved in the book, so that’s that. I did appreciate the one friend that tried to reconcile and help Conor, but of course, grief can make you say and do things – and avoid things – that may otherwise be of help to you.

The story ended in a way that had me crying at 2AM for several reasons, and I loved it. It was a heart-wrenching dive into what happens when you’re losing someone whom you love more than you could ever express, and how, if handled poorly, grief can manifest into a monster.

★★★★☆

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!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall TBR List

tttsept27

Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday as hosted by the lovely people over at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is all about the books that we want to read this fall. Now, let’s be real: I probably won’t read all of these books this fall. If my pattern of not reading continues, I might be lucky if I finish one or two of these, BUT I’m going to try my best and read what I can. So here are the books I’m looking forward to reading this fall:

1 . The Goal by Elle Kennedy – Book #4 in the Off Campus series is out NOW and if I haven’t already started this by the time this post is up, then I need to slap myself because DAMN I AM HOOKED ON THIS SERIES. I’m also pretty sure this is the last book in the series, which makes me sad, but as my first foray into New Adult: I approve.

2. Water’s Wrath by Elise Kova – I have been reading this since it pretty much came out and I just keep PUTTING IT DOWN because new books come out and my interests change and then I’ve been in a rut AND I NEED TO FINISH IT. I love this series so much, and I need to know what happens next. Speaking of which….

3. Crystal Crowned by Elise Kova – This is the last book in the series and I obviously can’t read this one until I read the one before it (see above). I’ve heard good things about the ending and so I really just want to see what happens and how everything comes together.

4. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West – I started reading this before my husband and I moved and I just put it down and haven’t picked it back up, but it’s SO cute so far and I’m really enjoying it, so I just need to finish it. I’m pretty sure I’d finish quick, too, because it reads really fast.

5. Style by Chelsea M. Cameron – This F/F story also reads fast and I like that the two voices of the two main characters are both different! I don’t think I’ve ever read a lesbian love story in novel form before (manga, yes), and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far, just, again, I pick things up and put them down.

6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling – Honestly, this TBR is just the books I’m ASHAMED of having started and NOT having finished. Like, seriously, what is wrong with me? I’m pretty sure I started this book two years ago, so I just need to finish already. And it’s not like I’m not enjoying it, because I am! I think the size is just intimidating me.

7. The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson – The third and final installment of another favorite trilogy of mine and I still haven’t finished it!? Ugh. I actually barely got through it because, like last year, I just wasn’t feeling it at the time I was reading it. It’s not that I don’t want to read it and see how everything comes to a close, I just wasn’t in the mood to read it at the time.

8. A Torch Agains the Night by Sabaa Tahir – I’m very excited and happy to read this sequel because they told us we weren’t getting one last year, but the reader hype was so real and now? WE HAVE THAT SEQUEL. I am very excited to see what happens next as I haven’t been spoiled by anything anywhere yet (yay!), so I hope to start this sooner rather than later.

9. Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews – I really enjoy this adult urban fantasy series a lot, and this is the fifth book, but I haven’t gotten super far in it. I do want to read it, though, because this series is ongoing and on it’s eighth book, so I need to catch up. (Plus one spin off book that I’ll be reading after this one…)

10. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs – Another adult urban fantasy book that I’m interested in but I just need to finish reading. I started it but didn’t get far because, again, I just wasn’t in the mood to read it at the time. But so far it’s interesting, just a little info dumpy, but I think that kind of happens with the first books in adult urban fantasies, as far as I’ve noticed.

So there you have it, my list of SHAME. Honestly, I just want to finish these books so I stop feeling guilty that I haven’t yet. And also because I HAVE BEEN enjoying them, I just… you know.. stopped reading them.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

What top three books are on your TBR for fall? Do you have a long list of SHAME books like me, or are you more hopeful for recent releases? Tell me all the things!

Darkfever Book Review

darkfeverTitle: Darkfever
Series: Book #1 in the Fever series
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Publisher: Dell
Publication Date: October 1, 2006
Genre: Adult – Urban Fantasy
Pages: 347
Format: Purchased Paperback

When MacKayla’s sister was murdered, she left a single clue to her death, a cryptic message on Mac’s cel phone. Journeying to Ireland in search of answers, Mac is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to master a power she had no idea she possessed – a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysteriou Jericho…while at the same time, the ruthless V’lane – an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women – closes in on her. As the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: to find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book – because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control both worlds in their hands.

As this book had faeries in it, I was instantly intrigued. I’ve always loved faeries and reading about the Fae and their world, so when I picked this book up I was instantly intrigued. This book also had a great premise: a grieving sister seeking vengeance for her sister who was murdered overseas. That alone also had me wanting to read this book.

When I read it, though, I wasn’t totally sold on it, but there was still enough of the book that had me wanting to know what would happen next that I’m definitely going to continue onto the next book.

When the book started, it had me hooked – I HAD to know what would happen next. But as MacKayla was doing more in Dublin, I was actually kind of annoyed with a lot of her decisions and felt that some of the other characters had a lot of similar personalities, so they kind of blended in together.

But I will say that I did enjoy reading about the Fae and the different types within this book, and that there was a whole other world that was joined with ours that was right under our noses. That sort of aspect of the world building intrigued me by far. The Shades, the Gray Man, the Many-Mouths-Thing, all of the different kinds of Fae were interesting and held their own sort of stories and folklore behind them that really made them come to life on the pages.

So let me talk a bit about MacKayla and some of the other characters. MacKayla was kind of really prissy in this book. I found a lot of what she said or thought to be annoying in the way a bratty kid who got everything she wanted and her way to be said. The tone came across that way on occasion – not always. She also praised her appearance way more often than was necessary. Don’t get me wrong – appreciation of one’s own beauty is perfectly fine, but when it feels like it’s every other chapter, it can be a little bit overbearing.

Other times I thought that she acted like any other normal person would in that situation, or she acted like how her blood called to her and who she was. Overall I wasn’t totally thrilled with her character, but I’m hoping she’ll mellow out in the upcoming books and really hone her skills as a sidhe-seer. I was a little sad we got to see so little of her sidhe-seer skills in this book, but then again, it was only the beginning.

Jerico Barrons was a mysterious character throughout the whole novel. He acted much more mature than what his age perceived him to be, and that kind of threw me for a loop. He was very sort of domineering, always trying to be in charge, and Mac was always butting heads against him. I really want to get to know him better because I really don’t feel like I got a true feel for him, but I do have my theories that he, himself, is a Fae – we’ll just have to see if that theory is true!

V’lane, the Fae who drives human women to want sex like crazy, was also just as mysterious and only made two appearances in the book, but both times were highly erotic in ways that didn’t really involve touching or anything of the sort. His character just felt kind of put in there to me, like he was just there for certain plot points, but I’m sure he’ll make more appearances in further books.

Other than that, I really hope that the plot grows and that the characters grow, too. I felt like this book could have been a lot better and included so much more.

That’s also not to say this book was bad! Some of the descriptive elements helped to paint the picture of Dublin and the state in which it is in, and also it held elements that made me wondering what will happen next. If you want to give it a shot, definitely do so, but just remember that this is the first book in the series and that it’s just laying the foundation for the rest of the series.

I give this book a 3.5/5 stars and recommend it to anyone looking to get into some more adult urban fantasy.