Posts Tagged ‘Rick Riordan’

Mini reviews: Snow Angels, Ella Enchanted, and Big Red Tequila

April 17th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Award-Winning, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Mystery, Young Adult
 

I’ve been on the fence the past few days about reviewing the three—three—books I’ve read in the past week. I enjoyed all of them, but I didn’t want to write an in-depth reviews. But then I realized a short blurb for each book meets the spirit of my 52 books in one year challenge. Plus all of these books are worth mentioning.

Snow Angels is the first in the Detective Vaara series by James Thompson. (The second novel in the series, Lucifer’s Tears was reviewed on this site earlier this year.)

The scenery and climate of Northern Finland during December, aka the darkest days of the years, is as important to the novel as the actual crimes of the novel. Adding to the complexity of the story are facets of the Laestadian religion and Finnish culture. As someone who’s lived in Finland—and has Laestadian ancestors—I appreciated this book on multiple levels, including for its insight into Finnish culture. This is a good series for mystery buffs.

After reading and reviewing Fairest, I picked up Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine from my local library. There’s not much to say other than I loved it. It’s a great retelling of Cinderella. It’s easy to root for Ella as a character, and I love the idea of gifts (like Ella’s gift of “obedience”) turning into curses.

Last of all, since I’ve read all of Rick Riordan’s middle grade novels, I decided to pick up the first in his Tres Navarre mystery series for adults. In Big Red Tequila, Tres Navarre returns to his hometown of San Antonio to rekindle a relationship with his childhood sweetheart. He left town ten years before after seeing his Sheriff father gunned down in the front yard of his home. His father’s murder was never unsolved, and now it’s time for Tres to use the private investigator/English PhD/tai chi skills he honed in San Francisco.

Big Red Tequila is a fun read, and it’s definitely meant for an adult audience. Robert Johnson, Tres’ cat, is perhaps the best drawn character in the novel. The setting—San Antonio, Texas—adds color to the novel. This is a good choice for mystery fans.

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Return to Camp Half-Blood in The Lost Hero

February 26th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Fantasy, Fiction, Kelly, Middle Grade
 

I opened up The Lost Hero curious to discover whether Riordan could replicate the success, humor, and suspense of his first series revolving around Camp Half-Blood. The original series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, ended with a new prophecy for the demigods to fulfill, but that prophecy could come to pass anytime in the future.

The Lost Hero opens from new character Jason’s point of view as he finds himself on a school bus holding hands with a girl, yet with no memories of who he is, and how he ended up on the bus. As he visits the Grand Canyon, storm spirits attacks them. Neither Jason nor his two new friends, Piper and Leo, know they’re demigods. After fighting the storm spirits, they’re whisked away to Camp Half-Blood by Annabeth and another demigod. The new story begins not long after the events of the original series.

As the story progresses, the narrative is also told from the perspectives of Piper, daughter of Aphrodite, and Leo, son of Hephaestus. Occasionally the reader sees the same scene from multiple viewpoints. All three narrators have a similar voice even though the characters have their own sets of challenges, problems, and heartaches. As Jason, Leo, and Piper embark on a quest to save Hera, who has been captured, Annabeth leaves on her own journey to find her boyfriend, Percy Jackson, who is missing. Annabeth’s journey is not shown, although it will come into play in the later books, as Percy’s disappearance is bound up with Jason’s appearance.

Jason is very much in the Percy Jackson/Harry Potter mold; he’s a natural leader who does what he needs to do, even if it involves putting himself into danger to save his friends. Riordan gives his characters a mix of cultural backgrounds (Leo’s mother was Mexican-American, Piper’s father is Cherokee), and the diversity is appreciated.

There’s a similar mix of action and age-appropriate romance to this series as the first. Yet the story is unique enough and Riordan subtly (and logically) changes the rules of the world of the books to entice fans of the original to enjoy this series.

The second book in the series, The Son of Neptune, comes out in the fall of 2011.

Read by: Kelly

Title: The Lost Hero, Heroes of Olympus Book One
Author: Rick Riordan
Date read: February 2011
Source: Public Library

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Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid

January 5th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Fantasy, Middle Grade
 

When reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, I enjoyed the way Rick Riordan manipulated Greek mythology to make a fresh, clever story. So of course I had to pick up Riordan’s next series.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Red Pyramid. I appreciated the take on Egyptian mythology, although at times it reminded me of Stargate SG-1. The concept of godlings reminded me of Goa’uld, or more specifically Tok’ra, hosts.

The novel is told as if the protagonists, siblings Carter and Sadie, are talking into a microphone, and Riordan transcribed their story. Overall this worked well as a plot device, although occasionally the narrative asides as the siblings sniped at each other jolted me from the story.

I don’t think this series sparked my imagination as much as the Percy Jackson series, but that series will be tough to top. I’d definitely recommend this to middle grade readers, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the Kane family saves the world over the rest of the series.

Reviewed by: Kelly

Book: The Red Pyramid
Author: Rick Riordan
Read: January 2011
Source: Public Library

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